Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You Only Get One!

One what?

One exclamation point (!) per written piece. Think of it like a diet (you know, one Reese's peanut butter cup/day mentality).

I'm not sure if this is a tidbit or another of my writing pet peeves, but you must consider eliminating the compulsion to put an exclamtion point at the end of your sentences. Let the reader be moved by your words, not manipulated by your punctuation.

When should you use one:

1) Interjections. Used to express an isolated emotion on the part of the speaker ( "Yikes!")

2) Commands. Used to express the weight behind the words ("Get out!")

So take a hint from your keyboard as you knock out your exclamation points: You only get one.

~Cindy Blomquist, WOTH Editor

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Clear Out Deadwood

I am jumping in for the next 4 weeks to give some writing tidbits that will strengthen your writing.

The first tidbit: clear out the deadwood. Deadwood refers to a word or phrase that can be omitted without loss in meaning.*

Look for:
  • Words or phrases that add unneeded bulk to a sentence and weaken its message (quite right, very unique)

  • Common phrases that are bloated with redundant words (added bonus, currently unavailable)

  • Unimportant words at the beginning of a sentence that push the most important information farther from the start (As a matter of fact, in the same way)

Look for these "deadwood" words and clear them out:

  • actively, actually, already, always, any, appropriate(ly), associated, automatic(ally)
  • currently
  • easily, existing, extremely
  • fairly
  • much
  • particular, predefined, previously
  • quickly, quite
  • rather, really
  • several, simply, so, suitable
  • totally
  • very

Do you have any favorite "deadwood" phrases that drive you nutty when you read them in an article, newsletter, etc? Please post them in the comment section...

I'll start with: " As you know..."

~Cindy Blomquist, Editor

*Chris Barr, The Yahoo! Style Guide (St. Marten's Griffen: New York, 2010) 288.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marketing Your Published Book

Last week we focused on the Production phase of the pipeline. In my final segment, I’d like to focus on what happens once you’ve self-published your book—and how to market it to retailers, book buyers, and other possible distributors across the country.

Once your book has been made orderable, it will begin to earn a profit—or royalty—from each sale. Royalties are the money that’s left for the author after a book is sold and all the associated costs of things such as printing, shipping, etc., have been subtracted from the retail price. With a traditional publisher, that profit gets shared between the author and the publisher with the publisher keeping the majority of the profits. But with a self-publisher such as Xulon Press, royalty rates are much more hefty—in fact, we are one of very few publishers who pay 100% of the net profits on all books sold through a third party distributor (such as Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com).

How it works is this: We get reports from all the distributors, bookstores, websites, and other retailers that are carrying your book. As an author, you’ll receive an easy-to-read statement that shows exactly how many copies sold, when they sold, and what your net profit is. We also offer online monthly statements and quarterly payments so you can keep track of what’s happening with your book and how much you’re earning.

Be advised that the royalties you accrue are directly proportionate to the amount of marketing you invest in your book. Without marketing, people won’t know your book is out there—and they won’t be aware it’s available to order unless you specifically tell them to order it from the places where it is distributed.

So what can you do as a self-published author to get the word out about your new release? The first step is to invest in some marketing tools. Marketing tools include a press release, bookmarks, business cards, postcards, posters, flyers, and anything that can be used to promote your book.

Traditionally, a press release has been the go-to tool for authors seeking to make an impact on the media—and quickly! It is a piece of marketing material that is written to appeal to potential customers and inform others about your news item. Strong copy filled with action words, concrete images, and basic facts may even snag you an interview with your favorite TV station or news publication! Additionally, when a press release is optimized for keywords or phrases, it can gain you visibility by ranking high on search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

Once a press release has been sent out to announce your book to all the local newspapers and publications, it is then time to begin scheduling events to gain you recognition. Try approaching local bookstores with a copy of your press release and asking them to host a book signing for you. Traditionally, bookstores are more willing to hold a book signing for an author if they have taken steps to promote it by sending out a press release to local media, getting book reviews, and promoting it in other local venues. These are all good ways to attract attendees to the book signing, and bookstores will be more amenable to the suggestion if they see the author is proactive about it.

If you are a Xulon Press author, your Publishing Consultant can equip you with marketing ideas and possible discounts when you first purchase your publishing program. By telling them exactly what you are looking for, they can customize a program that works for you from start to finish.

I hope this information has been useful to you, and good luck in your publishing endeavors!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Production Phase of the Pipeline

Last week, we went through the steps it takes to submit your manuscript to Xulon Press. This week, we will be looking at what you, as an author, can expect throughout the duration of the Production phase.

Once your book is considered “In Production,” the Xulon Press team will go to work to turn your manuscript into a beautiful professional-bound book. First, we will send it to our typesetters, who will set the text according to the specifications of our printer. The text will be typeset in a standard Times New Roman 12-pt. font—unless an author informs their Author Services Representative otherwise prior to typeset—and in full justification.

Our professional designers will immediately begin crafting a beautiful glossy cover to fit your book. The award-winning Xulon Press design team has generated more than 8,000 covers for authors in the past, and their meticulous work is done with a fine eye for detail—and an ear for your needs. Simply send your suggestions through your representative, and our designers will be able to take it from there.

Once your typeset manuscript and cover design are ready, they will be made available for your review online—or via hard copy for a fee. If you are dissatisfied with the work that has been rendered, you can then notify your representative that you would like corrections to be made.

If the author has no additional corrections, they will simply continue on into the next phase of production. Here, the BCC text—a 300-word block of text that appears on the back cover of a book—will be created and typeset, and then an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) will be assigned to your book by Xulon. Once all of these files have been signed off on by the author, the book will then be uploaded to the printer and made available for order.

Because Xulon Press is a print-on-demand (POD) publisher, no copies of the book will be warehoused anywhere. Instead, the book will be printed only as it is ordered. As soon as it has uploaded to the printer, the book will be listed on our affiliates, Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com, where it is orderable through a simple click of the button. Once the order is made and then processed, our affiliates will notify our printer, which can print an 800-page book in less than one minute, in any quantity, even one book at a time, fulfilling orders fast.

If you have any questions at all during this part of the process, don’t worry; once we assign you an Author Services Representative, you will have someone to help you every step of the way. You will be able to communicate with them by phone or through Author Center, a tool that has allowed for a much more effective, streamlined mode of communication between authors and their service representatives. What Author Center allows our representatives to do is push more useful information to our authors so that they have it directly at their fingertips.

Next week, we will take a look at what happens once your book has been made orderable and begins to earn royalties.


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