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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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The Inside Scoop to Getting Testimonials

Testimonials can be some of the first words a consumer reads when picking up a book. These book blurbs serve as a way for readers to get immediate access to a book’s praise directly on the front and back cover, rather than having to search for them online. But how do authors get these endorsements from noteworthy people?

Let’s go over why this praise can be helpful, what a good testimonial looks like, and how to even get them.

Relevance and Quality

There are many reasons why you should consider having testimonials, some of them being that they strengthen your author credibility and attract readers to your book’s plot or themes. 

This begins with the perceived influence of the reviewer. Even if the reviewer is not a household name, it’s crucial to make sure that they have industry experience. It always looks good to include a subheading or title after the person’s name to explain why they are relevant to this book. That means you’ll have to ensure that you are collecting testimonials from people that have real knowledge about their field and – this is critical – are able to communicate their thoughts concisely and creatively.

Some blurbs you receive from top authors or leaders might be bland or non-specific. While it may be great to hear from them, a successful testimonial is eye-catching and narrows in on particular aspects of the book that make it unique. The goal should always be quality over quantity. 

Cultivate contacts that know you personally and/or professionally and can speak to your work. Vague statements are not worth your book’s cover – you want specific feedback that speaks to real aspects of the book and has concrete rationales for why that particular person is offering their endorsement. Your book deserves the best possible quotes. To get them, you’ll want to pick people that are not only knowledgeable in their profession, but also eloquent and have the ability to express why something works. They have to be able to communicate that well to an audience. 

Brainstorming Questions

  1. Who are your readers? Who influences them?
  2. What elements of your book are most important to you, and who in your field can speak to those specific topics?
  3. What does your ideal testimonial sound like? What do you want audiences to take away from your book? This will help focus your queries and request for reviews/blurbs.

Organization and Process

Coming up with a system for gathering testimonials is a large part of the process. Having a streamlined methodology will help you stay focused and will allow you to maintain the goals you have set for yourself. Check out the following tips to help you begin collating reviews and testimonials:

  • Craft a short template query that you can send to prospective readers for their blurb or feedback, but make sure to leave room for a sentence or two that can be personalized. Sincere compliments go a long way. The template should explain explicitly that you are looking for a quote for the book, what you hope to accomplish, and, if the person does not know you personally, introduce yourself briefly but substantively. 
  • Depending on the volume of queries you intend to disseminate, maintain a spreadsheet that keeps track of the names you are reaching out to and the status of their decision(s). In general, it’s best to spread your net wide, as you will not get responses from everyone. (The net should not be so wide, though, that you begin to move away from the focus of the book.)
  • Establish deadlines for yourself and for your reviewer. 
  • Make sure that the system is as user-friendly as possible for the person you are requesting a testimonial from; send the book to them in whichever format they like, and try to accommodate their needs.

Elements of a Memorable Testimonial 

Any testimonial should tell the reader how they will benefit from the book, but being able to illuminate that in a way that pops is a golden ticket to a top-notch testimonial. 

Short and succinct blurbs are the best, but don’t be afraid to seek one that’s a bit longer. Having the reviewer explain what they learned is always a good starting point. It is always important to find a balance between substance and style. You want a reader to see a testimonial and actually get information from it, rather than just absorb a glowing review that may be sycophantic in nature.

Brainstorming Questions for the Reviewer 

What are some particular pieces of information that they learned, and how relevant are they to the book as a whole? Do they match the themes?

How was the information in the book conveyed, and what makes it different from other books on the market?

Strong Examples

Contains specific remarks about the book and/or language that is visual or surprising

“Ignore this book at your own peril.” —Seth Godin, Rework

“For those of us who didn’t pursue MBAs – and have the penny-ante salaries to prove it – Sorkin’s book offers a clear, cogent explanation of what happened and why it matters.” —Julia Keller, Too Big to Fail 

Lean In is an inauguration rather than a last word…” —Anna Holmes

“What Sandberg offers is a view that shows twenty-somethings that choices and tradeoffs surely exist, but that the ‘old normal’ of blunting ambition so that can fit in one category or another does not have to be the way it is.” —Gayle Tzemach, Lean In

Weak Examples

Lack of specificity, personalization, snappy wordplay

“This was an inspiring book full of great advice and tips on how to succeed.”

“A must-have book for all managers and businesspeople.”

