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20 Writing Tips for Crafting Business and Personal Development Books

Writing a business or personal development book is a rewarding endeavor that allows you to share your knowledge, experiences, and insights with a broader audience. To launch a successful book, it’s essential to learn from thought leaders who have navigated the world of publishing. In this blog, we’ll outline 20 invaluable writing tips drawn from renowned authors, experts, and our team’s experience in business and personal development.

1. Start with a Clear Purpose

Before you begin writing, take the time to clarify the main purpose and message of your book. Identifying your “why” will serve as a guiding light throughout your writing journey, ensuring your content remains focused and impactful. Your purpose should resonate deeply with your own passion and beliefs, motivating you during challenging moments in the writing process.

2. Know Your Audience

In-depth knowledge of your target readers is crucial. Understand their demographics, interests, and pain points so you can tailor your book to address their specific needs and provide valuable insights that resonate with them. By conducting surveys or engaging with your audience directly, you can gather valuable feedback to refine your understanding of their preferences and concerns.

3. Craft a Compelling Hook

The opening pages of your book are your opportunity to captivate your audience. A compelling hook, whether it’s a thought-provoking question, a gripping anecdote, or a bold statement, should entice readers and compel them to continue reading. Consider experimenting with various hooks and seek feedback from beta readers to ensure you’ve chosen the most compelling one for your book.

4. Develop a Unique Voice

Embracing your own voice and personality in your writing makes your book authentic and relatable. Readers appreciate genuine authors who aren’t afraid to be themselves, creating a stronger connection between you and your audience. Your unique voice should reflect your values and worldview, making your book a true reflection of who you are as an author.

5. Create an Outline

A well-structured outline acts as your roadmap, helping you organize your thoughts, chapters, and key points. It ensures a logical flow in your book and simplifies the writing process. As you create your outline, pay attention to the balance of ideas and themes throughout your book to maintain a cohesive narrative.

6. Write Regularly

Consistency is key to progress. Establish a writing routine that works for you, whether it’s daily, weekly, or another schedule that allows you to steadily advance toward your book’s completion. Consider setting specific word count goals for each writing session to maintain a sense of achievement and momentum.

7. Edit Ruthlessly

In line with the advice of renowned author and speaker Malcolm Gladwell, the first draft is just the beginning. Dedicate time to revise and edit your work meticulously, refining your ideas and language to make your book shine. After completing your initial edits, consider seeking the expertise of a professional editor to provide a fresh perspective and further improve the quality of your manuscript.

8. Be Concise

Keep your writing concise and to the point, avoiding unnecessary jargon or verbosity. Clarity and simplicity make your content more accessible to readers. While editing, pay attention to sentence structure and word choice to eliminate any redundancies or extraneous details that may detract from the clarity of your message.

9. Tell Stories

Incorporate relevant stories and anecdotes into your book. Stories have a unique power to engage readers emotionally, making your message more memorable and relatable. Ensure that the stories you choose are not only engaging but also directly reinforce the key points and lessons you want your readers to take away.

10. Offer Practical Solutions

Marshall Goldsmith suggests that your book should be a source of actionable advice. Readers should not only gain insights but also have concrete steps they can take to improve their lives or businesses. Your practical solutions should be well-researched and tested, providing readers with a clear path to implement your guidance effectively.

11. Embrace Vulnerability

As Brené Brown advises, don’t shy away from sharing your own vulnerabilities and challenges. Being open about your own experiences can make your writing more authentic and create a deeper connection with your audience. Embrace vulnerability as a strength, not a weakness, and use it to build trust and relatability with your readers.

12. Research Thoroughly

A well-researched book builds credibility and trust with your readers. Be diligent in your research, explore a variety of sources, and ensure you properly cite and reference your research materials to maintain integrity.

13. Seek Feedback

External feedback can provide valuable insights and help you refine your book to better meet your audience’s needs. Create a structured feedback process that encourages honest critique, and be open to making revisions based on the feedback you receive.

14. Find Your Writing Routine

Establish a writing routine that aligns with your personal creativity and productivity patterns. Find the time of day when you’re most inspired and focused. Experiment with different writing environments and routines until you discover the one that allows you to consistently produce your best work.

15. Embrace Failure

Setbacks and rejection are part of the writing journey. Learn from your failures, persevere, and keep honing your craft. Use failures as opportunities for growth and resilience, understanding that every setback brings you one step closer to success.

16. Stay Current

In the ever-evolving worlds of business and personal development, staying up-to-date with the latest research, trends, and industry insights is essential. Daniel Pink encourages writers to maintain their relevance. Subscribe to relevant industry publications, attend conferences, and network with experts to stay informed and provide your readers with fresh, valuable perspectives.

17. Build Your Platform

A strong platform can greatly impact your book’s success. Invest time in building your website, social media presence, and email list, and engage with your audience regularly to create a community of dedicated followers.

18. Collaborate

Co-authoring with experts in your field, as Richard Branson suggests, can enhance the depth and breadth of your book’s content. Collaboration can also expand your reach and credibility. When collaborating, clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations to ensure a seamless writing process and a cohesive final product.

19. Set Realistic Goals

Zig Ziglar advises authors to set achievable writing and publishing goals. Breaking down your book project into manageable milestones helps maintain motivation and momentum. Track your progress and celebrate each accomplishment along the way to keep your motivation high and your focus unwavering.

