ePublishing Roadmap

Let me start by asking you a question.

Q. What is one of the biggest growth markets around?

A: eBooks, no not those poor quality ones we saw years ago, but those superb books that are aimed at devices such as the Kindle, tablet devices and smart phones.

You see sales of these devices are astronomical and that is why Amazon, Apple, B&N and other eBook sites are ravenous for content. Modern eBooks are big business!

So in other words, there is a wide open opportunity to make money satisfying this ravenous market, and the great news is anyone can do this with the right system.

In the ePublishing Roadmap, successful Kindle publisher Robert Corrigan reveals exactly how you can copy his own system to Kindle success and the great news is that it’s so much easier than anyone would ever believe.

The ePublishing Roadmap reveals Robert’s entire system with nothing left out. Nothing else to buy, simply copy and apply the system.

Robert will take you down the route to Kindle success one step at a time. Learn how to use the same system Robert used to make 1483 Kindle sales in 5 months.

In ePublishing Roadmap Robert provides you with everything you need to get started today. In the training videos watch over his shoulder as he shows you how he can produce a Kindle book in just 2 hours.

All the tools you need are either free or you will already have them and he even gives his own Kindle templates to make sure that your book is right first time every time.

The ePublishing Roadmap really is the route to Kindle success.

Free guide: Add more impact to your writing

Posted September 18th, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Content Publishing

Writing is powerful. It’s persuasive. It can even create vivid imagery in one’s mind when they’re engrossed in a story or other piece of writing.

But remember we live in a visual world and this is especially true on the Internet where attention span is fleeting. When someone visits your blog post or Kindle book page, you have just a couple of seconds to capture their attention or they’ll simply click away.

It’s sad, but true. But there is something you can do about it.

You can get this free guide called “Using Visuals In Your Writing To Grab Attention, Increase Engagement And Boost Response” that shows you how to embrace the power of visual content.

You’ll discover how visuals can boost engagement and your sales…all with a bunch of real world examples that you can apply to your own content.

Get it while it’s still available for free.

4 biggest challenges content marketers face

Posted September 14th, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Content Publishing

1. Not enough time to create content: 51%

2. Producing enough content: 50%

3. Making content engaging and effective in marketing: 42%

4. Measuring the effectiveness of content marketing: 38%

Source: Spiceworks

1. Answer questions. Questions that come in are possible subjects for future e-mails.

2. Swipe proven ideas. But don’t plagiarize. Come up with your own take on the topic.

3. Recycle your content; e.g. once or twice a month we take a couple of my e-zine articles and post them on my blog.

Source: Terry Dean, 8/13/14

In a post on goodereader.com, Michael Kozlowski makes an impassioned defense of traditional publishing while attacking self-publishing.

“Thousands of authors every year get in touch with me and ask how they should go about getting their books published,” says MK. “I tell every single one that they should not take the easy way and self-publish, but instead try and get a book deal by a major publisher.”

Why? MK notes: “When you get a trade publishing contract, you have a small army of people that have a vested interest in your success.”

EH, who works in traditional publishing, agrees: “The people that work on self-published books get paid whether the book performs or not, so they have no skin in the game.

“Editors and others who work at traditional publishers depend on the success of the books they publish to earn their salaries. I don’t think it is fair to compare the levels of commitment given this factor.”

TH adds, “There are a lot of people taking advantage of people who want to write a book and sell them services that are worthless.”

Andrew Franklin, founder of Profile Books, says, “The overwhelming majority of self-published books are terrible—unutterable rubbish, they don’t enhance anything in the world. These books come out and are met with a deathly silence.”

(To be fair, I am not sure that Franklin’s critique doesn’t apply to all books, not just self-published books.)

Another goodereader.com user writes, “The self-publishing industry, flooded with bad literature, needs a filtering system.”

That’s the main problem with self-publishing IMHO. Trade books are vetted by a team of experienced publishing professionals. So many self-published books aren’t vetted at all.

