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 An outdated interior design is a sure way to immediately convey to the reader that your content may be antiquated as well.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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Indexing: Turning a Book into a Timeless Resource

A potential reader searching for a book on particular topics and wanting to know how deeply a book covers them will often look at the index. An index gives the reader a sense of the breadth of topics—all the way down to the specifics—that they’ll benefit from, as well as serves as a useful reference for interacting with the book for years to come. It may be an important part of a reader’s decision to add the book to their shopping cart and pick it up again after their initial read, increasing its value over its lifetime.


Books that benefit from an index

Indexes are typically found in nonfiction books, especially those that include reference or technical material. If a title includes topics specific to a certain subject area or industry that the reader may want to return to for quick reference, or if the title includes important keywords that could be used for research, the author should consider including an index. Not all nonfiction titles need an index, however. Narrative nonfiction titles, such as memoirs, do not require one as they do not serve as resource material.


The indexing process
The indexing process is one of the final steps in production before the book is sent to the printer. Indexing can only occur once the full PDF is finalized as final page numbers are needed in order to produce a properly paginated index. Changes after the indexing process is complete could result in layout reflow, causing key terms to shift to different pages and rendering the index inaccurate.

Indexing is typically completed by professionals who have been trained in the skill and, while straightforward from the outside, requires expertise on behalf of the indexer. The indexer reads through the entire book and identifies key words and phrases they anticipate will be important to readers. Indexing is subjective, but all indexers approach the book with the target reader in mind. Some indexers utilize a hybrid of indexing technology in addition to a manual read-through.

When the index is complete, the author receives the final draft of key terms and their associated page numbers for inclusion at the back of their book.


Author involvement
Author involvement for indexing is usually minimal, though depends on the author’s preference. While an author may supply a preliminary list of key terms to the indexer prior to indexing commencing, most authors prefer to let the process unfold without their input and trust the indexer—a trained professional with an unbiased eye—to identify what will be most helpful to readers.

After the completed index has been delivered, the author reviews it and can choose to add or drop terms from it. Adding entries requires going back to the indexer and can add time and cost to the production process. Dropping terms is easier, and can be done without the indexer’s involvement.

Indexing is a consideration authors should begin thinking about during the acquisitions process, as it is a fairly costly endeavor. An index costs a few thousand dollars, depending on the needs of the individual book.


The cost is often worth it, though: an index often increases a book’s use and value, helping it become a staple on a reader’s shelf or a go-to text on the subject matter.




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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More Than Dotting I’s and Crossing T’s: The Levels of Editing

You’ve finally got it: a first draft. The last word has been written, and now you’ve got a couple hundred pages ready to be edited. You’ve completed what many consider the hardest part of writing a book, but there’s still work left to be done. It’s time for editing to begin.

All manuscripts need editing. Working with a professional editor is necessary to ensure your book becomes the best book it can be. Some writing requires basic sentence- and word-level polishing, while other manuscripts may need an overarching content edit. It all depends on the author’s writing process and where they feel their writing has ended up after the first draft. No matter what, flipping back to the beginning of the book and breaking out the red pen is a crucial step in the publishing process.

One editorial size does not fit all. The most common editing options are as follows:


Ghostwrite. A ghostwrite includes the complete drafting of a manuscript, beginning with interviews with the author and other important individuals and moving through a synopsis, outline, and chapter delivery. A professional ghostwriter has the most involvement in a manuscript. An author’s relationship with a ghostwriter can be as involved as they choose.

Writing Coach. A writing coach aids in the creation of an outline, table of contents, and writing schedule. The author writes the manuscript while the writing coach works closely with the author throughout the drafting process by editing each chapter as it is written for content-level concerns. Busy authors who are still invested in doing the actual writing of the book or those who need a schedule to stick to often opt for a writing coach to get real-time feedback.

Content Edit. A professional editor works with the author after the first full draft of the manuscript is completed. They suggest high-level structural and organizational changes as needed that may affect both the prose and content of the book. It’s a good choice for authors who have or will have a completed manuscript and are looking for high-level feedback. A content editor may rewrite sentences as necessary.

Developmental Edit. A developmental edit addresses clarity, style, and phrasing. The editor identifies areas with awkward word choice and sentences, when more information or explanation is needed, or when redundancies arise.

