CONGRATULATIONS ON MAKING THE DECISION TO WRITE YOUR BOOK.
Here are a few pages of resources to help you with your project.
Book writing is an exciting, challenging and fun business. I’ve been in this industry for more than 35 years and it was a lot more challenging when I started. Today, …CONGRATULATIONS ON MAKING THE DECISION TO WRITE YOUR BOOK.
Here are a few pages of resources to help you with your project.
Book writing is an exciting, challenging and fun business. I’ve been in this industry for more than 35 years and it was a lot more challenging when I started. Today, there are many courses, support groups (associations and listservs), manuals and a lot of nice authors and publishers.
Book writing, publishing, promoting and selling are changing—for the better! There is a New Model. Now you can break into print faster, easier and cheaper. One part of this revolutionary change is in writing your book.
NO NATIONAL BORDERS. You may conduct research in the world’s largest library (the Internet). The World is your potential market. Because you are selling information (nonfiction) or entertainment (fiction)—not hard goods, you may distribute your eBooks and eReports via the Internet. Your customer benefits from no cost to ship, no import duty, and no sales taxes while getting instant delivery. You can live in paradise and be an author and/or publisher of books.
THE NEW BOOK MODEL is described in detail in my presentations and the latest editions of Writing Nonfiction and The Self-Publishing Manual. For an Executive Summary, see http://parapublishing.com/sites/para/resources/newbook.cfm
Gone are the days of manuscript boxes holding boring sheets of paper with double-spaced lines in Courier typeface. Gone too are dull manuscripts without photos and drawings. Today’s manuscripts look like books. In fact, they are books. Manuscript pages look like book pages with single-spaced lines, words that may be bolded or italicized and headers with page numbers.
Listen to Dan Poynter being interviewed on The New Book Model. Go to
And scroll down to “On Air”.
TODAY, AUTHORS “BUILD” THEIR BOOKS; writing is just part of the assembly. Building your book is like building a speech with PowerPoint slides. The computer simply provides you with more visual aids to help you get your point to your reader. Now, in addition to the printed word, you will add digital photos and scanned drawings to your manuscript as you write, pull information from the Web (yes, the World’s largest library is on your desk), add resource URLs to your text, search encyclopedias for background information, art sites for illustrations and quotation sites for quotations. You will draw from all these visual-aid sources as you draft the manuscript.
“I’ve never heard authors say they are sorry they wrote their books, they are only sorry they didn’t writer them sooner.”
–Sam Horn, Author and speaker.
BOOK WRITING TEMPLATE. Before beginning to write, you will set up your book in a binder with frontmatter pages, dividers for each chapter and a backmatter section. You will fill in as much as you have for the title page, copyright page, acknowledgements, about the author, etc. Then you will build the manuscript by filling in the pages. Get the Template for your book f.ree from our Forms Bank at http://parapub.com/sites/para/speaking/formsbank.cfm. Or go directly to it:
P-47 WN Book Writing Layout Template. 34 pages, 373 Kb.
This is an extremely valuable document and it is f.ree.
For a complete description and more page layout instructions, see Writing Nonfiction. See and scroll down at
EDITING TIP. Save time by submitting your completed manuscript to your copy editor on a Zip disk or rewritable CD. Have the editor make changes on the disk and return it to you. Then re-read the manuscript to make sure the editor improved the copy without making material changes. If the corrections are made to a printout, you will have to enter the changes and then proof the changes. There are too many new opportunities for error.
PRODUCTION TIPS. Now your manuscript grows looking like a typeset book from the start. Then with a click of the mouse, you will convert the word-processing file to Adobe Acrobat PDF and you are ready to send the file to a digital book printer for a small quantity of perfect-bound (softcover) books. If you convert your MS-Word file with a page-layout program, such as InDesign or Quark, the pages will look even better. For information on PDF, see http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/main.html.
For information on digital printing, see our InfoKit on Production at
AUTHORS may send their (finished) book to agents and publishers. A finished book is more portable and a nicer presentation than a bunch of loose manuscript sheets.
PUBLISHERS may send (finished) copies to major reviewers, distributors, catalogs, specialty stores, associations, book clubs, premium prospects, foreign publishers suggesting translations and various opinion molders.
OTHER EDITIONS. You can wring more value out of your work by re-purposing your core content into other products. Those versions may be eBooks, audio books, large-print books, articles, special reports, seminars, consulting and speeches.
eBOOKS. The electronic edition of your book will have even more features and benefits than the print version: it may have color, sound, video and hyperlinks. Your e-edition will take up less shelf space, be even less expensive to produce and will provide a richer experience to your reader. See Document 615, pBooks to eBooks at
New computer programs, new printing methods and the Web are transforming the writing, producing, disseminating and promoting of information. Books will never be the same. The winners are author, publishers and readers.
RESEARCHING YOUR TOPIC. How can you get accurate sales figures for other published books? You really can’t. Traditionally, publishers do not publish sales figures. In fact, they boast of the number of books “in print” (and waiting to be sold). The “In-Print” figure shows their commitment to the book—and often the number is inflated. Most books are printed in quantities of 5,000.
Whether you are planning to find an agent and sell out to a publisher or publish yourself, you need numbers. You, or the publisher, need the reassurance of a definable, reachable market. Do this research before you write the book.
