Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Covers for Business Books

"A look back at the best business books of 2009"

"Business Monday books columnist Richard Pachter offers his highly subjective list of favorites"

See Richard Pachter's complete article in the Miami Herald,

From Susan Kendrick

The end of the year is a great time to look back and see what books stand out as having the most impact in their markets. I ran across this best-of list by Richard Pachter this morning on the Miami Herald website. I'm passing along his picks because they offer insight into what makes good book covers for business books.

In other words, while Pachter focuses on the content and usefulness of these books, my interest (and my reason for passing them along to you) is in their packaging.

I started looking for these covers on Amazon, eager to see what they looked like. I got excited when I saw that these book covers do the three things every good cover should do. They each incorporate the following:

-- Clear, compelling book titles and subtitles
-- Book cover design that brings that title to life
-- The marriage of text and design that establishes a strong verbal and visual brand

Interestingly, these covers also help answer two questions a good client of ours, a first-time business book author, recently asked us. They are:

1. What colors work for business books?

Notice how four out the five books shown here are predominantly white. They have that clean, powerful, authoritative appeal of books like Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers, as well as his newest book, What the Dog Saw.

While it may seem easy enough to come up with such simple concepts, it isn't. There are far too many business books still coming out that are cluttered and dated looking--these are the "teal green carpet" of the book cover world. in fact, I ran across an interesting article on this phenomenon called Why Are Business Book Covers so Ugly? This article is worth reading for a look at the book covers and for the comments from readers that offer some interesting input as to why.

2. What sells more business books--a text-only or more illustrative cover?

See how the books shown here are largely text-driven, with the exception of Bailout Nation as well as the iconic Twitter book, where it makes sense to incorporate the ubiquitous visual brand.

The rest of the graphics on these books are relatively simple. No cliche landscapes, horizons, mazes, soaring eagles, or any combination of these (yes, this still happens). Any graphics take a single-shot approach--there is a singular visual message that directly supports the title and the concept of the book.

Of course, this doesn't mean that all business books should be white or predominately text-driven. The particular book title and book cover design for every book should be carefully determined based on a number of factors, including: the target market for the book, what appeals to that audience, if the book needs to stand out in a crowded market or create and dominate a new niche right from the start, how well the brand (if any) is already known, how and where the book will be marketed, etc.

Even while there is no "right" answer for what kind of book cover works best, one look at these covers reveals some definite trends, and from major publishing houses like Wiley and Random House.

Each of these books also demonstrates that the best book covers have billboard appeal. They are bold, professional, and they make a strong, singular statement--in both book cover writing and design. They are good examples for any author of how great business book brands are born.

Questions about the how to create the writing or design concepts for your book and brand? Email us at or call 1-888-634-4120.

Susan Kendrick, Write To Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 1-888-634-4120.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Professional Critique and Consultation Package

Year-End Special -- One Week Only

For you ... or a great gift for a colleague, friend, or client
(Click on the box to open.)

Happy Holidays!
What a busy time of year, so we'll keep this short and sweet.

Here's your special year-end package. We offer this super-low pricing
only twice a year, for one week only.

-- Order now and deduct it on your 2009 taxes
-- Use it any time in the next 12 months, whenever you're ready
Use it yourself or gift it to a colleague, friend, or client

Offer expires December 29

Please click on the link below for details.

What are you working on next?
Creating A Brand . Re-Branding Your Business . Book Cover .
Website . Call-To-Action . Media Materials . Speaker's Kit .
Business Name and Tagline . Social Media Outreach

Whether you're an emerging or established author, expert, speaker,
entrepreneur, this package can help you. Check it out.

Warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday with family and friends,
Susan Kendrick and Graham Van Dixhorn

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Book Cover Testimonials? No Problem

Create Powerful Book Marketing Copy-- Even When You Don't Have Big-Name Endorsements

Susan Kendrick

Click on image at left to see final front cover and back cover sales copy for this new book, released November 11, 2009.

A big concern for authors and experts is getting endorsements. You add credibility to your business, books, products, services, consulting, and speaking when you have recognizable names or organizations behind you.

"A testimonial from a well-known industry expert can be a powerful addition to your book's cover. However, for a first time author these can be difficult to land," says Steve Pavilanis, author of A Life Less Anxious. Steve did end up getting an endorsement from an author / expert in his field that he used on the front cover. The back cover, however, relies solely on solid marketing copy.

Getting testimonials, especially from big-name industry experts and authors, is a process that takes time for an author. Because many authors and experts are publishing books to meet specific goals and deadlines, they often don't have the time, even when they do start the process early. In that case, know that there are at least 10 essential marketing elements that you can use to build your back cover copy, and just one of these relies on having testimonials.

Steve's book is a great example of powerful back cover copywriting that does not rely on testimonials. It makes such a compelling case for the message in the book and the authority of the author that you don't even notice. What would actually be worse is adding a quote from a "nobody," someone that means nothing to your readers or other decision-makers. Those kinds of quotes can be dangerous in that they can actually detract from your credibility instead of add to it.

Use These Same Book Marketing Copy Tactics on Your Book Cover

Take a closer look at the back cover copy
that my partner, Graham Van Dixhorn, wrote for this book. Analyze the headline, the opening positioning paragraph, the conversational style, the bullet points, the feeling of this book marketing copy being fresh yet authoritative, intelligent yet accessible. Even if you are not looking for the particular solutions that this book offers, you can see how it would appeal to someone eager to find answers from such a trustworthy resource.

