by Chris Day
When it comes to raising your profile, and establishing yourself as an ‘expert’ in people’s eyes, there is nothing to beat being seen as the author of a book on your specialist subject. As a published author you have status and are viewed differently to the rest of us mere mortals. You have an opinion that counts, and are of interest to the media. People even ask for your autograph – not just on a cheque! Your book positions you as being a person of knowledge and influence. Somebody with answers and strategies – and all of this by becoming a published author.
Your competitors will hate you for it because you thought of doing it before they did. It really does give you a commercial edge. But for all this to happen, you need to do it right!
Firstly, by a ‘book’ I don’t mean an eBook. The internet is awash with PDF downloads of varying sizes and quality. So matter how they are dressed up, everyone knows they started life as a simple Word document written in an hour, or worse – sourced from ‘Wackypedia’. So many of them are poorly written, full of spelling and grammatical mistakes and do no justice to the author whatsoever. A poorly written eBook can be detrimental to the author rather than enhance their reputation. Your brand and your reputation are at stake if you get it wrong.
EBooks do have their place, and in their various forms, are many people’s preferred form of receiving information. However, because of the lack of any third party quality control and the endorsement that a publisher gives to a work, they rarely do much for an authors reputation or standing in the marketplace. They are seen as more of a throw away business card with no real value.
A good printed book, properly published, is another matter. It is tangible, colourful, inviting and well crafted. Everyone knows that a book has to go through various stages of editorial evaluation long before it is produced. Unlike an eBook, we have higher expectations of quality. A printed book has gravitas and value and gives the author status. Well, that was the case, until self publishing came along! Now authors have the freedom, and the tools, to take their poorly written eBook and turn it into a paperback without any of those editorial checks and balances that we have been used to with published books.
Have you noticed how easy it is to spot a self published book? There is something about them that just doesn’t feel right. Instead of enhancing the authors reputation, as a good book should do, a badly produced self published book doesn’t have the same effect. So how can you ensure that your book has a wow factor and creates the impact you need it to?
The one thing that authors should realise is that, whilst they maybe expert in their subject and may be leaders in their business, there are some skills that they don’t necessarily have. The first big mistake that is often made, is trying to do everything yourself!
A book cover is often the first thing that lets an author down. If you are not a designer, why give that fact away to everyone by creating a cover that shouts that the book is self published? Your book cover has an important and very specific job to do – convey exactly what a reader will learn or become if they buy the book. If it fails to do that, then your book will remain on the shelf!
With your book title it is not a question of being ‘clever’, it is about whether your potential readers ‘get it’ instantly and realise that the book is for them. An obscure title that doesn’t spell out what the book is about, won’t help! There are only milliseconds of decision time when somebody sees your book cover. There isn’t time to educate! Don’t miss the opportunity of having a header, then the title, following by a strap line in order to fully explain what the reader will get from the book. That’s what they need to know. They need to know ‘What’s in it for me?’
You might believe you are a great writer – and you may well be, but I know from my own experience the value of having my words read by an expert editor. Using an editor to give a ‘Readers Report’ won’t cost much, (from ┬ú50) but you will have the comfort of knowing that your book reads well and is free of errors. An editor will provide feedback on structure and construction, and may well give a fresh perspective to the writing which an author is too close to see. Their advice and suggestions are invaluable. They know what works and what doesn’t.
Finally, make sure that you book is professionally proof read – and I don’t mean by a well meaning relative, not matter how intelligent they are. Professional proof readers see things that ordinary mortals will miss. The last thing you want is to have to apologise to everyone who buys your book about the typos that were missed!
Get all of those things right, and you are giving your project the best start in life. However, the final thing is – don’t be afraid to ask for advice. There are many tiny tasks that are essential the successful launch of a book. You need to know every single step on the way. That is what AuthorCraft was set up to do. By bringing together authors at different stages of their writing journey at our networking events, there is a sharing of ideas and experience. ┬áBenchmarking of best practice. As a wise many once said, if you want to know what lies on the road ahead, ask someone who has been there.
Chris Day runs Filament Publishing and mentors authors on how to make a success of their books.