Don’t Lie to Your Readers

One of the most egregious errors authors can make is creating a title that doesn’t deliver on what it promises. This can kill sales and/or leave the purchaser quite disappointed. In regard to the latter reaction, even if you don’t intend to write another book, keep in mind that the very best way to sell any book is by word-of-mouth endorsements of it. A vague or a misleading title won’t get talked about in the way you want! Let’s look at one example of this sin. The Joy of Signing: A Dictionary of American Signing (third edition) by Lottie L. Riekehof, PhD (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2014, 3rd ed.) The navy-blue cover of the 3rd edition of this bound book announces “Over 1 Million Copies Sold”. The book has several useful appendices and an informative preface. It’s a great textbook for both Signed English (used by hearing people) and American Sign Language (used by deaf people). But… There’s no joy in signing in The Joy of Signing. Certainly not like there is in paperbacks like Learn to Sign the Fun Way: Let Your Fingers Do the Talking with Games, Puzzles, and Activities in American Sign Language by Penny Warner (NY: Three Rivers Press, 2001) Worse, The Joy of Signing: A Dictionary of American Signing isn’t even a dictionary! What is a language dictionary? First of all, you may wonder if American Sign Language (ASL for short) is a language. Yes, it is. Linguists have officially classified ASL as a language. ASL uses a different word order than spoken English, and it has its own grammar. Even its way of communicating the plural forms of nouns is different. But, when we pick up almost any other language dictionary we expect to find two parts: an alphabetical list of foreign words with English equivalents and an alphabetical list of English words with foreign equivalents. However, American Sign Language, like Chinese, is not based on letters of an alphabet. Chinese people use symbolic characters to indicate words; deaf people use symbolic hand shapes, some of which involve movement, along with facial expressions. Still, one half of this book could be in alphabetical order. That half would be an alphabetical list of English-speaking people’s words followed by the equivalent ASL hand signs. Is that what The Joy of Signing includes? No! Instead, this book uses broad categories, such as family relationships, time, emotion and feeling, etc. followed by diagrams of each hand sign...

Impact of Self-Publishers on Big Publishers

Have you read my free PDF, “Global Publishing, Inc. — What Does It Mean for You?” If so, you’re aware of the radical changes that have taken place in the publishing industry during the first fifteen years of the 21st century. But there are other influences on the publishing industry too. One of them is the amazing explosion of self-published print and digital books. POD influence on publishers When the POD industry arose, it made it possible to avoid the high costs of storing unsold print books. Authors aren’t the only ones taking advantage of this new benefit. New small publishers are using POD printing services as well. So are traditional publishers and academic book publishers. POD could be one of the factors keeping the digital book revolution from rendering print books obsolete. A couple of years ago ebooks seemed destined to take over the book market. However, in late 2014 an article appeared on Huffington Post with this shocking title, “Print books Outsold Ebooks in First Half of 2014“. That post was based on an article from Publisher’s Weekly. PW reported that a Nielsen Books & Consumer survey indicated both hardcover and paperback books outsold ebooks during the first half of this year. Ebooks comprised only 23% of the book market. Hardcover books beat that by 2 percentage points, and paperbacks sold at nearly twice the rate of ebooks, i.e., 42%. Huffington Post’s article quotes industry experts and authors such as Stephen King on expectations that “print books have a long and bright future ahead of them.” It concludes, “If the new trends continue, such warnings of the death of print books, and their potential benefits, may prove to have been greatly exaggerated.” The new royalty statements In My Story on Authormaps I wrote about my frustration with the way my second book’s publisher (now defunct) paid royalties: Envelopes from my publisher dribbled in every once in awhile. I never knew when they would arrive. I never found out how much my publisher deducted for expenses for my book either. After a year I’d barely earned more than [the $300] I made on my first book! Elsewhere I’ve written: Royalties to authors may not be paid until a year after the book is published and the publisher deducts all costs. Royalties are not always itemized or ever reported in total on royalty “statements.” This is becoming a thing of the past. Not only are authors getting paid royalties sooner, they are...