Author Richard Sugg: “To some, this new, relatively unfiltered and uncontrolled form of dissemination may seem little more prestigious than running your own blog.”

MK again: “When you self-publish, you have no understanding of how the publishing industry works and you never will. You will constantly make mistakes and never learn from them, because nobody will bring them to your attention.”

Dozens of goodereader.com readers responded to MK’s rant against and said he was wrong about self-publishing. His response: “You guys drone on and on about feeling empowered, about how trade publishing is the devil. This is because less than 0.01% of you are good enough to GET a publishing contract.

“You self-publish because you don’t have a choice and you delude yourselves that you do it because it gives you more control and more money, give me a break. You guys simply aren’t good enough.”

While this comment strikes me as a bit mean, I suspect there may be more than a little truth in it, based on the flood of poorly written, amateurish self-published books well-meaning friends and subscribers send me to review.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

For more than 3 decades, my clients and I have used one simple marketing strategy that still works like gangbusters today for generating new business and establishing yourself as a recognized expert in your field: writing a book.

Specifically, writing a book on your specialty—your area of knowledge or expertise related to your product or service.

Just having the book as a credential helps legitimize you as an authority and can set you apart from others in your niche.

But the real secret to marketing with a book is to give your book away to as many potential clients as possible.

You can do this by offering the free book in an ad or mailer, through a landing page online, through mentions in e-newsletters (yours and others), through PR and many other ways.

One of my clients has built a highly successful business by giving away thousands of copies of his book—not cheap, because it’s a big hardcover book.

If you look at people who are recognized thought leaders in their specialties—Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Tom Peters, Seth Godin—virtually all of them have written one or more books.

Why is it a good marketing strategy to offer your book free to potential customers or clients? 3 reasons.

First, as marketer Jeffrey Lant has said, “A book is a brochure that will never be thrown away.”

Your sales kit may end up in the trash or be deleted with a click. But the book is kept on a shelf where the prospect sees it every time he walks into the room, reminding him of you and your service.

Second, if your book mostly tells readers stuff they already know, your prospects will nod their heads in agreement as they read and become convinced you really know what you are talking about.

Third, of the people who buy your book online or in a bookstore, a certain number will contact you to inquire about your services. An inquiry from someone who read your book and then liked it enough to call you is about the most qualified lead you can get.

I have used both physical books and e-books (both PDF and Kindle) in my marketing with excellent results.

But I favor a paperbound book. It is simply much more impressive to the prospect that you have written a ‘real’ book vs. an electronic book. It has more impact. It’s more memorable.

Note: If you publish your book with a mainstream publishing house and the book goes out of print, the publisher will ask whether you want to purchase the remainders at a deep discount.

Jump on this offer. It will give you a big supply of “brochures that will never be thrown away” for pennies on the dollar.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

How often must you post fresh content?

Posted August 9th, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Content Publishing

Content has become so important that 4 out of 10 marketers surveyed by Visage publish original content one or more times every day.

A third of the marketers surveyed publish new content weekly, and 15% published original content once a month.

You definitely need an employee or vendor dedicated to writing all this new content for you, or at least curating it from other authors in your company.

Source: KoMarketing

PublishVaultNo matter what type of blog site you publish to, this is a MUST-HAVE app (plus they are offering unlimited WordPress publishing).

Imagine being able to publish content to ALL of your WordPress blogs…under ONE ROOF!

Imagine not having to login and out of multiple sites just to make a simple change to your blog post.

Imagine an all-in-one platform to publish content, meta information AND schedule content drip campaigns AND have access to professional content writers at your fingertips…

This is what PublishVault can do.

PublishVault provides simple, yet advanced features:

[+] Contributor & Editor Calendar to Manage Content Posting Schedule
[+] Monitor Contributor Progress
[+] Easy User Management for Author Collaboration
[+] Integration with iWriter for Finding 1000+ High-Quality Authors to Write Content
[+] Idea Hub Allows you to Research on Auto-pilot
[+] Integration with the Latest SEO Plugins for Optimized Content

I challenge you to find a better solution that streamlines your publishing workflow for for under $100.

