Ready-set-goSometimes, knowing when you're ready to publish is as hard as writing the manuscript. There are always final edits, and you could have a thousand final drafts. (FinalDraft.doc, ReallyFinalDraft.doc, ReallyReallyFinalDraft.doc, OkThisOneIsItFinalDraft.doc.) Sound familiar? Around here, it's our writers' favorite tune.

It's ok. We get it.

You've poured so much energy and love into your work and now you have to ship it off to a printer and send it out into the cold, cold world. You want to do everything you can to ensure its success.

Or, perhaps you're so sick of the darned thing you just want to be done with it. You're tempted to send it in. No. Matter. What.

So how do you know if you're truly ready to publish?

harshreaderAre you sitting down? I have some news for you: Not everyone is going to like your book. When they don't, you have two choices: 1) Move on or 2) Move into a cabin in the woods.

Nobody likes a bad review. Not you. Not your publisher. Not even the reviewer who most likely feels she wasted her time. But bad reviews do happen.

So what's the best way to handle the inevitable bad review? Do nothing. Seriously. PR experts across the industry agree that the best thing to do is absolutely nothing. Move on and keep working.

If you can't do nothing, then your other option is to take a deep breath, step back, and glean what constructive bits you can from the criticism. Learn from the reviewer and consider if there's anything you can apply to improve your work.

When it comes to publishing a book, there are many details that authors often don't think of until the time comes to make a decision. The size of the book is one such detail. For example, you might think you want a "small" book, but what exactly does that mean? There are a number of book sizes that could be considered "small." Or what exactly is "workbook size"?

Choosing the right size for your book comes down to several key issues, the biggest of which is your book's purpose. Is this a work of fiction, a trade book, a design book, a cookbook, or a textbook? Do you have a collection of poems you're seeking to publish? Certain sizes are better suited to certain types of books.

What’s the one thing that’s worse than reading a terribly dry book? Reading a terribly dry review about a book! Here are some tips by our Senior Editor to help you rise above the noise and catch the attention of book pros.

1. Choose wisely. You don’t have time to read everything, let alone review it. So choose carefully. Unless you're one of the "big voices," it will be nearly impossible to make an impression as one more review about the latest, hottest best seller. But you can make an impression by highlighting quality works by emerging authors. You’ll be the proverbial big voice in a small room instead of the other way around. You can help direct attention to your review by sending a copy to the author, publisher, and/or publicist listed on the author’s website.

As an author, you've probably spent more time worrying about what goes on the page than what goes around it. But as a reader, you've likely relied on the little print around the margins--you know, the stuff that tells you the author's name, what chapter you're reading, and what page you're on. That "stuff" is called the "page elements," and it's an important detail to your published book.

Use our handy pre-publication checklist to help you schedule your marketing and promotional tasks for your book. Make sure you get started early––some of the items on the checklist start as early as 12 months before publication!

pdfClick here to download the checklist.

bookinsideHow a book reads is an important detail that can be easily overlooked in the publishing process. But if your book's text isn't attractive and easy to read, then readers will be turned off before they even get into your message or story.

Too much text, small margins, and cramped lines are a few of the mistakes that are easy to make while laying out a book. But one of the most important, and subtle, details to creating a readable book is the font used for the body of the work.

When it comes to typesetting a book, you have many more choices in fonts than Times New Roman or Arial. Even better, choosing the right font for your book doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg––in fact, it doesn't have to cost you anything. We're sharing with you our favorite fonts for book copy. Some of our choices are available free from online font sites and others come standard on most computers.

You’ve finished your book. You’re in your last round of edits. You’re cover design is in the process of being finalized. You’re ready to pass out copies to friends.

And just when you thought writing your book was the hard part, now it’s time to promote your work. But don’t worry. We’re here to help.

The first step after publishing your book is to understand the importance of book promotion and starting early. And I mean really early, as in a year to six months in advance.

BooksFlyI have some bad news. People do judge your book by its cover.

Your cover is actually one of the most crucial pieces of your published book. After all, what does it matter if you wrote a revolutionary life-changing guide or the most gripping mystery if nobody opens the book to read it?

