I am not a visionary. Therefore, I greatly admire visionaries and wonder how they do it.
Paul Otlet was a visionary. In 1934 he published a book titled Traité Documentation. In this book, Otlet envisions computers and the Internet and how they will eventually replace books since the books will be on the computer. He even predicts books with audio and video elements included in them—what we call enhanced ebooks today. Think about it. Otlet’s prediction was published about 80 years ago, long before desktop computers or the Internet, let alone the ebook.
Watch this video to see Paul Otlet’s ebook prophecy.
Pretty cool, huh?!
What is considered success when publishing a book?
For some people, selling 5,000 copies is success. For others who self-publish, getting a royalty publishing house to pick up the title and publish it is success. Still other authors consider success simply having people send them notes stating that the book touched or changed their lives.
I have spoken to a number self-published authors who self-published in an attempt to get a royalty publisher to pick up their book. Some ask me for the chances or statistics of this happening. While I do not have hard figures or data, I do know that it does happen.
While the vast majority of self-published titles do not get picked up by larger publishing houses, some do. Tom Cowley’s book is one example.
Tom started Eagles Nest Press (and became a member of Christian Small Publishers Association) and self-published his book A Biography of Jesus. This book was an outgrowth of Tom’s studies in earning his Doctorate of Ministry. Tom published A Biography of Jesus in 2005 and put quite a bit of energy into promoting the book through speaking in churches around the country.
Just this year, Tom’s book was published by Paraclete Press. It was given a new subtitle and a new cover. In addition, it has been given a whole new marketing push by the new publisher. Tom’s book was not published by Paraclete because it was a best seller. It was published because the publisher saw a need and a market for this book.
If you are a self-publisher who desires to have your book picked up by a large publishing house, take heart. You know not God’s plans. Your book may follow the path Tom’s book took. If not, it will still accomplish God’s purpose for it.
I recently read about an artist, Michael Workman, who has a 30/3/3 rule for paintings. The rule goes like this:
- A painting should grab your attention at 30 feet away.
- At 3 feet away, the painting should tell a story and create a dialog with the viewer.
- 3 inches away, the painting should be interesting to other artists with interesting texture and paint application.
While I am not a designer, I do believe we can apply a similar rule to book covers. I call it the 20/20 rule. The rule goes like this:
- At 20 feet away, a book cover should be graphically compelling enough to catch a reader’s attention. The title should also be legible.
- At 20 inches away, the book cover should be interesting enough to entice the reader to pick up the book and learn more.
Try it out. Put your most recent book 20 feet away and see if the cover commands attention. Then place it 20 inches away and see if what you read on the cover is compelling and would make a reader want to pick up the book to learn more.
After all, we all want our books to encourage perfect vision.
As the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association, I get to view a lot of books. I see all sorts of cover designs, layout themes, and other interesting design elements. Some are great, some are good, and some could be improved. One winner of the 2012 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award caught my eye.
Just Honor God won the award this year in the Devotional category. It is a very short book—about 50 pages long. It features just 27 devotions. The interesting piece of this book is that after about every three or four devotions, the publisher has inserted a page advertising one of the tie-in products that has been produced in conjunction with the “Just Honor God” theme. In all, there are seven pages that are each devoted to one of the tie-in products. These products include:
- A Journal
- Dog Tags
- Sticky Notes
- Bumper Stickers
I thought that adding advertisements for the tie-in products that people can purchase into the book was a clever idea. The publisher did a nice job of tying in each promotion to the theme so that it did not seem out of place. For example, the page advertising the sticky notes states “These attractive sticky notes offer a simple reminder to Just Honor God without saying a word.”
While this publisher clearly added the tie-in products throughout the book to “pad” the pages (the book’s content is 47 pages with these seven advertisements), I thought the idea of making readers aware of the tie-in products within the book is a great way to advertise and market these theme products.
I think advertisements within books, when tastefully done, can be a good way to draw people to make another purchase.
Would you put an advertisement for a tie-in product into your book?
To what lengths will you go to promote a book?
How much money would you spend on gathering attention for your book?
One first-time author, Matt Dojny, went to great lengths to promote his new novel, The Festival of Earthly Delights, at Book Expo America (BEA) earlier this month.
Matt set up a food cart across the street from the Javits Center in the Crystal Palace South to peddle interest in his new book. The food cart, called a Taste of Puchai, offered free books, mysterious candy, spiked punch, paper kites, and cool-ranch-flavored cricket snacks for three hours on Tuesday, June 5 during BEA. Anyone stopping by was welcome to partake of the fun and treats offered.
A snack-cart promotional event at BEA is not an inexpensive undertaking. This author truly thought outside the box to come up with an interesting marketing gimmick that attracted both the attention of the media and the attention of BEA attendees.
Interesting ideas generate interest. I would love to hear about your extreme marketing ideas.