Knowing that you have many choices for creating powerful sales copy is important, especially when you see so many books that use only testimonials as their back cover copy, to the exclusion of any other sales copy. If you'll notice, these are usually books by authors who are already well-known and widely read, and often the book is their second, third, fourth, and so on. You also see endorsements-only copy on fiction books, which is a format often used for that genre. Many of these books will have the story summary and author info on the book cover flaps.

You are different if, like so many authors and experts we work with, you are publishing a book to establish yourself as an expert in your field and you want your book to be a serious lead-generator back to you and your services. In that case, you need powerful back cover copy that does that job.

One other thought that may help is that if and when you do get the testimonials you want once your book has been released, you can add them as a high-visibility section of your website and to subsequent printings or editions of your book. You can also use those testimonials as a way to stay in touch with your list, the media, and others you want to keep updated on the success, newsworthiness, and credibility of you and your message.

If you have any questions about how to write your book cover copy or testimonials for approval, or if you have questions about how we can do that for you, please feel free to contact us at

To the success of you and your books,

Susan Kendrick, Write To Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 1-888-634-4120.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Advice for New Authors--Do These Six Things Now

A Look at One Author's Successful
Book Launch and How She Did It

By Susan Kendrick

It’s always a pleasure to feature a new book from one of our book cover and marketing clients. We couldn't be happier to see Susan Berg launch her timely and important book, Choose on Purpose for Twentysomethings: Finding Work You Love, Places to Grow, People Who Care. If you have a special twentysomething in your life, consider Susan’s book as a gift for them. It’s that good.

Hit the Road Running!

As an author, take a look around Susan Berg’s Choose on Purpose™ website. It’s a good example of how you can have an all-in-one book and brand presence, actively promote your book and your services, and engage on many levels with your online visitors.

Even better, in this article you hear directly from Susan Berg about what she’s been doing to not only successfully market her book, but to use her new book to get speaking engagements, be invited as a featured guest on a national webcast, line up workshops, be a guest blogger, and more.

What’s Working for This New Author Can Work for You

After going back and forth with Susan Berg over the last few months about all the good things that are coming together for her, she and I compiled the following list of marketing musts that are working for her and can work for you, too. Check out what Susan Berg has to say about her book-marketing journey.

1. Submit Your Book for Review

… For attention from Library Journal, B&N, and others
“On the book front,” says Susan Berg, “some very good news. Both Barnes & Noble college and retail have approached me to sell the book in stores. We're very excited about this, as the book made it through those high walls all by itself. That’s the book cover copywriting and design at work. I also got a review from Library Journal. According to Dan Poynter, that can be good for sales of anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 books. I'll take it!”

… The American Marketing Association
“More good news,” says Susan Berg, “is that the American Marketing Association approached me in August to do a national webcast. There were more than 1,000 people signed up from companies and colleges all over the country! The AMA even purchased 25 books to promote the webcast. I believe this invitation came through someone at the AMA keeping up on professional book reviews, and she caught the Library Journal review of my book. So, submitting your book for reviews, while it can feel futile, can pay off.”

… Twitter group following, and more
“What's also important about this AMA webcast is that we got a Twitter group following from it as well as inquiries for follow-up materials and a request to be a guest blogger. Most of all, my daughter and Chief Outreach Partner, Kirsten Berg, and I got a chance to work together. That was wonderful.”

2. Make Public Appearances

“As for getting the word out about my message, public appearances of any sort are the ticket for me. And, whether it is speaking, workshops, or presentations, the book is my calling card.

The Media
“One outlet for connecting with the media has been HARO (Help A Reporter Out). For someone like me who doesn't want to invest in a paid newswire service while they’re still learning the ropes, it’s a way to see what kinds of stories and interviews people are looking for. I have gotten interviews through HARO, so again, that’s something that has been worth trying. The media kit (go to “Media Downloads” on this page) you and Graham developed for me has been invaluable in getting these interviews."

Speaking Engagements
“All the speaking engagements I am getting I have gone after myself. My media kit and of course my website have been a big help for showing who I am and what I can do. I work through my contacts to find people willing to talk to me, then I meet with them and propose a speaking engagement. Other new authors and speakers should know that it can be a lot of leg work, and you have to be patient. It usually takes weeks to get the appointment, then months to actually have a speaking engagement. For example, a friend who works at a liberal arts college introduced me to the director of the Career Center in July. In August she agreed to schedule me to speak. I will be conducting the workshop in early November."

More on the Power of Speaking for Authors:
For more information on the effect speaking can have on your book sales, see my last post, “The ‘Rules of Fives’ for Successful Book Marketing.” If you would like more information on how to create a speaker one sheet to promote yourself to meeting planners and speakers bureaus, contact us and we’ll walk you through the components of a typical speaker’s kit. As Susan Berg mentioned, above, the media kit we created for her (again, see “Media Downloads”) can double as a speaker's kit, at least in getting started.

3. Connect With Colleagues

“The other thing that is working for me,” says Susan Berg, “is ‘top of mind’ phone calls to colleagues with whom I have been out of touch. I don't ask for a thing. I call only with the intention to reconnect. But, what I'm finding is that my passion about the book somehow gets other people excited about getting involved. I've found, as a result, at least one opportunity for a workshop with an old colleague who will help me promote the book, as well as a new relationship with a non-profit with whom my advisory board can get involved. This helps us further promote our work. Just calling and talking to people who know you does wonders! Sometimes it generates opportunities, but it at least always results in a pick-me-up and validation for the work I'm doing. Some days, that’s enough.”

4. Get a Book Cover That Opens Doors

“As for the book cover, for me it is everything. The positive response I get to the front and back cover copywriting you created for me does its work everyday. The language is so simple; it reaches people on contact. My ability to turn that copywriting over and over into marketing sound bites and content I use on my website and elsewhere allows me to use my time more effectively. I’m not constantly re-inventing the wheel. You perfectly mirrored the book’s content with wording that is comfortable and compelling. That message, complimented by the cover graphic, is consistent with the reader’s experience throughout the book.”