Book Discovery at the Library – Part 2

In Part 1 of Book Discovery at the Library we covered some traditional ways that librarians may promote your book(s). In this section we’re going to look at four companies that offer librarians a new way to make the books in their collections more discoverable at the library. For you as an author this is a plus for selling your book – studies show that patrons who find an author’s book in the library often buy other books from that same author. They also recommend authors’ books they like to friends who may buy those book titles to read. Short of appearing as an author on a TV show such as Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show,” getting your book touted by a library is the best word-of-mouth publicity for it! LIBRARY DISCOVERY SERVICES Nowadays, busy librarians can subscribe to book discovery services. Here are four companies that provide discovery services to librarians. These companies sell subscriptions to their online “knowledge bases”  to libraries that can afford them. Here’s a brief synopsis of some of these services. Ebsco Discovery Service (EDS) from EBSCO Information Services EBSCO Information Services is a long-standing supplier of magazine and journal subscriptions to libraries. Now it also offers library patrons access to research databases, ebooks, and digital archival materials. Ebsco’s database has a unified index and can even be integrated with a library’s online catalog (called an OPAC, short for Online Public Access Catalog.) Ebsco Discovery Service (EDS) is particularly useful for college students and you if you are marketing your book to students. Primo from Ex Libris Group Ex Libris Group  is a worldwide supplier of library computer (i.e., “automation”) systems. Among many other things, Primo offers libraries a  Search box for its databases so they can be integrated into web pages, blogs, and social networks used by librarians in order to increase the visibility on the Web of items in a library’s collection. Summon, from Serials Solution (a ProQuest Business)  ProQuest is another library vendor that has been around for a long time. It started with online research-article databases and has expanded to may other technology packages for all kinds of libraries. Among its strengths, Summon stresses its ability to serve patrons with cellphones and other mobile devices. It also claims to be fastest at delivering discoverability. WorldCat Discovery Services, from OCLC You’ve probably heard about WordCat’s catalog. This is where you can see if a library has bought your book....

Book Discoverability at the Library – Part 1

Book discovery is currently a primo concern at publishing houses and bookstores. Libraries too have been dealing for centuries with the challenge of making print books and ebooks in their collections discoverable. Back in 1876 Charles Ammi Cutter laid down the rules for a “card catalog” with his book, Rules for A Printed Dictionary Catalog. Prior to that invention, there was no universal way for libraries to ensure book discoverability. Some librarians had arranged books by shape; others by spatial co-location; and yet others used various classification schemes of their own making. Card catalogs, along with Cutter’s systematic ways of arranging books by author, title, subject and category (e.g., genre), brought about a major advance in terms of improving book discoverability at the library. Librarians also employ display cases, empty walls, and book stands to make selected books in their collections more visible to people who visit that library. Today I’ll be covering both  traditional ways libraries have made books discoverable and suggest how you may be able to improve the discoverability of your book at the library. In part 2 I’ll introduce  you to several newer library discovery services that you may not have heard of and explain their implications for book-selling. DISPLAYS, HANDOUTS, and NEWSLETTERS Most libraries provide handouts about specific topics in the collections, e.g., mystery books, newly-received books, or current events people might want to learn about. The online web sites of libraries are another place where librarians display what is in their library. Library web site pages are where you’ll find out about ebooks, audiobooks, rare books, and special collections such as local history books or maps. You may even find a display about a library’s cookbook collection, car repair manuals, or other how-to-books.   Publicity at and by libraries is a major reason to make sure your book gets bought and displayed by a library. How do you ensure your book will be discovered at a library? First of all, remember that your cover is you primary sales tool for your book. Make sure you have an interesting, professionally-done cover. If you have a publisher, negotiate to get a attractive cover that will draw attention to your book. If you will use a thumbnail of your cover, make sure the tiny image can be clearly seen. Also, check your print-book or CD-case spine for readability. Remember that many libraries will put a label at the bottom of the spine with the book’s call...

What’s Going On at the Library?

“Know your customers” is an old adage in marketing. Yet, how much do you know about librarians or library markets? Do you still think libraries are just building filled with nothing but dusty books, magazines and newspapers? Well, here’s some news for you. This year’s 29th Computers in Libraries Conference, will be held April 7-9, 2014 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC. The theme of this year’s conference is “Hack the Library”. You might never think librarians would be wannabe hackers. But from wearing tight black leather skirts to body piercings and tattoos and long hair on men, librarians have always had a bit of an unconventional side. It shouldn’t be a surprise that there is a site by and for library students called “Hack Library School”. The mission of these students begins thusly, “This is an invitation to participate in the redefinitions of library school using the web as a collaborative space outside of any specific university or organization.” Hack Library School was based on a 2011 presentation on HackLibSchool, given virtually by Micah Vandegrift to the New York Metropolitan Library Council.  You can see his video here. Workshops about hacking Computers in Libraries workshops on hacking caught my eye immediately: “Hacking Google: Learn about the new and little-known search features that enable you to out-Google anyone…even your clients.” Other sessions include “Hacking the Deep Web [also called the ‘invisible’ web],” and “Hacking the Social Web“. Lastly, as the library school students at Hack Library School hoped, librarians are leaving the library space altogether in a concerted move to get online for what one workshop at the conference calls a “Slam-a-thon! Slam the Boards”. “Slam the Boards” is a concerted effort among reference desk librarians  – “to provide answers on popular ‘Answer Board’ sites like Yahoo Answers, WikiAnswers, AskVille, etc. We also make it clear that the questions have been answered by librarians. This gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our question-answering skills to users who may not realize that librarians provide reference services”. Librarians also have a playful side. Fun library workshops On Sunday evening, the conference features a free welcome and networking event,  “Games, Gadgets and Makerspaces”. OK, I didn’t know what a makerspace was either… “…makerspaces are community centers with tools. Makerspaces combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling community members to design, prototype and create manufactured works that wouldn’t be possible...

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