Do I Have to Have a Launch Party?

Do I have to have a launch party, or can I just send out announcements?

No. You don’t have to have a launch party.

However, book sales are greatly benefited by the human connection—the more you interact with readers on a personal level where they can meet and greet and get to know you, the better your sales. A launch party is a fun way to do this.

If you just can’t do a face-to-face launch party, then get on Facebook and make friends. Blog. Have a virtual launch party with activities and prizes. Do something to let people know you and like you.

HELP ME Find Your Books!

And by “ME,” I don’t just mean LDS Publisher—I mean every single reader out there who accesses the Internet!

If you’re a published (or about to be published) author, you need an Internet presence and you need good solid information about your book(s)!

I know I’ve talked about this before but I think it bears repeating because because a lot of you (especially newly published authors) are NOT doing this. How do I know you’re not doing it? Because I’m googling you!

When I hear about a new LDS author or that an author has a new book about to come out, I google you to find the needed information to post about your book on the LDS Fiction site. I should be able to find you in three clicks. Guess what? Often, I can’t find you in 30 clicks!

Okay, rarely am I that persistent. But the point is, if I’m not willing to look that hard for you, potential readers won’t be either. If they can’t find you in three clicks, they’ll assume you aren’t that good and won’t bother. Lost sale, lost fan.

Sometimes when I do find an author blog, I’m able to determine that yes, the person is an author, and yes, the person does have a book coming out or the book has been recently released. But that’s all. No mention of the title, the release date, the publisher. I know that in our culture, we’re trained not to toot our own horn but there’s a difference between over-doing the bragging and simply providing information to interested parties.

Here is the bare minimum that you need to do:

  • Have a blog or website. They don’t have to be fancy. A simple, visually appealing static blog using a basic template is better than nothing.
  • Have a post about your book. Use LDS Fiction posts as a template. In fact, if your book is listed there, copy and paste it onto your blog, if you want. I don’t care.
  • If you have more than one book, do a post on each book. If you have a series, let us know in what order to read the books.
  • Make sure there is at least one link in that post to a place where readers can buy your book online—Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Deseret Book, Seagull, BYU Bookstore, your publisher… (the more options the better)
  • With publisher permission, post the first chapter of your book on your blog.
  • Put the book covers as pictures in your sidebar.
  • When you have a new book coming out, get that information up there as soon as possible!
  • If you’re doing a book signing or speaking somewhere, set up a Page on your blog and put a link in your sidebar, with information well in advance of the event. Include date, time, location, complete address, phone number of location (if available), and if you’re savvy, a link to a map of how to get there.

Here are just a few authors who I think do it right. Some of them have fancy websites, others have simple blogs—but they all have good information about their books that is easy to find.



If you have a blog or website that you think is a good example of doing it right, feel free to put your link in the comments section.

Don’t have a blog and need help setting one up? I’ve put some basic info under the label Blogging 101.

LDS Publicists

Do you know? Is there such a thing as a publicist in this LDS literature market? Or marketing specialists? I need some serious publicity and marketing help. Thanks for all you do.

I don’t know of any publicists specific to the LDS market. Most publishers have their own publicists—either in-house or those to whom they contract out.

Some authors hire their own publicists.

Help me out readers. Do you know of a publicist or marketing firm/agency/individual that you would recommend? Or are YOU a publicist? Tell us in the comments. Include enough info (website, full name, etc.) so that we can track them/you down if we want to hire them/you.

Getting Into DB

How can you get a book in Deseret Book? Into the catalog?

Your publisher or distributor has to do this. Unless you’ve self-published a run-away best seller and people are coming into the stores demanding many, many special order copies of the book (and although rare, I know of a couple of times it’s happened), Deseret Book won’t really talk to individual authors. They may let you come in and talk to them down at HQ, but nothing will really happen beyond that.

LDS publishers and distributors fall into the following loosely defined categories:

  • DB takes every title the company publishes/distributes (rare; there may not actually be any in this category anymore)
  • DB takes most of the titles the company publishes
  • DB reviews the titles from the company on a book by book basis, picking and choosing according to guidelines known only to them
  • DB doesn’t know the company exists and you’ll have to hit hard with a good book before they notice you

Also, if you’re a small publisher and/or distributor, DB won’t really take you seriously unless you have multiple titles (around 10) or a foot-in-the-door type of connection with a decision maker who works there.

As to getting in their catalog, it’s frequently by invitation only. We had a few books we tried and tried to get in the catalog with no success. Then we had a book that hit a real niche market and was in high demand. DB then “invited” us to pay lots of money to be in their catalog. After that initial invite, it was easier to get other books in.

If you can get into the catalog, that guarantees your shelf space in the stores and on their website.

Let’s Talk About E-mail

If you’re submitting stories, you need a “professional” e-mail address.

I was reminded of this as I was sending out e-mails to those who submitted stories for the Christmas contest. Some of you have some really cute and funny e-mail addresses. They show a sense of fun, personality, and creativity.

What they don’t show is a sense of professionalism.

While you may think that your e-mail address is a great way to show your individuality, it really isn’t a great idea when dealing with a publisher/agent.

Now, it’s not going to cause you to get rejected or anything like that. But when I was actively accepting submissions as a publisher, and someone sent me a query or manuscript and their e-mail address was “foxymomma@…” or “eatcheese@…” or even “savethewhales@…” it did give me pause. I’d roll my eyes and think, “Are they serious about this? Or are they going to end up being a flake?”

So, if you’re serious about a career as a writer, go RIGHT NOW to hotmail or gmail or yahoo or any other free e-mail provider and get a decent e-mail address. Ideally, you want your address to be yourname@… (example: johndoe@…) but if your name is already taken, you may need to get creative, within limits.

For example, if your name is John Frederick Doe, any of the following would be fine: jdoe@…, johnd@…, johnfdoe@…, jfdoe… Get the idea? If your name is really common, add a number (but only if you have to), like johndoe57@…

If you have a longer name, say Melissa Kay Jones, you can truncate if none of the above variations are available for your name. For example, melkjones@…, or mlssjones@…, or mlsskjones…

Now, go get your name before someone else takes it!

Creating the Buzz

My first novel was just released and I’d like to get some buzz going (my publisher doesn’t do much) but I don’t know where to start? Any ideas? Can you give me some step-by-step suggestions?

If I had a new novel coming out, I’d start with the free/cheap stuff first. I also would have started a few months ago, but that’s okay. You can still do all these things now.

