Tag Archives: book publishing

Should Your Book Have a Prologue?

Should you use prologues?

I’ve heard many credible sources advise not to include prologues in our books. Yet, writers continue to write them, and publishers continue to publish them. Does that mean we can safely disregard this advice? I think not.

If we want readers to read all of our words, we shouldn’t bother with a prologue. Click To Tweet

Here’s why: I understand most readers skip prologues. That’s telling. Even more, I’ve read e-books that opened to chapter one, bypassing the prologue. So, if we want readers to read all of our words, we shouldn’t bother with a prologue.

Questions to Ask About Prologues

If your book, or work-in-progress, has a prologue, consider the following:

  • Can the prologue actually be relabeled as chapter one? (I did this for one of my books, and it flowed better.)
  • If the prologue contains back-story, can you reveal it later?
  • If the prologue establishes setting, especially world-building in science fiction, can those elements be moved to chapter one?
  • Is the prologue really chapter one of a possible prequel?
  • Can you delete the prologue without harming the rest of the book?
  • Is the prologue actually necessary?

If answering these questions helps you remove your prologue, then great. If not, then proceed, but know that some readers will skip it and some publishers may object, insisting you remove it anyway.

Prologue with care.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Should You Form a Book Publishing Co-op to Produce Your Next Book?

Book Publishing Co-op

Last week we acknowledged no one has all the skills required to self-publish a book. The only solution is to pay a team of people to handle the critical tasks of book publishing. This includes cover design, editing, interior layout, photography, and so on.

Or is there another way?

Although it would take great effort, you might be able to put together a consortium of book writers. They can pool their collective talents to work as a team to produce each other’s books, with each author tapping his or her skillset for everyone else’s books. You could put together your own self-publishing co-op. If you have a book publishing skill to offer, maybe a book-publishing co-op is an option worth considering if you want to self-publish but have no money to do so. Click To Tweet

What a Book Publishing Co-op Might Look Like

Let’s say you’re an editing ace, but are lousy with a camera and don’t have a clue about graphic design or interior layout. Find an author who is also a professional photographer and another who does interior book layouts for a living. Then locate a fourth writer who does book covers for their day job. You edit their books and they contribute their individual expertise to yours. Of course a fifth author is helpful. This is someone who stays current with publishing options. They can serve as the logistical guru to keep abreast of production and distribution options. Then bring others into the group to handle other details, such as promotion, marketing, publicity, legal, and so forth.

Finding these people would be a challenge. But the Internet and social media makes it feasible, providing you have the time and patience to find the right people.

Though I’m not aware of anyone who’s formed a book publishing co-op, I’m sure there are already people doing this in concept. If you have a book publishing skill to offer, maybe a book publishing co-op is an option worth considering if you want to self-publish but have no money to do so.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Remove Self From Self-Publishing: Assemble a Team

Put together a self-publishing team to make your books shine.Self-publishing is a misnomer or at least successful self-publishing is. A better label might be team publishing. That is, when we self-publish, we must not do it all ourselves (though we can, we shouldn’t) but instead assemble a team, a self-publishing team.

Here are the players for our self-publishing team:

Author, the Self-Publishing Team Captain

The author (us) needs to write the best possible book: not a good one, not good enough, but the best. Then look for ways to make it better. We are the captain of our self-publishing team.

Beta Readers

Once the book is as good as it can be, tap others to preview it, but only ask those who will give honest feedback. People who won’t say what’s wrong, weak, or not working aren’t helpful and give a false sense of excellence.

Editor

Many people recommend three levels of editing or even four. I look for two and to avoid confusing industry labels, I use generic ones. First is macro-editing, which looks at the big picture: What should you add, delete, or move? Does the piece flow? How can it be improved? What writing idiosyncrasies do you need to correct? Then, after addressing all the comments from the macro-editor, a different person needs to do the micro-editing, which addresses the details of the writing: proofreading, typos, word selection, grammar, and punctuation. Select experienced professionals for both these editors positions. Don’t go cheap by asking a friend who majored in English or someone who likes to read.

Cover Designer

Hire a cover designer to make an eye-catching, powerful cover. Potential buyers judge books by their cover, often in less than a second. We have one chance to catch their attention, so don’t skimp on making the most of this opportunity..

