Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagements: Your First Gig as an Author

Once you’ve done the hard work of writing and publishing your book, it’s time to consider getting some speaking engagements so you can spread the word about your book’s message. As an author, it’s highly possible you’ve convinced yourself that speaking in front of an audience simply isn’t for you—after all, you’re a writer, not a speaker…right? That’s not exactly true.

While the walls of publishing are coming down, and there’s never been a better time to become a published author, this means there’s an awful lot of competition. The authors who are willing to put themselves out there—whether in the form of speaking gigs, media, or other in-person appearances—have the best chance of standing out from the crowd and grabbing the attention of book buyers.

Speaking Engagements: How to Land Your First Gig as an Author

We’re not saying it can’t be nerve-wracking to stand up in front of a crowd. That’s why we recommend starting small, saying “yes” to multiple opportunities, and getting lots of practice. This isn’t a one-and-done proposition if you truly want speaking to become an effective piece of your “professional author” repertoire.

So, how exactly should you land that first speaking engagement? Read on for our ten tips, and you’ll soon be writing your notecards for your debut talk.

1. Start Local

Conferences are a natural place for speakers of all levels to take the stage. However, don’t feel as though you have to limit yourself to formal settings to find speaking engagements. Any group where your desired audience gathers can provide a chance for you to speak.

You could speak to students, to religious organizations, women’s groups, at your library, local business associations…the list is endless! Look around your own community and make a mental list of all the places where you might ask to speak. 

2. Speak to Your Niche

If your book is geared toward a specific niche, explore related groups. For example, if your book is a memoir about overcoming an obstacle—such as domestic violence or cancer or another illness—you could speak to a support group. If your book is about productivity, then seek out entrepreneurs’ groups or the chamber of commerce.

If you’re a nurse, and you’ve written a book about health care, then hospitals are a natural place for you to speak. If your story relates to a specific sport, then hit up the closest sport teams. No audience or venue is too small or informal for your first “official” speech.

3. Find a Natural Connection

While we do recommend starting small and local, look even closer: make sure the group you choose will actually be well-served by hearing your message.

Look, there’s nothing worse than standing in front of a crowd that’s bored, or worse—hostile—because you’re wasting their time. There’s an easy way to warm up any crowd, and that’s to have something in common with them. You want your first speaking engagement to be closely related to your book and your book’s message. If your book is all about the stressful life of a lawyer, then you’re not going to want to speak to a group of airline pilots.

For your first speaking gig, your goal is to find an audience that will benefit from your book’s message. Ideally, you want to find an audience you naturally connect with, because that connection will make you more relaxed and authentic, which will result in a better speech.

4. Build Excitement

If you’re not quite ready to beat the bushes in order to grab your first speaking engagement immediately, then consider building up some excitement first. We authors share a common goal: to get our target readers excited about our book’s message!

How do you do that? The good news is the Internet makes building a virtual audience fairly easy these days with consistent effort. You can establish a following of readers through your website, through online forums, via social media, and by writing blog posts, both your own and by writing guest posts for others. Use all of these types of content to build your audience with the goals of increasing book sales and finding your first speaking gig.

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5. Hone Your Skills

Think of informal ways to practice your speaking abilities with the goal of scoring a “real” gig. You can produce videos on your book’s subject, join podcasts, and seek out online interviews to share your voice with the world, gain exposure, and get comfortable with your talking points.

By showcasing your speaking talents, you open the door to an invitation to speak in a more structured setting. Plus, you get great practice speaking about your book’s message before you have to stand on a stage in person.

6. Attend a Writer’s Workshop

A great way to get the inside scoop is to meet other authors and pick their brains about their speaking process. How did they find speaking engagements? What are their best speaking tips? What fees do they charge? Meeting other writers gives you a broader network to use as resources on all topics that impact authors—not just the nitty-gritty of drafting books.

7. Speak at an Industry Event

These fact-based speaking engagements are perfect for non-fiction authors. Whether your industry is blogging, healthcare, law, plumbing, or real estate, it’s likely you can find a conference about it. The exact nature of the industry doesn’t have to mirror the topic of your book. Instead, you can focus your talk on skills that can help people in that that industry. For example, if your book is about productivity, you can create a talk that’s focused on how your audience can adapt the productivity lessons found in your book to suit their particular industry.

8. Aim Low (at First)

You first speaking engagement probably won’t be a Ted Talk, and that’s okay! The first time, in fact, you may have to volunteer your time to speak at a pretty tiny event. But as the saying goes, you have to walk before you can run. Just keep taking steps toward bigger and better events. With each new speaking gig, your resume will grow—along with your confidence! 

9. Practice Makes Perfect

Write a speech today, and read it to yourself daily—before you even have speaking engagements lined up. You want to be able to handle a speaking engagement that’s the very next day if someone called you out of the blue. Once you’ve taken the time to put together your speech about your book, you’ll notice ways to refine it and improve on it day after day when you practice like you’re speaking in public. What way when the times comes, you’ll be ready to shine.

10. Say YES!

When you’re offered your first speaking engagements—take it! Even if it gives you butterflies or if it’s not the “perfect” fit for your brand, you need to be open to invitations when you’re just starting out. You’ll gain valuable experience, polish your skills, and get your book’s message out there to the public. All good things!

Get started now on finding your first speaking gig. No matter the size of your audience, you’ll gain exposure for your message, while achieving the unparalleled life experience of speaking about your passion.

