Author Archives: Christine Price

Old Books, Their Care and Preservation

As a dealer in used and antiquarian books, I am often asked how best to care for old books. This short article will explain some simple procedures to protect your books (old or new) from harm.

The general rule of thumb is to treat your books like children.

GIVE THEM A HOME. Most important, in books or kids, is that they have a comfortable home. For books, this means in a climate-controlled room-not the porch, not the shop or outbuilding, not the unfinished attic or basement or garage, not an unheated storage unit. You don’t want the books to experience extremes of temperature, nor do you want the temperature to fluctuate wildly during the day.

Keeping books on bookshelves is ideal because it is more likely that you’ll pick up the book and start reading it! Be sure to place the bookshelf so that it is out of direct sunlight, or else your spines will fade. Also, if you are a smoker, try keeping your books in a room that you infrequently smoke in. Although the odor will eventually go away, the discoloration to the covers and pages is more difficult to remove.

If you need to box your books, be sure to lay the books flat in the box. The worst thing you can do when boxing books is to pack them spine up or spine down-especially if you’re going to stack another box on top! It’s also a good idea to put some packing material between books. Oftentimes, once books are in a box, they are moved or even shipped without repacking. Visually check the boxes every once in a while to make sure mice or other pests have not discovered them.

KEEP THEM DRY. Let’s say you live in a mild climate that is usually between 50 and 70 degrees. You are more able to store books outside the home, but for crying out loud keep a roof over them! Water damage is the most common damage I see. I have also seen books water-damaged by being placed in a bookcase along with houseplants-when watered, some of the water would splash or spill and damage the books, so just because your books are inside doesn’t necessarily mean they are safe. Humidity is another concern, as it can cause foxing or discoloration to the pages. Again, keeping the books indoors will help. If possible, a dehumidifier will keep the books much happier.

KEEP THEM CLEAN. Although they hopefully don’t get as dirty as boys on a summer afternoon, books do tend to accumulate dust. Frequent dusting of the tops of the books and the shelf they’re on is recommended. Regular vacuuming of the room they’re in is also highly recommended. If possible, vacuum the books themselves with a low-powered vacuum (such as a hand-held one) with a brush attachment.

TAKE CARE OF THEM WHEN THEY’RE SICK. Just like children, books get scraped, scuffed, broken bones, infected, bitten by the dog, beat up, flaky skin, and more. Even though our store doesn’t do extensive in-house book repair or restoration, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shown some poor old book that is in desperate need of help (or that needs to be put out of its misery!) Depending on the emotional or monetary value of your book, you should consider getting any damage repaired by a professional bookbinder. Repairing even moderate damage can prevent it from getting worse. If you have mildew or insect damage, be sure that the infection is dead, or else it (the bugs or mildew) might spread to the rest of your collection. (Separate article on that coming soon!)

SPEND TIME WITH THEM. Most book collectors are also readers. Be sure to read your books! Gentle reading is good for books. If you have leather books, the oils from your hands help keep the leather supple. Reading your cloth or paperbound books ensures they aren’t getting eaten by insects or dust-bunnies.

DON’T WRAP THEM IN PLASTIC. Most of us don’t seal our kids up in plastic bags, even if we occasionally want to, nor do we need to do the same to our books. Books need to breathe. (Sealing a dust jacket in a paper-backed mylar sleeve is okay.) A sealed plastic bag can keep in moisture and possible mold, and hasten discoloration. Additionally, a fragile book that is pulled in and out of a plastic bag can get damaged each time. If you have something exceptionally fragile, talk to your bookbinder about making a custom clamshell box for it.

ESTATE PLANNING. Yes, we all go sooner or later, and you are probably not planning on being buried with your books. Be sure your spouse, kids, family, friends, lawyer, etc. knows the value of your books. I hate seeing a big or good collection be sold at an estate sale for fifty cents apiece…but I hate even worse hearing about kids who just throw out their parents’ old books, magazines, and papers. If you have good books, and if your kids do not want them, you might consider selling them (that is, selling the books, not the kids) while you are alive, or at least making contact with a reputable dealer who is willing to go through your book estate and pay well for them.

These simple guidelines will help you keep your books in good condition for years to come. Since the value of books is so dependent on condition, taking care of them is a financially wise decision as well as the best way to get the most enjoyment from them.

Scheduling Your Book Project

“Where will I ever find the time to write my book?” or simply, “How long does it take to write a book?” is a good question authors often ask themselves. The first-time author may feel overwhelmed just trying to decide where to begin, and even the seasoned author can find beginning each new book to be a challenge.

First of all, let me say that I know hardly any author who has not found that writing a book ends up taking a lot longer than was initially planned, but I also know that few things can leave a person with such a sense of accomplishment as writing a book. However long the writing and production take, it will be worth it if you spend the time being serious about the process, you allow yourself to be inspired, and you produce a quality product in the end.

To make what feels overwhelming seem more manageable, we can break down writing and producing a book into a series of steps that give an idea of the order and time needed for each step in the process.

Come Up with an Idea (a few minutes to a few years): Coming up with a good idea for a book is easier said than done. Usually good ideas just come to us rather than our going out looking for them. But even after you have the idea, you need to refine it. You’ll want to play around with it for several days, weeks, or even months. Look around for books that might have similar ideas. Read them so you can see whether your idea has been done before or you have something new you can say on the topic. Be sure not to steal ideas from other authors; you don’t want to plagiarize, but you can cite other sources in your book.

Research (one month to a few years): Even if you are going to write a novel, you will find aspects of research you will need to do. Sometimes the research is just simple fact-checking. For example, if your novel is set in Atlanta, it might just require double-checking the name of a restaurant or a street for accuracy in your book. If you’re writing a non-fiction book, it might require months of research to assemble your information. In my opinion, research is often the most exciting part of writing the book. It’s when you gather and discover new information, which can cause your idea to expand and change, become stronger and more refined. Let yourself go crazy with the research and read everything on the topic that you can. Take notes and make sure you write down the sources for all your notes-the authors, books, page numbers, etc. Look at some other nonfiction books to see how they are arranged with notes, footnotes, and bibliography pages. You will want to use “The Chicago Manual of Style” or some other style manual to make sure you incorporate your research properly into your book.

