BETTER BOOKS MEDIA™

Welcome to How To Write Better’s (HTWB’s) bouncy, bolshie young sibling … Better Books Media™ (BBM). This is the new home for everything you need to get you started with a book or book-related project – even if you’ve never written a book or eBook before.
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I must be out of my mind.

On Amazon pre-order soon:
The ultimate book on how to write a book.

36 books’ worth of my writing experience
35 years’ worth of my marketing experience
To be published by BetterBooksMedia

With this book, you won’t need me.

Contains everything you need to make
your nonfiction book a successful reality.

Want to reserve your copy now?
Drop me a note on suze@suzanstmaur.com

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And meanwhile, more about Better Books Media
Like youngsters (elephants in particular: two years) BBM has been some time in gestation. After ‘mum’ had been in a business partnership for more than two years offering publishing services and was royally shafted by her business partner, she spent another year licking her wounds, knitting baby blankets and acquiring a ‘little black book’ of stunning book production and publishing experts that is the envy of the 21st century publishing world. Now she has a virtual book creation team that’s to die for.

Also like many youngsters, BBM is still living here at home with a parent (HTWB) to be on the safe side, but will have its own site one day when it’s earning a decent profit and has learned how to do its own washing and ironing. In the meantime here’s how its concept can achieve what many more stuffy publishing services would say is impossible: it’s a blend of a literary agency, author coaching, and a publishing service. Eat your heart out, traditional publishing thinkers.better books media
Better Books Media™ is a wholly owned imprint and brand belonging to me, Suzan St Maur. For now it is delivering my own books – and of course my self-publishing clients are welcome to have their books published under this imprint if they wish, too. In fact two of my book-coaching clients already have joined me as BBM authors. 

It is also delivering my very special, bespoke author coaching and publishing advice via my own experience and skillset, and that of my brilliant, hand-picked virtual team of editors, book producers, book designers, illustrators, audio recordists, and more.

My business model is simple: horses for courses. You get the best of advice and talent according to your exact needs: you don’t pay for anyone’s overheads, mortgage, office rental, BMW or ego.

Read on now and see how Better Books Media™ can provide you with…

…the help you need to write your book and get it out there. Let’s get started…

Basically there are two main ways to get your book published:

1. By yourself, either totally by yourself (you need to learn how to use Amazon!) or with help from an “independent” publishing services company. You will need to pay for setting the book up and for whatever other services you commission. You will have total control over timing, design of cover and interior, and everything else. You get to keep a large chunk of the royalties (net sales) even after Amazon has taken its bite. You will be solely responsible for the distribution and marketing of your book. Depending on your print arrangements you will be able to buy copies of your book to distribute/sell yourself at print cost which can be as much as 75 percent off retail (cover) price.

2. By a conventional traditional publisher, (traditional model where you pay nothing for them to publish it) to whom you have to submit the idea for your book which they will either accept or turn down. If they accept your book you will not have to pay for anything, but you will not have much control over timing, design, even editing; they decide they key points of all that. They will distribute your books to a variety of both online (including Amazon) and bricks-and-mortar bookstores including the main chains. Your royalties will probably be 7.5 – 10 percent of sales. You will be able to buy copies of your book to distribute/sell yourself at “author’s discount” which is likely to be around 30 percent off retail (cover) price.

Within the independent publishing services industry there are many scammers who take you for plenty of money and deliver a shoddy product: little or no editing, no proper design, poor quality everything. Not much better than the old-fashioned “vanity” publishers.

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Drop me an email now — suze@suzanstmaur.com
Tell me a little about your book, how far you’ve got with it,
and how readers will benefit from it (fiction or nonfiction.)
I’ll get back to you ASAP!
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Many of the smaller independent traditional publishers also do a reasonable job of producing and distributing your book, but don’t have the resources to do anything other than the basics. Large publishing houses do have the resources but tend only to put big marketing budgets behind books they know will sell on the strength, usually, of your name (so you need to be famous.)

If a traditional publisher turns your book proposal down, does that mean it will fail if you self-publish it?