Writing Process_10TipstoCreateRoutine_v2

Writing Process: 10 Tips to Create a Routine

The writing process is uniquely personal and specific to each author. We all have different creative processes when it comes to writing books, and part of the learning curve that comes with writing your first book is creating your writing routine. Some crave complete silence, while others thrive on white noise hum. Some consider the glow of a Mac their best light, while others draft in pencil on yellow-ruled pads. You get the drift.Once you create a daily writing ritual that works, you can better maximize your time, energy, and creativity.

10 Steps to Finding Your Best Writing Process

There’s no “right” way to write a book; the only way is the writing process that works for you. Creating your daily writing routine might take a little experimentation on your part. To get some ideas, read our tips and find your own personal writing groove.

1. Become an Avid Reader

Reading is one of the best things you can do to pave the way for your creative process. The beauty of a book is that you can travel across the world, live in other cultures, and walk in another’s shoes, all without leaving your couch. Unfamiliar worlds, new faces, and original concepts spark creativity, so each time you sit down to write you have a wealth of ideas to pull from.

Reading also primes you to recognize top-notch writing, and what kind of writing you find subpar. The more styles and tones you’re exposed to, the easier it will be to find your own. You’ll get a sense of what appeals to you as a reader and aspire to capture that in your own work.

2. Diagnose Problems Quickly

Sometimes when you’re writing, you hit a brick wall and stop. You’re not sure why. You think you’ll pick up the manuscript in a few days, but before you know it, days have turned into months. What went wrong? You probably have no idea, because you didn’t take the time to think about what stopped you.

If you took a moment to figure it out, you would have been able to discern what was holding you up. Maybe your outline is confusing you. Or perhaps part of the storyline isn’t resonating. Or maybe you’re not quite sure how to write a difficult character. But the problem is, if you put off tackling that outline, reworking the wonky chapter, or procrastinate the rewrite of an annoying character, then you risk ditching your whole book. Forever.

You’ve got two choices in this situation: Fix the problem NOW, or skip it, start working on a different part of the book, and come back to it later. But your first instinct—to put the manuscript down and walk away—is usually wrong, because that’s how books get left to die.

Whatever you’re struggling with, make a decision. You’re going to clear it off your plate one way or another, whether it’s by correcting the problem, or working around it. But whatever you do, don’t stop working.

3. Block Distractions

Allow me to create a mental picture: You’re perfectly immersed in Zen-like concentration in your immaculate office while the words flow out of you and onto the page in a stream of such beauty and force that you’re moved to tears.

Ha! Just kidding—you’re listening to your email ping as you log into Facebook. Meanwhile, you glance at your phone and realize you have exactly nine minutes until school pick-up, while simultaneously getting a text notifying you about the “super lice” going around your daughter’s preschool. Welcome to real life.

We get it. We all face demands on our time and attention, but it’s your job to manage them as best you can so you can write. Choose a window of time to block out all other distractions while you write. Put your phone on silence, block social media, and commit to ignoring email. Put the dog in his crate—but not your kid; that will get you in trouble! Then, WRITE with a combination of abandon and focus.

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4. Schedule Time Daily

You’ll write when your kids are at Grandmas, or over Spring Break while you’re on vacation, or in February, when that blizzard snows you in for a week. But, the kids come home from Grandmas three days early with chicken pox. Your Spring Break is overrun with screaming school kids, and that blizzard knocked out your power and guess who forgot to charge the laptop before the storm?

Waiting for the ideal block of time to write is dangerous. Sure, take advantage of these open swaths of time when you can—don’t let me discourage you! But don’t count on them. The unexpected will always come up to sap your time and energy. So, when’s the best time to write? Right now! Yep, today is the day.

Here’s what you do: set a daily writing schedule and commit. Calendar this time. Block this time out on your phone, your email, and your planner. This dedicated block of time is every bit as vital as work hours or your kids’ school days. Make this a non-negotiable priority for you, and for others who depend on you.

What time of day should you block off? Some swear that early morning is the prime time for creativity. You’re less likely to be interrupted. Your mind is fresh. And the demands of the day have yet to take over your attention. The longer you wait to write, the more likely it is that excuses, interruptions, and means of procrastinating will rob you of your chance to get your book done.

While there’s merit to the concept of writing first thing, some of us are simply not morning people. That’s okay—you need to find your own best time. You might choose to write on your lunch hour, or before bed after the kids are asleep.

You might have to experiment. Maybe you’re too tried at the end of the day, in which case, you revisit the idea of waking up early. If all you’re good for at night is watching TV or surfing the internet, then you’re not a night owl; you’re just procrastinating about going to bed. So turn off the TV, put down your Kindle, and get some shut eye so you can wake up earlier!

Whenever your best window for creativity and motivation to write is, embrace that time and commit to it. Sit down and write. Then do it every day. The more you write, the more natural it will become.

5. Gather Your Tools

One of the toughest parts of completing a project is collecting the materials you need to finish. For example, you’ve been meaning to repaint your kitchen for the past several years, but first you need to pick a new color, and buy brushes and tarps. Then you’ve got to dig the ladder out of the garage and wipe off the cobwebs. It’s no wonder your kitchen has remained the color of Avocado Dream accented with Tangerine Sunrise since 1972.

Look, I know. It’s just easier to maintain the status quo. But imagine one day waking up near the end of your life and you do a face palm, thinking it’s too late to bother writing a book now. (And GAH! Why did you spend your entire life with a hideously-painted kitchen!?) Because it’s easier to procrastinate. It’s way easier to keep putting it off than it is to put a book project in motion, because the idea of gathering the tools you need is too much of a headache.

