June 26 was a good day at Hop On Publishing and its parent company POP Editorial Services. That’s when we learned that Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro had taken the gold in the Writing category in the 2014 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards.
Four excellent guides had made it to the final round, and Perfect Bound won top honors. In addition to the silver award from the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards, this recognition from librarians and booksellers across the country has been astounding.
I have to admit, I never thought we would win. Chris Pickett was the force behind selecting and entering the competitions. “I always knew we would win,” Chris said. “I had complete confidence in the book and I thought it stacked up well against the competition.”
With each success for Perfect Bound, we are reminded that we did not do this alone. Heartfelt thanks go to the 11 publishing professionals featured in the book for their generosity in sharing valuable insights. And a warm thank you to Susan Moore (copyeditor), Sue Hartmann (designer), and Sharon Honaker (proofreader) for their work to make ours an award-winning book.
Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro has been named a Silver award winner in the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards!
April 10, 2015, I traveled to Austin, TX, to attend the awards ceremony, and it was a terrific experience. My friend, colleague, and contributor to Perfect Bound, Kathy Clayton, was my guest for the evening.
Our table of ten was filled with finalists and industry notables. Having chosen our table at random, we were thrilled to be seated with three other finalists. Also at the table were Sonia Marsh, who heads the popular Facebook group Gutsy Indie Publishers, and Brian Jud, executive director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS; formerly SPAN).
Two of the finalists at the table won Gold Awards. Rita Gardner won for her memoir, The Coconut Latitudes, and Shea Henderson won in the crafts and hobbies category for her book School of Sewing. We all joined the fun.
Perfect Bound took Silver in the reference category. Although it would have been nice to win the Gold, the book has done well. Over the past two days both the print edition and the ebook have landed on Amazon bestseller lists, and for several hours yesterday the print edition was on two bestseller lists concurrently.
It is constant conversation among writers as to whether these awards competitions are a good investment. Some can be quite expensive. The strategy at Hop On was to choose two awards where we valued the opinion of the awarding body and where we thought our book would fit — and possibly win. For us, it has been a terrific experience and a whole lot of fun. Besides being recognized by an industry-leading organization, we are also reaching more readers, and that is what the publishing adventure is all about!
Thursday, March 12, at 4 p.m., Foreword Reviews announced the finalists for its 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards and Perfect Bound made the list. We are one of four finalists in the Writing category. You can see our listing and read more about the contest here: https://indiefab.forewordreviews.com/finalists/2014/writing/
We will have to wait until the end of June to learn our final standing in the INDIEFAB Awards. However, I will be in Austin, Texas, for the IBPA awards ceremony April 10 to learn whether Perfect Bound was awarded a Silver or Gold Medal.
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the book, whether with interviews or reviewing early drafts of the manuscript or editing and design.
As you can imagine, we are absolutely thrilled at this good fortune. We have always been proud of Perfect Bound, but with so many other books published each year, it is an honor and a joy to be recognized. Now let’s hope we can turn that “Finalist” status into Gold Medal Winner!
Lightning Source Inc. (part of Ingram Content Group) and Create Space (part of Amazon) are the two most prominent options for print-on-demand in the United States. They are each enormous and come with their own pros and cons, making it difficult for self-publishers to choose between them.*
For my book, I went through Lightning Source because the print and binding quality are said to be better, you can set your discount rates, you are automatically listed with Ingram’s distribution (good if you want to be in bookstores), and further, I am not a fan of Amazon’s business practices.
But I was asked recently, if I were to choose a print-on-demand option for my book today, would I do anything different from just a year ago when Perfect Bound went to the printer. I had to answer yes, yes, I would.
Things did not go as smoothly at Lightning Source as I had expected given its reputation. It took three proofs before we were satisfied with the interior print quality. Perfect Bound includes some screens (i.e., shaded boxes), and the screens were uneven or blotchy. Apparently our proof was the last book off the press before they changed the ink (seriously). I was not impressed.
The cover printing, the binding, and the paper were all very good, however. Once the interior print quality issues were resolved, we were happy to continue with Lightning Source.
Over Christmas 2014, new information caused us to reconsider our choices. That’s when we learned that Amazon was taking longer and longer to get our books to customers. One customer reported having to wait three weeks! I had heard this might happen; because CreateSpace and Lightning Source are direct competitors, Amazon has incentive to make Lightning Source books difficult to get. To make matters worse, Amazon started saying our book was out of stock. We feared that might cost us sales. Who wants to take a chance on a book that’s out of stock?