20. Never Stop Learning

Warren Buffett’s wisdom extends to writing—continual self-improvement and learning are essential. Stay curious, read widely, and strive to grow as a writer to create even better books in the future. Attend writing workshops, take courses, and seek opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills as an author to continually elevate your writing.

Putting it All Together

Whether you’re an aspiring author or have written multiple books to date, integrating these insights into your writing process will help you create impactful and influential content that resonates with your audience. Remember: the path to becoming a thought leader in your own right begins with sharing your wisdom through the written word.

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Amplify Publishing Group Welcomes Mel Robbins to Board of Directors

We’re thrilled to share some incredible news with our community of authors, readers, partners, and supporters: Mel Robbins has joined Amplify Publishing Group’s board. As a hybrid publisher committed to empowering authors and revolutionizing the industry, we couldn’t be more honored to have Mel join our executive leadership. Her remarkable achievements as a podcast host, bestselling author, self-publishing phenom, and expert in mindset and behavior change make her a valuable asset to our organization. With Mel’s unique insights and expertise, we’re confident Amplify Publishing Group will reach even greater heights in supporting our authors and delivering exceptional content to readers worldwide.

“Amplify is the leader in disrupting the traditional publishing business model, and I’m here for it! I love our mission of empowering authors to own and control their intellectual property while still leveraging traditional retail distribution. I am excited to align with an organization that upholds my own values as a thought leader, entrepreneur, podcast host, and innovative author.”

—Mel Robbins, host of The Mel Robbins Podcast and New York Times bestselling author with millions of books sold

A World-Renowned Expert, Accomplished Author, and Entrepreneur

Mel Robbins’s name resonates across the globe, and we’re privileged to have her on board. Her widely acclaimed podcast, The Mel Robbins Podcast, has captured the hearts and minds of millions of listeners, and we are truly humbled to have the opportunity to collaborate with a trusted authority on personal development and self-improvement. Mel’s expertise in mindset and behavior change has made a profound impact on individuals worldwide, and we are excited to leverage her knowledge and experience to further enhance our books and offerings.

Beyond her podcasting success, Mel is a New York Times bestselling author whose books have transformed the lives of countless readers, guiding them on a path toward personal growth and fulfillment. We admire Mel’s ability to connect with and motivate her audiences through various mediums, as evidenced by her millions of books sold worldwide, seven #1 audiobooks on Audible, and the billions of views her videos have garnered.

Empowering Authors with Amplify Publishing Group

At Amplify Publishing Group, we are dedicated to empowering authors and supporting their creative endeavors. We believe that authors should retain ownership and control over their intellectual property while benefiting from traditional retail distribution. Mel’s passion for empowering others aligns perfectly with our core values. Her extensive experience as a thought leader, entrepreneur, podcast host, and innovative author will undoubtedly strengthen our mission to revolutionize the publishing industry.

A Promising Future

We’re thrilled to have Mel join our executive leadership team at Amplify Publishing Group. Her appointment to our board reinforces our commitment to excellence, innovation, and author success. With Mel alongside Amplify CEO Naren Aryal, chairman and New York Times bestselling author Josh Linkner, and editor-in-chief and former CEO of Inc. and Fast Company Eric Schurenberg, we’re confident that we have an exceptional group of leaders guiding us. We’re excited about the endless possibilities that lie ahead and believe that Amplify Publishing Group will continue to lead the way in the ever-evolving publishing landscape with Mel’s invaluable support.

Join Us in Welcoming Mel Robbins

On behalf of the entire Amplify Publishing Group team, we invite you to join us in extending a warm welcome to Mel Robbins. Together, we are poised to shape the future of publishing, provide unparalleled support to authors, and deliver exceptional content to readers across the globe.


About Mel Robbins

Mel Robbins is the host of one of the top-ranked podcasts in the world, a New York Times bestselling author, and a trusted expert in mindset and behavior change. She has seven #1 audiobooks on Audible, millions of books sold, billions of views of her videos, and her globally renowned The Mel Robbins Podcast is syndicated in 194 countries.


About Amplify Publishing Group

Amplify Publishing Group is a leading independent hybrid publisher dedicated to amplifying voices, elevating brands, and supporting ideas that change minds and shape conversations. APG has over twenty years of experience acquiring, producing, marketing, and distributing books, and is home to six imprints, including #AmplifyPublishing and #RealClearPublishing.


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Boosting Author Visibility and Credibility: Unveiling the Power of Trade Reviews

In the world of book publishing, reviews from reputable trade publications can significantly enhance an author’s visibility and credibility. Not only do reviews from industry publications lead to increased attention, they give you immediate credibility and respect within the industry and with readers. In this blog, we will explore four exceptional book trade review sites that are highly regarded in the industry. These platforms offer authors and publishers the opportunity to have their books reviewed, helping them gain valuable exposure and recognition.

Let’s delve into the five key benefits of obtaining press and media coverage for authors.

