authors, book selling, Publishing, self publishing

Science says reading print books provides a number of pretty interesting benefits

Recently, someone forwarded me a link to an article, titled Science Has Great News for People Who Read Actual Books, on a site called Mic.com, which I had seen before.

In this fascinating  article, Rachel Grate cites a number of recent studies that report the benefits of reading a paper book that e-readers don’t provide. She draws from a number of different studies that all seem to point to the same conclusion. Reading paper books help us in ways we may not have been aware.

I tried to find a way to summarize her work and just hit the highlights, but I found that task difficult. Her content and writing style are excellent. So rather than short change you, I have decided to provide the text of the article below. Or if you prefer, you can read the original article and the comments by clicking here.

Credit: New Dork Review of Books

Credit: New Dork Review of Books

From Mic.com and written by Rachel Grate

It’s no secret that reading is good for you. Just six minutes of reading is enough to reduce stress by 68%, and numerous studies have shown that reading keeps your brain functioning effectively as you age. One study even found that elderly individuals who read regularly are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than their peers. But not all forms of reading are created equal.

The debate between paper books and e-readers has been vicious since the first Kindle came out in 2007. Most arguments have been about the sentimental versus the practical, between people who prefer how paper pages feel in their hands and people who argue for the practicality of e-readers. But now science has weighed in, and the studies are on the side of paper books.

Reading in print helps with comprehension. 

A 2014 study found that readers of a short mystery story on a Kindle were significantly worse at remembering the order of events than those who read the same story in paperback. Lead researcher Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University concluded that “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does.”

Our brains were not designed for reading, but have adapted and created new circuits to understand letters and texts. The brain reads by constructing a mental representation of the text based on the placement of the page in the book and the word on the page.

The tactile experience of a book aids this process, from the thickness of the pages in your hands as you progress through the story to the placement of a word on the page. Mangen hypothesizes that the difference for Kindle readers “might have something to do with the fact that the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you’re reading.”

While e-readers try to recreate the sensation of turning pages and pagination, the screen is limited to one ephemeral virtual page. Surveys about the use of e-readers suggest that this affects a reader’s serendipity and sense of control. The inability to flip back to previous pages or control the text physically, either through making written notes or bending pages, limits one’s sensory experience and thus reduces long-term memory of the text.

Credit: Motivationgrid.com

Credit: Motivationgrid.com

Reading long sentences without links is a skill you need — but can lose if you don’t practice. 

Reading long, literary sentences sans links and distractions is actually a serious skill that you lose if you don’t use it. Before the Internet, the brain read in a linear fashion, taking advantage of sensory details to remember where key information was in the book by layout.

As we increasingly read on screens, our reading habits have adapted to skim text rather than really absorb the meaning. A 2006 study found that people read on screens in an “F” pattern, reading the entire top line but then only scanning through the text along the left side of the page. This sort of nonlinear reading reduces comprehension and actually makes it more difficult to focus the next time you sit down with a longer piece of text.

Tufts University neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf worries that “the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing.” Individuals are increasingly finding it difficult to sit down and immerse themselves in a novel. As a result, some researchers and literature-lovers have started a “slow reading” movement, as a way to counteract their difficulty making it through a book.

Reading in a slow, focused, undistracted way is good for your brain.

Slow-reading advocates recommend at least 30 to 45 minutes of daily reading away from the distractions of modern technology. By doing so, the brain can reengage with linear reading. The benefits of making slow reading a regular habit are numerous, reducing stress and improving your ability to concentrate.

Credit: telegraph.co.uk

Credit: telegraph.co.uk

Regular reading also increases empathy, especially when reading a print book. One study discovered that individuals who read an upsetting short story on an iPad were less empathetic and experienced less transportation and immersion than those who read on paper.

Reading an old-fashioned novel is also linked to improving sleep. When many of us spend our days in front of screens, it can be hard to signal to our body that it’s time to sleep. By reading a paper book about an hour before bed, your brain enters a new zone, distinct from that enacted by reading on an e-reader.

Three-quarters of Americans 18 and older report reading at least one book in the past year, a number which has fallen, and e-books currently make up between 15 to 20% of all book sales. In this increasingly Twitter- and TV-centric world, it’s the regular readers, the ones who take a break from technology to pick up a paper book, who have a serious advantage on the rest of us.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

My 2nd most popular post: The 7 key elements of a great book cover

One of the great things about analytics on a blog is they tell you what people are reading most and what search terms they use to find your blog.  My post popular blog post by far is The 5 Essential Elements of Every Good Story. However, the second most popular post is the one I am reposting below, The 7 key elements of a great book cover. Hopefully you will find this helpful and you don’t even have to search for it.

