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How to Sell Your Book Before It’s Published

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9 Ways to Avoid Lame Book Titles

canstockphoto0028533An ad from my local hardware store featured a party cooler for sale. The cooler was pictured filled with ice and canned soda. Printed in parentheses was “Sodas and ice not included.”

Most of us would realize that the ice and soda were intended as a suggested use. This disclaimer was necessary, however, for those dodo heads who would insist that the picture misled them to believe the ice and soda were included.

Just as clearly stating what is being offered is critical in advertising, so is it important in your book title.

Your book title is a billboard, a promise, an agreement to deliver certain content.

A book cover may draw the reader’s attention, but it’s the title that gets him to venture inside.

If you’re eager to avoid lame book titles, here are some tips that have worked for others.

1. Create one sentence that boldly sums up the contents or main point of your book.

Within that sentence are the keywords that should be in your title or it may be your full title.

When Robert Kiyosaki first came out with his book If You Want To Be Rich and Happy, Don’t Go To School, a publisher suggested he change his title to The Economics of Education. I’m glad he didn’t listen.

2. While titles cannot be copyrighted, steer clear of emulating popular titles.

Chicken Soup for the Soul and Fifty Shades of Grey and an alphabet mystery series, starting with A is for Alibi,  have already been done.


3. Settle on a working title while you’re writing your book if you’re stuck for a title.

The perfect title may not be apparent at the start. By the time you finish your book, however, the right title will likely emerge.

4. Reflect the tone of your message in the title.

If you’re writing a how-to book, you don’t want your title to mislead your readers into thinking it’s a sizzling  romantic novel.
It may result in sales, but readers will be disappointed and unfulfilled.

5. Notice the nickname or short name you’ve given your book while you’re writing it.

One of the actors from the sitcom, That 70′s Show, revealed that this was not the original title, but was the nickname the cast
gave it during rehearsals. By the time it was ready for launch, the producers decided that the nickname was the right name for the show.

6. Listen to how you respond to questions about your book when you are speaking to groups or your accountability partner.

In an effort to explain the differences in men and women during one of his live presentations, John Gray came up with “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”.
He knew he had found the right title for his book on relationships.

7. Go for a simple and clear title rather than fail at being clever.

  • The “how to” title is still the most popular because it appeals to our never-ending quest for doing things, taking action and making improvements.
  • “Murder at the  [location]” will still grab mystery lovers.
  • The [odd number] Ways to [do or accomplish something that we want] is irresistible with its promise of actionable steps.

8. Give your book a subtitle, if necessary for clarity.

One book that could have benefitted from a subtitle is “How to Avoid Huge Ships” by John W. Trimmer.

When Captain Trimmer got tired of running into small boats, he wrote this serious book directed at small boat owners/operators to help them avoid getting into the pathways of big boats which can not always see much less miss hitting them. Unfortunately, many of the 186 Amazon “reviewers” had a lot of fun with this book title.  With the price tag of $75, many of the reviewers may not have actually bought the book, but they couldn’t resist taking aim at that title.

Here are some of the reviews of Trimmer’s book that made me laugh out loud.

