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Publish Your Way! BelieversBookServices provides professional publishing services for today's independent author.




Filtering by Category: Self Publishing

In the end, it's work.

andrew mackay

How about some good news? There's never been a better time in history to be a writer. That's truth. In fact, you can read lots of blogs and newsletters that will tell you just that. So, today, I'm going to give you the other side:

Successfully publishing is hard work.

You hear this less commonly, but it's no less true. It's simply hard work to write, market, and connect with an audience.

Sometimes we forget what success might look like. I was reminded of this while reading a blog post about hilarious stories from successful musicians. Success looks like hard work. Success sometimes carries tragedy and disappointment with it. Success often means hearing no a million times.

That's not failure. It's success. Failure:

Failure is the person who thinks, I should write, but never does.
Failure is the person who says, "The manuscript is in the drawer," and never gets it out.
Failure is the person who hears no once, and calls it a career.

Success, though:

Success means delivering great content, even if the audience is small.
Success means putting thought into each piece of writing.
Success means getting back on the horse after you're thrown off, especially metaphorically.
Success means hard work.

Here's to your success in 2016!

We love helping you publish. Merry Christmas!

Good Design Starts on the Spine

andrew mackay

In the image above, you see the reality of physical book sales. Most often, you don't get the benefit of your book being face-out on the shelf. Most of the time, your readers are going to first engage your book based on the spine.

Depressing? A little, especially if you've got a fantastic cover and a sorry spine. Sadly, I see sorry spines all the time.

So, what makes a good spine? Three things:


If you can't read the text on the spine of your book, who is it serving? It doesn't matter how much you love that typeface, if it's illegible, it's worse than useless: it's confusing. Fix it. Choose to serve your readers through clarity.

This gets particularly difficult if the spine of your book is tiny. Thin spines are really hard to put text on it. Don't try. You'll be glad you didn't.


Contrast, brightness, big, readable type. All of these things help your spine to make an impact across the room. This really dovetails into the clarity point — if it's easy to read, it's good. If it's hard to read, it's hard to sell.


I know you were waiting for this one. Creativity matters, even on the spine. Maybe especially on the spine. But, creativity is best when it stays within wise limits. So, a creative integration of the front cover treatment is great. If your background can wrap around attractively, it doesn't just help the visual, it also helps minimize the visibility of variances within the printer's work. Incorporate a logo that represents your brand.

Bottom line: get creative, but remember that clarity and visibility are more important than creativity!

For the Love of Print

andrew mackay

I grew up with a love for print. I loved books, but I loved print itself, too. I remember visiting my dad's place of work. He was a cut-and-paste man in a print shop. If you know a little about printing, you know that hearkens back to a time before computers were the core of printing. The thing I remember most about that visit is the smells. The way we do the work may have changed, but the smell of ink and paper hasn't.

Fast-forward to the start of my publishing career. That wasn't that long ago. Believe it or not, though, at that time, eBooks weren't a consideration at all. They were simply not a thing. I've been fortunate to be at the front of the eBook revolution. It's fun, but it's not without its challenges.

Building a good publishing strategy that encompasses eBooks and print is essential to your success as a publisher. No matter your genre, eBooks have made an impact. What does vary by genre is just how much of your audience is buying eBooks. Some genres (especially over on the non-fiction side) hover at under 20%. That means without a print strategy, you're missing 80% of your market. Of course, the numbers get better in certain genres. You could reach as much as 55% of your audience with an eBook-only strategy. That's impressive, but there's still 45% of your audience being neglected.

Recently, of course, many in the industry have celebrated the apparent plateau of eBook sales numbers. There may be something to those numbers. The slowdown may also be a result of eBook prices skyrocketing in recent months. It's hard to say. One thing that seems true, at least for now, is that you need a comprehensive print and eBook strategy.

In publishing, things are always changing. The smell of a printed book hasn't changed, though. That's comforting for this son-of-a-printer.

If you need help, whether with your print strategy or your eBook strategy, we'd love to chat.

We love helping you publish.

Know Your Category

andrew mackay

Selling books in online environments means understanding and aiming for your audience. It's hard to understate the importance of placing your book in the right categories. Here are some reasons why:

- One of the worst things that can happen to your book is ending up in the hands of the wrong reader. Even a good romance won't thrill the heart of most sci-fi readers. You want to be in the right category. It does you no good to mis-label:

- Amazon and most other retailers often display results based on how the books that fit the query are selling. If you're selling well, for instance, in the Fantasy category, you'll show up higher in searches that fit that category.

- Some categories are pretty small. Others are huge. Knowing which category is the right fit allows you to be in with the "right kind" of books.

- On occasion, you might have a book that appeals across a couple of categories. Getting in front of those different readers matters.

So, when it's time to pick categories, stop; research; then make decisions. Don't rush!



How Much Should I Stress Over My Content?

andrew mackay

Okay, look: we believe in editing. When we meet an indie author who feels like their books are under-performing, the first question we ask is, "Did you have your book edited?"

We believe in editing. It's easy to get your head around the value of a great cover -- if the cover is bad, no one will pick the book up. But editing, what does it do for your readers? Here's how I explain it: an unedited or poorly edited book will almost never get a word-of-mouth recommendation. Good editing is the most effective long-term marketing strategy I've ever met. You can only expect to convince so many people to read your book. But if your book is poorly edited, those people won't ever talk about your book to anyone else.

So, how much should you stress over your content?

The only right answer is a lot. Too much.

Now, there's a caveat that needs to go here: It is possible to get frozen up about your content. It's possible to worry that it'll never be good enough. it's possible to lose your ability to separate yourself from the need for your content to be very good. So, you have to know when to quit.

But you cannot afford to go to market with unedited or poorly edited content. You've got to spend time on making it as good as it can possibly be. How can you do it?

- Hire professionals

We believe in the power of professional editors. An editor is someone whose bread and butter is helping authors create great content. They understand the market, they understand the rules and conventions of the market. And they come alongside and help you be better than you could ever be on your own.

- Crowd Source

I feel like this method is finally starting to get the credit it's due. More and more people are talking about beta readers, or using a group of readers to gather feedback. This can be tremendously beneficial in two areas. First, readers can help you identify "that doesn't make sense," problems in your story. Secondly, they can help you catch the dumb errors you'll overlook when you're reading the same content for the seven-hundredth time. Use your friends! Wait... that sounds wrong.

- Develop great instincts

Self-editing is really hard. In fact, I think it's dangerous when publishing professionals allow authors to think they can effectively edit themselves. You'll never be able to identify ALL your own blind spots. But you can learn to identify more and more of your blind spots. You do this by reading technical books about good writing and good editing. But more importantly, you do it by reading great books and developing an ear for great writing.

How much should you stress over your content? Lots. I promise, the remaining stigma around indie-publishing would completely disappear if every indie author decided to obsess over really great content.