Sample Support Requests

Sometimes asking someone for help can feel awkward, making it difficult to figure out what to say. If you’re stuck getting started, here are some ideas and sample requests you can model your own emails after.

Of course, if the person you’re reaching out to is someone you know well, then these examples will only serve to remind you which details you need to share with them. They don’t need to be as formal and linear as they need to be when you’re talking with someone you have a more professional relationship with.

Influencer

Influencers are people you want for endorsements and to be part of your launch team. Their name recognition and authority can go a long way in driving a successful launch for you. Before you ask for your support, though, make sure that you are 100% prepared and respectful both of their time and reputation. The easier you make it for them to support you, the more likely they will if they can.

That means giving them as much time as possible to read your material, highlighting one or two chapters you think would be especially of interest to them. In your request, you might also offer to write two or three sample endorsements for them to consider and make their own or a theme you’d like them to touch on.

For example, when I asked Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI, to endorse The Best is Yet to Come, I asked him to specifically touch on the message of hope offered within the book. With all the other endorsements I’d received thus far, no one had mentioned it and it’s an important theme to the book.

The resulting endorsement read:

This book is about finding hope against all odds, even in the darkest of situations. We all face pain, disappointments, heartaches and struggles in life that can sometimes lead down a seemingly hopeless path of deep devastation; yet Tara shows us there is always hope. Through brave and inspiring honesty about her own difficult personal experiences, she shows us that hope is always within our grasp if we make the choice to embrace it and that, no matter our situation, the best really can be yet to come.

Ivan Misner, Ph.D., NY Times Bestselling Author and Founder of BNI®

So as you write your own request for an influencer’s support with your book launch, here’s an example of what you might want to say:

Dear <Name>,

Thank you for the work that you’ve done in <their chosen field>. As I’ve followed you online, I’ve learned <share some key things they’ve taught you> from you. And I’m truly grateful.

I’m writing today because I’m hoping that you might be willing to support me a little further.

My new book, <Title>, is being released on <Date>.

I was hoping you might be willing to take a look at it and possibly offer an endorsement for it, if you like what you see.

I’ve attached a pre-release copy. Chapter <x> on <subject> may resonate with you because <reason why>.

I know that your time is limited. But if you’d be willing to take a look and let me know if you’re able to help, I’d appreciate it. If I don’t hear from you by <date>, I’ll reach out to you again, just to make sure you received this message.

If it makes things any easier, I can provide a couple of sample endorsements I’d love to receive and that you can modify to make your own.

Either way, thanks for all that you do!

Regards,

<Your name>

If they agree to endorse your book, then when they send their endorsement, you may choose at that time to ask if they’d be willing to also post it on Amazon as well. If you do that, be sure to provide a direct link so that it’s as easy as possible for them to say “yes” to.

If your book listing isn’t up yet, then save this step for a later date. At that time, write to them letting them know that the release date is approaching and that you appreciate their endorsement of the book. Provide them with their endorsement text again (don’t expect them to remember where they put it) and a link to the listing, asking them if they’d be willing to post it on Amazon for you.

As your launch date approaches, you may choose to reach out to them with information about the resources you’re providing your launch team and asking if they’d be willing to participate as well.

If you ask for all three things up front in the same email, it will feel overwhelming and they’ll be less likely to say, “Yes,” if they don’t know you. By “stepping” the request, they can bow out at any time, but whatever help they do give you will be beneficial to your launch.

Reviewers

It is very important to have a strategy in place that drives book reviews. This goes beyond what you print in or on the book. It starts first with reviews on your book listings on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Shelfari and others. But it also includes bloggers, podcasts and more.

The focus of this particular outreach letter is to ask for reviews on book listings. The reason we’re starting there is because these reviews have the greatest potential to sway buying decisions.

Think about it like this…

When you go to the grocery store, the items nearest the checkout are frequently low-ticket items purchased as an impulse buy.

The closer you are to the point of purchase, the more likely a positive impression will tip the scales in your favor.

In addition, you can influence Amazon’s search algorithm and increase the likelihood of them promoting your title in their newsletters if you have a substantial number of reviews and a solid sales rank. Ideally, you want at least 50 reviews. 100 is preferable. The more you have, the more momentum you build and marketing your book simply becomes that much easier.