  • Increased Visibility: Media and review coverage exposes authors and their books to a broader audience, helping them capture the attention of readers who may not have discovered the book otherwise. This heightened visibility opens up new avenues for connecting with potential fans and readers.
  • Credibility and Validation: Positive reviews or features in reputable media outlets add a layer of credibility and validation to the author’s work. With thought leadership books in particular, readers like to know that the content they’re about to purchase and engage with is valuable and effective in advance. Endorsements from established trade publications expedite this process, helping new books and authors without many consumer reviews or history establish their reputation and quality. 
  • Book Sales: Positive press coverage and media attention can significantly impact book sales. Reviews and features in influential publications can pique readers’ interest, leading to increased book purchases and wider distribution. 
  • Industry Recognition and Awards: Well-regarded trade publications often feature books that stand out in terms of quality, originality, or impact. Being reviewed and recognized by these publications increases an author’s chances of receiving industry awards or nominations, further solidifying their position within the literary landscape. Such accolades can open doors to new opportunities, including speaking engagements, literary festivals, or collaborations with other authors.
  • Distribution: Media coverage can open doors to new distribution channels. When a book receives positive reviews or features in reputable media outlets, it gains credibility and validation. This, in turn, attracts the attention of distributors and retailers who are more likely to stock and distribute books that have garnered positive press.
  • Media Exposure and Interviews: Quality reviews often lead to media exposure, providing authors with opportunities for interviews, features, or guest appearances. These interactions allow authors to share their journey, insights, and the story behind their book—giving followers and readers a look beyond the content itself.

Now, let’s explore four trade review sites and how authors can utilize them to maximize their book’s visibility and impact:

  • Kirkus: Kirkus Reviews is one of the most well-known and respected trade publications in the book industry. With appropriate lead time, publishers can submit books from all genres to Kirkus for review consideration. It’s incredibly competitive to earn a review from Kirkus, but if you do, you’re guaranteed to impress others in the book industry. In addition to their submission option,  Kirkus offers a convenient online platform for indie authors to submit their books for review. For a small fee, authors can submit their books directly, eliminating the need for physical copies to be mailed, and receive an honest, guaranteed review in return. To learn more about Kirkus and their indie review process, visit their website.
  • Foreword Reviews and BlueInk Review: Foreword Reviews, a prominent book review magazine, offers multiple options for authors seeking reviews. Authors can submit their books for editorial reviews, although acceptance is not guaranteed, or request a paid review. Either way, the author will receive high-quality, honest feedback in return on their work.For more information about these review options, visit the Foreword Reviews website.
  • Publishers Weekly: Publishers Weekly, another renowned trade publication, primarily prefers submissions from publishers. PW is one of the most competitive trade reviewers within the industry, so always check with your publisher at least four months in advnace of your publication date to see if your book has been submitted for consideration. However, authors have had some success submitting their books independently as well,  the paid option called BookLife. For more information about BookLife and their review submission guidelines, visit the BookLife website: Additionally, Publisher’s Weekly offers a non-paid, editorial option called GalleyTracker, reserved exclusively for publishers.
  • Booklist and Library Journal: Booklist and Library Journal are prestigious trade publications known for their formal and selective review processes whose primary audience is librarians. Unlike the previously mentioned platforms, these publications exclusively accept books from publishers. Authors can engage submission services to handle the process, which typically involves shipping physical copies of the book to both BookList and LibraryJournal, but they must submit their books through their publishers.

Elevating Your Book’s Visibility and Success

Obtaining reviews from prominent trade publications is an excellent way for authors and publishers to gain exposure and media attention for their books. The review sites mentioned—Kirkus, Foreword Reviews, BlueInk Review, Publishers Weekly, Bookkist, and Library Journal—all offer unique opportunities for authors to have their books reviewed by qualified individuals. By carefully considering each platform’s submission process and requirements, authors can make informed decisions about which sites align best with their goals and target audience. Regardless of the chosen platform, these trade reviews can significantly contribute to an author’s visibility, credibility, and overall success.

The benefits of this type of coverage also extend beyond the initial review, often leading to increased book sales, audience expansion, and industry recognition. Engaging with these trade review sites opens doors to new opportunities and establishes a strong presence within the literary world. As authors navigate the publishing landscape, harnessing the power of press and media becomes an essential component of their promotional strategy. Embracing these trade review platforms is a crucial step toward achieving recognition and success in the competitive world of publishing.

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Unlocking the Power of Hybrid Publishing: 5 Key Benefits for Authors

Hybrid publishing combines the best of traditional and self-publishing models. This method of publishing affords greater control over the publishing process and the final product, while also providing the author with the professionalism, experience, and distribution of a traditional publisher. Here are five ways that hybrid publishing sets itself apart from traditional publishing:

  1. Creative Control and IP Retention: In traditional publishing, authors have little control over the editing, cover design, marketing, and distribution of their books. With hybrid publishing, authors retain the full copyright to their content and are given the chance to be more involved in the editorial and creative processes and make decisions that align with their vision and goals. At Amplify, we think of ourselves as a truly collaborative partner with each of our authors, guiding them toward success and sharing best practices while leaving room for them to make their own decisions.
  1. Speed: Traditional publishing can be a slow-moving process, with most authors waiting at least a year to see their work in print. Hybrid publishing, on the other hand, allows authors to share their world with the world and their audience much quicker, as the timelines are streamlined and made more efficient. And, because of the collaborative nature of the hybrid publishing model, authors have a voice in when their book becomes available.
  1. Royalties: Lower royalty rates are the norm with traditional publishing houses, as the publisher takes the bigger percentage of book sales. With hybrid publishers, the reverse is true, and authors retain a larger share of royalties from book sales. At Amplify, our authors are offered one of the highest royalty rates in the business at 85 percent. 
  1. Marketing: Limited resources for marketing engagements make it difficult for authors who publish through a traditional house, which, in turn, can limit an author’s reach. Unless you’re a celebrity author or someone with a significantly established platform, you won’t always receive the support you’re looking for. Hybrid publishers help authors take a more active role in their marketing work and will establish a clear framework for a book launch and publicity support that you can count on.
  1. Distribution: Hybrid publishing provides authors with access to the same distribution channels as traditional publishing, including bookstores and online retailers. Authors are able to reach a wider audience and share their work with more people all over the world. 