But wait, what tools are we talking about? Don’t you just need a computer? Well, yes and no. Some people need coffee before they can write. Some people like to write with pencil on a yellow legal pad before they type out their sentences. Some people like to print out their research so they aren’t tempted to go online and get lost down the rabbit hole of internet surfing in the middle of a writing session. And most of us require our trusty outlines so that we don’t get lost somewhere in the manuscript.

Decide what your tools are. Gather them before you type or write a single word, each day. Sharpen your pencils, print out your research articles, and brew that coffee before anything else. That way, once you’re on a roll, there’s no excuse to stop what you’re doing to search for a printer cartridge or trudge to the store for more Keurig cups.

If you have all the tools you need before you get started writing each day, you can expend all your energy being creative. There are no excuses, no interruptions, and no reason to pump the breaks to search for a pen.

6. A Place of One’s Own

Each writer has an image of their ideal writing space. Setting up your own private space for your scheduled writing time can help switch your brain over to the task at hand. But first, a word of caution:

A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.

—E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web

It’s a romantic notion that to produce worthy writing, your creative space should show off some kind of dreamy aesthetic. That’s simply not realistic: If you wait for the “perfect” setting and the “perfect” time to write, you’ll go to the grave without ever sharing your story.

All you really need to write is a way to get words on the page and a place to sit, so you don’t need to overthink this. The tame backdrop of a home office may be your happy place. Maybe sitting at a picnic table in the park helps your words flow onto the page.

Wherever you chose, your writing place should make you feel relaxed and inspired. You probably already know where that may be, but it’s worthwhile to experiment with what actually works best.

7. Set the Scene with Props

A sampling of your favorite creature comforts can help you associate writing with things you enjoy. A scented candle, a special tea, and your own unique playlist can make writing feel like a pleasure, rather than a chore. The more you condition yourself to appreciate and embrace the writing process, the more creative you’ll feel.

Part of setting the scene is establishing a familiar routine. Your routine primes your body and brain for what to expect next. Cue up your playlist and fill your water bottle with lemon water and then start hand-writing. Put on your fluffy socks and light the fireplace. Whatever cues your brain that now is the time to write will prompt you to drop into the role of writer, each and every time.

8. Make Yourself Comfy (but not too Comfy)

You’ve spent time creating the perfect writing environment and cultivating your perfect routine, so now you should exclusively write in that same way, in that one spot. Until one day when you can’t. You’ve hit a mental wall, or—eek! You’re infected with an awful case of writer’s block! What do you do?

The easiest way to jump start your creativity is to shake something up. Rather than your usual coffee house, sit in a bar or a restaurant to write. If you type pages on your laptop, trying handwriting for a few days. Attack your draft from the last page instead of working sequentially. Get out of the house and move—sometimes a brisk walk can recharge your brain. Turn on loud music, stand up and dance, or sing.

Whatever you do, change something to inspire a burst of creative energy. If all else fails, call it a day and start fresh the next. Sometimes we all need a break to reset. But don’t let one day become two days. It’s a slippery slope to abandoning a manuscript.

9. Don’t Research

Wait, WHAT? How do you write a book without researching? We aren’t saying don’t research ever, just that the writing process should be keep separate from the research process.

One of the common mistakes new writers make is getting lost in their research while they’re trying to write chapters. You’re humming along, banging out pages, and all of sudden you realize you forgot the name of that café in Paris. So you consult Mr. Google and 45 minutes later, you’ve lost your train of thought and your writing time is over for the day. Farewell, progress.

What should you do if you’re mid-sentence and need a placeholder for research you’ll fill in later? Publishers recommend using the letters “TK” to note that you need to come back to a place in your draft. Then when it’s time to fill in the gaps with research, you can use the “Control F” command to find where you placed TK. 

10. Avoid the ‘Eat, Sleep, and Write’ Myth

We’ve all heard this old wives’ tale, the myth of how author’s work best: type furiously for eighteen hours a day, subsisting only on black coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, and self-aggrandizing thoughts until your book is done. Bathe as little as possible, slam the door on your family, and only leave the house once your first draft is completed. The problem with this approach is that you’ll end up stressed, burnt-out, in need of an intervention, and possibly divorced.

Don’t make your manuscript an all-consuming process which removes you from everyday life. Your creative process can (and should!) involve having a life outside of writing books. In fact, creativity thrives when you allow yourself time away from your material to recharge and gain fresh inspiration. Healthy food, sleep, exercise, and conversations with people who aren’t book characters are necessary for your mental health and your ongoing creativity.

Once you’ve found a writing process that works for you, keep it up! When you stick to a daily writing routine, your creativity will thrive. You’ll feel empowered to keep your writing sessions going so you can feel the rush of seeing your name on the cover of your very own book.

Book Formatting

5 Book Formatting Mistakes to Avoid

There are many benefits to self-publishing your book versus a traditional publishing deal. One aspect in favor of self-publishing is the control you have over all aspects of your finished manuscript—including book formatting.

However, one downfall of the self-published author is a messy manuscript. Your book’s formatting is a crucial part of your readers’ experience. An unprofessional looking book layout will both distract readers—and make you look like an amateur. You want your completed self-published book to convey professionalism in all aspects.