Interior Designer

The layout of the book must follow standard expectations. No one notices when a book is laid out according to industry conventions, but everyone can tell something’s wrong when it’s not. Pay someone to do this right. Taking a team approach to self-publishing greatly increases the chances for success. Click To Tweet

Add these key players to build a successful self-publishing team. In addition we need help with marketing, promotion, and distribution. It’s also important to engage fans as part of the book launch.

Taking a team approach to self-publishing greatly increases the chances for success.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear about Book Publishing

Book PublishingSeveral years ago, I received a telemarketing call from a well-known self-publishing operation, a division of a well-known traditional publisher.  She wanted to talk about book publishing.

Although unwelcomed, the interruption didn’t surprise me, because a few years ago I had contacted them. Their business model intrigued me, but I dismissed them when I stumbled on a poorly produced book with their imprint inside.

At the time I was pursuing a traditional publishing deal and told the rep so. Not deterred, she keyed in on my excuse, telling me why my book publishing strategy was wrong. She spewed forth a well-honed tutorial of why I needed to self-publish my books first. I won’t claim she lied to me, but mixed in with the truth were some half-truths and over-simplifications.As we consider new information, we must exercise discernment, because we can’t believe everything we hear. Click To Tweet

Here’s what she said:

  • It’s harder than ever to land a traditional publishing contract. (True)
  • Traditional publishers won’t even look at your book, but they will instead rely on a one-page query. (Over-simplification: If your query grabs their attention, they’ll ask for a proposal, which could lead to them looking at your book. But most likely they’ll only consider your query letter.)
  • Traditional publishers want you to self-publish first. (Half-truth: If your self-pub book is a breakaway hit, then you’re in a great position to sign a book deal. If you have a well-written, carefully edited, and appropriately laid out self-pub book, they’ll have less work to do should they decide to publish it—but they may also wonder if you’ve already made all the sales you’re going to make.)
  • She guaranteed their parent company would look at my book if I self-pub with them. (Over-simplification: What they will likely look at is sales numbers of my book, not the book itself. Once a certain threshold is reached then someone may actually look at my writing, but not until then. Of course, I’m speculating on this, but it’s not practical for them to give every self-pub book full consideration.)

The book publishing industry changes continually and fast. What was true last month may not hold true next month. We must be in a continual learning mode, but as we consider new information, we must exercise discernment, because we can’t believe everything we hear.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

What Movies Teach Us About Book Publishing

I read a lot of book reviews and even more movie reviews. Setting aside the critiques that are not really reviews—attacks on persons or perspective—the resulting (real) reviews are insightful for the book or movie in question but also in better understanding their respective industries.The difference between movie reviews and book reviews

I’ve noticed a difference between movie reviews and book reviews. In movie reviews it’s common for reviewers to address issues such as quality and budget. Phrases like “big budget” and “b-movie” or “hastily produced” and “carefully crafted” come to mind. Even saying “star-studded,” “foreign film,” or “cult classic” carry implications about quality and budget.

Sometimes, the marketing of the movie makes its way into a review. Some movies have flopped, not because the movie was bad but because of its marketing. Movie reviewers note these things.

Book Reviews

I don’t often see these concepts repeated in book reviews. Yet with the ease and growth of self-publishing and the streamlining (think cost-cutting measures) of traditional publishing, issues of quality and budget loom as greater considerations for reviewers and consumers alike.

These considerations will inevitably make their way into book reviews, with reviewers commenting on more than the words, but also the editing, the layout, the printing, the marketing, and a host of other ancillary issues.

When I review a movie that has production issues, I feel an obligation to point that out, lest readers be disappointed and feel I led them astray. I’m now realizing I have this same obligation with book reviews. No longer can I only focus on the words, but I must also consider the total package.

The changing book publishing industry has put us in this situation. We can choose to lament it or acknowledge it. Regardless, we must be aware of it.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Four Ways to Stay Informed About Book Publishing

In the world of book publishing, if we blink, something’s apt to change. Every day there seems to be a new option, a different twist, or better pricing. The best solution for a particular situation soon yields to an even better answer—often within months or even weeks.Four Ways to Stay Informed About Book Publishing

Publishing books becomes an art of aiming at a moving target, a goal that ebbs and flows at the pace of a changing tide. New vendors emerge and existing players develop innovations to target a different niche.

