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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

-Name recognition or be respected in their field
-A marketing platform greater than yours
-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:

-An introduction to you and your book
-An anecdote or an application of what your book discusses
-A testimonial as to why readers should read your book
-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.




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.

 

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Case Study: The Roadmap to Becoming Crisis Ready®

Organizations that are Crisis Ready® are more than just resilient. They’re invincible.

Building an invincible brand in an uncertain world

Written by crisis management advisor as well as founder and CEO of the Crisis Ready Institute Melissa Agnes, Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World provides organizations such as businesses, police, military, and universities the tools they need to build resilient brands. Being Crisis Ready® means if an organization is faced with a crisis, they come out of it stronger and even better than before.

What does this mean?

Modern-day organizations face a slew of potential risks: security breaches, economic hardship, PR disasters, and, most recently, global pandemics. In Crisis Ready, Agnes provides organizations with the roadmap for embedding a culture whereby every member of the team becomes adept at getting ahead of risk—be it a customer complaint straight through to a full-scale catastrophic crisis—in a way that transforms the risk into a brand-strengthening opportunity.

Crisis readiness is not the same as crisis management. Crisis management is what happens once the risk has materialized. The more Crisis Ready® an organization is, the less crisis management they are likely to have to do. When you’re Crisis Ready®, your organization can withstand hardships and unexpected emergencies because a Crisis Ready® brand is proactive, confident, and strategic.

Our goals?

  • Hand the mic to Agnes as a Crisis Ready® thought leader
  • Support her expertise with a powerful design
  • Create a quality, evergreen book that will help businesses for years to come

As a strategic advisor and keynote speaker, Agnes has worked with NATO, ministries of foreign affairs and defense, financial firms, technology companies, healthcare organizations, cities and municipalities, law enforcement agencies, global non-profits, universities, and many others. In other words, she is an expert in crisis management across a diverse range of industries and is fully equipped to share her knowledge.

Agnes took the lead on her manuscript, and we utilized a writing coach to keep her on a timeline in coordination with the production calendar. She wrote, and we reviewed and edited. After 6 months, the manuscript was done.

The result? She created a compelling manuscript that provides readers with real-world examples of where organizations do well and where they fall short. This includes learning the tools to interact with stakeholders appropriately and having a measured plan of action to be Crisis Ready®.

Next, we needed a strong interior design to supplement Agnes’ expertise and streamline her findings. It was important to Agnes that the book be a multi-sensory experience. Our design team filled out the interior of the book with eye-catching 2-color graphs, diagrams, and most impressively, a gatefold insert that opens out to reveal a large chart with her teachings. It was a thoughtful journey to finding the perfect cover, fluctuating between thousands of ideas and outlines to create a meaningful, subtle approach. A simple yet powerful cover design tied it all together, conveying a sense of calmness and readiness in an uncertain world.

Two years later

Commended as “intelligent, intuitive, and unabashedly gutsy,” named by Forbes as a top ten business book in 2018, and named by Book Authority as a top three crisis management book of all time, Crisis Ready is the go-to book on the topic of crisis preparedness and crisis management, and has helped solidify Agnes as a leading expert in the field.

While Agnes is profitable with online and brick-and-mortar retail, she finds enormous success with bulk buys from corporations and businesses, who are looking to evolve their culture and become Crisis Ready® from the ground up. One of her greatest successes was with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. After supporting Chase’s small and medium-sized business clients through the COVID-19 pandemic, Chase bought 2,000 copies of the Crisis Ready® ebook to give away to their clients. We coordinated the logistics, and the deal was done.

Agnes frequently uses her book as a teaching and speaking tool on her podcast, vlog, and contributes articles to Forbes magazine. Crisis Ready is also part of the curriculum at Harvard University and dozens of other higher education schools globally. The book has gained Agnes professional speaking gigs and brought in more clients interested in retaining her Crisis Ready® expertise.

