Book Outline

Book Outline: 11 Ways to Outline Your Book

Outlining. That word may conjure images of 7th Grade English, scribbling at your desk in frustration while a stern teacher looks over your shoulder. Many of us learned how to outline in middle school, and it’s a skill we haven’t revisited since our braces came off and the acne faded away. Have no fear! You’re a grown-up now, and this project isn’t being graded. You have free reign to structure your book outline to benefit your writing process—whether that’s a spaghetti-on-the-wall approach or a color-coded Excel spreadsheet.

Why Should I Create a Book Outline?

No matter which type of book outline you choose, planning before you write has many benefits. Outlining can help you define your goals, stay focused, and finish your manuscript quicker. You don’t need to spend huge amounts of time outlining, but some (mostly painless!) prep before writing will be time well-spent since you won’t be spinning your wheels by staring at the blank screen of death.

When you start with a plan, you’ll unconsciously make connections and think about your draft, even when you’re not actively writing. Mentally writing in the shower is one of the perks of outlining, because it will get your thoughts percolating. Be sure to keep paper and pens scattered about so you can capture your brilliance the minute it bubbles up, rather than letting all those ideas fade away.

Once you have a plan to write your book in outline form, you’ll be better able to put these thoughts to paper and compose your chapters when you do sit down to write. This means a finished book in less time!

So, I have some good news: there’s no “right” way to outline. Each writer will have their own process that’s personal to them. Keep reading for tips on how to outline different ways. If one of these exact methods doesn’t strike a chord with you, you can combine methods to create your own way that works best for your unique book.

mindmap and outline your book

Mindmap by Sonia Weyers

We’re going to start with ways to outline a non-fiction book. If you’re writing a novel, there are plenty of relevant tips you can apply in the section about outlining a non-fiction book. Likewise, even if you’re writing non-fiction, the section on how to write a fiction outline can help spark some ideas for your process, so we recommend authors of all types of book read the full list:

5 Ways to Write a Non-Fiction Book Outline

Most non-fiction authors find outlines useful due to the nature of their books. Generally, works of non-fiction require research and citation of sources (although many novels require their own research!)

An outline can help organize your research so it doesn’t overwhelm you, plus your outline will help you create the best structure for your finished book.

1. Mindmap + Book Outline

This is the main method of outlining that we teach in Self-Publishing School. The mindmap method requires you to create a brain dump based on your book’s topic. Write your topic in the center of a piece of paper, then use lines and words to draw as many connections as you can. It doesn’t need to make perfect sense from the get go—the goal is free-form thinking to get all of your ideas out of your head and onto the page.

You’ll start to notice connections between different categories of information. This makes it easier to spot the relevant “book-worthy” ideas. Then you can pluck those ideas out of your mindmap and put them into a cohesive book outline. We also recommend doing a mindmap for each chapter you select from you original mindmap. It will help you structure your entire book chapter by chapter. Fun, and so easy—we told you this would be (mostly) painless!

If you’d like to learn more about the Mindmap to Outline procedure we like to use at Self-Publishing School, check out this Action Plan.

mindmap and outline your book

Mindmap by Camille Nelson

At Self-Publishing School, we encourage students to make a mess with their mindmap. Regardless of what your mind map looks like in the end, it is an essential element to your book writing process. This mind map will be the jumping off point for you to begin your outline. In this brief video, Chandler explains how to turn your mindmap into an outline:

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2. Simple Book Outline

A simple book outline is just as it sounds; keep it basic and brief. Start with the title. Don’t get too hung up on the perfect title at this stage of the process; you just want to come up with a good-for-now placeholder. You can always change the title later—in fact, you probably will—but starting with some kind of title gives you a better idea of where you want your book to go. Plus, it jump starts the creative process.

Next, you’ll list all of the key points that cover your book’s overall theme and message. You’ll use these key points to generate your notes. Later, you’ll flesh out these notes to draft your book chapters.

3. Chapter-by-Chapter Book Outline

Your chapter-by-chapter book outline is a pumped-up version of the simple book outline. To get started, first create a complete chapter list. With each chapter listed as a heading, you’ll later add material or shift chapters around as the draft evolves.

Create a working title for each chapter, and list them in a logical order. After that, you’ll fill in the key points of each chapter. Finally, you’ll link your resources as they would appear in each chapter, including books, interviews, and Web links.

4. Sketch Your Book Outline

Perhaps you find the idea of a written outline confining. That’s OK — there’s another option which might appeal to your artistic side. Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, wrote about how sketching your ideas can simply complex thoughts.

