foreshadowing

Foreshadowing: What is Foreshadowing & How to Use it (Sneakily)

Without foreshadowing in your book…you run the risk of an unsatisfying story.

Let’s be honest, how many of us pick up a book, read half of it, get busy and never get back to it?

Life or other books get in the way and, well, as good as that book was, we were never really hooked. There was nothing compelling us to read to the end.

No harm, no foul, right?…Wrong.

When you’re the author of that half-read book, then it’s devastating.

what is foreshadowing

Still, there are certain tools you can use when writing a book to hold the reader’s attention to the end and one of the most powerful among them is foreshadowing.

Because even the best writing prompts and story ideas need finessing in order to become mind-blowing reads.

Here’s how to use foreshadowing in your novel:

  1. Understand what foreshadowing is
  2. Learn what foreshadowing means
  3. Utilize foreshadowing examples
  4. Use prophecy
  5. Use Chekov’s Gun
  6. Use Omens
  7. Use “I got this weird feeling”
  8. Outline your book
  9. Use flashbacks or flashforwards

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourFundamentals of Fiction and Storytelling program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

What is foreshadowing?

Foreshadowing is a literary device used in fiction that drops hints and clues as to what will happen later in the story in order to give readers the sensations of shock but satisfaction when they finish the book.

Foreshadowing can be used in a number of ways but the point of it is to ensure that your book and the outcome of it makes sense but is still shocking to the readers.

If you’ve ever read a book and thought, “I should have seen that coming!”, then you understand the impact foreshadowing can have.

This is one of the most important things that makes for a good book.

What does foreshadowing mean?

Foreshadowing is a literary device in which the writer gives advanced warning that something specific is going to happen later in the story. Through foreshadowing, you are preparing the reader for an event that will eventually take place in your story.

In other words, the writer is managing reader expectations by giving them a heads up.

And the better you set those expectations, the faster the reader will turn those pages to see how it will happen.

But what does a writer foreshadow? Anything really. A character’s action, reaction, victory, defeat or even death. The st

Here are some elements an author can foreshadow:

  • The story’s major (or minor) plot points
  • A shocking twist … it doesn’t really matter.
  • Character development throughout the novel

All that matters is that you’ve prepared the reader for what’s to come so that they don’t get to that golden moment in your story and go, “Huh? Where the hell did that come from?”

That can be a major flaw of your published book—that you can’t undo.

Foreshadowing Examples

One of the best ways to learn any skill, including foreshadowing, is to look at examples and understand why they were done.

Here are some of our top foreshadowing examples (you probably recognize) that you can learn from in order to put these writing tips to use.

Foreshadowing Example #1 – Nightlock in Hunger Games

By now, we all pretty much know the story of Katniss Everdeen, the selfless sister who bravely sacrificed herself as a Hunger Game competition in order to save her younger sister.

This series has a number of fantastic foreshadowing examples, but one that sticks out to us the most is the prevalence of nightlock, a poisonous berry that causes death upon consumption.

foreshadowing example

These are the instances in which the use of nightlock is used as foreshadowing:

  • In the beginning of the book, we learn that Katniss is well-versed in which wilderness elements are poisonous and which aren’t
  • The second time we see nightlock is when Katniss is at the Capital, training for the games and we learn more of it
  • Later, while in the competition, Katniss has a run-in with Peeta and recalls her father telling her of nightlock’s dangers
  • Lastly, during the Hunger Games, Katniss wanders near a dead competitor, who had died by eating nightlock

All of these instances are meant to show us just how important nightlock is to the story. And later, when Katniss and Peeta nearly eat the berries on purpose, we know just how fatal the result of this would be.

Foreshadowing Example #2 – Obi-Wan’s Death in Starwars

This one might speak to all of you Star Wars fans out there.

Obi Wan’s death (spoiler alert) was foreshadowed very early on—to the point of how he would die…and by whom.

There’s actually a moment when Obi-Wan Kenobi is talking to Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II when he says, “Why do I get the feeling, you will be the death of me?”

This was a complete foreshadowing of what happened later in the book. However, readers can mistake this for a side comment and not take it too seriously.

Foreshadowing Example #3 – Lennie Killing in Of Mice and Men

If you’re familiar with Of Mice and Men (meaning, if your teachers made you read it in school), you know that Lennie, a mentally delayed man, kills his puppy by being too rough with it—unintentionally, of course.

This foreshadows Lennie accidentally killing Candy, a woman who mirrors the puppy in various ways.

Because we learn early on that Lennie is strong enough to kill, this makes moments of him interacting with others more foreboding.

Foreshadowing Example #4 – The Prologue in Game of Thrones

If you’ve read George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, you know just how vital the prologue of the series is—they even recreated this perfectly in the HBO show.

The White Walkers in Game of Thrones are among the biggest threats in the world Martin has created. They become the center of conflict and dread.

Martin foreshadows this from the very, very beginning by narrating some men venturing beyond the wall, all thinking the White Walkers are just a myth—a legend meant to scare children at bedtime.

The end of the the prologue in Game of Thrones

During this prologue (spoiler alert), all the men, aside from one man of the Night’s Watch, are killed.

This single man runs away (from The Wall) and is intercepted in Winterfell as a deserter, where he tells this story to those who don’t believe him. This is the key foreshadowing moment of the potential horror the white walkers induce in this series.

The Power of Foreshadowing and the Writer’s 6th Sense

Let’s talk about one of the greatest plot twists in modern cinematic history: The 6th Sense.

Before I go on, spoiler alert!.. you have been warned!