  • Set up a blog or website with info about yourself and your book.
    (Good examples: Josi S. Kilpack [love the visually attractive details on her books; her site probably cost money, but you can do similar things with content for cheap] and the “Crusty Old Broads” who wrote The Company of Good Women series [good info on books, authors & upcoming events, visually attractive] )
  • Use the LDS Publisher sites to their full advantage. Take a look at what I do here and send me the needed info:

    —Send me info about your book, so I can post it HERE.

    —Send me info about yourself, so I can post it HERE.

    —Send me a review copy so one of my reviewers can post it HERE.

    —If you have book signings or other appearances set up, send me the info so I can post it HERE.

    —Offer to sponsor either the LDS Publisher blog or the LDS Fiction/Fiction Review blogs.

    —Start commenting on the blogs to get your name recognized (if you have a Blogger blog, your comments will auto link back to your profile, where you will have links to your website and/or blog about your book.)

  • Do the same things above at other sites and forums that allow it.
  • Offer to speak at schools, book clubs, libraries, etc. on a topic related to your book.
  • Tell everyone you know how excited you are about your new book.

Now for the things that cost a little more money.

  • Make business cards with the cover of your book on one side and your contact info on the other (including your website/blog URLs).
  • Make postcards with the same info and send them out to announce book signings and other events. Be sure to include URLs to where the book can be purchased online.

Readers, what am I forgetting? Feel free to share what you’ve done, with links to where you did it.

Press Kits

I’m about to self-publish a book and an author friend suggested I put together a press kit. (And when I say suggested, I mean strongly insisted that I had to have one.) So what exactly is a press kit? How do I make one? Where do I send it? Do I post it on my website? Help!

A press kit is simply a collection of information about you and your book that provides everything newspapers and other media (TV, radio interviewers. bloggers. etc.) need to do a story on you. And for those of you who think you don’t need to know this because you’re going traditional publishing—guess again. Many publishers will ask you to send them the meat for the press kit.

It doesn’t have to be super fancy or elaborate—although, if you want to go that route, have at it. But seriously, unless you’re hitting the national market big time, a simple kit is the best way to go.

Okay. Here’s what I need to include in a press kit:

  • Cover letter—the content of this is similar to what you’d put in your query letter, but instead of asking them to publish you, you’re asking them to write an article about you. Include a list of everything included in your kit at the bottom of the letter.
  • Author biography—Limit yourself to one page.
  • Press Release—one page. Write an article about yourself and your book. Some papers will publish this verbatim, under their own byline. That’s okay. Don’t get chapped over it
  • Book Bio—Usually the liner notes.
  • Personal Photo—current. I usually send the one used on/in the book. Black and white, and color (depending on where you’re sending it). Suitable for printing; that means 5×7, color, 300 dpi.
  • Book cover art—suitable for printing; that means 6×9, color, 300 dpi.
  • Postcard &/or brochure—whatever marketing piece you’ve created for your book.
  • Business Card.
  • Endorsements—this would be author endorsements that are on your book cover, excerpts from other reviews.
  • Question & Answer Sheet—one page.
  • Book—if it’s for a review.

Now, you may be thinking, Holy Overkill, Batman! But it’s really not. I usually put in a printed copy of the cover letter and the press release, then burn the rest on a CD. This makes it really easy for them to cut & paste whatever information they want to use. (Use Microsoft Word for your documents because almost everyone has that.)

Print in large, clear type on your CD label: Title, author, contact information. For example:

Jane’s Best Seller Media Kit
Jane Doe, Author
LDSP Publishing
(123) 456-7890

You can see more information on this HERE and HERE.

Many authors and/or publishers include this information on their website. For example, Shadow Mountain has online info on a lot of their titles, like The 13th Reality, Vol. 1: Journal of Curious Letters.

I googled “Author Media Kits” and found a good one: Karen Rose (I know nothing about this author, other than I found her site and it’s a great example of what to include.)

Authors, if you have an online media kit that you’d like to share, please post the link in the comments section.

Follow Your Bliss

Hello LDS Publisher, I am a BYU student and an aspiring writer who loves your blog. [thank you] I have a question: I’ve heard rumors from my friends in the sf&f writing scene here in Utah that most of the LDS publishers (Deseret, Shadow Mountain, Cedar Fort etc) are eagerly looking to acquire, more so than usual and especially for LDS novels with an sf&f spin. Is this true?

I know that it’s never a good idea to “chase the market,” but I have a story idea for an LDS fantasy novel that I could probably have ready to submit within the next three months, if I made it my top priority. I have several other more mainstream projects that I’d like to shop around in New York, but if the LDS market is more open to acquisitions right now, would it be better to work on my LDS project first?

The publishers you’ve mentioned do seem to be looking to acquire. Other smaller ones have slowed down a bit.

As to the SFF preference, that is so hot right now—and has been for awhile. That doesn’t mean publishers aren’t looking for other things too, but like any business, they like to give their customers what they want.

As to which you should work on first—IMHO, work on the one that has the most energy and excitement for YOU. That will give you a better story because you are more invested in it. Chasing the market is only a good idea if you happen to love the particular genre and story line that’s hot.

Marketing and Branding Your Name

Note: I did not go to every class at the Storymakers conference. Obviously. But I did attend several and was very pleased that much of the information given out was exactly what publishers hope new writers will incorporate into their writing and submission process.

I’m not going to give deep details on the content of these classes because that wouldn’t be fair to the presenters, nor to those who paid to attend. However, over the next few days, I’ll mention a few of the classes and outline some of the more vital hints and tips (IMHO, of course).

New authors often expect that publishers will do all the marketing for them. Let me burst that little fantasy bubble right now. Your publisher markets to the bookstores. They market through the product itself, via book cover and liner notes. Some of them may provide posters and bookmarks. If you’re very lucky, they may help you set up a website and a signing tour. But for the most part, you need to be prepared to market to the consumer.

Candace Salima talked about the types of branding and marketing of your name and face that most successful writers do, particularly the online things you can do at very little or no cost.

  • A professional looking website that pulls people in and keeps them there.
  • A blog that you update weekly.
  • Social networking—such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • Book videos (these cost a little moolah).
  • Publish articles on topics of interest to you, with a byline that mentions your book.
  • Join forums in your areas of interest.

Candace talked about each of these areas, in depth, plus gave a plethora of other ideas. If I had her class on video, I’d send it to all my authors and prospective authors.

You don’t have to do every single one of these things. You don’t want to spend so much time networking and marketing that you have no time left to write. But you do need to do some of them (website and/or blog is the most important). Find a balance that works for you.

