Is Your Book Market-Ready?

One of the biggest challenges we see authors and self-publishers face today is a finished book product that they are excited about but that, unfortunately,  isn’t market-ready. This can often be the case in spite of the fact that the author has spent thousands of dollars with a self-publishing company, editorial & design teams, and on book marketing and PR. How is this possible?

 

Market research and category know-how must drive the full book package. It’s not what you like, it’s what will sell.

 

Authors must take off their “writer” hat and put on their “publisher” hat prior to launching their self-publishing program. Only by looking at your book as a product and your publishing program as a business, will you be able to make the right decisions to maximize your opportunity for success.

is your book market-ready, book publishing

So – Is your book market-ready?

Most books fail the market-ready test in one, or several, of these areas:

 

Price:
One of the biggest challenges we see authors face is publishing a book that is way over-priced for their category or their audience. In some cases, the author is making an uninformed decision regarding price. In others, a self-publishing company’s “calculator” is setting a price. Remember, category and customer drive price. Do not price your book so that you will “make more money” per copy sold. Price it where consumers are willing to spend. Selling 100 books at $14.95 is far better than selling no books at $24.95.

 

Binding:
Hardcovers are over. Let me repeat: Hardcovers are a thing of the past. Unless you have a gift book, coffee table book and/or an incredibly compelling reason to publish a book in hardcover, do not do it. Why? Hardcovers are far more expensive to manufacture….leading to a price point that consumers aren’t willing to pay…leading to no book sales. Too many authors get talked in to producing a hardcover book to “start” by their self-publishing team.

 

Format:
Trim size matters. What readers expect your trim size to be, matters more. Authors are creative people. It can be fun to “think outside of the box” when finalizing your trim size. But remember, readers have an expectation about what a book like yours will look and feel like.

 

Cover Design:
Many self-publishing companies provide 3-4 cover design options. Title on top, image on bottom. Image on top, title on bottom. Title on top, image in middle, author name on bottom. Image can be square, rectangle or oval. Sound familiar? Putting cover design in to generic templates never works. You will end up with a book that looks like it was spit out from a generic template. Your cover is your calling card. It is the most important piece of your book package. You don’t have to overpay but, remember, your cover design includes not only where the image is placed, but also what the image is, whether or not you need an image, your title font, your subtitle font, your author name and, of course, colors, stacking, shading and so many of the important elements that go in to design.

 

Cover Image:
This may lose me a few friends, but here are some general truths about cover image. You, the author, do not belong on the front of your book cover. A nice thumbnail image on the back? Maybe. Unless you can’t walk down a busy street in a major city without having 10+ people ask for your autograph, you do not belong on your book cover. In general, your friend/niece/daughter/neighbor is not an artist—their drawing might be cute, but is it professional enough? Just because you like it, doesn’t mean it’s right. Print out your working book cover and place it next to the book cover’s for the top 10 bestselling books in your category. Does yours stand up? Note: Stand “up”, not stand “out”. I understand the need to be “different” but all too often authors are so “different” that they lose sight of what their readers are looking for. We see a lot of this with authors who commission artwork. All too often they end up with a really cool piece of art that has no business on their cover design.

 

Editing:
Don’t cut corners. Editing matters. If I can spot 10+ typos just by flipping through a couple of sample chapters (trust me, it happens a lot) I would suggest that the book is not market-ready. Don’t be sloppy. You want readers to keep coming back for more.

 

Photos/Artwork:
Every photo or image that goes in to your book should serve a necessary purpose. Putting in art and photos just to do it, is likely to distract readers from your overall message. It can be tempting to pack a book full of family and personal photos (especially if your book is a memoir) but it can also be a turnoff to readers. Do those family photos really add to your message? And, as important, are those images print-ready? Blurry, muddy photographs also don’t look good in print. A good designer will let you know if your photo(s) are ready for prime-time. If not, don’t use them.

 

So take another look – Is your book market-ready?

 

One of the saddest, and most frustrating, things we see is an author with a great book and a great message who has spent a ton of money on a book that just isn’t market-ready. No matter how big the budget is for marketing and PR, if a book isn’t ready the best marketing and/or PR firm in the world can’t (or shouldn’t) market it successfully.

 

The number one reason we are unlikely to take a book in to our marketing programs is because it’s not market-ready. Remember that your book is a product. The “packaging”, design, price, title and artwork must be on target to position your book for it’s best chance for success.

 

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2 Responses to “Is Your Book Market-Ready?”

  1. Good article. I’m glad to know that my debut novel did not violate any of those points. I am amazed at the number of people who write a novel, have friends look it over, then either publish it or submit to agents/publishers without professional editing or proofreading. I’m getting ready to publish my second novel and I pleased to see that it does not violate any of these points, either.

  2. Brendan Brown says:

    Its true. Everyone has to ensure all of the above tips before publishing. Like your post very much……

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