Featured Upcoming: “The Waymakers” by Tara Jaye Frank

The Waymakers
Tara Jaye Frank’s new book,
The Waymakers: Clearing the Path for Workplace Equity with Confidence and Competence, will be published on May 3rd. In recent years, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have taken a national spotlight. The Waymakers guides leaders to achieving equity goals by presenting a compelling case for change and providing thoughtful lessons on facilitating best DEI practices. 

Frank is an equity strategist who has advised and educated thousands of Fortune 500 executives across multiple industries and large member organizations. Her work, fueled by a deep belief in the creative power and potential of every one, focuses on building bridges between people, ideas, and opportunity. Before founding her culture and leadership consultancy, Frank spent twenty-one years at Hallmark Cards, where she served in multiple executive roles, including vice president of creative writing and editorial, vice president of business innovation, vice president of multicultural strategy, and corporate culture advisor to the president. 

Today, April 19, Frank will be joining fellow Amplify Author Brian McComak on Hummingbird Hour. This virtual LinkedIn event will begin at 12 pm ET and is open to all. We will be joining and hope to see you there!


 The Waymakers
tackles questions of workplace equity and inclusion, highlighting what really drives it. It also outlines how historically excluded people who have broken through to greater levels of professional belonging and achievement have done so, in part, due to waymakers: leaders who actively chose to remove barriers and pave the way for others. We are honored to have been involved in Frank’s publishing journey and are excited to share a brief introduction to her book before its release.


“You are reading this book today because I have worked with hundreds of well-meaning executives all over the world who have equated niceness with fairness, being welcoming with being inclusive, and who see scant representation—even when concentrated in nonexempt jobs or entry levels—as diversity. While all these things are good things, they are not the same things. 

To believe equity can be achieved by relying on leaders to be kind and to “do the right thing” suggests that inequity exists because some unkind people did some wrong things, which clearly oversimplifies a system designed and propagated to advantage some and disadvantage others. Equity—technically defined as fairness and impartiality—is an uncomplicated idea with a very complicated root. It acknowledges that there have been more barriers for some than for others, heavier burdens, higher standards, and increased risk. 

The idea of Waymaking—the simple yet profound premise that those with power and position have the opportunity and responsibility to make a way for other people—goes beyond fairness. It is a state of heightened awareness, a shared belief, and a commitment to lead. Awareness of the depth and breadth of challenge sweeping over many people and of the many reasons why we have failed to create sustainable change. Belief that every human being has value and potential. And a commitment to be the kind of leader who helps others contribute their value and fulfill their potential. 

Waymaking creates space for those leading and those being led to learn and succeed together by waking up to the fundamental call of leadership. It encourages us to better understand why we are where we are—after decades of equality initiatives—and what we can do to accelerate change toward truly equitable workplaces where every employee has an opportunity to achieve their highest aspirations. 

In full transparency, I am a person of faith, and the idea of making a way is both practical and biblical. In Isaiah 43:2, we read, “When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” This verse suggests a sort of protection—a shielding from harm and an elevation that allows us to rise above and move through challenges without being irreparably damaged by them. Countless professionals in workplaces all over the world need that kind of shielding. They need that kind of support. 

This book is an invitation, more than anything, for you—from whichever seat you occupy—to make a way for someone else. In it, I share everything I’ve learned about why companies are struggling to achieve their equity goals, how those making progress define and measure success and build inclusion competence and confidence, and what you as an individual can do—practically speaking—to create and sustain an equitable workplace. My hope is that you use it to help unlock true equity in your company and then bask in it.

 I’ve been asked why I wrote this book. I wrote it because there are so many reasons why we’ve not made more progress on equity, and we can’t overcome the roadblocks we do see. I wrote it because I’ve had Waymakers, and I’ve needed them. I wrote it because beyond all the theories and strategies and operational elements involved in achieving equity, I know that you—the person holding this book or listening to it—are one of the most powerful drivers of progress. I wrote this book to show you not only why you should make a way but how. Whether you realize it or not, you are the most important difference maker.”