Reviewers don’t have to be people you know or who are familiar with your work. They simply must be people interested in your subject matter.

I’ll write more in future about how to get reviews using social media, but for this post, I’m going to focus on sending an email to someone you know to ask for a review.

Here’s a sample you can use as a template for your own message:

Hi, <Name>.

I hope you are doing well.

I’m writing because I have something I’m hoping you’d be interested in helping me with. My new book, <Title>, is coming out on <Date>. It’s been a long time coming and I’m really excited about it.

I need to find reviewers for it, though. The more reviews I have on the book listing when it launches, the better off I’ll be.

Would you be interested in reading it and leaving an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads or whatever other review site you like to use?

I can send you a pre-release digital copy if you’re interested.

I’m hoping to have as many reviews as possible already on the listing page by the launch date. But even if you can add it within the first month after its release, I’d appreciate it.

Let me know if you’re interested or not.

Thanks!

<Your name>

Some authors include an incentive in the message as well. For example, they might offer to send a printed copy of the book once it’s released or to offer bonus material.

Whether you offer an incentive or not is up to you. But if you have the resources to do it, it’s a nice acknowledgment of their time and effort.

Keep in mind, though, that you cannot offer to pay for a review, good, bad or indifferent. You’re seeking honest reviews, so you don’t want to make the mistake of giving the impression of bribing anyone.

While it takes a bit more proactive management, you may decide not to mention any incentive at all when requesting a review, but then circle back around after they’ve given one to send them a “thank you” gift of some kind. Acknowledging their time and effort is important, even if it’s only to say “thank you.”

Peers

Last, but certainly not least, are your peers. If you have colleagues who serve in the same industry or collaborators whose target market is the same as yours, having them introduce you to their following can expose you to a whole new audience already interested in what you have to share.

Depending on your relationship with your peer, this request can take many different forms.

You might want them to partner with you on a joint venture. For instance, perhaps you know someone whose own book is intended for the same reader. Why not bundle them together as a special promotion and offer both titles to each of your audiences for a discounted price?

Or perhaps they have a webinar or podcast that you could be a guest on that allows you to highlight the topic of your book and make a special offer to their audience?

Or maybe they’d be interested in an affiliate deal where they can sell copies of your book and earn a percentage of the proceeds.

There are plenty of ways that this can play out, so I’m not going to provide a sample email here.

Needless to say,  you’re going to want to demonstrate that you know who they are, what audience you share, why your material is beneficial to them and their audience, and what you propose doing together.

It may take some imagination, but it’s where the fun comes in. People helping people. You win. Your peer wins. And your shared audience wins.

Launch Team

Influencers, clients and peers all are welcome additions to any launch team.

Typically, you’ll ask people you know fairly well to support you. Or you may not know them at all, like your followers, but they feel they know you and they love what you do.

Either way, the “ask” here is fairly simple. You want to communicate your excitement about the book and its value to your readers. And you want to assure your launch team members that you’ll be making it as easy as possible for them to support you.

We often put together a page of content they can use with sample status updates, shareable images, links to book listings, contact information in case they have questions and more.

It also includes our launch schedule and various ways that they can support the process.

Here’s an example of what that email might look like.

Dear <Name>,

I can hardly believe it! My new book, <Title>, is almost finished. It’ll be released on <date>.

This book is for <intended audience>.

I’ve put a lot of my heart and soul into this book, and I’m excited to finally have it see the light of day. It’s going to <positive impact>.

I was wondering if you’d like to be part of my launch team? If you’re interested, you can sign up here: <URL>.

You’ll receive a PDF of the book so that you can enjoy it too, along with a link to a page with sample status updates, shareable images, links to the book listings, contact info for my publisher in case you have questions and more.

I know some people are very busy. So we kept things as simple as possible. Our status updates are designed so that you can prefill your social media calendar (like Hootsuite, Buffer or PostPlanner) and let it run on autopilot if you want. Or you can participate regularly in the different activities taking place.

I’m hoping that you’ll help me build a buzz about the book. So if you’re interested, please join my launch team here: <URL>.