After much discussion, we finally decided it was in our best interest to work with CreateSpace. I wasn’t thrilled with that because, if Lightning Source has print quality issues, what is CreateSpace going to do? Most people order from Amazon and therefore the books would be coming from CreateSpace. I didn’t want my readers getting crummy-looking books. But, I felt I was over a barrel, so I signed up with CreateSpace.
Turns out the print quality at CreateSpace was better than at Lightning Source, and we had nothing to worry about there. It is clear to someone who is really looking closely that the binding is not as good, and the color match on the cover isn’t exact, but only we would notice that. The paper is a little creamier than I would have wanted, but I prefer it to the stark white that is the other option from CreateSpace. Lightning Source’s paper is a very pleasant light cream; CreateSpace’s is a little darker but still OK. Also, CreateSpace charges less per book, by about 50 cents in our case. When you’re selling a high volume of books, that makes a difference.
Right now I plan to keep both accounts — one with Lightning Source and the other with CreateSpace — but I do wish I hadn’t waited so long to sign up with CreateSpace. I despise that Amazon controls so much and that the company leveraged its size and reach to coerce me into working with it. That is a huge drawback. But with the quality of printing I saw and the cheaper per unit price, I came to terms with it.
Depending on the type of book you are publishing, I would definitely consider using CreateSpace. Lightning Source still offers better binding, better paper, and ways to get into bookstores. But with CreateSpace you can sign up for free and get a proof for about $4 (plus shipping). If you hate it, you can move on to Lightning Source or Ingram Spark. Or do as we did and sign up with both. (As an aside, if you do go with CreateSpace, consider getting a matte finish on your cover. I find the glossy from CreateSpace to be too shiny.)
So there you have it. I never thought I would endorse CreateSpace, but it turns out there are benefits to this behemoth.
UPDATE: Wednesday, February 25, the Independent Book Publishers Association held a webinar with representatives from Lightning Source. One attendee asked about the “out of stock” message and how to correct it. The official response from LSI was to get an account with CreateSpace without signing up for expanded distribution. Why the reciprocation? It seems LSI does some printing for CreateSpace. See this article from Aaron Shepard for more.
* IngramSpark is another print-on-demand company from Ingram Content Group that caters to micro-publishers. Given its close relationship with Lightning Source, the drawbacks I mention here would likely be the same for IngramSpark.
Help us reach 30 Amazon reviews by March 1MARCH 6!
So, you’ve read Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro. Now you have the chance to tell the world what you really think about it. And if you do it by March 1, you can save 10% on any future editing service from me.
Follow this link to review Perfect Bound on Amazon:
Here’s the deal. I want to help authors all across the country who need to better understand what it takes to publish a quality and highly marketable book. The problem is, to reach the most people, we need lots of great reviews on Amazon.
Why? Because many book marketing sites and local book festivals and national and international writing conferences decide whom to feature based in part on the number and quality of book reviews on Amazon. That means, to take advantage of these opportunities, we need your reviews!
As of February 4, Perfect Bound has 10 reviews on Amazon. But I think we can do better. I think we can make it to 30, and I think we can do it before March 1.Will you help us?Remember, all you have to do is write and publish your honest review on Amazon.com before March 1. You will automatically receive 10% off your next editing service from me.
If you don’t have Perfect Bound yet, you can get the e-book for just $2.99 anywhere you buy books. Buy your copy now!
Thank you for all of your support!
P.S. Have feedback you don’t want to post in public? Send your comments directly to me. I want to hear from you!
In preparing for the interview, I was thankful I received advance notice of what we would discuss, as it gave me a chance to consider (1) what my top three tips are for those looking to start a business, (2) what new resources I would recommend, and (3) how I balance work, family, friends, and health,* among other questions.
One of the hardest questions for me to answer was, Who is your hero? I don’t follow superheros nor am I enamored with Oprah or other television personalities, so I had to turn elsewhere for a role model. I finally settled on one of the leaders in the publishing industry, someone who has helped me personally and who models the mentor spirit that I strive for. (Listen to the podcast to find out which one.)
One of my favorite questions was, How do you define success? That one really got me thinking. I consider myself successful, but by what standards?
Success in business generally implies financial success, and that is definitely part of it. It took six months for POP to become solvent back in 2007, meaning I lived off the proceeds of my company exclusively at that time. That was a huge achievement, and I reached it faster than many new companies. It’s definitely a point of pride.
But that’s just one hurdle. The next level of success meant being able to work on projects of my choosing. I built a client base over the first several years of the company, and now I have enough job offers that I do not have to accept every project that comes along.