Platforms for Novels

A platform for a non-fiction title makes sense, but is there such a thing as a platform for a novel?

Yes, although it’s sometimes harder to define. A platform is a topic or area of expertise that is used to market your book. Instead of just saying, “Go buy my book because it doesn’t stink,” you can talk about a topic of interest to everyone (or lots of people) that is dealt with in your book. It gives you a toe in the door to radio and TV interviews, newspaper coverage, school visits, and other public appearances that simply hawking your books for sale doesn’t allow.

A few examples off the top of my head:

  • Josi Kilpack established a platform for her book, Sheep’s Clothing, researching and discussing how to keep your children safe from online predators. This was something she could talk about that would hook people into reading her book. It was a way to get media interest. When she was on Good Things Utah, most of the interview was spent on safety issues, and then, “oh by the way, I’ve written a book that deals with this topic…” Josi is doing the same thing with her upcoming book, Her Good Name, with a platform on stolen identities.
  • Julie Coulter Bellon’s new book, All’s Fair, is set in Iraq. Her platform is supporting our troops. She’s promoting a charity drive to send care packages to our military men and women.
  • J. Scott Savage’s Farworld: Water Keep, has the platform of finding the magic within yourself. Another could be overcoming disabilities. Either of these platforms will get him speaking engagements in schools and youth organizations.

Many other LDS books have good solid platforms. If you’re an author, please feel free to post info about your book and your platform in the comments section.

More on Author Promotion

If an author wanted to get word of mouth out about their book, like you mentioned, what are some ways they can do that, without reflecting negatively on their publisher, who may or may not have tried to promote the book?

Although it may be more difficult for you, as the author, you can do pretty much the same type of marketing and promotion that a publisher can do—depending on how much time and money you want to put into it. I have lots of posts that deal with this. Click on the labels “Marketing” and “Promotion” to read what I’ve said about it in the past. But here’s a quick list (in no particular order):

Virtual book tours—find bloggers you like/know and ask if they’ll participate. This will cost you a copy of your book per blogger.

Brick and mortar book tours/signings/launch parties—get to know your local bookstore managers and see if they’ll allow you to do this. If they’re not interested, contact your local library. When you travel for personal reasons, call the bookstores in the area, see if they carry your book, ask if they’d like to do a signing. Or do a drive-by, go in and ask if they’d like you to just quickly sign the copies of your books on their shelves. (Take stickers that say “Autographed Copy” and put them on the books.)

TV, Radio, Newspaper interviews—contact your local places, send press releases, see if you can get on the local interest shows.

Get your book on Amazon, even if you have to list it and sell it yourself.

Establish an Internet presence with website(s) and/or blog(s), join reader forums, hold contests to give away copies of your book, etc.

Keep in contact with your publisher to let them know what you’re doing. Hopefully they will be positive and supportive.

And for all of those who insist a publisher should be doing all of this—well, yes, in a perfect world. But we’re talking about a less than perfect situation here. Yes, you will have to promote your on book aggressively and yes, you will have to spend your own money doing so. This is a pain but if it’s your current reality, you either bite the bullet and do it or you let your book fail. Your call.

Elements of a Good Book Cover

What are the elements of a good book cover?

There is only one purpose for a book cover—to make you pick up the book. When someone is browsing in the bookstore, you’ve got a matter of seconds to grab their attention so your book cover needs to be fresh, unique, interesting, and it needs to stand out from all the other books on the shelves. It also needs to be representative of your story—either a photo or illustration of your characters or an image that evokes the feel of the story.

A really good book cover pops out at you because the designer has used imagery, color, font and layout to create something that grabs the eye and holds it. Creating a good cover requires an artistic eye, a feel for what is currently in fashion, knowledge of the science and psychology of art, and some skill at manipulating the observer through the use of the various cover elements.

As to what works best—light vs dark covers, photos vs illustrations, simple vs complex, conservative vs unique fonts, etc.—that depends on your genre, your customer demographics and current trends.

If you want a lesson in good vs bad book covers, go browse at a bookstore. You’ll recognize the good ones because they’ll be the ones that catch your eye and hold it.

Storymakers: Two Panels

Notes from the 2008 LDStorymakers Conference

Workshop: Publishers Panel
Presenter: Chris Bigelow, Zarahemla; Lisa Mangum, Deseret Book; Kammi Rencher, Cedar Fort; Kirk Shaw, Covenant
Submitted by: Shy Submitter

The panel began with each publisher telling us what they were looking for.
Chris/Zarahemla: provocative, unconventional stories that are ultimately faith confirming.
Lisa/Deseret Book: YA, historical with or without romance, beginner chapter books.
Kammi/CFI: stories with potential to crossover to national, with LDS values and themes.
Kirk/Covenant: suspense, romance, historical, historical epic series, good non-fiction (self-help), gift books

Q: There are no LDS agents because they would not make any money. But assuming someone was willing to work for very little, would LDS publishers be willing to work with agents?
A: They all said yes.

Q: What type of content is not allowed?
A: No swearing, graphic violence and sex, no false doctrine, careful with polygamy; PG rating. (All agreed, but Zarahemla was a little more lenient on these.)

Q: What are the differences between the LDS and national markets?
A: A best seller for an LDS book is 20,000 copies sold; national is 100,000. National publishers can potentially sell to the whole world; LDS publishers are limited to the number of members of the Church, 13 million (much less, if you limit it to English speaking). There is less direct competition in the LDS market. National market needs more lead time from acceptance to publication.

Q: What is expected from the author in terms of marketing their book?
A: Chris/Zarahemla: networking, website, readings, bookstore events, especially in home town.
Lisa/Deseret Book: as much as you can do; blog, website, networking skills, available for interviews.
Kammi/CFI: active, working connections and resources, blog, website, radio or TV connections (if you have them), book signings.
Kirk/Covenant: book signings are not a big seller for them; brainstorm with marketing department, articles for magazines, be proactive.

Workshop: Authors Panel on Agents
Presenter: JANETTE RALLISON, 700,000 books sold; agent: Erin Murphy; JEFF SAVAGE, 4 books, 2 Covenant titles released this year, national YA fantasy with Shadow Mountain this year; agent: Jackie Sack @ Bookends, Inc.; BRANDON SANDERSON, national epic fantasy, children’s books with Scholastic, published in 15 languages, 2 movie deals, agent: Joshua Bilmes @ Jabberwocky; JAMES DASHNER, 4 Jimmy Fincher books, 13th Reality with Shadow Mountain, currently looking for a new agent.