Here’s a little secret for increasing your writing productivity and output that I learned from Isaac Asimov, the prolific science and science fiction author of 435 books.

Asimov said the secret to his voluminous output was to have multiple writing projects simultaneously.

I do the same and urge you to also. Why?

If you only have one writing assignment, and you either fatigue or hit a roadblock (e.g. you are waiting for a critical piece of background research from the client), then you are stuck, can’t
continue, and have nothing else to do, so the rest of the day is spent in limbo.

Asimov said, “I always have multiple writing projects. That way, when I get stuck or tired, I put Project A aside, pull out Project B, and start typing.”

With the variety of multiple writing projects, I am never stuck, always engaged and energized, and never bored.

Another reason for Asimov’s prolificity was that he loved his work.

“When people ask me to name 10 things I love to do, I answer: write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, and write.

“Oh, there are plenty of other things I like to do. But as far as things I love to do? Writing is it.”

He often said that, like me, he loved cold, gray, dreary, rainy days because it meant he could stay inside all day writing without guilt.

He loathed sunny, warm days because people expected him to go out and do things they thought were fun but mostly bored if not outright tortured him.

“On a recent sunny day, my young daughter Robin skipped into my office and asked, ‘Daddy, can we go to the zoo?'” Asimov said.

“I go because I love her, but I leave my heart behind stuck in my typewriter keys.”

I close with my favorite Asimov story…

When Barbara Walters interviewed Asimov, she asked, “What would you do if you knew you only had 6 months to live?”

Without missing a beat, Asimov replied: “Type faster.”

My kind of guy.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article here extolling the virtues and advantages of having your book published by a real publishing house vs. self-publishing.

This prompted subscriber LP to write, “Just wondering if there is ever a time or situation where self-publishing has merit.”

Yes, LP, I can think of several.

First, for whatever reason, you are in a hurry to get the book published.

From the day you turn in your book manuscript, it can take 6 to 12 months for your book to get published.

If you cannot wait that long, self-publishing is the answer; you can get your self-published Kindle e-book on Amazon in as little as a few weeks.

Second, you want total control over the contents and design of the book.

Publishers edit books and demand authors make requested changes. The publisher also has the final say on book design.

If you want your book a certain way, and don’t want to be told how to write or design it, self-publishing is the alternative to mainstream publishers.

Third, you are a master marketer and believe you can make more money selling the book directly to consumers on your own.

Robert Ringer self-published his mega-bestsellers and sold them through brilliantly written full-page newspaper ads before selling the paperback rights to a mainstream publisher for a lot of money.

Many other master marketers—including Bob Kalian, Joe Karbo, and the late Melvin Powers—made a lot of money self-publishing…more than they probably would have made in mainstream publishing.

Fourth, you are a professional speaker, business owner, service provider, or self-employed professional, and you want copies of your book to sell or give away.

When you publish with a mainstream publishing house, you get only a 50% author’s discount on copies you purchase, making it prohibitively expensive to give away a lot of copies of the book. Such a margin is too small to warrant selling the book on your own.

If you self-publish a paperbound book, the cost per copy can be low enough to make it a practical giveaway or product you sell.

Fifth, you have been turned down by mainstream literary agents and publishing houses.

Not everyone who wants to write a book can get it published, which is precisely why traditional publishing is more exclusive and prestigious.

If publishers say “no” and you believe in the book and want to see it in print or online as an e-book, self-publishing can make that happen.

The “Bible” of book self-publishing is “The Self-Publishing Manual” by Dan Poynter.

The authoritative guide to marketing your book is “1,001 Ways to Market Your Book” by John Kremer.

SH, an author who has had multiple books published by traditional publishers and now coaches new authors, says, “I typically advise my clients to self-publish successfully, and then approach publishers with a track record. It makes for a much more balanced negotiation.”

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

“I’d be interested to hear your take on the ongoing feasibility of selling information products given the growing influence of content marketing, i.e. the provision of free information in order to attract and educate prospects.