Along with an eye-catching design, this cover employs a great subhead to help the reader know the benefit of reading this book.

Along with an eye-catching design, this cover employs a great subhead to help the reader know the benefit of reading this book.

The 7 key elements of a great book cover

Do first impressions matter? Of course, they do. For your book, your cover will make the first impression on readers. It is your three-second introduction to the reading public. When readers are browsing the bookstore shelf or the internet,  your book cover needs to grab their attention, but also make a promise as to what readers will find on the pages inside.  So here are seven elements of cover design you should  give thought and attention to as you get ready to publish.

  1. Your title. Place yourself in the reader’s shoes when making your final decision for your book’s title. Will your title make sense to the reader? Is it easy to remember? When choosing your title make sure it conveys your message and fits the design you have in mind. As a writer, try not to get too caught up in creating a clever title, when a straightforward title will do. Creativity can sometimes interfere with clarity.
  2. The subtitle. If needed, elaborate on your book’s subject with a subtitle. A good subtitle provides additional information through a descriptive line which compliments your title. Include any searchable keywords that are not in your title  in your subtitle if appropriate.
  3. Cover design and layout. Your title should be legible at a glance and you should avoid small or faint text as well as busy backgrounds. Select a font or two for your text, staying away from decorative fonts that are hard to read. Choose a strong image that helps people remember your book and integrates with your title. A single image usually impacts more than multiple images. Remember your image should not overwhelm your title, so beware of overpowering your words with pictures. Above all, make sure all text is easy to read.
  4. Back cover or panel copy. This should be a short summary of your book that gives readers a preview or teaser for what to expect when they read it. It should not be about why your wrote the book or a table of contents. It should work like an ad to draw in potential readers.
  5. In this soon-to-be released book, the cover draws the reader in and hints as to the story of the book.

    In this soon-to-be released book, the cover draws the reader in and hints as to the story of the book.

    Endorsements and reviews. Endorsements and reviews help add to the credibility of your book. So if you have endorsements from influential people or reviews, think about including them on your back cover or jacket flap if you have a hard cover edition. If you have an endorsement from a well-known personality you may want to consider putting a mention on your front cover.

  6. The spine. Make it simple, easy to read, and viewable sideways. In most cases, you do not want to include your subtitle due to space limitations.
  7. Your author bio. Briefly state who you are and your most recent accomplishments. Try to keep your author description around three sentences and establish your credentials if you are writing a non-fiction book and your personality if you are writing a fiction book. Readers love to know things about the author. It helps them connect with the book in a different way. Use your author bio to help readers feel like they know something about you.

You have likely spent months and maybe even years working on your manuscript. Make sure you take the time to give your cover the attention it deserves. After all it is the first impression most readers will have of your book.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, self publishing

Being blind since birth hasn’t stopped Craig McFarlane for doing anything including publishing a book.

         There can be many obstacles to publishing a book, but for Craig MacFarlane, being blind was not one of them. In his book, Craig MacFarlane Hasn’t Heard of You Either,  he tells his remarkable and inspirational story of how sightlessness  has not limited him in the least.Craig MacFarlane
 Blinded at two years of age as the result of an accident, Craig has gone on to become the the World’s Most Celebrated Totally Blind Athlete among his many achievements. He has also used  his athletic accomplishments  to establish himself in the “sighted” world and as the platform for an impressive 30 year career in the world of business.
        I think you will find this interview inspirational and motivational.

 

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Even in the media drenched times in which we live, books still impact lives in unique and signficant ways.

A number of years ago, I wrote a white paper titled, The Democratization of Publishing.  I suggested then that one of the key benefits of self publishing was not just getting to market quicker or earning more royalties, but using books to make a difference in the lives of others. Author Solutions (AS) has recently started a campaign that validates that claim.

Under the banner of Real Authors, Real Impact, AS is highlighting authors that have published a book for the purpose of impacting others. In this campaign, there are stories of authors who have promoted organ donation and saved countless lives, helped raise awareness of domestic sex slavery, even helped changed laws.  You can find the complete list of stories in the campaign on the Author Solutions site by clicking here. 

In the meantime, this video is a compilation of some of the stories you will see in the campaign. If you wonder if your book can make a difference, watch the video. I think you will find it to be motivating and inspirational.

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Author Solutions, authors, Balboa Press, book selling, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Holding your book for the first time. Hear what it is like from these authors.

In conjunction with the release of its 225,000th title, Author Solutions has released a video titled, Special Delivery: Holding Your Book for the First Time.”. This unique compilation captures a range of authors speaking about what it was like to see a copy of their print book for the first time.

