Marketing Your Business with a Self-Published Book

September 23rd, 2010

How Can a Book Serve as a Marketing Tool?

Communicate Benefits and Key Features of Your Service or Product
Educate current & prospective customers with consumer guidance about your product, service, or industry
Complement your public presentations and other marketing strategies with a concrete, lasting item to put in customers’ hands
Connect with ancillary companies (e.g., Realtors with mortgage brokers) by offering consumer advice and recommending quality vendors
Highlight your own company and services

What Can You Write About?

Consumer advice related to your service, product, or industryHistory of your company
How-to instructions for various customer needs (e.g., physical therapy exercises for muscle aches; one financial advisor did a book on how to budget, get out of debt, and live within your means)
Ideas or plans that might prompt readers to use your services or products (e.g., landscaping ideas, interior decoration or renovation ideas, especially if they can be illustrated with photos of jobs you’ve done)
Workbooks to accompany conference presentations and workshops
Even unrelated or tangential subjects, as long as the book bears your company’s name and logo (e.g., Southwestern cookbook, restaurant guide, or day-trip guide for Realtor’s prospects, especially those considering a move here from out of state)

How Do You Build a Quality Product to Represent Your Company?

Avoid subsidy publishers such as LuLu and iUniverse, which siphon profits from self-publishers and may deliver a disappointing product. Amazon’s CreateSpace with its templates results in an inferior product. Look for quality designers, editors, and publishers who operate as small enterprises. Strategies:

Draft the manuscript yourself and hire an editor to whip it into shape; or
Hire a ghost writer to write the entire manuscript from information you provide.
Have a designer create a cover, interior design, and do the layout.

Costs:
Editor: $4 to $12/page, or about $20 to $30/hour
Ghost-writing: $10,000 to $20,000
Design
Hard copy: upwards of $600
E-book: a few hundred dollars

Have a printing house produce a small run or do print-on-demand

E-book vs. Hard Copy

Hard Copy Benefits

Physical object to hand to customers and prospects
Attractive design
Hand-out for conferences and public speaking events
May be salable

Hard Copy Drawbacks

Expense of printing
Storage, or cost of print-on-demand
Heavy to carry or ship

E-book Benefits

Post on your website
Post a chapter as a teaser to sell hard-copy version
Inexpensive: no printing, freight, or storage costs
May be salable through Amazon.com’s Kindle

E-book Drawbacks

Ephemeral
Nothing physical to represent company
Easy for plagiarists to rip off
Low or no profit for time invested

Resources

Design and Layout

Metcalf Design
Jim Metcalf
7257 East Nance Street
Mesa, AZ 85207
Phone: (480) 948-7079
Email: jrmetcalf227 [at] cox.net
www.metcalfdesigninc.com

Editing

The Copyeditor’s Desk
Victoria Hay
1602 West Seldon Way
Phoenix, AZ 85021
vickyhay [at] mac.com

One-Stop Shop

1106 Design
Ronda Rawlins
Michele DeFilippo
610 E. Bell Rd. #2-402
Phoenix, AZ 85022-2393
(602) 866-3226
Fax: (602) 866-8166

Printers

Affiliated Lithographers
3128 W Thomas Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85017
(602) 269-8325

Viking Lithographics
2924 W Fairmount Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85017
(602) 274-4449

Access Laserpress
5436 W Latham Street
Phoenix, AZ 85043
602-272-2525

Lightning Source

http://www.lightningsource.com

Trade Group of Small Publishers

Arizona Book Publishing Association

http://azbookpub.com/

Learn Feature Article Writing, Get Published, and Improve Your Blog Content

June 24th, 2010

This fall Victoria Hay will teach a special eight-week course, 100 percent online, in feature article writing. The sponsoring institution is Paradise Valley Community College, in Phoenix, Arizona; the class runs from October 18 through December 10. Bloggers who want to improve blog content as well as anyone who would like to become a published writer for magazines and newspapers should take advantage of this opportunity.

Registration is now open. The easiest way to register is by telephone. Call 602-Dial 602-787-7000 and register for English 235, Magazine Article Writing, Section 58235.