But again, that is not the pinnacle of success for me. As of 2015, I have consistent work that enables me to take much more control of my schedule, and that, to me, is the true sign of a success.
What does control of my schedule mean? It means more time for family, friends, and health. It means being able to even consider training for a century ride (100 miles on a bike in one day). It means being able to read more books for pleasure, promote my own book, and spend time with my husband and daughter on weekends. It means so much more than just paying bills and meeting financial goals.
Now, I suppose the day I am able to say I have complete control of my schedule will be the day I really know I have made it, but I do suspect that will only come when I retire. There will always be a deadline to meet and a client to please. But being able to choose those clients, and being able to work within standard business hours, has meant a significant increase in my happiness quotient.
* For the record, I can’t rightly claim to balance work, family, friends, and health. I work a disproportionate amount, and my health suffers because of it. But I try. Boundaries, I have learned, are the key. With a toddler under foot, that lesson becomes more obvious every day.
Marylanders, take note: If you missed my book launch event earlier this month, you have another chance! And this time, there’s a freebie involved.
This Saturday, September 27, I will be at Novel Books (23330 Frederick Road, Clarksburg, MD 20871) speaking about Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro and the state of book publishing today.
Stop by and you could win a seat at my November workshop for you or a friend. The event starts at 10 a.m. All are welcome. I hope to see you there!
The big bang we were hoping to make on September 1 was more like the sound of a pop gun, but we made up for it on the 2nd. The publication of two meaty articles (on the websites Live Write Thrive and Publishing Perspectives) garnered us some much-appreciated attention, and at 11:30 on Wednesday night, we discovered we had hit the Amazon bestseller list for Editing Reference!
Two other articles that were expected to publish by then had not yet surfaced, and it turned out there was some miscommunication. The Writer Beware article published Friday instead of Tuesday, and the excerpt on Jane Friedman’s blog pubbed the following Monday instead of Wednesday, but publish they did, and we again saw immediate returns. For those writers who have been following along, blog tours really are worth the effort.
Another highlight came Wednesday when veteran editor Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, who has much more experience than I, contacted me about the book. After reading the sample chapter available on the Hop On website, she bought the book and wrote an impromptu blog post recommending Perfect Bound as a continuing-ed book for editors. We were thrilled!
The launch parties at Kensington Row Bookshop in Kensington, Maryland, and Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri, were great fun and also well worth the investment. On both nights we surpassed our modest sales goals and, more important, were able to celebrate with friends, colleagues, and newcomers alike. I was even able to meet my designer, Sue Hartman, for the first time. We had worked together off and on for 15 years and never met until now!
Those who attended can attest that my daughter stole the show. She was a trooper, staying up well past her bedtime to help her parents celebrate and enjoy the moment. I loved getting to share the night with her.
There is much more to come from Hop On Publishing. A webinar is scheduled for next week, another talk and signing on the 27th at Novel Books, and a trip to Rehoboth Beach for a workshop October 4. This week we are catching our breath and soaking in what we have achieved.
To everyone who attended the events, bought the book, listened to our stories, let us stay at their home, held the baby, chased the baby, or otherwise sent good vibes our way,
I’m preparing for a book launch in St. Louis, and several friends have asked where they should buy the book so that it is most beneficial to me. On strictly a monetary basis, that’s through the Hop On website. But for those who are going to be at the event, purchasing through the hosting bookstore is better for everyone. I’d argue this is particularly true for self-publishers. Here’s why:
It shows support for the author. The people who have asked me about this, although they also want the book, are mostly trying to support me as a new author. This is accomplished no matter how the book is obtained, short of borrowing it from a friend.
It keeps the bookstore in business. I could list the many benefits of helping keep bookstores alive and well, but that is for another time. Suffice it to say, brick-and-mortar stores have benefits to society. Independent bookstores are the ones most likely to welcome new authors to an event, and these stores have stiff competition from national chains and the Internet. If you want to keep your bookstore in business, you have to purchase from there.
It raises the image of self-publishing. If a self-published author can not only get a large audience for a book signing but also motivate people to buy their book at the bookstore, the bookstore will take self-publishers more seriously. The store will be more willing to take a chance on other self-publishers. And when self-publishers can get the same exposure as traditionally published authors, it levels the playing field and increases the odds that they will do more than just break even on their book investment.
So, if you know you want to buy a book from your author friend, consider the benefits of doing so, not through Amazon, but through a real live bookstore. And if your author has an event, know that buying at the event can have a much greater impact than would a couple more dollars for the author.