The 5 Most Common Book Formatting Errors

In this article, you’re going to learn what the most common book formatting errors are and how to avoid them. If you’ve got a completed manuscript with botched formatting on your hands, this article will teach you how to fix it using Microsoft Word.

1. Just Say “No!” to Hard Indents

A hard indent is when paragraph indentations are created by manual use of the keyboard’s Tab key. Many of us learned how to type using the Tab key to create an indent at the start of each paragraph, so this can be a tough habit to break. When it comes to book formatting, use of the Tab key is a no-no, because it results in an indent that’s far larger than you need.

When it comes to writing fiction, you want to have just a small indent at the start of each paragraph. If your book is non-fiction, generally speaking, you want to use block paragraphs rather than indents, unless your book is a memoir or historical fiction. (More on that in tip #2.)

If your book is fiction, you may be wondering how to create paragraphs without the Tab key. The fix is simple: In Microsoft Word, set the Paragraph settings to automatically create indentations for the first line in each paragraph. This simple auto fix will make your book formatting process way easier.

If you’re wondering how big to make your indents, my advice is pull your favorite book off the shelf, open it up, and take a peek. How big are the paragraph indents? Experiment with making yours larger or smaller, printing out the page, and comparing them to the book in your hand.

But what if your 535-page tome has already been drafted, using the dreaded Tab key for each and every paragraph? No need to set fire to your laptop! Here’s what to do to clean it up:

  • Use the Find and Replace
  • Enter ^t in the Find (This will help you find every “Tab” in the document.)
  • Leave the Replace field blank.
  • Hit Replace All.

Going forward, set your Paragraph settings so that you don’t have to remove hard indents again. Presto! You now have a much prettier, easier-to-convert document through the magic of technology.

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2. Choose Carefully: Indentation vs. Block Paragraphs

Works of non-fiction today typically don’t use indentation, except for some notable exceptions we will discuss momentarily. Rather, a popular format for modern non-fiction books is the block paragraph.

What’s a block paragraph? A block paragraph doesn’t have indentation on the opening line, but instead uses a horizontal line of white space beneath each paragraph. This helps to delineate separation between paragraphs.

The reasoning behind whether you should use indentation vs. block paragraphs is this: in works where one thought should flow smoothly into the next, such as in a novel, paragraph indentations are used with no line spacing between paragraphs. In books where complicated information is being consumed, having a single line space between paragraphs aids the brain in processing one piece of information before moving on to the next.

An exception to the block paragraph for non-fiction / indents for fiction guideline: non-fiction narrative, such as a memoir or historical fiction, should use the same indent style described above in tip #1.

In non-fiction works where some information should flow, and other sections require more brain power to comprehend, some authors decide to mix formatting types and use indentation where appropriate and block paragraphs where useful. But in general, to avoid confusing the reader and to make your book look uniform, clean, and as if you didn’t make a book formatting error, it’s best to choose one style or the other and stick with it throughout your book.

However, if you insist on getting crazy and mixing it up, knowing how and when to use block paragraphs versus when to indent results in a more professional manuscript. 

3. Avoid Double Spaces After Periods

Here’s the truth: Two spaces after a period is wrong. Period. (Ha!)

Just as with the good old-fashioned Tab key indent, two spaces after a period may have been the norm back when you were learning to type. This is because with typewriters, characters were all the same width, so the two-space rule allowed for greater readability. With modern computer fonts, the characters all fit closer together in proportional fashion, thereby eradicating the need for that one additional space.

Most major style guides—including the Chicago Manual of Style, which is used by traditional publishers—now formally recognize the more modern single-space rule. From an aesthetics angle, one space looks neater, which your readers’ eyes will appreciate.

Before you convert your manuscript, change all double spaces to single spaces. The result will be a better formatted, stylistically correct book. You’re going to use that super handy “Find and Replace” function again:

  • Enter two spaces in the Find (This will help you find every double space in the document.)
  • Enter a single space into the Replace field.
  • Hit Replace All.

Voila! Like magic. 

4. Be Cautious With Hyphens

Improper hyphenation is a common error that may be harder to stay on top of because the rules of hyphenation differ depending on the grammatical situation. Generally, keep these three rules in mind while you write to stay on top of your hyphens:

  • Two or more words that, together, function as an adjective are joined with a hyphen. For example, dark-pink skirt or two-way street.
  • Two words or more that form a number are joined with a hyphen. For example, twenty-one.
  • Compound words, which are two words that are joined together to make a single word, do not require a hyphen. For example, toothbrush or starfish.

When in doubt, look it up! For a more detailed treatment of the hyphen, here is an important source to consider: Elements of Style.

5. Know When to Use Quotes vs. an Apostrophe

Few things scream “new writer” like punctuation errors. You want to make sure you’re using quotes and apostrophes correctly so you don’t lose credibility with your readers. Here are a few quick rules of thumb:

Use of Quotes 

  • When you’re quoting someone, use quotes! This means either a person is speaking—like in fiction—or you are borrowing material verbatim from another source, like in non-fiction.
  • Use of quotes is rarely needed for common expressions.
  • Ironic terms can be set off in quotes.
  • Overuse of quotes can get annoying, so be judicious in their application.

Use of Apostrophes

  • Use an apostrophe for possessive form (except the word its). For example: The cat’s toys are blue.
  • Use an apostrophe for contractions, such as it is. For example: The cat’s playing with its toys. It’s a happy cat.
  • Avoid using an apostrophe for plural forms. For example: Five cats ran past her.