Please visit our home page for detailed information.

Manuscripts: Saving Time and Money, 1

April 18th, 2009

The other day I was asked to make a short presentation for the Arizona Book Publishers Association. I chose to address a few issues that authors can do to simplify their own lives and ours when preparing manuscripts.

This was pretty easy to do, since we had been wrestling with a particularly difficult book compiled by a group of authors for publication through a print-on-demand house. The book was to be used adjunct to their business, and so it was to their advantage to self-publish rather than to go through a traditional press. Just as well: no one who wasn’t being paid to publish the thing would have accepted it.

The copy epitomized six major traits of amateurishly prepared material. It was filled with authorly misdeeds that create unnecessary headaches for editors and layout artists. These matters ultimately cost the authors a great deal more money than anyone needs to pay for production of a book: many of our sixty-dollar hours were consumed needlessly in untangling messes the authors could have and should have done right from the outset.

So, let us discuss. Let us discuss serially, starting today with Installment 1.

1. When working with a coauthor…

Please work together with your coauthor!

Apparently these authors rarely spoke to each other. After I’d plodded through the first few chapters, I opened chapter 4 to find three introductory paragraphs identical, word for word, with the first few paragraphs of chapter 2. As it that weren’t enough, the same thing happened in two other chapters. Hello? Is anyone there?

Use the same style manual!

A “style manual” is a publication guide that codifies such things as the way citation and documentation should be done, whether numbers should be spelled out or set as numerals, how tables are set up, and the like. Here are some examples:

The University of Chicago Press. The Chicago Manual of Style. 15th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Joseph Gibaldi. MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. 3rd edition. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2008.

Joseph Gibaldi. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th edition. New York: Modern Language Association of America, forthcoming in 2009.

Norm Goldstein. The Associated Press Stylebook. 43rd edition. New York: Basic Books, 2009.

American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 5th edition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2001.

Council of Science Editors. Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers. 7th edition. Reston, Va.: Council of Science Editors and Rockefeller University Press, 2006.

American Medical Association: The American Medical Association Manual of Style. 9th edition. Baltimore: Wilkins & Wilkins, 1998.

The Chicago Manual is the standard of the book publishing industry.  If you want to write books, you should own a copy.  There are some other, more specialized style manuals. Consult with your publisher for advice on which one to use. Whichever is selected, please read it and follow it closely! When coauthors are working together, each author must follow the agreed-upon manual’s style. Otherwise, a confusing jumble results.

If you’re self-publishing, please let your editor know which manual you think you’re using.

Please use the same style sheet.

A style sheet is an informal list of the individual quirks in a manuscript. It ensures regularity in such matters as unusual spelling or hyphenation, use of numbers vs. numerals, and the way you type your heads and subheads.

Coauthors should agree an how heads and subheads will look (boldface caps and lower-case flush left? boldface italic caps and lower-case centered? italic caps and lower-case run-in?). Subheadings come in several levels: level A, level B, level C, and so on.

The level-A heading is usually a chapter title, like this:

9. The Key to the Pacific Coast Order of Flying Ground Squirrels

Your level-B heading then would be a subhead:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris dapibus. Phasellus facilisis neque quis eros. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

This Is a Level-B Subhead

Donec semper nunc a nisl. Vivamus porta pulvinar felis. Cras lacus. Vivamus tincidunt egestas ipsum. Vivamus erat nisl, condimentum eget, gravida a, pulvinar at, tellus.

The next level of subhead should be typographically distinct from the higher level of subheads. Think levels in a topic outline: the sub-subhead would be a subtopic if you outlined your manuscript.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris dapibus. Phasellus facilisis neque quis eros. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

This Is a Level-C Subhead

Donec semper nunc a nisl. Vivamus porta pulvinar felis. Cras lacus. Vivamus tincidunt egestas ipsum. Vivamus erat nisl, condimentum eget, gravida a, pulvinar at, tellus.