In comparison to a traditional house, hybrid publishing offers a unique opportunity for authors to have more control over the publishing process and their final product. Combined with professionalism and robust distribution methods, it’s easy to see how hybrid publishing is quickly shaking up the industry. 

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Case Study: My Lifelong Fight Against Disease

Along with the rest of the world, the publishing industry has made some necessary adjustments—some permanent, some temporary—due to the pandemic. One of the most challenging of which has been navigating the global paper shortage and supply chain issues, which have caused significant printer delays. The publishing process of Dr. William Haseltine’s book, My Lifelong Fight Against Disease: From Polio and AIDS to COVID-19 was directly impacted by the pandemic itself and these supply chain issues. Dr. Haseltine, a scientific researcher who has analyzed findings and provided guidance on navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, was well placed to publish this book in 2020. Given the timeliness of the subject matter, releasing the book as soon as possible was a priority. 

Typically, once files are finalized, the book is uploaded to the printer. From there, the book is proofed, printed, cut, bound, packed, and shipped, eventually landing in the warehouse on a date dubbed the “book-in-hand” date. Retailers typically require a buffer time between the book-in-hand date and retail release date in order to receive, process, and prepare stock for on-sale. 

The printing process took approximately seven weeks prior to the pandemic, and retailers required about two months of buffer time. These days, the turnaround times are significantly longer: the printing process may take upwards of fourteen weeks with a required buffer time of three months. All told, retail release dates are being set six months from the printer upload date. Needless to say, pandemic timing is not in the authors’ favor. 

Without a creative publishing solution, Dr. Haseltine’s release date would have been delayed into 2021. It’s for this reason that we decided to pursue a Print-On-Demand (POD) edition to bridge the gap between the book-in-hand date and the retail release date of the hardcover title. We: 

  • Uploaded the files for the hardcover book to the printer
  • Received the printer proofs and finalized the files
  • Created a POD edition of the files while the hardcover was printing
  • Published the POD edition in October 2020 prior to receiving hardcover books
  • Listed the hardcover edition for preorder
  • Published the hardcover edition in February 2021

While the POD approach worked well in this scenario, we don’t recommend pursuing a POD exclusively for a number of reasons:

  • Quality. PODs are of lower quality than premium hardcover editions, and can be less enticing for readers.
  • Distribution. POD files are uploaded directly to and distributed exclusively through Amazon, which limits opportunities for direct-to-consumer and selling at in-person events.
  • Royalties. Amazon takes both printing costs and steep royalties off of each POD edition sold.

Despite these considerations, employing a POD edition is a strategic avenue in certain scenarios, particularly to:

  • Build buzz for a soon-to-be released hardcover.
  • Hit an earlier release date, particularly if a particular month, date, or event is relevant to the content of the book (e.g., late October or early November for a book about campaigns).  

While a POD situation is not standard, the rest of the publication process went as expected. Dr. Haseltine’s rollout is a lesson in how adapting during extenuating circumstances—both as a publisher and an author—can impact the ultimate success of a book. 

My Lifelong Fight Against Disease, a memoir of an incredible life that shows how scientific researchers have had a huge impact on our medical systems over the past fifty years, can be purchased here

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Why You Need an Amazon Author Central Profile

You’re almost there. Your Amazon listing is officially live and ready to be shared, but the word on the street is that you need to set up an Amazon Author Central page too. Isn’t it enough to just sell your books through Amazon? Not quite.

An important rule of bookselling is: if there’s ever an opportunity to connect with your readers, take it. Amazon Author Central is one of those opportunities.

Author Central is a free and user-friendly online profile that will enhance your author brand and allow you to track sales. It can also be your answer to selling more books. Let’s go over why every author should take the time to create an Amazon Author Central profile.

When should I create an account?

As soon as your Amazon listing is up! You’ll want to optimize your listing and add a profile before sharing your pre-order link with the world. This way, you’ll have a professional-looking page for your first consumers (and this will also help with your Amazon SEO).

Why should I create an account?

There are six elements of an Amazon Author Central profile that can lead you to becoming a bestseller: biography, photos and videos, blog feeds, events, books, and URL. With all of these optimized on your profile, an Amazon Author Central page can…

1. Increase your Amazon and Google search rankings. The more active you are on your Author Central page, the higher you will appear in search results with keyword searches. This leads to organic sales and increased traffic to your various pages.

2. Track your sales performance by country. The profile will give you sales data through BookScan, a data provider for the book publishing industry, which doesn’t track all sales (only print book sales from bookstores and Amazon sales) but does provide insight on sales trends.

The sales tracking also includes a ranking, showing how well your book is doing compared to other books on Amazon. With constant access to your sales numbers by country, you’ll be able to observe what sales and marketing techniques are working and what aren’t.

3. Make changes to your listing on your own. Amazon gives you more control over any changes you want to make to your listing, such as changing the book description. This immediate and direct control will save you the 48 to 72 hours it typically takes for Amazon to make changes to any listing on their end.