To create this type of book outline, hand-draw your book concept in sequential order. This may be as simple or as elaborate as you desire. Feel free to use a Bic pen and a spiral notebook, or take it to the next level with color medium on canvas-sized paper. Others find satisfaction in sketching ideas with dry erase markers on a white board, or the old-fashioned feel of chalk on blackboard.

5. Book Outline With Scrivener

If you like being uber-organized, then the writing software Scrivener might appeal to you. Their book outline program allows you to upload your research, organize it by moving it around, and filing it into folders.

The program does have a fairly extensive learning curve, which can be a major downside—especially if you tend to procrastinate and really want to get your book published quickly. However, some writers say it revolutionized their organizational process for longer works. You can read more about the program and its uses here.

6 Ways to Outline Your Novel

While you can incorporate the book outlining tips we shared in the non-fiction section above, creating an outline for your novel will be inherently different from creating a non-fiction outline. Your novel outline will require character development, evolution of plot points, and resolution of conflict. While the methods may be different, the goal is the same—organization and pre-planning so that you can write a great, cohesive book much faster.

1. Basic Document

Your goal with the Basic Document format is to use a Word or Excel table to give structure to your theme. Create a table and organize and summarize your key points and plot. You’ll then create a separate section for characters and themes, and an additional section with relevant research. 

2. Post-It Wall

This is for the creative mind, and another method we teach in Self-Publishing School. All you need is a blank wall and a box of Post-It notes. Carry a pad of Post-Its with you wherever you go, and noodle your book on the fly. Write your ideas and inspiration on your Post-Its when the mood strikes you.

Next, affix the Post-Its containing words, snippets, doodles, and phrases to the wall. After a week of this exercise, organize these words into novel outline form. Voila—simple, effective, creative!

book outline: how to outline your book

Post-It wall by Wendy Van de Poll

3. The Snowflake Method

The Snowflake Method was created by fiction writing coach Randy Ingermanson based on the notion, “Good fiction doesn’t just happen. It’s designed.”

The process of the snowflake method focuses on starting small, then expanding. For example, you’d start with one line from your book, then add a paragraph, then add a chapter. Since the snowflake method is fairly detailed and based on scientific theory, Randy’s article is worth a read so you can review the detailed steps involved in this outlining method.

4. The Skeletal Outline

If you’ve ever written a term paper or thesis, then you’re probably familiar with the skeletal outline. You’ll lay out your narrative points in the order they’ll appear in your story, which involves a broad 7-step story arch. This gives you a big picture idea of the flow of your story, so you can adjust your story and add subplots for maximum impact.

5. Novel Outline Template

Why reinvent the wheel? If you’re impatient to jump right into the fun part—writing!—or you aren’t sure exactly how to format your novel outline, then a pre-formatted template outline might be your saving grace. A fill-in-the-blank novel outline can help you develop your plot, characters, and ideas without getting bogged down with the notion of striving for “proper” outline form.

6. The Reverse Outline

Sometimes looking at the problem from a different angle can give you the answer to the question. The same applies to outlining. Reverse outlining is exactly what it sounds like: Write down how your novel ends. Then once you know the ending, outline backwards to get to that happy (Or sad? You’re the author!) ending.

Here’s the take-away: No matter which option you choose, ultimately, you’ll write faster and better with a book outline. If one way doesn’t work well for you, then experiment and try another. Remember, your goal is a finished manuscript, not the gold medal for “Most Perfect Book Outline.” Discover what works best for you and you’ll be one step closer to a finished book.

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!

How to Self Publish a Book

How to Self Publish a Book in 2017

Last updated December 2016: At the time of writing this post, I’ve self published 6 bestselling books on Amazon, sold tens of thousands of copies, and continue to collect thousands per month in royalty checks. The success of my books has been directly responsible for the success of my business, which I’ve grown to over 7 figures in revenue in less than 2 years. 

Less than five years ago, this level of authorship success would have been reserved only for those select few authors who were lucky enough to catch the eye of an editor at one of the “Big 5” publishing companies (a process that relied just as much on luck and “who you knew,” as it did on the quality of your book).

Today, however, all that is changed. Not only do you no longer need one of the “Big 5” companies to publish your book to have a successful book launch, but many successful authors are turning publishing companies down.

Why are more and more authors turning to self-publishing (and forgetting about “traditional” publishing)? Simple:

  1. You have complete control over your book
  2. It is significantly more profitable (unless you are a household name like James Patterson or Nora Roberts, most authors earn mere pennies for each book sold)
  3. Traditional publishers won’t market your book for you at all (but they’ll still take a cut from each purchase)
  4. “Vanity” publishers are expensive, and no longer necessary.