“Is the easy availability of free information raising the bar on what information products you can sell, and in what ways?”

The answer is: well, yes and no. You see, people have been selling information products for decades, and marketers have been giving away information on the same topics for just as long.

So why do people shell out big bucks for information products on subjects for which plenty of free content is there for the taking?

Several reasons:

First, the free content is typically created as a marketing tool. Therefore, the producer is more concerned with whether it fulfills the marketing objectives rather than helps the reader achieve his or her goals. So although many a free e-book and white papers look well designed and seem well written, the content is often very light on how-to specifics.

Second, the rule for free vs. paid content seems to be as follows: in your free content, you tell people WHAT to do. In your paid info-products, you show them HOW to do it. So information products cover ground free content marketing skips over.

Third, people don’t pay that much attention to the free content they download—precisely because it is free and therefore has low perceived value. On the other hand, when someone pays $39 for one of my e-books, they usually study the material thoroughly.

Fourth, free content used to attract and educate people is usually written by marketing people and copywriters who are not subject matter experts. They are mainly regurgitating second-hand knowledge they got from interviews and Google. Paid information products are usually written by people who are experts and have successfully done the thing they are teaching. The marketing writers almost never have done it.

Fifth, free content is written either by a faceless corporate marcom professional or by a hired copywriter or ghostwriter the reader hasn’t even heard of before. People trust gurus. They have a small set of gurus they follow. Therefore they would rather buy an e-book by the guru they trust than read a free whitepaper a corporation is using to generate leads for widgets, software, or whatever they sell.

Sixth, free content is basically “soft sell” advertising; its purpose is to sell the marketer’s product or service. It’s a promotion. My info-products don’t sell anything because I have already been paid for them, and therefore my focus is on delivering maximum value for the customer’s dollars, not getting you to buy something else.

Seventh, while a ton of free content is available to both consumers and business buyers, B2B marketers are as a rule more active content marketers than B2C companies. So it’s somewhat more difficult to sell information products to business buyers than to consumers, and especially difficult to sell info-products to executives and professionals at large corporations. Small businesses are a much easier market and eagerly buy info-products on business topics.

But yes, LW, to answer your question, read point #2 above. To please buyers in an era of free information, your paid information products must tell people how to do something they really want to do. Not just what to do, but how to do it—specific step-by-step instructions with loads of detail. Or tips, tactics, and strategies that, if implemented, will enable them to achieve their goals that much better and faster.

One more point: Fred Gleeck and I have a rule that a paid information product should be worth at least 10 times the price you paid for it. If you want to charge $100, you must believe your product would be a worthwhile purchase for $1,000.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

In a Facebook discussion on the relative merits of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing, MH writes: “The only reason I could think of someone wanting to publish a non-fiction business book via a traditional publisher would be access to retail distribution in airports where executive decision-makers still buy books during travel.”

Really, MH? Because I can think of at least 7 additional advantages of traditional publishing over self-publishing:

1. Traditional publishing is more prestigious than self-publishing.

People are impressed when you tell them your book was published by John Wiley & Sons, largely because they can’t do it. They are less impressed when you tell them you paid to have it printed at Kinkos, because anyone can do it.

2. Many newspapers, magazines, and other mainstream media outlets won’t even consider reviewing your book if it is self-published. They only treat books from real publishers seriously.

3. The money flows the right way: from publisher to author.

As soon as you sign a contract to write a book, you get an advance check from the publisher even before you’ve written one word. Once the book sales pay back the advance, you get royalties.

By comparison, in self-publishing you have to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to book designers, printers, and other vendors you pay to create your book.

4. You get a free editor, book designer, printer, and proofreader.

When you write a book for a traditional publisher, they assign an editor who edits your book, and also a proofreader who checks the galleys for errors. If you are a self-publisher and you use an editor and proofreader (many do not), their fee comes out of your pocket. Plus, they design, typeset, print, inventory, and distribute your book for you, also free of charge!