  • Read this book before going on vacation and I couldn’t find my cruise liner in the port. Vacation ruined.
  • Huge ships have been the bane of my life, so I was very excited when I bought this book. However, Captain Trimmer does not provide the helpful and insightful advice that I had hoped for and I did not feel that this book had any noticeable effect. If anything, I now encounter more huge ships than ever! Would not recommend.
  • After reading this book, I relized[sic] exactly what I was doing wrong everytime I was run over by bardges[sic] on the mighty Mississippi. I always played dead and hoped the boats would go away, like I was taught by a book I read, “How To Survive Bear Attacks.” I guess I thought the lessons taught by that book applied to everything life, but it clearly meant just bears. Now I am surviving the waterways better than a BP oil rig.
  • I give this book five stars because it is by far the best treatise to date regarding the avoidance of huge ships. BUT C’MON, PEOPLE! Did you learn nothing in the sixties? Avoiding huge ships won’t solve the problem. Separate but equal waterways only drives us further apart. It is the lack of understanding between the huge and non-huge vessel communities that lead to well-intentioned but misguided tomes such as this. We must begin a dialogue with our huge brethren. Remember–we are all floating on the same ocean. I have a dream… that one day ALL vessels will be judged not by their tonnage, but by the content of their cargo. Next time a huge vessel approaches, just ask yourself “WWPD?” (What would Popeye do?)
  • As the father of two teenagers, I found this book invaluable. I’m sure other parents here can empathize when I say I shudder at the thought of the increasing influence and presence of huge ships in the lives my children. I certainly remember the strain I caused so long ago for my own parents when I began experimenting with huge ships. The long inter-continental voyages that kept my mom and dad up all night with worry. Don’t even get me started on the international protocols when transporting perishable cargo. To think, I was even younger than my kids are now! huge ships are everywhere and it doesn’t help that the tv and movies make huge ships seem glamorous and cool. This book helped me really approach the subject of huge ships with my kids in an honest, open and non judgmental way. Because of the insights this book provided, I can sleep a little better and cope with the reality that I can’t always be there to protect my kids from huge ships, especially as they become adults. I’m confident that my teens, when confronted by a huge ship, are much better prepared to make wiser decisions than I did. At the very least my children certainly know that they can always come to me if they have any concerns, questions or just need my support when it comes to the topic of huge ships.

9. Be outrageous with a risky, even risque title

Forget about being modest or politically correct when you want to grab your reader by the collar.

Shit My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern–a coming-of-age memoir wrapped about his father’s profane, profound and funny sayings

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn–a moving memoir about the troublesome relationship between Nick and his father

Assholes Finish First by Tucker Max–a funny book about Tucker’s misadventures. Some criticized it for being too vulgar, but one fan
said what we all want to hear from a reader, “There I was at B&N, doing last minute shopping, and the title sucked me in.”

Writing compelling titles for your book is just one part of your job as an author. Most first-timers have trouble with just getting started on the contents.

Question I’ve invented to plug my e-course, Rockin’ My Book.

Is there any way to publish a book without writing one?

Not to my knowledge.

You could hire a ghostwriter, outsource it to an hourly worker in the Phillipines, or dictate your thoughts into a recorder, but someone has to create the content.

If your dream of writing a book has been stalled by fear or uncertainty then Rockin’ My Book  is for you. I’ve made it easy for you to get started by creating it as 4-week e-course. Once you sign up you receive one email lesson per week with encouragement, steps to take, examples, suggested activities, and an opportunity to get feedback from me if you wish.  I’m eager to be let you know your options and answer the many questions all writers have. Work on your own time and at your own pace in the comfort of your home or office.

Did I mention it’s very affordable?

Some treat Rockin’ My Book as a way to to test their readiness by gently sticking one toe in the publishing waters . Others use Rockin’ My Book to finally get the push to get started on their long-neglected dream.

Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Rockin’ My Book helps you begin to relieve that agony. Wherever you are with your writing goals, get the momentum you need to move forward now.

Get the details on this special page I’ve prepared for you at Rockin’ My Book.

Phrases We Borrowed from Shakespeare That May Surprise You

Even if you’re not a Shakespeare fan, I bet you’ve used Shakespearean phrases that have slipped into our language. Check out this infographic from GrammarNet, then tell us in the comments if I’m right.

[Infographic provided by Grammar.net]

The Surprising Truth Every Published Writer Must Face

Kindle version puts 2nd edition in your hands fast

Kindle version puts the 2nd edition in your hands fast

Writing is a passion, but publishing is a business.

This catches many aspiring authors by surprise.

When they discover that writing their manuscript was just the start, many authors resist doing the marketing required and others resent it so much that they neglect it entirely. Disappointing book sales result.

Like it or not, writing is a home based business where you must face the same challenges as every other entrepreneur: managing time, avoiding isolation, resisting distractions as well as organizing and balancing work with family and personal life.

In the 2nd Edition of How to Run a Successful Home Based Business, I share useful tips and advice for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Writers who recognize that part of their success depends on being entrepreneurs will benefit from many of the tips, especially on networking, building a list, and creating a social media marketing plan. This edition has 30% new content.