Write the Book (weeks to years): According to a study done by the Brenner Information Group, it takes 475 hours to write a fiction book and 725 to write a nonfiction book. Of course, those numbers are averages. It depends on how long you want your book to be, what your topic is, and what your goals are. If you’re writing a long scholarly work, it’s going to take longer than it does to write a thirty-two page children’s book, although both will be time-consuming. I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Where am I going to find 475 hours?” Truthfully, it’s not that hard to find. I’m a firm believer in “steady wins the race.” I frequently tell people that if they just write a page a day, they will have written a book by the end of the year. If you can find just an hour a day, or even half an hour, you can do it. If you can block out two or three hours every Sunday, you can do it. And besides, writing a book is not a race. It’s more important that you take your time and create a quality product than that you rush it.

Revising the Book (days to months): Again, the amount of time needed for revision depends on the book. I should point out that none of the steps in this process to this point have to be done in specific order. You might start writing your book, realize you have to stop and do some research, then go back to writing, then realize you need to do some more research, which could mean finding out something new that causes you to go back and revise what you have already written before you go on to write the next part. It’s a constant back and forth process when you write a book, and you will find yourself revising as you go. You might get frustrated that writing is not really a linear process, but try to enjoy the process anyway and realize that however long it takes, you are getting closer to your goal. The main thing is that once you have a complete rough draft, you sit down and revise the entire book. That means more than proofreading. It means seeing the big picture, making sure the book is organized properly, that the arguments make sense, that the sentences flow, that there are no inconsistencies, and looking for places where you may need to remove something that is irrelevant, or expand something that needs more explanation.

Editing (two weeks to two months): I have editor friends who complain that every author thinks the editor can start working on the book the day the author calls. Editing a book can actually be time-consuming; the editor will usually go through the book several times and send the book back to the author with revision suggestions. It usually takes several weeks to do an editing job, so authors should schedule plenty of time for the editing and for doing more of their own revisions. Don’t put the cart before the horse and plan your book signing for one month after you send the editor the book. Wait until you know the books are being printed. Plan for the worst case scenario-that the editor will discover a lot of work still needs to be done on the book. Call the editor a few weeks before you finish writing the book so he or she knows the book is coming and can plan accordingly so you don’t have to wait weeks for the editor to get to it.

Proofreading (one to two weeks): If you and your editor have done a good job, the proofreader should not take too long on the book, but again, your book is not the only one the proofreader has to proofread so plan to give yourself plenty of time.

Cover Design and Layout (one week to one month): A cover design can take little or a lot of time, depending on whether you have artwork or a photograph you want to use for your cover or you need to hire an artist to create a cover for you. Be thinking about your cover as you work on your book so you’re prepared for this step. As for layout of the book, if you’ve written a short novel with no pictures, the layout person might be able to have it done in a day or two (but again, remember you are not the layout person’s only customer). If your book has a lot of graphics, charts, or photographs, it could be weeks or even months before the layout is done. Remember, you will need to look over the proofs to make sure photographs are in the right places, and there are no typos. However, now is not the time to rewrite sentences or paragraphs. Only minor changes should be made at this point. Anything major should have been caught before the book went to the proofreader, and the layout person is likely to charge you extra for any corrections.

Printing (four to six weeks): Four to six weeks is standard for the printing. You will be sent a paper proof copy (different from the pdf file the layout person previously sent you), and a copy of the cover to look over and approve. Again, any corrections needed will slow down the process and the printer will charge you for changes. The four to six weeks should include the shipment of the books to your door.

Pre-Marketing (four to six weeks): If you haven’t started already, then while the book is at the printer is the time to begin marketing your book. It’s when you can build your website, make up your business cards, brochures, fliers, and arrange for placement in stores and to hold book signings. Be cautious here-if your book is supposed to arrive on March 20th, don’t schedule your book signing for March 21st, only to end up with the books not coming until March 22nd. Plan your book signing for a few weeks after the books arrive so you have time to get them in local stores and to list them at online stores. Then you will feel prepared when the truck with all those books shows up at your door. Make sure you have cleared a place to put all those books!

While writing your book, you will experience hang-ups, frustrations, and moments of triumph, all of which may alter your schedule, but if you plan it out, you should be able to produce a book in the given timeframe above for each step. At the very least, plan for writing and production to take you a year. It will probably take you two. But we all know how fast time passes-so you will have that book in hand before you know it, and then you will feel that all that hard work was well worth it.

How to Choose a Children’s Book, Parts 1 and 2 – Subjective Appeal is Not Optional


It goes without saying that a child’s engagement with good books is important and valuable in the child’s development. Not only can reading good books expand a child’s cognitive abilities, but it can also spur a child’s emotional, moral, and spiritual development. However, a quick visit to one of the big online or brick-and-mortar book retailers is enough to make you realize there are zillions of children’s books. Some of these books are good, but many are not. So, if you are looking to buy a book for a child, you are left with a question: “How do I choose a good children’s book?”

In this article I will present the first two parts of a multi-part article series that I hope can go some way toward answering that question in a general way, such that after reading the series (or part of it) you will be more equipped to choose a children’s book, even if you do not have access to reviews or recommendations. I have chosen to write on this topic in a series of articles since I hope to treat the topic in some depth.

The roadmap for this series is as follows. In the first section of the series I will discuss the factors that make up what I call the subjective appeal of a children’s book. In other words, I will try to explain the considerations that might make a book appealing to the key person we have in mind, namely the child that will engage with the book. Simply put, these are the reasons that the child will like the book. So, for example, in the articles on subjective appeal I will be talking about things like humor and illustration quality. Some of these considerations will be general–i.e., they will apply to all children–and some will be particular to the child you have in mind. In addition to simply listing and explaining these considerations, I will try to emphasize the importance of considering subjective appeal when choosing a children’s book. Indeed, I will take up the topic of the importance of considering subjective appeal in Part 2 of this article, following the introductory Part 1.