It’s best to avoid complicated sub-sub-subheads, but if you need to use them, the next level should look different from either of the higher levels.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris dapibus. Phasellus facilisis neque quis eros. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

This Is a Level-D Subhead. Donec semper nunc a nisl. Vivamus porta pulvinar felis. Cras lacus. Vivamus tincidunt egestas ipsum. Vivamus erat nisl, condimentum eget, gravida a, pulvinar at, tellus.

The choice of fonts and faces is not cast in stone. However, they must be consistent. An editor can’t read your mind, and a layout artist won’t even try to read your mind. When you’re working with one or more coauthors, you should be sure everyone on the writing team knows and will use the desired format for heads and subheads.

Avoid redundancy. Please don’t repeat each other!

One member of the authorial team should accept the job of reading all the copy, from beginning to end. With the agreed-upon style sheet in hand, this person should be sure

a. that everything the team intended to say in the book is included;
b. that the format for everything is consistent (heads and subheads, documentation and citation, tables, figures, paragraphing style, spelling, numbers & numerals, etc.); and
c.  that no passages or concepts have been repeated.

Attention to these few simple matters can save a great deal of time when you reach a stage where time is money. That stage begins the minute a manuscript is handed over to an editor or a graphic artist.

Manuscripts: Saving Time and Money, 2

April 17th, 2009

In our last post, I began a series called Saving Time and Money at the Manuscript Stage, mostly meant for self-publishing authors and for operators of small presses. Today I’d like to mention a few things you can do as you are entering copy into your word processor—or, if you’re a publisher, some basic word processing guidelines that you can and should require your authors to follow.

For authors, each of these hints will help make your manuscript look more professional, which will help immensely in your effort to find a publisher. No editor wants to work with a rank amateur, and so if the initial impression your manuscript creates is amateurish, it may work against acceptance of an otherwise publishable work. If you are self-publishing, these devices will save you money. For publishers and packagers, encouraging your authors to adhere to these simple rules will save you hours of unnecessary work and frustration and many dollars in editors’ and graphic artists’ time. So…listen up!

Please double-space throughout!

This means everything. All parts of the manuscript should be double-spaced!

· The table of contents should be double-spaced.
· Heads and subheads should be double-spaced.
· Indented block quotations should be double-spaced.
· Tables should be double-spaced.
· Footnotes and endnotes should be double-spaced.
· The bibliography (reference list) should be double-spaced.
· Appendices should be double-spaced.
· The index should be double-spaced.

Everything. All of it. Double-spaced.

Yes, dear author. I know it’s digital copy on a computer and that the copyeditor can hit Ctrl-A Format > Paragraph > Line spacing > double. But why should she have to do that when you should have done it in the first place? And why should she have to undo the messes that this can make in copy whose author has played with the keyboard like a Tinker-Toy set to build all sorts of outlandish DIY constructions?

Remember, your final printed book will look different from the way it appears on an 8 x 11 1/2-inch page. All your careful layout will go away when it is poured into a page layout program and resized to fit the pages of your publisher’s book. The editor and the page layout artist can best work with plain vanilla double-spaced copy, and in some instances must have it formatted that way.  Save these worthies some headaches and yourself a lot of grief and hassle, and just double-space everything.

Refrain from entering an extra space between paragraphs.

It’s OK to indicate the start of a new paragraph by entering a hard tab at the start of the first line of each new paragraph. If that seems like too much work, it’s OK to let your word processor automatically indent each first line. But please. do. not.  double-space between grafs.

Use the same font size throughout.

It’s OK to set the chapter titles a little larger, if that makes you feel good. But please set all the subheads and sub-subheads in the same font size as the rest of the copy.  Distinguish between levels of heads and subheads by using (consistently!) boldface and italic.

Do not use reduced type for indented block quotes. Do not use reduced type for footnotes and reference lists.

Select a standard, widely used font such as Times, Times New Roman, or Garamond, and use 12-point type for all of the body copy, heads and subheads.

Thank you.

Please use your word processor’s automatic functions to create hanging indented paragraphs and block indents!