4. Increase traffic to all of your book listings, including your websites and social media channels. Since your author page will display all of your books for sale at Amazon, a reader will be able to easily check out your other work. If they liked one of your books, they’re only a few clicks away from browsing the other titles you’ve written. This is an easy way to generate sales. They’ll also have access to your social media platforms and website. Even more, they can follow your Author Central page to receive alerts when you publish a new book.

5. Easily monitor book reviews and consumer discussions. Instead of having to constantly refresh your book listings in hopes of reading a new review, you’ll have access to all of your reviews in one place.

6. Build your credibility by giving readers a more personal glimpse of who you are. Readers want to know you and feel connected to you. By having photos, videos, a biography, and updates on your life through social media, they’ll continue to support your work. A detailed Author Central profile shows that you’re a professional, one who cares about their readers and has a compelling and trustworthy platform. It’s always a good sign when an author has a strong online presence. The more you can add to your profile, the more readers will feel that they have a personal relationship with you. The goal is to create a powerful first impression that leaves readers life-long fans.

The increased visibility, credibility, and readership of an Amazon Author Central profile is worth any time you spend optimizing your account. This is an easy marketing resource that you don’t want to miss out on.

Create your profile now.

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Book Marketing for Thought Leaders: Reviewing 2020 and Looking to the Future in 2021

Let’s say you just spent two years hard at work writing a book. Brainstormed, outlined, wrote, edited, re-wrote, re-edited, and finally had a book you were eager to share with the world. At some point in late 2019 or early 2020, you got your hands on an advance copy…and you were beyond excited for your publication date, which was set for March 2020. This book was to be the key to further establishing yourself as an expert in your industry. In addition to earning royalties on book sales, you were excited to have your book be a critical element of your overall platform and content game plan, opening doors for new opportunities such as speaking and consulting arrangements. Everything’s going great until, exactly one week after your launch, the world stops in its tracks because of a global pandemic. Of all the things book launch-related to worry about, contingencies for a global pandemic were likely not on anyone’s radar.

Let’s recap what happened in 2020:

As it became clear the pandemic wasn’t going to reach a speedy resolution, books started trickling out in the summer and the latter half of 2020. Many meticulously scheduled marketing plans were thrown out the window.

– Live events were canceled. This included speaking gigs, conferences, book talks, launch parties, author readings, and book signings.

– Webinars and virtual events became more crucial than ever for author-reader connection, and many occurred in late spring.

– Content accompanying book launches also became more important than ever. Authors competed with the rest of the digital world for attention and needed to deliver unparalleled value.

– Brick-and-mortar bookstores saw already-declining sales for business and thought leadership titles nosedive. Amazon, on a continuous upward trajectory, became even more important. Amazon keywords campaigns increased in importance.

Case study: Invisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems (March 3, 2020)

Stephen Shapiro, author of Invisible Solutions, is a highly sought-after professional speaker on the topic of business innovation. When the pandemic hit right as his new book hit the market, he pivoted to digital promotion. This meant virtual speaking engagements and releasing more video content. He created a videobook by adapting information from Invisible Solutions into a YouTube format. He also started a podcast, the Invisible Solutions Podcast. Was it ideal? Nope, but he didn’t let a pandemic stop him in his tracks.

“I was already shifting to virtual events and platforms before the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” Shapiro said. “I accelerated my business plan to more than just replicate the live experience, but to improve it while remote.”

Now, let’s look ahead to 2021:

Nobody knows for sure what 2021 will hold for book marketing, though we anticipate live book launches to slowly start returning toward the end of the year. Though there are too many variables to say with certainty, we do anticipate a stronger emphasis on virtual promotion is here to stay.

What does a good 2021 marketing strategy look like?

A good 2021 strategy should incorporate the same qualities any book marketing campaign does: flexibility, creative thinking, and problem-solving. Be sure to add more virtual elements to your marketing plan. Online events that allow you to talk about the book and make connections should be your focus.

Authors with a 2020 or 2021 release shouldn’t stop their efforts after a few months, either. As the average lifespan of a book is one to two years, marketing should continue post-pandemic. Milestones like cover reveals and release date announcements can continue on social media, and award submissions are active as usual. The more you promote your book beyond its first six months, the more likely it is to reach its target audience.

Launching a book in 2020 seemed an impossible mountain to climb, but authors managed to adapt and carry on. 2021 will likely require authors to meet additional unseen challenges. A return to in-person marketing is hopefully on the horizon, but for now, virtual promotion is key to a book’s success.

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Case Study: Uncovering the Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass

How one successful wealth advisor made it his mission to increase millennials’ financial literacy.

George “G$” Kroustalis thought it was another typical day hosting a 401(k) enrollment seminar. Though a financial advisor for pre-retirement clients, Kroustalis hosts these events to reach young adults just starting their professional lives and to encourage them to begin saving money. That day, October 10, a former attendee came up to Kroustalis and told him that, though he was initially doubtful, he had followed Kroustalis’s advice over the past twelve years and built his wealth beyond his wildest expectations. That moment turned Kroustalis’s passion for spreading financial literacy into a crusade, which drove him to write Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass.