After discussing subjective appeal, in the second section of the series I plan to take up the factors relevant to the developmental value of a children’s book. The factors I have in mind here are those that allow a book to contribute to a child’s cognitive, emotional, moral, and even spiritual development. The assumption here is that as an adult choosing a children’s book you have some goals for your young reader that go beyond sheer delight (though this is important, as I will emphasize); presumably you will want the book to educate or spur growth in the child in some way, or at least not to detract from this process. In my lingo, books that educate or spur growth in this way have developmental value. Moreover, you might think of a book with developmental value as possessing certain qualities that you hope your child will one day fully appreciate in a book, such as beautiful language, or creativity. Given this hope, you will want to choose books that exhibit these lofty qualities–even if the child doesn’t fully appreciate them now–so that she can develop a taste for them. As a bonus, some of the considerations that make a book developmentally valuable will also make the book attractive to you as an adult, which will help you want to read it to your child!

In the third section of the series I will discuss pitfalls to avoid when choosing a children’s book, such as books that slide by on marketing alone, and books that set particularly bad examples of adult-child interaction. In the final section of the series I will point out the value of “trusted opinions” in choosing children’s books. I am thinking here of such things as “top-100” children’s book lists and children’s book reviews, where authoritative voices weigh in and help you decide which books to choose.


With that introduction to the article series, I will begin discussing a book’s subjective appeal in more depth, and in particular I will argue for the importance of considering subjective appeal when choosing a book.

So, here is the central–and what I take to be very important–point: choosing a book with subjective appeal is not optional. Rather, it is a crucial, non-negotiable part of the selection. Now, this might go without saying for most of us: of course we aim to choose books that kids will like! However, this is not obvious to everyone. I have in mind here a certain kind of parent or caretaker that tends toward the “all business” approach to child education and development. This kind of adult might tend, at least sometimes, to read a book to a child because it is good for the child, regardless of the fact that the child would rather not be reading it.

I know that adults with this tendency are out there because I sometimes exhibit it myself! For example, my wife and I are trying to help our children learn French from a young age. Part of the way we encourage French language learning is by reading French language children’s books to them, such as a French translation of Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, called Bonsoir Lune. My kids enjoy this to a certain extent, but they get tired of it pretty quickly, and when they do I sometimes turn into a book nazi, forcing them to attend to a book that they are not enjoying.

However, this kind of practice–where we neglect what is enjoyable to a child–can have disastrous effects. First of all, it tends to erode the child’s desire to be read to. (My children are definitely less inclined to go back to the French language books after an episode like that.) And that fact is, of course, terrible given all the amazing relational and emotional (not to mention cognitive) benefits that derive simply from an adult sitting down and reading a book to a child.

However, as if that were not bad enough, forcing a child to bear with a book they do not like also erodes a child’s desire to read at all. In other words, such a practice may well contribute to turning the child off of reading altogether. Keeping in mind that what we want to cultivate in a child is a love of being read to, and a lifelong love of reading in general, it will be crucial to choose books that a child will enjoy reading, i.e., books with subjective appeal. After all, do you consistently read things you find boring or unappealing?

There is one final caveat to my emphasis on the importance of considering subjective appeal when choosing a children’s book: simply choosing a book that a child will like is also not enough. Why? Because sometimes children like books that are not so good for them (so do adults!). For example, my kids love the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, which I do not think serves them well.

The implicit point here is that we, as adults, have certain developmental goals in mind for the children in our lives, so we also need to consider those goals when choosing children’s books (I will say more about what constitutes a book’s developmental value in future articles). So, given a child’s proclivity for certain forms of junky books, and given that we have certain developmental goals in mind for our children, that a book has subjective appeal for a child should not be enough to seal your choice, but it is a crucial start since it encourages a love of reading. Plus it is just plain great to see a child enjoying something!

In the next article in this series I will begin to discuss the particular factors that contribute to a book’s subjective appeal. Specifically, I will take up the topic of the themes of appealing children’s books.

Marketing Your Book – Making Your Book’s Message Clear

Everything used to market a book, whether it’s the cover, the website, marketing pieces, or the words out of the author’s mouth, need to send a clear message about what the book is about. Too many authors forget that their purpose is to spread their message and sell books when it comes to presenting their book to the public. Following are a few examples of mixed messages authors send in different areas of their marketing and how an author can instead make his or her book’s message clear.

The Front Cover

The front cover of your book is your biggest marketing tool. No one is going to read the back cover, or anything else you write about your book, unless the front cover grabs his or her attention. The front cover must, in one image, not only convey what the book is about, but show that the book’s subject is interesting. Mixed messages from book covers can badly hurt book sales. For example, if your book is about overcoming fear, a photo of something fearful like a grizzly bear is not going to convey the message, even though it may convey the “fear” part. A picture of an eagle soaring, however, will provide a sense of freedom from fear, from obstacles. Similarly, generic images such as beaches or nature scenes may not convey your message of how to succeed in business, although they may suggest you are successful enough to retire. A better image might include a person in a business suit, a briefcase, or something else associated with business-commercials of businessmen conducting business on their cell phones on a beach have effectively displayed this concept.

The Back Cover

Once the front cover grabs the reader’s attention, the back cover has to convince the person to buy the book. The back cover must also convey the book’s message. Author biographies and book endorsements can help, but the back cover should not be limited to these because they don’t tell you what the book is about. An effective back cover will have at least one paragraph making it clear what is the book’s subject, or in fiction, what is the book’s plot.

Please don’t try to stretch what the book is about if it’s not about something. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve been disappointed in because the back cover built up my expectations, only to have the book fail to deliver what the back cover promised. Many of those books I would have enjoyed more had I simply not been given false expectations about them. By not having a truthful back cover, you send the reader down the wrong road while reading the book, trying to find or interpret what is not there, and he may not get back on the right road then to appreciate what is in the book, but instead stay focused on what is not present.

Author Photo

The author photo is extremely important in conveying a message about your book. Unfortunately, too many authors do not have tasteful and professional photographs taken. The authors need to tell a professional photographer what his book is about and that he wants that message conveyed in his photo. That doesn’t mean you need a gimmick in your photo. It may just be a straight headshot, but the pose should have dignity if you want your book taken seriously, or you should be smiling or even laughing if your book is humorous. Too many authors take photos with their pets, which conveys a mixed message. Why would a writer of murder mysteries want a cat in her photo? The book isn’t about cats. I’ve seen history books with photos of the author in his biking gear. Save that photo for your book on mountain biking. If you’re writing about business, you may want to look professional with a suit and tie, but if you’re writing about great travel destinations, instead of the suit and tie, a (tasteful) Hawaiian shirt might be more in order.


