The Window of Opportunity

Recent books I've designed

Books are magic. I’ve discussed that in some detail here. I use the word ‘magic’ in it’s right use, I believe, meaning ‘something that has an extraordinary effect whose mechanism we don’t understand’.

That’s how it is with books. If someone is an author, we think of them as the authority on the subject. We think of them as something special. We will pay more for their advice.

The reason we respect authors and their books is because we know deep down that it’s an amazing thing to get published. Aside from the actual writing, you have to be picked up by a ‘publisher’ who, in recognising your talent and greatness, verifies and validates your work. A published book has been approved by several experts who know a good book when they see it. A published book has gone through a process of peer review. Only the very best get published. A published book is a proper book. An unpublished book is like an unsigned rock band: if they were any good they’d have got a deal.

But there’s a problem. Now, almost, anyone can get a book out. It requires a little bit of skill and knowledge, but not much. Anyone can get a book ‘published’. All that requires is the tiny bit of know-how. It’s shockingly easy.

So what does that do to the magic of books? What does that do to our admiration for the published author? Does it mean that there’s a window of opportunity that having a published book still counts as cool, but in a short while when more people realise how easy it is, that glory will be undermined. So you’ve got a book out? So what?

We call it democratization. A leveling of the playing field. Now, more people can get into the previously invite-only members club of publishing. So what will happen next? Will the magic be undone?

Let’s have a look at previous democratisations for the answer. Here are a few:

Photography was the domain of the professional expert from its invention in the late 1800s until around the 1950s. Then it entered the domain of the committed hobbyist who had the cash to invest in it. Then cheap instamatic cameras and Polaroids in the 1970s opened it up to everyman. Now, ridiculously cheap digital cameras in recent years has made everyone a photographer. But there’s still a place for the photographic expert…

Filmmaking follows the same pattern. You needed serious cash to make films, even on consumer Super8 cinefilm up until the 1980s. Then VHS cameras, MiniDisc, digital tapes and then hard drives made everyone a filmmaker. But television programmes and movies are still made by committed professionals.

Graphic Design was one solely the domain of the draughtstman, illustrator or typographer. Their tools were indian ink, marker pens and lead. Desktop publishing became a reality only in the early 1990s when the tools changed to computers and software. The PC became cheaper. Ready made clip art appeared. Everyone can now be a graphic designer. But if having affordable professional tools was the answer, every Church magazine in the land would look like a quality periodical like those on the shelves in WH Smiths. Every PowerPoint presentation would inspire and compliment a speech perfectly. Every poster or flyer produced would be worthy of being framed and have prints sold in those poster shops. But clearly they aren’t.

Just as with photography, filmmaking and graphic design, having the right tools and the right methods does not create greatness in itself. You still have to create a quality piece. Quality work is produced by dedication, persistence, practice, research, willingness to learn, experience and perhaps a few other factors.

It’s likely that the world will become awash with new books written by new authors. But the magic will remain, but change form. Democratisation means everyone can do it, but it also means that we can’t and won’t rely on third party endorsement alone. The democratisation of publishing means we now have the power as writers to publish and as readers to judge for ourselves what is worth reading. The external filter has gone so we have to filter for ourselves.

More television channels gave us more telly. But it didn’t give us more good telly. Self publishing will give us more books to choose from, but not necessarily many more good books.

This is why, more than ever we have to focus on quality. Our books must be brilliant. They must look brilliant. Just being ‘published’ will soon not be enough…

Don’t just do a book – make it a good book.

This article came out of a conversation I had with Howard from www.oxfordcomputerservice.co.uk.

Learn more about writing and publishing your book:
www.thekudoseffect.com

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book: www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
www.aydinstone.com

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Just do me a cover…

Recent books I've designed

This is the mistake so many people have made. They treat their book cover as another graphic design job and that gives them three choices:

  1. They can do it themselves. Unless they have typographical expertise and knowledge of composition, layout skills as well as the technical issues involved, the result is likely to be less than remarkable.
  2. They can get it done cheaply. This may result in the same outcome as above, or perhaps give something ok, average or unuseable. A cheap designer is either inexperienced or isn’t prioritising the job as they have better things to do. Even if it’s ‘a mate’, many people run into trouble as the designer has to prioritise paid work, it’s just a fact of life. Either way, there’s a risk that the wonderful expertise promoting work that your book should be, may go out in the world a bit lackluster.
  3. They could spend a lot of money on it.

But all this is missing the point. The cover of your book is not just another graphic design job that needs to be ticked off in the same way that you need a plasterer to do the walls of your house. It’s not someone coming to fix the radiators or make the sandwiches. It’s not like insurance where you get the cheapest quote you can. It’s not even something that the more you pay the better the result. It’s not something you have to get out of the way in order to publish your book.