Frankly, unless your name is Stephen King or J.K. Rowling…there are very few reasons why anyone would want to be traditionally published in 2017.

Which is why, whether you are trying to grow your authority and your business by writing a book, or are trying to leave your mark on the world, self publishing is the best option for you. Read on for “How To Self Publish A Book in 2017”: the exact steps you need to take to write, publish, and launch your first best-selling book.

Here’s How To Self Publish A Book In 2017:

1. Decide WHY You Want To Write A Book

The very first thing you need to decide when self-publishing a book, is WHY you want to write a book in the first place.

What’s your why? What’s the book going to do for you?

Are you trying to build an asset that’s going to earn you passive income month over month?

Are you an entrepreneur or freelancer with a new business, trying to accelerate your growth and authority in your market by publishing a book?

Do you have an existing, well-established business, and you want to write a book to diversify your income streams and land speaking engagements?

Or have you already had a successful career, and want to build an asset that will share the knowledge and skills you’ve gained over decades of experience with those who come after you?

All of these are perfectly valid reasons to write a book, and we’ve had students at Self-Publishing School publish books that went on to be best sellers for each of those reasons.

2. Choose Your Book Topic

Once you’ve decided on your why, it’s time for you to decide on the topic of your book, not your title (that comes last). When choosing your book topic, there is only 1 rule to follow:

Use the rifle approach, not the shotgun approach.

When deciding what you want your book to cover, it’s tempting to try and make your book about anything and everything you know. This is a mistake I see many first time authors make, and it negatively impacts their book sales as a result. If you can’t summarize what your entire book is about in a few words, then it’s probably too broad of a topic (and sales will suffer as a result).

Free Course: Discover my blueprint to go
from blank page to bestseller in 90 days

If you want to finish your book, you need a roadmap. That’s why I’m sharing some of the best strategies and tricks other bestselling authors paid thousands of dollars to get — yours FREE.

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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3. Write Your Book

You’ve decided what you’re going to write your book about, now it’s time to write it. Writing a book is a process that deserves its own blog post, so check out this post on how to write your book in 30 days.

After you read that, watch this video where I discuss the simple process I use to write over 1500 words per hour!

 

Not sure where to start? Check out this post for 11 ways to outline your book.

This is getting down into the weeds a bit, but people always ask which book writing software to use. Here is the best book writing software you can use to write your book.

4. Market Your Book & Form a Launch Team

It might seem backwards, but you should start your book marketing process before your book is even edited (it’s that important).

The most effective way to market your book is to create a launch page where you can collect email addresses for those who might be interested in reading your book, and build your launch team.

Then, send people over to that page using social media (we have an action plan in our Mastermind Community that provides a step-by-step template for this). Post about your upcoming book, post about the process you’re going through to write your book. Ask friends and family if they’d be interested in helping you promote. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help make your book a success!

Tell people to visit your page and enter their email address to learn how to get your book for free or at a steep discount. Try ConvertKit for collecting email addresses.

Then, a few weeks before your launch, start reaching out to influential bloggers and podcasters in your market (there’s an Action Plan for this, as well!). If you think their audience would be interested in the topic, offer a free copy of your book, and ask them if they’d like to review your book or interview you.

For a more in-depth look at all the steps that go into successfully marketing your book, check out our post on the step by step guide to marketing your book

5. Get Feedback On Your Book

When writing your book, it’s important to get as much feedback as early in the process as possible. As writers, it’s all too easy to retreat into your cave for a long period of time, spend countless hours writing what you think is the perfect first draft, only to find that a) your draft doesn’t make sense to anyone else or b) no one else is as interested in the topic as you originally thought.

Not only can a fresh set of eyes on your book help you catch typos and grammatical errors, but a new perspective can give you ideas for tightening up your story and making the theme more clear. Giving your book to one (or more) “beta readers” before giving it to an editor can also cut down on the time and cost of paying a professional editor.

6. Choose a Title

Contrary to popular belief, you should never decide on a book title until after you are done writing your first draft. This is because choosing a book title first often results in you “writing yourself into a corner” into the title of the book, rather than writing the book that needs to be written.

Therefore, it’s not until after your first draft is written that you need to worry about a title for your book. Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be.