People do not read websites. They skim them. If you have a website and look at your website statistics, you’ll quickly see that the majority of traffic stays less than thirty seconds. You only have a few seconds to let people know what your site is about and why they should look at it in more detail. If your message isn’t clear from the start, visitors won’t stay. You should have your book cover and a clear message about that book on the home page. Avoid the images that take forever to load or the music that when it starts to play makes someone jump out of his seat. Your book cover and a phrase or paragraph on what your book is about should quickly convey a clear message, and then have clear links to your other pages-About the Author, Buy the Book, a page for more information on the book, your blog-pages that will all convey your message and make it clear to the reader how to purchase that message in the form of your book.

Business Cards and Other Marketing Pieces

Anything you are going to give to potential readers needs to have a clear message about your book. If you’re a dog groomer, but also an author, a business card with dog grooming information on it is not going to work. You need separate business cards to promote you as a romance author. Whenever possible, put your book cover on your business card so you present a clear message that you are an author and here is your book.

All other marketing pieces-brochures, postcards, posters, etc.-also need to convey a straightforward message about your book. If you love Jesus, that’s great, but don’t assume people who want to read your historical novel do. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen Bible quotes on marketing pieces. They isolate your readers and send mixed messages, making people think your Civil War novel is Christian fiction, and they may not want to read Christian fiction. If it is Christian fiction, however, then those Bible quotes will help to make your message clear.

Graphics are great if you can find graphics that convey your message. Don’t use flowers, birds, butterflies, etc. unless they are relevant to your book. If your book is about gardening, the flowers are fine. If it’s a “How to” book about engine repair, a car might be appropriate. Images stick in the mind so make sure they convey your message, and not a message you don’t intend to convey. Somehow pretty butterflies and murder mysteries just don’t mesh.

Promoting Your Book in Public

When promoting your book in public, make sure you don’t convey mixed messages. You can send mixed messages even by wearing inappropriate clothing-for example a beer shirt when you’re marketing your fantasy novel at a Renaissance Festival. Find something “fantasy-like” to wear instead. A suit probably won’t sell a cookbook, but a chef’s outfit will help.

Make sure when giving interviews that you are presenting a clear message. You can’t control what the interviewer may ask, but you can steer the interviewer in the right direction. Most interviewers won’t read your book before the interview, so you need to be prepared to do a little steering. If you get a question that isn’t relevant, it’s fine to say, “Well, I don’t really cover that subject, but I do talk about….” And then move the conversation in the right direction. You don’t have to take control, but if you plan beforehand what are the two or three points you want to make about your book’s message, you’ll have those in the forefront of your mind and work them into your answers so your message is clear to listeners.

Figure out early on what your book’s message is (early on means before writing the book or at least when writing it), and then figure out ways to convey that message with images, and in a few words, in a sentence, and in a paragraph. Make sure the message is clear each time you present it to people, whether online, on paper, or in person. What your book is about is going to determine whether people want to read it, so sending a clear message about your book is the best way to find your readers, and to make sure they are receptive to your message and not expecting something else. In the end, you want your message to hit home with your readers, and then have them convey that message to their friends-your future readers.

Tips to Pre-Sell Before You Publish Your Book

Pre-selling books is a great marketing strategy to build anticipation for books and to get paid while you work rather than after the work is completed. By pre-selling, I mean two things:

  1. Making readers want to buy your book before it has been printed.
  2. Selling copies of the book before it is printed.

Authors can start selling their books as soon as they have the idea for one. While that may be extreme in some cases, many authors have done so by keeping journals or blogs on their website about the evolution of their book, ideas, drafts, stumbling blocks, all of which may interest readers and keep them coming back for more information including to find out the date the book will go on sale. For an already established author, this strategy of pre-selling as soon as the book idea originates may work very well. For other authors, it may be better to wait until you at least have a complete draft or until you are ready to send the book to be printed, since even if you are just waiting for the printing, it may give you a full month or two to market your book before it is printed.

Effective marketing will pre-sell your book. If a reader says to himself, “I’m going to buy that book when it comes out,” then the book is as good as sold, provided you remind the reader now and then about the book. When we go to a bookstore to buy a specific book, haven’t we already bought that book in our minds-isn’t it pre-sold then?

Besides building buzz for your book before it is printed, pre-selling can also mean collecting the money before it is printed.

Henry Ford was the master of pre-selling and we can all benefit from his example. Ford wanted to mass-produce his automobiles, but first he needed to find the money to pay for the cost of building them. When Ford shared his dilemma with friends, Harvey Firestone suggested he pre-sell his automobiles and use the money from the pre-sales to create the first mass production assembly line, which then produced the automobiles Ford delivered to the customers who had already paid for them. Today, authors can capitalize on Firestone’s brilliant idea and Ford’s execution of it by pre-selling their books to pay for part or all of the printing costs.

If you have the money to print your book, you might not think pre-selling is necessary, but consider that if you plan to print 500 copies and you can pre-sell several hundred, you may find you have the money to print 1,000 copies, thus reducing your cost per unit price so you can ultimately make more money off your books. You’ll also get some idea of how popular your book will be and how many copies you may need to print. And the sooner you let people know about your book, the sooner they can spread the word, and the sooner you get a return on your investment. What author doesn’t want to earn back his or her printing costs as soon as possible?

Pre-selling is not simple, however. You do need to work at building the buzz about your book. You can advertise on your website and elsewhere that the book is being pre-sold, but you have to get people interested in the book so they will buy it, and you also must get past the hurdle in their minds of “I’ll wait until the book actually comes out.”