Do not under any circumstances construct DIY hanging indents and block indents with the “enter” and the “tab” keys. This trick creates a huge mess for someone else to clean up.

In Word, the hanging indent function is at Format > Paragraph > Special > hanging. The block indent function can be engaged by clicking on the “increase indent” icon: it looks like a little page with a couple of lines indented next to a right-pointing arrow. Unengage this function by clicking on the “decrease indent” icon. If you can’t find these icons at the top of your screen, then go to Format > Paragraph  and see the choices under “Indentation.” Selecting “Right” allows you to indent copy in 1/10 of an inch increments (.5 is pretty standard); selecting “Left” allows you to move back to the margin (enter 0 to do that].

Sometimes when you copy and paste passages from the Internet, your word processor will format them with hard returns and tab indents. Please delete these, so that the copy wraps normally. In Word, you can tell whether this is happening by clicking on the little icon that looks like a ¶ sign. When this toggle switch is clicked on, it shows each blank space with a little raised dot (·), each hard return (where someone has pressed the “enter” key) as a ¶ symbol, and each hard tab as a little right-pointing arrow (→). So, an incorrectly formatted hanging indent (for example) will look like this:

Lorem·ipsum·dolor·sit·amet,·consectetur· ¶
→ adipiscing·elit.·Curabitur·porta,·leo·eu·¶
→ scelerisque·volutpat,·diam·diam·¶
→ condimentum·dui,·ut·ultrices·risus.·.·.·.¶

If you find this in something you have pasted into your MS, or if (God forfend) you have done it yourself, please go through and delete each hard return and each hard tab space. Once the copy wraps normally, please format the material using your word-processor’s hanging indent (or, as appropriate) block indent function.

Please type one space ONLY, not two spaces, after periods, colons, exclamation points, and question marks!

If you are of a certain age, you learned in typing class to hit period-space-space at the end of every sentence. And that is correct if you’re using a typewriter.

It’s not correct when you’re setting type for print. And when you are using a word processor, you are performing the first stage in setting type for print. Remember: a word processor is not a typewriter!

The reason for the difference is that in the font used by typewriters (usually Courier or Elite), each character is the same width. An i is the same width as an m. But in grown-up fonts, character widths differ:

iiiii
mmmmm

With a typewriter’s uniform-width characters, entering two spaces after punctuation eases the eye and makes it easier to distinguish a new sentence. Try that in typeset copy, though, and you’re apt to get “rivers of white”: meandering vertical stripes of white space. It looks funny. Typeset copy has never been set with two spaces after every period.

So: either get used to hitting the space bar once after punctuation or learn to eliminate extraneous spaces with a search-&-replace function. In Word, this very easy:

Edit > Replace (on a PC, the keyboard command is alt-e-e)
Next to Find what, press the space bar twice, entering two blank spaces.
Next to Replace with, press the space bar once, entering one blank space.
Now click Replace all (the PC’s keyboard command is alt-a).

This will replace all the double-blank-spaces with single blank spaces. Click Replace all until Word tells you it has completed the search and made 0 replacements; because some people use the space bar with great enthusiasm, it may take more than one search to get rid of all the extraneous spaces.

When indicating a long (one-em) dash, use the same symbol consistently, throughout the manuscript.

The long dash is called an “em-dash” because it is approximately the same width as a letter m in a scalable font.

There are other dashes. The shorter “en-dash,” for example, is about the width of a letter n. A hyphen is shorter still. A minus sign is about the size of an en-dash; although the two are not the same, many typesetters use the en-dash to signify subtraction.

i
-    hyphen

n
–   en-dash

m
—  em-dash

En-dashes are most commonly used in inclusive numbers:

1966–67, not 1966-67

Most recent versions of Word default to create an em-dash when you type two hyphens with no space between the characters on either side. WordPress defaults to convert two hyphens to an en-dash (who knows why?), and so to illustrate this I’ll have to substitute en-dashes.

Lorem ipsum––dolor sit amet becomes Lorem ipsum—dolor sit amet

In newer versions of Word, typing a single hyphen with a space between the characters on either side morphs to a word, a space, a one-en dash, a space, and a word. This is British style:

Lorem ipsum - dolor sit amet becomes Lorem ipsum Lorem ipsum – dolor sit amet

Any one of these typing quirks is fairly easy for an editor or typesetter to replace globally. But please. Use the same set of keystrokes to indicate a one-em dash. Whatever makes you happy, do it consistently throughout the manuscript! Having to replace two, three, four combinations that some author has dreamed up gets to be very old, very fast.

Why do these arcane issues matter?

Because, dear author, dear publisher: they cost you money!

If you are an author who is self-publishing a book, you will hire an editor and a typesetter to help put your magnum opus into a form acceptable for marketing. Editors and typesetters have specialized skills that ordinarily sell for around $60 an hour. Do you really want to pay $60 an hour (or more…sometimes much more) to have someone retype your manuscript? This is something you can and should do yourself.

If you are going through a print-on-demand publisher, trust me: you pay for editing and typesetting. Decent POD publishers subcontract their customers’ books to book packagers, who sub-subcontract the editing and typesetting to editors and graphic designers. If an editor has to waste untold hours to fix your typing, that cost will be reflected in the amount you pay the POD company.

And if you are a publisher, of course you would like to maximize your profits. Having to pay editing and design rates for low-level tasks that amount to typing naturally will cut in to your profit margin.

Get the word processing right from the get-go. Save time—your own or someone else’s—and save money.

Manuscripts: Saving Time and Money 3

April 16th, 2009

This is the third installment in a series of posts suggesting ways authors and small publishers can save headaches, time, and money at the manuscript stage. We’ve already talked about working with coauthors, using standard style manuals, and processing words like a pro. Now let’s discuss…

Images, Tables, and Textboxes

Please. Please, please, please DON’T embed these in the manuscript!

Tables, images, and textboxes do not just pop into InDesign or Quark. The graphic artist needs to place them, one by one, into the layout in the appropriate places.

If that’s not a good enough reason for you, here’s what happened when one author got fancy with tables:

At 1:30 one morning, I finally finished a perfectly awful amateur manuscript produced by one of my clients. Eager to get the work, when I quoted my page rate I hadn’t looked carefully at his “tables,” most of which were jury-rigged with tabs and hard returns, nor had I realized that half the copy consisted of these fake tables, because he hadn’t numbered them. The manuscript contained a good two dozen of them. One actually had been created in Word’s table function, but then somehow he’d embedded a graphic inside the table. Another was a table stuck inside a textbox, which I could not remove from the copy no matter how hard I tried. A third was a table over which the author had superimposed a text box, apparently unaware that he could merge cells to create a space in which to enter the paragraph he stuck there.

Because he was trying to do the page layout himself in Word—this document was a book accompanying a course in personal finance he was peddling, and he intended to have it printed at a KwikCopy—I converted his tab-and-return monstrosities into tables, cleaned up the real tables, and left them embedded in the edited file.

What a mess! It took hours and hours and HOURS to untangle, and by the time I finished, the $4.50/page quote I’d given him stuck me with an hourly rate of about three bucks. Finally, on the fourth night that I’d spent working until I couldn’t hold my eyes open another minute, I was about to wrap the job up…and Word hung. I managed to save the file and shut down the computer, and then I stumbled off to bed.

The next morning when I opened it to add a few finishing touches before sending it and my puny bill to the author, what should come up but an error message: “A table in this document has become corrupted. To recover the contents of the table: select the table and choose Convert Table to Text from the Table menu.” (This strategy, BTW, converts your table, all right: into scrambled eggs!)

This problem was a known issue in MS Word 2002. I was using Word 2004 and so never had encountered it until his Word 2002 file came along. Nothing I tried would recover the file. Days of eye-glazing work had been lost. I did not get paid for my time and labor, and my client did not get his edited copy.

This was a direct result of embedding large numbers of complex tables in a Word file.

The solution is to create the tables in a separate word file—one file per table, preferably, each given an identifiable filename, such as “table 1.doc” or “Jones table 1.doc.” Format the table according to Chicago style (or whatever style you’re following) and give it a title. Here’s an example.