As an independent author, you likely want to have a strong say in your book cover––you may even want to put your creative skills to use and design it yourself. But with it getting easier than ever for people to publish, and with a dramatic increase in self-published authors, book shelves are getting muddled with sub-par covers. Self-published authors are giving their secret away with common mistakes that can be easily avoided.

Are you tired of asking your friend’s kids for help on the Internet? Do you dread scheduling a post—let alone writing one? Are you embarrassed by your social media accounts?

You can stop worrying about that now. As a sneak peak into Pub Light: A Publisher’s Introduction to Selling your Book in 10 Easy Steps (available this month), this week starts a series of blog posts that can help you answer all of the questions you’re constantly asking yourself when it comes to social media. By tuning into our weekly blog, you will be able to learn about snippets from our latest book as well as instructions on how to revamp your online presence in order to build up your book brand.

First up: Facebook.

TOC-IndexOne of the questions our authors frequently ask us is whether or not they need a table of contents, and index, both, or neither.

This is a big question because while it doesn't mean much to the author's main content, it can mean a lot to the reader. So here's our quick and dirty guide to deciding whether or not you need a table of contents or an index.

Having trouble keeping up with what’s trending online? Confused by all the hashtags? Want a key to all the shorthand messages? The second post to guide you through the social media universe is here. 

Twitter is essentially a timeline of micro-blogging. By tweeting messages of 140 characters or less, you can share, respond or interact with other users in real-time. You can form a relationship with your followers by becoming a “person,” not just a name on a page. 
You should use Twitter to share your thoughts and movements. Tweet what you’re doing, where you’re going, highlights from your life, and books you’re reading. Remember, Twitter is not a shouting media platform. It’s social media. So be social. All posts should reflect a personal, author brand that you’re trying to build.

Book-NoTitleFor many authors, choosing a title for their book is much like choosing a name for their child. A book's title is usually for life, and you want to be sure it's "just right." After all, as much as we say "Don't judge a book by it's cover," everybody does. The title sets the tone for the first and subsequent impressions.

So unless you want to wind up on this list of the 15 Most Ridiculous Book Titles, you'll want to invest some serious time and effort in naming your book.

So how do you choose the right title for your book?

Instagram is a photo-sharing social media platform.

Users can post and edit images with captions or view the images of those users and friends that you follow. News organizations, magazines, events, interest groups and more use Instagram to share information. You can also use it. For example, you may post a sneak peak of your latest book cover. You may post a picture of a place where you write or create a contest to engage with followers. You can also create book quote images using one of the graphic creators we will cover later on.

websiteEvery author needs a webpage, and yet as gifted as authors are with words, they often find it remarkably difficult to decide what to include on their website. If you find yourself in this group, don't despair. You are most definitely not alone. And we are here to help.

Your website can be as fancy or as simple as you want it to be. But there are a few things that every good author website will have:

Have the normal social media sites under control? Are you a Facebook genius, but want to branch out into something different? Or do you want to try something besides Twitter and FB to connect with readers? Then reddit is a great place to connect.


You've finally finished your hours of researching, writing, and editing! You've sent in your manuscript and your publisher asks for a book description... That shouldn't be hard, right? All you have to to do is condense everything you know about your book into 250 words or less that convince readers they can't live without your book without actually giving away any spoilers. 

Writing a book blurb for your back cover and other promotional uses is one of the hardest steps for many authors. Even good writers can write bad book blurbs. To help prevent you from falling into this unfortunate group, we've put together a few tips that should help you write a winning book blurb, whether it's for the latest fantasy novel or for a non-fiction self-help guide.

By now you know that using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a free and effective way to build an audience. Luckily, authors and booklovers have another option to connect with readers: Goodreads. Goodreads (Goodreads.com) is a book lover’s social media haven where members can keep track of books they love, books they hate, and books they want to read. Friends can share recommendations, readers post reviews, and members can even sign up to win books through the giveaway program.

(And Why Editors Move to Goat Farms)

We wish there wasn't so much truth in this infographic about the "heartwarming, only slightly messy, and roughly 74 percent accurate story of how an idea churns through the publishing process." This post from WeldonOwen has been making the rounds in the publishing world online. Thank you for the laugh!

Cover Reveal Blog Title

Everyone has heard the cliché “Don’t choose a book by its cover.” But we all still do that to an extent, don’t we? People do judge a book by its cover. Most people let their opinions of a cover at least subconsciously shadow their perception of a book.