It’s incredibly easy to get caught in “Book Title Land” when trying to come up with a title. Don’t fall into this trap. Don’t try to be too clever, or try to be “punny.” The truth is…the simpler the title, the better. As you’re brainstorming ideas, always remember to Keep It Stupidly Simple. As catchy or clever as you might think your title idea is…it will probably go straight over your audience’s head (and they won’t buy it as a result).

For example – if you’re writing a book about Home Renovation, the title “7 Steps to Flipping Profitable Homes” is much better than “Zen and the Art of Restorative Architectonics.” The former is simple and to the point (and most importantly, people will know exactly what the book is about). The latter is fancier, but most people have no idea what that means.

Once you’ve narrowed down your book title to a few possible options, send out an email to your friends, family, and audience (if you have one), or put a poll up on Facebook and ask for an opinion. You might be surprised what your audience’s favorite is.

Tim Ferriss took polling his audience to another level when writing his first book which went on to become a bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek. Tim set up a split test in Google Adwords and spent $200 testing 3 titles for his book:

  • The 4-Hour Work Week
  • Broadband and White Sand
  • Millionaire Chameleon

Companies like Pickfu.com also offer very simple and affordable polling services…you can even define your audience demographics and have your poll answered by people who match those demographics!

Follow these steps if you need more help creating the perfect book title.

6. Hire a Great Editor

Hiring a great editor can mean the difference between writing a bestseller, or a mediocre book. Therefore, it’s important to take as much time as necessary on this stage of the process.

To find an editor for your book, begin with your personal network. Do you personally know any English teachers or others in the editorial field? Start there. If you don’t, then do you know someone who knows an editor?

If you don’t have any luck finding an editor within your personal network, don’t worry! Depending on your budget, you can either hire a professional book editor, or hire a more budget-friendly editor from Upwork. Self-Publishing School also has a Rolodex of approved and vetted book editors who all do a great job.

No matter how you find your editor, make sure you’re a good fit before committing to the full book by paying them a small sum ($25 or so) to edit a few pages or a chapter of your book. Make sure the editor is interested in the subject matter, that they can get your whole book edited in 3.5 weeks or less including back-and-forth revisions, and that their edits are both accurate and make sense to you. If you don’t feel you’re a good fit following a sample edit, then let that $25 go, and find an editor that’s going to work out rather than sinking more money into a relationship that might be a mistake.

Whatever you do, don’t give up during the editorial process! If one editor isn’t working out for you or meeting your needs, find another.

7. Design a Book Cover that Converts

Self Published Book Covers (How To Self Publish A Book In 2017)

Despite the saying (and contrary to many writers’ beliefs) people absolutely do judge books by their covers…especially books on Amazon. Your book cover design is very important and needs to look professional. 

You don’t have to like it, but the truth is if your book doesn’t have a cover that looks 100% professional, people are simply going to skip it and look for something else. Which is why taking the time to purchase a professionally designed cover that converts is so important.

Unless you’re a graphic designer, you need to hire a professional to put the cover design together. However, before you approach a cover designer, you should have at least a rough idea of what you want your book cover to look like so you can give your designer a brief. This helps prevent wasted time and money on covers that don’t fit your vision.

One easy method to spark some ideas when creating your design brief is to take a look at other books in your market (especially other bestselling books). You’ll notice that in most genres, book covers tend to follow a design theme, and these themes are what your audience expects. While you certainly don’t want your cover to be an exact clone of another design, you also don’t want it to look completely out of place. A good designer will help you to find this balance.

To find a designer, check out Fiverr.com or Upwork.com. Make sure your designer has experience meeting the specs for an Amazon book cover and plenty of positive reviews. You may wish to pay more than one designer, and choose the best design from all of them. The choice is up to you, just make sure the end result is something you’re proud of. It will be your reader’s first impression of you!

7. Format Your Self-Published Book

If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of resources online that can tell you how to format your book yourself for free. You can start by looking at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forums where there are plenty of discussions on book formatting. You can also use KDP’s free resources to help format your book. Formatting can be a frustrating experience for the uninitiated though, so if you have a few bucks to spare, you might consider paying someone to help you.

Here are 5 book formatting mistakes to avoid.

If you want to pay for formatting, Liber Writer is a low-cost, effective option for converting a Microsoft Word file to Amazon’s Kindle format. If $60 is too much, you can also find people on Fiverr to format your book for Kindle. No matter what option you choose, preview your book using the Kindle previewer to make sure there are no formatting errors.

8. Self Publish Your Book

When you feel confident your book is ready for the public, you can create a KDP account and upload your book. You should be just about ready to transform into a published author, but you aren’t quite ready to publish yet, so hit “save as draft.”