“The best book I’ve read all year!”

With these tips in mind, what are you waiting for? It’s time to go get those well-crafted testimonials! Let us know how it goes by contacting us at info@amplifypublishing.com or tagging us on social media:





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What Makes a Good Interior Design? What to Expect During the Design Process

Once the writing and editing of your book have been completed and a cover concept selected, the next step is solidifying an interior design. Though interior design may seem straightforward, the process is far more intentional than simply placing words onto pages and starting the presses. A strong interior design should always complement the cover design, and takes into account content, genre, and any included graphics. Making reading an easy and pleasurable experience is why design is an important step in the publishing process.

So, what are the nuts and bolts that make up a strong interior design? There are several hallmarks to keep in mind.

1. Reads Well.

Readability is the ultimate goal for a book’s interior and, as previously mentioned, a good design will allow the reader to effortlessly fly through the pages. Crowded text, messy graphics, and not enough visual negative space yields to a cumbersome reading experience. A good balance between visuals, negative space, and appropriate font selection ensures an approachable book that encourages readers to keep reading and communicates information effectively.

2. Complements Cover Design.

The interior should be a natural extension of the cover, and as such, their styles should complement each other. You don’t want your reader to open your book and be surprised by what they see. An example of good design is in Melissa Agnes’s book, Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, which uses negative space to convey peace and calm on the cover and interior.

3. Follows Industry Trends.

An outdated interior design is a sure way to immediately convey to the reader that your content may be antiquated as well. A modern interior design that is indicative of your content and genre is always recommended.

Producing a finalized set of files that are printer-ready requires several rounds of editing. After the cover has been completed, the design team lays out the first few chapters of the book into a sample interior design, called a test layout. The design team and the author discuss any edits to be made before the team locks in the design. Then, it’s on to the full book layout.

Once the full manuscript is laid out according to the agreed-upon design, the author is given the opportunity for one final read-through for any final, minor changes. In-line changes to the text are accepted here, but major rewrites are highly discouraged (and sometimes impossible without re-laying out the book). Too many significant changes disrupts the design process, slows down production, and can cause reflow from page to page.

Once all final edits are incorporated and the files have been signed off on, the book is ready to go to the printer.

Interior Design In-Depth

Major design elements include font, font size, header selection, chapter openers, running footers, and other stylistic elements (if applicable) such as charts, graphs, and photos. Your publisher will likely provide you with their recommendations in each of these areas. An experienced design team will have experience working with all these elements, and come up with a design tailored to your book’s needs.

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Case Study: Go Big or Go Home! How The Power of Playing Offense Became the Go-To Comprehensive Leadership Playbook

We hear it all the time: “I want this book to be a short read. Something that can be consumed on a plane ride.” And a short read is sometimes the right answer. Sometimes. Paul Epstein’s new book The Power of Playing Offense: A Leader’s Playbook for Personal and Team Transformation can also be finished on one plane ride—if a reader were on a flight from New York to Hong Kong. And in Paul’s case, a lengthier book was the right answer.

The book’s size was a natural extension of the concepts contained within the read. Unconventional length matched groundbreaking content as The Power of Playing Offense broke the mold in more ways than one.

Four hundred pages with charts, graphs, and visuals turned out to be crucial to the success of this particular book. For Paul to elaborate on his leadership wisdom gained from his nearly fifteen years of working for multiple NFL and NBA teams, a global sports agency, and the NFL league office, we found that a design-intensive interior was necessary. Though a graphic-heavy interior does equate to a lighter and airier read, it can lengthen the page count. Sometimes that trade-off isn’t worth it, and sometimes it is—it all depends on the content and context.

CEO of Zoom Eric Yuan provided the foreword, commenting that out of all leadership books out there, “[The Power of Playing Offense] easily rises to the top.” Paul’s authority on leadership and firsthand experience provided valuable tools for leaders to use, and we helped him speak to those people. As our work together moved from the editorial to the design phase, one thing quickly became clear: this wasn’t going to be a quick read. This wasn’t a CliffsNotes on leadership, but the go-to reference guide, encyclopedia, playbook, and manual. And we embraced that fact in every aspect of the project.

Our goals?

