Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – November 2016

by | Nov 23, 2016

This month, I asked Jerry Friends, the Publishing and Distribution Manager at Thompson Shore to sit down with me. Jerry and I met at AuthorU Extravaganza last September and I was impressed with his knowledge of self-publishing. Jerry has seen thousands of books succeed and fail in the last few years and so I asked him to join me.

What She Did: Let Their Friend/Relative Read And Edit Her Book

Jerry and I both agree that it is very tempting to save money (and some hurt feelings) by letting someone who “gets” you read your manuscript. I mean, just because they are related to you does not mean that they are not qualified to edit a manuscript! What about authors who KNOW a professional editor?

What You Should Have Done Instead

In spite of all the “good” reasons to hire or use someone you know to edit your book, you should not do it. Ever. Nope. No exceptions. Nada. Sorry.

Editors need to start from a place of complete “zero” when approaching a manuscript. They have to read the writing from a position of complete ignorance about the writer or their decisions and suggestions will be shaded by what they know. The reader will not have the benefit of shared experience with the author and neither should the editor. No matter how tempted you are, give the reader the benefit of an edited manuscript that was reviewed by a complete stranger.

What You Can Do

Don’t just take my word for it. Editors and editorial services will do evaluations of a set number of pages for a small fee. Thompson Shore charges $100 to completely edit and evaluate the first 10-12 pages of a manuscript. Other editorial services are also out there and are a TERRIFIC investment even when in the middle of writing. How great would it be to get coaching on your writing tone, voice, and style BEFORE you finished?

What I Did: Printed And Published My Book Without Solid Goals In Mind

According to Jerry, the most important conversation authors need to have with themselves will focus on for WHOM the author is writing and WHAT goals will be pursued.

  • Are you writing a cookbook to raise funds for a local charity?
  • Are you writing a book to allow you to pass on your advice to clients?
  • Are you writing a book to share your story or entertain and be of service to the world at large?

I am guilty of this. I published my last book with a vague idea of the market but I did NOT set solid sales goals. I knew I wanted to be of help and that is as far as I got.

What I Should Have Done Instead

I should have asked myself the following questions:

  1. Is this book for my clients and business associates only?
  2. Do I want the book to be purchased and used by total strangers?
  3. Do I want to sell the book outside of the US?
  4. How many books do I want to sell in the first two years?
  5. How much time and money am I prepared to invest in achieving these goals?

What I Then Did

After speaking with Jerry, I went back and set a goal of 3000 books sold online (print or ebook) in 2017. I want to mainly focus on the US and Canadian market because some of the advice in my book does not translate wonderfully to other countries. Yes, I want to still give away a LOT of books to clients and students, but I have been focusing my time and money on promoting my book as an “add on” to my existing base…. It is time to expand to strangers and let my book “introduce” me to another group of authors and publishers who need or want my assistance.

Next step. Invest the time and money necessary to ACHIEVE the goal of selling 3000 copies in 2017.

What He Did: He Did Not Get A Second Proof Read Of His Book After It Was Laid Out

A client of mine (I will call him “Jeff”) hired an independent copy editor to edit his book. Then the edited manuscript was turned over to a professional layout and design firm who did a terrific job laying out his book and creating a killer cover. The problem? Dozens of small and not-so-small errors were introduced into the manuscript during the layout process. This is COMPLETELY NORMAL and to be expected. Computers create weird spaces or glitch and swap a few letters around with punctuation.

Jeff thought that because the book had been through a review before the layout, he did not need to spend the $2 a page or so to have a professional proofread after the layout. He went to print without it.

What He Should Have Done Instead

Jerry and I see this all the time. At Thompson Shore, the author makes the final decision on every part of the publishing process. Once the book was laid out, Jeff should have either had several people/volunteers read it carefully and make notes of errors and corrections OR he should have hired a professional proofreader to finish the job. Once you spend ALL of that time writing the book and ALL of that money publishing it properly, WHY would you skip this vital step?

