Author Archives: Kim Staflund

About Kim Staflund

As a book publisher, Kim Staflund works with businesses and individuals around the world to produce superior quality ebooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers. As the founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG), she has extensive experience with the traditional (trade), vanity, and supported self-publishing business models as both a service provider and an author. Kim built her company from the perspective of the author—taking the best practices from each business model to create a company that puts its authors first, while ensuring a professional, saleable result. Think of PPG as a skilled project manager for self-publishing authors. Using the supported self-publishing business model, the company assists authors in producing truly professional books by guiding them through the entire process from conception to publication. PPG helps both individuals and businesses to publish quality books and provides them with online distribution opportunities throughout the world. In addition to her writing and book publishing background, Kim has a substantial sales and sales management history that includes new business development, both inside and outside account management of all types and sizes of companies, and personnel management and leadership experience within unionized and non-unionized environments. Add her firsthand knowledge of records management, process management, and project management into the mix and you have everything that is required in a professional book publisher to help authors everywhere succeed. Kim’s number one priority in each of these roles has always been, and will always be, to earn (and keep) the trust of each of her clients by providing honest, ethical, and thoughtful customer service that meets or exceeds their expectations.

What’s the Difference Between Tags and Keywords?

tags and keywords

tags and keywords

Tags and keywords both help people to find information on your blog. But there are key differences between the two that are important to know.

You may assume, as I once did, that the tags you attach to each blog post are helping your SEO. But the tags you assign to each post are simply labels that help your readers find information within your blog. For example, if you’re a dietitian, you may want to assign the label “vegan protein” to all the posts you write about hemp hearts, quinoa, brown rice, et cetera. That way, all those articles will come up when readers search for vegan protein recommendations on your blog. 

Tags and Keywords: What Search Engines are Looking For

If you want search engines to find each of those posts, you must assign more specific keywords to each post. And here’s the key difference: you can create whatever tags you want within your own blog, but keywords must match the search terms people are using on the search engines. Otherwise, they’re virtually useless. This is why keyword research is so important.

How you write each blog post is also important. Your post can still be effective, from an SEO standpoint, at only 300 words long. BUT here are four other things you must do to ensure the search engine crawlers can easily find and index it:

  1. Include your primary keyword in the slug (the URL) you create for the blog post.
  2. Include that keyword in at least one of your headings.
  3. Ensure the keyword also appears in the first paragraph.
  4. Attach the keyword to an image within the blog post, too.

Doing these things will make it clear to the crawlers what each individual blog post is about. It will ensure they know which keywords you want indexed.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Website vs. Blog: Which One Should Every Author Have?

Website vs. Blog

Website vs. Blog

Website vs. blog: which one should every author start out with? And what’s the difference between the two?

I’ll begin by clarifying that a blog is a type of website. Basically, anything you visit online that has its own URL (e.g., web address, domain name) is a website.

To use a familiar analogy, they’re all fruit. But you can think of traditional, static websites as applies. And you can consider blogs to be oranges. One of these fruits is much juicier than the other in terms of helping you to improve your SEO and get noticed by more readers online. And your sole purpose in having any type of online presence is to do just that: attract a larger readership to your book(s).

Website vs. Blog: Apple vs. Orange

As mentioned above, a traditional website is static in that once you create it, it just stays the same and sits there online waiting for people to view it. But a blog is dynamic. This means its content is always changing. If you’re blogging correctly, you’re adding new content to your blog at least three times per week. And this is important to SEO. Search engines LOVE new content. They eat it up! The more relevant and helpful new content you give them to share with their users, the more they’ll reward you by placing you higher and higher in their ranking.

A traditional website is meant to provide basic information about you. What are your books about? Where can you be contacted? But a blog provides an expanded view of your author business. A blog is where you can share your thoughts, opinions, experiences, event calendars, and book excerpts in more meaningful ways. 

Blogs allow for reader engagement in the form of the comments section at the bottom of each post. Websites don’t have this ability. If you can get your readers to engage with you in this way, then you know you’re having an impact with them. That’s important.

Website vs. Blog: Summary

Websites are static, contain basic information, and don’t allow for reader engagement. A website is limited in its ability to improve your SEO.

