And, we continue with my book on lead generation!
What you actually need to know to package, publish, and print a book will not fit in a single chapter of this book. In fact, there are entire books, websites, and services dedicated to just this topic.
Rather than do you a disservice by trying to condense a ton of helpful and sufficient technical knowledge into a too-small space, I’m going to focus on the thinking behind this process, and make a few recommendations on how to get additional help.
First, the big picture…
Here’s what you need to know about publishing a book that you’re going to use for lead generation…
If you were creating a book for bookstore shelves, to try to make the New York Times Best Seller list, or to wow your elitist friends at swank cocktail parties, most of what I’m about to tell you doesn’t apply.
If ego gratification is your goal (which is the secret drive behind all the above), I recommend you go the traditional route, get an agent who will pitch your book to 100 publishers, try to land a deal with a major publishing house, go back and edit everything you’ve just done to make it fit their model, and prepare to give up total control of your book and, more-likely-than-not, end up with a book that goes out of print within 12 months.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to create a sales tool that generates take-it-to-the-bank business results, your rules are different.
Self-publishing is okay. In fact, it’s encouraged. Yes, there’s some credibility lost, amongst a very small portion of your audience. But the benefits gained far outweigh this loss.
A self-published book can be done fast — very fast. A traditional publisher can take months or years. Self-published books can be published in weeks.
A self-published book gives you total control. While a traditional publisher has a set of rules and requirements to maintain their image, self-publishing allows you to focus on what will get you the best results.
And self-publishing is not the handicap that it used to be. Here’s the thing about self-publishing. The filtering mechanisms among the big publishers don’t exist with self-published works. There is a huge spectrum of quality. But if your self-published book is similar in quality to traditionally-published books, it will be perceived by the reader as equivalent. There are some distribution considerations that are outside the scope of this conversation. But if you produce a high-quality self-published book to use for lead generation, it will have largely the same impact as it would if published by the vast majority of publishing houses.
Which begs the question…
What does it take to make your book look and feel like a traditionally-published book?
There’s a lot to it, but that’s a question that you need to be asking throughout the process.
First and foremost, know that readers do judge books by their cover.
You should have a professional-quality cover design that reflects current standards within your genre.
Here’s a cover design shortcut. You want your book to look a lot like other books your prospect would actually buy and pay for. To make that happen, you can go to the Amazon Best Sellers books list.
Imagine you’re a prospect in your market, and looking for the best selling books in your category. From the Best Sellers page, you’ll see a list of categories — start clicking to find the category closest to your book topic. (For example, for this book, I clicked “Business & Money,” “Marketing & Sales,” then “Sales & Selling.”)
When you get to the lowest-level category within the list that best-exemplifies your book’s topic, what you see is a list of the books that are selling best to your market.
Take notes of what you like and don’t like about the covers you see. Are there any that make a good model for your book cover? Do you see anything you definitely want to avoid?
Next, you need to find a professional designer. Lacking another option, I recommend doing a book cover design contest through 99 designs. It’s a crowd sourcing website that allows you to run a design contest for your book cover. Prices start at $299, and you get to choose the best of dozens of designs. You get final ownership of the art files, and your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.
Give your designer as much direction as possible, then trust their expertise to polish your ideas.
This is worth spending time on, because the impression made by the cover will determine a lot when it comes to prospects requesting and then reading your book.
Once the prospect opens your book, it should still feel like a “real” book!
If you self-publish with a quality cover but the inside feels like a printed Word document, you’re going to lose credibility and believability with your prospect.
For this reason, it’s worth investing in a professional book formatting service who specializes in this, or really doing your homework and getting all the pieces right.
There’s the actual formatting of the content, which you can again reference other books in your category to get the feel right.
And then, there’s the actual sections and content of the book, that you want to make sure to get right. For this, I’m not actually talking about the chapters and main content of the book.
Traditionally-published nonfiction books have significant content before and after the main content of the book. For narrative-driven books (as opposed to textbooks, manuals, technical guides, etc.), some of this is minimized and simplified. But getting it right does go a long way to giving your self-published book the feel and credibility of books published through a traditional publisher. The idea here is not necessarily to fool the reader, but rather to avoid triggering a subconscious judgment that you’re not all the way put together.
You can do your own homework here, but I recommend including a title page, copyright page, table of contents, potentially a foreword by a recognized name within your industry or market, and an introduction to your book, all as front matter before the main content of the book. You may also consider including an acknowledgments section, if appropriate.
And following the main content of the book, you may also want to include some of the standard back matter found in a nonfiction book. This can include appendices, and epilogue, a glossary, an index, or other elements. I find these are less important to getting the “feel” right, but may be worth doing in some situations.
Also, don’t forget to include your offer in one or more places in the book. While this is not part of most traditionally-published books (and some publishing houses would not allow it!), it is important for our purposes and worth the reminder when talking about what to include in the book.
Here’s how you turn all your content into a book…
Once you’ve assembled all the pieces of your book, you need to actually turn them into a book that can be sold or delivered to prospects.
In today’s world, that means you probably want both a print book and an ebook. Because the specs for each are different, this is actually two separate processes.
My general recommendation for you is to get help with this step. There are very affordable freelancers and businesses that have made this what they do. They will take your content, arrange it, and format it in print-ready PDF for a physical book, as well as in the variety of ebook formats required for the different ereaders and ebook stores.
For ebooks, you want to at the very least have your book in .mobi, .epub, and .pdf formats. The first two make your book compatible for Amazon and almost every other big ebook store out there. The .pdf can be the same as what is submitted for printing, but also works as a great format for reading on a computer.
In terms of the .pdf file, there are many considerations, but here’s the big one. In most cases, you’ll want to use Amazon’s CreateSpace or IngramSpark from Ingram Books to print the book. Before you have the .pdf file created for printing, make sure the person doing your layout knows which platform you’ll be using, and the specs they want. If your file doesn’t play well with the printer, you’ll get bad results, or they just won’t print it.
My recommendation on formatting is to make the book 5X8 or 6X9, with few exceptions. These are small, hand-size books that are easy to hold, carry, or throw in a bag. 5X8 also ships nicely in a 6X9 envelope, so should be favored in most cases. Also, a 5X8 book — being a little smaller — allows you to get more pages out of the same amount of content. So the feel of the book in the reader’s hand is a little more substantial, even from the same amount of content.
This is definitely just the start of this topic, but much of the additional detail is more technical and more platform-specific than what I want to cover here.
In terms of getting the book printed, again, you’ll likely want to choose between Amazon’s CreateSpace and IngramSpark to print the book. They each have their own process for getting the book to them and ready to print, and their resources are much better for that than mine. So I will defer to that for the actual process of getting your first copy in-hand.
Moving forward, we’ll get back into the actual use of the book as a core element in your selling system.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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