finish your book

Eliminating Distractions and Practicing Deep Work to Finish Your Book [Cal Newport Interview]

In our 2016 Self-Publishing Success Summit interview with Cal Newport, he discussed the different approaches you can take to eliminate distractions and practice deep work to finish your book.

Cal Newport is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age, Newport also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world of work. “Deep Work,” which is his most recent book, argues that focus is the new I.Q. in the modern workplace. The ability to concentrate without distraction is rare in our society but extremely valuable. Cal previously wrote “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” debunking the long-held belief that “following your passion” is good advice, as well as three popular books of unconventional advice for students.

Here is what he had to say about what you can do to finish your book:

Know Your Format Before Writing

Cal says to know your format before you begin the writing process. If you know where you are headed it’s much easier to get there. Having a goal and understanding what needs to be written will make for a much smoother writing process. Know how much you want to write and when you want it to be finished, then work out the math backwards. This is a method for success.

Separate Planning from Writing

Thinking about his book about a year before he actually sits down to write, Cal stresses the importance of mentally planning the book before writing a single word. You can use commuting time to add to the hours needed to accrue a new book. This would normally be time spent zoning out, but using it for deep focus on the topic will quickly grow the planning process.

Mentally decide to plan as you walk, literally, and notice when your attention wanders. Cal enjoys going for long walks and planning his books out as he walks. This is a great stimulant for the mind and can enhance planning.

Treat the Process with Respect

Like any job, working only when you feel like it will not get the job done. Purposefully sitting down and putting words on the page comes with the territory of being a writer. Treat the process of writing with respect by growing that word count, regardless of whether you feel like it or not. Don’t wait until the last minute. It won’t always be easy, but it comes with the privilege of being a writer! Just as training to be an athlete takes time and consistent dedication, so does training to become a writer. Don’t give up! The process is what creates the result. Cal says, “Writing a book is like a job. It’s not supposed to be easy all the time and it’s not something you’re supposed to just wait till three weeks before some self-imposed deadline and then just go crazy. That’s just unprofessional.”

Prep for Writing as if You Are an Athlete

Work deeply, embrace boredom, and quit social media. Really! According to Cal, working deeply is a specific type of work ethic that can be learned…but it takes time and effort. Learning to stop grabbing your phone at the first hint of boredom, and rather embracing the boredom, will keep your mind focused. Think about one topic at a time and your writing will improve. Part of focus comes with limiting distractions – notably, social media. It is far too easy to log in to Facebook, check your Twitter feed, or scroll through Instagram at your first inkling of boredom. Taking a break from social media will improve focus and ultimately, enhance your writing!

Slow Down for Business

These days everyone is busy, right? Cal said being busy is like having the flu. It slows you down and hinders you from getting the important tasks done. Business takes away from your focus, forcing you to split your thoughts between multiple tasks. Instead, slow down and focus on one or two majorly important things. You’ll be surprised at how much your work will thrive!

Hone Your Skills

Every book you write will hone your skills. Writing more will grow you, and even if the end result is not exactly what you were hoping, for you will still learn from the process! Just like it takes countless reps to gain muscle, writing requires many hours in order to build your competence in the craft. Write in time that presents itself for you (Your meeting was cancelled? Write!) as well as time you specifically give yourself (Set your alarm half an hour earlier, write on your lunch break, or go to bed a little later!). Breaking down articles of people you respect will also teach you invaluable lessons as you learn from those a little further down the writing road.

Where to start? Cal says for the next two weeks, for four hours a week, work at your one most important task. Turn off your phone and eliminate social media. Pick one activity that pushes you to concentrate and make one change to show yourself you are prioritizing your time. This will result in deep work, work that you will appreciate and find satisfaction in. Remember, the goal is to appreciate deep work and find satisfaction, not for it to seem easy.

Writing is a hard craft to learn, but the rewards are worth the effort!