Tips for Effective Pre-Selling:

  1. Advertise Pre-Sales on Your Website: Post the book for sale on your website with a date for the printing that gives you wiggle room. For example, if your book should be printed by October 1, you may want to post the release date as December 1. In this case, people will realize they can still get the book in time to give as Christmas gifts, you have extra time in case you run into any last minute printing problems, and you will wow your customers by delivering the book early if everything runs smoothly. It also will give you extra time to mail or deliver all those pre-sold orders before your proposed release date so you’re not frantically trying to do so on December 1st. Furthermore, an October 1 release date may not suggest Christmas to people’s minds, but December 1 will give them the idea that the book could be a Christmas present.
  2. Offer a Special Pre-Sale Price: As soon as you have a reasonable idea of what your book’s retail price will be and your printing costs, start pre-selling with a special pre-sale price. Customers will be more willing to buy before a book is printed if they think they can get a deal. For example, if your books are going to cost $10 each to print and you’re selling them at $29.95, you might offer a special of $17.95 for presale copies. As long as you make a profit, you might even go lower. I suggest $17.95 because it’s a 40{ef57ca9e20c83563ef76202c890a4e7d857ab507ab773e500e02f620ef43f6cc} discount. Most bookstores will want 40{ef57ca9e20c83563ef76202c890a4e7d857ab507ab773e500e02f620ef43f6cc} so why not sell to customers direct rather than through the bookstores and still get as much profit? If you’re using a book distributor, the cut is closer to 55{ef57ca9e20c83563ef76202c890a4e7d857ab507ab773e500e02f620ef43f6cc} in which case you’ll make more profit selling directly to customers than through a distributor. Make sure on your website you advertise that the price is $29.95 but the pre-sale is $17.95. You might also put a deadline date on it, such as $17.95 only until October 1. Then on October 1, if your book is still not out, you might raise the price to $19.95 and continue to pre-sell until that December 1 date.
  3. Blogging and Serializing: People aren’t going to buy the book, if they don’t know what it is about. Beyond just a paragraph or two of content, you can post to your website or blog a chapter every few days to build interest in the book. If it’s a novel with 20 chapters and you have 16 weeks until the book’s release, post a chapter a week. If it’s a non-fiction book, you can do the same or just post favorite parts. You can give away over half the content and people will still want to buy the book.
  4. Marketing Pieces: It’s never too early to start telling people about your book. As soon as you have a cover design, start including your book’s image and information about your book on all your marketing pieces-brochures, business cards, bookmarkers, bumper stickers, and anything else you can imagine. Take every opportunity to advertise the book’s upcoming release.
  5. Talk About Your Book: If you’re already an established author and you’re doing book signings, give away flyers or bookmarkers to your customers advertising the next book. Bring posters with you. Tell everyone about your book every chance you get. Without being obnoxious, turn the conversation around to something that relates to your book. “When I was researching my book…” is a great lead in.
  6. Reviews: Ask your printer for review copies-send out copies to get reviews before the book is printed, so as soon as it is released, reviews will appear that will spark interest in your book with readers. Remember that many book reviewers will only review books not yet released.

Pre-selling is lucrative, builds buzz, and also helps authors and readers get excited about books. The more you pre-sell, the less work you’ll have to do later once the book is printed to make people aware of it. By then, the book should be selling itself!

What Is An E-Book? – The Industry and the Future

E-books have evolved in their short history to a point where most online surfers have heard of them and understand the different formats. The key to e-books is that they are electronic versions of books and do not require printed versions, but can be available in hard copy form if the publisher chooses. Many self-published writers are finding e-books to be a simple way to express their ideas without the costs and barriers involved with traditional publishing. Amazon has been a leader in the industry with its Kindle reader while Apple has challenged the platform with its iPad, which downloads e-books from the iBookstore.

The main reason for making an e-book can be summed up by efficiency. An e-book doesn’t get lost like a physical book and doesn’t have the problems of torn pages or a worn cover. From a cost perspective, there is no longer any reason to spend a fortune on cutting down a forest to create thousands of copies of a book without knowing if it will sell. In the old world, books might be out of stock if they did sell, requiring new pressings, whereas in the new world e-books are never out of stock. The emerging model for printing hard copy versions now is based on orders as they come in, such as at Amazon.

Another efficient quality of e-books is they can be updated more easily. Traditional books were printed in a series of pressings, based on demand. But if demand diminished a book might go out of print and become outdated. The original pressing might also have misinformation or typos. E-books, however, allow the writer to always have an updated version ready for online distribution, as errors can be corrected immediately, instead of waiting for the printing process to take months.

Consumers enjoy the advantages of e-books over traditional books thanks to lower pricing. Since it costs less money to make and market an e-book than a printed book, the price drops for consumers. Number of pages can still affect the price, but e-books make it possible to sell more items of the same thing. For example, instead of buying an entire book, some people might just want to purchase one chapter at a reduced price. Other advantages of e-books are they can be converted to different languages and they can be used with text-to-speech software to create audio books for people with disabilities.

Today’s e-books are designed for smaller screens than in the past. Dedicated e-book readers have become an extra electronic device people purchase specifically just for reading e-books and online newspapers. The Amazon Kindle has been one of the most popular e-book readers, along with the Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo and Sony Readers. Tablet computers such the iPad make useful e-book readers due to their portability and controls that make reading easier. These devices can download and store e-books from online stores such as Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store and the public library-based OverDrive. Mobile devices such as iPhones and Androids can also read e-books.

Although the e-book market does not have industry formatting standards, the most popular format has been the Adobe PDF files. Web developers tried to construct a system known as Open eBook, a zip file based on XHTML and CSS, that breaks e-books down into components. But the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) has moved closer toward the EPUB format as a standard, allowing the file to be converted to other formats. EPUB can embed metadata, resize text and supports Digital Rights Management.

The popularity of e-books has skyrocketed in the second decade of the 21st century. In May 2011 Amazon reported that its sales of e-books had surpassed sales of hard copy books. A Pew Internet Project survey in 2012 showed that 21 percent of American adults had read an e-book within the past year. It was also found that e-book readership favors people under age 50. A large majority of e-book readers read printed books as well. Nearly half of the respondents said they preferred e-books over printed books.

In 2012 Apple launched iBook Author, which is a software program that allows authors to create e-books in the PDF format on an iPad and directly make products available in the iBooks store and for sharing. Amazon has a platform called CreateSpace for authors to create e-books, which must conform to the site’s policies. Lulu also provides the tools for authors to create and market their own self-published e-books.

E-books have proven to be profitable, even for traditional publishers such as Random House. Fifty Shades of Grey by novelist E.L. James was one of the company’s big sellers in 2012. Half of the 30 million copies sold were e-books. The company reported that e-book sales made up 27 percent of the total book sales, which was a 7 percent increase from a year earlier.

