Is Your Title Unique? Are You Sure?

Sometimes as authors we come up with titles for our work early on. Occasionally, the title drives the idea for the whole piece.

Before the days of the Internet, once you had an original title in mind, it was probably usable. Now, who knows. Millions of pieces of content and information are floating around out there and new stuff is published every day including websites and books. What this means for authors is that we must be extra diligent to make sure the title we've chosen is actually available in some way for both the book and the web as a domain. I think most people realize this, but I figured I'd mention it just to be sure.

But besides that there's another step with regard to the web that may be even more important and that is looking at sites with similar names. Why would you want to go through the extra time and effort once you've discovered you can buy the domain you desire? Because you may change your mind about that title after all.

For example, let's say the title you want to use is Blue House Rose ( I have no clue if this exists or not, didn't look). Maybe the exact .com domain is available, that's good. Now comes the extra step, how else might someone logically search for this title? Maybe they reverse it like Rose House Blues, or they forget part of it and search Blue House or Blue Rose book. What comes up then?

Sometime what happens is that the site they reach that way is not only unrelated, it's undesirable or inappropriate to most people-that's not good. To further illustrate how easily this can happen, Here are a couple more examples from publicity expert BL Ochman's blog where this happened to a couple of major companies. If this was you considering a book title, hopefully you clearly see where a little extra research could not only save time, money, but maybe more importantly embarrassment and possibly your reputation.

Your book will hopefully go on to sell for years and maybe even long after you've stopped writing. Make sure the title is memorable for all the right reasons.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


The Rise of the POD People

Just in case you haven't heard yet, the number of titles produced POD (print on demand) surpassed those printed via offset (also called traditional) in 2008. That really is a pretty big deal.

To clarify a bit, we are talking about print options, not publishing options. As a refresher (or more clarification if you're new to this whole thing) you must keep in mind that print on demand is a type of printing not a type of publisher, even though the term is often applied that way.

POD is used by all kinds of publishers, from those the size of Penguin to the smallest micro-publishers. It simply means that books are printed one at a time or a handful at a time when ordered, using digital technology, like a big copier. The other method, (traditional) is offset printing which usually starts around a 1000 copies and goes up and utilizes ink and plate technology.

So what does this all mean for the average author? Here are just a few points:

1. More small and micro presses use POD technology, so that increase in titles likely came from those sources.
2. The above is good because it opens the door to more authors getting their work out there, the above is not so good because it also means more competition on the shelves whether physical or virtual.

3. In my opinion, the broad assumption that if it's POD it can't be good has never been correct or fair and if this trend continues, "the industry" has to take notice.

4. What will happen next year in publishing? Who knows, but the best way to prepare is to make sure you educate yourself so that you can choose the best path for you, whether it's POD or not.

If you'd like to find out more about the stats, you can find an article on Bookseller.com

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Children's Literacy, Children's Author Resources

Just had to share this resource I found today via a twitter. If you have an interest in children's literacy, this single post will keep you occupied for quite a while if you pop over to all of the links it shares. The other cool thing is that it doesn't stop there, there's all kinds of useful stuff to help you learn, write and promote any related books or projects.

Grab a cup of coffee or lemonade and enjoy Jen Robinson's Book Page.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


When Do You Want to Get Paid?

One of the factors that you should consider when choosing a publishing option is when do you want to get paid? This is because not all options pay the same way or in a similar time frame.

For example, traditional/commercial publishing generally pays on a quarterly or semi-annual schedule. Sell a bunch of books in January? You won't see the money for several months. Some fee-based/pay to publish options work this way as well. If you independently publish but you use a distributor, you may hit a similar schedule.

You have to figure this into your publishing plan because if you need to make money relatively quickly, the two options above may not suit your needs. The quickest way to be paid is to sell books yourself directly to your buyers. This might mean you need to independently self-publish, or it may mean you'll buy books from your publisher at a discount in order to sell them at an event where you appear in person for example.

As you are researching your best option, "pay day" is definitely not something you want to leave up to chance or whatever happens happens, unless monetary reward is of little importance to you.

In order to make this decision, here are two questions to ask:
1. What is the pay schedule with this option?
2. When do I need to be paid/make money?