I’d really appreciate it!

Regards,

<Your Name>

Identifying Your Source Files

Are you considering republishing your book with Emerald Lake Books? Perhaps it’s time for a second (third or fourth) edition? Or you haven’t received the results or support from your current publisher and it’s time for a change?

Whatever your reason, Emerald Lake Books does periodically take on titles for republication if they’re a good fit for our catalog.

If this is a move you’re considering, here are a few things you should know.

  1. Before republishing your title, check your existing contract to make sure that you have retained non-exclusive rights to your work.
  2. Carefully read through the agreement to discern whether there are any potential issues with your intended move, and what the procedures are to obtain the source files for your book. Oftentimes, a nominal fee is charged because the publisher will have to update the source files to remove all references to their ISBN and publishing house.
  3. Be prepared to wait as long as a month to get your source files, sometimes longer if the publishing house you’re leaving is in a state of turmoil or upheaval.

Understanding Source Files

So what exactly is a source file and why do you need it?

HTML Source FileThe source files for the interior of your book are often maintained in Word, InDesign or some less common publishing-related software. The cover may be designed in InDesign or Photoshop or other image-related software, and that’s a separate file (or set of files) from the interior.

A simple text-based book may consist of only two source files, one for the interior and another for the cover.

However, more complicated titles that involve more design work or have a larger number of images may consist of dozens, even hundreds, of files that work together as a package. When books are designed using InDesign, there are often content files, link files, document fonts, style sheets and more that combine together to create the finished result.

Whether there are 2 files or 200, these are the files that the publisher used to create the interior layout for your book as well as the cover.

From the source files, the publisher often will create a PDF to present to the printer and to you. PDFs ensure that there are no unintended shifts in font or design as the file moves from one computer to another.

So, the latest copy you have of your book is often the PDF that you were given as a proof or galley for review. Or possibly you received a subsequent updated, final version after your approval. However, this PDF is not a source file and cannot easily be used to republish your work. (It’s not impossible. It’s just limiting and far from ideal.)

Source Files at Emerald Lake Books

At Emerald Lake Books, the interiors of our titles are designed either in Word or InDesign, depending on the complexity of the project. For us to republish your work at minimal cost to you, we would need the original source files in Word or InDesign. That way, we can make the necessary changes to update the publisher references and assign a new ISBN to your book.

That’s not to say that we can’t create new source files from the PDF that you have. But the costs associated with republishing your book will be higher since we have to effectively redesign the layout.

Therefore, whenever it’s possible, it’s in your best interest to obtain the source files from your previous publisher if you can. All you need to do is request the source files from them, comply with their procedures for obtaining them, and then provide the source files to us using DropBox or HighTail‘s free file transfer service, whichever is easier for you.

It should be noted that having the source files is not the only factor in the costs associated with republishing your work. We do have a set of design and content standards that must be met as well. Assuming your book meets our criteria, the process should be a simple and fairly straightforward one. However, if our evaluation reveals that the design or content are not up to our standards, we will provide you with an estimate that clearly outlines the costs involved to meet those standards.

Second Chances

Once the stress of having to choose a new publisher has passed, many authors start getting excited about the prospect of republishing their work. They often take advantage of the transition to a new publisher to add new content, fix errors that got passed them the first time, improve their cover design, or to change or revise outdated content. They also view it as a second chance at the book launch and all that they wished they’d done differently the first time.

So while no one ever wants to be put in the position of having to find a new publisher, if you embrace the experience, it can be a fun and rewarding one with the right publishing partner.

Everything You Need to Know About Editing

Types of Editing

There are four levels of editing.

Proofreading is the lightest, where someone essentially is reading for glaring errors. Oftentimes, you can use beta readers for this purpose. Essentially, you’re asking early readers to read your book before publication to point out any missed typos or errors.

Next is line editing, where grammar and punctuation are specifically checked to ensure they are accurate and meet style guide standards.

After that is content or copy editing, where grammar and punctuation are reviewed in addition to clarity. In other words, you’re asking the editor to tell you whether “this makes sense.”

Lastly is development editing. It includes all of the above but also assesses whether your book as a whole flows in a way that achieves your objectives for the reader and doesn’t contradict itself or make too broad a jump.