Copyedit. A copyedit involves an editor correcting line-by-line grammatical errors, including spelling, punctuation, word choice, tense, and sentence structure. Editing at this level aims to get the book grammatically sound and ready for print.


After completing your manuscript, you’ll likely have a sense of which level of editing you need. If you’re unsure, an editor or publishing professional can assess your manuscript for the appropriate level of editing needed.


Who will I work with?
Whether you are working with an in-house editor at a publisher or with a freelancer, ensure they have experience and qualifications to complete the level of editing necessary. Budget is a realistic concern, too, so confirm that the editor is providing a reasonable quote for a quality job. Working relationship is another factor. Depending on how heavy an edit your manuscript needs, you may be spending some time communicating with your editor, so see if you jive personally to work well professionally.


Every manuscript needs some level of editing before it’s ready to go to print, and CEOs and thought leaders often need the help of a professional to help bring their book up to scratch in a competitive market. A well written book is a must to represent yourself and your brand well, so choosing the right level of editing helps create a quality product.




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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When Hiring a Ghostwriter is the Correct Editorial (and Business) Decision

You’re a thought leader and recognized expert in your field. Your audience enjoys your blogs, your videos, and your social media presence. Your influence is growing. And to keep the momentum going, you’ve decided to add a book to your platform and share your big idea with the world.

What’s the next step? For many, it’s finding a qualified ghostwriter.

So, let’s dispel some myths about ghostwriting here and now. It’s not cheating. It’s not unethical. It’s actually rather common. We estimate half of Amplify Publishing titles utilize the service of ghostwriters. And the other half rely on writing coaches, book doctors, copyeditors, and proofreaders. But today, let’s examine the world of ghostwriting and when it makes sense for you.


Why consider hiring a ghostwriter?
There are several areas in which a ghostwriter can add value and is worth considering:

Editorial quality. Poor quality writing undermines your credibility. Even if you can write, be honest with yourself: Is your writing of the utmost quality? Do you have the objectivity to persuade readers who aren’t already sold on your ideas, as you are? If you’re not sure how well you can represent yourself while writing, it may be in your interests to consider editorial help, be that a ghostwriter or some level of editing.

Time. Even if your writing is top-notch, you still might not have time to sit down and commit to writing a manuscript. Even a modest manuscript might be a six-month project. If you’re running a company or traveling for speaking engagements, you might be too busy. A book project is a time investment as well as a monetary investment, so be realistic with your schedule and whether you can take on another project right now.

Efficiency. Maybe you can write as well as any ghostwriter, but it takes you ten times longer to write one chapter than it would for them. A ghostwriter can step in and add speed while maintaining a quality product. For my book, How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform, I knew I could write well, but knew I couldn’t go to market without some help from Tim Vandehey, who did the heavy lifting on the writing. A professional isn’t just for those who have no time; it’s for those who value the time they have.


What is it like to work with a ghostwriter?
The ghostwriter and the named author spend a lot of time together. Brainstorming sessions, outlining, in-depth interviews wherein ghostwriter picks the author’s brain and develops a sense of their written “voice.” You don’t need to be in the same city, but an initial face-to-face meeting often produces the best writer-client relationship. The style of the meeting depends on you and the writer.

The continued level of involvement after the initial meetings is up to the named author. Maybe you want to be hands-off and just have the ghostwriter send you a completed manuscript. Perhaps you want to take an active hand in shaping the book. Many ghostwriters have a process of developing ideas and structuring the book, and the named author needs to be comfortable with that process beforehand. However the ghostwriter handles it, they will ensure they are staying true to the roadmap you laid out in the preliminary interviews. Understanding this process upfront creates the best working relationship.


What are the costs associated with hiring a ghostwriter?
There is a wide range of budgets involved in hiring a ghostwriter. The price depends on attributes like the ghostwriter’s experience, their credits, and any special circumstances like the complexity of the book or the turnaround time. We’ve worked with ghosts whose fee ranged from $10,000 on the low end to $100,000 on the high end—that’s a reality. But we are always able to find a ghostwriter within the budget of the named author.