If you want to learn how you or the leaders in your life can become a waymaker, pre-order a copy of The Waymakers today and follow Tara Jaye Frank on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and on her website


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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Case Study: My Lifelong Fight Against Disease

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


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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Amplify Publishing Celebrates Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, which means there’s no better time to highlight a few of our current and upcoming female Amplify authors who are positively impacting the world through their work and their books. There’s never a bad time to support these women and their big ideas—but we’d like to take a special moment to celebrate them this month.

Available Now

Val RiesVal Ries
Chief Inspiration Officer: How to Lead the Team Everyone Wants to Be On

Val Ries has spent years turning around struggling teams, uplifting low morale, and making sure that workplace productivity actually works. As the founder of Executive Muse, a company dedicated to leadership development, she has been applauded for her ability to build fast rapport, make substantive change, and get to the root of challenges. From small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, Val has been a highly sought-after leadership trainer, previously holding a variety of upper-level management positions that led to both an MBA and a coaching certification in her field. Val resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, and you can find her trying out a new move on the dance floor or walking her dog with friends and family. While she has been busy inspiring people and businesses, she also wrote a book about her work and teaching others how they can inspire their teams and co-workers.

Her book, Chief Inspiration Officer is a thought-provoking guide filled with stories, strategies, and techniques to achieve your leadership vision. With modern, real-world advice culled from years of experience in the corporate workforce, Val Ries coaches you on how to lead a high-performing team everyone wants to be on.

• •

Shanti BrienShanti Brien
Almost Innocent: From Searching to Saved in America’s Criminal Justice System

Shanti Brien has a bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley and a JD from Stanford Law School. She is an accomplished criminal defense attorney, with a specialty in appeals and post-conviction proceedings. She is co-founder of Fogbreak Justice, an education and consulting company with the mission to transform the criminal justice system through experiences which reduce bias, promote fairness, build community trust, and create equity. Shanti writes about criminal justice and other social justice issues on Medium @shantibrightbrien. She co-authored June Jordan’s Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint (Routledge, 1995); and contributed to The Road to Independence: 101 Women’s Journeys to Starting Their Own Law Firms (American Bar Association, 2011) and Lose the Cape: The Mom’s Guide to Becoming Socially and Politically Engaged (Kat Biggie Press, 2018). She lives in the East Bay with her husband and three kids.

Her book, Almost Innocent, is part memoir, part political commentary and details the stories of nine legal cases and goes behind the headlines to break down the dichotomies our country grapples with—us versus them, good versus bad, guilt versus innocence, Black versus White—and challenges us to explore the humanity in between.

Weaving stories of the obviously guilty to the surprisingly innocent, Almost Innocent is a love letter to the author’s clients. Though their profiles are as individual as their sentences—the teenage gang member whose gun never fired, the victim of the world’s most vindictive HOA, the soft-spoken three-strikes rapist, and the get-away driver—all touched Shanti Brien’s life in surprising ways. They saved her from stupid mistakes, strengthened her football-ravaged marriage, and taught her about humility, redemption, and humanity.

Almost Innocent is an intimate portrait of the criminal justice system, offering suggestions for what it could be: more fair, more humane, and more just.


Coming This Year

Tara Jaye FrankTara Jaye Frank
The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence – Coming May 3, 2022

Tara Jaye Frank is an equity strategist who has advised and educated thousands of Fortune 500 executives across multiple industries and large member organizations. Her work, fueled by a deep belief in the creative power and potential of every one, focuses on building bridges between people, ideas, and opportunity.

Before founding her culture and leadership consultancy, Frank spent twenty-one years at Hallmark Cards, where she served in multiple executive roles, including vice president of creative writing and editorial, vice president of business innovation, vice president of multicultural strategy, and corporate culture advisor to the president.

Frank resides in Dallas, Texas, with her rock star husband, two of their six children, and their three dogs. She is also a proud Spelman alumna, and a member of the Executive Leadership Council, the Network of Executive Women, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

In her book, The WaymakersFrank outlines how influential leaders can clear the path to workplace equity using case studies, data, and evocative storytelling.

Beyond strategies and systems, what really drives workplace equity and inclusion?

The truth is, all historically excluded professionals who have broken through to greater levels of belonging and achievement have succeeded not by systems change alone, but because leaders with power and position chose to remove barriers, open doors, and guide them toward their goals. The bottom line: someone made a way for them.