If the two answers don't match well, you'll likely want to move on to another option or reconsider your goals.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Beans, Blooms and Books

If your book can be tied in to gardening, green/organic/veggie cooking or similar topics, this time of year should give you a bumper crop of promotional ideas. Besides the fact that "green" is THE thing right now, green has always been in for at least one group-farmers/organic markets and the people who shop at them. The other day it struck me, who says you only have to buy beans and beets at green markets? Why not a book?

This topic actually came up a few days ago while I was listening to the radio. A local station (MAGIC 105.1 Detroit) was doing live broadcasts from area hospitals in honor of nurses week. It was mentioned that at the hospital they were visiting that day, Troy Beaumont, it was farmers market day. They explained that every so often the hospital coordinates a farmers market in their parking lot. It makes total sense really; shopping is convenient for employees and visitors and who better to promote healthy fresh food than a hospital?

It didn't take long before my thought turned to books. If you had any kind of healthy eating book, gardening book or a character related to any such topic, there are a ton of ways to put some green in your pocket via a green market:

1. The most obvious, approach the coordinators and ask about either having a booth or passing out flyers. Not sure if a booth fits your budget? Put the word out to other authors and offer to share. With tools like Twitter and Facebook, you can't use the excuse that you don't know/can't at least try to contact anyone else.

2.Got a cook book or is your character a gourmet chef? How about a live demonstration using foods from your neighboring booths?

3.How about asking people to challenge you? Shoppers could buy some ingredients, you pull out recipes from your book that feature them and hand them out on sample cards. Don't have a recipe using spinach and leeks? See what you can come up with on the spot. Best bet, prepare ahead of time, see what's in season and what people will likely buy.

4, Flowers and gardening a better fit for you? Offer a tip sheet for landscape design using flowers available at the market or tips on how to keep planted blooms healthy all season long.

If you don't have a green market in your area, consider greenhouses/nurseries or garden centers. As you can see, the possibilities are about as varied as the fruits and flowers you'll find on any given day in just about any area you can pick.

Got any other promo ideas that fit this theme? Hope you'll share!

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


You Know, THAT Book, the One I Saw on TV

Have you ever walked into a bookstore or library and had or heard a conversation like, "I'm trying to find a book. I think the author's name begins with W and I'm pretty sure I heard about it on Good Morning America a couple of weeks ago." Unfortunately for our favorite librarians and book store personnel, this happens more often than you might think.

For a little fun to end the week, pop over to Shelf-Talker and see if you can decipher the actual titles being asked for in the various vague and meandering descriptions given by actual patrons/customers. Don't forget to read the comments, plenty of doozies in there too.

Enjoy your weekend!

Good Writing & God Bless,


What Is it Like to Have a Bestseller?

How many of us haven't pondered this question? What's it like to have a bestseller? Other questions that follow would likely be: How much would I make? How many books do I have to sell?

As with most of the publishing industry, there's a lot of misinformation out there about bestsellers. While I'm not going to attempt to cover all the definitions in one post, I will say that just about every bestseller award is calculated differently. For example, for the NY Times list, bookstore sales are the main qualifier. Even if you sold a huge number of books from your own website (but not in stores) you would not make the list (you'd probably be approached by a publisher, but that's a whole other discussion).

Also, a lot of people, non-authors especially, think that once you hit that list, the money just starts rolling in. Well, depending on how many books you sell to get there, and what your advance was (if any), that's not necessarily the case.

It's not often that publishers or authors give up information about the reality of how bestsellers really work, but recently author Lynn Viehl did just that on the Genreality Blog

Beyond the eye-opening math there are a couple of other points I think are of note:

1. She does next to no promotion on her own because she's an established author and she started when promotion and publicity were handled differently (publishers did a lot more for more of their authors). This will not be the case for most new authors today.

2. Even though she's an experienced, successful author with a following of fans, she still may not earn out her advance.

3. Doing a comparison of the math with smaller sales numbers, but higher profit margins (as you'd have in independent self-publishing) is an interesting, potentially enlightening exercise.

Can you be a NY Times bestseller? Maybe. Now the question is, do you want to be? No matter what the answer is, start mapping your path accordingly. It's a lot easier to arrive at your destination, if you're really clear on where it is you'd like to be.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett