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The POP Newsletter

By Katherine Pickett 10 Nov, 2017

What good timing you have! For my book, I went through Lightning Source because the quality is said to be better, you can set your discount rates (good if you want to be in bookstores), and I am not a fan of Amazon as a company.

 Things did not go as smoothly at LS as I had expected. It took three proofs before we were satisfied that the print quality was going to be all right. We have some shaded boxes, and the shading was uneven. Apparently our proof was the last book off the press before they changed the ink (seriously). I was not impressed. The cover and paper were very good though.

 Over Christmas we learned that Amazon was taking longer and longer to get our books to customers. Cathy Davis reported having to wait 3 weeks! Then they started saying our book was out of stock. We finally decided it was in our best interest to work with CreateSpace and LS at the same time. I wasn't thrilled with that because, if LS has print quality issues, what is CS going to do? Most people order from Amazon and therefore the books would be coming from CS. And I don't want my readers getting crummy-looking books. But, I was over a barrel, so I signed up for CS.

 Turns out the print quality at CS was better than at LS and we had nothing to worry about there. It is clear to someone who is really looking closely that the binding is not as good, and the color match on the cover isn't exact, but only we would notice that. The paper is a little creamier than I would have wanted, but I prefer it to the stark white that is the other option from CS. LS's paper is a very pleasant light cream; CS's is a little darker but still OK. Also, CS charges less per book, by about 50 cents. When you're ordering 150 books for various events, that makes a difference.

 Right now we plan to keep both accounts -- one with LS and the other with CS -- but I do wish I hadn't waited so long to sign up with CS. I hate that Amazon controls everything, but with the quality of printing I saw and the cheaper per unit price, I came to terms with it.

 Given the type of book you are creating, I would definitely consider using CreateSpace. You can sign up for free and get a proof for about $4 (plus shipping). If you hate it, you can move on to Ingram. Or you can sign up with both. If you do go with CS, consider getting a matte finish on your book. I find the glossy from CS to be too shiny. The matte we received looks really good. Since you have a self-help/spiritual book, I think the matte would suit your genre.

 So, there's a long answer to a short question. I hope it helps!

By Katherine Pickett 15 Oct, 2017
Dear Reader,

I have been writing The POP Newsletter for more than six years and have accumulated some 85 posts. Unfortunately, much of that history has been lost. I will continue to add new posts and re-create the old ones, but it will take time. Please bear with me.

Sincerely,
Katherine Pickett

PS. I have purposefully left this beautiful stock photo here for your enjoyment. Don't you feel calmer already?

KP
By Katherine Pickett 14 Sep, 2017

When I listed the Kindle and Nook editions of my second novel, Race for the Flash Stone , to accept preorders, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Big-name authors routinely list their upcoming titles for preorders, and their books-in-waiting always seem to immediately pop onto the best-seller lists. But what could an unknown indie author hope to achieve by employing the same practice? The answer: Whoa, Nelly!

Of course, I hoped accepting preorders for my book would generate sales in advance of the official release, but I had no idea how many to anticipate. I set my expectations low and chastened myself to primarily treat the 60-day preorder window as an opportunity to build awareness of the upcoming release among my Facebook and blog followers. That tempered view quickly changed within days after listing the book for preorders on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s website, bn.com.

Sales quickly accumulated, and this led to a few unexpected side benefits that continue to accrue as of this writing, two months after the official release date. In short, I received 3 powerful benefits from listing my book for preorders that led to a book launch that exceeded my expectations:

1.     Unsolicited buzz by Amazon and Barnes & Noble

2.     Faster accumulation of reviews and ratings for the new book

3.     Early read on sales level led me to boost advertising investment in first book

Before describing these benefits in more depth, it’s likely of value to provide some brief background to assist fellow newbie indie authors in determining whether my preorder insights are of value.

First, both of my novels are part of a series titled The Anlon Cully Chronicles. The first book in the series, Shadows of the Stone Benders , was released in May 2016. Race for the Flash Stone is a continuation of the story explored in Shadows of the Stone Benders , and that likely had an impact on the stronger than expected preorders, as Shadows of the Stone Benders concluded with a soft cliffhanger.

By Katherine Pickett 03 Apr, 2017

If you want to give your books the best shot of selling, you must give conscious effort to establishing your author brand.

 A strong presence helps an author or any online entrepreneur in the same way branding helps companies. An author brand helps you establish a name people recognize and trust, which helps you sell more books.

By Katherine Pickett 01 Mar, 2017
Consistent use of numerals (1, 2, 3) versus spelled-out numbers (one, two, three) is one of the most common problems I see in my authors’ writing. Most just type whatever form their fingers choose at that moment, but ultimately a rule of some kind should be established.
 