[Shy Submitter apologizes for not noting who said what; this is the collective wisdom of the panel.]

Agent fees are generally 15% for US rights, foreign rights are 10% to the US agent and 10% to the foreign agent.

Royalties are sent to the agent who takes their fees and sends the rest to you. They also send you a 1099 at the end of the year.

Agents need to have a good relationship with editors and publishers.

Before signing with an agent, check them out. Who are their other clients? Contact them and see if they are happy. How many books do they place each year? Which books have they placed in the past year? What is the average advance they are able to get for their authors?

Check them out: Writers Beware, Predators and Editors have lists of good and bad agents, also some sample contracts. Other helpful sites are Show Me the Money (Brenda Hiatt/Romance) and Locus (sci-fi/fantasy),

Agents contracts can be as short as one page and should cover: how long they will represent the work, how much they will be paid, how to end the contract.

Marketing: Publishers send out ARCs (Advance Reading Copies). Some send 100, some send 1,000s. They may do conventions. Author is expected to do a website, bookmarks, book signings, school visits (children & YA), word of mouth. Join genre groups for support and ideas.

1% of the population are readers; the rest read an average of 1 book per year.

How Much Should an Author Spend to Promote Their Book?

Do you think it’s a good idea for an author to send copies of his/her book out to reviewers (in addition to those that the publisher may contact) to help create a buzz about the book? How much should an author spend to promote his/her book?

An author should definitely be willing to invest in the promotion of his/her book. Whether that investment is put into review copies, a launch party, postcards or whatever depends on what the publisher is doing. Coordinate your efforts—know what they are doing and let them know what you are doing—so that you work together, not against each other.

If writing is a career for you, or you want it to be, you need to look at this as a business investment. If you were opening a burger shop, you’d expect to invest in that. Your books are your burgers. Expect to invest in them.

How much you invest depends on what you can afford, whether it’s your first book or tenth, what your publisher is doing, and if you get/how big your advance is. I can’t tell you how much to spend, but this is what I would do if it were my first book in the LDS market.

If I got an advance, I’d take my family out to dinner then spend the rest of that advance on marketing the book. If I didn’t get an advance, I’d look at what I could personally afford and make a marketing plan/budget. I’d be willing to spend up to 75% of the royalties I could reasonably expect to earn. For example, if my royalty was $1 per book and my publisher was doing an initial print run of 2,000, I’d probably spend between $500 and $1,000 on marketing. If the book sold through in the first 6 months, I’d increase my budget. If the marketing is done well, I’ll earn this back in royalties.

This is what I’d do:

  • I’d buy the two books mentioned in this post and study them. I’d also surf the Internet to see what other authors are doing. Then I’d choosing at least a dozen ideas that appealed to me and that would bring me the best return on my investment
  • Two websites (URL my name and URL title of my book); they wouldn’t be fancy, but they’d look professional and have newsletter sign-ups and online sales capabilities (or a link to Amazon). There are several inexpensive and/or free hosting sites, templates, and shopping carts out there. You can do this for under $100.
  • Business cards, postcards and bookmarks—whatever my publisher didn’t supply. My goal would be to personally give out 500 business cards and 500 bookmarks in the first 30 days after release. I’d also mail the postcards to everyone I know.
  • Internet campaign/promo with prizes (copies of my book)—Use something like Constant Contact to send out regular newsletters, promos, contest announcements, etc.
  • Get my book listed on
  • Set up speaking engagements for my target audience and give away at least one free book per event
  • Give comp copies of my book to anyone who contributed to it in any way whatsoever; two comp copies to family and friends who you mentioned in the Acknowledgments (one for them to keep, one for them to give away). Also give each of them a handful of bookmarks and ask them to give those to their friends. Their excitement will help spread the word.

If this were my second or third book, I’d estimate what I’d earn in advances and royalties (based on sales of book one) and spend 1/3 to 1/2 of that on marketing. I’m still investing most of my earnings back into the business of being an author. Hopefully, I would also be able to upgrade some of my equipment and pay for expenses involved in writing future books.

By the time my fourth book came out, I’d start keeping most of the book earnings as income. I’d have a good idea of what types of promotions worked best for me, gave me the largest return for my investment, and concentrate on those promos, spending about 10% of my advance/expected royalties on marketing (min. $500), over and above what my publisher was doing.

LDS Fiction Blog

Two things. This is a long post. Sorry. (Not really, but that’s the polite thing to say.) If this first topic bores you, scroll down to the next topic which talks about how perspective readers are NOT finding your book.

LDS Fiction Blog
You may recall that I mentioned I was starting a companion blog to this one featuring newly released LDS fiction, appropriately titled LDS Fiction. I bit off a little more than I could chew on that one, so I got someone to help me. She has created info posts for all of the 2007 Whitney finalists (and done an excellent job). Please go take a look and comment on and rate the ones that you have read.

My associate may or may not get to all of the non-finalist 2007 titles. I told her she didn’t have to do those, but she said if she got bored or had scads of extra time that she’d work on them. Those posts will be backdated to 2007. I’ll try to remember to make a note of it here when/if she adds more 2007 titles.

2008 titles will be posted as they are released. I know you’ll all want to rush over and put that blog on your RSS feed reader so that you’ll know the moment a new title is posted. (But you can finish reading this post before you do that.) (Oh, and thank you to all who have already let me know of new releases for 2008. Keep those e-mails coming. It may take a bit of time to catch up, but we will get January’s 2008 titles posted before too long.)

One last comment on this topic. It generally takes about 30 minutes per book post to size the cover and find good promo copy and links. (Sometimes longer…see topic below.) Because she is basically donating her time, I have allowed my associate to put some affiliate links in the sidebar and within the posts themselves. If you feel inclined to support this effort, and would normally purchase these books via online sources, please consider placing your order through her affiliate links.

Finding Your Book
In the process of finding adequate images, promo copy and links for the LDS Fiction blog, my associate and I found some shocking deficits in marketing. Well, they would be shocking, if they weren’t so prevalent.

Ideally, someone looking for you or your book should be able to find one or both within three mouse clicks. The research has been done and if you don’t show up in those first three clicks, many people will stop looking. Some books took us much longer than 30 minutes and many more than three clicks to find what we needed. For some books, we were unable to find all the info and links needed.