Ghostwriting often stirs up negative associations, but it’s a crucial part of the book production process for the majority of successful authors. A great ghostwriter will provide the editorial quality and efficiency it takes to get a book done well and help you achieve your publishing goals.





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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Case Study: Going Extra Innings at the City of Hope National Medical Center

Former Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Fred Claire’s cancer diagnosis came out of left field, but at the City of Hope, he found the dream team to help him beat it.



A baseball legend
The Los Angeles Dodgers are playing the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2020 World Series. The last time the Dodgers won the Fall Classic was back in 1988, with an overachieving team assembled by former sportswriter-turned-baseball-executive Fred Claire.


Fred Claire
Fred Claire continued his tenure with the Dodgers until 1997, when he stepped away from the game he loved and started a glorious retirement filled with friends, family, staying active, and playing a lot of golf. But in January 2015, Claire received bad news: the supposedly harmless spot on his lip was instead squamous cell carcinoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer.

That’s when Claire entrusted his care, treatment, and life to the doctors and nurses at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. After some highs and lows, Claire is now in recovery and attributes his good health to the amazing team at City of Hope and the support of his friends and family.


Telling a story of hope in the fight against cancer
Claire was so moved by the care and treatment he received that he wanted to let the world know about the groundbreaking work happening at City of Hope. It occurred to him a book would be a great way to talk about his cancer journey to inspire others and give CoH a platform to talk about its approach. CoH was on board; it would provide support for the project and make the doctors and nurses who helped Claire available for interviews.

Claire approached our parent company, Mascot Books, about his idea and we were on board. It was an inspiring story with a worthy cause. And to help kick things off, we connected Claire with Tim Madigan, a respected author and journalist who has written for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Politico, Reader’s Digest, and, for thirty years, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Together, we took two trips to the City of Hope to see for ourselves the exceptional care and innovation happening beyond its doors.


Our goals?
1. Partner with Claire, City of Hope, and Tim Madigan to produce Extra Innings: Fred Claire’s Journey to City of Hope and Finding a World Championship Team
2. Highlight the innovative treatment occurring at City of Hope
3. Raise awareness for City of Hope through both baseball- and cancer-related media hits

Madigan got to work writing the book and telling Fred Claire’s and City of Hope’s unique stories and how they came together. From its origins as a treatment center for homeless tuberculosis victims in the 1910s, CoH has become not only a leader in diabetes treatment and bone marrow and stem cell transplantation but also a leader in cancer research and treatment. Madigan captured CoH’s humanity, its combination of science and compassion, and its excellent health care professionals. One reviewer on Amazon stated, “Tim Madigan has woven [baseball and CoH] together in a masterful story that will make your soul happy.”

Extra Innings gave City of Hope the opportunity to spread the knowledge of its research and treatments far and wide. Its innovations in chemotherapy, radiation, experimental surgery, and immunotherapy all put it on par with its peers, like the Mayo Clinic. By partnering with Claire on Extra Innings, CoH advances its name and saves more lives.

People remember Fred Claire well. In the Daily Bulletin, Fred Claire’s story ran in two articles, the first titled “Writing sports in Pomona led Fred Claire to Dodgers (and World Series)” which retold his journey to becoming Dodgers general manager. In the second, “Readers haven’t forgotten Fred Claire, the Pomona sportswriter who became a Dodgers exec,” newspaper readers share their memories of Claire during the 1980s. Claire also appeared on the podcast SABRcast with Rob Neyer in May 2020 to talk about his baseball career and journey to City of Hope. Also, a review of Extra Innings is currently in the works with the magazine Baseball America.

Extra Innings drew attention because of its cancer subject matter, as well. Not only did City of Hope write an article about Claire and the book on its website (“Fred Claire: Former Dodgers GM Chronicles Cancer Journey In New Book”), but he was also interviewed by Ed Hart on From the Hart, a podcast that tells inspiring stories. Claire has an upcoming appearance on Thrive Podcast, a podcast about fighting cancer and moving forward with life, as well.


Keep on swinging
Fred Claire has had his ups and downs, but his recovery is going very well. And with the Los Angeles Dodgers contending to win the World Series again, he’s spending his free time rooting for them to repeat that victory for the first time since his team did.

All proceeds from Extra Innings go to the City of Hope National Medical Center.

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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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