Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions? Hoffman Publishing has answers.
1. How can I get my book published?
The best way to get published is to write a knockout book and then 1) pay a literary agent to handle everything for you or 2) do it yourself by becoming a self-publisher or 3) consider an independent publisher such as Hoffman Publishing to customize and address all of your publishing needs.
In short, publicists and literary agents are expensive and cannot guarantee that your manuscript will be picked up by traditional publishers such as Penguin Random House, MacMillan, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster. Most agents charge a fee just to look at a book. In fact, 98 percent of all unsolicited manuscripts submitted to traditional publishers get rejected, which means that your book needs to fall into that two percent category of bestsellers.
To find a self-publisher, look in the mirror. A self-publisher must have a myriad of skills from editing, cover design, website design, social media, pricing, marketing/publicity, and distribution. Even eBooks, that represent 40 percent of royalties paid to authors, require special skills for their unique publishing platforms.
Securing an independent publisher such as Hoffman Publishing gives you full control over your book without breaking your budget.
2. What is an independent publisher?
The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) states, “The beauty of independent publishing is that in the end, size really doesn’t matter—nor does the technology used to produce the content nor does who the author is. What matters is the independent publisher’s focus on his or her publishing business—that blend of sales, marketing, editorial, production and promotion that serves as the launching pad for publishing success.”
3. Why use an independent publisher?
As an independent publisher, Hoffman Publishing works closely with the author. We have the same access to markets that large publishing houses use and yet we can offer lower-risk selling options to our clients.
The rate of rejection for manuscripts submitted to agents is about 99.9 percent. Some agents automatically reject books for typing or grammatical errors and sometimes rejection is based simply on whether an agent likes your book or believes that it will sell.
Our editing capabilities (including APA Style often required by journalists, educational and technical text, dissertations, etc.) can improve your chances for getting published. On more positive note, some independently published books have become monstrous successes such as the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy that was initially launched by an independent publisher.
4. What is an “indie” publisher?
The acronym “indie” traditionally refers to independent art, music, film, literature or anything that fits under the broad banner of culture created outside of the mainstream. Small press, indie publisher, and independent publisher are often used interchangeably. Hoffman Publishing would be considered an “indie” publisher.
5. What is a self-publisher?
A self-publisher would be YOU, responsible for the entire process from editing, designing, and publishing in a variety of formats, marketing, distribution, and sales. Most self-publishers will outsource some tasks particularly book layout since it requires specific software skills. (Microsoft Word is not considered a page layout program for printed books.)
Controlling costs as a self-publisher is part of the appeal especially if you are on a modest budget. Whether you self-publish or hire an independent publisher, you maintain all rights plus 100 percent of author royalties.
Only a small percentage of books published are selected by traditional publishers, leaving many talented writers in the dust with unpublished manuscripts. An independent publisher can guarantee that your book gets published.
6. Why use an editor?
An editor can increase your chances of selling your book in large quantities. Even if you are considering a traditional publisher, you will need to submit the best version of your work or a traditional publisher will not read it.
Editors should know the book business and will take a broad view of a manuscript to identify any flaws in writing style and offer perspective about what a story might need.
Qualified editors must have exhaustive skills in the intricacies of grammar, language, syntax and more. Most will approach a manuscript with a number of questions such as:
- Does the title of the book support the story?
- Does the book pull the reader in from the start?
- Are the characters well-defined?
- Do the details peak the reader’s interest?
- Is the story compelling? Believable?
- Are there elements of the story that could be stronger?
- Does the story have an appropriate ending?
- Is anything missing?
- Does the story leave the reader wanting more…such as your next book?
Yes, sometimes, a critique can be hard to accept, but you want an editor that can help you deliver a riveting reading experience that will ultimately pay off in sales.
7. What does an editor do?
An editor’s goals should include evaluating the author’s work for clarity, logic, and flow to ensure it meets reader expectations. An editor will double-check basic facts and quotations for accuracy and copyright research. All content and ideas regarding the author’s written material are considered confidential.
8. What types of editors are there?
Proofreaders primarily look for typos and inconsistent formatting.
Content editors dig deeper into the writing and will recommend how to strengthen the structure and development of themes and characters.
Copy editors or line editors ensure that the manuscript follows the five Cs: clear, correct, concise, comprehensive, and consistent and will make minor changes focusing on grammar, word usage, and punctuation.
Substantive editors will address the overall organization of a manuscript including characters, plot development, pace, introduction of subplots, character motives, tonality and more.
9. What is a wordsmith?
A wordsmith is an expert in the precise use of words and whose goal is to put the author’s best foot forward when publishing a book, article, proposal, etc. A wordsmith might automatically 1) change a word if there is redundancy in the writing or 2) choose words that better fit the context of the writing, or 3) substitute a word for clarity or to produce a specific reaction.