Create your Amazon author central account after uploading your book. Include a bio, photo, and link to your website or blog to help you stand out among authors. After a few more steps, you’ll be ready to publish your book, at which time you’ll click “save & publish” in your KDP book dashboard.

Amazon allows you to select 7 keywords or keyword phrases to make sure your intended audience can find your book when searching on Amazon. It’s highly recommended you also select two different categories your book might fit into so you can reach a broader audience. To select keywords and categories, look at other best-selling books in your niche and notice what keywords and categories those authors chose.

9. Decide on a Price

You’re almost ready to hit publish, but there’s just one more step before you can do that: price your book. This is not a “set it and forget it” process. You’re going to select a list price, but then you’re going to choose a discounted launch price by clicking “Promote and advertise” within your KDP dashboard.

Amazon crosses out that higher list price and shows how many dollars buyers will save. This lets users know they are getting more bang for their buck during your discounted launch, which will tempt more readers to buy. Now you can hit publish! (Doesn’t that feel good?!)

10. Reach out to readers and influencers

Now it’s time to really leverage the launch team you created in step 4. As soon as your book goes live on Amazon, the time is right to reach out and let your email subscribers know that your book is available.

Sending as sales email can be scary, but you’ve got to do it for two reasons: first, these people signed up to your list because they want to know about your book! And if you’re launching it for free or a discount, then they’re going to be very happy to hear about your deal. Furthermore, these people have been with you and have been following your success since early on in your book launch process. They want to help you!

The initial sales generated from your launch team will help push your book up Amazon’s rankings, and will increase the chances of Amazon’s algorithm recommending it to shoppers, which will drive even more sales.

During this time, it’s also a great idea to follow up with any influencers you’ve made contact with and firm up plans to promote your book. You might offer to give away a free copy of your book to a winning audience member, or make some other offer to sweeten the deal.

11. Celebrate! (Now, decide what’s next)

Publishing a book is just the beginning. Depending on your goals for your book, self publishing can get you more customers, free publicity, and establish you as an expert in your niche. This can help you land speaking gigs and build a business within your area of expertise. Your book sales can also help fund your lifestyle with passive income.

Dream big about what you want your book to do for you. When you have a vision for where you want your book to take you, it will be easier to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Getting clear on what you want will also help you to be more effective when expanding your network along on your journey.

So there you have it…that’s how to self publish a book. If self publishing a bestseller is something you want to do, and you’re serious about changing your life and your business for the better by getting your book out there in the world, then you need to watch this free 4 part video training, where I walk through the exact steps I’ve taken to write, publish, and market 6 of my own best-selling books (and how I’ve helped 1,000’s of students do the same).

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!

Published

Published. The Proven Path from Blank Page to Published Author

It’s officially launch day of my new book, Published.! This has been a long time coming and I’m so excited the day is finally here. Haven’t heard about it yet? Let me tell you a bit about this new book…

Are you tired of just “thinking about” writing a book (even planning on making it a New Year’s Resolution), but never actually doing it?

Are you looking for a map that will take you from blank page to published author as fast as possible…without the frustration, the heartache, and the dreaded “staring at a blank page” syndrome?

Are you curious what the “secret sauce” is that’s responsible for over 264 bestselling book launches (and millions of dollars in revenue and business growth)?

Then on behalf of myself and the entire Self-Publishing School team, it is with great excitement and anticipation that I’m announcing the release of my 6th and most recent book: Published. The Proven Path from Blank Page to Published Author.

And if you answered “yes,” to any of the above questions…I wrote this book specifically for you.

What is Published.?

Published. The Proven Path from Blank Page to Published Author is my most valuable book yet, and is a complete compilation of everything I’ve learned writing, publishing, and launching 5 bestsellers (and teaching over 1,000 students at Self-Publishing School to do the same).

Published. is not just another boring “how to” book on how to write & publish your first book…

Inside this book, I’m giving you the exact systems, tactics, and blueprints to become a successful bestselling author, even if you’ve never written a book in your life.

In this book, you’ll learn…
My 3-step method that takes you from blank page to complete rough draft in less than one week (or how to write a better book than you thought possible in 1/10th the time!)
How to save $1,000’s of dollars in your book editing and production process (or how to publish a book as good as or better than most “traditionally-published” books…on a budget)
My proven “Pre-Launch Buzz Blueprint” that will guarantee your book launches with a bang
How to leverage your book to maximize your product and service offering sales

In Published., you don’t just get a 204 page book packed with tips, tricks, and hacks…you get a SHORTCUT to becoming a best selling author.