Again, the rules can be complicated such as when to use an apostrophe when dealing with an acronym, so when in doubt, look it up.

Conclusion

Of course you want your book to stand out because of its invaluable content and amazing writing. Don’t let book formatting or grammar errors hamper your book’s success. You have all the tools you need to produce a flawless manuscript, so take the time to review your book—and hire an editor—to make sure your book formatting is perfectly professional.

How to Become an Author

How to Become an Author

How do you become an author? Well, the short answer is that you write and self-publish a book. But you know there’s obviously more to it than that.

Once you’re published, it may seem as though the heavy lifting is over. It may be tempting to order those “Professional Author” embroidered towels for the guest bath and start practicing your humble half-smile for when Oprah’s team calls for that interview. After you’ve called your mom to brag, updated your Facebook profile with your new title and a link to your book, and sent autographed copies to all of your adoring fans, you may wonder what’s left to do.

The answer is A LOT. It’s a rookie mistake to pat yourself on the back and declare yourself done. Your first self-published book is a dynamic entity which needs your attention in order to flourish. Once you’ve published a book, you’ve certainly earned the right to take a break and bask in your daydreams, but then it’s time to refocus.

How to Become an Author

Your ongoing success as a professional author is built on the next steps. It’s time to harness the momentum of your first book, and become proactive about building your author brand. The next phase of your book’s journey is about to begin—promotions, marketing, networking, branding, and new products and projects.

We’ll show how to capitalize on your first self-published book’s moment in the sun, and use it as your springboard to even greater success!

The Power of your Own Name

It’s time to take the next step and spread the word about your book. You need to get out of the house (physically or virtually) and interact with readers.

The good news is, once you have a book out, it’s much easier to find opportunities to open doors that were previously closed to you. As a freshly-minted author, your name has power—so, get your name (and face!) out there.

For example, if your local TV news station is looking for an expert to talk about the best fishing holes in your area, who do you think they are more likely to choose to appear on the segment: the guy who published a book about the best places to fish, or the guy who just happens to like fishing?

Once your name appears on a book cover, it’s much easier to get attention—whether it’s by being accepted as a guest blogger on a popular web site, getting booked as a guest on a TV show or a podcast, or being interviewed in a newspaper or magazine.

All of this recognition and publicity can help you meet any lifestyle goals you might have, such as getting more customers for your business, getting donations for a charity or a passion project, and to call attention to any other endeavors that are important to you. And of course, the more attention you get, the more books you can sell.

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Here’s what you’ll get:
The EXACT blueprint to FINALLY cross “write a book” off your bucket list — in just 90 days
The Bestselling Book Launch Blueprint behind dozens of bestsellers
Case studies of bestselling authors who made $1,287, $5,500, even $12,424.03 from their first book

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Cultivating a Professional Aura (a.k.a Fake it ‘til You Make it)

It’s an intoxicating feeling to be a fresh-off-the-press debut author—but it’s also intimidating, as you’re navigating a brand-new world. Your first instinct might be to hide until the fuss dies down. Or perhaps you long for accolades and attention for your work, as you settle into a new role and industry. You’re in the trial-by-fire phase, and you want to get it right. It’s okay to feel as though you’re trying to find your footing and play-acting in a new part.

First step: start calling yourself an author, not a writer. It might sound picky to make the distinction between an “Author” versus a “Writer” but here’s why semantics matter. Every professional writer used to be an amateur writer, but not every professional writer will become a professional author.

That sounds a little like a SAT logic problem, doesn’t it? In short, you are no longer “just a writer” once you’ve published your book. You have earned the distinction and title of “Professional Author.” This is true whether your book sells a single copy or a billion. You’re now a member of an exclusive professional group, and it’s to your benefit to think of yourself in that regard.

In terms of acclimating to a new professional industry, you’ve picked a terrific time to publish and join the ranks of other authors. The era of the indie author is happening now. As a self-published author, you are a pioneer on the cusp of a publishing revolution.

Big publishing houses are even seeing established authors walk away from lucrative deals in favor of self-publication. You’re in a favorable position since you’re not beholden to a publishing houses’ restrictions and deep cuts into your profits. It’s an exciting time to be a self-published author.

Developing Your Author Brand

Let’s talk about building on your success. You’ve flying high right now—you’re published, something only 1% of the population has accomplished. Welcome to the club; look around and take in the view from the top. One of the keys to continued success is capturing the proud feeling of this moment and using that to buoy your journey as an author. It’s onward and upward from here on out.

That said, just publishing your book won’t mean a thing unless you do the work to drive traffic to your book. One of the biggest mistakes a new author can make is to finish a book and never touch it again. You can’t just let it sit out there alone and untended. Your new job as author is to generate buzz, traffic, and sales.

Building on Your Debut Book

You’ve just finished learning the ropes of writing and publishing. Now, it’s time to focus on learning a new skill set that all self-published authors need to know: Quality self-promotion. One caveat, don’t get discouraged, this will inherently take trial-and-error. You’ll soon discover what resonates with your audience, and what doesn’t.

The logical first place to start with self-promotion is by looking at the following 4 must-do’s for the DIY self-promoter.

1. Build an Author Website

You’re an author now and, as such, you need your own professional website. Think of your website as your virtual business storefront and your marketing and PR teams. Keep it clean, easy-to-use, and attractive. You can work with a web developer, or if you’re even just barely tech-savvy, it’s fairly easy to create your own using tools such as SquareSpace or Wix.