An essential book young people need to read
Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass was hailed as the “personal finance book that every millennial should read” by the host of MSNBC’s Your Business, JJ Ramberg, because of its sound financial advice and fresh writing style. Using his “Save, Spend, and Invest” model, Kroustalis uses his experience as a pre-retirement financial advisor to teach young people how to balance their budgets and become financially successful in the future. He keeps it simple with just the basics of what young adults need to know now so they make smart decisions with their money later. It’s Kroustalis’s personal mission to increase financial literacy in young adults, and this book is tailored for them with jokes and pop culture examples to keep it relatable.

Our goals?
1. Match Kroustalis’s vision to make the book relatable to young people by using their language and making references only they understand
2. Launch the book with a bang on national media channels
3. Supplement national efforts with local events to excite Kroustalis’s personal network

Kroustalis knew what kind of book he wanted to write. It needed to be informative yet humorous, to keep young people engaged in the financial content. The tone had to be light and invoke current pop culture references like Call of Duty, Instagram, and Lana Del Rey to explain complex financial strategies. All in all, it took a year to write the book. Kroustalis was involved every step of the way—from writing to fact-checking to the black-and-white interior illustrations—in order to ensure the book was true to his vision.

Once the book’s interior was set, the cover designed, and the book printed, Kroustalis took Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass to the New York Stock Exchange for its debut. He appeared on Cheddar, the business news network, to answer pressing financial questions millennials face and describe how the book tackles these difficult decisions.

Kroustalis also appeared on SiriusXM’s “The Power Hour” with Godfrey the Comedian, a show that covers politics, pop culture, and social issues. He discussed the power of compound interest with the famous “Would you rather have a million dollars or a penny doubled every day for a month?” example, a question that highlights the importance of saving money early in life.

Kroustalis also launched the book at J. Sam’s, a restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, a launch so successful it was standing room only.

A charitable element

Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass is one part of Kroustalis’s mission to spread financial literacy. Inspired by the date his former seminar attendee thanked him for his advice, Kroustalis created Project 10.10, a 501(c)3 nonprofit committed to educating young people on basic personal finance at the community level.

Young people have time on their side financially. Kroustalis’s experience as a financial advisor working with pre-retirement clients means he knows the importance of a 401(k), and he wants young people to know it, too. In Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass, he takes three short chapters to teach millennials how to keep their budget sheet balanced and he succeeds at—above all—being entertaining.

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Case Study: The Roadmap to Becoming Crisis Ready®

Organizations that are Crisis Ready® are more than just resilient. They’re invincible.

Written by crisis management advisor as well as founder and CEO of the Crisis Ready Institute Melissa Agnes, Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World provides organizations such as businesses, police, military, and universities the tools they need to build resilient brands. Being Crisis Ready® means if an organization is faced with a crisis, they come out of it stronger and even better than before.

What does this mean?

Modern-day organizations face a slew of potential risks: security breaches, economic hardship, PR disasters, and, most recently, global pandemics. In Crisis Ready, Agnes provides organizations with the roadmap for embedding a culture whereby every member of the team becomes adept at getting ahead of risk—be it a customer complaint straight through to a full-scale catastrophic crisis—in a way that transforms the risk into a brand-strengthening opportunity.

Crisis readiness is not the same as crisis management. Crisis management is what happens once the risk has materialized. The more Crisis Ready® an organization is, the less crisis management they are likely to have to do. When you’re Crisis Ready®, your organization can withstand hardships and unexpected emergencies because a Crisis Ready® brand is proactive, confident, and strategic.

Our goals?

  • Hand the mic to Agnes as a Crisis Ready® thought leader
  • Support her expertise with a powerful design
  • Create a quality, evergreen book that will help businesses for years to come

As a strategic advisor and keynote speaker, Agnes has worked with NATO, ministries of foreign affairs and defense, financial firms, technology companies, healthcare organizations, cities and municipalities, law enforcement agencies, global non-profits, universities, and many others. In other words, she is an expert in crisis management across a diverse range of industries and is fully equipped to share her knowledge.

Agnes took the lead on her manuscript, and we utilized a writing coach to keep her on a timeline in coordination with the production calendar. She wrote, and we reviewed and edited. After 6 months, the manuscript was done.

The result? She created a compelling manuscript that provides readers with real-world examples of where organizations do well and where they fall short. This includes learning the tools to interact with stakeholders appropriately and having a measured plan of action to be Crisis Ready®.

Next, we needed a strong interior design to supplement Agnes’ expertise and streamline her findings. It was important to Agnes that the book be a multi-sensory experience. Our design team filled out the interior of the book with eye-catching 2-color graphs, diagrams, and most impressively, a gatefold insert that opens out to reveal a large chart with her teachings. It was a thoughtful journey to finding the perfect cover, fluctuating between thousands of ideas and outlines to create a meaningful, subtle approach. A simple yet powerful cover design tied it all together, conveying a sense of calmness and readiness in an uncertain world.

Two years later

Commended as “intelligent, intuitive, and unabashedly gutsy,” named by Forbes as a top ten business book in 2018, and named by Book Authority as a top three crisis management book of all time, Crisis Ready is the go-to book on the topic of crisis preparedness and crisis management, and has helped solidify Agnes as a leading expert in the field.

While Agnes is profitable with online and brick-and-mortar retail, she finds enormous success with bulk buys from corporations and businesses, who are looking to evolve their culture and become Crisis Ready® from the ground up. One of her greatest successes was with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. After supporting Chase’s small and medium-sized business clients through the COVID-19 pandemic, Chase bought 2,000 copies of the Crisis Ready® ebook to give away to their clients. We coordinated the logistics, and the deal was done.