No. It means that they don’t consider your book to be a cost-effective and profitable prospect for their business model – not yours. Their criteria, sales targets and much else depends on how many books they can budget to bring out each year (which is why yours might have to wait up to two years.) There is also the fact that your book’s sales along with those of others has to support not only the cost of production, printing, distribution etc., but also all the overheads of a big (publishing) business that probably still operates expensively along the same lines as it did 40 years ago.

So which one to choose?

There are many determining factors here, not least of which is the fact that currently (in the UK 2020) a self-published book is unlikely to be stocked by Waterstones or anything other than small independent bookstores. A self-published book will mainly be available online, but considering how all book sales are transferring online more and more anyway, that’s not a bad thing.

Basically if you have the opportunity to sell and/or distribute your book yourself – maybe as a marketing tool for your business, or as merchandise for your performances if you’re in the entertainment industry, self-publishing is the better choice.

If you don’t have such opportunities to sell your book, going with a traditional publisher who can get it into the big stores like Waterstones and the rapidly decreasing number of independent bookstores may be a better option.

Either way, the reality is it will be you who does most of the marketing of your book.

OK. Why do your book with my guidance?

With me working with you as a totally independent author coach, editor and advisor, this is what you gain:

…A finished proposal for your book to submit to appropriate publishing houses, with any further help you need with contract negotiation, etc. should your proposal be accepted.
OR…
…An independently published printed book, eBook and/or audio book available on Amazon, at a lower cost than if you work with a publishing services company. It can be branded under the imprint Better Books Media™ if you want it to be marketed separately, or you can use your own brand.

This I do by putting together a bespoke group of specialists – including me as senior editor, strategist, marketer and project manager – to deliver whichever book publishing option is right for you, delivered by a virtual team of excellent professionals streamlined and managed centrally.

Punchline: very high quality help, at lower prices in the case of self-publishing because no-one is charging you for their company car or interest on their bank loan. You just pay for what you need. Simple.

So why am I qualified to offer these services?

As many of you know I’m a prolific author with 36 (and counting) published books out there, some of which have been organic** #1 best sellers on Amazon.
(**FYI, that means those books got to their #1 slots on their own merits – not via the hype scams so many disreputable publishers use today.) Some of them are listed below.

Most of my earlier titles have been business/self-help books (plus several joke books!) but I’m now launching into fiction, and humorous poetry with my first volume, “Mischieverse.” I’m also nudging into writing short horror stories and hope soon to have published my first novel, an adult humorous fiction title. Many of my books have been published by well-known large traditional publishers, with a good few done by smaller traditional publishers and more recently a few I’ve done myself through my own brands.

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You might like the articles in these categories:
Writing Books (57 articles)
Writing Fiction Without The Fuss (45 articles)
Publishing (73 articles)
Music and Poetry (157 articles)
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Having worked across many types of book writing and publishing I’m able to offer experienced advice on options to new and comparatively new authors.

What’s more, given my background of around 30 years as a marketing copywriter and content strategist, the help I offer new authors includes a high level of marketing expertise – such a critical part of a book’s success today.

Whether you want help to submit proposals for your book to a traditional publisher (and I can help you find the right one) … or you want help to self-publish (I have a great virtual team of specialists to take your nonfiction book from finished manuscript to a superb specimen on the online retail channels) … I’ve been there, done it, got the T-shirt and know exactly how to help you do it. And for sensible money.

What about fiction?

At long last, getting fiction published has climbed up over the barbed-wire barriers of snotty-nosed literary agents who only had their percentages and reputations with major publishers at heart. Very few literary agents are willing to take a flying chance on a book that doesn’t fit into the mainstream because, well, they have mortgages and bills to pay. They seldom are risk-takers.

Yet often it’s the risky fiction books that get somewhere. One of life’s little ironies.

Anyway now you can publish fiction yourself and with the right promotion techniques (not expensive) a self-published novel can sell well within its genre, and if so may well be picked up by a major traditional publisher to take forward. Remember, 50 Shades Of Grey originally was self- published. And look where that led its author, E.L. James. Other well-known books that originally were self-published include Double Persephone by Margaret Atwood and even The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter who self-published this all-time classic in 1901: her books still sell around 2 million copies every year. (So much for the naysayers who still think self-publishing is the same as vanity publishing…)

And what about other media?