Free e-books can be found at Amazon by looking at their Top 100 Free list. Many times a publisher will give away a sample of a book as an e-book that promotes the printed paperback or hard copy for sale. Sometimes e-books are just free to expose a new author. Apple also offers free e-books at the iBooks store. Other websites that offer free e-books are, and Open Culture. You can also search for free e-books using the search engine.

The future of e-Books may merge more with multimedia and text to speech capabilities. It remains important that e-books are a clickable medium. They can be linked to websites as well as interlinked so that they provide easy navigation to source material. The most advanced e-books link to instant videos that complement the text. E-books are very useful for people involved with other communication besides writing.

Musicians, painters and movie makers can use e-books to showcase and promote their other media. Ultimately, e-books are quick learning tools that provide instant access to deeper content. If the e-book can speed up someone’s search for knowledge to a matter of minutes or even seconds, it has a powerful utility for the reader. Expect e-books of the future to help people cut through technical jargon and learn new systems quickly with visuals and creative ways to index and categorize knowledge.

How to Earn Money Writing and Selling Books

If you want to work from home writing books, then it’s important that you know how to do it. And you need to do it quickly. Writing is a numbers game which means the more books you write, the more you can earn.

And more importantly than that, you have to market your books to the right people and at the right time. There’s a saying that it’s easier to sell a mediocre product with great marketing than to sell a great product with mediocre marketing. So get your marketing right, and you can increase your sales with no extra work needed.

But how do you do it? How do you know what to write and who to sell it to?

Well, let’s start with the three most important things.

Keep writing. You can’t work as a self-published author if you don’t write. You need to write books and lots of them. And not only that, the way to sell more books is to write a series. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing fiction or non-fiction if it’s a series of books, and you’ve advertised your other books in the back of each book, then chances are that readers looking for another book will buy one from you.

Pre-market your books. As you’re writing your books, start marketing as you go. Tell your email list or blog readers what you’re working on, when it will be published and how they can pre-order a copy or grab a discounted copy. This helps to not only presell your book so that you have customers waiting to buy it before you’ve even finished it, but it holds you to a deadline so that you have to keep on writing to stay on schedule and not disappoint your readers.

Publish fast. They say that money likes speed. So if you’ve never published before, or you want to do it quickly, use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. It’s free to use, has book cover template software (also at no cost) and you can set your book up as a print POD book as well as an eBook if you want to. And because Amazon is good at marketing, when someone views one version of your book, they will also show them the other.

At first, self-publishing can seem a bit daunting before you’ve tried it. But as you do it, you’ll realise just how easy it is. And once you’ve written and published one or two books, and you have your systems in place, you’ll find it faster and easier to write and publish more books.

That’s the beauty of doing something over and over again. It becomes a habit and so it just gets easier to do and gets faster at the same time because you’re no longer having to think about every little step of the process so it becomes more automatic.

And the best thing about it an automated and easy system is that it gives you more time to write your next book.

Top Ten Reasons Why Your Book Marketing Strategy Is Not Working

The publishing business has changed dramatically in the past few years. Today, nearly anyone can publish a book it seems. Hundreds of thousands of new books hit the shelves every year. But very few people are successful at all in regards to marketing their books, with the average number of sales being around 200 over the life of the author. Marketing books is a real challenge for many people. In my work with hundreds of authors, I have identified 10 primary reasons why a book marketing strategy may fail.


Today the Internet is the primary source of information for book buyers. But even those who buy books in the ‘real’ world use the Internet to do research before buying in the real world.

Book buyers, while doing their research, will NOT search by your name or your book’s title. They will instead search using a very generic phrase like ‘children’s book’ or ‘thriller’ or ‘spy novel’.

It is a fact that hardly anyone goes beyond page three of search engine results. Authors who hope to be visible to the book buying public must be on one of the first three pages for the GENERIC SEARCH TERM (like ‘children’s book) that describes their books. If you are not on one of the first three pages for that generic term, you are virtually invisible to nearly all book buyers. If you are invisible, nothing else you do in regards to marketing your book will matter much.


If you are using book marketing ideas and book marketing strategies that USED to work (when bookstores were the primary book outlets) those marketing strategies will most likely not work much at all in an Internet. In fact, you will likely fail.

Today, Internet sites have taken center stage in regards to being the primary book outlet. To be successful in regards to selling books today, you must have traffic to your book marketing site, and you must have a lot of it. You must know how to convert that traffic into book sales. All the traffic in the world will not matter if it does not convert to sales.


In the ‘old days’ (just a few years ago) the strategy was to tell as many people as possible that a book existed and wait for sales to come in. This ‘yell and tell as many people as possible’ strategy simply does not work today, as the Internet is search engine driven. Telling a lot of people is very hard work, is very expensive in regards to both money and time, and relies on huge numbers to produce small results.

In today’s Internet environment, the potential book buyer begins by typing a generic phrase into a search engine, in essence saying ‘Here is what I’m looking for’. Book sites are then indexed by the engines based upon how important they appear to be in regards to the generic phrase entered and in regards to how that particular site stacks up against the competition for that generic phrase.

SEARCH ENGINES decide who is important and they decide who ends up being seen by the book buying public. Think of a search engine as a yellow page directory. You will only be listed in THIS one-of-a-kind gigantic online yellow page directory if you understand and follow the SEO rules given you by the engines. If you don’t know and understand the rules, you will be at the end of the listings. And, if you are at the end of the listings, no one is going to find you, as they will likely look at just the first three pages.


Book buyers are interested in one thing, and one thing only – WHAT YOUR BOOK WILL DO FOR THEM.

Often authors like to talk about other things. But the book buyer is not really interested in the author’s history, how the author came to write the book, what lead the author to write it, how the author struggled. They want to know what this book will do for THEM. You must speak to THE BUYER’S NEEDS SPECIFICALLY. The author must do this. If not, they will have a visitor, but not a book buyer.

That desired message must be communicated to the book buyer in less than 30 seconds. You must know what your target market profiles really want, and you must provide it more effectively than the competition. If you are not saying what the potential book buyer wants to hear, they will never buy your book. Your book marketing strategy must speak to the needs of the buyer.


When the Internet shopper goes to the engines, the shopper is presented with millions of authors and author sites. You may look very much like everyone else. Your book may be ‘just another book’ to that shopper. What are you telling that potential buyer that NO ONE ELSE is saying? Without a sharply researched, one-of-a-kind brand that speaks directly to the needs of buyers, as THEY perceive those needs, you WILL appear to be just like everyone else. A great book marketing strategy must communicate a strong brand.


