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Overcoming Pitfalls in Self-Publishing

Get Your Book 
Recognized Early
by Jef Bartow

Many of us would be authors envision part of the success of our book as being on every major book chain’s store shelves. Unfortunately, for most major book chains you only get paid when your book is sold to a customer. Book returns for non-selling titles is a normal part of bookselling. For this reality and every other channel for getting your book to your target audience, the solution is getting your book recognized and set apart from your competition.

Of course, the first way to get your book to stand out is through your front and back cover designs and copy. The best cover copy includes what book award programs you've been recognized in, what other recognized authors or experts are saying about your book and great quotes from book reviews. 

Before focusing on book award programs, we need to get great juicy quotes for our book covers. So, develop a list of those individuals, authors and experts that will help you get your book recognized. Send them a copy of your book with a well thought out and powerful cover letter soliciting their review and feedback. If you have decided to use a publicist, hopefully they can be of some help. If not, be sure to find a way to follow up shortly after they have received your book to acknowledge that they did receive it. This can be difficult and time-consuming, but you’re more likely to get feedback if you have made multiple contacts with these same individuals.
There are many opportunities for books to get reviewed in magazines and association publications. Unfortunately, very few books are actually reviewed unless you're already recognized in your book genre. A better way to start is to pay for a book review, so that you do have a review of your book. Both Kirkus Discoveries and will provide them. In our spirituality and metaphysical genre, Metaphysical Reviews by Richard Fuller can be a powerful review source. As things are changing, don't forget to Google to find additional sources.

Next, do your research to determine which would be the best publications for your book to get reviewed in. Then focus on each one separately and uniquely to maximize your opportunity for recognition. If you plan to use significant advertising in their publication for further recognition of your book, be sure to let them know. And remember, this is not a short-term focus, but a long term strategy. It may take 1 to 2 years to get your book into a future issue.

The same time you've created this long-term strategy regarding publications, now focus on the key book award programs that recognize your book genre. In general book publishing there are dozens and dozens of book award programs throughout the country. Unfortunately, the major book publishers always tend to dominate the awards. And this is no exception for books on spirituality and metaphysics.

If you have the time and money, go ahead and submit your book to every single award program possible. A better use of your time and money is to focus on key award programs based on your book genre and self-publishing, if that's your publishing method. In spirituality and metaphysics, a few good ones include The National Best Books Awards, USA Book News Best Books and the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Something to remember is that you need to submit your book within about a year of your publication date. So set your official publication date far enough ahead to not miss your year. 

Images on this page provided by Two Moon Artistry

Another early form of book recognition can come through publicity. Just announcing your "groundbreaking" book can be done through thousands of publications, radio, TV, etc. A general publicist would have you focus on every single one. This shotgun approach will usually fail. For example, I purchased a PR list from a major PR firm that touted that their list was specifically focused on my genre, spirituality and metaphysics. Of the thousands of listings, only a few hundred were really appropriate. The rest would just have been a waste of time and effort. 

It is far better to create a campaign of announcements over a period of months to those contacts that will recognize you've selected them purposely and not just randomly. And by campaign, I mean a concerted series of announcements that continues to demonstrate how your book is getting more and more recognition in the marketplace. So don't put all your good juicy quotes and reviews in one announcement. Stretch them out as much as possible so that you're continually being seen by these contacts.

To sum up, our next pitfall in self-publishing occurs if we do not spend the time, effort and money to get our book recognized early by as many sources as possible. Every means we use later to sell our book will be better rewarded by early and successful recognition before our book gets to market.