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Book Writing & Publishing

{The Blog}

Understanding the Key Differences Between a Publishing House and a Printer

In the world of book writing and publishing, it's critical to distinguish between the role of a publishing house and that of a printer. While they both play important roles in bringing books to life, their functions and responsibilities differ significantly. 

A publishing house is an organization responsible for acquiring, (sometimes) editing, producing, (sometimes) marketing, and distributing books.

Depending on whether you work with a traditional publishing house or a hybrid publishing house, your publisher may or may not edit or actively market your book. Those may be aspects of your publishing journey you need to source separately from your publisher. (And, of course, if you're self-publishing, you're responsible for all of the above. But unless you're printing off copies from your office like Nick and Jess did for The Pepperwood Chronicles in "New Girl", you're the publisher, not the printer.)

The publisher acts as the intermediary between authors and readers,...

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28 Essential Questions to Ask Beta Readers

To clarify, a beta reader is someone who provides feedback on a WIP (work in progress), helping an author refine and improve the story or flow of the message.

Beta readers can be invaluable in helping authors to identify holes, typos, and other issues that can be difficult to spot from the author’s own perspective. They can also provide valuable insight into how readers may react to the content, allowing authors to make changes before publishing. 

When looking for beta readers, it is important to find people who are willing to provide honest feedback, and who are, ideally, the target reader for your book. After all, if your book is about how to feel less anxious day-to-day but you ask someone who has never felt a tinge of anxiety to be a beta reader, she likely won't be terribly interested in the content or able to provide the most valuable feedback. 

I typically recommend having no more than 4 beta readers. Too many cooks in the kitchen can create quite a bit in a...

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7 Critical Questions to Ask Hybrid Publishers

*This is an excerpt from Elizabeth's latest book, Write the Damn Book Already: Tell Your Story, Share Your Message, Make Your Impact. Content may not be duplicated or redistributed without written permission from the author. 

Hybrid publishing is a model whereby an author pays a publishing house to do the publishing legwork--including editing, cover design, interior formatting, and distribution channel setup--while retaining final say over the edits, title, cover design, interior layout, and retail price.

The cost to work with a hybrid publishing house is likely to fall somewhere between $1,500 and $50,000. I consider my publishing house, Finn-Phyllis Press, to be a hybrid publisher. Several of the bigger, more well-known traditional publishing houses offer a hybrid model: Hay House has Balboa Press, and Simon & Schuster has Archway Publishing. 

Some publishing houses take no profit off sales, while others take 15 percent (or more). Some houses pay author...

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Getting Your Self-Published Book into Bookstores (A Reality Check)

“How do I get my book in bookstores?” is a question I’m asked by every single person I’ve ever spoken with who wants to write a book. Every. Single. One.

Some are referring to big box bookstores like Barnes & Noble, some aspire to be carried by their favorite independent bookstore, and some dream of seeing their book in the book section of Target (just after purchasing their flat white latte to enjoy while excitedly putting 89 items they didn't come for into their cart). 

The first question to answer isn't, "How do I get the book into bookstores?" (I can give you the how.) The first question is, "Will you even want to once you know how it all really works?"

It’s possible that you won’t meet a person who loves bookstores more than I do. Especially indie bookstores—my devotion to them runs deep.

When it comes to big chain bookstores (Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, etc.) or the book sections of big box stores (Target,...

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Pros and Cons of Independent Book Publishing

The previous article in this series talked in greater detail about traditional book publishing---what it is as well as the pros and cons of the approach.

In this article, we'll dive into the second of three main forms of book publishing: independent publishing. 

Independent publishers consist of both hybrid and vanity publishers (sometimes also referred to as indie publishers, small press publishers, or professional publishers). They make up the many publishing houses that are not part of a larger conglomerate and do not operate under a traditional model.

There are a lot of them---so many, in fact, that they make up nearly half the market share of the industry. Many of them operate wonderful businesses with integrity, yet far more do not. It’s therefore important to know what questions to ask and what red flags to be on the lookout for.

Hybrid Publishing

Hybrid publishing is a model whereby an author pays a publishing house to do the publishing...