• •

Eleanor BlayneyMarjorie FoxEleanor Blayney, MBA, CFP® & Marjorie L. Fox, JD, CFP®
Women Wise: The Essential Guide to Financial and Lifestyle Decisions as We Age – Coming June 7, 2022

Selected in 2015 as a “Woman to Watch” by InvestmentNews, Eleanor Blayney, MBA, CFP®, is nationally recognized as a pioneer for shaping the practice and ethical standards of the financial planning profession. Throughout her career, Eleanor’s particular focus was on the financial planning needs of women, and her 2010 book Women’s Worth: Finding Your Financial Confidence was written to address the money concerns of working women and their families.

Founder and CEO of FJY Financial, LLC, Marjorie L. Fox, JD, CFP®, retired at the end of 2018 after more than thirty years in the financial planning profession. She was named one of the “Twenty Most Influential Women to Watch” by InvestmentNews in 2015 and received NAPFA’s Robert J. Underwood Award for Distinguished Service in 2018.

In Women Wise, highly respected CFP® professionals Eleanor Blayney and Marjorie Fox tackle the biggest retirement obstacles and decisions women may face, including optimizing Social Security benefits, choosing a Medicare plan, and deciding whether to remain in their own homes or move to a senior community. Combining comprehensive and practical financial advice with deeply personal anecdotes about the challenges they both faced during their sixties and seventies, Eleanor and Marjorie emerge in Women Wise not only as experts but as companions traveling the same road as readers.

Informative and relatable, Women Wise is a must-read for any woman looking to embark on the rest of life’s journey with confidence, grace, and wisdom.

• •

Kristen ZimanKristen Ziman
Reimagining Blue: Thoughts on Life, Leadership, and a New Way Forward in Policing – Coming July 12, 2022

Since she was a little girl, Kristen Ziman wanted to be a cop. When Kristen joined the ranks, she knew she had found her tribe, and she devoted herself to becoming an asset to her profession. She rose through the ranks and became the first female lieutenant, commander, and police chief in the history of her department.

Although she is now retired from the force, Kristen is still passionate about policing, and believes the men and women who wear the uniform provide the best examples of selflessness. Her work explores her former profession while chronicling the colorful journey of life and leadership that taught her so many lessons.

Kristen lives in Naples, Florida, where she is following her personal mission to help elevate people and organizations and to thwart the next mass shooting through prevention and preparation.

Reimagining Blue is a passionate and personal look into a misunderstood profession from the vantage point of female police chief Kristen Ziman.

Ziman credits her colorful childhood for the temperament that led her to gravitate towards policing, a profession where chaos is all in a day’s work. She learned life and leadership lessons through the revelation of what not to do.

But nothing could have prepared Kristen for the turmoil that would unfold during her tenure. A pandemic, mass shooting, and civil unrest that threatened the trusting relationship between her department and her community would become her greatest professional challenges.

This deeply moving memoir is a story of resilience and perseverance in policing—and in life. It’s a raw and candid portrayal told by a flawed human about a noble profession suffering an identity crisis. Reimagining Blue is an urgent call to find a way forward, not because the system is broken, but because it can always be better.


Coming Soon

Dana RubinDana Rubin
Speaking While Female: 50 Speeches by Extraordinary American Women – Coming Soon

Dana Rubin is the founder and CEO of Speech Studio and a consultant, speechwriter, speaker, and trainer. A former award-winning journalist, she’s supported individuals at all career stages to become recognized, respected thought leaders and powerful communicators. She’s a popular public speaker on “The History of Women’s Speech” and a recognized expert on the overlooked history of women’s contributions to public oratory.

Her Kickstarter funding campaign for this project recently hit its goal within 24 hours, but she still needs your help to bring women’s speeches to the forefront. Donate now.

Her book, Speaking While Female, started with a question: did you ever wonder why all the greatest speeches in history were given by men? At least that’s what the history books have told us. But is it true?

Rubin decided to find out and spent two years digging into archives, memoirs, out-of-print books and old newspapers, excavating speeches by women — lots of speeches, hundreds and thousands of them. It turns out, the history books are wrong.