No problem. As you’ll see in this article of mine here, these days there are numerous ways in which you can repurpose the same core content.

For business and self-help nonfiction, these include:
**Blogs – either start writing up your book idea as a series of blog posts, or create a series of blog posts from your book
**A series of (shorter) eBooks, which you then build up into a ‘box set’ as a printed version of the eBooks
**An online course, or series of courses
**Webinars
**Speaking engagements
**Record an audiobook (and this needn’t be expensive – see article)
**A series of podcasts
**Forming a Readers’ Club for discussion about your topic
**Serialisation of your book’s content as posts in social media
**Serialisation of your book in your local print or digital media

And for fiction, you can think about:
**Blogs – by serialising your book in a blog you will find it easy to tell whether your book gains a following
**Separate eBooks, especially if your book is well-sectioned from chapter to chapter
**Speaking gigs, more about how you came to write the story than the story iitself: people love listening to authors!
**Audiobook (see above)
**Serialisation in local media, online media, others’ websites
**Social media campaigns based on the characters in your story, ideas for a future sequel, teaser campaigns for pre-release, next in the series, etc.

And that’s not all.

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Drop me an email now — suze@suzanstmaur.com
Tell me a little about your book, how far you’ve got with it,
and how readers will benefit from it (fiction or nonfiction.)
I’ll get back to you ASAP!
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How do we work together?

I work with you entirely on a need-to-have basis: we build up a virtual team so you pay only for what you need/use. I charge £90 per hour for consultancy / strategy / planning / coaching etc., then £45 per hour for editing, research and other slightly less intensive tasks.  Editing by other editors in my ‘little black book’ is at roughly the same rate; some specialise in areas like finance, fiction, children’s fiction and more.

I also have some very good book producers (who take the finished manuscript and get it ready for print / ebook / upload), and a selection of brilliant illustrators and book cover designers.

All are freelance. I don’t mark up their fees: they work directly for you. I just charge you for my time (higher rate) as project manager.

Some authors ask me only to put them in touch with a book producer or graphic designer, say, and I just charge them a nominal £90 introduction fee.

With coaching, I can step in at any point of your writing journey

…whether it’s before you have started anything, are halfway through, or you have finished a first draft. If we start at the early end I show you how to:

  • Analyse your target audience so you aim all your content squarely at them
  • Ensure your book is not a ‘solution looking for a problem’ (unless you don’t want/need to sell it commercially)
  • Research competitors’ books to see if you can create a unique angle for your book, note average cover prices, SEO terms, etc.
  • Identify some headings for the book’s sections
  • From that, arrange them into a logical order
  • Break down the sections into chapter headings, also in a logical order
  • Generate a bespoke work plan for you that chops up the project into small, easy-to-handle chunks
  • Start adding bullet points under each chunk and continue doing so until you see that you have covered everything needed
  • Re-organise bullet points into logical order
  • Start writing them up – although you’ll find by now that the book has started to ‘write itself.’

This method is the one I use for all my own nonfiction (and it works for some fiction, too.) Also I recommend it to all my nonfiction clients and they – without exception – have found / are finding it very helpful.

And if you want to put up proposals to traditional publishers like HarperCollins or Penguin – either nonfiction or fiction, I help you:

  • Analyse your target audience so you aim all your content squarely at them
  • Ensure your book is not a ‘solution looking for a problem’ or a story format that has been done many times before
  • Research competitors’ books to see if you can create a unique angle for your book, note average cover prices, SEO terms, etc.
  • Research appropriate publishers and agents
  • Identify some headings for the book’s sections
  • From that, arrange them into a logical order
  • Break down the sections into chapter headings, also in a logical order
  • Draft the first three chapters of your book which usually is what a trade publisher will ask to see
  • Draft the required submission content for a traditional publisher (most nonfiction and some fiction publishers accept submissions online now)
  • For fiction, draft a pitch to literary agents along with the all-important covering letter

Book production

If you have landed a deal with a traditional publisher, or a traditional publisher via a literary agent, this is where you hand over the reins. You need to be very careful that you, or the agent, have negotiated the best possible deal for you and your book. The upside is that if you get a deal with one of the big traditional publishers your book will be distributed somewhat more widely than if you were to do it yourself. And of course, you don’t pay for anything. In fact you may even get an “advance on royalties” to cover your time upfront, although the publisher will deduct that from your book’s earnings later on.