For more information on the Self-Publishing Success Summit, you can check out our All-Access Pass to receive LIFETIME access to all the Success Summit master classes, a private Q&A session and community, and $1,141 in bonuses.

book writing lessons

Lessons Learned from the Secret, Chicken Soup, Abundance Now, and A Guinness World Record Setting Book [Lisa Nichols Interview]

Lisa Nichols is one of the world’s most requested motivational speakers. A media personality and corporate CEO, her global platform has reached and served nearly thirty million people. Lisa began her career as a struggling single mom on public assistance and now is a millionaire entrepreneur. Lisa’s courage and determination have inspired fans worldwide, bringing breakthrough to countless audiences as they discover their own untapped talents and infinite potential. In Lisa’s interview with Chandler during the Self-Publishing Success Summit, Lisa shared her lessons learned from the Secret, Chicken Soup, Abundance Now, and even a Guinness world record setting book!

Her story is truly an inspiration, as it shows with hard work, anyone can find success.

Speaking and Writing Go Hand in Hand

Lisa says your first mistake is sitting back and waiting. Seeing your dream come to fruition only happens once a lot of hard work has gone into the process. Speaking and media are a huge part of the writing business, but how do you get your first speaking gig? How do you appear on your first TV interview? Lisa says to go small first – aim for regional media. Call and send them the press release you put together and don’t forget to include some type of video of yourself!

Write and Don’t Worry About Grammar

In school, Lisa was publicly humiliated by teachers who told her she was either the weakest writer they knew, or the worst public speaker. Today, she has proven these teachers wrong. However, Lisa had to overcome these fears and find out for herself that she is indeed a great storyteller, as well as a phenomenal public speaker. Her weakness is grammar, and she would be the first person to tell you this. But there is an easy fix for this and it’s called getting an editor! Lisa stresses the importance of writing and getting your message out while not worrying about the grammar. That can be fixed later. For now, focus on the writing!

Hold Fear in One Hand and Passion in the Other

As mentioned, Lisa had a lot of fear to overcome on her road to becoming a traveling speaker as well as a writer. She said she did not wait for her fear to dissipate before starting her journey. Rather said, “I held my fear in one hand and my passion and conviction in the other hand, and I just jumped anyway!” She worked through her fear, focusing on what she was writing rather than what might stop her. Lisa is a great storyteller but she knows sometimes telling herself stories of “what ifs” is what holds her back. “Fear is us making up a story about what we think might happen in the future.” Instead, she tells herself the positive what ifs, and focuses on her writing. After all, she says, “Momentum dissipates fear.”

Don’t Hide Behind Your Book

Take advantage of the different forms of connectivity that are available. Social media, videos and interviews are all resources that should be taken advantage of! Audiences love hearing about what Lisa fondly calls “your dip.” They want to hear how you rose from the ashes. People fall in love with your dip because your audience knows you are the right person to teach them. If you experienced lows in your career, or dips, they know they are not alone. This provides a stronger relationship between the success of the speaker/writer and the one who is still aspiring to be successful. Today’s currency is all about relationship and making these connections is vital.

Talk About the Pages Not Just the Book

Speaking more about the content on specific pages of your book provides a type of realism to your book as well as credibility. Simply talking about the book itself may draw readers in, but talking about the specific pages and the personal quotes will capture audiences. “Books are an amazing contribution to society because it allows people to learn from you, be touched by you, and be inspired by you while you’re doing other things.” Why not go all the way and get personal by naming what page number the story came from? Lisa said she literally has readers stop her to ask what page she is speaking from. This is an amazing way to build those reader relationships!

Personality is Everything

While you are in conversation with readers let your personality show through. Readers are drawn to authors who are transparent, real, and unafraid to share their “dip” stories. Energy gives more essence to what you are talking about as the passion behind the writing comes through. If you aren’t very extroverted, no need to worry! Some readers are drawn to quieter authors. Being yourself will take you much farther down the road than pretending to be something you are not. And really, who wants to build a career from a false identity?

As a parting tip Lisa says, “Everyday get up, pray and ask God to get you out of your own way so the world can be blessed by who you are.” Your message does not belong to you. It’s supposed to come through you to inspire those around you. You may have fears battling against what inspires you, but hold those fears in one hand and go after your goals with the other. If Lisa can go from “the weakest writer” to a bestselling author, what is stopping you?

If Lisa can do it, anyone can do it!

For more information on the Self-Publishing Success Summit, you can check out our All-Access Pass to receive LIFETIME access to all the Success Summit master classes, a private Q&A session and community, and $1,141 in bonuses.