Here are the basic elements to include on your author website:

  • A Page Featuring Your Book
  • Blog
  • Bio or About Page
  • Events page
  • Contact

Of course, you want your book to stand out on your site, so direct traffic toward it with a separate, standalone page devoted to your book and book sales. Up the visual appeal with an enticing cover shot and crisp graphics. Include an intriguing blurb which leaves readers eager to read your book. Of course, include a link to purchase so your readers can buy it.

Did you know that Amazon has a unique feature to promote your book sales on your own website? If you join Amazon Associates, then you’re provided a sales link to your book, which you can then use on your web site. You will earn a commission (on top of your book royalties) for any books you sell via your Amazon Associates link.

Creating a professional webpage can take your book to the next level. As you grow your brand and your body of work, you can update your website to reflect new projects.

2. Promote Your Book on Social Media

A clue to promotions on social media is in the very title: social media is intended to be social. Use your social media accounts, not just to churn out links and self-promotions, but to connect and engage with your audience and network. Building relationships is vital in this business—so share, like, comment, and write back. Your friends and fans will love to hear from you, and in turn, may do some promoting on your behalf.

The beauty of social media is that you can let your fans speak for you. If people like your work, and you, they’ll share it and you’ll gain new fans. Interacting with your audience will build buzz for your book, so no matter which social media platform you’re on, it’s vital to use your accounts to connect and build relationships.

When it comes to Facebook, one problem with book promotions is that so many people use it for sales, peoples’ feeds are saturated with ads. Plus, Facebook often hides business pages from readers’ feeds unless you pay for ads. So how do you get noticed on Facebook?

Start a Facebook group for readers and others who are interested in your topic of expertise. This is an especially good tactic with authors who like to discuss personal development topics. This lets you have an ongoing connection with your readership and a direct line to test new ideas for the next book.

3. Start Blogging

Blogging can be a virtual gold mine for your book. Did you know that companies that blog get 55% more traffic than sites without a blog? When you blog about topics that are relevant to your readership, then they’re more likely to find out about you and your book when they stumble upon your web site via an internet search. Blogging helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your author web site by keeping your content updated.

Besides, continued writing in the form of blogging helps exercise your creativity muscle while sharing your works with the world and building community. Don’t let your creative well run drive after your book is published; use blogging to keep your skills sharp. Writing and posting prolifically keeps you fresh, and if people like what you post, they’ll want to read your words in book form, too. Blogging can also lead you to start compiling material for your next book.

4. Speaking Engagements and Media Appearances

When you hear of speaking engagements and media appearances, you may think of hiring a PR firm and booking an international book tour. As a self-published author, you may think this is outside of your grasp. The truth is that local speaking engagements (and potentially a few carefully-chosen, far-flung events) can be a fantastic way to promote your book.

Look for local book fairs, chances to donate your book, and events held at colleges or public schools. If you want ideas for speaking engagements, you can also check out writer’s forums to see what others are doing. And you can pitch yourself to local TV and radio stations if your book is on a topic that conflates with current events.

When you book a gig, share the details on social media so your fans can find you. You should also create an event page on your web site and on Facebook to invite friends and readers. You’ll have fun and make new connections. It’s a win-win.

If you’re nervous about speaking in public, here’s how to handle your first appearances like the polished professional author you are: practice, practice, practice. Be prepared with answers to questions you might be asked. You’ll want to also prepare and rehearse a brief synopses of your book which will intrigue potential readers.

While speaking—and this applies to TV, radio, or any other arena where you’ll be talking—one rule to remember is to leave them wanting more! Give just enough detail about your book so your audience will have to buy it.

Finally, relax: you can handle this. There’s literally nobody in the world who knows as much as your book as you do.

Your Next Book

Now that you’re an author, one question you might get asked a lot is, “Are you going to write another book?” Depending on how you feel about the writing and publishing process, that question might make you feel excited or scared.

If you really do want to be a professional author, the question isn’t “will you” write another book, it’s a matter of “when” you’ll get started. So when should you get started writing your next book? The answer can best be summed up with this quote:

“Next morning I went over to Paul’s for coffee and told him I had finished. ‘Good for you,’ he said without looking up. ‘Start the next one today.’” ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

If you’re going to fulfill your dream of being an author, write and publish one book. If you want to be a professional author, then keep on writing and publishing books. Don’t stop now, or you stop living your dream.

write a book

Why Should I Write a Book?

So you want to write a book. If you think that’s a unique ambition, think again: 81% of people have dreams of writing a book. If you want to be unique, become a part of that 1% who actually puts pen to paper (or more likely, fingers to keyboard) and get your book written.

Once you become a part of that rare 1%, you’re able to choose unlimited possibilities for your life. You can experience the joy of making new connections, or even growing a business, all the while earning passive income from book sales. You are the authority figure in your niche so doors open up for you.

But—you knew there was a “but” coming—before you write, it’s important to get a clear, specific picture of WHY you want to write a book. Knowing your WHY before you even begin will prevent your book from flopping. Too many of the 1% write a book, only to see it as wasted effort in the end.

Your WHY is your foundation for your book. It’s the fuel that carries you through the hard times and motivates you through until the end. It gives you a deep purpose for doing what you are doing so you are less likely to flake out before the rewards come.

For example, when I wrote Breaking Out of a Broken System with my brother Seth, our why or purpose for writing was a passion project. We were passionate about saving 10,000 lives through selling this book. When we didn’t want to write all day and all night, we focused on the good we were doing by writing the book and it got us through.