Your royalties on sales won’t be anything like those you can earn if you self-publish your book, but the distribution (and kudos) you get from a going with a traditional publisher may make up for it. The downside is a) you don’t have control over its editing, cover design, interior design, release date and a few other things. They usually ask you out of good manners what you think of things like cover design but if you disagree with them, they will go ahead and do what they want anyway, unless you come up with a very good reason why they shouldn’t.

If you are self-publishing, you are the boss right up until the end. But, like most bosses, you need to pay for the privilege. In this case I can provide you with a choice of the necessary specialists I have listed in my little-black-digital-book to provide you with whatever service you need, without charging you for a bunch of stuff you don’t need. What I do is to assemble a team from my contacts – specialised editors (did you know that a proper book needs at least three if not four stages of editing?) illustrators, cover designers, book interior designers and ultimate people to convert all those complex elements into files that get uploaded to Amazon, whether that’s direct or via any of the other digital publishers.

What shakes down from that, basically, is a printed book for sale as a print-on-demand, and an e-Book. But more of that when we talk further.

It’s hard to price because everyone’s needs are different, but I can bring in a simple how-to book (print and Kindle) of 35K-40K words with end-to-end help usually for around £2,000 – £2,500 for all of the above, including marketing advice right from the beginning and incorporating the fees charged by the other suppliers provided that no highly-specialised services are required.

Gulp. And that includes my input right back to strategy/planning/twinkle-in-the-eye stage.

And what about marketing, I hear you say?

If you look at what I have written above you might be hard pushed to ally any of that to ‘marketing.’ But when you think what ‘marketing’ really means suddenly you’ll see what I’m on about.

In my new book (to be published later in 2020) there is a lot – and I mean A LOT – about marketing which with books begins at conception, not birth. So watch out for it! And being a veteran of content marketing over the last 10 years or so, trust me. I know my stuff, and that skill can help sell your book provided that its essences are incorporated into its thinking at conception – not just birth.

So: let’s talk.

Go suze@suzanstmaur.com, or call +44 (0) 7767 354 090. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Drop me an email now — suze@suzanstmaur.com
Tell me a little about your book, how far you’ve got with it,
and how readers will benefit from it (fiction or nonfiction.)
I’ll get back to you ASAP!
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The back story …

Suzan St Maur

“Moi” – nice pic, huh. Great job done by my talented photographer god-daughter,
Kathryn Hardman

Canadian born Suzan St Maur (a.k.a. “Suze”) was transported to the UK when a child and despite resultant cultural challenges managed to leave British secondary school with three decent “A” levels and no talent for anything other than writing, so her career options were fairly clear cut.

After serving a full journalism apprenticeship on a provincial newspaper, she attended and graduated from the then-famous Watford Art School advertising writing course and worked in London ad agencies as a copywriter for a few years, before deciding she was far too bolshie to be an employee and so became a freelancer.

Suzan St Maur

Note the “Canada Rocks” shirt – funny little person on it is an Inukshuk, an Inuit signpost made out of, er, rocks.

While comfortably paying her mortgage and bills her work took off into the areas of business theatre and corporate video, in which disciplines she became the Grandma Moses of corporate script and speechwriting for many years.

Suze also developed useful skills as a conference and video producer, largely in emergencies caused by the actual practitioners’ bunking off through illness, drunkenness, excessive use of recreational substances, etc. It’s amazing how fast you can learn to do a job if the person who should be doing it is in la-la-land …

These days Suze enjoys consulting, writing, editing for and coaching clients in addition to running her other business interests, writing her own books, blogs and articles, plus giving blogging workshops, radio interviews, etc., on how to make your writing and book publishing more successful.