5. Self-publishing a book is a ton of work that I don’t have time for. With traditional publishing, once you write the book, other people, as just noted, handle the production and distribution for you.

6. If a self-publisher uses print-on-demand technology, you can print books one at a time, but the cost per copy is high. You can save money by going to a short-run printer and printing 1,000 to 3,000 copies, but it’s a big cash outlay and where are you going to put them?

7. Self-publishers say that mainstream publishers do no marketing for your book. But they do: I have been on dozens of radio and TV shows, courtesy of my book publishers’ PR departments.

Self-publishers do their marketing entirely on their own, and the sad fact is that the vast majority don’t know how…and as a result, sell very few books.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Anyone who says unequivocally that self-publishing is the cat’s pajamas is kidding themselves.

Lots of self-publishing evangelists tell me there is more money in self-publishing and that traditionally published books make no money. My reply: Stephen Covey, Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Dr. Phil, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, James Patterson, Scott Adams—the list goes on and on. (Patterson makes $90 million a year.)

LT says: “In the digital world, anyone and everyone can be an author, regardless of experience, expertise or industry track record. A book contract doesn’t automatically confer expertise. But it does assure that the material—and the author—have been vetted by a third-party editorial and publishing team with a huge investment in the writer’s credibility.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Subscriber TT writes: “How often do you ask the audience for what they want to read vs. composing what you want to write?

“I see a lot of content people now firmly suggesting that we should only create large projects when they have been validated.

“In the back of my mind though, I wonder if that doesn’t somehow mute the ‘crazy ideas’ out of the possible and turn most projects into market-friendly, gray-scale stuff.

“On the other hand, once enough money is generated to allow for creative freedom there is probably a lot more leverage for doing whatever the hell you want.”

The short answer is: when it comes to my how-to writing, mostly I write what interests me.

Why this works: I am much like my readers, so if something interests me, it is most likely going to interest a lot of them too.

However, there are two major exceptions to this.

First, some of what I write, like this article, is in response to specific questions different readers, like TT, ask me.

And once in a blue moon, I ask my online subscribers what they would like me to write about by doing a survey of my subscriber list using Survey Monkey.

But even when I have asked readers what they are interested in, or am answering a reader’s question, I still write what I want to write.

In copywriting, it is slightly different: my clients tell me specifically what they want written; e.g. a sales letter selling a dietary supplement; a whitepaper about recycling electronic equipment.

But even then, I am writing what I want to write, because I only take on assignments that interest me.

When TT refers to “content people” he probably means corporate types responsible for content marketing.

I am not sure how he is defining “validated”. Or to what degree the topic is validated before the OK is given to create the content.

In my experience writing content for corporate employers and clients, management already knows what information its prospects want.

And so they go ahead and create it with no formal market research, survey, or validation other than their own experience, instincts, and knowledge of the marketplace.

When it comes to deciding what to write about, heed the immortal worlds of best-selling author Dr. Benjamin Spock: “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

But when writing copy or content for a client or employer, you may have to change your tone, or your language, or your format, or a million other things to make a piece of writing better. But none of that should inhibit the inherent “you-ness” of what you write, advises HubSpot.

“Don’t try to adopt someone else’s voice, even if it sounds really, really good,” they recommend. “They’re better at being them than you are, anyway.”

Source: Hubspot report, The Marketer’s Pocket Guide to Writing Well

Once again subscriber WG writes; this time she asks, “What do we do when somebody copies our writing and places it on their website?”

In other words, what should you do when someone uses your content without your permission?

Years ago, I was reading a marketing magazine—let’s call it Magazine X—when I came across an article that caught my attention.

It noticed it because I had written it—and published it in another magazine—and this magazine had reprinted it under another author’s byline!

Turns out they weren’t stealing; the other author was. He retyped my article and sent in the manuscript to Magazine X. They did not know it was stolen and had no reason to think so.

I had my lawyer send him a scary, threatening letter. In short order I got an apology and a check for a thousand dollars.