Check out these links for more info on creating book titles and subtitles and for creating book back cover sales copywriting.

5. Build a Great Website

“How important is my website? CRITICAL!” says Susan Berg. “I point people to it for detailed information on me and my work. I especially have them look at the Media Room page for insight on my speaking approach. Nobody wants to look at hard copy anymore. It's all on the web. Having links to Amazon and B&N also makes me look credible. This is where the copywriting you created plays a big role. I re-use it or adapt it, so I’m not creating everything from scratch. And again, it ensures that the website mirrors the book content. You hit a home run aligning the marketing message on the book cover to the book and my work”

6. Get a Professional Media Kit

“Having a good media kit is really important. I have had several people tell me they were impressed with the thoroughness of the media kit (see media downloads) your partner, Graham, created for me. People who accepted my responses to HARO make this comment as well as publicity people. They are impressed, for example, that the kit already includes interview questions they can use. A media-friendly kit like this makes you look professional and like you know what you’re doing, even when you feel like the learning curve you are on is 100% vertical, and you're figuring things out as you go."

Whether you are in the planning stages for your book or coming down the home stretch, Susan Berg and her Choose on Purpose book, brand, book cover, website, media kit, and her experiences as a new author can help you see what you can do to successfully launch and promote your own book.


If you have any questions about anything discussed in this article or how Graham and I can help you with your book cover, website, or media kit, do not hesitate to contact us. You can also call us at 1-888-634-4120.

To the Success of You and Your Books!

Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
. 1-888-634-4120.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book Marketing: What Really Works

"The Rule of Fives" for
Successful Book Marketing

From an internationally bestselling author,
who started out with a box of books just
like everybody else.

By Susan Kendrick

Every day, there are more ways available to market your book. But, if you are a new (or not-so-new) author, you want to know what really works, or just as importantly, where you should start.

Of course, we all know there is no magic bullet when it comes to book marketing. There is not one key you can turn that will keep your books flying off your website, amazon, or bookstore shelves.

Even bestselling authors and publishing experts like Jack Canfield and John Kremer will say that it is the steady, persistent effort of doing a few things every day to market your book that wins the race.

Still, some things work better than others ... right?

I asked a good client of ours this question.
Patrick Snow, author of Creating Your Own Destiny, has been so successful that he now guides other new authors through the book publishing process. His book, completely self-published, has done so well that he just got picked up by Wiley Publishing for a two-book deal. (See more of Patrick's results below.)

"Great question and great topic," said Patrick. "The following is what I coach / teach my publishing clients." When I looked over Patrick's remarks, I thought of "The Rule of Fives" as a good way to help you remember what worked for his book, and what will work for yours, too.

5 Most Important Criteria for Creating a Bestseller

1. Author's Willingness to Promote Their Book for the Rest of Their Lives
2. Book Cover Design
3. Book Title / Subtitle
4. Introduction of Book
5. Actual Content

Want to know more or pick Patrick's brain a little? Patrick has offered to do a complimentary publishing consultation with anyone who contacts him through this article. In your email to Patrick, just mention that you heard about him on Susan's Book Cover Coaching blog. Email

Next, how to market your book ...

The Top 5 Ways to Market Your Book

My book cover copywriting partner, Graham Van Dixhorn, helped Patrick create his title, subtitle, and back cover copy back in 2001, in other words, Patrick has had plenty of time to market this book and be the judge of what works. Here are his top picks for how to successfully market your book.

1. Speaking
2. Giving Away Books to Movers and Shakers
3. Becoming Your Own Publicist
4. Selling Books to Direct Sales / MLM companies
5. Selling Foreign Rights of Book

* Plus ... social networking. "It's becoming a bigger part of book marketing," says Patrick, "but people are still seeing mixed results with this strategy. Many people believe it should be number one, and I would disagree with that, at least for now."

There it is, pretty straightforward. That is a list you can get to work on right now. But, Patrick didn't stop there; he is
passionate about this topic of book publishing and book marketing.
He continued by saying this about his NUMBER ONE book marketing choice, speaking.

"The best way to promote your book is to speak
on the topic of your book as often as possible!"

The 5 Most Important Groups to Approach

Patrick confirmed that for speaking you have the following markets:

1. Corporations
2. Associations
3. Network Marketing / MLM
4. Colleges and Schools
5. Churches

Again, if you have questions, Patrick is offering a complimentary consultation to anyone who contacts him through this article (see details above).

So, now you have three Top-5 lists you can refer to every day as you market your book strategically and successfully, moving ahead based on what works. Here are those three lists again:

__ The 5 Most Important Criteria for Creating a Bestseller
__ The Top 5 Was to Market Your Book
__ The 5 Most Important Groups to Approach

More Results -- Or, What Can Happen When You Do What Works

Patrick has sold more than 150,000 copies of his book. He has been featured on the cover of USA Today and in The New York Times. When Patrick talks about his results, this is what he says: "My book cover was the best investment I ever made. Many people buy the book based on the title alone. My book cover has also catapulted my speaking career!" For more information on the writing and design principles at work on Patrick's cover and other successful authors, go to Bestselling Book Cover.

Patrick insisted we pass this on as well, because he knows first-hand what it takes to succeed in a field where it is easy to fail. "In no way would my book have had this success if it were not for the work that your company brought to the table with title, subtitle, and tagline.......and back cover copy."

If you have questions about the information in this article, especially regarding your book cover or how to get speaking engagements, please feel free to contact us, Graham and Susan by email or at 1-888-634-4120

Now, go do what works!

Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 1-888-634-4120.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How to Test Your Marketing Copy to See What Works

Part One:
Let Your List Decide

By Susan Kendrick

See "Testing Tips to Get You Started" at the end of this article!

If you are working on a critical piece of marketing copy—like a book title or subtitle, business name or tagline, headline or other branding sound bites—you can get to a place where you know you have good copy, but it may not be clear if it is the best copy.

Why can “short copy” be so tricky?

There are two good reasons. First, the kinds of short phrases mentioned above are your primary “hooks,” the most visible components of your positioning and sales copy. Everything else depends on getting this short copy right, because it has the lone job of getting people interested enough to stick with you, read the rest of your copy, and take action—to literally “buy” what you have to offer. Whether you want people to buy your books and products, speaking presentation, consulting services, or just to contact you to find out more, your copy needs to get them interested enough to take the next step.

Second, writing this type of high-performance copy requires you to step outside of your own tastes and preferences. You know the value of what you have to offer, but how do you put that in terms that matter to someone else? Another way to put this is that is awfully easy to fall in love with our own ideas. Even the well-meaning feedback of friends and colleagues will still be somewhat biased in your favor. And, more to the point, your friends and collegues may not have anything in common with your target audience and what's important to them.

To resolve both issues associated with writing effective short copy, the best thing to do is test your copy in the real world. It is easy, relatively quick, and what you learn will amaze you.

It Takes a Village

The following copy-testing technique was suggested during a group coaching session with a client of ours who was in the early manuscript stage for his book series. He wanted to nail down the subtitle for the first book so his team could move forward with his website and marketing for this new brand.

The group that came together to talk about this book and product line included the client, editor, project manager, myself, and my favorite book marketing expert, John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books.

John gave his feedback on the subtitle choices I had created for the client. There were some solid options, and what didn’t work for the subtitle would clearly make great marketing headlines and branding sound bites on the client’s website and elsewhere. The task was to choose among these good choices for the best subtitle choice. John’s advice was to test our top two choices for the subtitle this way:

Create Two Versions and Let Your List Decide

To do this yourself, select something you can offer people as a free download. If you are testing a book title or subtitle, the download can be an excerpt from the book. If you are testing a business name or tagline, headline, or other sound bite, the offer can be for a special report, evaluation, checklist, or tip sheet.

Next, position the offer as if there were two choices. For example, if you are a financial advisor, you could offer a tip sheet with your unique approach to helping families save money. You will be offering just the one tip sheet, but the offer will be made to look like there are two choices, because each will have a different title or sales headline. One could be called:

“The Official Money-Saving Handbook for Busy Families”

The other copy you test could be called:

“Money-Saving Secrets of America’s Wealthiest Families”

(Not bad for two made-up names, huh?)

Again, no matter which tip sheet people choose, they will receive the same download, but you will quickly see which marketing copy gets more results.

Testing Tips to Get You Started

If you are on the fence about a key piece of copywriting you need to market your books, products, and services, keep the following tips in mind to get the best results:

1. When testing any marketing copy, test only two versions or two copy variables at a time.

2. Whether you are working on your own or with professional copywriters like my partner, Graham Van Dixhorn and me, make sure you are testing two good pieces of marketing copy that have already been carefully developed and fine-tuned as much as possible.

3. Carefully select the free download you offer. Make sure it offers valuable information you can stand behind and are proud to circulate.

4. Offer the free download to your own list. In addition to testing your copy, doing so will help you learn more about your list and their current needs and interests. This is information that will be helpful to you in continuing to reach out to them with your products and services.

5. If possible, also send the offer out to other lists, that of a colleague or expert in a related field whose readers and subscribers would value your offer.

6. Use this testing technique only once for each download you offer. In other words, don’t test two copy versions for the tip sheet above, and then test another two versions a week later for the same tip sheet, at least not with the same list of people. You can do repeat tests with different copy variables as long as you use a different list each time.

7. Put a time limit on the offer. You want immediate feedback you can start putting to use to move forward with your marketing.

8. Allow yourself enough time to use what you learn. If you need to finalize a business name or tagline, book title or subtitle, or website headline, and you are working with other team members like a graphic artist, book cover designer, or website developer, allow time to test, choose, and have your final copy ready for them to use.

If you have questions about which marketing copy you should test, please contact us at, or call us toll-free at 1-888-634-4120.

May Your Best Copywriting Win!

Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Creating Book Titles--From Working Title to Final Title

Is Your "Working Title" a Winner ...
Or, Does It Still Need Work?

By Susan Kendrick

Recently, our friend John Eggen of Mission Publishing, a Division of The Mission Marketing Mentors, Inc., asked us to help him answer a question for one of his members about when to finalize a working book title. This is an interesting question, especially coming from John, because he does a lot to teach authors and experts how to monetize their books before they are even completed, and a good working title is an essential tool for doing this. However, John is also adamant about quality and using only a really good working title, then making sure that the final title you decide on is the absolute best for you, your topic, your market, and your revenue goals.

Here, then, is the question from John's mentoring program member and our answer.


When Should I Finalize My Book Title?"

“My book is about how living organizational core values drives success -– profits and otherwise. I’ve interviewed 14 companies who practice living their core values and have “synthesized” 5 practices underlying living core values. I have my working title, (and it is available), but the subtitle is a work in progress. I’m working on pre-sales opportunities through speaking. People keep asking about buying the book and I need to have my website up, but I don’t even have the first draft done yet. My question is, how do I know when to lock in on the final book title? The target date for the book release is January 15, 2010.”


