Online Book Publishing: Extending Your Fitness & Wellness Brand

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New online platforms make it easier than ever to publish, market and sell professionally-edited and designed books that promote your fitness and wellness brand. Here’s how to add “author” to your credentials:

1. Choose the right self-publishing platform

Amazon’s CreateSpace platform and IngramSpark are the two leading self-publishing platforms — but they’re not created equal. Both offer paperback distribution via Amazon. Both also give schools, colleges, libraries, and independent and national chain bookstores the ability to order your book. And both also support e-books.

However, the devil is in the details. Printing costs vary significantly between the platforms depending your book’s color requirements. Even more important, you need to choose the platform that:

  • gives you the greatest marketing and profit potential
  • in combination with your specific business strategy
  • based on a detailed understanding of how the self-publishing AND the retail book sales businesses both work.

It’s a decision that’s often more complex than it seems. Making the wrong decisions up front limits your sales and marketing opportunities once your book is published.

In the e-book world, the only platform that matters is the Kindle format on Amazon. While other e-book formats and marketplaces exist, they’re tiny minnows in a very large ocean. Focus on Amazon — that’s where the visibility, and thus sales and profits, will be greatest.

2. Deliver a clear, distinctive message

The world doesn’t need another run-of-the-mill fitness book. Zero in on your unique take on your particular corner of health and wellness.

What’s the core insight that sets you apart from others?

And what’s the best way to communicate it so that it’s memorable and actionable?

Best-selling health and wellness books are more than text: they’re a package that combines tightly-written text with other content elements: worksheets, checklists, assessments, stories, examples, illustrations,  photographs, diagrams, tables, charts and so on.

The right package of content elements instantly connects with your readers — which means they’re likelier to take the time to review your book, and to write a positive review.

Those actions are key for growing future sales.

3. Have your book professionally edited

If you’ve ever scanned the comments on Amazon, you know that readers are very, very quick to criticize poorly-written books or those with spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors.

Use of a professional editor is the smart way to avoid this trap. Belong to a local or online writer’s group? It may be a good idea to run your draft manuscript (MS) past them for an initial check. However, take their feedback with a grain of salt. Group members aren’t professional editors either, and writing groups are notorious for their well-intentioned but bad advice.

Professional editors generally address four major areas:

  • Manuscript evaluation—initial author action items based on a fairly high-level review of your manuscript
  • Content or structural editing — evaluates overall sequence and organization of book; advises on graphics including best use of photographs; identifies important missing content which is essential for the book’s success; develops new or supplementary content, like front matter, back matter, or the author’s bio.
  • Stylistic or line editing—assures that reading level, formality, tone of text, and contractions are aligned with the likely audience for the book; addresses jargon, trite phrases, and poor writing habits; ensures stylistic consistency throughout book
  • Copy editing— ensures use of proper grammar, spelling and punctuation; writes section heading levels; insertion of placeholders for final art; writes running heads.

An editor familiar with health and wellness will also be able to share insights into the overall marketplace of health and wellness books, and how your book’s content compares vs reader expectations.

4. Get professional cover and interior art

Cover design is not about decoration or pretty pictures. It is a MARKETING COMMUNICATION. It is about putting together a complete package of graphic elements and text that will instantly connect with your likeliest buyer.

Right this minute, peek at the current New York Times best-seller lists for health, sports & fitnessadvice & how-to, and food & diet books. Next, take a look at Amazon’s top-selling health, fitness and dieting books.

Notice that all of these covers are fairly complex. They include sophisticated and sometimes complex professional graphics, titles and sub-titles written with clear intent, and strategically-chosen additional text — for example, key points about the author, carefully-selected quotes from reviewers and other key messages. The same would be true for the back covers if you could see them.

Now notice that each book is a little different. They don’t all contain the same elements, and they don’t place the same emphasis on each element.

That’s because those decisions are unique to each title. The words and graphics that go on the covers of successful books are curated — they’re chosen very specifically and intentionally, to achieve instant connections with potential buyers.

The best covers are a collaboration between the author, the editor and the designer. The editor comes up with the cover copy, the author makes sure it’s aligned with their vision for the book, and the designer presents it in a way that visually connects with potential buyers.

Remember: cover design is not about decoration. It is a marketing communication.

The same thing goes for your interior art. Amateurish tables pasted from Excel or created in Word and low-res or overused stock images and line drawings simply don’t cut it if your title needs to stand out from the crowd.

A designer experienced in health and wellness book design and layout typically has ideas for how you can visually communicate your ideas that you won’t even have thought of.

5. Choose the right author services team

Many firms provide editing, graphic design and advice on self-publishing. However, most of them don’t specialize in the health and wellness industry.

Keep in mind that fiction is an entirely different business model, and non-fiction in other categories appeals to a completely different kind of audience.

Look for a company that:

  • Specializes in health and wellness, so they can advise you on marketing and sales initiatives that are tailored to your specific business strategy
  • Has an in-house team for editing, graphic design and marketing consulting — you don’t want your project handed off to here-today, gone-tomorrow contractors
  • Can advise you on ideas for content and presentation to make your book more competitive against similar titles already available
  • Is familiar with both CreateSpace and IngramSpark, so they can help you decide which is most suitable

6. Integrate marketing and business strategy

Is your goal simply to sell lots of books — or do you hope to increase demand for the programs and services your business offers?

Do you hope to sell thousands of books to organizations, perhaps customized with certain content?

Do you plan to publish more books in the future?

Do you sell to businesses, or consumers?

These are just some of the questions you and your author services team will answer in order to choose the most suitable self-publishing platform platform, turn your manuscript into an actual book, and market it to drive success for your business.