In the Internet age, some people argue that it’s smart to let other people use your content, because it spreads your ideas, generate traffic, and raises your visibility with search engines.

Yes, that can be true, but only when you are credited as the author with both a byline, your bio appears with the article, and it includes a link to your website.

If those three things are done—byline, bio, link to your site—then it may be beneficial for your content to be republished online or even offline.

However, the fact that it is beneficial does not give others carte blanche permission to use your material unless you say it is OK.

The following statement appears at the top of the articles page on my website:

“Media, bloggers, marketers, editors, publishers, webmasters—Need powerful content on your website or blog?

“You can syndicate and/or republish any of the articles on this page for free. Republishing our articles is quick and easy.

“All you have to do is include author attribution (byline/name of author) and the following statement, “This article appears courtesy of Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter,” with a backlink to www.bly.com. That’s it!”

I post this because yes, I want my content to get wider distribution, as long as it generates traffic to my site.

This blanket permission applies only to the content on the articles page of my site and not to anything else I write.

Before you go giving everyone permission to use and reprint your writing willy nilly, you should understand that content has monetary value—and maybe you want to get paid for yours instead of just giving it away.

A few years ago, one of my books on marketing went out of print, and the rights reverted to me, as is standard in publishing contracts—though you should always make sure this “reversion of rights” clause is in any publisher’s contract you sign; it is not always.

Literally that same week, a marketing company called and asked if they could reprint a chapter from my book as a lead magnet to offer their prospects.

I said yes, we negotiated the deal over the phone in 5 minutes, and a few weeks later, I gladly received their check for $10,000—the easiest money I ever made in my life.

Remember that story next time you convince yourself that content is a worthless commodity and you give all yours away for free.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

About once a week I get an e-mail with a subject line or first sentence that begins: “My new book” and then announces publication of the writer’s new book.

Here’s a tip: “My new book” may be the weakest phrase ever used in online copy.

The reason is twofold. First, the phrase begins with “my”, and the reader cares about himself, not you.

Second, the third word in the phrase is “book” and almost no one cares about your new book.

Reason: There are so many books in print today, the very word “book” is a turn-off, signaling a subject of no interest to anyone save the writer.

Back in the day, when we used full-page print ads and direct mail packages to sell books, we used the word “book” in the copy as little as possible because it creates an immediate boredom factor.

Substitutes include “material”, “guide”, “manual”, “program”, “course” and “instructions”.

You can say “book” one or two times in your copy, and alternate with the other terms above.

But if you are selling the book for money, do not use “book” in the headline or lead (if you are giving the book away as a lead magnet, then saying “book” up front is OK).

Another pet peeve of mine is that I hate it when well-meaning readers and fans send me their new book in the mail without asking me if it’s OK to do so.

I already have too much to read and the shelves in the bookcases in my office are already filled with reference materials for various writing projects.

Here’s the other horrible thing about the boom in self-publishing triggered by Amazon and Kindle today: it has caused an out-of-control proliferation of really bad books.

I know that sounds cruel, but as you know, I always give you the unvarnished truth.

And the vast majority of self-published books people send me should just not have been published in the first place.

When people take piano lessons, they are content to play for their own pleasure, and feel no compulsion to rent halls and give concerts, in part because they know they don’t play on a professional level.

But writers are not content to write for their own pleasure. They feel compelled to publish their writing and have it read by other people, hence the popularity of blogs, Facebook, and Kindle.

I have come to the realization that the books I write are not really that important, though some people do tell me they have been helped by them, and for that I am glad.

But I am not writing “Remembrance of Things Past” and most other people aren’t either.

We live in a world where print in general and books in particular play a much smaller role in society than they did a century ago.

Best to remember that writing a book today is a small thing and not terribly important to anyone other than the author—you.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Despite what you may think, I would never say that traditional publishing is inherently superior to self-publishing.

What I do say is that I personally prefer traditional publishing to self-publishing both as an author and a reader for several reasons.

First, when a book is published by a mainstream publishing house, it has been vetted.