Agnes frequently uses her book as a teaching and speaking tool on her podcast, vlog, and contributes articles to Forbes magazine. Crisis Ready is also part of the curriculum at Harvard University and dozens of other higher education schools globally. The book has gained Agnes professional speaking gigs and brought in more clients interested in retaining her Crisis Ready® expertise.

Now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Agnes’ ideas have become even more relevant and necessary. This new era has forced organizations everywhere to reevaluate how to communicate with clients effectively and collaborate with staff virtually. Ultimately, organizations need a strategic plan to come out alive on the other side. Agnes’ expertise is in high demand because there is no better time to be invincible.

Now that Agnes has solidified herself as a leading authority on crisis readiness, she has launched her latest initiative, the Crisis Ready Institute, a public benefit corporation with a powerful mission. By incorporating a culture of readiness in organizations and teaching them how to turn risk into opportunities for growth and connection, the Institute is on a mission to create a crisis resilient world.

The second edition of Crisis Ready is in the works and is scheduled to be released in 2021.

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The Rapidly Changing Marketplace for Political Books

As the November election approaches, we are in the heart of the political book season. And just like the election itself, the battle for readership is unlike anything we’ve witnessed before. There are a slew of titles from the large publishing houses that cycle in and out of the news, with the most recent entry being Rage by Bob Woodward.

Here’s what’s new and notable in the political book arena:

From the “Big Five” traditional publishing houses:
Rage by Bob Woodward revealed that President Donald Trump concealed the threat of the coronavirus from the American people, Live Free or Die by Sean Hannity argued against leftwing radicalism, and The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton accused Trump of colluding with Chinese officials to secure re-election. Each of them managed to secure media attention surrounding their publication date in an attempt to claim readers’ attention.

A recent self-published title:
Donald Trump Jr.’s new book Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and The Democrats’ Defense of The Indefensible is markedly different from its contemporaries. Trump Jr. self-published Liberal Privilege on Tuesday, September 1 and, at the time of writing, was ranked #12 on Amazon and #30 in the Kindle Store. It claimed the #1 spot in the following Politics and Government categories: “Ideologies & Doctrines,” “Political Conservatism & Liberalism,” and “Nationalism.”

From the latest entrant into publishing, hybrid publishing:
RealClear Publishing, a new imprint of Amplify Publishing in partnership with RealClearPolitics and Gotham Ghostwriters, also has several political titles in the mix. Its hybrid model allows for a variety of authors to join the national political conversation while retaining creative control and an advantageous royalties split. Contract to Unite America: Ten Reforms to Reclaim Our Republic by Neal Simon prescribes ways to bring America back from the frenzy of political partisanship. From longtime advocate of basic income, Steve Shafarman, comes Our Future: The Basic Income Plan for Peace, Justice, Liberty, Democracy, and Personal Dignity, a book that discusses a potential plan for Universal Basic Income (UBI), a prominent policy that has taken center stage in the 2020 election. Andrew Yang, former Democratic presidential candidate and proponent of UBI, writes the foreword. And Bob Worsley, former Arizona state senator, in The Horseshoe Virus: How the Anti-Immigration Movement Spread from Left-Wing to Right-Wing America traces the origins of anti-immigration sentiment in the United States and urges for a return from extremism.

The Rise of Alternative Publishing

After hitting a home run with his first book, why would Trump Jr., or other respected authors, choose a non-traditional pathway to publishing this time around? Some reasons include:

  • Speed to market. With the November presidential election looming, the time is ripe for political books. Trump Jr. turned his book around from draft to printed book in a matter of months, whereas traditional publishing usually takes at least a year.
  • Creative control. Self-publishing means Trump Jr. can produce his book the way he wants it, without editorial or design interference. He’s beholden only to himself, and that means he can write anything (including typos on his book cover) and has total creative liberty.
  • Potentially greater financial upside. Trump Jr. reportedly turned down the advance Hachette offered for Liberal Privilege. However, if he’s able to leverage his audience, he’ll do just fine with this second book and will receive a much high royalty percentage than he would have otherwise.

Access to readers is key for self-publishing and hybrid publishing success and has long been the biggest obstacle to self-publishing in the past. Author platforms don’t get bigger than Trump Jr.’s 5.5 million Twitter followers (not to mention his father’s 85.7 million). Trump Jr. has access to his readers and the counter-establishment mindset to reach them. RealClear Publishing’s platform taps into RealClearPolitics’s political news audience to make waves with its titles.

Of course, the appeal of traditional publishing has been high editorial quality, access to bookstores, and robust marketing support. But ever since Amazon came onto the scene in the early 2000s and rocked the publishing world, no longer is the only legitimate way to get an author’s book read by going traditional (and dealing with literary agents, acquisition editors, and bookstore buyers). Now anyone can upload a PDF to their CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing services and create a sellable book.

The rules are different now, and Trump Jr. is just the latest in a long string of authors finding publishing success by pursuing alternative routes.

Here are a few others:

But it’s important to draw a clear distinction between Trump Jr.’s approach to self-publishing versus the average self-published author. Trump Jr. likely retained experts to help him throughout the editorial, design, and printing steps of the publishing process, essentially opting into the hybrid publishing model. These are some critical book production tasks many self-published authors either neglect or don’t have the resources to do well.