When you establish your WHY before you begin, you can establish goals for yourself and your book, and find out what actions to take in order to meet those goals.

There are many reasons why people write their books, and limitless possibilities available to authors who follow through and publish their books. Read on, and decide for yourself why you want to write your book so that you can take the right actions from the outset.

Why Should I Write a Book?

The fundamental question of “Why write a book?” is one you should answer before you even begin the writing process. While writing and publishing your book will ultimately be rewarding for plenty of reasons, you will still face hurdles and discouraging moments. The reason why you decided to write a book in the first place should keep you motivated and help you push past the tough parts of the writing and publishing process.

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Make sure your WHY is glorious enough and exciting enough to light your way when you hit those rough spots. So, let’s explore some reasons why people write books. As you read, try to nail down which reasons would motivate you most.

Do What You Love

We’ve all heard the saying “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” It may sound simplistic, especially in our increasingly hard-driving, go-go-go society. Is it really possible to do what you love? Of course it is, and it’s never too late (or too early, for those lucky readers who are just beginning their careers!)

For some of us, writing is what we actually love to do, and that’s enough for us. You may have been itching your whole life to write your own book but have been waiting for the right time. If so, perfect—maybe your love of writing is your WHY.

Author R.E. Vance worked in the traditional publishing industry, but his dream was to become a full-time author. So he self-published a series of urban fantasy novels. He’s in the process of growing an email list of readers who are following his series and who want to know when the next book comes out so they can buy it. His days are now filled with imagining new worlds, researching mythological  creatures and writing fast-paced urban fantasies–in other words: his dream job.

For others, writing books isn’t the endgame, it’s just the beginning. They want their first book to act as the doorway to the rest of their life. Whatever your career ambitions are, chances are that being perceived as an expert on a beloved topic will bring you closer to doing what you love. Writing a book is a great way to become known as a professional, which will increase the opportunities available to you. When you write about a topic that brings you feelings of freedom, growth, and joy, you can finally make a living doing what makes you happy.

A Lasting Legacy

One of the most impactful concepts when considering writing a book is the notion that your book can become your enduring legacy.

While it’s true we’re all going to die, authors can “speak from the grave” and will live infinitely through their art. The illusion of immortality is enticing. The thought that our words will live on forever—long past the death of our physical bodies—evokes a powerful feeling.

Perhaps no other book has yet to define the “Book as Legacy” idea quite the way Randy Pausch did with The Last Lecture. He was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, a husband, and father to three young children. Randy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 46. At the time of his diagnosis, he reports that he was expected to have only three to six months of good health before the cancer progressed. Ultimately, his diagnosis was terminal.

Spurred by his terrifying diagnosis and the dire timeline, Randy wrote and delivered a lecture to his faculty, based on the idea of a hypothetical “final talk” curated from the life wisdom one would like to share.

His lecture was so compelling and inspirational that it was uploaded to YouTube and has been viewed more than 17 million times. The book rights to his lecture were purchased for $6.7 million, and the book went on to become a New York Times bestseller. It’s since been published in 46 languages.

While Pausch’s death at a young age was certainly tragic, Pausch used his last days to create a written work which connected with people on a massive level, which ultimately served to inspire millions of people.

Sharing your own story can create your legacy. Think about the impact you want your own book to have on the world. Life’s circumstances are not always in our control (like Randy’s diagnosis), but cultivating your dream and fulfilling your own legacy is.

Don’t wait until you face your own “life flashing before your eyes” moment before you realize it’s too late to create something impactful and enduring. There’s only one you. Avoid the mistake that plagues most people with regret: losing the opportunity to share your unique story, in your distinct words.

Help Others—and Yourself

One of the greatest joys in life is learning how to overcome an obstacle, and then sharing your solution with others so you can help them out of the same struggle you escaped. It’s beyond fulfilling to know that you helped shape someone else’s destiny and touched their life in a positive way.

Self-Publishing School coach Chelsea Miller, best-selling author of Imperfectly Perfect, used the story of how she overcame her own demons to write a book. Miller was plagued with self-doubt and body image issues. Once she learned how to shed the perfectionism that haunted her and learned how to love herself, her confidence soared. Her book shows others how to do the same.

Helping others can help you, too. Teaching others your wisdom can reinforce the message for yourself. If you ever run into the same obstacle again, you now have a guidebook—written in your own words—of how to come out on the other side. Being considered the “expert” by others who have been helped by your story can give you the integrity to leave excuses behind and live a transformed life.

Foster a Passion Project

Perhaps you want to start or grow a charity or another organization that will help educate or heal others. Maybe you want to build a non-profit or otherwise become an activist to promote awareness of an issue that’s important to you. Or maybe there’s an issue you want to bring to light to help others out of the darkness.

Self-Publishing School graduate Shelia Merkel did just that when she wrote Live to Tell alongside her coworker, Ben Schwipps, after he tried to commit suicide. The WHY behind their book was to give readers greater insights into depression and anxiety to enable them to help others who are struggling.

Or take the experience of Carly, another student of Self-Publishing School who wrote a best-selling book. In a five-month time period, Carly Danielle’s older sister and father were each diagnosed with cancer. Carly was devastated. But even more than that—she was angry. Her family had no history of cancer. Her sister was a health-conscious, active woman. Her father led a vigorous life, too. Cancer just didn’t make sense. Spurred by her sadness, a touch of anger, and great determination, Carly sought answers.