In the individual book posts we wanted to put a nice large image of the book cover and to link it and the book title to an online store. We also wanted to link the author’s name to their website or blog. Then we wanted to include information about the book that would make it easy for a customer to find the book at/special order the book from their local bookstore or library. This info would include Publisher Name, ISBN #, Publication Date and Genre Category. We also wanted to include size information and let you know if it was part of a series. Ideally, we should be able to Google the book title and/or author name and have all this info at our fingertips within minutes.

Uhhhnnn. (That’s the sound of the wrong answer buzzer.)

This is what we found instead:

Problem: Some book images were difficult to find, or were too small. We had to make them bigger, which is why some of the images are a little blurry.

Solution: You publisher should have a big image (approx. 400 x whatever pixels) somewhere on their website. If they don’t, YOU should have one (or link to one) on your website or blog. This is very easy to do using free hosting sites such as Photobucket.

Problem: Online shoppers like to get all their books at one location to save on time and shipping. The best online stores to use would be 1) Amazon, and 2) Deseret Book and/or Seagull. Some books were not on any of these sites.

Solution: You may not be able to control whether or not Deseret Book, Seagull or other online stores put your book on their website, but you can certainly get your book on Amazon for a minimal amount of effort. (Here or Here.) Your publisher should automatically list your book there, but if they don’t, YOU CAN. Go do it now. (And please, include an image of the book cover!)

Problem: Some authors do not have a website or blog or any place to go if a reader wants to find out more about you.

Solution: With all the free hosting options out there, this is inexcusable. If you have a computer, you can have a web presence. (Even if you don’t have a personal computer, most libraries will let you use theirs.) At the very least, sign up for a free blog site, such as this one or this one and create one post per published title and one post with your author bio. Be sure to include images of your book covers and yourself. (If you don’t know how to do this, ask your teenager or a neighbor’s teenager to do it for you.)

Problem: Some authors with a website/blog, don’t effectively promote their books.

Solution: Put the covers of your book or a big link to them on the first page of your website or in the sidebar of your blog. Link the cover image to a more detailed page about your book or to a place where readers can buy the book online. Create a page or post for each of your titles. Include all the information a customer might need or want. (Like what is included for each title on the LDS Fiction blog; this is the minimum.)

Problem: Some publishers have lousy or no Search feature on their websites, making it difficult for a customer to find YOUR book. Some publishers have the title of your book and/or your name wrong on their site. And some BIG online bookstores have the title and/or author name wrong. (Honestly.)

Solution: THROW A FIT AND MAKE THEM FIX THIS RIGHT AWAY! They probably will blow you off about the Search feature but they ought to at least have your name and title correct. And they have the power to make the bookstores fix it on their sites. I mean, how do they expect to sell the book if people search for the correct title and it comes up with nothing?

Problem: Can’t find you in a Google search. Many customers looking for an author or title will use Google or another search engine to find them. They should be able to find your book and your website or blog within the first three Google pages. (Some authors do not even come up in the first 10 Google pages. Most people are not as tenacious as I am and will not search past the first 3 pages.)

Solution: Regularly Google your name and the titles of your books. Make sure you come up in those first three pages. Ideally, when googling your name or the title of your book, the first search page should show (in any order) your personal website/blog, Amazon and other online stores, your publisher, and people blogging about you and your book. If none of this info shows up on page one, do some serious research on website optimization and get those links in the first three Search pages.

Assignment for today: Open a new browser window and Google yourself (use your name exactly as it is printed on the front of your book, then try it again leaving out middle initial or names). Google the title of your book (first the exact title, next a few keywords from the title). How long did it take to find you? Now ask yourself, if you were a reader looking for a book someone had mentioned to them, would you have looked that hard?

After you try this experiment, come back and let us know in the comments section how many clicks it took to get to your book. If it took three clicks or less, you’re welcome to brag. If it took more than three clicks, you’ve got some work to do. (And you can post your comment anonymously if you want.)

Author Branding and Platforms

So many publicity/marketing sites talk about the importance of branding yourself and having a platform. First, can you define brands and platforms, and second, are they important to you and your colleagues in making a decision as to who will get a contract and who won’t? Are brands and platforms significant in the LDS marketplace?

Branding yourself as an author means that you have created a body of work in a coherent style, theme and/or genre. It needs to be easily recognizable and easy to summarize. People who buy your books understand what they’re going to get. Your brand begins with the first book you publish. If it’s a romance, you’re branded a romance writer; if historical, that’s your brand. If you want to build your brand, you will stick to that genre.

This is particularly important for a national market. If you write outside your perceived brand, it can sometimes cause problems. (John Grisham’s Christmas book upset many readers; Anne McCaffery’s romances were counterproductive to her sci-fi/fantasy brand.) To get around this, many very famous, well-branded authors will use a different pen name when they write in a new genre. (Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb; Stephen King/Richard Bachman/John Swithen; Robert Jordan/Regan O’Neal/Jackson O’Reily.)

There aren’t a lot of LDS writers with a strong brand, simply because there aren’t many with a large, coherent body of work. Anita Stansfield is branded—like her books or hate them, you know what you’re going to get. Jack Weyland is another, as is Rachel Nunes. However, if any of these authors started writing in a different style or genre, they’d have to recreate their brand.

Now, that said, you don’t have to stay pigeon-holed in the first genre you start writing in. Many authors successfully write in a variety of genres, with or without a pen name. However, you, your agent, publicist, publisher need to work together to make a genre change thoughtfully—to minimize reader disappointment and to incorporate the new genre into your evolving brand.

There are actually two uses of the word “platform” as it applies to writing. The first refers to your message, your credentials. This applies more to non-fiction than to fiction. Think of it like a political platform. Maybe a therapist writes frequently about depression—that’s their platform.

The other use of the word “platform” refers to the machinery behind marketing your book(s). What methods do you use to get the word out about your book? This would include a website, maybe a blog, publishing related articles for periodicals, a newsletter, public appearances, your agent/editor or publicist.

Are branding and a platform necessary in the LDS market? Well, they happen automatically, whether you’re aware of them or not, so I say, use them consciously to promote your writing career.

Does a brand and platform determine who gets a contract and who doesn’t? Not directly. Good writing determines a contract. But on the other hand, good writing with a unique story line or style, brings with it the seeds of branding. Also, all things being equal, in a pinch the author who has a good marketing plan (platform) may be published ahead of the author who has not given it any thought.

However, branding and platform are not where you put your energy—at least not in the beginning. Your first concern is to WRITE A GOOD STORY. After that is done, then start thinking about branding and platform.