  • Lean into the substance of Paul’s book
  • Design an interior that takes Paul’s ideas from the page to the leadership playing field
  • Embrace the book’s unconventional length and graphic-heavy through the marketing plan

Editorial: After Paul had submitted his manuscript to us and we collaborated with him on the editing, his manuscript was around 50,000 words, which we estimated to be a tidy 200 pages. All standard. But as soon as we entered design, we realized that was going to change.

Design: Design is a key element to keeping the reader engaged from cover to cover. Visuals help by pulling out key points and depicting them. In Paul’s case, that meant things like a football field-style diagram illustrating the Five Pillars of Playing Offense or a photo of the San Francisco 49ers’ home field. The visuals—crucial to illustrating many of Paul’s points—meant increasing the two hundred pages to four hundred. Though counterintuitive, this ultimately made his book lighter and easier to read.

Marketing: In our communications about the book, we don’t shy away from the fact that this is a lengthy title with phrases like “chock-full” and “more than 50 activities, tools, and strategies.” We want potential readers to know this is a one-stop shop for practical leadership guidance.

More about the book: playing offense instead of defense

Paul Epstein’s time in the business of professional sports allowed him to see first-hand the qualities of great leaders and not-so-great leaders. He experienced the proactive skills that created a flourishing culture and performance. He also saw the struggles of reactive leadership where the team leader is just trying to keep everyone’s head above water. The Power of Playing Offense is the result of his breadth of experience and maps out a guide to promoting your team’s success through offensive leadership.

So, what exactly is offensive leadership? It’s when a leader is in control of their team and the situation at hand. At the same time, they’re focused on seizing opportunities and meeting long-term goals. A broad scope of vision and a focus on achievement are hallmarks of the offensive leader. Defensive leaders are narrow-sighted in comparison, focusing on near-term challenges. They lack a focus on purpose and inspiration, and that lack of focus carries through in their management. So how do you avoid playing defense and set yourself up to play offense? Paul lays out a plan that, through individual and collective action, sets you up as the quarterback of your organization.

The Power of Playing Offense: A Leader’s Playbook for Personal and Team Transformation will be released on March 30, 2021.

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Indexing: Turning a Book into a Timeless Resource

A potential reader searching for a book on particular topics and wanting to know how deeply a book covers them will often look at the index. An index gives the reader a sense of the breadth of topics—all the way down to the specifics—that they’ll benefit from, as well as serves as a useful reference for interacting with the book for years to come. It may be an important part of a reader’s decision to add the book to their shopping cart and pick it up again after their initial read, increasing its value over its lifetime.

Books that benefit from an index

Indexes are typically found in nonfiction books, especially those that include reference or technical material. If a title includes topics specific to a certain subject area or industry that the reader may want to return to for quick reference, or if the title includes important keywords that could be used for research, the author should consider including an index. Not all nonfiction titles need an index, however. Narrative nonfiction titles, such as memoirs, do not require one as they do not serve as resource material.

The indexing process

The indexing process is one of the final steps in production before the book is sent to the printer. Indexing can only occur once the full PDF is finalized as final page numbers are needed in order to produce a properly paginated index. Changes after the indexing process is complete could result in layout reflow, causing key terms to shift to different pages and rendering the index inaccurate.

Indexing is typically completed by professionals who have been trained in the skill and, while straightforward from the outside, requires expertise on behalf of the indexer. The indexer reads through the entire book and identifies key words and phrases they anticipate will be important to readers. Indexing is subjective, but all indexers approach the book with the target reader in mind. Some indexers utilize a hybrid of indexing technology in addition to a manual read-through.

When the index is complete, the author receives the final draft of key terms and their associated page numbers for inclusion at the back of their book.

Author involvement

Author involvement for indexing is usually minimal, though depends on the author’s preference. While an author may supply a preliminary list of key terms to the indexer prior to indexing commencing, most authors prefer to let the process unfold without their input and trust the indexer—a trained professional with an unbiased eye—to identify what will be most helpful to readers.

After the completed index has been delivered, the author reviews it and can choose to add or drop terms from it. Adding entries requires going back to the indexer and can add time and cost to the production process. Dropping terms is easier, and can be done without the indexer’s involvement.

Indexing is a consideration authors should begin thinking about during the acquisitions process, as it is a fairly costly endeavor. An index costs a few thousand dollars, depending on the needs of the individual book.

The cost is often worth it, though: an index often increases a book’s use and value, helping it become a staple on a reader’s shelf or a go-to text on the subject matter.