Two of the authors, Donna Schwenk and J. L Witterick were eventually picked up by traditional publishers, Hay House andG.P. Putnam’s Sons respectively, one of the world’s leading trade imprints of Penguin.

If you are still working on your manuscript, I think this video will motivate you to write to the finish.

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authors, book marketing, book selling, Publishing, self publishing, writing

My most popular post by far: The 5 essential elements of every great story.

One of the great things about the WordPress blog platform is the analytics it provides. With them, you can tell what posts get the most views and what search terms are bringing people to your blog,  I always watch these numbers because it tells me what readers are most interested in and what prospective readers are searching for.

The most read post by a landslide is the one titled, The 5 essential elements of every great story.  So in the event you have not had a chance to read it, I thought I would repost it here. Hopefully, you will find it helpful.

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Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to be part of three Book-to-Screen Pitchfests where authors  learn how to pitch their book as an idea for adaptation for film or television and then have the opportunity  to pitch to entertainment executives in a speed-dating like setting. They have been great events for the authors and the entertainment executives alike. There have been hundreds of requests for different books.  One has been optioned and there are a number of others that are under consideration.

If you break down every great story, it has these elements

What has been most interesting to me is  no matter what the genre, there are some common elements to every great story. The books that get noticed have these elements. The books that Hollywood execs often pass on are missing one or more of these.  In fact one exec said to me, “If you break down every great story, it has these elements”. So what are they?

  1. An inciting action. This means open the story with some event that sets the characters and action in motion.  Get my attention in the beginning and give me a reason why I am going to care about the people and the story going forward.
  2. Conflict. There needs to be some challenge to overcome or some quest or mystery. The character or characters need to have some type of struggle.
  3. Resolution. Make sure the conflict gets resolved by the end of the book and don’t come up with some crazy way to solve the matter. One thing I have noticed about authors’ books that get close to being requested, but often get a pass is the resolution to their story doesn’t make sense. They set up the conflict, make the characters interesting and then resolve it with something that comes out of the blue. In their efforts to be creative, they end up making the ending implausible and that hurts the story.
  4. Protagonist. Give me a character I want to care about and can understand. Help me understand why they do what they do. Sounds simple, but it is very challenging.
  5. Antagonist. Life is often about struggle and opposition and so great stories present those challenges as well. Many times it takes the form of a person. As with the protagonist, make the antagonist interesting. Help me understand why he or she presents the opposition.

Now none of these five elements should be surprising, but I have been somewhat surprised at how some books are missing one of these elements, have them underdeveloped or make them implausible. How about your story? It would be could to do a quick review of your manuscript to see if you have these elements included. All good stories do.

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Author Solutions, authors, book selling, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

5 signs you are not ready to publish a book yet

TheIndieBookPublishingRevolution-1The Indie Revolution in publishing has been a wonderful development. It has removed the barriers that used to exist between authors and readers and made it possible for anyone who has a manuscript to have a book available in distribution. However, just because everyone can publish a book, doesn’t mean everyone should. By that statement, I am not saying aspiring authors should not take advantage of the publishing opportunities that make this the best time in history to be an author. Rather,  I mean some authors may not have a realistic assessment of what it takes to put a good book in the market and attract readers. So here are five signs you may not be ready to publish.

  1.  You believe you are a one-draft wonder:  Most authors write because they feel passionate about what they have to say, but that doesn’t mean a good editor can’t improve on what you say and how you say it. Too many self-published authors believe their first draft is just perfect and they rush to publish that.  Good editing will only improve the work and make what you have to say even more powerful.
  2. Your daughter is an artist: Great book covers take more than artistic talent and too often authors rely on an inexperienced cover designer to create the book cover. Not a good idea. That’s why on this blog I have made numerous posts about how to design a killer book cover. Just search by that term if you want some great tips.
  3. You have never checked to see if anyone else is using your book title: I am amazed how many authors will chose a book title without ever browsing the internet to see if someone else is already using the title. Try to find a title that  no one else is using.  Sounds obvious, but too many authors get locked in on an idea and don’t do the proper research to have their title stand out.Bookshelf
  4. You have not browsed a bookstore in months: Don’t publish in isolation. Visit the local bookstore and look for titles that jump off the shelf for you. Take note of what is unique about the design. Also pay attention to your genre to see if you can spot any trends you can take advantage of when you are designing your book.
  5. You believe a platform is something a carpenter builds: That is actually a line I heard from an author when I asked what he was doing to build his platform. Bottom line is you need to start marketing and connecting with potential readers even before your book is available and then continue to build momentum once your title is live.
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