Here are a few links that talk about branding and platform in more depth:

The Basics of Author Branding

Are Books Bound by Their Brand?
Your Personal Brand

How to Build a Writing Platform
The Truth about Author Platforms
Build an Author’s Platform

Where to Get a Review

No doubt you have addressed this subject before, but I’m a relatively new reader. My question is about getting your book reviewed (my publisher is sending out very few review copies). So how should an author go about obtaining reviews? What sources would you recommend? Which reviewers would you recommend on a national level?

Your marketing/review plan depends on the type of book you’ve written (see “genre specific” below). Some reviewers won’t accept books directly from the author. You’re going to have to do some research and customize your own list of reviewers, but here are some areas to consider.

National reviewers: New York Times (if your book is selling well enough), Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Midwest Book Review (they have a list of links to online reviewers), Library Journal, Foreword Magazine (reviews smaller, independent publishers). Also, go talk to your local librarian. He/she may have some ideas.

Genre specific: Reviewers often specialize in specific genres or age groups. Go find a few best-selling paperback books in the genre you’re writing and look at their blurbs. Any professional reviewers listed would be ones to consider.

Local/regional/niche: Newspaper and magazines—your city and any big city within 100 miles. Try to get them to do a feature story on you as a local author as well as a review. Look for genre magazines that do reviews. If you’re LDS, you want to get it reviewed on Meridian Magazine and in the major Utah papers.

Misc. Bloggers: There are a zillion bloggers out there who do book reviews. Find some that you like, that are getting good traffic (you can usually judge traffic by the number of comments they’re getting). Other bloggers to consider are: friends, family, fellow writers.

Readers, any other suggestions? Give us links if you have them.

Chip’s Guide to Marketing Your Book

On the advice of Candace Salima (see comments on this post; thanks, Candace), I checked out Chip MacGregor’s blog. Hadn’t seen him before. Interesting guy. Has lots of good tips.

I read a few posts, and found this one talking about marketing. That’s been a frequent question around here, so I suggest you go read it. I agree with pretty much everything, except the cost of review copies. In a small market like ours, with small print runs, most books cost more than $1.00 per copy. Other than that, I liked what he had to say–especially encouragement toward internet marketing.

[If the link to that post doesn’t work, go here and look for the Sept 13, 2007 post titled “How to Market Your Book and Lose Lots of Money.”

Marketing Plan for Writers

Could you tell me what’s included in a marketing plan? Is there a particular format? How can I learn how to put together an effective marketing plan? When is the best time to present it to the publisher?

Thanks. (PS Cedar Fort will publish my YA LDS novel in spring 2008–woo hoo!)

I’ve received marketing plans in all sorts of formats–from highly detailed and complex business proposals (overkill) to a simple numbered list. I don’t have a preference–as long as I can understand the concepts and it doesn’t take longer to read than your manuscript. (You’re a writer; write clearly.)

Some publishers may have instructions on their websites.

Here are a few quick link for ideas. I am not endorsing these sites or the products offered on them, and I’m not sure how helpful each one actually is. I did a quick google on “marketing plans for writers” and skimmed the first few. I’m sure there are others that I’ve missed but this will give you a place to start. If readers know of some good sites or other sources, please post them in the comments section.

(P.S. Good for you! Feel free to identify yourself in the comments section,)

Promotional Expectations

What should an author expect from a publisher in the way of promotion?

In addition to what I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I made a few suggestions here and here.

What’s the best way to promote a book?

Depends on the book, the genre, the target audience. There are a few suggestions in the links above. But in addition to this, brainstorm. Look at what others are doing and adapt them to your situation. But don’t be a Nathan Newauthor. DISCUSS the possibilities with your publisher and TOGETHER decide what will work best.

More on Promotion

Doesn’t promotion/marketing fall mainly to the author, especially in the LDS market? [I added “marketing” to this question, because they’re so closely related.]

No, it doesn’t. Yes, an author has to do a lot of promotion for their book but it is an error in thinking that the author does the majority of the promotion for their book.

Your publisher is going to concentrate on marketing your book to the bookstores, to get it in the stores and on the shelves. A lot of this promotion is very “behind the scenes” to the author. It includes schmoozing, developing industry relationships, phone calls, mailings, e-mailings, faxes, catalogs, order forms, shelf liners, in-store posters, promotional discounts, convention booths, sometimes personal visits to the stores, etc., etc., etc. It also includes things like the cover design and layout of your book, to make it attractive to the buyer, pre-market research, and all sorts of stuff that takes time and costs money–90% of which you, the author, will not see happening. We’re honestly not just sitting there twiddling our thumbs. We have a monetary investment in your book that we want to recoup and to build upon.

The author promotes mainly to the reader via book signings, television and radio shows, newspaper reviews, press releases, bookmarks, business cards, websites, blogs, post cards, firesides, buttons, t-shirts, and whatever else you can think of. (Some of which the publisher will provide, or assist you in creating; all of which you should run past them.)

Dollar for dollar, I know I’ve outspent every single one of my authors in marketing and promoting their books.

Now, for a few other questions. I am going to give you MY answers, as in, OUR company policy. Your publisher may have a different policy and/or attitude. When in doubt, ask them.

Is it acceptable to blog about or announce on your website, an upcoming (6 months or so from now) book release?

Yes. It’s fine to blog about your challenges and rewards of your work in progress, to post about it as you move through the submission and acceptance process, where it’s at in printing and marketing. That’s great. It creates a buzz and an expectation; it also personalizes it to your blog readers. They’ll be more likely to buy your book if they’ve shared your journey.

Don’t post content because 1) it will likely change; 2) if the reader doesn’t care for your first draft, they won’t be drawn to read the finished book.

Also, do not post negative things, like “Gee, my stupid publisher blah, blah, blah” or “I hate my book cover…” All of that puts a negative spin on your book and decreases interest.

Is it acceptable to continue to blog about the book release?

Yes, see above.

Do most publishers provide bookmarks or other promotional items if the author asks for such?

We do—up to a certain amount and under certain conditions. If the author wants more or different items, then we negotiate it on an item by item basis.

Bottom line: an author should obtain permission for all promotion, including blogs?

You shouldn’t have to clear every single blog post with your publisher. We don’t have time for that and we wouldn’t be publishing you if we didn’t have some faith in your writing abilities. However, I really liked Josi’s suggestions about a marketing plan. If you make a quick outline of what you intend to do, include blogging on that list. Then if your publisher has a problem with it, they can contact you to discuss it.