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The One-Pager: Quick Brainstorming to Begin Writing Your Book

You’ve got a brilliant book idea. You’re ready to start writing, but sitting down and banging out an outline or first chapter is intimidating—it’s hard to know where to start. A good place to begin is what we call the “one-pager.” A one-pager is a short piece of writing that helps you organize your content and gives you a road map for the next steps in the editorial process. It’s valuable to you and it’s valuable to the person receiving it, whether that be an editor, writing coach, literary agent, or acquisitions professional from a publishing company.

The meat of the one-pager
There are some key topics you should address in your one-pager. Thinking of a title, subtitle, and specific genre are all helpful, but not critical at this stage. Sometimes, a draft manuscript will inform the perfect title and subtitle, and in other cases, a title and subtitle can be a road map for writing. Here’s what’s critical at this stage:

Synopsis. What is your big idea? What value will the reader get from reading? Almost as importantly, what is the book not intended to be? The synopsis is a summary of what you want your book to say and its key takeaways. Although it will likely change as you write, a drafted synopsis now provides a foundation for a first draft later.

Target audience. Sometimes an author will reach out and say, “Everyone will love my book!” That’s a red flag. When I hear that, I think, “The author hasn’t determined a target market.” And that will undermine a project from the beginning. Imagining the value your book will bring to a certain group of people makes it more targeted. It’s easier and more effective to market to, say, proponents of youth football as Merril Hoge did in Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football, millennials as George Kroustalis did in Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass, or business leaders looking for innovative solutions as Stephen Shapiro did in Invisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems.

Call to action. What should your reader do after they have read your book? Your book should have at least one major takeaway that prescribes change on an individual, societal, or industry level. This can be as simple as arguing a more successful employee wakes up at 5 a.m. every morning or as complex as proposing large-scale economic or social change.

Goals. What’s your goal in writing this book? Think ambitiously, but realistically. Becoming a New York Times bestseller is probably not feasible, and that should rarely be your “why.” What we hear more often are things like, “I have a slightly different take on a political issue of the day,” “This book will solidify my position as a thought leader or recognized expert in the field of generational difference consulting,” or “This book will lead to more speaking opportunities and wealth advising business.” Those are all great reasons for publishing a book. Your goals should align with your book’s message and be achievable.

What comes next after the one-pager?
Having a completed one-pager is a launch point for the following possible options:

– Table of Contents. A table of contents is a “how” to the one-pager’s “what”—if a one-pager provides an overview of what you are saying, the table of contents is a plan for how to make your point.

– Outline. A document more detailed and expanded than a table of contents, the outline builds off and expands on the one-pager’s main ideas.

– First chapter. The one-pager covers the major topics in your book so you know where to begin writing and what will capture readers’ attention.

– Full-blown book proposal. A book proposal is the document used to pitch your book to literary agents and publishing houses. It usually includes an analysis of the following: the book’s content, target audience, author bio, marketing platform, comparative title analysis, table of contents, and a sample chapter or two. A one-pager can aid your book proposal by providing a first-draft synopsis and focusing your ideas on each of these topics.

The end product
Your one-pager doesn’t have to be a formal document that addresses all the topics above line by line. It can take whatever format works for your brainstorming process. These guiding ideas can prompt your thinking on central ideas and make the blank page a lot less intimidating by giving you a place to start. Once you have the main ideas down on paper, your book has a platform from which it can launch.

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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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Moving Forward with a Foreword: How to Get the Ultimate Endorsement

P.V. Kannan’s book The Age of Intent: Using Artificial Intelligence to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience had all the elements necessary to make an impact. P.V. is a respected technologist and entrepreneur with expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), the cutting-edge technology widely predicted to transform the business world. P.V.’s book had great case studies, great research, and a great design. What else could the book possibly need to take it over the top? A killer foreword. A valuable foreword can enhance an author’s credibility and a book’s marketability.

That’s when the brainstorming started. P.V. curated a wish list of names: CEOs, technologists, bestselling authors, and Thomas L. Friedman, the influential columnist from the New York Times. Friedman is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and internationally renowned for his reporting on the Middle East, foreign affairs, globalization, and the environment. P.V. crossed paths with Friedman in 2004 while Friedman was shooting a documentary on outsourcing for the New York Times and Discovery and has been featured in his books The World Is Flat and That Used to Be Us.