First, Understand the Purpose of a Good Working Book Title

Just as there is expert status associated with being the author of a published book, there is a similar status involved in getting out there with news of your "forthcoming" book. Therefore, using a good working title to promote your book while you are firming up plans for your book cover does many important things for you and your book.

A good working book title enables you to talk about your "forthcoming" book in a concrete way, in your emails, on your blog, on your website, in speaking presentations, and through your consulting. In this way, it lets you start building a loyal following for your unique ideas and approach to your topic. A good working title can also help you reach out to joint venture partners who will ultimately be very important to your promotion and sales efforts. In fact, since you are still writing the book, you have the flexibility to mention or quote these experts in your book, a great incentive for them to get behind you and your message.

How to Know When It's Time to Finalize Your Book Title

But, your working title and subtitle can take you just so far. The question remains ... when do you need to settle on the final title and how do you know if it’s a winner? The answer is that you need a firm title and subtitle to move onto the book cover design stage, and you need at least a front cover to start pre-selling the book on your own or other websites. So, when your book-in-progress starts getting enough exposure through speaking engagements and other channels that people are excited about it and want to buy it, it’s time to take these next steps forward. You earn income from early sales and build on the marketing momentum that you have created.

Simple logistics also come into play. If your target release date is January 15, 2010, you will need to count back through all the publishing production steps—from printing as the final step to creating your title as the first step—to determine exactly when your title must be finalized in order for you to meet that release date. You can download a Free Book Cover Timeline that outlines these steps and how long they take at

Is Your Working Title a Winner ... Or, Does It Still Need Work?

To tell if your working title is a winner or still needs more work, check your title against the criteria below. The subtitle should also help clearly define your target audience, what they get out of it, and even how that happens. In the case of a book with a specific number of practices or steps, for example, incorporate that into your subtitle. Specifics sell. And, clarity beats cleverness any day. Your title and subtitle should create a powerful one-two punch that draws in your target audience on contact and makes them want to know more.

The Book Title Checklist

Use this quick-start checklist to see if your working book title measures up or if you need to either rethink or fine-tune it:

• Your title or your subtitle contains a keyword or keywords related to your topic
• The title is easy to say, hear, remember, and talk about
• Your book title is clear and concise, i.e. no one who hears about it or sees it, regardless of their background, will go, "Huh?"
• The title stands out from other books on this topic because of some unique feature or benefit
• It is not already taken--book titles can’t be copyrighted, but you don’t want your book confused with another one out there
• Experts in the area of book covers and book marketing give you a thumbs up
• It will give you the flexibility to create a series of related books, products, and services
• Your book title captures the attention of your target audience, which you can determine either by a focus group or online tools like Google AdWords
• Your book title creates a defining brand that will grow your reputation and your overall business

My book cover writing partner, Graham Van Dixhorn, and I create book titles, subtitles, series names, back cover copy, and more for a wide range of non-fiction books, authors, and experts. If you would like help with your book title or would like feedback on your working title, please email us at
or call 1-888-634-4120.


Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved., 1-888-634-4120.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Book Cover Critique & Consultation--What to Expect

What Really Happens During this Process?
A sneak-peek look at one author’s experience

By Susan Kendrick
A few of my next posts will show examples of how book covers get a major transformation through the critique and consultation process. We often hear from people who say they are interested in getting this kind of feedback, but are not sure what to expect. The following is a behind-the-scenes look at how this process started for self-employment expert Sara Morgan and her new book, No Limits: How I Escaped Corporate America to Live the Self-Employed Life of My Dreams."

Even when people hire us to write their book cover copy for them, they often come to us with working copy in place. Perfect. This is usually the best way to focus your efforts as you write your book and think about moving on to the book cover and marketing stage. Your working copy gets you ready to take this next step.

What to expect from a critique and consultation

The first question authors and experts usually ask is, “Will you tell me if my book cover copy and book cover design ideas really need help, or if I am doing OK?” Absolutely. If you are going strong and just need a few tweaks here and there, we will tell you. If we think you need more help, we’ll tell you that, too. That’s what the following is, my initial feedback to Sara about her cover. Some of my comments will be relevant to you and your book as well.

The Typical Email about Getting Help

Sara emailed me this question:
“I am currently 25% done with the manuscript and expect to be complete with it at the end of June. The name of the book is, "No Limits: How I escaped from Corporate America to live the life of my dreams". I have already purchased the ISBN & bar code for the book and I am working on the web site at this time.

“I have an image that I would like to use for the book's front cover design (if you think it would be appropriate—it is attached in this email) and also need help with my back cover copy.

“Please let me know whether you would be interested in helping me with this project, what your prices are, and whether you can work within my June 30th deadline.”

My Initial Response to Sara

The following is part of my first email back to Sara, to let her know what kind of help I thought she needed:

“Sara, from reading your proposed back cover copy, yours is not so much a copywriting task as much as a positioning task, so that what we will focus on in the critique and consultation is first what to say about your book and why … then how to say it.

What We Addressed and What We Changed

Title and Subtitle:
I did offer Sara feedback on her front cover as well and her back cover. Her proposed title/subtitle was: "No Limits: How I Escaped from Corporate America to Live the Life of My Dreams."

“Sara, your proposed title 'No Limits' is already being used by a host of other books, including one just released by Michael Phelps,
While book titles cannot be copyrighted, and you can certainly use 'No Limits,' ideally you want to create an original new presence of your own and also avoid having your book being confused with any others.”

Sara had a very strong connection with her No Limits title, as it was a mantra of sorts for her during some major transitions in her life and what she uses in her work with clients. The nature of a critique and consultation process is that the author is asking for feedback and so is, in the end, responsible for his or her own decision about how to use that feedback.