A Note About Ghostwriting

Beyond these forms of editing, there is ghostwriting. In that instance, you give your ghostwriter all the information they need to write the material for you. This is a highly specialized skill and the fees associated with it reflect that. Some ghostwriters only accept 2 or 3 projects a year because of the level of effort required to accurately capture the author’s voice as well as present their material–to take on any more would mean they couldn’t do any of them exceedingly well. For that reason, you’ll see prices for ghostwriting range dramatically based on the experience and expertise of the writer. I know some ghostwriters who will write a full-length book for $10,000 and one who is at the top of his field who charges $130,000 per book.

Where to Find Editors

Sometimes authors tell us that the book they are considering publishing with us has already been edited, so they won’t need that service when we publish their work.

While we are happy to accept someone else’s editing, the material does have to pass our standards for publication. And that sometimes means we need to re-do the edit.

What we find out in those instances, oftentimes, is that the author found someone on Fiverr or they hired a friend who is an English teacher. While this may cut costs, it’s not always a viable solution.

You want to find a book editor if you’re working on a manuscript or an academic editor if you’re working on articles, academics or essays. They use different style guides (Chicago Manual of Style vs American Psychological Association) to determine what’s acceptable practice. These people keep up with the changes to the style guides and make sure that currently accepted practices are being used.

While we love and adore English teachers, it’s uncommon for them to keep up with the latest changes in the industry.

Editing is one of the services we offer at Emerald Lake Books. But, should you be looking for additional resources to explore, try visiting:

In both of these organizations, you’ll find a mix of editors, so look for those who offer the kind of editing you need for the type of writing you’re doing.

Pricing for Editing

When it comes to pricing for an editor, the standard practice is to charge per word, although some charge per page or per hour. The “per word” rate is a much more concrete number than the others, so it’s softer on the budget.

However, if you are considering working with an editor who charges per page, make sure you know what size they consider a “page.” (Or ask for the average word count of a page.) If the editor you are considering charges per hour, find out how many words per hour they edit on average.

Other Things to Note

Many editors will do a sample edit for you, where you give them an agreed-upon number of words and they return it edited, so that you can determine if you’re a good match for each other.

When you write a book, the two most significant places to spend money are on cover design and editing. One gets people to look more closely at your book, while the other forms an impression of how valuable what you have to say is. You can have the best advice in the world to share, but if it’s poorly written, it won’t be perceived as worthwhile.

This is especially important if you want to sell significant quantities of your book or use it as a business-building tool, because the quality of your book then reflects the quality of your business.

What is a BISAC subject?

When you assign an ISBN to a book, you will need to determine the book’s most suitable categories. These categories should match or be similar to its BISAC subjects.

First, let’s get that acronym out of the way. BISAC stands for “Book Industry Standards and Communications.”

Next, it’s important to understand the purpose and application of BISAC subjects. The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) created this list to standardize the electronic transfer of subject information between businesses within the North American book industry. This includes Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Bookscan, Bowker, Indiebound, Indigo, Ingram and most major publishers. Even some libraries use a book’s BISAC subject to make it easier for patrons to find books.

A committee within BISG is responsible for creating a hierarchy of topics, breaking them down into sub-categories. While they don’t provide a description for what topics belong in every subject, they do create usage notes for the BISAC Subject Headings (the highest level of the hierarchy of codes).

You can access the complete list of BISAC subjects here. The list starts at the top level of the hierarchy. As you drill down into the subjects (the “parent”), you’ll find a variety of related subcategories (the “child”).

Every entry in the hierarchy has both a code and a name. This information does not need to appear anywhere on or in your book (as a matter of fact, we recommend that you don’t include it in your book), but it’s often used when creating an online book listing. Some online retailers will request the BISAC code while others ask for your book category. They represent the same information.

Optimizing Your BISAC Subject

When identifying suitable categories for a book, one of the strategies we use at Emerald Lake Books is to select child categories from different parents. This gives the title more exposure.

For example, when we published The 143rd in Iraq, we selected a BISAC category in History and another in Biography.