That means in most cases, at least one entity—a publishing house—thought it was good enough to pay money for it. Not so for self-published books.

Second, traditional publishing is more selective.

A book published by a mainstream publisher has been approved by a committee or board of experienced book editors and marketers.

With self-publishing, there is zero selectivity: anyone on the planet can self-publish whatever they want, whenever they want.

Third, traditionally published books have been edited by professional editors.

Editing is quality control for written communications.

The vast majority of self-published books have not had an editor (separate from the author), and it is apparent in the lack of quality.

Tip: If you are going to self-publish your book, hire a freelance editor. You can find one at the Editorial Freelancers Association.

Fourth, traditionally published books have the edge in marketing, PR, and sales.

I have met many book reviewers for newspapers who will only review books by ‘real’ publishers and dismiss out of hand self-published books—wrongly, in my opinion, but that’s what they do.

The major publishers have sales reps that get books into bookstores vs. the self-publisher has no such sales force.

Traditional publishers admittedly do little marketing for the majority of the titles they put out, but the overwhelming majority of self-publishers have marketing budgets approaching zero.

There have been many self-publishing success stories throughout the years, but they provide only anecdotal proof that self-publishers can succeed.

I suspect—though I cannot prove—that there are thousands of Kindle e-books on Amazon produced by their authors that have sold less than 100 copies each.

Fifth, in traditional publishing, authors have traditionally been paid an advance of four or five figures before they have even written the book.

And we get a royalty on every book sold after the advance is paid back through book sales.

In self-publishing a paperbound book, authors traditionally plunked down thousands of dollars to print a couple of thousand copies of a book that might not sell five copies.

Admittedly, some of this is changing: Thanks to print-on-demand (POD), your self-published paperback can be printed one copy at a time, eliminating a large cash outlay up front.

As for advances, most mainstream publishers still pay them, but they are shrinking. And a small but growing number of traditional publishers are morphing into semi-vanity presses.

Some pay a flat fee and no royalty. Others require authors to buy 5,000 copies of their own book, essentially funding the venture out of their own pockets.

But, while it still exists even in a bastardized form, for me, I want my books published by a real publisher.

Yes, I’m prejudiced in favor of the traditional book publishing model, which is rapidly eroding. But it’s what I grew up with in my book writing career and it’s what I will stick with in my old age until it—and I—fade away.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Ideal length for whitepapers

Posted November 18th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Content Publishing

Whitepaper guru Gordon Graham says the sweet spot for whitepapers is 6 to 8 pages of content. Add a front cover, contents page, and about the company and you’re up to a total document of 10 or 11 pages. But what about those who say that readers want much shorter white papers today?

“Many marketing people today want to achieve the impact of a great whitepaper, without making the investment to develop one, and without asking their prospects to deal with a substantial document,” says Gordon. “But I don’t believe there’s any shortcut.” Graham says that anything with less than 4-5 solid pages of content is hard to call a “whitepaper” because there just isn’t the space to develop much of an argument. He adds, “The trouble with a 2-3 pager is that it almost always becomes a brochure or data sheet, without much capacity for reframing an issue, redrawing a market space, or helping a business person understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.

“To me that’s the real definition of a whitepaper. So I’d say for sure, cut the flab and make your whitepapers as concise as possible. But don’t think 3 pages is going to do the same job as 6 or 8.”

Everyone Writes, But Should They? by Bob Bly

Posted September 22nd, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Content Publishing

My colleague Michael Stelzner recently did a podcast with a woman, AH, who wrote a forthcoming book called “Everyone Writes”.

AH is right: everyone writes. But I have always wondered whether everyone should write. And I have come to believe that they should not.

Reason: In the good old days, just because you wrote something didn’t mean it would be published. In fact, likely, it would not.

To get published, you had to convince a publishing house to buy your book—or a newspaper or magazine editor to print your article or your letter-to-the-editor…and most people were not able to do this easily. So what got published was vetted by professionals—and the quality reflected that editorial guidance.