How’s a person to keep up?

1. Join Industry Associations

Groups of like-minded individuals offer the means to stay abreast of changing conditions. Members share news and ideas with each other. It’s an easy way to be informed, although merely joining a group isn’t enough; participation is required.

2. Read Blogs

Find and follow blogs, podcasts, and v-blogs of thought leaders and news aggregators. They’re plenty to choose from; pick ones with a voice you like and a perspective you respect. Ironically, reading books about publishing is not the answer; things change too quickly. Even e-books risk being out of date by the time they reach us.

3. Network

Connect with others. The goal is to listen and to share. Benefits abound when giving, even more so than when receiving.

4. Ask Questions

Requesting advice in a respectful way usually results in new information to consider. People enjoy it when we seek them out and usually offer their opinions to sincere questions. We honor them when we listen to what they say. As a writer, the key is to always be in a learning mode. Don’t become complacent. Click To Tweet

The key is to always be in a learning mode; don’t become complacent, thinking you’ve figured out all the answers. Never disregard a vendor or idea as not viable. In a moment it could become the exact solution we seek.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Consider the Future of Book Publishing

What do the days ahead hold for those of us who publish books?  What is the future of book publishing?

Given the rapid changes the industry is undergoing, we anticipate a different tomorrow, but just how much different will it be? Will today’s roles even exist in a decade or two?Consider the Future of Book Publishing

Predicting the future or even anticipating what might lie ahead in the years to come is a difficult task. Although the details are unclear, three general outcomes remain assured:

Consumers of Content

Barring a cataclysmic apocalypse with survivors reduced to a subsistence life, there will always be people who will desire and consume content. Generically called art, entertainment, or education, this content could take many forms, including print, audio, video, multimedia, or interactive, but regardless of the formats, consumers will want content.

Producers of Content

As long as an audience exists, content producers will be in demand. Writers will supply content: writing, creating, inventing, and envisioning. In a way, writers will become artists, producing art for their patrons. Their art may take many forms, beyond merely the writing out of their words.

Facilitators of Content

Idealism suggests that future content producers will directly connect with content consumers. While this may happen in limited situations, middlemen will facilitate the transaction in many cases and facilitate the creation in most instances. The transaction facilitators will mass-produce and distribute the content.

Therefore content facilitators will provide today’s agents, editors, graphic designers, and publicists with tomorrow’s work, aiding tomorrow’s writers with their content. The future of book publishing will be much different, but as long as we can adapt, there will always be opportunities for today’s writers, editors, designers, agents, and publishers. Click To Tweet

The future of book publishing will be much different. However, as long as we can adapt, there will always be opportunities for today’s writers, editors, designers, agents, and publishers. The future is indeed bright—for those willing to see it.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

The Future of Books: What are the Prospects for Book Publishing?

Now is a great time to publish a book and don’t let anyone tell you differently

What is your perception of the future of books? Is interest increasing, maintaining, or shrinking? The media would have us believing the end is near, at least as far as the book business, especially print books, is concerned.The Future of Books: What are the Prospects for Book Publishing?

  • Eighteen to 29-year olds buy the most books, but those 30 to 44 are right behind them.
  • When combining age ranges, those 13 to 17, 18 to 29, and 30 to 44 buy more books collectively than those 45 to 54, 55 to 64, and over 65.
  • People over 65 buy the least number of books. I would have suspected the opposite, but I would have been wrong,

So, younger people are buying more books than older people. Who would have guessed? There is much for writers and publishers of books to be excited about. Click To Tweet

Given this, there is much for writers and publishers of books to be excited about, despite the media’s dire pronouncements to the contrary—and if this trend continues, the future of books will be even brighter still.

So now is a great time to write and publish a book. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The future of books is looking up.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

What’s the Difference Between Self-Publishing and Indie-Publishing?

Publishing labels are important and using them properly is critical

Difference Between Self-Publishing and Indie-Publishing?I often use the terms of self-publishing and indie-publishing interchangeably. I shouldn’t.

They mean different things. So what’s the difference?

That’s a great question. I turned to my friend Google to investigate. It turns out Google doesn’t know. It simply confirmed a lack of consensus. Here are the findings of my research:

  • Self-publishing and indie-publishing are not the same thing. However, the difference is a matter of perspective.
  • Self-publishing and indie-publishing both emerge as alternatives to traditional publishing. And we need those alternatives.
  • Self-publishing may be a subset of indie-publishing.
  • The difference between self-publishing and indie-publishing may boil down to attitude.