Blogs are dynamic, provide your readers with an expanded view, and allow reader engagement in the form of comments. Since search engines love new content, blogs are the single best way for you to improve your SEO online.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Digital Rights Management (DRM) for Authors

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a term you may come across when publishing an ebook. When you apply DRM to a file, you protect it from Internet piracy.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

I’m a strong proponent of applying DRM to all the books you publish online. I urge you to avoid the websites that publish PDF files alone. This is because PDF files are far too easy to duplicate and share. Pretty much anyone can download and attach your PDF file to an email and send it to another person. You can imagine how quickly a file can spread that way.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) of MOBI Ebooks

Amazon (Kindle) uses a file format known as MOBI to publish ebooks online. This is a much safer format to publish your ebook in. It can only be read on certain devices (e.g., Kindle readers). As shown in the image above, you can choose whether to apply DRM to your Kindle MOBI file. Doing so provides an extra layer of protection by preventing others from copying and pasting the text from your file. Instead, it becomes a read-only document on the Kindle reader.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Digital Rights Management (DRM) of EPUB Ebooks

Kobo, and most other ebook publishers, use a more common file format known as EPUB. Again, Kobo gives you a choice as to whether or not you apply DRM to each ebook you upload to their website. It’s the same deal as it is with Amazon’s Kindle. Doing so provides you with an extra layer of protection against the Internet pirates.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Robert Kiyosaki: The Definition of an Asset

Robert Kiyosaki

Robert Kiyosaki

Robert Kiyosaki is an American businessman and author of a popular personal finance book titled Rich Dad Poor Dad. He states that a financial asset “can be anything as long as it has value, produces income or appreciates, and has a ready market. Assets put money IN your pocket.”

One of the most controversial statements Robert has made about assets is that your house is not an asset. At least, it’s not your asset. As long as you’re paying a mortgage on it, it is a liability for you. And it is an asset for the bank.

In fact, as long as you’re paying anything for it (e.g., maintenance and repair fees, property taxes) without earning enough income from it to more than cover these expenses (e.g., rental income), it is still a liability. It’s only once that property becomes 100% mortgage free, and is generating consistent cash flow for you, that it becomes your asset.

Digital Books are Assets. Physical Books are Liabilities.

Robert Kiyosaki’s definition of an asset resembles the concept of digital books very well. To clarify, when I refer to “digital books,” I’m not only talking about ebooks. I’m also talking about print-on-demand paperbacks and hardcovers.

There is obviously a higher upfront cost involved in producing a paperback or hardcover book than an ebook. The process not only requires professional editing and proofreading. A skilled graphic designer is also necessary to help you properly format both the interior and cover files to match a printer’s specifications.

But the real cost of paperbacks and hardcovers comes from over-printing books that will never sell. Traditional publishers do this all the time—not just indie authors. They print thousands of copies that lay dormant in warehouses. Even if books are ordered by bookstores, they must pay to ship those books out. Then they must pay to ship back from 20 to 50 percent of unsold books that are returned by bookstores. This all cuts into profits. It’s a vicious cycle.

Why Print-on-Demand (POD) is Better

With the invention of print-on-demand (POD) technology, today’s publishers/authors no longer have to print and store physical books in order to sell physical books. All you have to do is supply the digital files for your book’s cover and interior to the e-commerce site of your choice because most of these online retailers utilize POD technology to sell books rather than stocking those books in warehouses. Then, whenever they receive an order for that book, they simply print, bind, and ship the exact quantity ordered (whether it is one book or ten) all at the same time.

Most of the e-commerce sites take digital files in the form of print-ready .PDF files and simply store them on their servers. But I want to caution you about selling those .PDF files as ebooks. They are far too easy to copy and share with others (unless they are .DRM files … but that’s a whole different post). Instead, it’s pretty easy to have those .PDF files converted into either an .ePUB or a .MOBI and sell them through the proper channels.

As for Ebooks…

Ebooks, in particular, can be highly profitable digital assets. Think about it from a strictly business perspective for a moment. You’ll quickly see that an ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site.

An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or airplane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily-searchable documents that you can hyperlink to other relevant information sources. Ebooks are updateable which is especially helpful to those who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet.