“It was this work which inspired me to create
HowToWriteBetter.net, so I could share my experience
and skills – plus those of some talented colleagues – with an even wider audience.”

Suzan St Maur

Suze with her friend Merrylegs
(pony is on the left…)

 

 

Suze’s published books include:

Photos of Suze numbers 1 and 2 by Kathryn Hardman Photography, and with pony (“Merrylegs”) and Pony Lover’s Joke Book, by Aaron Wood Photography.

Personal stuff

As mentioned above, Suze has lived in the UK since she was a child. Her parents settled near Milton Keynes, Bucks and although Suze lived and worked in London for some years she returned to the Milton Keynes area in 1990.

Suze’s London days were “work hard, play hard” and Fulham, where she lived, will never be quite the same again. While there, for two years she had her own chat and music show on Charing Cross Hospital Radio and enjoyed that thoroughly. She also got involved in politics and helped with communications for one of the major parties at Westminster, as well as standing as a candidate in a London borough council election.

htwb-tom-graduation

Suze’s son Tom, making Mum proud as always

Her son Tom was born in 1992 and after a “gap year” working for a major bank, he attended The Leicester Business School/De Montfort University (UK) reading business management, economics and econometrics – from which he graduated in 2014 with First Class Honours. He is now working as an Area Sales Manager for DHL Express and is really enjoying the experience of being in sales, which is pleasing as it’s such good training for anyone in business.

Until Tom went to Uni he was a drummer in various heavy metal rock bands, most of which would rehearse at the family home … noisy but good fun.

Apart from work, Suze is a keen horsewoman and helps at horse shows – specifically, dressage competitions – on weekends. Unable to ride for some years due to health problems (see below) she is now planning a horsey comeback – it’s just a matter of finding a horse that’s quiet enough, strong enough and stupid enough to carry her.

In 2003 Suze developed cancer of the bladder which was treated “conservatively,” i.e. with chemotherapy and immunotherapy and only minor surgery. (Her bladder eventually had to be removed in 2010 and she now sports a “urostomy.”)

Not long after nursing her mother, who had terminal lung cancer, in 2003-2004 at home for several months while still running the business and parenting son Tom on her own, Suze developed a cancer of the breast – unrelated to the bladder cancer. She had a mastectomy in 2005 and underwent chemotherapy which resulted in a number of funny stories about wigs, prostheses and much more which Suze wrote about extensively in her eBook, How To Smile Through Cancer from which a percentage of sales goes to Macmillan Cancer Support, her favourite UK cancer charity.

These days Suze is Chair of the Milton Keynes Cancer Patient Partnership which consists of volunteers like her, as users of cancer services, working with the healthcare professionals and National Health Service (NHS) managers to improve the services delivered locally, regionally and nationally. Suze also helps her local NHS editing written communications, as well as conducting peer review, environmental audits, training, and other projects. Allied to this Suze lectures on cancer survivorship to nursing and medical students at Oxford Brookes University and the University of Buckingham.

Suzan St Maur

Suze with Ozzy and LaWoof

Suze’s other interests include participating as a local business leader in Career Work Out sessions for Milton Keynes secondary (high) school students with the amazing Worktree charity … and regular guest lecturing for Careers-Action, a job club for managers and executives which has the highest rate of re-employment of any similar job club in England.

Apart from her son and her family in Canada and Belgium (her mother was a francophone Belgian, hence Suze speaks French fluently) Suze’s great love is animals – particularly horses (see above), dogs and cats. She has had various rescued dogs and cats over the years and as many of her friends know, she’s a soft touch for a “hard luck” story. However she did turn down one recent rehoming request – for a rabbit. With three dogs and two hard-hunting cats, its life expectancy would have been very short…

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Drop me an email now — suze@suzanstmaur.com
Tell me a little about your book, how far you’ve got with it,
and how readers will benefit from it (fiction or nonfiction.)
I’ll get back to you ASAP!
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