If you grew up reading Dr. Seuss, you are probably quite familiar with “Horton Hears a Who” (originally published August 12, 1954), the metaphorical story of many tiny voices joining together in a chorus loud enough to be heard. The story resonated with me as a child, and seems to be an appropriate metaphor for the state of our planet lately.
Just as in the Dr. Seuss book, if you listen to ANY news program recently, you hear many voices throughout the world simultaneously asking to be heard. Voices shouting of decades and generations — if not centuries — of persecution based upon race, color, gender, nationality, physical or mental abilities, sexual orientation, religion, family culture or politics . . . and more. Many voices, joining in chorus, to find a better way of living, loving and learning to co-exist.
As a female growing up in mid-America, living with my Mother and Stepfather, I remember the exact day when I was told my voice did not count — third grade, just before dinner. I don’t recall the subject of the conversation, but I vaguely remember my Stepfather asking me to do something (probably set the table or such). My independent 8-year-old-self told him, “No thank you, I’m busy.” At which point, my Mother explained I was not allowed to tell an adult, “no”, let alone a MALE adult. Now, granted, this was early 1960’s, and the most popular show on TV was “Father Knows Best”.
I’m sorry to say, but it wasn’t until recently (when the “me too” campaign came to light) that this memory came full-circle, and I began to realize how much of an impact that one conversation has had on every male relationship I’ve had over the past 50-plus years.
I’ve never been one to silence my opinion, but now I understand better WHY I offer my opinions. In my heart, I knew my WHY matters. My WHY comes from not understanding what my Mother was telling me, nor agreeing with it, but knowing I definitely needed to follow my Mother’s lead in order to stay safe. My WHY fuels my passion to help others find their voice and tell their story.
WHAT IS YOUR WHY?
Everyone has a story. Many have stories which need to be told.
As a helper-and-healer, you too (more-than-likely), have a story to tell. What motivates you to help YOUR clients? We’ve identified three main “helping” themes in the hundreds of books we’ve published . . .
As a small business owner, having a non-fiction book is one of the most highly-successful marketing tools to help you . . .
- Establish Your Credibility
- Inspire More People
- Project a Professional Image
- Develop Greater Visibility for Your Business
- Attract, Retain and Solidify Your Client Base
That’s where we come in.
As Professional Author Consultants, we help you tell your story, with one of the most experienced staff in the independent self-publishing industry. Our writing coaches teach business owners to become authors and our publishing consultants teach you how to be your own publisher, avoid the self-publishing pitfalls, and keep 100% of your royalties.
If you are ready for your voice to be heard, reach out . . . email me or give me a call.
Last week, one of my key referral sources called me her “Publishing Sherpa”. I hold your hand, walk you through the process, and guarantee a pain-free delivery of your book to your doorstep. Really. It’s much easer than childbirth.
In the world of self-publishing, I’m always watching for stories I can share to help emphasize not only how much $$ we SAVE our clients . . . but also how much $$ we can help them MAKE.
You just never know when the Universe is listening and decides to provide you the answer (or, in this case, the story) you’ve been waiting for.
It all started last Friday when I took a leap of faith and found myself on an airplane to Atlanta for the Spirit of Women Conference. My mentor, Monica Shah, was speaking and several of her “mentees”, showed up, shared rooms and offered support by just being there. I was prepared to strengthen bonds, meet new people, attract new clients . . . and expand my sphere of influence.
Able to use my plethora of Southwest Airline “points”, I boarded the flight early and headed for the first available window seat I see. I’m joined by a woman, in my age range, who sits in the aisle seat, and we joked about the “luck” of the person who gets to sit between two “women of a certain age”. Shortly thereafter, we are joined by another woman (same age group) and our row is complete.
I’m not one of those airline “talkers”, and typically prefer to watch the clouds, and occasionally pull out my i-Phone and select an e-book to read. I offer an initial smile, say “hi”, and get back to my reading.