What Sara did do was use my suggestion to tweak her subtitle, so that it included the words, “Self-Employment.” Now the book has the clarity plus key words it needs to reach out to her very well-defined target market. “Self-employment” is a highly ranked term in the search engines for her topic. Adding this keyword to her title/subtitle combo gives a major boost to Sara's search engine visibility.

Back Cover Copy:
On her back cover, Sara needed to show why her book is so relevant to her target audience. It needed to be much more tightly positioned and the copy needed to be stronger and more focused.

First, get the headline right

Sara’s headline was a series of three questions. One compelling question is fine, but three can be tricky and are often simply too much to process. All three questions were also the kind that generate only a yes-no response, so if you hit it wrong and get a “no” response from the prospective buyer, you paralyze the selling process. There was no reason to keep reading. You’ve missed your first big opportunity to really grab someone’s attention.

Drill down to the particulars

“Sara, when your headline asks, 'What’s holding you back?' my immediate response is, 'from what …?' It's also like the question, 'what’s keeping your stuck?' that has become so overused at this point. You need to drill down to the particulars and deliver it in a fresh but authoritative way.

Your back cover headline should draw people into the rest of your copy. It should pique interest, surprise, alarm, make them smile, etc. Simply put, it should engage them. Your back cover is a conversation. Be the one in the room they want to listen to. Keep the conversation dynamic. Make your potential buyer expectant and hopeful that you are the expert and have the solution they’re looking for. Remember, people will only spend 10-15 seconds total looking over your back cover. Make every word count.

More Tough Love at Work

… More from my first email back to Sara:
“Overall, the rest of the back cover copy feels general and somewhat vague. It does not relate to me as the potential reader/buyer and my present situation. Nor, does it outline why this book is the solution. Remember, people seek out non-fiction books as a way to answer a question or solve a problem. What I’m not getting is who exactly this book is for?

- Is it for the person toying with the idea of leaving corporate America?
- Is for the person who, no matter what their present circumstance, wants to have more control over their time, energy, finances, location, etc.?
- Is it for the person who already has an idea or product and wants to take the next step?

“Why this book, and why now?”

“Your bullets, too, seem to span the spectrum from getting inspired, to making a move, to the hard core particulars of taxes and insurances. From your description of the book on the phone, and from the testimonial you showed me, the sense I get is that you what you supply is the inspiration and the examples necessary to get beyond the “dreaming about” stage to having the courage to make the move that either your gut or your present life circumstances tell you is the break you’re looking for. For example, there are whole books dedicated specifically to the logistical details of self-employment—see this amazon link,
What is unique and special about YOUR book. Why this book, and why now?

“And, what happened to your story? That fact that you have done this, and provide examples of other people in the book who have also done this from and to a variety of work scenarios, is key to this book. Make sure that shows up on the back cover.

Be aware of other books on your topic

“Also, as an ‘expert’ on your topic, you need to be aware of other books out there directed at your target market. One reason is to position your book as a unique resource (and be able to clearly differentiate that offering on your book cover, website, etc.) Another reason is to seek out potential joint venture partners who reach out to the same target audience that you do but with a different set of non-competing tools and resources.”

De-clutter your copy

Sara and I are still working together in a consultative relationship. Right now we are fine-tuning her press release. Sara is a joy to work with because she definitely “gets it,” but just needs some “tough love” to help her focus and let her best marketing copy rise to the surface. She is one of those people who just needs someone to help her remove the clutter so that she really shines. See how Sara also followed what we teach about getting all the marketing mileage you can from your book's back cover copy by using it as the content on your book website as well.
Sara's website address, by the way, was developed using the advice in this article about how to register a domain name for your book when your book title is already taken as a domain name.

The last word … from Sara Morgan

"Susan's initial guidance and advice was invaluable to me. She patiently listened to me ramble on about what I was planning and then after reflecting over what I was trying to accomplish and who I was, she offered brilliant advice that just nailed what I needed to do next."

Sara Morgan’s new book is am terrific resource and her cover copy and design is light years from where it started. If you’d like to know if a Critique & Consultation is right for your book cover, please email me at
Please put “Critique and Consultation” in the subject line.

Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved., 1-888-634-4120.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Make Sure Your Book Cover Drives Traffic to Your Website

How to Stay in Touch with Anyone
Who Buys or Even Sees Your Book

Susan Kendrick

As you may have seen from other articles and posts on this blog, we are big proponents of strategically writing your book cover to make the most of it as the lead-generating tool it is. One way is to use it to drive visitors to your website in such a way that you learn who they are and how to stay in touch with them.

Terry Whalin's new book, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, is a good example of this particular lead-generating strategy. Terry is a veteran literary agent and publishing expert. He has also become a good friend of ours in the book publishing industry. We respect him and the work he does to help authors, so are pleased to use his new book cover and his book as an example.

Think About How Things Usually Happen

Even if someone has already bought your book, there is no guarantee that they will ever visit your website. And, unless someone buys the book from your website--if they buy it on Amazon, in a store, or from a catalogue, for example--you will never know who they are or how to stay in touch with them about what else you have to offer.

Furthermore, when people do visit your website, you need to have a strategy in place for finding out who they are how to let them know about your other products, services, special offers, teleseminars, and more. This is typically called a "name capture" device.

Here's How to Make That Happen -- Right on Your Book Cover

One of the best strategies for making sure people visit your website and give you their contact information is to include an offer right on your book cover that they have to go to your website to claim. On Terry Whalin's new book, notice the gold seal on the upper right-hand corner of the front cover that says:

$84 Value
On Page 206

This offer, of course, does two things. First, it provides an added incentive for buying the book. But the bigger picture is that is does what any good, lead-generating book cover should do; it makes people go to page 86 to find out how to get their free ebooks. What they will find on page 86 of this book (or on the inside of any book using this strategy) is the following:

_ A website address they can visit to download their free gifts.