10. What is a ghostwriter?
A ghostwriter works on the writing and will focus on the thoughts and ideas of an author. This could include book writing, blogs, speeches, articles, etc. Research is also a component. Typically, ghostwriters do not work on fiction and will advise an author to work closely with a writing coach or editor to assist with the editing and rewriting process.
11. What are the basic steps for publishing a book?
Step one in the process is for a competent editor to provide initial impressions on the first read. This might include 1) highlighting major strengths/weaknesses in the writing, 2) identifying any confusion or concerns, and 3) offering suggestions for improvement.
Following the initial read, a more comprehensive edit would follow. This includes, but is not limited to format, factual accuracy, writing style, and checking for correct grammar and punctuation. A highly marketable book begins with good writing so proofing every word on every line becomes paramount. A thorough edit can take time depending on the size of the project.
Once the editorial process is complete, the manuscript will be transferred into a book layout software program including any artwork, data, tables or other visuals.
While this is being done, the front and back book covers and spine for the book will be created if none is provided by the author.
Following a generic proofing of the digital file by the author, the book will be sent to a specialized book printer. Upon receipt of the first print version of the book, the publisher and the author will give it a thorough read for accuracy and context. Provided there are no changes to the proof (which is rare), books are ready for mass production, marketing and distribution.
Another benefit for using an independent publisher is to get your published book on the market quickly. Traditional publishers can take months, even years, to produce a book.
Most book sellers and distributors rely on Print on Demand (POD) and work directly with the book printer for fulfillment. Amazon.com is a good example of a company that relies on POD. When a customer orders a book via Amazon.com, Amazon fills the order through various book printers. You too can order a supply of books directly from your book printer at significant savings enabling you to sell your own book for maximum profit.
Hoffman Publishing outsources printing and wholesale distribution in order to list your book with Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, and Kindle (if an eBook is created) and other booksellers such as Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor Inc., Ingram Publisher Services, and NACSCORP (a subsidiary of the National Association of College Stores). We can also provide promotional materials and products customized for book launches and book signings.
12. What is a copyright?
A copyright protects an author’s work whether literary, artistic, or in musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to an idea, system, method, device, name, or title. Text with or without illustrations are eligible for copyright such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and contributions to collective works like compilations, directories, catalogs, dissertations, theses, reports, speeches, bound or loose-leaf volumes, pamphlets, brochures, and even single pages of text.
For your protection and convenience, Hoffman Publishing will file your application with the U.S. Copyright Office and provide them with the required digital copy of your book. The copyright certificate will be sent to you as you maintain all the rights to your work.
13. Who assigns the ISBN (International Standard of Book Number)?
The ISBN (International Standard of Book Number)is a 13-digit number that is used as a unique identifier for all books. It is the standard identification number used by booksellers, libraries, book wholesalers, distributors and publishers. If you have already purchased an ISBN for your book and it meets ISBN specifications, we can use that number otherwise we will purchase the required number for you.
Note: 1) Separate ISBN numbers are needed for a hardcover and soft cover of the same book. 2) A new ISBN number is required if there are substantial rewrites of a previously published book. 3) A new ISBN is not required when only typographical errors are corrected. 4) You can also continue to use the same ISBN should you decide to change the cover at a later date provided the title (text) does not change.
Do you need an LCCN? Not all books require a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN). If you choose to have your book selected for retention in the libraries, then a bibliographic record will be created that will appear in the Library’s online catalog.
14. Why do I need a barcode for the back of my book?
A barcode has embedded pricing information about your book and in many cases the currency for where it was priced. Once a barcode is created, the price of your book cannot be changed. The standard placement for the bar code is the bottom right-hand corner so retailers can locate and process transactions quickly.
The barcode also ensures that your book is automatically listed on Books In Print and Global Books In Print databases. Libraries worldwide consult Books In Print to find titles from their vast inventory that vendors, eBook platforms and online retailers use as a resource.
15. How about book covers?
The English idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” refers to prejudging the worth or value of something by its outward appearance. We’re all guilty of this.
A book cover is often the first thing a reader looks at, which is even more reason to produce an impressive cover that is eye-catching in ways that captures the story within. You often see readers flipping books back and forth trying to get a sense of whether a book will be a good read or a good buy. The use of testimonials, awards, and snippets about an author on a back cover can inspire sales.
Book covers should speak a thousand words and entice readers to buy. If your book doesn’t dazzle a prospective reader, the person might be inclined to walk away not having turned a single page.
If you choose to provide us with a book cover, you must either own it outright or provide written permission from the designer, artist, or photographer to ensure there are no copyright infringements. Exceptions include sample graphics and illustrations intended as ideas or guidelines for our design team.