I’ve Never Done This Before…

Whether you are a beginning entrepreneur trying to grow authority in your market and build your business…

Or an accomplished pro, looking to create something that will leave your mark on the world…

I know from first hand experience that writing a book is the best way to accomplish your goals.

But I also know that writing a book can be a frustrating, painful process…even if it’s your sixth book (and especially if it’s your first!)

I’ve watched from afar, feeling bad for the people who struggle through this process. They take months – even years – just to finish their first book….and then ultimately launch to the sound of crickets.

I’ve also seen firsthand the success, ease, and joy my students at Self-Publishing School experience…and how each book they publish changes their lives.

Which is why I’m doing something with this book that I’ve never done before.

I’m giving it away for free.

That’s right – no strings attached. This book retails for $14.95, but I’m buying it for you. We simply ask that you help us with the shipping/handling costs in order to receive it.

publishedHow To Get Your FREE Copy

To claim your free copy of Published., simply click here to fill in your shipping information, and we’ll have your book sent straight to the address you provide – free of charge and no strings attached.

I hope that by giving you this book, you’re inspired and empowered to finish your own.

Here’s the link to claim it: http://self-publishingschool.com/s/published

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!

List building

List Building Tricks to Get 10,000 Subscribers Fast (Bryan Harris Interview)

We’ve all been there. One minute we’re sitting at our desk (or shower or in our car) when we’re struck by a genius idea that HAS to get out. We start to write and create without any thought to things like marketing or list building.

Bryan Harris, serial entrepreneur and founder of Videofruit.com, calls this “writing in a cave.” He says writers/entrepreneurs need to avoid the “cycle of guaranteed failure” by really thinking about what needs to be done leading up to your book. If your book is something that only your mom and grandma know about, then your book launch is in trouble.

Bryan stumbled upon his professional passion when he discovered the world of video editing and fell in love with the industry. Since then, he says that he’s been going crazy growing his new business.

Through his business trials and tribulations, Bryan has gained valuable insight on how to grow an audience and launch your first book. Bryan learned that a lot of strategies don’t work, but he’s developed some time-tested list building tricks that do work.

Bryan says you should “Think of your list as a group of people eagerly waiting to buy from you. If you build it and nurture it right, you will have lifelong fans.”

 


Debunking 3 Popular Myths

Bryan debunks three popular myths about growing your list and number of subscribers.

Myth 1:You have to have the perfect idea.

There’s the myth of waiting until everything is perfect to take action. The problem with this is that perfection is unattainable. If you wait for everything to be perfect to start a project, you’ll never start anything.

You don’t find customers for your product, instead find products for your customers. Get people and an audience first, then the rest will follow.

Myth 2: You have to be an expert in something before you can build your list and launch your book.

A second common myth is that you need to establish yourself as an expert before you launch your book. Don’t fall prey to this myth. We caution you about attempting to play the part of guru.

It’s far more effective to take a learn out loud approach. Take a topic and ask, “Are you curious about the topic? Can you share what you learn? Are you able to be humble, kind, and giving?” You can then share this information by phrasing it as, “Here are lessons you learned …” and your audience will respond.

Myth 3: You don’t have to have a lot of extra time.

Extra time is an imaginary construct. There will never be enough of it. Don’t lose the chance to achieve your dreams by waiting for the elusive moment when you have plenty of time.

Rather than waiting for an excess of time (which will never happen!), make an effort to do what you can, when you can. Commit to doing the right things in the right order, and little by little, you’ll make headway.

4 Tricks to Grow Your List (Plus a Bonus!)

Trick 1: Upside Down Homepage

An upside down homepage is the first step to getting your first 100 subscribers. Allocate at least five hours for this update.

What is the single obvious thing you want people to do when they come to your page? It’s not what you may think. It’s not the sidebar, not the social media buttons, not the menu — it’s the above-the-fold call to action!

Use this space to encourage people to subscribe, not to go to other pages. With this tactic, you can boost your subscriber rate from 1% (with a traditional homepage) to 13-15% (with an upside down homepage).

Trick 2: Pick Your List Goal

The single most important strategy to boost your list is to select your list goal. This will take you just two minutes to do, but it’s crucial. You have to focus on this to be successful!

Here’s what you do: Pick your number goal, then write this goal down on paper. Next, tape this on your wall to keep you accountable. Visual reminders help keep you on track.