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How to Write an Incredible Non-Fiction Book

I often work with aspiring authors who think they're writing non-fiction but are really writing memoir (or vice versa).
Understanding which you're writing is incredibly important when it comes to how to write an incredible non-fiction book because it informs the way you write (deliver information to the reader), and it will help you re-focus when you have wobbly moments that create self-doubt. These moments often sound like:
"I don't know whether to include this story or leave it out."
"I don't know how throughly to explain the process I used to get through a challenge (or whether to explain it at all)."
"I don't know that I have a true process that I even want to teach anyone; I just want to tell my story and hope that it inspires someone else or reminds them that they can overcome challenges too."
To be clear, one genre (non-fiction versus memoir) is not inherently "better" than another, so get those "shoulds" out of your thoughts right now!...
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Writers: How to Erase Self-Doubt

I just started writing my sixth book.
It’s fiction (“chick lit” to be exact).
Of the 6 books I’ve published, none of them is fiction.
Whether you’re writing fiction, non-fiction, or memoir, the process may be different, but the underlying resistance is often the same, and I was intrigued to find myself stalling–in much the same way my clients do.
So I sat down yesterday and asked myself:

Who do I have to BE to write this? Who do I have to be in order not to:

⛔️ procrastinate due to fear that it will suck
⛔️ compare it to other people’s books (and fear it will suck)
⛔️ say, “I’ll start next month” (because if I start this month, it’ll suck)

The result: I have to BE someone who:

✅ Is curious about the unknown
✅ Trusts my own voice
✅ Seeks guidance from people who are intimately familiar with...
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Book Writing Playlist

Not all book-writing roadblocks are easy to clear. 

(But some are easier than others.) 

There's a saying: "Silence can be deafening?"

Now, I happen to love silence (having 5 kids will do that to a person).

But when it comes to writing, silence is NOT golden.

In fact, it's the enemy.

Silence puts me in my head, which isn't always where I need to be...especially when I'm writing from my heart. 

The key for me to access the emotions that both want and need to be on the page is music. 

As much as I love Eminem (and I do), that kind of music doesn't work. 

The lyrics are simply too distracting. 

And if I'm not careful, they stealthily enter my subconscious, and when I ultimately read back what I've written, I'm confused why, "mom's spaghetti" is mentioned when I exactly zero profound memories that involve my mom's spaghetti. 

It occurred to me the other day that perhaps my playlist might help you to get into the zone and unearth the thoughts feelings...

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Book Writing Tip #45: Don't Edit As You Write!

"Just edit as you go," they say. "It will keep everything clean and save you tons of time on the back end."

I don't know who "they" are in this scenario, but they're wrong! 

Have you declared (with lukewarm confidence) any of the following?

"As soon as I iron out the details of this chapter, I'll move on to the next."

"I'm just stuck on whether or not this metaphor makes sense."

"I'm trying to decide whether the content in chapter 2 makes sense; then I'll move on."

"Chapter 4 should perhaps be chapter 2 and chapter 3 should perhaps disappear altogether. As soon as I figure that out, I'll continue on."

While your intentions may be the best of the best, if you are editing (or strategizing chapter order, or debating content, or researching proper comma use) as you write, you are doing yourself a disservice. Here's why:

1. In 99.978% of cases, editing as you go (or telling yourself that you are) is a form of procrastination. 

2. In the other .022% of cases, editing as you...

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How Legos Can Help You Write, Publish, and Promote Your Book

I did something somewhat absurd two days ago. I poured 1334 Lego pieces onto the kitchen table. 
My son received the Volkswagen Camper, and as his self-appointed Parts Manager, it was my job to organize all of the pieces into groups so that when he called out, "I need a red 1 x 3 tall" I knew just where to find it (not to mention what the heck it is, which took a few hours to learn on its own!).
It occurred to me (after downing several lattes) that, much like a 1000-piece puzzle, writing, publishing, and promoting a book is very much like putting together an absurdly large and detailed Lego set. 
At first, you have no idea where to start. You know you have to get through two 83-page instruction books in total, and so you start at the most obvious place: Book 1, Page 1.
Just start. Don't think about how long the writing, publishing, or promotion process will be. Just take ONE...
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