_ On the website will be a bit of copy that says something like,"Click here to download your free ebook."

_ To complete the download, the usual steps are for the person to submit just their first name and email address.
No big commitment there.

_ Next they receive, usually by email, either the ebook download or a direct link to it.

_ And, if you're the author, what did you just receive? The name and email address of someone interested enough in what you you do to download a valuable learning tool from you.

_ And, what will you do with that information? Use it to stay in touch with this person with further information, related products and services, and more special offers.

In other words, you have just started a relationship with a new prospect who is as interested in you as you are in them.

3 More Tips for Using This Strategy

__ In the example above, Terry offers free ebooks. But, you can offer other free downloads, like a workbook, checklist, quiz, list of related resources, a teleseminar, interview with a related expert, etc.

__ Also, instead of putting the website address inside the book, you can include it right on the book cover, along with the offer. The address can be a memborable, brand-building URL that links directly to a free-standing, one-page website set up for this purpose, or to a specific page on your main website.

__ This type of offer can also be part of your book's back cover copy. Then, when you use both your front and back cover copy as your book website content, you can make turn that "sticker" or "seal" into a live link. This way, your free offer is right there with the rest of your sales copy, just as it appears on your cover, which, afterall, has been written and designed for maximum selling power. Make the most of that by using your complete front and back covers right on your website.

It's All About Building Relationships

And, relationships are the very heart of your marketing. I use Terry's book as an example because I have known Terry for a long time and respect both his expertise and the integrity with which he reaches out to authors.

"You are exactly right," said Terry when I asked him about his book cover. "That 'button' on my cover is one attempt to register every one of my readers. I've actually got a number of those elements inside my book in the "dig deeper" sections. For example in the chapter about how to get a literary agent, I include a link to over 400 agents. If the reader uses any of these resources, they get on my list for additional marketing and products--but more importantly to build a direct ongoing relationship."

Start With Quality

Whatever it is that you use as an incentive for people to visit your website and tell you who they are and how to stay in touch with them, make sure that what you offer them is of true value. It should be educational, inspirational, instructional, or all three. Giving members of your target audience something of value is a great first step in building a loyal, long-term relationship.

If you are just as interested in what's inside Terry's new book (including the free ebooks) as in what you just learned about his book cover, check out his book website content where you can see a trailer and learn more about why his new book may be a great match for you and your publishing dreams.

Remember, your book is a lead generator. Make the most of it! If you have any questions about how to use the strategy above on your book cover, or if you need help coming up with a good incentive for your book, please contact us at Or, pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-634-4120. We regularly use this strategy on the book covers we write, and would be happy to help you use it on your book.


Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved., 1-888-634-4120.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Virtual Book Tours--Get Big Visibility for Your Book

Take Your Book on a Blog Tour!

Get High-Visibility, Low-Cost Book Marketing ...
Before Your Book is Even Released

Susan Kendrick

It's always exciting to find an author resource that does something particularly well and that we can pass along as a next book marketing step, one you can count on for results.

That was the case on May 18, when I received a Google Alert (which you know I am a big fan of) about WOW! Women on Writing. The Alert was about the importance of a powerful book title and book cover, but what I found was that the book featured was on a blog tour, and that's where the book cover came into play.

Since then, I have been emailing and talking with WOW! blog tour director, Jodi Webb,, about exactly how WOW! puts its blog tours together, the benefits of a blog tour, pricing, etc. What I discovered is that this group delivers exactly what they promise. They are specific, accountable, calendar-based folks who make things happen. They are my kind of people.

More Marketing Milage for Your Book Cover

Besides the fact that a virtual book tour can do so much so quickly for a new book, the other reason I am excited about this book marketing vehicle is that it is a way to immediately put your new book cover to work. In fact, much of what you will need to provide your blog hosts is already right on your front and back cover.

Because we like to see authors and experts get as much book marketing mileage from their book covers as possible--especially before the book is released--virtual book tours are a natural next step to completing your book cover.

Book Marketing at an Affordable Price

Another reason WOW! blog tours are a next step you should consider is that they are affordably priced, especially for authors who have already invested time and money in their book cover copy, book cover design, starting work with an interior designer, etc. We've heard about and seen first-hand how authors can spend large amounts of money on monthly retainers with PR companies and other marketing ventures that do not usually guarantee any results and therefore too often do not deliver. I realize this isn't always the case, but it is heartbreaking to see authors invest in something that does not give back to them and their books.

Here then is what I have learned through my conversations with WOW! about how you can arrange for a virtual book tour that gives you a full calendar of guaranteed book reviews, interviews, Q&A sessions, recorded interviews, and more, on blogs that are hand-picked to get you in front of the people interested in your topic.

At a Glance -- a Virtual Book Tour Enables You To:

_ Appear on up to 15 blogs in four weeks
_ Build a following for your you, your book, and your expertise
_ Get seen by the people most interested in what you have to offer
_ Generate leads for more appearances, review, and interviews

I will make a disclaimer and say that I know there are other groups and individuals who host virtual book tours, but WOW! are the people I have gotten to know.

Here is what I compiled as a result of my conversations with Jodi:

Susan: How Long Does a Blog Tour Last?

Jodi: Our blog tours last 3 to 4 weeks and include 12 to 15 “appearances” starting at The Muffin, the blog for WOW-Women on Writing where we hold a contest giving away a copy of your book. The appearances range from interviews (email or telephone depending on the bloggers preference), book reviews, articles by our authors either on writing or something related to their book or life, to a book giveaway (with an enthusiastic blurb about your book of course).