Type a generic phrase such as ‘children’s book’ into the Google engine today and you will get over 30 million listings. Every one of those pages is presented to that potential book buyer. Your book is just one of those millions of listings. As an author, YOU know your book is not like all the rest, but the BOOK BUYER does not, unless you have taken a strong marketing position. An effective book marketing strategy must position you in relation to the competition.


All marketing sites are websites, but very few websites are marketing sites. A book marketing site must be sharp and clear, clean, and it must brand the author and position the author better than the competition. There must be a logical, step-by-step map for the visitor to follow and there must be compelling calls to action in all the right places. If you do not do this, you might end up with visitors but remember: a visitor is not a book buyer and won’t become a book buyer without a sharp brand, proper positioning and a strong call to action.

Anyone can build a website. But a website is just another website. A book marketing website, on the other hand, should be a results-producing machine and should produce the results you seek. An effective book marketing strategy will incorporate effective calls to action in all the right places on every page of the website.


Most authors are not boring. But do remember always that the attention span of the searcher is very short. There are millions of competitors and competing websites, just one single click away. You have just a few seconds to present YOUR brand, YOUR position and the primary reason why someone should buy YOUR book. A good book marketing strategy will deliver a powerful and compelling message in just a few seconds.


An effective Internet marketing strategy can be compared to fishing. When fishing, no one jumps into the water, jams the hook into the fish’s mouth and tries to force it to bite the hook. This is what many book selling strategies are like – they are ‘in your face’ sales messages.

If you yell out your sales message, attempting to jam your really great book hook in their mouths, don’t be surprised when they swim away. (Think about how YOU feel about spam, pop up ads, Twitter-blab and commercials). It is a fact that no one likes to be sold. Internet shoppers do however love to find what they seek.

Instead, in this environment, you must offer irresistible bait instead, through the use of effective marketing language. The shopper (or in this case, the fish) will then come running, they will tell all their friends and they will bite your book hook willingly. A great book marketing strategy does not sell, but rather entices the visitor to action.


* Don’t put up a book marketing website and believe people will magically just show up. They will not.

* Don’t put up a book marketing website and expect people to buy. They will not.

* Don’t put up a book marketing website and believe you are finished. You are not.

As regards real world businesses, building success takes years and a great deal of effort. In the Internet environment, building your online store may take just as long – perhaps longer. It will require a lot of ongoing effort to make it succeed. The Internet is not a magic bullet. A real world business may have a few competitors just down the street. Your Internet business has millions of competitors, all right next door, just one click away.

Is Your “Old” Book Valuable?

Some old books are valuable, some are just old! How do you tell? There are several factors which determine if a book is worth money to a collector. Here are some tips to guide you:

Age does not make a book valuable. At least , not age alone. Some books can be a hundred years old and not bring much, others need only be a few decades old to bring a nice return. The importance of what the book relates, it’s physical condition, and demand also count for much. In general, when it comes to age, look for books printed before 1501, English books printed before 1641, books printed in the Americas before 1801, and books printed west of the Mississippi before 1850.

Condition is key! A book’s physical appearance and its completeness make a huge difference. Is the binding tight? The cover intact? Pages clear? All these things a more will help determine value when rating a books condition. In general, the better a book’s physical condition, the more it will be worth. A rating of “fine” is given to a book which is complete and shows very little or no wear. Loose pages or a worn cover will place a book in “poor” condition. There are “good” and “fair” ratings in between. Completeness, however, is KEY – missing pages or illustrations will make most books almost valueless.

Dust Jackets are vital. Virtually all books from the late 19th to today had one. And having it, in good condition, greatly increases the value of the book. As an example, if one searched records at Alibris for first editions of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, you would find a “good” first edition/first printing for $6,500… without a dust jacket. For a copy in the same condition and printing, with a “good” dust jacket?  The price sky rockets to $30,000! The major exceptions to whether a book had a dust jacket are the specially bound books, often limited editions. If a book is bound in real leather, there’s a good chance it was not issued with a dust jacket, although it might have been issued with a slipcase, which is also important to the value of the book and should also be in good condition!

The contents of a book are also important. What is the books contribution? A major contribution was made to human understanding the first time Darwin’s work was published. Jane Austin’s books, they way her contemporaries found them, entice collectors today. First editions of these books would fall into this category. Apart from the first time the work was published, major changes to the work which significantly add to the contents can also make a book sought after. Illustrated editions, especially those by prominent artists, or titles with introductions by eminent contemporaries would be examples. Books that were banned or censored may be valuable because of their contents or even rarity, since few copies may have survived. Special binding or an innovative printing processes can make a huge difference. In general, markings, and inscriptions will be a problem and lessen the value of a book but there are exceptions; an autograph, inscription, or marginal annotations of a famous person can contribute to a book’s importance and raise the value.

Rarity is a factor. As mentioned above, banned or censored books and books produced during certain periods or in particular places may mean that there are few available to collectors. As with other times, supply and demand is king! One can search the Internet on sites such as,, EBay, or to get an idea of how many copies of a book are being offered for sale. Auction sites can tell you how they are selling. Many booksellers have searchable catalogs and databases on their websites and these can be helpful in determining an approximate market value. Because the details can determine worth, pay close attention to the descriptions you find and make as close a match as possible. But remember, even if rare, if the condition or contents are negligible, it is likely to have little monetary value.

First Editions, when it comes to contemporary works especially, are important. The first time a book is published using the same setting of type (be it metal type, prototype, or camera-ready copy), is an edition. It may be an edition of 10,000 copies or 100,000 or more. If a book is popular, it may be reprinted over and over, with minimal changes, until demand is satisfied. This is a “printing”. It is the First Edition, or the first set of books to “come off the press” which are the most sought. Information about editions and printings is usually included on the title page of a book or on the back (verso) of the title page. Without this information, the edition or printing is hard to determine and usually requires research. Collecting of true “first editions” of contemporary works has grown and raised the value of titles which are not especially old substantially. Writer’s like Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, and JK Rowling find their first editions rising in value.

