Sunday, December 06, 2020

An Example of a Missed Opportunity

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Over the holiday break, I have been reading What Are the Odds? by Mike Lindell. You've probably heard of him or at least seen his MyPillow commercials. I do not know Mike Lindell but I enjoyed and recommend his book—yet it is filled with missed opportunities because he self-published it. In this article, I want to point out some of the flaws in this book and missed potential. Why write such an article? I do it so you can learn some of the critical elements in book production. Even if you self-publish your book, you can produce a book that looks exactly like any well-known publisher. To achieve this result will take planning and intentional forethought on your part.
Books have standards in how they are put together. If you violate the basics, it will make your book stand out in a negative way instead of helping it succeed in the market. You don't want readers to wonder why you missed some element in the production. Instead you want them to simply accept the book, read it and tell others about it. One of the most difficult things to proofread during production is to notice missing elements. What Are the Odds? is missing a number of standard book items including:
No back cover copy. The words on the back cover are sales copy to entice readers. They often include endorsements and other details. Instead What Are the Odds? includes a second holographic image which is different from the cover.
No barcode on the back cover. A properly done barcode is important for retailers to effectively use the book. because this book only had a holographic image, it did not have a barcode to help retailers sell the book—a glaring production error in my view.
No author name on the spine of the book and instead it included the subtitle. Most books are spine out and the authors name should be on the spine instead of the subtitle.
No endorsements. While this book includes a Foreword by Dr. Ben Carson, there are no endorsements inside the book or on the back cover. People buy books because of these endorsements and they are an important missing element.
Missing information on the copyright page. While this book includes a copyright page, it includes Bible quotes but no reference to the translation used (normally on this copyright page). Also throughout the book, Lindell includes lyrics from a number of well-known artists and songs. If permission was secured, it is normally pointed out on this copyright page and nothing is said on this page about permissions.
No table of contents page. While the book includes divisions and titles for each chapter. There is no table of contents page with numbers to help the reader.
No appendix or cross-promotion with MyPillow.  What Are the Odds? includes no advertising or promotion for Mike Lindell's MyPillow company or his foundation for addiction or any number of other things he could have included in a simple appendix. This book does not contain an appendix.
I learned about this book because I am a long-time subscriber to Publishers Weekly. Each issue of PW has a front and back cover and the responding inside pages in full color. This space is advertising space that some individual (like Mike Lindell) or a publisher to buy or advertising space. You can learn more details through their media kit (but does not include the prices). When I saw the retail price for this book: Hardcover $39.99 or Softcover $29.99, I looked on my local library to see if I could order the book—which I could. It's how I read the book. Lindell is a Christian and the book is distributed through Broadstreet Publishing.
Why Did I Read This Book?
I love biographies and have written a number of these types of books. The stories of changed lives always fascinates me. Mike Lindell has a dramatic story and the storytelling in this book is well-done and worthwhile reading. Inside the book a number of interesting sections of full color photos and captions are included. Yet the production problems detract from the reading experience and will frustrate many readers. Some of the missing elements like the missing barcode will frustrate retailers so they will be hesitant to carry the book. What Are the Odds? does have it's own website.
I wrote this article as a cautionary tale for authors. No matter how you publish your book (even self-publishing), you need to take charge of these various elements. As the author, it is up to you to make sure you are producing an excellent finished book which will be accepted by the publishing community (bookstore retailers and others). The lack of these critical elements is a huge error—which could have been fixed in production but is hard to fix after the book is produced. I hope it will help each of you seek good counsel and not make these errors.
Have you read What Are the Odds?  Did I miss some other missing element? Let me know in the comments below.

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