With a digital asset like an ebook, you don’t have to pay storage or maintenance fees of any kind. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help others promote and sell their digital assets all over the world. Pretty much every major ecommerce site has its own affiliate program now, and this is like having a massive sales team at your disposal without having to pay anyone an upfront salary.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Home Business Ideas: Expand Your Sales Online

Whether your home business is a sideline gig or your full-time profession, here’s a great way to expand your sales online. This plan can work for various home business ideas.

Home Business Ideas

Home Business Ideas

What do every single one of these home businesses have in common? They can be promoted online using writing. Effective online writing. And I’m not only referring to the obvious copywriters and ebook authors mentioned in the above-linked Small Business Trends article. Party planners understand the event planning business, and daycare providers understand the needs of parents and their children. Party clowns know entertainment and what it takes to make people laugh. Dog groomers can help you understand the various aspects of pet care. All these people can write educational blog entries and ebooks to help their clients. In fact, they can use these online tools to reach even more clients outside their physical trading areas.

Home Business Ideas that Help Adult Learners

You may be thinking, “I’m no writer!” Or you may feel overwhelmed with the idea of trying to write a full-length non-fiction ebook about your business. Well, I have some good news for you. You don’t have to be a writer, yourself, and effective non-fiction ebooks come in all different sizes and prices.

Children aren’t the only ones who can enjoy a picture book. Picture books containing “How To” illustrations or graphics throughout (e.g., exercise routines, hair styling techniques, before and after automotive repair examples, et cetera) can be very helpful to adult learners. And books like these can be created quickly. Totally doable, especially when it’s your passion!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Online Business Ideas to Reach More People

Whatever industry you currently work in—catering, health and fitness, interior decorating, hairdressing, automotive repair, ESL, et cetera—these online business ideas can help you reach more people. And you don’t even have to be a writer!

Online Business Ideas

Online Business Ideas

An effective online business allows you to “clone yourself” so you can reach more people outside your current physical trading area. One of today’s most effective ways of doing that is by publishing and selling your own industry-related “How To” ebooks.

Not a writer? No problem. You can hire a ghostwriter to do the writing for you. As a matter of fact, ghostwriters are hired by business professionals all the time. They are used to produce books and other marketing materials for these people.

Sell Those Ebooks Using Affiliate Marketing

Once you’ve published a few “How To” ebooks, you may want some help selling them. This is when affiliate marketers will come in handy. Popular ecommerce sites like Amazon have effective systems already in place. This means you don’t have to track or pay for anything at all. These transactions are between the affiliate and the online merchant they registered with. At the end of the day, you’ll still get paid whatever royalty percentage you would normally be paid for the sale of your ebooks, and the affiliate commissions will be taken care of for you in the background. It’s a win-win-win scenario for you, the affiliate marketer, and the ecommerce site.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Writer’s Block: What Causes It and How to Overcome It

Writer’s block definition from Dictionary.coma usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work. What causes this temporary condition? And how do you overcome it more quickly so you can get on with the business of writing?

Writer's Block

Writer’s Block

I believe there are three root causes to writer’s block: fear, perfectionism, and exhaustion. And I offer the following remedies to help you overcome each one more quickly.

Writer’s Block Cause #1: Fear

To overcome your fear, you must first acknowledge it: Don’t Call Procrastination Laziness. Call it Fear. What is the root cause behind your procrastination? It’s usually a fear of rejection or criticism in some form, as discussed in the above-linked blog post. Put your fears down on paper. Articulate them to yourself in writing. Read them out loud to yourself. When you do this, you’ll begin to see just how irrational many of your fears really are. That should help you get back to work.

Writer’s Block Cause #2: Perfectionism

Are you someone who finds yourself obsessing over every last little detail, editing the same line over and over again rather than writing a new one? This is another form of procrastination that can slow your writing progress down.

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”
~Margaret Atwood

The best way to overcome perfectionism is to stop overanalyzing everything. Stop nit-picking and editing yourself along the way. Not long ago, I wrote a blog post titled 7 Tips to Help You Write a Book FAST! These same tips can not only help you write more quickly; they can also help you overcome writer’s block in the first place.