The ask:

P.V. waited until his book had a final cover design and was nearly finished with researching and editing. Then he gave Friedman a copy of the manuscript and asked whether he would consider contributing a foreword if he was impressed.

Friedman has all the qualities of a great foreword writer. He has 1) name recognition, 2) a well-respected and established platform, and 3) a willingness to promote the book. Not only did Friedman deliver an engaging foreword that provided a thorough overview of the current boom in AI technology and P.V.’s expertise on the subject matter, but he also wrote a column about The Age of Intent’s subject matter, “A.I. Still Needs H.I. (Human Intelligence) for Now,” using his own and NYT’s channels to get word out about the book. The book also received attention in other outlets. For example, P.V. Kannan and his coauthor, Josh Bernoff, later wrote two articles on AI for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan Management Review titled “The Future of Customer Service Is AI-Human Collaboration” and “Four Challenges to Overcome for AI-Driven Customer Experience.”

How do I get a foreword?

There are two types of people you can solicit for forewords: people you know, and people you don’t.

People you know are the easiest people to ask for a foreword. They are already in your network, and you have the relationship to reach out and ask for their contribution. They may not even ask to see the manuscript or table of contents.

The network of people you know may not be direct contacts. You can tap into the connections of your publisher, book publicist, or ghostwriter to see who they could introduce you to. Here at Amplify, Andrew Yang, the champion of universal basic income, provided a testimonial for Our Future: The Basic Income Plan for Peace, Justice, Liberty, Democracy, and Personal Dignity by Steven Shafarman. The CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan, is writing a foreword for Paul Epstein’s forthcoming The Power of Playing Defense. And as a result of introducing them, Amplify author Tracy Maylett provided a foreword for another Amplify title in the works, The Virtual Events Playbook by Lee Deaner, Nick Zerby, and Stanley Saint-Louis.

People you don’t know are more difficult to secure, but not impossible. Usually, these people have expertise in the subject matter in your book and would garner attention. Research their contact information early, but plan to reach out later in the process if you don’t know them. In order to make a good impression, you will need to provide the potential foreword writer with the book’s cover image and two sample chapters at minimum. If possible, it’s best to send the manuscript in full along with a list of other notable people affiliated with the book, whether they are providing a testimonial for the back cover or are quoted in the text itself. Foreword contributors often welcome a draft or editorial ideas in advance, too, but only offer a draft if they are too busy to write it themselves.

The less connection you have, the more finalized you want the book to be so you have great material to share. And be prepared to wait for their response. When you don’t have an immediate connection to the person, it’ll take follow-up and patience to get them on board, but they can be worth the wait.

Start your search for people you don’t know by creating a wish list of people you would like to write the foreword. It’s good to aim high, but keep it reasonable. Do you know how many times authors have asked to secure Oprah, Ellen, or Elon Musk?

One question people often ask is if they should pay their foreword writer. The answer? No. Never. The writer is already getting something out of it: increased visibility.

Does my book need a foreword?

Authors ask us if they should have a foreword for their book all the time, and the answer is: it depends. Not every book requires one. Authors who are thought leaders, entrepreneurs, or subject matter experts benefit most from forewords. From the right source, the foreword will bolster the book’s credibility and can help with promotion and sales.

So, who is that right person? Think back to Thomas L. Friedman and The Age of Intent. The ideal foreword writer will have:

  1. Name recognition or be respected in their field
  2. A marketing platform greater than yours
  3. A willingness to use their platform to benefit your book

It’s rare to have all three of these checked like Friedman. If the potential foreword writer has one or two of these qualities, it’s probably still a good idea to move forward.

A well-written foreword should provide you with:

  1. An introduction to you and your book
  2. An anecdote or an application of what your book discusses
  3. A testimonial as to why readers should read your book
  4. Credibility in your subject area by association with the writer

To get a valuable foreword like The Age of Intent did, work your network of personal and professional relationships to find the right person who adds value to your book. Partnering with an advantageous foreword writer spreads your book far and wide and connects you with your target audience better. A foreword is one piece of the puzzle in launching your book’s success.

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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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Amplify Publishing Group|
620 Herndon Parkway, Suite 220|
Herndon, Virginia 20170
Phone: 703-437-3584|
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