Even if you’re a writer, ultimately you’re still an entrepreneur. Don’t forget what you are working toward! Don’t get distracted and you’ll later reap the rewards of your efforts.

Trick 3: Launch Team Strategy

Another key component to your success is your launch team strategy. You have 24 hours to implement this strategy.

Here’s how you tackle building a launch team. First, start with a group of people. You should make a list of five people you know. Then, personally invite these five people to join your list.

Next, you’ll then reach out to everyone you know. You want to make this process personal, so people will feel as though they are invited to something special. Personally invite each and every person who’s on your list.

Continue to write names and email addresses down on paper. Start simple and repeat until you run out of people to ask. Your goal is to get to 100 invitees.

Trick 4: Poster Boy Formula

The Poster Boy Formula should take just 30 minutes per week, but can yield huge results toward boosting your list.

Step one is to make a list of five products you purchase, blogs you read, or podcasts you follow. Write down one big win you’ve experienced from using their product. Let them know about your results and thank them. Also, share testimonials and link back to your shares.

The Poster Boy Formula can get you shout outs, inclusion on emails, social media sites, and guest posts. Ultimately, all of this goodwill can earn you subscribers.

Bonus Trick: Create a Smartbribe

A final trick to consider is to offer a “Smartbribe.” This tactic is simple to implement. Just install smartbribe.com as an enhancement to your current opt-in service. This easy to use feature asks people to share on social media in exchange for a bonus offer you create and “bribe” them with. This simple step can help grow your list even faster.

Bryan Harris offers his best list building tips and tactics to help you grow your list and earn subscribers. Before you know it, you’ll on your way to earning 10,000 subscribers FAST!

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!

Writing Memoirs—What You Need to Know to Avoid Being Sued

Everyone wants to avoid being sued. Litigation is expensive, time-consuming, and incredibly stressful. Most writers don’t have much to worry about. The odds that they’ll end up in a courtroom for something they wrote are fairly low. Our First Amendment right to free speech offers significant protection to write freely. One exception to this rule is the world of memoir.

The reason the memoir genre is compelling is because it’s fascinating to read the dirty details of others’ lives. Memoir authors usually don’t write about rainbows and sunshine, they write about the salacious. Abuse, sex, addiction, and family drama—it’s the Sturm und Drang that people want to read about. This is the primary reason why memoirs open the door for lawsuits.

There’s a fine balance when you’re writing your memoir. Of course, it’s your story, and as such, you want it to be told without barriers. Yet, you need to consider those you’re writing about. They may not want to be part of your story. And, in some cases, if you violate the law, they may have the right to retaliate with a lawsuit.

We can all agree that there are better things to spend your book royalties on than exorbitant legal fees. Read on for tips to avoid going from published author to professional despondent. (Note: Our first disclaimer—this article does not constitute professional legal advice. For real legal advice, consult your real live counsel, rather than looking things up on the Internet.)

1. Case Study: Running with Scissors

Since we’re discussing legal issues, it seems fitting to start with a case study on the issues of memoir, defamation, and invasion of privacy.

Critically acclaimed author Augusten Burroughs published the best-selling memoir, Running with Scissors in 2003. In his book, he recalled his time living with the fictional “Finches.” His book recounted abuse, drug use, dysfunctional family behavior, living in squalor, and other unsavory details any family wouldn’t want blasted all over printed pages.

Burroughs claimed that while he did change the name of the family (in real life, the Turcottes), the harrowing details of his time spent in their care were true. The Turcottes filed a defamation and invasion of privacy torts suit against Burroughs and his publisher. The family asserted that Burroughs fabricated facts and violated their privacy.

Burroughs’ defense hinged on his assertion that the facts, as he wrote them, were true; therefore he had not broken any laws. The parties settled out of court. As part of the settlement, Burroughs changed his acknowledgments to say the Turcottes had “conflicting memories” of the described events. Burroughs was legally obligated to amend his book acknowledgments to read as follows:

I would like to thank the real-life members of the family portrayed in this book for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own. I recognize that their memories of the events described in this book are different than my own. They are each fine, decent and hard-working people. The book was not intended to hurt the family. Both my publisher and I regret any unintentional harm resulting from the publishing and marketing of Running With Scissors.

2. Understand the Concepts

The best defense is a good offense. In litigation that means don’t do anything that will get you sued. Before you publish your memoir, it’s important that you understand your rights to free speech, as well as defamation and invasion of privacy issues.

First Amendment Protection

The First Amendment protects your right to free speech. This protection applies to both the spoken and written word.