Writer’s Block Cause #3: Exhaustion

Are you taking good physical care of yourself, eating healthy, and exercising regularly? Are you getting enough sleep? If not, you may find yourself both physically and mentally exhausted. You’ll most likely experience writer’s block ahead of other writers who are minding their mental and physical health in all these ways. Want some great tips on how to prevent exhaustion? Here they are: How to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Author Photos: How to Signal Your Tribe

Author Photo Kim StaflundAuthor Photo Kim Staflund

Author Photo Kim Staflund

Author photos make as powerful a statement about a writer as a book cover makes about the story inside. As such, your author photo should always be given as much care and consideration as the rest of your book.

I recently came across an article by Tucker Max that resonated with me. He comes across quite critical in this article (which is the norm for him), but he says one thing really well throughout the entire piece: your author photo is an important way of “signalling your tribe.” Better yet, he shows examples of what exactly this means.

Years ago, author photos only appeared in these three places: on the back cover of a book; inside the back matter of the book’s interior; or on a publisher’s press release. Nowadays, you can take full advantage of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to promote yourself and your books. You may also choose to write a personal blog or create a video of yourself on YouTube.

There are many ways for you to promote yourself online now. And there are just as many types of professional photographers and videographers to help you put your best face forward.

Author Photos on Book Covers

The front or back cover of a book is a great place to put an author photo. It can be a simple headshot or full-length portrait, depending on the writer’s preference. And this is a great place to get creative. A professional photographer knows how to use either colour or black and white to depict the mood of the book within the author photo. To make the picture even more attractive to readers, writers can dress themselves up as a character from inside their books or create the setting of the book within the background of the picture.

Author Photos on Social Networking Sites

Facebook not only helps you to keep in touch with personal friends and family members. It can also be used as a business networking tool much like LinkedIn. Both are great places to post an author photo as your profile picture for added exposure.

That said, you should be careful about the types of photographs you’re posting on these public sites. If the author photo on the back of your book is provocative or risqué in any way, it’s wise to leave that one to the back of the book and have a second, more conservative photo done specifically for these social networking sites. This is especially important if you only write part-time and currently work in a professional office setting. Today’s employers often “Google” prospective and current employees before deciding whether to hire or promote them.

Author Photos on Personal Blogs

You can also use your blog to promote yourself, your work, and your books. The primary reason why blogging is so important is search engine optimization (SEO), which means to improve (optimize) your ranking on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. When your prospective readers visit your blog, a great author photo can keep them interested in sticking around a little longer to click through and read more of your posts.

Author Video Readings on YouTube

YouTube is a great place to post an author video reading that will be available to a worldwide audience within a matter of minutes. You can even share a link to this video with all your readers via email, social networking sites, or your personal blog.

Never before has it been easier to reach such a broad audience so quickly—and at such an affordable cost! This makes it all the more important for you to put your best face forward with professional-quality author photos.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Printers and Publishers: What Their Graphic Designers Will and Won’t Do for You

Printers and publishers have a lot in common in terms of what their graphic designers will and won’t do. Today’s post will help you understand why.

Printers and Publishers: What Their Graphic Designers Will and Won't Do for You

Printers and Publishers: What Their Graphic Designers Will and Won’t Do for You

First and foremost, I’m referring to hybrid publishers as opposed to traditional (trade) publishers here. When traditional publishers purchase the rights to publish your manuscript, they are also buying full creative control of the book. That means they will make all the graphic design decisions on your behalf. You won’t have much say in anything. But in the self-publishing and hybrid publishing business models, you retain full copyright ownership of the book. As such, you also retain your creative control and must make all the design decisions for yourself. (You can learn more about today’s three primary book publishing methods by clicking here.)

Printers and Publishers Won’t Make Graphic Design Decisions on Your Behalf

Printers and Publishers Need to Know This

Printers and Publishers Need to Know This

Twice in the last nine years, I took on projects from authors who said they had no idea how they wanted their book covers to look. I pressed them for details with various leading questions. But they both insisted they didn’t know what they wanted. They asked me to have my graphic designer supply them with two sample layouts to choose from without providing any real instructions ahead of time. I cringed. I knew where this was headed. But I obliged and asked my designer to create two sample layouts based on the little information we had: the type of book, topic matter, and stated demographic.

In both cases, the designers did their best and came up with what I considered to be beautiful, professional designs. But, not surprisingly, both authors hated the sample layouts. “That’s not what I had in mind,” they both complained. It had been a giant waste of everyone’s time.