When we published Stress-Free Chicken Tractor Plans, we selected a parent category of Business & Money because one of the subcategories is Agriculture. We also chose Science & Math because Sustainable Agriculture is a child category there. And, given that it is a set of plans for constructing mobile chicken housing, we included the book in Engineering & Transportation as well.

You can’t afford to be dismissive of this process. An improperly classified title can significantly impact how quickly new readers find your work. We actually spend quite a bit of time understanding a new title’s audience so we can determine its best categories.

The categories can be changed later if you find they aren’t working for you. As a matter of fact, that’s a strategy we employ to give our titles even greater visibility, especially within Amazon.

Since we don’t include the BISAC subject on the physical book anywhere, we can change categories as often as we’d like. Therefore, we can target Amazon categories with very low competition, ranking the title quickly in that category, which impacts Amazon’s algorithm and gives the title more visibility. Once we’ve created that visibility, we can tackle a more competitive category.

In retail stores, shop owners will use the BISAC subject to determine on which shelf your title belongs. So you always want to make sure that whichever categories you choose, you are selecting those that will make sense to the reader. This is just one more reason why knowing your ideal reader for a title is so imperative.

As a result, part of your on-going strategy for marketing your book should include periodically re-evaluating and adjusting the BISAC subject you are using to maximize the exposure of your book.

What is a LCCN or Library of Congress Control Number?

The Library of Congress has a program called the Preassigned Control Number (PCN) program. Its purpose is to enable the Library of Congress to assign control numbers in advance of publication to those titles that may be added to the Library’s collections.

Once the book is published, these preassigned control numbers become “Library of Congress Control Numbers” or LCCNs. Strictly speaking, the LCCN is the control number for the bibliographic record entered into the Library’s database, not for the book itself.

However, libraries use the Library of Congress database, as well as other databases, to stay up-to-date on available titles, and the only way they will find your book is if it has a bibliographic record listed in the Library’s catalog.

When an LCCN is assigned to a title, the publisher adds it to the copyright page of the book. This number is then referenced in the Library of Congress database so that libraries know it exists.

It is important to note that there is no relationship between applying for an LCCN and copyright registration. They are two different programs entirely.

Unfortunately, the LCCN isn’t something that most authors even know to ask for. Yet it’s something that all libraries use. So by not requesting one, authors often miss the opportunity to have their books discovered by libraries.

Unlike ISBNs, which retailers and distributors rely upon, libraries use the LCCN to identify a title, not a format of the book. The version you apply the LCCN to should be your “best version.” Meaning that if you have a hardcover version, apply it to that. If not, apply it to your paperback. If you lack that format as well, then apply it to your eBook. As a result, you only need one LCCN as opposed to ISBNs, where you need one for each format of your title (excluding Kindle versions).

And also unlike ISBNs, LCCNs are free.

It typically takes about a week to get the number assigned, although depending on the time of year and current demand, it can take significantly less time (we’ve received them in as little as 2 days) or much longer if there’s a backlog of current applications for numbers (like around the holidays).

To apply for an LCCN, you start by creating an account at http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/newaccount.html and following the prompts. It can take one to two weeks before your account is issued, so make sure that you account for that in your book launch planning. It’s best to apply early and have it for when you’ll need it than to wait until the last minute and be held up by not having it.

Once your account is issued, you log in to the system and provide all of the relevant information about your book.

While we typically apply our ISBNs very early in the publishing process here at Emerald Lake Books, filing for an LCCN is done much later in the process. The reason is, for the LCCN application, you need to specify things like the approximate page count, trim size and a few other things that we may still be adjusting very late in the design stage.

Therefore, in an effort to be as accurate as possible, we wait until all edits are done and the interior design is fairly complete before filing for it.

However, since it belongs on the copyright page of the book, it’s something we must be sure is completed before we send the book off to the printers.

It’s also very important to note that once you’ve published the best version of your book, you are required to mail a copy of it to the Library of Congress for cataloging and inclusion in the Library.

Submitting your book to the Library does not guarantee it will be cataloged, but if you don’t submit it, you can be certain it won’t be!

Unfortunately, the Library doesn’t respond to status updates, so the only way to tell if your title has been accepted into the catalog is to periodically check the Library of Congress Online Catalog.