No focus, no book

Yes, it’s true. A lack of focus is the single biggest factor that is likely to prevent you from publishing your book. Lack of time, money, ideas and clarity can all be solved, but lack of focus will block your book in every way possible. In other words: no focus, no book.

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Is your book a big old muddle

When I started writing my first book, I made the same mistake that many new authors make: I opened a page in Word and started writing. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but I didn't do much more than put together a rough contents page first. Then I started writing...What did I get? A book that was a big old muddle!

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How to do online market research for your book

The Internet is a vast ocean of information and it is easy to drown in it. That’s why, whenever you set out on the high seas of the Web, you need to have an idea of what you are looking for. Before you begin doing online market research for your book, you need to know what you are looking for and how to find it. I can almost guarantee that whatever your book – or indeed your business – is about it will have already been done by someone else; it is a crowded marketplace and if you expect to be alone in it, you will probably be disappointed. Given that you will find that someone else has already written ‘your book’ it is important to remember that no two people can write the same book, even if the title and topic are the same. You will always bring your own unique perspective, knowledge and personality to a book and it is this that will make your title stand out. What market research can do is to help you to see how you are different so you can emphasise that difference and use it to differentiate your book from others. That said, I know it can be demoralising to go snuffling around out there only to find someone has already done what you are planning to do. Do not let that get you down. Seeing that someone else has already done it can tell you a lot if you know how to interpret the information you get. How to do online market research for your book The obvious place to start looking for information about what other books are out there is, of course, Amazon. The second place is Google. What you can learn on Amazon: Amazon’s search results will tell you if there is another book with...

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How to do Market Research for Your Book in a Bookshop

Back in the day, when I was a commissioning editor, market research was pretty basic. It consisted of visiting a variety of carefully selected bookshops in London to see which, if any, books they had on their shelves that were on the same subject as the book I wanted to publish. To get the most comprehensive picture of the market, I always went to stores of differing sizes and locations around central London. I would also visit my local bookshop at the weekend and go to a bookshop in a suburb of London if at all possible. As I couldn't easily do research outside London, I would sometimes ask our sales reps for feedback as they spent a lot of their time visiting shops in smaller cities and towns. Our reps had often been in the business for decades and they were always useful sources of information, and opinion! As an aspiring author, you would probably expect to do most of your market research online because this gives you far more information than can be found in a local shop. That said, there are still some important lessons from my old-fashioned market research that may make you want to consider visiting a few shops. Here is what the shelves could tell me: If a bookseller stocked a book, it meant that it was selling (otherwise it would not have got shelf space). If there were more than two or three copies of one book on the shelf, it meant it was popular. If there were a lot of books on one subject area and on related subject areas, it meant that it was hot topic. If there was one book and it had been published a few years ago, it indicated a gap in the market (the book was stocked so it was selling but there...

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What to Include in Your Book Blueprint

A comprehensive book project plan is a blueprint for success. That is why it is important to make sure your book blueprint includes decisions about all the key elements to do with the production of your book, from the basic specifications to a detailed marketing strategy. Putting this kind of document together takes time and commitment because it requires you to do research, evaluate data, and make important decisions. Knowing what information you need to gather together is the first step, after that it’s a case of putting in the work so you can pull everything together to form your book blueprint. The key elements of book blueprint Book specifications Sales material Marketing plan Market research Sample material Author bio Production schedule Writing schedule Production budget Marketing budget Each one of these key components requires you to make a decision and that is often the hardest part of creating the blueprint. Deciding can be a challenge, especially when you are not sure of the consequences of each decision or if you are making decisions based on minimal information. These kinds of decisions are never easy to make and you have to be prepared to take a risk, listen to your gut and be prepared to commit or be flexible at the right moments. That said, any plan – even one that includes an element of guesswork– will take you a great deal further forward with your book than if you had no plan at all. So go ahead, make a plan. At the very least it will get you thinking and at the very best it could be the difference between you finishing your book or never starting it. That seems to make creating your book blueprint more than worthwhile.

Why You Need to Create a Book Project Plan

When you are clear about you purpose in publishing a book, you need to get started making a plan. This is the second Key to Publishing Success and it’s a very big key! As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. That is reason enough to create a book project plan. But there is more to it than simply avoiding failure, in fact, it’s about creating success. In my experience, if you do not have a solid plan in place for any project that you undertake, you are likely to lose your way with it, give up before you are finished or simply get it wrong in some way that causes you so much confusion and doubt that you set it aside and never return to it. When I worked as a project editor in a busy publishing house, I had no choice but to have a project plan. This project plan was constructed from a number of key documents made up of: Book proposal (created by the author) Publishing proposal (created by the commissioning editor) Publishing specifications and schedule (created by the team) All of these plans recorded a series of key decisions about the title in question. The book proposal This is the document presented to a commissioning editor by the author. It includes a title, synopsis, contents page, sample chapter and suggested book spec (price, length, size). The Publishing Proposal This document combines some elements of the book proposal (though edited and amended by the commissioning editor in conjunction with the author), sales information such as an assessment of the marketplace, sales projection, and details such as a publication date, production costings and a rough schedule. The Book Spec and Schedule After a book is commissioned, details such as the book specifications – price, number of pages, size of the book, delivery date (detailing when...

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