Write a Book That Sells

Find a Book Idea That Sells: 3 Things You Must Check Before You Write Your Book

If you’re about to write a book, and you want a book idea that sells, there are three things you absolutely must check before you spend a minute writing your book.

Researching these three things will help you write your book more confidently because you’ll have firm reason to believe readers will love and buy your book.

Once you have your book idea, and before you begin writing, you need to check that there’s:

  1. People looking for your book idea
  2. People willing to pay for your book idea
  3. Competition you can beat

There are two ways to complete each of the following steps: an easy, low-cost way and a time-consuming, free way. I’ll explain both. No matter which method you choose, just choose one of them so you can embark on your book writing journey with confidence.

1. Are there people looking for your book idea?

Before you spend weeks, months, or years laboring to create your book, smart authors validate that there are people searching for your book idea on the internet first.

The free method is to type in www.KWFinder.com and use their free tool that currently allows you 3 searches per day, and type in your book idea. One piece of information this site gives you is the average times per month people type and search for your term. The higher the number, the more people actively are looking for the information you’re thinking of writing about.

This tool does not tell you how many people are searching for your idea on Amazon, however, which can make your results a little dicey. Sometimes people are just looking to learn free or quick information, and not actually looking to read an entire book.

When people search for a topic on Amazon, however, they are there to buy something. That’s why doing this research using a software that specifically gives you Amazon data is the best option.

Enter KDP Rocket. When you search for a book idea using KDP Rocket, it gives you the estimated number of times people search for your idea on Google and on Amazon each month. And there’s no limit to how many ideas you can search per day.

Here’s the results for my fictitious book idea about ‘habits’:

Once you’ve verified people are searching for your book idea, the next step is to make sure they’re willing to pay for the information.

2. Are there people willing to pay for your book idea?

Unless you’re planning to give your book away for free, this step is crucial.

If you don’t have KDP Rocket, you’ll want to head over to Amazon.com and search in the Kindle Store for your writing idea. Look at the search results that appear on the first page. For each book, scroll down to find the Amazon Best Seller Rank. You’ll probably want to create a spreadsheet now if you haven’t already to keep track of the numbers.

Once you have the Best Seller Rank for each, you should put each number into the Amazon Best Seller Rank Calculator. The calculator will tell you how many books are sell each day. If you multiply this number by 30, you’ll get the estimated money per month that book makes.

Kindle Best Seller Calculator

If you do this for all 14 of the books that show up on the first page of your search, you can find the average your book idea makes per month. This will give you an idea if it’s profitable enough for you to pursue.  

If you’re looking for the fast and easy way, you’d already have this information right at your fingertips from doing step 1 (verifying people are looking for your book). By clicking ‘Analyze’ on KDP Rocket, you can immediately learn the average earnings per month.

Book Idea Rank

Wow, ‘habits’ is a money-maker! Look at that second column!

So people are looking for your idea and they are willing to pay for your idea, but can  you compete with the big dogs?

3. Can you beat the competition for your book idea?

Terms like ‘habits’ are popular and profitable, but the competition is intense. You may have noticed the column called “Competitive Score.” This gives you a score between 1-100 on how hard it would be to get your book to appear when people search for your term. A 1 is easy-peasy and 100 is near-impossible.

I’m guessing like me, you’re not a famous author, so you’ll want to find book ideas that have lower competition. Scores in the 20s or below are my usual target.

This doesn’t mean you can’t write a book about habits. This just means you might have to keep searching to refine your idea to be more specific so you can better compete.

When you search in the Kindle Store for your idea, you’ll want to take note of the number of results that appear.

KDP3

This tells us there are 8,055 other books that rank for the term “habits” on Amazon.

Next, click on the top 3 results and write down their Amazon Best Seller Rank. Find the average of these 3 numbers to find the average Best Seller Rank of the top 3 books. You should aim to get your book to rank #1 since it gets the most clicks, and definitely be able to compete with the top 3.

Then, look at the book covers, book descriptions, and reviews. Give each book a score 1-100 based on your opinion of its professionalism, design, clarity, and happiness of reviewers. If it looks like a book you could easily beat, it’s a 1. If it’s perfect and virtually unbeatable, give it 100.

Having all these numbers in an excel spreadsheet will help you analyze the competition of your book idea.