Your cover IS the book.

You think that the hard slog of writing, the early mornings, the late nights, the rushing to meet your deadline, the painful editing, the writers blocks and the years of research and experience is your book. It isn’t.

The clever title that communicates the message of the book, the relevant and neat typography of the title and subtitle and the metaphor contained within the image or graphics on the cover – that’s your book.

To put it another way: the COVER is your book.

In fact, many best-selling expert authors suggest that the first thing you do when you’re about to write the book is to not write the book but design the cover. With the cover you can gauge interest in the book and take advance orders for the book (i.e. sell it before you’ve written it).

A book with a cover is a real book (even if it doesn’t yet exist as a book). This is part of the magic of publishing and how books are embedded into our consciousness. Today, more than ever, the concept of the cover transmits the Big Idea that can arrest and hold busy minds whose attention is eager to flit to something else.

We don’t have time to wait till chapter 3 before we reveal our purpose to our readers. We can’ even rely on them getting it in the introduction. We have to get it to them right there up front with the cover, through the use of the right words, images and colours.

Once that eye of attention of our potential reader settles on our cover we have only a fraction of a millisecond for the image we have created to inspire neurons to fire in the mind of the observer. If the meaning and significance transmitted is unclear, dull and uninspired, the eye of attention will move on. If on the other hand it shines, causes an itch, invokes curiosity, intrigue, humour or hints at a solution, the image in the eye triggers a cascade of neurons to fire. This in turn makes new connections in the eye of the beholder which shoots a message from the deep unconscious to the conscious that says quite simply: find out more.

That’s the purpose of the cover. It’s a visual consciousness magnetic neural network triggering mechanism. And to create one of those you need more than a ‘graphic designer’.

To create one of those you need more than to just say that oh-so-underwhelming instruction, “just do me a cover”.

People won’t judge you by your wit on page 230. They won’t judge you by your startling conclusion. They won’t judge you by your extensive research and experience in the field. They will judge you first by what they see. And what they see is your cover.

Make it worth seeing.

Learn more about writing and publishing your book:
www.thekudoseffect.com

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book: www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
www.aydinstone.com

How to Beat Bedlam in the Boardroom and Boredom in the Bedroom by Jane Gunn

Bedlam Boardroom Jane Gunn

Jane Gunn is a lawyer and speaker on conflict resolution as ‘the Corporate Peacemaker’. her book was a comprehensive collection of her expertise on how to resolve conflict in the boardroom in business and at home with family and personal relationships. The concept of the book is that the two are inter-related; problems in the office affect relationships at home and vice-versa.

The title came early on. It’s long and a bit of a tongue twister for some. But as Jane was writing the early drafts of the book, the title seemed to resonate with those she was working with. It’s weaknesses of being long and odd made it stand out. It also gave an impression alluding to something salacious. This too became an advantage.

Jane was keen that the book had a solid feel. After all, the topic was serious and her reputation and experience was in law, quite a sensible and serious profession. As the brand for the book was going to be, from the start, used by her to promote her speaking, it had to straddle this respectable ‘weight’, with the novelty of the Bedroom/Boardroom metaphor and Jane’s personal brand. The result was to wrap the book in what looks like black leather. It give it a seriousness and alludes to the depth of legal expertise that the book draws on. The other colours on there are gold and pink. They certainly stand out and give a hint of the quirkiness and personality of the way the book is written.

Jane Gunn

When the title for the book is written out as a sentence it can be perceived as being ‘difficult to read’. This is of course a nonsense. It’s no harder to read than any other sentence. What’s different here is that the title is not short and punchy. This means that the brain can’t capture it in one glance and process it. You have to actually read it. So it’s not difficult to read – it just needs to be read. By stacking the words in the square block I managed to mitigate this. So now a glance at the book gave you the black leather, the gold and pink and a block ‘logo’ of text with Bedroom and Boardroom prevalent.

Inside the book, the layout is clear, clean and fresh. Flicking through, the potential reader sees that the book is easy to read and yet has a lot to read. The separate sections of personal stories, information and examples of bedroom and boardroom mishaps and solutions are clearly delineated with attractive use of boxes and shading. It proves that in most cases, a lot can be done with good typography and greyscale within a business book. There is often no call for colour unless images depend upon it.

With the production of the book we opted for a couple of extra features that helped add gravitas. They are small things but have really contributed to the success of the book. The cover is matt laminated. It feels cool and smooth to the touch. The logo block has a shiny coating (applied by a process known as UV). This means when you run your fingers over the cover you ‘feel’ the difference in finish as well as see it. The pink on the cover was applied as a ‘spot’ colour, i.e.. a pure ink rather than a colour mixed from the four colour process. This has a subtle advantage of making the pink brighter than it otherwise would have been.

