Way back when, I did quite a bit of work with textile artists and designers having started my first publishing company in that niche. During one ‘Publish your Book’ seminar an artist called Carol turned up with a rather sad looking polythene bag, from which she carefully pulled out a mass of grubby pages barely held together by plastic comb binding. I had asked delegates to bring examples of books they either loved or hated.
Carol had been considering investing in a summer school to learn a technique that a fellow artist was well known for. She had ordered this ‘book’ from the artist’s website hoping it would serve as an introduction to her work and help her identify whether the course would be a good fit for her at that time.
Together, we inspected the evidence. There had been no attempt to design the book and no effort made to take the reader on a logical journey of discovery. It had clearly been printed on a home inkjet printer, the cartridges of which were way past being functional. With a price tag of £20, everyone in the group was frankly quite shocked.
I asked her whether she had booked to go on the summer school, to which the reply came:
‘No. I thought if she applied this much care to her “book”, it did not bode well for the experience she would offer in her teaching.’
Perhaps you’ve been there. You’ve picked up a book about a subject you want to learn more about and found your heart sinking. This could be for any number of reasons:
- The cover design leaves a lot to be desired – it’s poorly constructed, confusing and clearly not designed by a professional.
- The quality of the paper is, well, just wrong. The book feels flimsy and poorly produced.
- The contents list is jumbled and you can’t quite fathom the journey you are about to embark upon.
- You start to read but the typeface is tiny and your eyes are struggling before the end of page 1.
- There’s a typo on the first page.
- You keep having to go back and re-read paragraphs – the sentences are not well constructed and it’s difficult to follow the point being made.
- To name just a few….
You’re a busy person. You thought this book would hold the answers to your questions, but it’s just irritated you instead. You throw the book down on the ‘later’ pile, where it will probably remain until it goes off to the charity shop with all the other books you’ve not found the time to read. The author’s name has slipped from your consciousness. Or even worse, sits stubbornly there – remembered, but not for the right reasons.
There is little doubt that writing and publishing a book can be a huge credibility builder. If someone has gone to the effort of writing down several thousand words about their area of expertise, we tend to believe they know their stuff. And yet, if that job is not done well it can have the opposite effect – and the admiration can soon turn to negative feelings.
Please, don’t let this be you! It is crucial that you don’t undertake this task alone. Along with an author a book needs professional editors, designers, typesetters, proofreaders as well as a specialist book manufacturer. Your aim is to end up with a book that shouts ‘I’m a professional! I’m the diligent expert you need!’ from the rooftops, rather than the opposite. Publishing companies invest in teams of skilled professionals to create books that bring the knowledge and expertise of their authors out in the best light. On behalf of you, the author, a good publisher will always have one purpose in mind. As a book marches out into the world bearing your message, it must be giving the right impression – one that people will admire and remember – and associate with you for the best of all possible reasons.
A beautiful, professionally crafted book that does you justice and shows you and your brand up in the best possible light will draw people towards you. It will help you open up new doors, widen your existing platform and give you the kind influence you need to really make your dreams for your business fly.
Go on. Get your book right. And go knock ‘em dead!