You see, even if you think you don’t know what you want, you still do to some degree. And this is important information to provide the graphic designers of both printers and publishers ahead of time.

When deciding how you would like your book’s cover and interior to appear, it’s best to browse a bookstore (whether in person or online) and view the many different examples there first. What designs, colours, and fonts draw your attention? Write down the book titles and author names, so you can use this as a handy visual reference when it comes time to provide a description to the graphic designer. This will help the process run much more smoothly for both of you.

You can download this book completely free of charge to obtain a check-list of the types of information graphic designers will need from you upfront. I highly recommend you read it.

Printers and Publishers Won’t Choose Graphics for You Free of Charge

Book Printing Tips

Book Printing Tips

If you want to include any illustrations, graphics, or images on your book cover—or in your book’s interior, for that matter—you must ensure you have the legal right to use them. There are three ways you can do this: one, you can use photos, illustrations, or graphics that you have personally created and therefore own the copyright to; two, you can purchase them from someone else; or three, you can find public domain stock photos that are deemed as “free for commercial use” and download those. Either way, it’s best if you to provide these files to printers and publishers ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot more money paying them to create or find these files on your behalf.

Click here for more information regarding where and how to find public domain stock photos for yourself. Always respect another artist’s copyright. If you don’t—if you just pull any image file you find off the Internet and use that for your book without first confirming you have the right to use it—you may find yourself involved in an expensive copyright infringement lawsuit down the road.

Printers and Publishers Won’t Choose Paper Stock for You Without Some Input

I fully understand the inclination of authors to say, “Just use the standard interior and cover stock,” when asked what type of paper they want used for their paperback or hardcover books. I get it. You’re thinking that printers and publishers are the experts, so they should know what you need in this regard. Here’s the problem with that: there is no one standard.

As you’re browsing through the bookstore to determine your design preferences, take note of all the different types of books in front of you. Notice how some books are thicker than others. Some covers are glossy and shiny; others are dull. Some interior pages are thin while others are thick. The colours vary. The sizes vary. Everything varies! (Choice is a wonderful thing. But it can also be a bit of a nightmare at times.)

When you’re browsing the bookstore, take note of the types of cover and interior paper stock that appeal to you most . Take photos of your preferences. Better yet, bring physical samples to show printers and publishers when it comes time to place your order with them.

Printers and Publishers Will Sit Down With You to Discuss All These Details and Make Recommendations

Here’s one more thing printers and publishers have in common: they want to make you happy. When you’re happy, they’re happy!

Once you’ve visited the bookstore and gotten an idea of what you’re looking for, your next best course of action is to book a graphic design meeting to discuss your findings. Ask questions, listen to the recommendations, then make your decisions from there.

Printers and publishers are here to help you create the best book possible. But they need you to help them help you by doing some homework ahead of time. Trust me, it will save you time and money in the long run.

Related reading: Preparing Your Digital Files for a Book Publisher

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



What is Author Central and Why Do You Need It?

What exactly is Author Central and why does every author—whether self-published or traditionally published—need it? Here’s the greatest reason why. 

Author Central (Amazon)

Author Central (Amazon)

Whether you self-publish a book directly to Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing or use the services of either a traditional or hybrid publisher to publish it for you, there is a 99% chance your book will be available for sale on Amazon. Everyone sell books through this ecommerce giant now.

What is an Author Central Page?

An Author Central Page acts as your own personalized webpage on Amazon. It is a place where you can include an author biography to let others know more about you and your books. You can upload author photos and videos. And you can let Amazon know which books from the online store belong to you. Futhermore, you can include an RSS feed to drive more traffic to your blog. (The above image displays an example of how your blog’s RSS feed will appear on your page.)

Why Do You Need an Author Central Page?

Amazon hyperlinks each author’s name beside the title of his or her book(s). Whenever people click on those hyperlinks, they’re shown a list of all the books by that author. Unfortunately, they may also be shown books by other authors with the same or similar names. The only way to ensure all your books show up together in one Amazon search, without other unwanted authors in the mix, is to create an Author Central Page and add your books to it.

Need another another great reason to create your own Author Central page? Here are three: 3 Ways an Author Central Page Can Spike Your Ranking on Amazon.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.