The other treat that the book employs is that the cover has 100mm flaps folded inside. This not only allows more surface area for colour (we added a large portrait photo of Jane, and varnished that with UV too) but it also thickens the cover giving an impression that you are really holding a hard back book and not a paperback.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:
www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.sunmakers.co.uk
www.aydinstone.com



Book myth: I will make money from selling my book

No you won’t. Mike Southon wrote the best selling business book in the UK, ‘The Beermat Entrepreneur’. He often says that he made little money from the millions of copies that were sold. If he didn’t make anything from sales of millions, you certainly won’t with a print run of a few thousand.

If you want to make a little bit of money don’t waste time courting big publishers. Self-publish it so you can sell copies yourself and keep all the money. If you do a good talk you might sell a dozen at the back of the room. You might be able to pre-sell a batch into a conference so every delegate has a copy. You might shift a few copies from your website. You’ll make some good pocket money that way. But if you add up the cost of producing the book. Not just the design and printing but the writing and the selling, the postage and packing, you’ll find that you’ll have made fresh all.

So why is Mike Southon still so excited about his book? It’s because of what the book did for him. It positioned him as an expert who could now make personal appearances for money: talks, workshops, conferences, consultancy and coaching. It opened doors for him to meet and work with a host of other successful people. It meant he became highly regarded as a columnist.

You won’t make money from you selling the book. You will make money from the book selling you.

Get the free e-book ‘How to Make Your Book Look Rubbish‘ here: www.sunmakers.co.uk

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:
www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.sunmakers.co.uk
www.aydinstone.com


Rubbish looking books are selfish

How to make your book look rubbish

Get the free e-book "How to Make Your Book Look Rubbish" here: http://www.sunmakers.co.uk

Most self-published books are rubbish. Or at least they look like rubbish. By rubbish I mean garbage, trash, litter, junk, waste. Let’s take it further: excrement.

Some self-published books might have some good content in. They might. But who cares? They look like pap. Let’s face it. If the author couldn’t be bothered to package the content properly, what level of care do we assume went into the information contained within. Would you look forward to enjoying a sandwich if it was wrapped in toilet paper? You’d assume, quite rightly that there was a risk that the food was less than palatable, perhaps even poisonous. We judge a book by it’s cover too. And quite rightly so.

If you’ve ever bought an Apple product you know they have spent an awful lot of time and effort on making the unboxing of it a wonderful experience. The author of that cruddy looking self-published book didn’t give two hoots about your reading experience. All they cared about was their own content. How selfish is that?

They used to make me laugh. Now they make me sick. Here’s why.

Producing a cruddy book is selfish and arrogant. It’s as if the pig ignorant author is so haughty that they believe you should perceive them as an expert based on such flimsy evidence. It’s like they just couldn’t be bothered. But they would probably expect you to pay them extortionate fees for their consultant service or whatever new-media snake oil they’re flogging. Now they’re offering you something that’s going to lower the tone of your bookshelf.

It’s also selfish to the rest of us who really want to use self-publishing to deliver our excellent books to our audiences. The self-obsessed cheapskates are ruining the marketplace for us. Sooner or later, when people who hear your book was self-published may assume it’s total tut before they’ve even seen it.

This is why your books and products must not look like they are self-published. It’s not hard. You wouldn’t go to a business meeting dressed in a previously used big bag, so why send your expertise out in one?

Get the free e-book ‘How to Make Your Book Look Rubbish‘ here: www.sunmakers.co.uk

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.aydinstone.com

Image is everything

Everyone loves the Royal Family. Or at least they do now. We saw that wonderful wedding. What a lovely couple. The Queen has gone to Ireland. What a nice old lady she is. It was only a month or so ago when nobody gave a monkey’s. So what’s changed? The Royal Family hasn’t changed. We’ve changed. We’ve changed the way we think about them. We’ve shifted our old view of staid, old and irrelevant to something else. They suddenly seem exciting, vital, relevant, nice.

So how did they do it? Was it by delivering clever sound bites? Was it great oration, wonderful storytelling? Was it by giving great case studies, testimonials? Was it by giving the top tips on this or that or the answers to some carefully compiled FAQs? Was it a re-telling of a story of triumph over adversity? Did they climb a mountain or win an award or medal? Did they have a hit record or tell some great jokes? Were they top TV pundits or political insiders? Was it particular industry information that they gave us or insight into the future? Was it tips on psychology, fitness or weight loss support? Did they deliver cutting edge info on NLP? Did they teach us how to sell, how to increase profits, be more creative, use social media?