As the pilot announces we are preparing to land, I ask the woman next to me if she is from STL, and where she is headed. We talked about what she did for a living, and she, in turn, begins to ask me the same questions. LO AND BEHOLD. She and I had a phone conversation about 18 months ago regarding publishing her book, and she chose to go with an independent “textbook” publisher out of England. She proceeded to tell me what she has earned (or NOT earned) in royalties from the sale of over 1,000 books.
So, I get to my hotel, looked up her publisher online, and I did the math.
And I had one of my associates check MY math (she’s a CPA) . . .
FOR THE EXACT SAME BOOK, I’ve outlined two very different profit structures, below . . . The one on the left is the Independent Publisher she chose. The bullets on the right show her profit margin if she had let us mentor her through the self-publishing process. (ALSO, please note, I would never have advised her to price a 166-page black-and-white paperback book at $34.95 retail.)
In researching the textbook publisher, I did not have the details of her contract, so I used the publisher’s minimum fee for the example above. Not only did this author possibly PAY more-than-twice upfront than if she had let us help her, but she PROFITS less $$ with each sale of her books (ultimately taking her longer to recoup her investment).
MY LESSON LEARNED? I trusted my instinct, took a leap of faith, and got on that plane not knowing WHY I needed to go to Atlanta. In the three days since i’ve been back home, I’ve already had two sales conversations with people I met in Atlanta.
AND I heard a fantastic “buyer beware” story I can share with authors who may be considering working with an independent publisher, advising them to:
- Check references.
- Don’t sign a contract until you talk with a professional publishing consultant (like me – I’ve read many publishing contracts and can point out questions you need to be asking). I’m happy to read your contract and offer an opinion.
- Trust your instinct and follow your gut. If it sounds confusing, it probably is worth walking away.
Do what you must, but always feel free to give me a call to talk through your options. I’m happy to help you make an educated decision, even if you end up working with someone else (although I’d rather you work with us!).
You may remember the storm of May 11, 2016 . . . you know the one . . . when our neighbor’s tree totally demolished our detached garage. Over a year later, we’re still feeling the effects of that day.
Take the saga of the bathroom door. We had stored our first-floor bathroom door (adjacent to the office) in the garage as a “Later Gater” project. You know the kind . . . the projects which turn into “out of sight, out of mind” and mysteriously vanish from the to-do list. Yes, we had a temporary door on the bathroom so it could still be used, but ultimately we wanted the original door back in place after a good sanding and new paint. Unfortunately the door met it’s demise that stormy day, and we’ve been on the hunt for a 1940’s period-specific replacement door off-and-on ever since.
Frustrated with not finding a suitable door at any of the local rehab/resale shops, we took to social media, asking our neighbors for ONE random, unneeded door which may be lurking in their basement or garage. BINGO! Although not an exact match, we found a close “second” (FREE!) and proceeded to retrofit the door to fit our much smaller opening.
It’s quite a nice door. Probably the nicest door in the entire house. Solid oak. I’m quite proud of our new (old) door. As you know, most older homes never have anything which is plumb or level or square . . . let alone door openings which are perpendicular or horizontal. Jack took extra time and effort to retro-fit the door (but swears he’ll never do THAT again).
Yep, here comes the metaphor: Like everything else which vanished when the old garage was torn down and hauled off, our door reminds me of all of the other “Later Gaters” which may have vanished from our to-do list . . . both at home AND in the office. How many other “Happy Endings” might there be if I turned my attention to some of the other “Later Gaters”? How many other doors could I easily open if I simply asked for help?
While writing this blog today, I received an email from one of our author-clients in Arkansas. We’ve helped them publish a couple of books, and they are building their business around speaking and offering workshops around the country . . .