The Horrible Story of Nathan Newauthor

On the subject of marketing and promotion, I’m saddened to hear that some publishers don’t get back to their authors in a timely manner concerning promotional events. Sometimes it’s beyond their control and a matter of bad timing, but if it’s a regular occurrence, that’s really unfortunate. And as an author, you may feel hamstrung in your efforts because there is probably a clause in your contract somewhere that says you have to have all promotional pieces and marketing efforts approved by your publisher.

There is a reason for that clause as illustrated in this story about Nathan Newauthor. Nathan is a soon-to-be-published new author whose book is currently at the press. In his enthusiasm and inexperience and without permission and approval from the publisher, Nathan decides to get very creative with his marketing ideas. Having read a book on guerilla marketing for writers and being encouraged to push the envelope by friends and family (who know very little about the publishing industry), Nathan creates and hand distributes a promotional piece at an event with nearly 1,000 attendees that are HIS TARGET AUDIENCE.

Wa-hoo! Those orders ought to start rolling in.

Here’s what Nathan doesn’t understand.

  1. Although he and his mother thought it looked quite attractive, his marketing piece was very unprofessionally done. It looked like it had been copied at Kinko’s and hand-cut and assembled. Which it had been. Now, let’s think for a minute. Does an ugly promotional piece encourage or discourage someone to go purchase a product? Do the people he gave promo to know that Nathan lovingly slaved for hours to create this? Do they give him an A for effort? No. They think the publisher did it–and if that’s the best the publisher can do, why would they think the “real” book would be any better? Nathan most likely just lost 800 of the 1,000 people in his target audience.

    If Nathan’s publisher had been involved, the promo would have been professionally designed, using appropriate fontage and color and white space and all that other graphic design mumbo-jumbo that most people poo-poo, but which has an actual, measurable impact on the buyer.

  2. Nathan spent way too much money on the project, so he decided to just do a few in color and the rest in black and white. Color says, these people know what they’re doing; black and white says, these people are working out of their garage on a shoe-string budget.

    Had Nathan’s publisher created the piece, it would have been in color and printed at a much lower price. Because we have connections.

  3. Nathan thought it would be great to get advance notice out for his book. Good in theory. But if you market too soon, you lose momentum. Since his release is over a month away, it’s too soon to market to the end customer.

    Nathan also thinks people will pre-order his book. No, they won’t because his name is not J.K. Rowling. They’ll go to the bookstore or website, decide to wait to get the book when it’s available, and then FORGET about it.

    Publishers understand this. We time our advance notice.

  4. Nathan didn’t know (because he didn’t bother to ask) and the publisher hadn’t told him (because it clearly states in the contract that Nathan has to approve all marketing efforts and since he didn’t, the publisher had no way of knowing he was planning something like this) is that there was trouble at the printer and his books are going to be delayed by several weeks past his scheduled release date.

    Publishers know that release dates can be tentative and they plan accordingly. New authors believe the release date is carved in stone.

  5. Nathan thought it would be a great thing to let all the people at this event know about his upcoming release. What he didn’t know is that the event coordinators have a very strict policy against distributing promotional pieces at said event. In fact, if a publisher does that, they are very often asked never to return.

    If Nathan had asked his publisher, the publisher could have prevented this serious faux pas.

  6. Nathan thought he was doing his publisher a favor because the event coordinators are one of the publisher’s largest bulk buyers. But they don’t like what he did. They are not happy. If they are severely unhappy, not only will they NOT buy Nathan’s book, but they may also stop buying other books from this publisher. Nathan thinks he was only promoting himself and his book, but in reality, since the publisher’s name was all over the marketing piece, he was also indirectly representing the publisher, and by default, all of their other products as well.

    Again, the publisher could have prevented Nathan from not only shooting himself in the foot, but also from shooting the feet of the publisher and their other authors.

  7. Nathan thinks marketing and promotion is all fun and games, and that anything goes. As long as he’s paying for it, what’s the harm? What he doesn’t realize is that he’s created a situation that could cause a lot of potential harm, for himself, for his book, for the publisher and for every other author the publisher represents.

    Because the event coordinators are a major buyer of the publisher’s products, the publisher has to keep them happy. This is especially important in a small market like ours, where there are only so many distribution channels.

    If the buyer is ticked, and the publisher blows it off, they lose credibility with the buyer. If the buyer is really ticked, the publisher may have to choose between Nathan Newauthor’s not-yet-released book and placating the buyer. Since Nathan’s book is one teeny part of the publisher’s product line, and the buyer is a huge part of the publisher’s income, what do you think the publisher is going to do? The choice could literally be between dropping the author like a hot potato or going out of business.

    Worst case scenario: the publisher decides Nathan’s mistake puts them in a high-risk situation, cancels the contract with Nathan, destroys the book, and sues Nathan for loss and damages due to breach of contract.

    Best case scenario: the publisher gives Nathan a harsh talking to, holds the release of the book until everything is smoothed over with the big buyer, and is now very reluctant to consider future projects with Nathan.

Point of the story: Just because an author doesn’t understand why a publisher has a certain policy or clause in their contract, it doesn’t mean there’s not a very good reason for it. When an author disregards that, they are asking for trouble.

Another point of the story [for those of you who still don’t quite understand this concept yet]: Yes, for the publisher, the bottom line IS ABOUT THE MONEY. If we don’t make money, we won’t be publishers for very long.

One last point: If this is too restrictive for you, then you are free to self-publish. No one is preventing you. But if you choose the traditional publishing route, you have to be willing to play by the publisher’s rules.

P.S. This is not a fictional story. It is based on true events, but the names and a few small particulars have been changed to protect the… well, you know.

P.P. S. Fortunately for Nathan, the publisher was able to smooth things over with the buyer and he got the best case scenario.

Judging a Book by its Cover(s)

I’ve never before received an e-mail that had someone else’s entire blog post copied and pasted, followed by the words, “What do you think?”

So go read the post and all the comments over on Six LDS Writers and A Frog, then come back here for my opinion.


As a reader and book buyer, I have never purchased multiple copies of a book just to get a variety of covers. I have, however, purchased new copies of books when a cooler cover came out. For example, I had the whole set of The Chronicles of Narnia, purchased about 20 years ago. When the movie came out, the market was flooded with reprints, all with new covers. I bought the trade copy with all seven books in one and the picture of the Snow Queen on the front. Did I “need” new copies? No. But the cover was really cool.

Also, as a reader and book buyer, I have browsed books on the shelf, picked them up, then put them back–only to see the same book on a different shelf with a different cover, picked it up for a second look, and bought it. Because the cover was more appealing and enticing to me. You’d think, being in the business and all, I would know better than to select or reject a book based on its cover. But I don’t. I’m just like everyone else–easily seduced by a pretty picture.