There are at least four different numbers rules that a writer could follow. Which one you choose has to do with the type of publication you are writing for and the technical level of the material. Your options include the following:
   
  1. Some publications prefer to spell out one through nine and use numerals for all other numbers. This is often called the informal numbers rule and is commonly employed in newspapers and magazines.
  2. Others prefer to spell out numbers one through one hundred and all large, round numbers (e.g., ten thousand, fifty million). This rule dominates the nonfiction trade book market, which includes general interest, self-help, memoir — most books that are sold in bookstores but are not textbooks or fiction. It is commonly referred to as the formal numbers rule.
  3.   A small segment of publications use numerals in all instances except in general uses like “I for one” or “for one thing.” I have only seen this in corporate reports, where the press has decided numbers appear often enough that it isn’t worth the time to deal with exceptions.
  4.    And then there are those publications that spell out all numbers no matter what. This is most commonly seen in fiction, where numbers are used rarely, and when they are used, it is not for exact measurements.
   
I don’t know any cute names for these last two rules, but I do know they are the simplest to follow. That is because they have the fewest exceptions. Exceptions are what make numbers rules challenging even for trained editors.
   
In fact, I’ve found one of the quick ways to tell a book that hasn’t been edited very well is to look at the treatment of numbers. If I find a bunch of inconsistencies, I figure the editor didn’t know her numbers rules and has probably made other mistakes as well. (The numbers rule is an early lesson in editing training.)
   
As the author, you can help by choosing the numbers rule that suits your type of book and following it as best you can. It’s highly likely you will make a mistake somewhere — use words where there should be numerals or vice versa — but you can help yourself and your editor by working toward consistency.
    
By Katherine Pickett 27 Feb, 2017
In the blog series Publishing Stories, I asked several past clients to share their experiences with publishing.
 
There are more to come, but I would like to pause here and think about what we as authors, editors, and publishers can learn from their stories.
 
The four profiled authors — Gary Bargatze , W.K. Dwyer , Maureen C. Berry , and Peter C. Diamond — come from a variety of backgrounds, wrote on wide-ranging topics in both fiction and nonfiction, and were in varying stages of their careers as authors.

  • Gary Bargatze, the author of the 8-book historical fiction series titled Your Winding Daybreak Ways , chose to hire his own editor and rely on a publishing services company to produce his book. Starting in 2015, five of the books have been released with more publishing over the course of 2017.  
  • W.K. Dwyer, whose social sci-fi novel The Killing Flower was just released in fall 2016, arranged all of the vendors — developmental editor, copyeditor, interior designer, cover artist, proofreader, printer, and ebook company — himself.  
  • Maureen C. Berryleft a contract with a publishing house to self-publish her cookbook, Salmon: From Market to Plate , on her own terms and schedule. The book debuted in 2016.  
  • Peter Diamond’s self-help book Amplify Your Career and Life published in 2014. He hired a developmental editor, then contracted with a hybrid publisher for production, distribution, and marketing.
The goals of each author and their expectations for marketing and sales greatly colored their stories. It was educational for me to see where I saw success and where they did or did not.
By Katherine Pickett 22 Feb, 2017
When I’m editing I often see writers relying on the same words and phrases throughout their manuscripts. Sometimes the repetition becomes noticeable and distracting, particularly when words are repeated in the same paragraph or sentence.
 
Some words and phrases are more memorable than others. Indefatigable , for example, or invariably , or in an alternate universe will stand out to readers and need to be used sparingly.
 
Now, some words are difficult to write around — work is one that causes me trouble — but others are not so difficult, and if the repetition is distracting your readers from your message, it is almost always worth the effort to find a new way to say something.
 
What can you do about it? First, determine if you are falling into this trap. Reading the passage aloud can help. Stepping away from the manuscript and then reading through from beginning to end is another way to detect the problem.
 
Once you know what some of your “crutch” words are, you can do a search to locate each instance. Then evaluate each use and decide (1) if you need the word at all, and (2) if there isn’t a more interesting way to convey your meaning. Revise as needed.
By Katherine Pickett 15 Feb, 2017

If you want to save money on editing, your first step is improving your writing. Get your grammar and punctuation up to snuff by picking up a couple of language guides.
 

    The Elements of Style by Strunk and White continues to be a favorite of mine for its brevity, humor, and accessibility.
      The Chicago Manual of Style offers the other extreme of long and slightly cumbersome but also authoritative.
      The Elephants of Style by Bill Walsh is a slightly irreverent guide that covers topics many other books ignore.
      Random House’s Webster Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation will answer almost any question you may have.

 You can find more information online. Helpful websites include: 

   Grammar Girl, http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl

Grammar doesn’t have to be boring, and getting familiar with the rules can save you hundreds of dollars. What are your favorite grammar guides?
 

By Katherine Pickett 03 Oct, 2016
In the new blog series Publishing Stories, I have asked former clients to share their experiences with book publishing. This first contribution is by Gary Bargatze , author of the 8-book series Your Winding Daybreak Ways . His self-published books have earned praise from many corners, including the Baltimore Sun . Here he tells us how he found success as a self-publisher.
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