Now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Agnes’ ideas have become even more relevant and necessary. This new era has forced organizations everywhere to reevaluate how to communicate with clients effectively and collaborate with staff virtually. Ultimately, organizations need a strategic plan to come out alive on the other side. Agnes’ expertise is in high demand because there is no better time to be invincible.

Now that Agnes has solidified herself as a leading authority on crisis readiness, she has launched her latest initiative, the Crisis Ready Institute, a public benefit corporation with a powerful mission. By incorporating a culture of readiness in organizations and teaching them how to turn risk into opportunities for growth and connection, the Institute is on a mission to create a crisis resilient world.

The second edition of Crisis Ready is in the works and is scheduled to be released in 2021.

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Case Study: How The Horseshoe Virus Created Political Change in Arizona

A Political Title Ideally Suited for New RealClear Politics imprint


Former Arizona state senator Bob Worsley uncovers the surprising beginnings of modern anti-immigration sentiments in his book, The Horseshoe Virus: How the Anti-Immigration Movement Spread from Left-Wing to Right-Wing America.


What is the “Horseshoe Virus”?
The “Horseshoe Virus” is the spread of “toxic, anti-immigration legislative and ideological strategy” from groups within both Democrat and Republican parties, Bob Worsley argues. Worsley focuses on how far-left activists shape far-right policies, reveals how anti-immigration feeling rose to prominence in modern politics, and prescribes ways to bring America back from the brink of extremism.


Our goals?
-Set up for success by partnering with RealClearPolitics and Gotham Ghostwriters and publish under the newly-established RealClear Publishing imprint
-Make waves in the press with Worsley’s activism on immigration policy
-Pick a strategic publication date to capitalize on the 2020 election cycle and move quickly to launch title

RealClear Publishing is an imprint of Amplify Publishing, RealClearPolitics, and Gotham Ghostwriters. RealClear Publishing was established with the goal of diversifying the conversation around politics. While traditional publishers only publish books by the political elite, RealClear Publishing works to bring out voices from educated thought leaders and respected individuals. RealClear Publishing authors retain full ownership of their copyright, receive 80% of the profits from sales, and have access to over 17 years of publishing expertise through the Amplify team.

When we started working on The Horseshoe Virus with Bob Worsley, we knew the collaborative style of RealClear Publishing was a perfect fit. Three heads are better than one, so we combined RealClearPolitics’ brand equity as a trusted platform for political news and commentary (and the massive audience they offer), Gotham Ghostwriters’ expert editorial and writing services, and our know-how when it comes to production, distribution, and marketing. The Horseshoe Virus is the product of partnership in action.


Going viral and the media interest that followed
While RealClear Publishing was working behind the scenes to get this book out there, Bob Worsley was getting attention for his well-timed op-ed in AZ Central titled, “A Response to the ‘Latter-day Saints for Trump’s Rally in Mesa, Arizona” in which he called for a return to the values of “truth, respect, honor, competency, freedom, and concern for our fellow man.” He argued that “President Trump is the antithesis of so much the Latter-day Saints community believes.” The letter has gained media attention in the Los Angeles Times, Deseret News, KJZZ, AZ Family, and the Daily Mail.

With Worsley leading the Arizona Republican movement to pull away from Trump, we knew the timing of The Horseshoe Virus had to be just right. With Worsley so prominent, it only made sense that his call to return from far-right extremism would debut on the market in October, right before the November general election.

The strategy paid off. In the election, Arizona went for the Democratic candidate Joe Biden despite being a Republican Party stronghold and a predicted Donald Trump win. Bob Worsley credits that flip in part to the efforts of many good members of the LDS Church and grassroots interest groups like Stand Up Republic, saying they were “a united effort to pull away from Trumpism, anti-immigration feelings, and return to decent, centrist American values.” Worsley’s voice was part of the call for Arizonans to vote for Biden not Trump, and The Horseshoe Virus achieves what a good book should: influence change.





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.

 

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