16. What is the spin on eBooks?
More than 103 million people in the U.S. over the age of 16 own an eReader or tablet according to Pew Research Center. The eBook is here to stay and independent authors now make up a growing portion of that industry. For some bestselling authors, the eBook versions account for as much as 50 percent of their overall sales.
Today, about seven in ten adults have their noses buried in tablet-reading devices (Kindles, iPads, Sony Readers, Kobo eReaders, etc.) and are reported to be reading print books and eBooks in tandem. So, should you produce an eBook or stick with the standard print version? There is only one answer. Do both!
Converting your book into an eBook is fairly easy, but why not give it to an expert that has navigated the learning curves for formatting and improving anomalies such as spacing issues, words appearing at random, skewed graphics and more?
Why are there so many eBook publishing platforms (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, BookBaby, etc.)? Not all e-reader devices accommodate all platforms.
What eBook platforms does Hoffman Publishing use? While Amazon’s Kindle is a powerhouse, we recommend publishing your book everywhere where you can capitalize on revenue.
17. Should you invest in an audio book?
Audio books are another way for authors to expand their reach and sell more books. The total number of titles published in audio book format has doubled over the past few years.
Besides being entertaining and informative, audio books are convenient. Many people just don’t have the time, opportunity, or space to curl up with a good book for an afternoon of page turning or even scan an eBook reader. This is why multitaskers are buying audio books for that long commute, business trip, or vacation.
Recording audio books is not a natural fit for everyone and not all books are suitable for narration. It takes an understanding of the nuance of language and literature to achieve excellence in audio recording, which is why you should hire a professional. Hoffman Publishing has these resources.
18. Can a website help me promote my book?
A website is like an author’s “little shop around the corner.” It can promote your brand, your genre, and YOU to the book-buying public. No matter how you plan to market, every book should have a search-engine-optimized (SEO) web page of its own even if you are selling your book on Amazon.com. Author web pages can be an attractive promotional tool for selling a book directly to customers while you earn all the profits.
19. Do I need a blog or social media to promote my book?
A blog is a regularly updated website typically managed by an individual and written in an informal or conversational style. It is an excellent way to gain more visibility for your book. By chatting with other bloggers, you create a community of readers that can influence others and increase book sales. Even authors with minimal computer knowledge can create their own blogs.
Social media resides on every corner today and do not underestimate the power of using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more to promote your book. Your singular ambition should be to drive sales. Pinterest, for example, with 70+ million users performs like a virtual shared bulletin board where anyone can post videos, pictures and links to other websites. For an author, this means that you can “pin” the cover of your new book on their site and link millions of potential book buyers. Pinterest drives more traffic to websites than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. You want to get pinned!
20. Can I expect to produce a bestseller?
In reality, the best person to sell your book is YOU. A practical approach would be to buy your book in bulk from your book printer for about half of the cover price and sell it to other booksellers or directly through your book website.
Advances are paid in anticipation of high sales and offered by traditional publishers only. When book sales are low, you might be required to return the money you received.
Royalties represent either a percentage of every book sold or a percent of net profits depending on the eBook vendor.
A critical step for selling your book will be to create a marketing plan. Focus on publicity and getting discovered versus selling. Marketing and promotions are an extension of your author platform. The simple formula for selling books is: Exposure = Leads = Sales
Authors make ideal guests for radio and television shows. Start with your local stations. Send a copy of it in advance of your meeting.
Get creative. Consider custom design campaigns to reach specific groups depending on your book topic or special interest. Book signings create awareness. Contact your local hardware stores and gardening shops to inquire about having a book signing if you wrote about plant life or having a green thumb. A retailer could benefit from the traffic you generate.
Take advantage of FREE websites that will promote your book for you such as eBookPromotions on Twitter, Goodreads, and Listopia.
Register your book at the world’s largest book club LibraryThing.com, a community of 1,900,000 book lovers.
Build an eMail marketing list to generate best results. Offer something of value (such as a FREE chapter of your digital book) in exchange for eMail addresses. Use auto-responders to automatically direct readers to where your book is sold. Use list-builders also available on the Internet plus FREE plug-ins that make it easy to acquire more eMail.
Time the announcement of your new book with an important event, relevant news, a blockbuster movie, holiday or trade show. Write a press release and promote your book on any number of FREE press release distribution websites. We can share these with you.
NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK. Introduce yourself to bookstore owners and other retailers. Contact genre experts and well-known book review blogger sites. Set up a table anywhere you can sell books such as flea markets, gift shops, museums, online retailers and used bookstores. Count on Hoffman Publishing for more tips and ideas.