Here are my thoughts on the matter.

Self-Publishing

  • Self-publishing finds its roots in vanity publishing, a pay-to-be-published model. (Though four years ago I asserted that attitudes have changed and traditional publishing is the new vanity publishing, offering a stamp of validation that I, for one, want.)
  • Self-publishing is all about art, and making money from art isn’t the point—or so they say.
  • The motivation of self-publishing is making books available to the public.
  • The hardcore self-publisher does everything, from cover design, to editing, to interior layout, to marketing. Unfortunately it shows in the final product. And for that reason I hate reading self-published books.
  • Self-publishing finds its place with the writing hobbyist.

Indie-Publishing

  • Indie-publishing finds its roots in the entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Indie-publication is a for-profit endeavor with a clear objective to monetize the value of books as a business.
  • The motivation of indie-publishing is profit from the art of books.
  • The indie publisher assembles a team, tapping others to assist with the publishing process, from cover design, to editing, to interior layout, to marketing.
  • Indie-publishing finds its place with the writing professional.

I view my writing as both art and a business opportunity. Click To TweetFrom all this, I realize that when I say I plan to self-publish some of my books, I really mean indie-publishing. Though I view my writing as art, I also see the results as a business opportunity. And I’ve been an entrepreneur longer than I’ve been a writer—though not by much.

Yes, I still have a goal to traditionally publish some books. I also plan to indie-publish other books. Together they will help me to one day make a living writing full time.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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Should You Go with a Traditional Publisher or Self-Publish?

Be open minded about the options available for book publishing and then pick the best one

Traditional Publishing is the New Vanity PublishingMy goal as an author has always been to be a hybrid author, one who self-publishes some books and goes with a traditional publisher for others. What changes over time, however, is the emphasis I place on one over the other. On this, I waffle frequently. Some days I favor the allure of being traditionally published and on others I lean toward self-publishing.

Though I embrace both as viable options, many people do not. It seems that many writers view one of these two options as the only choice for rational people, while outright dismissing the other for those uninformed. The problem is that some land squarely in the camp of traditional publishing as the only way to go, while others adamantly pursue self-publishing as the only sane choice.

I understand both perspectives.

What I don’t understand are people who are so obstinate toward their point of view and so biased against the alternative. They need to open their eyes: both traditional publishing and self-publishing have their pluses and minuses. Consider them, evaluate them, and then go with what seems best for your particular book at this particular time.

That’s my plan.

Here’s why:

Traditional Publishing: Traditional publishing pays authors to be published. But getting a traditional publishing deal is hard. In most all cases we need an agent first, which takes time. Then our agent needs to find a publisher to publish our book, which takes more time. Then our book goes into their publishing machine for edits, marketing, production, and so forth, which takes even more time. It often takes several years from writing a book to having a traditional publisher make it available to the public—assuming it happens at all.

Once we land a book deal, assuming we can, traditional publishers do most of the work and take all of the financial risk. Yes, they still want us to help market our book, but they do everything else—as we lose most of our control over the product and the outcome.

However, once the only real option for authors, technology has provided a viable alternative: self-publishing.

Self-Publishing: With self-publishing the author becomes a businessperson, investing money into a product in hopes of turning a profit. Success isn’t guaranteed, but the benefits are many. The author maintains control over the product, can get it to market fast, and will make much more per book. There are no gatekeepers to stand in our way, no one judging the size of our platform, and no one turning our baby into something we don’t like. Being traditionally published implies a stamp of approval. Click To Tweet

Self-publishing was once decried as vanity publishing, but now I actually see traditional publishing as the new vanity publishing. Being traditionally published implies a stamp of approval. It says we’ve been accepted, our work has gained approval, and we have jumped high hurdles. This strokes our ego.

I get that. I want that.

Yet the very things that make us attractive to traditional publishers—a stellar book and a huge platform to promote it—are also the very things that make us an ideal fit for self-publishing, where we control the product, take a risk, and make a profit.

I get that, too. I want that.

My leanings, one way or the other, change often. What I do know is that I want to publish books, and I’m taking a hybrid approach to get there.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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