In her research, Carly learned that getting cancer isn’t just due to genetics, diet, or activity levels. She found numerous articles by credible sources which explained that common consumer goods we expose our bodies to in our homes and at work are typically rife with carcinogenic chemicals because the FDA hasn’t established firm rules in this area.

Carly knew she had to share this hidden truth with everyone she knew and beyond, and that’s how she came to write her book, The Toxic Truth. As Carly explains:

The Toxic Truth is a passion project because it’s my heart and soul. I don’t hold anything back in my book. I put every detail out there for the entire world to read. Every chemotherapy treatment, every tear shed, every emotion I ever felt is in that book. It’s not just my passion, it’s my mission to tell the world this information because I was never told any of this and that infuriates me down to my core.”

About Self-Publishing School, Carly says, “[Chandler Bolt] states that you can write and publish a book in three months, and that is the truth. I was worried about making that timeframe true, and when I found out that he actually had a three-month timeline that told you what to do…it was a no-brainer.”

Carly’s passion for educating others about cancer and offering solutions has yielded amazing results. Carly is a #1 best-selling author in two categories. In the first two days of her launch, she sold over 1,400 copies of her book.

And the hype continues. Carly says, “My life is straight out of a movie. Every regional newspaper is picking up my story. Every family, friend, or neighbor I’ve ever known is asking for a copy. People are even recognizing me at Target. All because I shared what I am so passionate about.”

Can you transform your experiences into a book that connects to an audience? Of course you can. Your fresh story, told in your own voice, can bring your passion project to life. Turning your passion project into a book can lead you to new heights in your life and your career.

Find Your Tribe or Grow Your Network

One way people bond is through shared experiences and empathizing with others. No matter what your particular story is, someone else out there will be able to relate to it. Digging deep and getting the words on paper can forge connections with people in ways you can only imagine.

Jyotsna Ramachandran wanted to quit her job and do something more meaningful with her life, but she wasn’t sure how she could manage to escape the rat race. So she started researching the topic in depth. She interviewed a slew of experts who are professional internet marketers, and Jyotsna learned how people can build their own businesses doing what they love. She used what she learned to create a great resource for people like herself–people who wanted to bust out of the workforce and carve their own path.

Jyotsna used the recorded interviews that served as book research as a lead magnet to gather email addresses. That way she could market her book. Her book, Job Escape Plan: The 7 Steps to Build a Home Business, Quit your Job and Enjoy the Freedom, was a raging success. And that old day job of hers? History.

Many best-selling authors have built their respectable brands on the back of challenges they’ve faced and overcome. Have you overcome injury or illness, childhood abuse, or poverty? These harsh life circumstances can help connect you with many out there who have shared the same struggle. You can share your survival story, both to heal yourself and to connect with others who may learn from your experiences.

The maxim “you can’t be all things to all people” holds true for writing. Your audience is not “every person in the world.” Defining your personal experience will help you grow your audience, the people who can best relate to the story you want to tell.

If it bleeds, it leads. While that axiom is true, seek to maximize the positive outcomes of your story. Enlightenment is often borne out of struggle. The story of a rising champion resonates with others, too, so don’t feel you need to manufacture a never-ending sob story to succeed with your book. Share your joys and successes to find your tribe, those people who can relate to you and who want to read what you have to say.

Make Money

Maybe your WHY for writing a book isn’t personal, but financial and business-based. Maybe you want to establish a passive income stream: write it once, hit publish, and collect book royalties for life. Or perhaps your goal for self-publishing your book involves your entrepreneurial aspirations. In that case, rather than passive income, your goal for writing your book is to get more work by establishing yourself as a pro in your industry or by launching yourself into a new career.

Whether you want to make a living writing books, or you want your books to help you make a living doing something else, making money is absolutely a viable reason to write a book.

A book may not be a business, but you can easily make it into one, just like Michael did.

Michael Unks, a pharmacist from South Carolina, attributes one teacher to helping him turn his life around. The teacher helped Michael become more confident in himself and develop a positive outlook on life. Michael’s powerful, personal transformation incredibly took place in only one month. Because it was such a radical shift in being, Michael felt compelled to write a book that could inspire family and friends to make similar positive changes in their lives too.

Michael wrote and published his book One-Month Willpower, and enjoyed its rapid rise to best-seller status. Initially, Michael had thought maybe fifty people would read it. To his surprise, thousands of people are now reading his book. People are reaching out to him from all over the world saying how much the book has helped them.

One-Month Willpower gave Michael the confidence to keep writing and to see writing as a new career, not just a hobby. Since then, Michael has written three more best-selling books and is putting the finishing touches on his fifth book.

Michael’s first book  was the catalyst to creating a dream business: inspiring others to live better lives. He is now pursuing a career in motivational speaking.

You can be just like Michael. He never thought he could build a business or brand from his books, but he did. Writing that first book was his ticket to believing in himself, and that was all it took.

If he can do it, so can you.

The bottom line is this: There are a million and one reasons to write your book and share your story. Each reason is viable and worthy in its own right. Likewise, your most compelling reason will be unique and valuable to you. Having confidence in your WHY and using it to shape your writing and publication process will motivate you to stay true to your goals for your book and your life.

Becoming an author and writing your own book is a dream within your grasp. By defining your WHY and thinking hard about what you ultimately want your published book to accomplish, you will be able to establish goals and take steps to follow through on your dream. Writing your book is the first step on the path of limitless possibilities for you as an author. Now, it’s up to you to take control of your destiny and success.