Publishing consultant Ally E. Peltier continues her series on repurposing and promoting previously published content. She began by explaining how to properly choose and assemble content for a successful, cohesive book. This was followed by a post identifying the three main sales venues for your book.
In the previous post, we examined the primary print and digital formats available for books. But none of that means anything if you don’t have good content to publish and a plan for getting that content into your target audience’s hands.
How to Choose Professional Help for Your Book
The advice below assumes that, as the editor of a business publication, you have developmental editing skills and the ability to select, organize, and assemble your client’s material into a coherent and engaging book appropriate for your target audience. But you probably don’t have all the skills it takes to successfully publish a professional, commercial-quality book.
Deciding What You Need
What skills do you have in-house? How generous is your budget? The obvious list of steps includes: line and/or copy editing; interior layout and cover design; proofreading; and marketing and publicity. But you may also need someone who can convert your files to EPUB or Kindle formats, a web developer to set up an online marketing platform, and a social media expert to help you create a promotion strategy.
At minimum, plan to hire a good line editor/copyeditor with experience in nonfiction books, preferably in your category. This shouldn’t be expensive if your repurposed material was carefully copyedited the first time around, but now that it’s reworked into a book you’ll want to catch any introduced errors and ensure new content is clean. If you’re on a shoestring, you can likely get away with doing the interior design yourself or tapping your client’s design and layout team, but don’t skimp on the cover. Hire a designer.
There are many guides available teaching ebook formatting, but there’s a learning curve. With services costing as little as $100, it may not be worth your time or your client’s cash to figure it out. Try eBookAdaptations and BookBaby. If you do have the time and cash to get educated on performing this task yourself, check out the instruction offered by Digital Book World.
Your client probably has a marketing budget covering staff or freelancers you can task with developing a marketing plan, but books require a somewhat different approach than periodicals. If there’s room in the budget, hire a publicist or marketing strategist who specializes in nonfiction books. If your client has a tech team, maximize their experience by partnering with a strategist who particularly understands marketing books online.
Deciding Who You Want
It’s important to ask for specifics when interviewing a potential vendor so you know exactly what you’re getting. I wrote an article on this subject for The Writer magazine (get it here).
With so many choices, you may be tempted to ask candidates for a free sample. There’s nothing wrong with asking, but consider this: If you were interviewing contractors to build you a porch, would you ask for a free shelf before deciding? Would you ask a dentist to do one free filling? There are other measures of experience and value, and many excellent professionals will provide pre-existing samples rather than doing a portion of your job on spec. Look for pros with a recognizable client list, glowing testimonials (ask for references, even), and positive Google results. Trust your intuition: When you speak, if the chemistry isn’t right or the contractor seems less knowledgeable than expected, move on.
- If your website isn’t optimized for book promotion, talk to an Internet marketing expert or web developer and revamp before you publish. Search engine algorithms and other promo tools change rapidly and pros are (or should be) in-the-know. Your website is the hub of your online promotion and sales, so focus limited marketing dollars here.
- There are dozens of social media tools to choose from. Most are free, and some offer low-cost advertising that, when used properly, can be highly effective. Determine where your target audience hangs out online and focus on those platforms to promote your book.
- Not all pros are created equal. Editors and designers in particular come in a vast array of shapes and sizes…and by that I mean talent and experience. Be sure to match up said talent and experience with your category (and don’t forget to read my article on hiring freelancers for more tips).
- Don’t be cheap, but spend wisely. Don’t get talked into a $4,000 cover if you just need something that looks good as a thumbnail on-screen. Consider the likelihood of a book like yours attracting mega media attention before you splurge on a publicist with a high-profile contact list.
In the next and final installment, we’ll take a look at how a book functions as part of your publication’s platform, and what that means for your or your client’s business.
Ally E. Peltier is an editor, writer, and publishing consultant who loves using her insider knowledge of the publishing industry and more than a decade of experience to help others reach their publishing goals, whether it’s showing a writer how to improve his manuscript, get an agent, or self-publish, or ghostwriting a book to help an entrepreneur skyrocket her business platform to new levels. Grab Ally’s free white papers and learn more about her services at www.ambitiousenterprises.com and www.allypeltier.com.