Women have been speaking up, loudly and proudly, for centuries, about every issue under the sun. They’ve been sharing their knowledge, stirring up their audiences, and changing the world with their words.

But history has forgotten about, ignored, and overlooked our voices. 

It’s time to change that.


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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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… 

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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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.


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.

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.

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.





As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing, RealClear Publishing, and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal advises authors, thought leaders, and organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from experts in business and politics, and Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres. RealClear Publishing, a joint venture with RealClearPolitics, redefines the political book marketplace by magnifying the voices of senators, advocates, and analysts to shape the national conversation.


Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver. Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of
How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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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.


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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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.




As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics.

Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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Case Study: Seizing Opportunity with The Opportunity Agenda

A Plan to Grow the Middle Class and Revitalize the Democratic Party



Disrupting the Democratic Party to improve its core
New York businessman and civic leader Winston Fisher and former Kansas City mayor Sly James wouldn’t seem like they have much in common. They come from different cities, cultures, and professions. But they do have one thing in common: their desire to save the Democratic Party from itself. Together, in The Opportunity Agenda: A Bold Democratic Plan to Grow the Middle Class, they outline a way forward for the party that focuses on what really matters: appealing to the American people.

What does this mean?
Winston Fisher and Sly James are both faithful Democrats but believe the party can do more to achieve long-term success. They think that rather than rehashing the same common platforms—Medicare for All, higher minimum wage, a Green New Deal—the party needs to target voters by focusing on mainstay policies that will appeal to a wide swath of Americans for years to come. If the policy makes sense with the words “for you” tacked onto it, then that policy is likely to interest most Americans beyond a single election cycle. Voters want to see a platform tailored for them rather than one created on the rebound from a lost election.

Our goals?
1. Edit The Opportunity Agenda after Fisher and James write it
2. Update the book during production to be up-to-date with the COVID-19 pandemic
3. Capitalize on the biggest talking points of the 2020 election cycle


Winston Fisher wanted to help improve the Democratic Party, so he set up a meeting with Sly James to discuss ideas. They soon realized they shared a lot of the same ideals and agreed the Democratic Party is due for a change because of its repeated failures. So, they co-authored a manuscript intended to solve those problems and provide a roadmap for Democrats moving forward. They took their time developing the manuscript, brainstorming various policy points and the best possible solutions for the American people. After about a year of development and writing, they had a final manuscript that achieved those goals.

When COVID-19 swept the United States, the need for Fisher and James’s policies was clearer than ever. Portable benefits, for example, became sorely needed as people lost their traditional nine-to-five jobs. Despite the fact that The Opportunity Agenda was already at the printer, we updated it to ensure the book remained topical upon its release.

Both authors are active in their Democratic scenes, which was useful as we neared the book’s release date. Sly James covered Kansas City, Missouri, while Winston Fisher was in charge of New York City. And in addition to leveraging their personal networks, James and Fisher partnered with Global Strategy Group, a public affairs and communications firm that specializes in the intersection of business and politics. Javelin, a DC-based media and public relations company known for marketing political titles, also got involved to assist with media and publicity. Between Fisher, James, GSG, Javelin, and Amplify, it was a coordinated effort to make waves in the press in advance of the 2020 presidential election.

The effort bore fruit. Sly James and Winston Fisher co-authored an op-ed for Newsweek entitled “A Warning to Our Fellow Democrats: A Campaign Focused on Trump Won’t Win.” In it, they acknowledge the unity of the Democratic Party against President Trump and his reelection bid but insist on the need for a “major campaign pivot” to ensure lasting wins. Sly James also made appearances on national television. On Fox News, he discussed the George Floyd protests as a situation needing strong leadership, and on MSNBC, he appeared to discuss how the Democratic Party can become the party of opportunity. He wrote an op-ed in The Kansas City Star, advocating paid family leave as an economic boon and an issue the Democrats should champion beyond the 2020 election. Kirkus Reviews, a trusted voice in book reviews, also hailed Fisher and James’s ideas as “ambitious and cogent.”

It takes more than relying on the failures of others to make a political party successful and transcend just one election cycle. Winston Fisher and Sly James dug deeper and created a plan to renew the Democratic Party and bolster middle-class Americans for years to come.


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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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.






As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics. 


Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of
How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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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.


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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