In the MS where you want the file to appear, enter a call-out to the layout artist, like this:

<COMP: Please insert Table 1 here>

You can boldface or highlight them as you like; the compositor (layout artist) will use the layout program’s search function to look for a symbol such as < to find them all, and so is unlikely to miss any. Where she or he finds a callout, she will place the appropriate table in the layout, using InDesign or Quark.

Do the same for material you would like to place in textboxes.

Do not, do not, do NOT stick textboxes in a Word document and then drop the thing on a layout artist! This creates headaches of migraine caliber. Just because Word will do something does not mean you should do it!

For textboxes, you can use a single file. Call it something like textboxes.doc, Jones textboxes.doc, or chapt 1 textboxes.doc. Do not place the copy inside textboxes in this file. Just type it, and number each blurb in the order in which you would like it to appear.

Textbox 1

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Etiam nunc. Donec consectetur ipsum nec est. Quisque at dolor.

Textbox 2

Nunc luctus risus in tortor. Vivamus tristique, lectus a pretium aliquet, felis mi lacinia erat, sagittis rhoncus metus arcu accumsan ligula.

Indicate in the copy approximately where you would like to place the textbox:

<COMP: Please place textbox 1 near here.>

Remember that unless you’re publishing in 8.5 x 11-inch format, the page size for your published document will be different from Word’s default page size. In any event, because the layout program’s font size and margins will be different, what you type in Word will not look identical when it’s laid out. So all your effort to trick out pages using Word’s bells and whistles will be just so much wasted time and energy.

Images and graphs need to be saved as JPEGS or PDFs, and absolutely positively NOT embedded in Word files! An embedded image is useless to a layout artist. These are not print-quality images, and they do not flow into page layout programs in any sane manner.

Handling images and graphs entails three steps:

1. Save the file as a JPEG or a PDF.
2. Write a caption and save it (with all the other captions) in a separate Word file.
3. Type a callout in the manuscript to tell the layout artist where you would like to place the image.

Give your JPEG an identifying name, numbered in the order in which it should appear. Images are called “figures.” Thus:

Figure 1.jpg
Jones Figure 1.jpg
Jones Chapt 1 Fig 1.jpg
Jones Fig 1.pdf

And thus:

Nunc luctus risus in tortor. Vivamus tristique, lectus a pretium aliquet, felis mi lacinia erat, sagittis rhoncus metus arcu accumsan ligula. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Curabitur commodo purus. Nam varius. Aenean id sem quis sem porttitor adipiscing. Suspendisse tempor elit ac mi.

<COMP: Please place Figure 1 near here.>

Aliquam scelerisque lacus placerat purus. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Quisque arcu. Vestibulum sit amet lorem. Nunc enim velit, placerat nec, fringilla vitae, elementum ac, arcu. Fusce mattis. Donec sodales. Donec augue tortor, pretium eu, posuere quis, volutpat non, nunc. Nullam varius dignissim nisl. Vivamus lobortis.

<COMP: Please place Figure 2 near here.>

Type all the captions in a separate file, in the order in which the images should appear, and clearly identify them:

Figure 1

Little League players at a public park in Cincinnati, 1951.

Figure 2

Like their big-league counterparts, Pop Warner teams had mascots, among them the Erewhon Lumberjacks’ Musky the Muskrat.

What You’ll Give the Publisher or Layout Artist:

So. When you finish compiling a manuscript that includes tables, pullouts (textboxes), and images, you’ll hand over a package for the layout artist that contains the following items:

The manuscript
Files containing the tables and their titles
Images and graphs formatted as JPEGs or PDFs
A file containing captions for the images and graphs.

This seems like a lot of trouble, eh? Well…trust me. It’s a LOT less trouble than a single Word file with all that stuff jumbled up in it. When someone else has to untangle the mess, the process is time-consuming and expensive (you, dear author, ultimately will pay for the time required), and the potential for error is hugely magnified.

Do it right the first time. Please.