Nielsen’s BookScan tries to count book sales. See http://www.BookScan.com/. They operate the first continuous retail sales monitoring service for books, with purchase information representing sales through a majority of the major retailers each week. In a typical week, sales of more than 300,000 different titles are collected, coded and analyzed, producing market information for retailers, publishers and the media. But they cover only 80% of the stores—just 4,500 book retailers and many more books are sold outside these bookstores. You must subscribe to the BookScan service to get the numbers you seek.
In order to qualify your project, you must get an idea of the numbers of prospective buyer/readers for it. You can’t get absolute figures but you can get comparative numbers. Here are the steps. See
A. BOOKSTORES. Visit a couple of bookstores with a notepad. Large stores have a wider selection than small stores. Visit the right neighborhood. For example, downtown stores will have a greater selection of business books while stores in the suburbs will have more books on parenting and relationships. Some stores have special (enlarged) departments for some genres.
Look on that shelf where your book will be. Remember that your book will be compared (shopped) with the books adjacent to it. Look at each book. Think: if someone were to see this book, would they also be interested in my book? Chart the (comparative) books on your pad. Write down the title, subtitle, author, trim size, page count, copyright date, edition, cover type ISBN and price.
B. ONLINE STORE. Log on to a store such as Amazon.com. Search for your category of book and set the list for Publication-Date order. Now you will see all of the books in your field from the brand new ones and going back 20 years. Chart the books that are close to your project.
You will find a lot of the same books you found in the stores but the ones in the stores are either newer or selling better; Amazon has space for virtually every book. At Amazon, the readers evaluate the books. Write down how many stars each book is averaging. Amazon also provides the sales ranks; they tell you how the books are selling against each other. Write down the numbers.
For historical Amazon sales data, go to http://www.titlez.com/welcome.aspx
C. INGRAM. Call the computer at Ingram, 615-213-6803. Follow the voice prompts and punch in the ISBN (found on the back) of any book. The recorded voice will tell you how many books are in each warehouse, what the weekly sales rate is, how many were sold last year and how many were sold, so far, this year. Ingram moves some 55% of the books in the U.S.; these are not absolute sales figures, they are comparative figures.
D. MAGAZINES. How many periodicals serve the group you want to sell to? See
If there are a lot of magazines, there must be a lot of potential buyers for your book. Go to the websites of each magazine and look for the circulation figures. People who subscribe to magazines, do so voluntarily and vote (subscribe) with their money.
BTW, you will send review copies to many of theses magazines and newsletters. Reviews are the least expensive and most effective promotion you can do for your book. Bookmark the sites.
E. ASSOCIATIONS. How many clubs and associations have your potential buyers joined? What is the size of the membership of each organization? Make online searches and see directories such as the Encyclopedia of Associations,
F. STORES. What stores do your potential buyers frequent? For numbers of specialty stores and chain stores, see
You will probably sell more of your books through specialty stores than bookstores. See
For other industry numbers, see
G. EVENTS. Where do your potential buyers voluntarily come together because they have a like interest? What events do they attend? How many are there regionally and nationally? How many people attend? Relevant conventions and other events are good places to sell individual books and to make new dealers.
H. CATALOGS. More than 7,000 catalogs are published in the U.S.; 11.8 billion are mailed each year. See the catalog directories at your public library and
http://www.catalogs.google.com/. You are not interested in “book” catalogs, you want specialty catalogs. For example, match a skydiving book with a parachute catalog. How many catalogs are there in your field? How many copies do they distribute? Record the numbers. You will want to submit your book to these catalogs. See Document 625, Selling Books to Catalogs at
I. GOOGLE PRINT. You can research the texts of many new books through Google’s new program. For information, see http://www.print.google.com/
J. STATISTICS BANK. Fascinating numbers on book publishing.
Whether you are selling out to a publisher or publishing yourself, you need numbers. Agents and publishers want figures; you need them too. If you are selling out, put these numbers in your proposal, your agent will think you are a marketing genius.
Total up all these numbers. Now you should have a good feel for what has been published in your area and what hasn’t been done, what is selling and what is not selling, how much you can charge for your book, etc.
GETTING FEEDBACK ON YOUR MANUSCRIPT. One secret to good material is peer review. Smart nonfiction authors take each chapter of their nearly complete manuscript and send it off to at least four experts on that chapter’s subject. They enclose a cover letter that goes something like this: “You are an expert in this subject and I value your opinion. Please make your changes, additions and comments with a red pen. Be brutal, I can take it. I would not ask for your input if I did not want and need it. If you will take part, I will mention your contribution in the Acknowledgments and send you a free copy of the book as soon as it comes off the press” (no, you do not have to pay them) “and here is a SASE. I have a tight deadline.”
Match each chapter to the personal interest and expertise of the peer reviewer. You do not have to know the people you send the chapters to.
What you get back is terribly valuable: They add two more items to your list, they cross out that part you thought was cute but was really embarrassingly stupid, they sometimes even correct punctuation, grammar and style.
When your book comes out, you don’t have to wait for your readers’ reaction because you know the book is right. After all, it has been reviewed and accepted by the best. And, there is another valuable reason for peer review: You have more than two-dozen opinion molders telling everyone about your book-and how they helped you with it.