But today, in the digital era, anything that anyone writes can be and often is instantly published to the Internet where theoretically millions of people can read it—and at least a
few people, if only just your Facebook friends or Twitter followers, almost certainly will.

Some people see this “everyone writes (and publishes)” phenomenon as a wonderfully liberating new age in human communication.

To me, it is the end of western civilization as we know it—and the death of literacy—and the heralding of an unceasing age of what I see as endless “content pollution”.

Content pollution is everyone publishing every thought they have, and almost everything that happens to them, without the benefit of an editor or publisher to filter what goes out into the ether.

I define the job of the editor as “quality control for written communication”. Without editors, which the Internet has largely removed from the equation, the quality of published writing has fallen to a new low—not an easy accomplishment.

Example: Facebook posts featuring a picture of what the person has just eaten for breakfast. The amazing thing is that some readers actually seem interested!

The ease of publishing blogs, online newsletters, online articles, posts, and the like has caused amateur writing to flourish. And that’s bad news for professionals: it’s difficult to command a living wage for something thousands or even millions of people are happy to do for free, even if you are ostensibly better at it.

People ask me why I take the old-school stance of preferring traditional book publishing with NYC publishers to self-publishing on Amazon with Kindle or on a website.

The main reason is this: with traditional book publishing, you know that at least one person—the editor at the publishing house—thought highly enough of the work to pay for it. That’s a quality control self-publishing is sadly lacking.

Normally at this point in my essay I suggest solutions or give tips for profiting from the situation.

But I don’t really have a solution to content pollution. People feel compelled to express their thoughts, and thanks to the Internet, can do so at any time—and are assured of at least some readers taking note.

There is nothing I can do to change the human compulsion to write and publish. I just wish more people who feel this compulsion would produce content at a higher level—that is, writing actually worth reading—and filter what they put on the web. Don’t you?

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Recently I asked BM, a marketing consultant, whether he was working on the new book he had told me months ago he was planning to write.

He replied that he was struggling with the question of whether to move forward with it.

“The the world does not need another marketing book,” he e-mailed me, sounding a bit down and dejected.

My first reaction was that BM is right: the world does not need another marketing book.

A number of my readers send me their new marketing books without asking whether I want them. Note: If you were thinking of doing so, please do not.

And my initial reaction is usually that the book should never have been written or published in the first place.

Most of the books are a rehash of what has already been written about a zillion times before.

But when I drill deeper into thinking about marketing books, my viewpoint begins change.

Why? For starters, even if the material has been covered elsewhere, many readers still need to hear it again.

If they didn’t, their marketing would be performing a lot better than it is right now.

Second, the authors, whether business owners or consultants, have conducted and seen the results of many marketing tests, and in doing so may have picked up some learning that you and I can benefit from.

I have been a copywriter for 35 years, and to my amazement, I still learn new techniques and tips every week that help me write better copy and get better results. And the only way you can learn them from me is to read my books and articles or attend my talks.

Yes, 95% of what is in these marketing books may have been written about before. But there’s nothing wrong with that, given that we read largely for reinforcement—to master the principles and make them ingrained in our brains.

If we could truly learn all we need from one volume, there would only be a single self-help book sold at Barnes & Noble.

And, as pointed out by many people wiser than I, if you get just one good idea from a marketing book, it can pay back your entire investment in buying and reading the book 10X over or more the very first time you use it.

So my advice to BM is: if you feel a strong desire to write a marketing book, and you think what you have to say is valuable or fresh, or both, then by all means do it.

At best, you will create something that brings genuine value to your readers—value beyond what they paid for.

At worst, you will have enhanced your reputation by being the author of a published book.

I close with what I think is a relevant story…

About 30 pages into the writing of his first published novel “Carrie”, Stephen King became so despondent he threw the pages into the trash.

The novel would never have seen the light of day had his wife Tabitha not rescued the manuscript from the waste bin and encouraged him to finish the book.

Millions of readers and the King family are glad he did, right?

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

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