Susan: How do you customize these tours?

: Let's take Sybil Baker's tour with her novel The Life Plan* as an example. Her blog tour included writer's blogs, blogs written by women (the main character was female), blogs by expats (the novel was about an expat), travel blogs (she guest posted about her travels), blogs for travel writers (she traveled extensively).

Another was Rachel Dillon's children's nonfiction book Through Endangered Eyes.* She visited parenting blogs, librarian/teacher blogs, nature blogs (it was about endangered animals), travel blogs (the artwork was inspired by Australian native art), green living blogs, writer blogs, children's writing blogs.

(Susan: *Please note that while these two examples from Jodi are about fiction books, she also arranges an equal number of tours for non-fiction books and arranges tours for a wide range of books written by both men and women.)

Susan: What is the format of a blog appearance?

Jodi: Every blogger is different, but blog appearances usually take the form of an interview (conducted by phone or email), book review, guest post or article by the author, or phone interview posted as a recording. Interview formats, for example, generally consist of a recap of the book and and/or the author's life and 5-8 questions about some interesting aspect of the book or author's experience. But rest assured that each interview is completely different. We would never dream of sending the same 8 questions to each author! Although we do usually end the interview with a "What are you up to now?" opportunity to brag about their upcoming projects.

Susan: What else do you do to get exposure for the book and the author?

Jodi: We offer bloggers the opportunity of giveaways. However I tailor this to each author's wishes. Some authors will say, "I only have ARCs to give bloggers" or "I can only give away 5 copies but I can send everyone a pdf of the book." So I determine which bloggers we should offer the print copies to. Or, an author indicates they would prefer to do interviews instead of posts. So I "steer" the bloggers toward interviews during our initial emails.

Susan: It seems that the benefit to the author is that blog readers get to know the author in a more personal way. And, when you care about and trust the author, you care about and trust the book. And, when that happens, you ideally buy the book. Is that the general dynamic of the blog tour?

Jodi: Yes, we do feel the blog appearances are like a good friend saying "I just heard about this great book." Readers come to trust the blogger and their recommendations--that's why we try so hard to fit the right book with the right blogs.
Our authors have been very happy with the way WOW! Blog Tours present them to readers--often readers they may not reach doing publicity on their own. Authors also appreciate the time we save them--time to write their next book, be with family, or attend live events.

Getting Started ...

Susan: Great. So, how does an author get started working with you?

Jodi: The first step is for you to answer our Author Survey so we can get a better feel for you and your book and match you with the ideal blogs for you. Then we approach these blogs about your book and receive a list of dates. After the dates are set, we get all the information from the bloggers about what they need (book cover image, article, review copy, etc.) and remind you of what needs to be done. We also set up a Google calendar to help keep you on track.

Susan: How much does a blog tour cost?

Jodi: A WOW Blog Tour costs $250. The only additional cost to the author(or publisher) is for the cost and shipping for any books sent to bloggers or given as contest prizes. You can save money in this instance by having a pdf of your book available to give away.

The $250 cost for a WOW Blog Tour of 12-15 appearances includes the following:
• Locate highly trafficked/commented blogs related specifically to the author’s book and target audience
• Schedule the dates
• Help the author determine guest post topics
• Send author pics/excerpts/book cover images/book trailers to bloggers
• Set up a Google Calendar for the author
• Remind the author of dates
• Check to make sure the blogger posts what they promised
• Run interference between the author and the bloggers and any other advice or help the author needs
• Create and send out a dedicated e-mail newsletter to WOW’s subscriber base of 20,000+ subscribers
• Publicize the author’s tour on social networks
• Provide an events calendar that readers can add to their Google home page and/or blog
• The author is responsible for emailing guest posts, answering interview questions, and mailing out copies as needed in a timely manner. Postage and cost is responsibility of the author/publisher.

What You Need to Go on Tour

Susan: You will want to provide the following information / materials to each blog host on your tour.

_Book Synopsis
What is your book is about? You can use your back cover and flap copy to provide this “elevator speech” about your book

_5 Topics You Can Be Interviewed on or Provide Articles About
Provide the blogger with at least five topics you would be willing to post on. Please include two types of topics. Give each of these topics a great title, one that will capture people’s interest.
You will want to develop these like you would any good headline or media story angle. Let us know if you need help with this,

_Review Copies
Would you be willing to provide bloggers with review copies of your book, e-book copies or excerpts, or other promotional products for giveaways?

Also be ready to provide the following:
_ Book Front Cover
_ Author Bio
_ Author Photo

Related Considerations / Questions
_Who is your audience?
What is the main group that will be interested in either you or your book. Also, what other related facts about you or your book are of interest and to whom?

_Desired Visibility
What group would you like to reach that you haven't yet?

_Timing / Scheduling
Do you have a preference for when you would like to start a blog tour?

Do you have a pdf file of your book or a downloadable excerpt?

_Additional Appearances
During or after your 12-15 appearances on the blogs selected for your tour, you may get asked by other blogs to do additional appearances on their blogs. You can either arrange for these on your own or wait and use these requests to arrange another blog tour, with the same 3-4 week lead/prep time.

As you can see, a blog tour or Virtual Book Tour is a great way to get meaningful exposure to your target audience, sell books, and create leads for even more appearances. If you have questions about getting your book, book cover, or topics ready for a tour, please email us at or give us a call at 1-888-634-4120. We hope you will look into WOW! and Jodi Webb's blog tour services as a next book marketing step for your book at!


Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved., 1-888-634-4120.