As a publisher, there are reasons that justify multiple covers–all of them to do with marketing. Multiple covers are especially good for books that are genre or age cross-overs, like the Harry Potter books. Because they appeal to both children and adults, having a separate cover to target each age group is a good idea. How many adults want to be caught engrossed in a book with little kids on the cover? Okay, bad example. As proved in the U.S., where we only have one cover and no one cares. But you get the idea.

It’s also a good idea with classics and blockbusters, like aforementioned Chronicles of Narnia. You know you’re going to sell a lot of them, so the cost of multiple covers isn’t a big deal. You do a cover that appeals to different types of people to seduce (there’s that word again) them into purchasing a copy. You want to make the book as irresistible as possible to as many people as possible.

Another time for new covers is when a book has been out for awhile and you’re doing a reprint–especially if there is any significant revision of the book (common in nonfiction, not in fiction). Cover art, fonts, and layout go in and out of style. If a book has been around for ten years or longer, you might want to do a new cover to update it and give sales a new shot. We’ve done that with books before. And yes, people will buy a replacement book with the new cover.

We always test market our book covers. Recently we did a book cover in pink, yellow and blue. No one liked the yellow, but the blue only had a small margin over the pink. If we’d expected to sell 50,000 copies, we might have considered doing a cover in both colors, but since we only expected to sell 5,000, we went with the blue. It wasn’t the cost of the multiple covers (which isn’t that big a deal), it’s just that having multiple covers in a small market seems a little silly.

Now for the anti-multiple covers argument. In a small market, like the LDS market, your book cover is part of your branding of the book. Brands are important. They provide instant identification, which you want. If an author has multiple books, particularly if they are in a series, you want to extend that brand as much as you can. A good national example is Danielle Steele. You don’t have to read a thing on her books to recognize the cover as one of hers. Good LDS examples are Heather Moore’s Out of Jerusalem series and the Work and the Glory series (both sets of covers). The cover designs are part of the branding of the series. A bad example of this is Robison Wells’ Wake Me When It’s Over and The Counterfeit. (Sorry, Rob. What was with the cover of that first one, anyway?) You can’t tell by a quick glance that these two books have anything to do with each other; or even that they’re by the same author. In my opinion, that was a mistake–or at the very least, it didn’t optimize the added sales potential of branding.

You want your books to stand out, to be unique, yet very recognizable to your rabid fans. You also don’t want to have readers re-purchase the same book by accident. (How many of you think OSC’s Woman of Destiny and Saints are two different books?) So in our market, the only time I’d do multiple covers is if the book has been around awhile and needs updating for some reason (like the Work & the Glory). Or possibly, if I did both a hardback and a paperback release–but even then, I’d keep the covers similar enough that you could tell it was the same book.

So who wants to argue with me?

I’m Not Testy; I Have a Positive Self Image

Found in the comments section of yesterday’s post. I moved it here because a lot of people do not read comments and he has a legit concern, complaint. A lot of first time authors ask these kinds of questions. (Although most of them do not call me “testy” or refer to my treatment of their ideas as bull-dozerish.)

Why is that editors get so testy when an author dares to tread upon their creative world and suggest a cover design or a title, but they drive their bulldozers all over the author’s creative world like so much ado about nothing. I know. Covers are what they pay your for. Editing is what they pay you for. But for heaven’s sakes, will there ever be an editor humble enough to recognize that an author just may have a good sense about a cover that will market their book well. Or that an author just may have a better title than the marketing guys across the hall. Probably not!


When I went back to the comments to copy and paste them, I discovered that Robison Wells had answered the question—and he is dead on. Here is Rob’s reply.

Anonymous, I like to compare it to royalties. There’s a reason that authors only get 5-15% of a book’s cost: it’s because the author is only one piece of a very large puzzle. It’s a vital piece, certainly, but it’s still only one piece.

If an author has as much good marketing sense as you stated–if they know that their title/cover/marketing ideas are great–then why not just self-publish? Richard Paul Evans is the perfect example: he was a professional marketer, and he’s made gobs of money.

Besides, most publishers are very willing to discuss titles and covers (though they’ll almost all maintain veto power), but they don’t want to look at those ideas during the submission process. You, as the author, are asking them to make a very big investment in you; the least you could do is show a little professionalism and respect submission guidelines. There will be PLENTY of time to discuss titles and covers and illustrations once your book is accepted.

I would add a few things, based on my 26 years in the industry as a professional (I just love that word) editor and/or publisher:

  1. If you submit a good title, we will keep it! We kept the author’s original titles on the last two books we published. Others titles I tweak by one or two words. Sometimes I’ll reject the original title, but have the author send me a list of alternates. Usually I can blend that into something really good that the author is happy with. But creating titles that sell and writing a story are two entirely different skill sets and some are just really, really bad.
  2. I have never, in 26 years, seen a book cover created by an author and sent with the manuscript submission that was anywhere close to usable. They are usually way too dark, use clip art and dated fonts, and don’t have an appropriate balance to the design. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, or you don’t know why these would be a problem, then don’t try to make your own cover.
  3. I have, a couple of times, had an author who was also a graphic artist. After their books were accepted, they very professionally asked if I would take a look at their ideas. Of course I did. These two covers were wonderful. One we kept exactly as it was. The other we had to tweak a little to fit in the bar code. The point is, they approached me about it after acceptance.
  4. The publisher always retains veto rights. As Rob said, if I am going to invest thousands of dollars in you and your book, I need to control that investment in the way that my experience tells me works best. If title and cover art are deal breakers for you, then by all means, self-publish.
  5. You’re assuming that the author will not like my title/cover art better than what they’ve created. Most of our authors love what we do with their books—even if we don’t use any of their suggestions.
  6. I never, ever bulldoze my authors’ creative world. I’m not investing in a one book deal. I want this to be an ongoing relationship. I want my authors to be happy. At the same time, I am not going to let an author sink a book due to personal preferences. We test our titles and book cover designs on our target market and run them past at least a dozen design, marketing and publishing professionals before we finalize something.
  7. And one last comment: You, as an author, have to invest a certain level of trust in your publisher. You have to believe they know what they’re doing, that they will make decisions based on what is best for your book, that they are current on what is hot in the market, and that their years of experience are more valuable than yours. If you don’t trust your publisher enough to title your book or design your cover, then you’re with the wrong publisher.

Have I answered your questions?