The hybrid publishing model offers high editorial quality, premium book packaging, and widespread marketing and distribution, while keeping the advantages offered by self-publishing, such as copyright ownership. RealClear Publishing follows the hybrid model to give authors the combination of creative control and publishing industry knowledge. Typically, the hybrid model works best with authors who (1) are authorities in their field but want the advice of book experts, (2) ready to leverage their own emerging or established platforms for success, and (3) ready to be part of a collaborative experience.

To break away from the pack, authors used to have to chase traditional publishers for a book deal. Now, with alternate respected publishing pathways, there are new ways to remain prominent in the 2020 election discussion.

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The Art and Science of Subtitles

If titles are hard to write, subtitles can be even harder. They are the meat of the title by telling the reader exactly what your book is about. While titles are short and creative, subtitles are longer and more literal. For example, the Amplify book The Age of Intent by P.V. Kannan has a title that is bold, attractive, and attention-grabbing. But what is the book actually about? You don’t know until its subtitle: Using Artificial Intelligence to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience. Now it becomes clear it’s a book about artificial intelligence and companies’ use of AI.

Subtitles establish a contact between the author and the reader. As an author, you’re promising a reader (or potential reader) that if they invest in you, they will increase their knowledge about a given subject matter, and by doing so, they will be better informed and will be able to achieve takeaways that will interest or benefit them. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, for example, offers three things to the reader: a better work schedule, freedom of movement, and wealth. Subtitles are nothing short of a promise, so crafting a good subtitle is crucial for your book’s success.

Tips for a Good Subtitle

  1. Speak directly to your target market.
  2. Differentiate your book by revealing its niche or speciality in the book marketplace. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki uses its subtitle to pinpoint its reader. Someone who wants to learn about proven financial philosophies is going to pick up this book. Remember, in order to speak to your target market, you have to have a clear understanding of who that is.
  3. Keep Google and Amazon in mind. Thinking of the keywords and web searches readers will use to find your book and including those in your subtitle will maximize discoverability (a process called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO). Comparison titles can also be instructive in how to target your audience. Keep Amazon genres and subgenres in mind, too. For instance, Game Changer: The Story of Pictionary and How I Turned a Simple Idea into the Bestselling Board Game in the World by Rob Angel fits into the Amazon subgenres “Board Games,” “Entrepreneurship,” and “Actor & Entertainer Biographies.” His subtitle addresses each of those categories to increase hits.
  4. Escalate in value. If your subtitle is going to say something like “How to Turn Unreasonable Expectations Into Lasting Relationships” (as does the subtitle for Marketing to the Entitled Consumer by Nick Worth and Dave Frankland), make sure it escalates in value. You want to start with something less valuable that the reader wants to lose—”unreasonable expectations”—and end with gaining something attractive—”lasting relationships.” Ensure you’re tapping into the reader’s desire to achieve something great. 
  5. Pay attention to rhythm. A no-brainer, but critical. Subtitles should complement their titles. The famous title Freakonomics slides right into A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. Read your title and subtitle out loud together. Does it roll off the tongue? It should—if not, get back to the drawing board.

Whatever you choose for your subtitle, remember a good subtitle markets your book and enters into a contract with the reader. Craft them thoughtfully and they can yield great returns.

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Promotion in a Pandemic?

The comparisons to life in the aftermath of September 11 to the current (and ever-evolving) challenges we face with the coronavirus COVID-19 are unavoidable. One of the post-9/11 moments etched in millions of American’s minds is the episode of Saturday Night Live that aired on September 29, 2001.

Surrounded by Ground Zero first responders, then-Mayor Rudy Guiliani opened the show, with Paul Simon performing “The Boxer.” At the end of this unprecedented cold open, show-runner Lorne Michaels asked Guiliani a simple question: “Can we be funny?”

Guiliani’s reply: “Why start now?”

In times of extreme uncertainty, it’s only natural to ask yourself if now is the right time to resume, especially when it comes to book promotion. The key is authenticity. Does your expertise lend itself to the situation at hand? Could it provide solutions? Or a path to much-needed distraction?

Last week, we gave an inside look into how Melissa Agnes, crisis management expert and author of Crisis Ready, turned on a dime to put her expertise to work. Our other Amplify authors are on the same path, leveraging their thought leadership and further rooting their platform and positioning.

BigSpeak Speakers Bureau compiled a list of top webinar and keynote speakers featuring Invisible Solutions author Stephen Shapiro. “Provocative innovation evangelist Stephen Shapiro knows all about creating high-performing teams that can think outside the box and tackle challenges that seem impossible. For organizations that fear falling behind in rapidly shifting situations, Stephen is an obvious choice. He’s available for pre-recorded keynotes, live keynotes and webinars.” As small businesses to global corporations shift to remote work, Stephen’s approach was made for this.

NBA Life Optimization Coach David Nurse, who’s debut book Pivot & Go will be out this summer, has worked with over 100 NBA players with personal and professional development on and off the court. Recognizing the sudden halt in all sports, from the pro’s on down, David’s offering one-on-one Skype/FaceTime coaching sessions for high school and youth sports coaches.

And not only was P.V. Kannan, author of The Age of Intent, featured in an MIT Sloan Management Review webinar on the future of artificial intelligence, his presentation is now available on demand for free, allowing users access to the content anytime. A working parent now juggling remote work and childcare, for example, has the flexibility to engage with P.V.’s expertise on their time, increasing eyeballs and, likely, book sales.

Our answer? Start now.

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