What books do publishers read?

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I thought this video from Laurie Beshore was fitting for today for two reasons:

1) Today is the last official day of the Love Without Walls Blog Tour

2) Laurie talks about how if she didn’t read books would see “only a part” of “reality.” She says that she like books don’t just “describe what is, but what can be.”

old booksThe same is true for publishers (and I imagine any profession). If we don’t read about our profession we won’t grow in our profession. If we don’t continually read on how to be more innovative marketers, thoughtful editors, and committed Christian professionals, then eventually our books will suffer and our authors and consumers will be under-served.

So, for this series of posts on the publishing process I thought it might be fun to post a list of books publishers read. These are books I’ve read, my colleagues have read, industry standards, and other goodies.

  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – This book is hugely popular among writers, regardless of what type of books they write. The same is true for publishers. It’s just a compelling read about writing and King’s tumultuous career.
  • Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers by Scott Norton – I discovered this book at the national meeting for the Society for Biblical Literature, oddly enough. It’s great reading for aspiring editors.
  • ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income, Second Edition by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett – A fellow marketer at Z gave me this book when I first start blogging. It is an excellent resource for growing your online presence. I’ve recommended it to numerous authors, colleagues, and friends.
  • Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future by Jason Epstein – This is a book written by a major New York publisher. The big takeaway for me from this book was that publishers must ‘acquire for the back list’ as a way to ensure a sustainable business.
  • What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis – Our publishing team read this book together a few years back. It helped all of us wrap our minds around the digital revolution we’ve been through the last few years. Especially in regards to SEO, it really got our wheels turning about how we title, market, and sell our books. We know regularly use terms like “Google juice” and “Googley” as a result of reading this book.
  • Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt – I’ve not read this book yet but it’s on my short list. Others around Z are already reading it. Mike Hyatt’s wisdom and experience in publishing is just too good not read and implement.
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White – This little handbook is the bible of self-editing and professional writing. If you’re a writer you must own and heed this book.
  • Get Known before the Book Deal by Christina Katz – This is a book I stumbled on a few years ago and have recommended to many new writers who are trying to build a platform for promoting their work.

This list is far from exhaustive, but it should give you a good idea of some of the books that float around our offices.

Until next time, may you know the joy of reading a good book that energizes you in your vocation.


What’s a book endorsement? And how are book endorsements gathered?

Today I’d like to answer two questions about the publishing industry: What are endorsements? And how are they gathered?

What are endorsements?

The first question is easy to answer. An endorsement is a recommendation from a typically well-known or respected person for a product that is used for marketing and promotion. In regards to books, “endorsement” is the name given to the short quotes printed on book jackets and in the interior pages that describe for consumers why they should read the book.

For examples, see the Amazon page for The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission by John Dickson. All of the quotes listed under “editorial reviews” are endorsements. (For an example of how endorsements can be used in a humorous way see “editorial reviews” section for Tina Fey’s book, BossypantsI laugh out loud every time.)

How are endorsements gathered? 

This question is a bit harder to answer because there is no “one way” to get an endorsement. The way I gather almost all of the endorsements for our books is to start with the author and the content of the book. I ask him or her, “Who do you know that has a strong reputation in the field or topic you’re writing about?” We then go to those people – friends, colleagues, and aquaintances of the author – first as they are the most likely people to respond positively.

What’s a galley copy?

Last week I started an informal series of posts about the publishing process with a post about Advanced Reader Copies. This week I’d like to answer the above question, what’s a galley copy? Keep in mind that how my team at Zondervan uses the term “galley copy” might not be exactly how every publishing group does. “Galley copy,” I’ve found, is one of those sort of catch-all terms that publishers use.

When my team at Z uses the term galley copy we’re generally talking about something that looks like this:

Chris willard, jim sheppard, leadership network, Zondervan, publishing

This is a galley for the new book in our Leadership Network Innovation Series, Contagious Generosity by Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard. It’s printed on standard, 8.5 x 11 paper; the interior is in black and white, and it’s bound with hot glue band. I’ve also seen a number of galleys like this that are spiral bound. We typically use the term “galley” for anything printed on 8.5 x 11 paper, and “ARC” for anything printed and bound like an actual book.

What’s an Advanced Reader Copy?

For a while now Chris and I have been discussing the idea of sharing some info about the publishing process. Today’s is post is the first to follow up on that idea. We plan to post once per week on the publishing process. Likely, the posts will appear on Fridays. We hope you enjoy these, and if you don’t, well…we’ll stop. But on to today’s topic….


Mel Lawrenz

The front cover of an advanced reader copy.

What’s an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC)?

In yesterday’s post we gave away advanced reader copies of Spiritual Influence by Mel Lawrenz. These copies have a glued binding like normal softcover books. They’re made with a cream paper and they have a lighter weight paper for their cover than a typical book. They have a Z logo on the front that says “Advance Reading Copy, Not For Sale.” On the back cover they have information about the marketing campaign for the book and the publicist’s contact info. The interior content of the book is nearly final, with perhaps a few more edits pending.

All of this isn’t to say that these ARC’s aren’t good looking, quality copies of the book. In fact, they are just the opposite – which is why we print them.

ARC’s look like real books. They are just as heavy as a real book. They are in the same trim size the final book will appear in, and their covers have just as much vibrancy and color as the final covers will have. ARC’s also have fully designed pages inside. The font, sub-headings, chapter openers, diagrams, images, and other design elements have already been designed by the time ARC’s are made. The overall experience upon reading an ARC vs. a final printed copy is very similar.

So why do we print them?

Spiritual Influence

Here’s what the back cover of an ARC looks like.

ARC’s are printed primarily to secure media and publicity opportunities for the author before the book is actually available. Most media outlets – radio, TV, magazines, news websites – work pretty far in advance. Media channels need to know what books are coming out far ahead of the release dates if they plan to showcase the book in their channel at all. So, in the case of Spiritual Influence, which releases in July, we printed the ARC’s a while back so we could begin sending them to magazines and other media channels. Then, when the final book comes out in July and starts really hitting the market in August and September the media channels will be ahead of the game and able to feature the book and interview Mel.

Make sense? Those who have worked in publicity at all could probably go on about this process with much greater detail, but this is at least a snapshot of the why we print ARC’s.


Do you have questions about the publishing process? Let’s us know what it is below and we’ll cover it in one of our Friday posts.

One Word, but Two Covers

This coming December, we will be releasing a book and DVD resource called My One Word.  This is a campaign that Port City Community Church has been running for the past five years and essentially is helping people change their life by selecting one word to focus on for an entire year instead of a list of resolutions.  Here is a brief blurb about it:

The concept of My One Word is simple. Lose the long list of resolutions—all your sweeping promises to change—and do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything. Choose just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year. This single act will force clarity and concentrate your efforts. As you focus on your word over an extended period of time, you position yourself for God to form your character at a deep, sustainable level. Growth and change will result.

Author Mike Ashcraft, who has led his church through this My One Word project for more than five years, and Proverbs 31 Ministries author and speaker Rachel Olsen, who has lived it, are encouraging, insightful, good-humored, yet realistic in this enjoyable read. Their stories of growth and change through My One Word will keep you motivated. Throughout the book you’ll also find words and stories of people just like you who have joined the My One Word movement and discovered the power of just one word. Includes discussion questions for use with the corresponding small group video curriculum, My One Word: A DVD Study.

We need your help in selecting a cover design.  Below are two different options, and we would like your opinions on them.  You can refer to them as the “boggle concept” and the “funnel concept”.  Thanks!

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