No. They did none of these things. They did nothing. Said nothing. They just looked good.

You’re probably used to crafting your speech, delivering your training or providing your consultancy. But when it comes to your book, you need to really think, really think about image. Image makes people feel. If they don’t feel good, or whatever the relevant emotion is for the right state of mind for them to take on and read your book, it will all have been for nothing.

You have to start thinking like this or you’re just in the vanity publishing game. If you really think it’s all about the words you’ve written just email it to your readers. Just take it down the local photocopy shop and print out a load of copies of your Word doc and stick a spiral comb down the side. If you think image isn’t important why do you want to waste time making it into a book?

People judging a book by its cover? Forget that. The cover IS the book. The stuff in between is just padding whose sole purpose is to separate the front cover from the back.

Get the free e-book ‘How to Make Your Book Look Rubbish‘ here: www.sunmakers.co.uk

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:
www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.sunmakers.co.uk
www.aydinstone.com



Why people don’t write their business book

The main reason people spurn the idea of writing their own business book is the often erroneous belief that they can’t see a connection between their business and a book. They can’t see how it could serve their business by being about something people will want to read. I’ve helped quite a variety of business people write a book, from many different industries and specialist areas where you wouldn’t have immediately thought it would work, and yet it has.

The main reasons people don’t start their book are because they:

– Don’t have what they think is a good enough idea
– Don’t think they have enough material
– Think they have too much material and don’t know how to structure it
– Don’t think it’s important enough to allocate time to
– Just don’t like writing
– Think they’re no good at writing
– Think the process is too complicated or will take too long
– Fear of success, it could take them out of a comfort zone
– Laziness and lack of discipline
– Don’t know how to do it

All of these can be condensed into one straightforward and damming reason:

People don’t write and publish their own book because they don’t think they’re good enough.

By that I mean they think their business knowledge is not really very good and/or they are not very talented. This is the same reason people don’t do anything; the secret fear of not thinking they’re good enough.

If you really do believe your business is no good and that you are useless at it then we probably can’t help you. You need to go and read some other experts books and learn something. Go and visit a psychologist and get to the bottom of why you feel so useless.

But if there’s a glimmer of hope that you do have some expertise or knowledge that is of value to people then everyone of those reasons listed above can be overcome.

So why write a book? The more you think about it the obvious it becomes. If you have a book about your expertise it makes you look even more like you know what you’re talking about. It will mean you’re more likely to be thought of as the main expert on your topic. You’ll get more bookings, more clients, more PR and more opportunities as a result. You might even make money directly from selling the book too.

If you have information, be it data, an opinion or case studies, that help people understand your offering to help turn them into an informed buyer of your products or services, then creating a business book is for you.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:
www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.sunmakers.co.uk
www.aydinstone.com


What sort of author are you?

There are certain types of authors that I’ve found and worked with. Each has advantages and disadvantages that need to be understood if a book project is to be successful. A book is like a rocket: it needs an awful lot of energy to take off and get going. It needs a constant supply of energy to overcome gravity and keep going, but once it’s in orbit it will move all on its own. Here is a list of the types I’ve found:

The Creator/Collectors: these people love creating stuff. They love having stuff in their hands. You’ll probably find their homes and offices full of books. And not just the obvious ones. They probably quite like nice looking, luxurious hardbacks. Those beautiful ‘coffee table’ books. They probably haven’t read many of them, but love having them.

Advantages: Have a strong desire to hold their book in their hands and see it on the shelf.

Disadvantages: May put form over function and create a beautiful product that doesn’t do anything

The Self-Help Junkie: these people will devour every theory that comes along. E Myth? NLP? 7 habits? Robbins? Rich Dad? Who Moved My Cheese? They have not only read them all, they can quote you passages from them.

Advantages: They know how books work.

Disadvantages: Could unconsciously regurgitate old messages or be far too aware of them all and be paralysed, unable to come up with something original.

The Consultant: They know their stuff. Possibly have their own unique material or way of doing things after years in practice. Tend to be practical. Like things to happen quickly. Often overlook or have little experience in marketing.

Advantages: They have a wealth of material and can explain it well.

Disadvantages: See writing as a chore. Tend to turn their exciting material into dull tips sheets, excluding their personality.

Give Sunmakers a call to help identify what are your own strengths and weakness and will help overcome objections and problems you have with your book idea with tactics and strategies. It will give ideas to help formulate a worthwhile purpose, agenda and business plan for you book. It will give ideas to help create an interesting metaphor to give the book that wow factor and will inspire and motivate you to begin, to keep going and to finish as well as giving information on how to publish, produce, promote and proliferate your finished book.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:
www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.sunmakers.co.uk
www.aydinstone.com