“I can’t remember a time that the words in my mind weren’t looking for a creative outlet. I dreamed of writing a book, but I assumed wealth or fame were prerequisites. I was vaguely aware of self-publishing, but I didn’t know where to begin, and the idea of learning it all was too overwhelming. Then a friend wrote a book and told me about Davis Creative. After talking to Jack and Cathy, I realized that I could really do this. My husband and I sent our manuscript, cover ideas, and a modest down-payment to Davis Creative, and within weeks we had a book. Now we have two books, with three more in the works, and we just completed our first training event using our books. We sell a few hundred a month by devoting 15 hours a week to calling and meeting with members of our target market. The Davises helped make my dream come true.” ~ Kelly Condra
Kelly and Preston Condra took a leap of faith and asked us for help with self-publishing their books. They looked their “Later Gator” right in the eye and and trusted us to help walk them through what seemed like an impossible dream.
Now . . . to go find another “Later Gator” I can check off my list!
Together Everyone Achieves More
Building a perfect team to support your self-publishing project is imperative to the success of your book.
As Professional Author Consultants and book designers, our Author Support TEAMs include a variety of experts, from book shepherds, author assistants, ghostwriters, speakers’ agents, editors, indexers, proofreaders and illustrators — to web designers, PR, audio/video experts, and more. Our virtual TEAM can include anywhere from three individuals, up to six or more by the time the book is available in print and/or e-book format.
Our TEAM is “virtual” and scattered throughout the US — most with home-based offices. Conference calls and emails become the daily norm, keeping us focused on our one common goal — the ultimate success of the ONE book we are working on at the moment.
We function much like a flock of geese . . . Geese use the TEAM concept to succeed in getting the flock to its destination.
Geese Plan to Succeed.
FACT: Geese fly in a “V” formation, increasing their flight range by 71% (versus flying solo).
AUTHOR TEAM: Our TEAM leader keeps us moving in a common direction, allowing us to reach our destination more quickly and easily.
FACT: Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it feels the drag and resistance of going it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the flock.
AUTHOR TEAM: As a part of the TEAM, it’s easier to stay in alignment with those who are headed in the same positive direction that we are.
FACT: When the front goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose steps up to fly as the leader.
AUTHOR TEAM: We rotate the TEAM Leader role, taking turns spear-heading our portion of the project, and trusting others to step in when needed.
FACT: Geese honk as they fly, encouraging those up front to keep up their speed.
AUTHOR TEAM: Our TEAM accepts that we each occasionally need a nudge or help from one another.
“Self-publishing” no longer means “going it alone”. By assembling a TEAM of talented professionals to help, you automatically increase your chances for success.
In this new era of digital and print-on-demand publishing, just about everyone can claim to be a publisher. Although there are a few honest Vanity or Subsidy Publishers (VSPs) that fulfill contractual promises, there are also many that engage in a wide range of unethical or fraudulent practices. AUTHOR BEWARE.
Misrepresentation. Although “Publishing” may be a part of their name, a VSP is NOT a traditional publisher. Some VSPs present themselves as “joint venture” or “co-op” or “partner” or “equity” publishers, suggesting that they’re contributing their own resources to the relationship. Fee-based publishing is fee-based publishing, and whatever you’re paying, it more-than covers expenses. Do NOT sign any contract with a VSP without legal counsel.
Overcharges. VSPs charge a fee to produce your book. They want money up-front and/or a percentage of sales, including a long-term claim on authors’ rights. Costs can rise into the five-figure range just for production. Be wary of bait-and-switch tactics where once you are under contract, they nickle-and-dime you with “must-haves”, which are sometimes actually “free” if you were to self-publish.
Quantity vs. Quality. Some VSPs are not always selective about the types of books they publish; many are just trying to make a sale. VSPs often target authors of memoirs or genealogies or family recipe compilations — intended for family and friends or to be given as gifts — and are sometimes over-priced. Some VSPs are also known for shoddy production standards. If you are using your book to market your business, you want it to be of the highest quality available, especially if you are footing the bill.
Marketing & Distribution. VSPs rarely offer valid distribution or marketing, and this task typically falls upon the author. They have no economic incentive to do so — their principal source of income isn’t the sale of books to the public, but the sale of services to authors.
