I had a chance to sit down with Joel Friendlander, publishing guru and self-publishing expert. He frequently speaks about changes in the publishing industry and how to make your book stand out in a crowded field.
Visit his website at The Book Designer for more info. And without further ado, here are five questions and answers with Joel:

1. In your opinion, what are the top three challenges facing self-published authors today?

​One, the lack of adequate distribution options. This keeps virtually all self-published books out of bookstores. Two, the lack of eduction about how to properly publish books. And three, the focus by way too many authors on publishing in a way that pleases them, rather than publishing for the benefit of their readers.​

2. What are the top three challenges (or opportunities) in publishing today?

​The first might be the remarkable opportunity to publish directly to your readers, buyers, and fans, no matter where they are in the world. The second would be the availability of tools that allow you to fashion your content in virtually any format —text, audio, video—that your readers might want. And last, the amazing fluidity of the online marketplace, where an entrepreneurial author can learn the marketing skills to make a large impact on a huge population.

3. Do you still believe that blogging is a good way to build a non-fiction author’s platform? Yes, or no? Any tips on how to blog well?

Yes, you can visit my website for more specific tips on blogging. ​Nonfiction authors need a way to demonstrate their expertise, gather a community, and create a platform that will allow them to innovate in a variety of directions. Any regular way of publishing content, whether it’s audio content, text, or video, will meet the needs, but a blog remains the easiest and fastest way to both accomplish those goals and also monetize the results of their efforts.​

Here’s a link to the many articles I’ve written on the subject of blogging: https://www.thebookdesigner.com/category/author-blogging-101/

4. What helps you to be creative?

​Tapping into that wellspring of creativity that appears to be running constantly in my unconscious. I learned to do this primarily through two practices​—mindfulness and free-writing. One puts you in the moment, the other clears the way for the unconscious to express itself in a form I can use.

5. How important is the cover of the book for book marketing purposes? What are some considerations for good book cover design (clear thumbnails, reflect the author’s tastes, etc.).

​The cover of a book becomes the “brand” of the book, as well as the main advertisement for it as well. It needs to instantly signal to the browser what kind of book it is, what category or genre it occupies, give an idea of the scope of ideas it covers (for nonfiction), implies something about the “tone” of the writing (fiction), and create enough interest to make a potential rea​der want to know more. It should show well at the small sizes we see in search results online, and all book covers should be designed to appeal to the potential audience, whether it’s to the author’s taste or not. In this case, the author’s aesthetic is irrelevant, if your aim is to sell books to people who don’t know you.

Thank you Joel for your insightful answers!