The Kindle version, available for only $2.99, poses key questions and offers answers to many of your business challenges. You don’t need to own a Kindle to read it either. Amazon makes the Kindle app free to you here. Get your copy now at http://amzn.to/101IoFg , then remember to leave a review when you finish the book.





How to Conquer Your Fear of Screwing Up the Book You Want to Write, Part 2

conquerfear2 copy(This is the second in a series. Check out Part 1 here.)

So, let me guess.

You’re reading this because you want to write your book, but you are paralyzed with the fear that you’ll screw it up.

As one radio psychologist often said to her callers, “Somebody has to tell you and it might as well be me.”


. . . the first draft of your book, that is.

Come on. Do you really think Stephen King rolls out a compelling novel from beginning to end in one fell swoop? Every word in place, every scene painted in vivid colors?

Grow up! Of course not.

To conquer your fear of screwing up the book you want to write, you must be willing to do the exact thing you fear: screw up.

As soon as you’re willing to be imperfect and turn out the inevitable first shitty draft, you’ll be on your way.

It’s not your fault that you’re stuck by this “perfection affliction.” If you’re like most of us, you were raised by well-meaning adults who prodded you to ponder, plan and hesitate to take action until everything was in place.

This strategy may have a good use in some cases, but when it comes to writing your book it’s not only a detriment, it’s a dream killer.

In the first part of this series I urged you to conquer your fear of screwing up your book by forgetting about being original.  Now  I’m asking you to do something else.

Give up on perfection

1. Be willing to write consistently without any expectation that it’ll be great.

Published writers who make a living from their work create a schedule and stick to it.  Some have a daily word count goal, others have a time goal. Whatever the case, they turn out the writing knowing that it’s not in finished form.

Like a furniture maker who starts knows that there will be much cutting, assembling and glueing before the finishing stage, so must you see your book as a project that will be rough first and refined and polished later.

2. Be willing to look foolish and fail in front of the world.

Olympic athletes don’t set out to fail. They spend years of physical and mental preparation, training for that one day. On competition day, they get one jump, one dive, or one toss on a worldwide stage where they emerge victorious or fall short of winning the coveted awards or breaking a record.

To live a creative life we must first lose the fear of being wrong. ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

Even after your book is finished and polished to its best, you will receive mixed reviews of it.

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected over 130 times as Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield were cautioned that a self-help book like theirs couldn’t sell.
  • Stephen King’s high school teacher admonished him for wasting his talent on the horror genre.
  • Seth Godin, author and marketing guru, recently shared that a high school teacher wrote in his yearbook that he would never amount to anything.

3. Embrace your imperfection

Fred Astaire, regarded as the greatest musical dancer of all time, received the following comment from a studio executive after a screen test early in this career: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little.”

Although Astaire was known for relentless practice in an effort to perfect his performances, when asked about his style he said if you make the same mistake enough times it becomes your style.

Perfection is a mind set that masks insecurity and blinds you to the wonder and awe that emerges from the early efforts at writing your book.  If you insist that your prose be perfect right out the gate, you set the bar so high that you rob yourself of the necessary steps that strengthen your writing skills.

Striving for perfection is very different from insisting on it.  When you embrace your imperfection, you accept your humanness.

When Alexander Pope wrote “To err is human; to forgive, divine” he was urging us to forgive others. I ask you to also forgive yourself for your imperfections.

Draw comfort from the fact that the biggest part of writing a book is the rewriting. When you, your editor, copyeditor and proofreader all take their turns at massaging your manuscript, your finished book will be superior to its rough draft, but never perfect.

Take comfort from Ernest Hemingway’s words

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

Have you been blocked by the quest for perfection? How did you get past it?

If you’re ready to conquer your fear of screwing up the book you want to write, let me be your companion on your writing  journey. Tackle the biggest hurdle to writing your book: getting started.

Start now while it’s on your mind with my e-course, Rockin’ My Book. In this affordable 4-week course you receive in your emailbox one lesson per week for four weeks with instructions, homework and encouragement. Feel the joy of being a published author. Enroll in this on-demand course.
The course starts as soon as you register.