Defamation

In short, defamation is when you ruin a person’s reputation. Black’s Law Dictionary defines defamation as, “The taking from one’s reputation. The offense of injuring a person’s character, fame, or reputation by false and malicious statements.” The term covers both libel (written) and slander (spoken).

Only living people can sue for defamation, so someone can’t file a lawsuit against you for defamation through an estate or relatives.

Invasion of Privacy

Invasion of privacy lawsuits hinge on public disclosure of private facts. Private facts are sensitive information that the average person would not want to share with the general public; for example, medical records, adoption records, abuse, alcoholism, etc. Just as with defamation, an invasion of privacy suit can’t be brought by an estate or relatives. Even if what you write is 100% true, someone can still bring an invasion of privacy suit based on public disclosure of private facts.

3. Preventing a Defamation Cause of Action

The best defense against defamation is the truth. Suppose you write that your neighbor was convicted of axe murder. He can’t bring a defamation suit against you if he was, in fact, convicted of axe murder. But if you write, “my neighbor could be capable of axe murder because he’s crazy,” then you’ve got some defamation issues.

Practical Tips to Stay Out of Courtroom:

If your facts will not hold up as 100% true in a court of law, you can open yourself up to defamation. Before you write, make sure to check your facts. You want to know that if you’re writing about something controversial, that you’re not fabricating the truth.

The second tip to avoid defaming your memoir characters is to frame controversial statements as your opinion. Opinions are (*usually) legally considered “protected expression.” That said, there are parameters. You can’t simply state that blatantly false statements are opinions and get away it. Writing, “In my opinion, Sara Smith is a prostitute”—when Sara Smith is an upstanding mom and doctor—will get you in trouble. Your opinion needs to be balanced by evidence and supported by actual fact.

The third tip to avoid defamation issues is to change any identifying information about your book characters. In order to prevail in a defamation case, the defamed must prove others are able to identify him from your writing. A caveat: This doesn’t mean by name alone! People can claim defamation if one could reasonably identify them through their actions, clothing, quotes, physical appearance, address, or any number of identifying points.

The fourth tip is that defamation rests upon subjective principles. When in doubt, err on the side of caution about disclosing details that may or may not be true. If you can’t defend the truth in a court of law, don’t publish it.

The final tip is to print a disclaimer in your preface, intro, or acknowledgements. Simply by stating your memories are imperfect but you’re sharing to the best of knowledge and that you’ve changed identifies can stave off legal woes.

4. Avoiding an Invasion of Privacy Cause of Action

Just as with a defamation lawsuit, an invasion of privacy lawsuit turns on subjective opinions to be decided on a case-by-case basis. This means that the individual facts of each case will decide the outcome.

Common sense dictates that there are certain private facts, which a person would not want shared with the public. If a good friend had given up a child for adoption, and you were the only person she told, then disclosing that in your memoir would open the doors to an invasion of privacy lawsuit. The same would apply to sensitive information such as private health matters, abuse, addiction, or any information would not be readily accessible to the public.

Certain public or high profile individuals may have less protection against invasion of privacy. The legal theory is that because they have opened their lives to public scrutiny, then the bar is lower for privacy protection. If unsavory facts can be classified as public interest, then you may be able to disclose certain things about public individuals. The crux of this issue would turn on whether your facts are related to a matter of “public concern.”

Practical Tips to Stay Out of the Courtroom:

There are several ways to avoid invasion of privacy lawsuits. Our first tip is to get written permission from your characters. If you obtain written consent, they can’t later file a suit stating you’ve breached their privacy.

Our second tip is the same as with defamation: Change all identifying characteristics. Give your characters a different name, different job, different wardrobes—anything you can change to prevent them from being recognized by your words affords you a degree of protection. Some writers like to create an amalgam of characters to mix up identifying facts.

Our third tip is tell the truth. Don’t lie (or even embellish). It’s unethical at best; at worst, it can get you in legal hot water.

Our fourth tip is carefully weigh the impact of disclosing inflammatory, sensitive, or embarrassing information. Are such disclosures essential to your story? If so, tread carefully and use our rules for how to proceed with caution. If you’re on the fence, it’s always wise to run your concerns by a lawyer to head off any issues before you publish. Paying for an hour or two of legal time is far better than being a defendant in a court case.

The best memoirs are brazen, open, and honest about life, even when the facts are tough to write about. Your obligation as a memoirist is to tell your story and honor the truth. By considering the impact of those in your real life and making efforts to protect them, you’ll avoid legal troubles down the line.

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!