Printers are NOT Publishers. Traditional printers, looking for additional income can market themselves as VSPs — AUTHOR BEWARE: a “printer-is-a-printer” and will not be offering distribution or marketing services. Printers are selling multiple copies of books, quite often leaving you with boxes of unsold books in your garage or car trunk.VSPs:
For a current list of AUTHOR BEWARE VSPs, check out Mark Levine’s self-published book, “The Fine Print of Self-Publishing”.
Top 10 Mistakes Authors Make When Designing their Own Book Covers
YES. You really can tell a book by it’s cover. Never let bad book design define the story you want to tell.
- Bad font choices (too big, too small, hard to read)
- Squeezing in too much info
- Uncomplimentary color choices
- The use of clip-art or stock photos
- Emulating or copying a “best-seller” cover
- The use of lo-res personal photography
- Blurring the emphasis between title and subtitle
- Not targeting your reader’s emotional commitment
- Letting your neighbor’s high-schooler design your cover
- The $99 online book cover design
Typography is Limited when it Comes to E-books
We always recommend that our authors make their books available in both “print” and “e-book” formats, and we offer .mobi conversions from InDesign, WORD or PDF files. Our decision to only offer the .mobi format is based upon research showing that there are more i-Pad and Kindle Fire owners than all other e-devices combined (Read more . . .).
Amazon.com offers free Kindle translators for a variety of e-readers, offering easy access to just about anyone having a computer, smart phone or pad.
When it comes to formatting e-books, books that are strictly manuscript/narrative are the easiest, most efficient to convert. Books containing graphics, photos, charts, graphs, pull-quotes, columns, foot-notes or other non-typical text (such as fill-in-the blank formatting) require additional time and alternative options to reformat.
During the conversion process, there are several things we watch for which can affect a positive conversion to a readable .mobi file:
- Text/paragraph formatting
- Appropriate page breaks
- Inappropriate use of tabs
- Image/Art formatting
- Charts & Graphs
- Pull quotes
- Multiple columns
- Imbedded style sheets
- Clean TOC
- Imbedded hyperlinks
- Special character treatments
(bullets, © symbols, ellipses, etc.)
Here’s How You Should Look at the Taleist Self-Pub Survey
May 24th, 2012 | Nate Hoffelder
“Authors who get help (paid or unpaid) with story editing, copy editing, proofreading, and cover design make 34% more than the average.”
Taleist released the results of a survey of self-pub authors today. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you probably haven’t heard the statistics. Good. That gives me a chance to explain my viewpoint. I read the results this morning, but it took me until this evening before I placed them into context.
“41% paid for a cover designer”
The thing is, no matter how little those authors made while self-publishing their ebooks, on average they are almost certainly better off than if they did not have the option of self-publishing. [Read more]
“29% paid for copy editing”
Does My Self-Publishing Company Need a Logo?
YES . . . if you want to:
- Position yourself as an expert in your field
- Create a distinct identity and market position
- Project a professional, innovative image
- Develop greater visibility for your business
- Distinguish yourself from your competition
- Attract, retain and solidify your customer base
Publishing Company logos can be very simple, as in:
Or even a more complex visual image, as in:
Editor and Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com, AE OPEN
Amazon.com is not a “friend” or ‘foe’ to small businesses.
It’s in business, just like we all are to make money.
That money is made by selling something someone wants and making a profit. It’s having great products, great customer service and whatever other things-marketing or hiring the right staff-that make our businesses competitive.
Amazon.com has an app, the Price Check app, that makes it easy for you to search for a price on a product and see the price on Amazon.com.
Amazon.com has caused some controversy in the small business retail world, politicians and advocacy groups by giving folks a 5% discount if they checked a local retailer’s price on the app and then bought the product from Amazon.com.
Hard for retailers to compete against that? Sure. Sleazy? No.