If that seems like a lot of work, or you don’t know how to score the competition, you’ll love what KDP Rocket can do for you.

When you click on the ‘Analyze’ button to discover how much money the book idea makes, a Competitive Score was also automatically generated.

Book Idea Research

For ‘habits,’ the competition is 73…pretty tough.

Rocket will also give you a bunch of other recommended terms to consider, so by simply scrolling down, I found ‘healthy eating habits.’

KDP Rocket Results

Lower competition…but people aren’t paying for that idea.

How about ‘how to break bad habits’:

KDP6

See how you can still write about what you’re interested in, but simply checking the popularity, profitability, and competition can help you refine your idea from an “I hope this works idea” to “Let’s write this book already idea!”

Book Idea Validated

Once your book idea passes these three checkpoints, then you’re on your way to confidently writing your book. Now you have reason to believe it won’t be a waste of your time and you can proceed with more assurance that you’re writing a book that will sell.

To learn more about how this product can help you profitably launch your book to success, check out KDP Rocket here!

Using Blog Posts & A Crappy First Draft To Write A Great First Book (Taylor Pearson Interview)

Using Blog Posts and a Crappy First Draft to Write a Great First Book [Taylor Pearson Interview]

Taylor Pearson is an entrepreneur and the author of “The End of Jobs.” Inc Magazine rated his book, “The End of Jobs,” a Top 25 Business Book of 2015. In addition to this, it was rated as one of the top three Start Your Own Business Books of 2015. Needless to say, Taylor’s book was a great success! Sometimes having a really bad first draft for your book can make a major turn for the better. We interviewed Taylor during our 2016 Self-Publishing Success Summit and he had some incredible insight to give to those working towards writing their first books.

These are the top takeaways and words of wisdom from Taylor Pearson:

Everyone’s First Draft is Bad

He began by explaining everyone’s first draft is not polished or professional. We should not be discouraged by this, but simply realize we have to start small in order to go big. Bestselling authors do not usually sit down and decide to write a bestseller. Instead, an aspiring author sits down and thinks through an idea, struggles through finding the words to explain it, and eventually creates a book. That first rough draft is where it all begins, and you read that correctly – it’s called a “rough draft” for a reason. Don’t be discouraged by the roughness of your draft, be encouraged you have a draft to show for all your hard work!

Where to Start

Have emotional insecurity about writing your first book? Don’t let this keep you from success! Taylor himself experienced the same insecurity. A good way to start writing that first draft is by listing off ideas, then writing about those ideas one at a time, organizing the ideas into sections, and lastly, editing the sections.

Don’t Read Your First Draft!

Not reading your first draft until you’ve finished writing it is an important tip from Taylor. Using Scrivener’s word count feature will help you stay on track and get the required number of words completed prior to your read through. First drafts are always “rough,” and reading it early in the writing stage may discourage you from wanting to write further…and we don’t want that!

The Importance of the Book Proposal

Writing a book proposal after every draft is helpful as it enables you to better understand your own writing as well as the target audience. Spending time writing a proposal after each revised draft is a good practice to get into, and a practice Taylor made for his first book. It is a great habit to form early in the writing journey! He says: “The act of writing a proposal is really good for forcing you to clarify what makes the book marketable.”

People Will Remember Book Three

You may be slaving over your first book, and rightly so, as excellence is an important factor to include in writing, but don’t worry too much about the first two books. According to Taylor, “Everyone’s first two books suck, just get them out the door and get to the third one as soon as possible.” After all, “If you want to be good at something, you have to be willing to suck at it.”

Trust Equals Marketing

Even if you are a genius at marketing, if you haven’t earned people’s trust all the marketing in the world will do little to help you. Getting an interview slot on a podcast is a great way to put your name out there and build trust with your target market. Podcasts are great for exposure but can take a lot of work if not setup properly. A lot of pre-planning is needed if you truly want to get on a podcast. Personally writing out the podcast, including five main points and any other necessary details, will heighten your chances of being interviewed. Getting your name out on the Internet multiple times a week will help build trust as well. Blogging the book before its release will draw people in to the excitement and as the blogs are released their trust in the product and in its author will grow. Taylor blogged 70% of his book prior to its publication and this did not lessen his sales at all!