What He Then Did

Jeff “unpublished” his book, took it off sale and brought the lay-out file to a professional proofreader. She read and re-read the book several times over the next 10 days and made over a HUNDRED notes that Jeff agreed with.

Here is the thing… Jeff’s manuscript was well written; it was beautifully edited, it was professionally laid out… it just needed that last final step to be considered a professionally published book. There is no need to “rush” to publish. All that does is satisfy the lesser side of our natures. Take the time to do it right and you will be SO glad. The satisfaction that comes from publishing properly, setting goals and creating plans to achieve those goals and “doing it right” will save you time and money in the long run.

More to Come, and What About You?

Next month, I will have more screw ups and mistakes to share with you. I hope you find my DO THIS, NOT THAT features helpful! Feel free to leave a comment below or ask a question… I LOVE giving my opinion!

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Wayne Calhoun

    I agree with Ernie’s take that too much emphasis is placed on perfection in publishing a book. Perfection is a goal that is not attainable for mere mortals.

    I am close to self-publishing my first book, and I have been told not to be too anxious to get my book to press. I’ve been advised to get it proofread several more times.

    With Ernie’s success story, I believe I will adhere to his “Do It Badly — But at Least Do It!” theory.

    That was encouraging.

  2. Kathy Steinemann

    Thanks, Amy and Jerry.

    Word frequency software can help locate overused words before you send your novel off to the editor. I’m amazed at how often certain phrases creep into my writing. The software opens my mind to personal idiosyncrasies that I avoid in future pieces.

  3. Michael N. Marcus

    Two more tips:

    (1) Sadly, the act of making a correction often causes one or more new errors. Be very careful.

    (2) If you change a word, go back and read the paragraph from the beginning, or even several paragraphs, to make sure the replacement sounds right and doesn’t repeat a conspicuous word used close to it.

  4. Laurence OBryan

    I agree with Ernie that it’s critical that what we get our work completed. This is no excuse however for producing poor quality work.

    Ernie may be fortunate in producing high quality work first time. For most of us mortals that simply is not possible with the various demands placed on us.

    I love working with an editor too. It allows me to see the things I would otherwise miss. I also know that I could never produce the type of cover a professional cover designer, not a graphic artist, can produce.

    If I may make one suggestion, it’s for writers to get a blog going about their book, not what they think about politics.

  5. Ernie Zelinski

    As for me, I don’t strive for perfection.

    For many years I have followed these words of wisdom from one of my favorite writers:

    “It’s better to do a sub-par job on the right project than an excellent job on the wrong project.”
    — Robert J. Ringer

    Partly because I was in a hurry to get it published, my international bestseller “The Joy of Not Working” had over 150 spelling errors when I first self-published it in 1991. It wasn’t until three years later when the book sold over 30,000 copies and when I did a spell check that I discovered those spelling errors. Did this impact the sales of this book? Very little, if any, near as I can tell. For the record, the book has now sold over 297,500 copies. It sold over 5,000 copies in print last year, 25 years after it was released. For all I know, it still has a few spelling or grammatical errors.

    This has alwasy been my motto (Enjoy the typo):

    Do It Badly — But at Least Do It!

    This approach has helped me get published in 22 languages and 29 countries and get a total of over 115 book deals with foreign publishers. What’s more, my books (mainly self-published) have now sold over 940,000 copies worldwide.

    In short, I am not saying that a writer shouldn’t correct obvious grammatical and spelling errors. I do believe, however, that great content is much, much more important than having a book edited and proof read to perfection. Also, there are times when it
    pays big time to hurry and get a book out in the shortest time possible at the expense of perfection.

    Incidentally, I just got hired to do a 45-minute keynote presentation to 1,500 people at an international success conference. I will be paid several thousands of dollars plus first-class expenses. One of the success principles that I will be emphasizing to the 1,500 conference attendees is: “Do It Badly — But at Least Do It!”

    • Amy Collins

      Ernie, I totally agree that “Great is the Enemy of Done”. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

  6. Colin Dunbar

    Thanks for Part 2, Amy. Eagerly await future posts :o)



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