There are over a million new books published every year in the United States alone, and millions more around the world. Seventy percent of books that are published are by first-time authors. Did you know that an average new author spends between five and $10,000 publishing their book? They spend that money on editing, proofreading and help getting their book published, but, unfortunately, thousands of those books are not published to a standard that would ever be accepted into a bookstore. There are so many things that first-time authors don’t know to do, but that bookstores are looking for. The book buyers for major retailers aren’t even looking at what content you have. If the book is presented by a credible publisher, they’ll assume that the quality of the content is good, and they’ll start looking at other things. Sometimes, in extreme cases, it’s best to redo the book and make sure that it’s done properly so that you have the biggest chance to get it onto a store shelf.

The First C is Content.

Understand that your fans don’t want to read about you. If you’re trying to use a book to position yourself as an authority, then the most important parts about you are in the author’s about section. Authors who write entire books that are just about themselves tend not to sell as well unless they already have a massive following. If you’re writing on a topic that you’re considered to be an expert in, you can raise your expert status by doing enough research on other people and books in your field, and use relevant stories and ideas in your book that go beyond you as an example. Talking about other people raises your credibility to your reader.

The second thing is the format of your book. Professional books follow very specific formats. If you don’t have your book formatted properly, it won’t be accepted into bookstores. Make sure there’s lots of space in the gutter of the book, which is the space between two pages when the book is open. Do some research about the formatting differences between fiction and nonfiction books as well. For example, in a fiction book, you can start a new chapter wherever it lies. You typically don’t put blank pages in a fiction book. For non-fiction books, however, your chapters all need to start on the right side of the book. They need to be numbered appropriately, with a table of contents at the beginning. The bottom line is, make sure that you get a proper layout done and that your book has gone through a proper format review.

It makes all the difference in the world.

So why is this stuff so important?

It’s all about the experience of the reader. Studies of readers’ subconscious responses show that they enjoy reading more in a fiction book if there are no blank pages. To see an example of a book that follows these content guidelines, just go to the New York Times bestseller list, and check out any of the top 10 books in any category. No book will make it onto the bestsellers list unless it’s properly formatted.

Another step is to review your book and make sure that everything you start, you finish. The same way people get distracted and off track while speaking, you can get off track while writing, and forget to come back to something you started. It happens all the time in less-than-perfect books, where the author didn’t have the right teams supporting them, and the book was published with a thought that the author started but didn’t finish. If that happens even once in a book, it is damaging.

Make sure the book is properly registered. And what does that mean? Obviously, you need an ISBN, which is a number assigned specifically to the book. It’s essentially a serial number. In addition to that, the Federal Library of Congress has registration numbers for every book that’s sent to their archives. A bookstore will not accept the book from a new author unless it’s registered in the Library of Congress. If you get your book published through companies like Amazon’s Create Space or Author Solutions or Lulu, they won’t help you to register your book in the Library of Congress.

Finally, when it comes down to it, your only job is to get the thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You’re not expected to be a literary expert. Once you’re finished writing, it doesn’t matter how good you think it is. You need to spend the money to hire a great editor. It’s their job to make the book readable. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from your editor. Find other works that they’ve already worked on so you can get a feel for the quality of writing that they do. Find successful professional book editors and make sure that they’ve edited lots of books in your space.

The Second C is The Cover

Your cover is crucially important. If you get your book onto the bookshelves, it’s going to be on a shelf with hundreds of other books in the same subject, and your cover is what will make your book stand out.

The first point for cover design is to follow the trends. Take a look at the covers of the top books in your genre, and you should be able to identify some popular themes. These trends are popular for a reason; they’re eye-catching and pleasing to readers. Follow the trends, find out what’s popular and what’s working, and design to those strengths.

Number two, leave your picture off of the front cover. The only time that you should consider putting your face on the cover is if you’ve got a Superbowl trophy in your hand or an Oscar on your mantle. If you’re an A-list celebrity or an iconic figure, then you can get away with it, since people are picking up the book because they already know you.

Bookstores also want to see endorsements. If you take a look at any great book, you’re going to see endorsements on the cover. So who’s a great person to endorse your book? In the perfect scenario, it’s somebody besides the people who already know about you. But if that’s not possible, the best thing you can do is join a community of first-time authors, where you can read each other’s work and write endorsements for each other.

The Third C is Credibility

Credibility is really important when we are determining the success of the book. And there’s a couple of quick questions that we need to go over in order to determine your credibility and increase it, if necessary.

Number one, why are you qualified to write your book? What’s your background? What is your expertise, and how are you properly portraying that expertise in your written work? The “about the author” section of your book needs to be properly written so that it speaks to your credibility. Your endorsements are going to help position you properly in terms of credibility. You want somebody who picks up your book to instantly know that you are credible and qualified to be writing that book.

The Fourth C is The Community

If you get the content done properly, the right cover for your book, and the right credibility added into your book, then all that’s left is to go out there and share the book. You’ll build a community because of it.

If you want to build a big community, be relevant. Make sure that your content is timely, and that it’s on point to relieve some pain for your audience. If you’re writing nonfiction or personal development, or even fiction for that matter, it’s only designed to do one of two things. It’s designed to educate or entertain. Educate is normally nonfiction, and entertain is normally fiction, but regardless of which one it is, both are designed to relieve pain.

You’re going to give people what they want and when you do that and are relevant and answer questions and educate and entertain, people are going to be attracted to you.

Go to Part 2