In some cases, even book club editions of titles can be collectible and of interest. For some authors and some editions, book clubs are preferable to paperback originals. For example, Danniel Steel fans like to collect the hard covers of her books, but the early ones were only available in paperback. If these are found, they’re usually in pretty bad shape. For this reason the book clubs, which ordinarily go for from $2 to $5, may command prices from $8 to $15 and even a bit higher if signed. Some collectors insist on a copy of every edition, including BCEs, paperbacks, etc. Books from certain book clubs are also collectible. The Folio Book Society publications will always be collected. Collin’s Crime Club (which was a different sort of Book Club) will always be collectable as long as people want to buy Agatha Christie firsts. In general, hwever, the book clubs do NOT command that much of a price (about equivalent to collectable paper backs).

A “limited edition” can be valuable, depending on the book and how limited it is. Again, rarity can come into play. The term is reserved for editions where copies have an explicit “limitation statement” which contains information on the number of copies printed, and usually a breakdown of how many copies were printed on a certain type of paper, or bound in a certain kind of binding, or reserved or withheld from sale. The statement is usually found on the back of the title page or on a separate page at the beginning or end of the volume. The number of the specific copy is often printed or added by hand (as in “no. 46 of 500”). The lower the number of the copy, the more valuable. If accompanied by the autograph of the author(s), publisher, or other contributor, so much the better! Whether looking at first or limited editions, the size of an edition does not by itself determine a book’s value, or even its rarity. Other factors play a part.

Provenance or ownership can improve a book’s value, if that person is important or famous and if the book held significance for him or her. Autographs, inscriptions or dedications, bookplates or stamps, or other distinctive markings can be proof of ownership, but they can also be forged. Authentication is important.

To promote sales and for charity, contemporary authors routinely sign copies of their books. Because these are common, modern autographs usually add little value. However, “presentation” or “association” copies, those signed on special occasions, or inscribe and presented to important associates and friends may greatly increase the value of a title. “May” is the key word here – expertise in the current market is needed to make a valuation of this.

So, do you have old books? Or valuable books? The book collecting market is like any other collectible market, constantly changing. Authors go in and out of favor; time periods and type styles became popular and then fade. You need to remember that books, as with any other collectible, are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Doing a little research and being honest to yourself about your items will save you space, time, and maybe make you some money!

Inculcate Reading Habits in Children

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Charles Eliot had his facts right. Anyone who has befriended the written word would never be lonely. All booklovers know that they can live several lives, travel innumerable places and do myriad things through their books. You get to see the perspective of another person and find out that you are not the absolute authority on the topic.

Today our living rooms have been invaded by the television and computer. Children spend all the free time glued to either of them.

Books teach a lot to the kids. They expand their vocabularies, helping them later in life. The command of the language increases many fold. It gives a boost to the child’s imagination, letting the mind reach the unthinkable and increasing the creativity. Reading about many things vastly improves the child knowledge store. Say for instance you learn more about Africa but reading an interesting story than by the dry course books.

Parents despair, trying to introduce them to the wonderful world of books. However, everything is not lost with a thimbleful of common sense, a little patience and bushelful of love parents can introduce good reading habits to their kids.

Fix a time for reading

Keep about half an hour daily reserved as reading time. This can be just before bed time or any other time suitable to both. Initially let them read the books you had recounted as children. The story line will be familiar and it will be easy for them to pick out the words.

Start young

Interest in books cannot be generated overnight. It is a slow process where in the child learns to fall in love with the enchanted world of the written world. If the habit of reading is inculcated at the earliest, this will develop slowly as the child grows. Parents have to start as soon as the child is able to understand. Read out stories to your two year old child. Slowly phase out this story telling to story reading.

Baby steps

Parents should be realistic in their expectations. Do not think that the child will jump into reading the very first time they get their hands on the book. The first few times they may falter with pronunciations. Gently correct them. They may even read through the whole page without understanding a word. Instant of explaining the whole book to them, make their brains work. Ask easy questions about the story. Eventually they will get the hang of deciphering books.


It is very important to teach the kids by setting an example. Ensure that the children see you read. If you read books your children will automatically do the same. It is very difficult to convince a child to read copiously if the parents never pick up a book. Not only it will be an inspiration but also the kids will find reading together a lot of fun.

Get books on subjects of interest

If the child is a great Pooh fan, get some books on that character. The markets abound with a variety of things related to cartoons. Do a little market survey and get the books of the particular character. Ensure that the books are colorful and picturesque. The print should be large as reading small print can be tedious. Go through the books before buying. The words should be of a level understandable by your child. Too easy or too tough books distract the children very easily.

Install aids

There are many supporting aids the parents can utilize to encourage reading. Set up a bulletin board and put cartoons with funny comments on it. Pin a small limerick or poetry on it for your child to read. You can get an audio book set too. This has a story recorded on tape along with the printed book. The children can catch the nuances of pronunciation as they read along. Put notes in the Tiffin box. Get vocabulary- building games on the computer.

Universal Reading Time

Do not restrict reading to the confines of your room. Utilize the abundance of words floating all around us. Point out the words on the hoardings on the way. Ask the child to read out the credits on the cinema poster. Telling the headlines from the newspaper is a very good way to learn. While you are waiting for the doctor to arrive, they can read up the pamphlets. At the restaurant, let them read the menu and decide on the order. Ask them to decipher the instructions on the new game.

Do not push

Try all this in a very casual manner. If the child gets feeling that she is being pushed towards reading, she will stall like an adamant horse. It should all seem like a wildly interesting game. Remember Tom Sawyer! Say for instance, while waiting for the doctor, don’t push the pamphlet in the kids hand and order her too read. Instead, say very, very casually (a bored voice is a must), “There are four words starting with ch in this pamphlet.” Immediately the child will try to find out the fact for herself and find a few more words to boot.

These techniques are just general aids to help the children read more. As a parent you have to show enthusiasm towards their new activity. Correct them gently, when wrong. Show enthusiasm and appreciation when the child wants to read. It is a good idea to buy books as gifts and incentive. Discuss the book the child has just read. Talk about her favorite character in the book. If there is a movie made on the particular book, make it a point to take her to it.

Don’t force, guide. As soon as the child learns that she HAS to read, it becomes another subject to study, a tiresome chore. Reading should be introduced as a delightful pastime and not rigorous punishment.

So, go ahead, introduce your kids to the written word and they will never be lonely again.