Looks matter. Thus, the cover matters.

auntiereadinghurts LargeAs an author, you've probably been told time and time again that great authors read great books. You can't write if you don't read. And as an author, you probably always have a book by your bed, one on the kitchen table and another in the living room. Books lined up on shelves, books stacked on the floor, and books intermingled with various pages of your latest manuscript. Image from Auntie SparkNotes

You read for research. You read for inspiration. You read for pleasure.

So what if an acclaimed novelist told you, "Don't read that book"?

About a month ago in a column for The Tyee and in an interview on NPR's Talk of The Nation, that's exactly what Crawford Kilian told aspiring authors.

Author Newsletter

Another way to spread the word about your new book and keep readers updated is through an email newsletter. That’s right. Don’t just send one email. Send many. Invite friends, family and readers to sign up for your newsletter either online or at your launch party. If you commit to writing a newsletter you should send it quarterly, monthly, or weekly depending on your schedule.

FB-TwitterIf you're an author these days, it's generally expected that you have a Facebook and Twitter account, among numerous other social media accounts. People rarely ask anymore, "Do you have a Facebook page?" instead asking, "What's your Facebook page?" or "What's your Twitter handle?"

As fabulous as authors are at writing stories, both true and make-believe, they often struggle with what to put on their Facebook page and Twitter feed. In fact, that's one of the most common questions we get from our authors.

Here's a post with some specific ideas to help move you along:

 

Social Media ContentSo now you have all of the accounts set up—but maintaining 2 to 3 social media platforms isn’t as easy as it seems. Creating original content for each individual site can be tricky. Do you always and only find yourself retweeting on Twitter or sharing other people’s posts on Facebook? There’s another way to engage in social media! Using one or a combination of the tools in the next section:

BooksFlyVirtual Book Tours, also known as blog tours, are an excellent way for authors to promote themselves and their books.

  • – Blog tours seem to use all the advantages of social media, plus the "tour stops" are recorded on the blogs and last far beyond the event date, so there's some real staying power involved.
  • – Good tour hosts are kind to the authors and their books, but they are also honest, so readers know they can trust the blog host. That lends credibility to the tour stop and the reviews.
  • – The biggest quandary for the modern author is deciding which is the biggest perk: how budget-friendly viritual book tours are or the fact that you can do them in your bathrobe and slippers.

By Fauzia Burke

One of the nation's leading online book marketing experts, Fauzia Burke recently published Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step by Step Guide. Sharing her expertise of online publicity, book publishing and social media, Fauzia points out trends authors should focus on. 

Important Trends and Statistics for Authors

When authors stay on top of trends, they can use the information to develop more effective online marketing strategies. Your author platform is your ability to reach your readers and build a community. Here are 12 trends to note for authors:

PinterestTypewriterPinterest is the fastest growing standalone website ever. And while recipes, dream travel destinations, style tips, and adorable photos of cats seem to dominate the site's content, there is plenty of room for authors. If you are a published author or want to become one, you should be on Pinterest.

While Pinterest is a visual way to share online content, there are a surprisingly large number of readers and booklovers on the site. While images drive the pins, Pinterest is about so much more than pictures––it's about sharing your favorite things, finding inspiration, and building knowledge.

By Kylee Wooten

Coming up with a name is challenging. Whether you’re deciding on the name of the new family pet, battling over whom to name your child after, or trying to come up with the perfect title for your new novel, it’s almost impossible to know if you’re making the right decision.

PrintingPressAs the Senior Editor for a small publishing company, I see a lot of potential books pass through my hands. To be honest, most of the manuscript submissions Light Messages receives have great potential. The themes are creative and timely, the information is engaging, and the characters are colorful. But more often than not, the books are simply not ready yet.

The single biggest mistake I see new authors make is to publish a book too soon. And I understand how it happens: You write the final line, share the manuscript with a few close friends and family, receive adoring reviews, and then proceed to submit the manuscript for publishing because you think there's nothing more to be done. Then, you wait. And wait. And wait some more. But the call never comes.

By Kylee Wooten

The biggest “do” of all: You should need to be on social media. These days, having a Twitter account and a Facebook page are almost as essential to your success as an author actually having a book.