At the end of his interview Taylor reminded us all of two important takeaways: He loves in person meet-ups. This one-on-one advantage is possible when you are not “at scale” like the other big businesses or successful authors. Take advantage of personally getting to know your readers!

Lastly he says, “Just do it.” Just write your book, and start building trust now. Whether it is through a blog, a podcast, going to conferences, or having lunch with someone who is interested in similar things, trust will be made and the writing journey continued.

After all, that is the point, right? We do not simply “aspire” to be writers who go far down the writing journey. Anyone can dream. Rather, through time and hard work, we become writers!

For more information on the Self-Publishing Success Summit, you can check out our All-Access Pass to receive LIFETIME access to all the Success Summit master classes, a private Q&A session and community, and $1,141 in bonuses.

Value Of Genuinity

The Value Of Genuinity and Content In Marketing Your Product (Danny Iny Interview)

Danny Iny is the Founder of Mirasee, host of the “Business Reimagined” podcast, and best selling author of multiple books. These books include, Engagement from Scratch, The Audience Revolution, and Teach and Grow Rich. In addition, he is the creator of the acclaimed audience business master class and course: Builders Laboratory Training programs. These programs have helped over 5000 value-driven entrepreneurs, making them graduates of the program. 

In his recent interview with Chandler during the 2016 Self-Publishing Success Summit, Danny spoke about the the value of genuinity and content in marketing your product. Here’s what he said were the most important key elements:

People Over Product

Danny talks a lot about the value there is in helping people over selling product. He says, “People look at things differently when they’re looking at you to learn from you and when they’re looking at you as someone who’s trying to sell something.” Mutual trust is built when helping someone is viewed as greater than simply selling a product. Relationships are an important aspect of any business, and very often they prove more beneficial than simply pushing product at a customer.

Pay it Forward

Along with elevating people over product, Danny talks about the importance of paying it forward. Giving value to those who help you is important to remember (in business or even outside of business). Being genuine and presenting what is realistically in it for another person is vital to positive relationships. We shouldn’t exaggerate or belittle what one can/cannot get out of something. In terms of helping them, being that realistic and genuine person is a must!

We Won’t Make Money from Books

Most people do not make a living from their writing. Unless you are a big name author, meaningful money will not be made from simply selling books. For every person who wants your book enough to buy it, there are 10-20 people who would download it for free. Finding other ways to market through the sales, or even free downloads, of your books is a big step in the right direction.

A book in and of itself will likely not bring in meaningful money, but using it as a piece in a larger puzzle can be extremely helpful to your business.

Content, Content, Content

Being able to produce content is a must as a writer, but being able to produce good, quality, high-value content is another story entirely. Danny stresses the importance of delivering content with a high level of value. If the value is high, your audience and other people will genuinely promote your book for you in return. This is not only good for your customers, as they are receiving good content, but it is also a way to get free marketing. Both of these factors are important. A happy customer equals free marketing. Delivering valuable content, then following up by subtly reminding people where and how they can access your book, is a smart marketing choice.

Craft that Email List!

People are all about connections, and in the world of writing this is no different. Creating an email list is a great opportunity to nurture your relationship with your customers. Keeping them up to date on your latest writing, your new book that is coming out, or even some of your own, unique writing habits, helps nourish the relationship. More than just giving “fun facts” about your writing journey, well-crafted emails can provide more value and content that may interest customers. Valuable content doesn’t need to be restricted to only books or blogs, strong content can even be woven into a simple email. Doing so will make your customers love you all the more!

Be Unexpected

Helping people understand the value of a product and exactly why they would benefit from it can build customer relationships. Honesty is an important factor to have in this type of conversation. People will be surprised when they find there is actually a unique benefit to your specific product. Many people follow the format of providing three free videos, then working the videos into a sales pitch format. But again, surprise people by being unexpected. Get people engaged in understanding the value of paying attention to the content itself, not simply because a sales pitch will come at the end. This will in open their minds to the following product you intend to promote.

And as Danny says, always remember, “The book becomes the first big piece of marketing in the launch of a product.”

Writing a book is truly just the beginning!

For more information on the Self-Publishing Success Summit, you can check out our All-Access Pass to receive LIFETIME access to all the Success Summit master classes, a private Q&A session and community, and $1,141 in bonuses.