If we weren’t prepared for the surprising fact that Bruce Willis’ character was actually dead, we’d meet that final, climactic reveal with confusion and anger. Instead, M. Night Shyamalan painstakingly prepares us with visual effects like one’s misty breath when a ghost appears, he has Haley Joel Osment tells out outright that some ghosts, “Don’t even know that they’re dead,” and when the reveal finally happens, it’s met with a montage of all the moments that M. Night Shyamalan foreshadowed that shocking plot twist.

And most of us still left the theatre going: “I didn’t see that coming.”

What none of us did do was leave the theater disappointed or confused, saying, “Well that came out of nowhere.”  

Make no mistake, when used correctly, foreshadowing can be more of your most powerful tools in keeping your reader hooked.

How to Use Foreshadowing in Your Novel

There are five common foreshadowing techniques that will never get old.

Use them wisely and readers will be hooked for life (and give you those 5-star Amazon reviews).

#1 – Prophecy

With ultimate power comes ultimate…knowledge? Wait…that’s not right.

But what is right is that as the author, you possess god-like powers over your characters. You make them do, say or think anything. You know what is going to happen to them down to the last word they utter. You’ve seen it all.

You can see the future!

Trouble is, it’s all in your head.

That’s when you can use a prophetic character or event in your book to foreshadow what’s coming. It could come in the form of an actual prophet screaming from the hilltops that the ‘end is nigh’… and then the end actually becomes nigh.

Or some wise old man who says something like, “When I was a young lad, those dark clouds meant a storm was coming.”

One example of this foreshadowing in books is Professor Trelawney in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.

Professor Trelawney is seen as a “fraud” by many (if not all) of her students, particularly when she has her “episodes.” However, Rowling wrote this in such a way that you as a reader also don’t believe what she’s saying is true…when in fact, it is.

Whatever you choose to do, use your secondary characters in your book to prophesize (foreshadow) events yet to come.

New call-to-action

# 2 – Chekov’s Gun

There is an old rule in writing, known as Checkov’s Gun: If you see a gun in Act One, it better go off in Act Three.

I find that the opposite is equally true. If a gun goes off in Act Three, you better have shown it earlier.

By focusing on some detail, especially one that isn’t immediately obvious as important, you are essentially giving your reader a heads up that this will come back in some significant way later on in the story.

A famous (non-gun) example of this is the Nightlock poisonous berries in the Hunger Games, as we mentioned in the examples above. At the climax of the book (spoiler alert), Katniss threatens to commit suicide by eating the berries.

This is foreshadowed three times:

  • First, at the beginning of the book when we see her out in the wilderness, foraging for food. We learn that she knows what’s poisonous and what’s not.
  • The second time occurs at the Capital when she is training for the Games. In that scene, we actually read about Nightlock.
  • The third time is when, during the Games, Katniss finds a dead tribute who accidently poisoned herself by eating the berries.

We saw the gun, ahhh, I mean berries, several times before that big climactic moment.

And because of that, we knew they’d be important (and we also didn’t think, “Well, isn’t that convenient” when they did show up.

In other words, the author foreshadowed that big final moment.

#3 – Omens

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.”

OK, so if your main character is a shepherd and it’s about to go down, then delight your readers with a dawn that lights the sky blood red.

What are omens?

Omens, or common cultural symbols, can be extremely effective tools when foreshadowing a coming plot point.

Here are some examples of common omens in fiction:

  • A black cat for bad luck
  • A four-leaf clover for good luck
  • Walking under a ladder
  • Finding a penny heads up
  • A crow symbolizing death

NOTE for foreshadowing with omens: You don’t have to stick to omens from our world. Make them up! For example, if you’re writing a novel that’s set in some magical kingdom or a distant planet, ask yourself, “What are the ‘omens’ they have?”

It could be anything… touching a Minotaur’s horn, seeing a mermaid, the three moons simultaneously appearing in the morning sky, etc.,…

Just make sure that whatever you decide, you adequately explain it to the reader, too.

#4 – “I Got This Weird Feeling”

Three characters walk into an abandoned cabin. One of them says, “I got a bad feeling about this…” and BOOM!

You’re away to the foreshadowing races!

Here’s the literary schtick: In real life, when your mom calls you because she had a bad dream about you getting hit by a bus, it’s just her being overprotective. (Jeez mom, chill. I’ll look both ways when I cross the road. I promise.)

But in fiction, if a character’s mother calls them with that same bad dream, it better be foreshadowing events to come (or don’t include that little tidbit at all).

#5 – Outline your book for better foreshadowing

It’s very, very hard to drop foreshadowing hints if you have no idea where your book is going.

For that reason, outlining your book will help you create much stronger (and sneakier) foreshadowing elements.

Think of it this way: the more you know about your own story, the better foreshadowing bits and pieces you can leave behind in order to hide them better from your readers.

#6 – Flashbacks/Flash Forwards

Setting a scene outside of the narrative timeline can also be an effective foreshadowing tool.

For example, you could have a flash forward scene with a sinking ship, then return to the story’s present time, three hours earlier, and the reader can watch with delight as the hero boards that very same ship.

Oh boy—someone gonna drown!

Or, a character could walk into a room and smell a strange, meaty odor that leads to a flashback of a time when he was fighting a gang of cannibals who were barbequing his buddy.

Oh wait—someone is getting grilled!

These elements are very helpful in creating foreshadowing but remember that flashbacks and flash-forwards should also show up elsewhere in your novel instead of just for a single foreshadowing event.

So there you have it, foreshadowing and all its mighty powers. Use this tool wisely, young Padowan, and I promise, you’ll have your reader frantically turning the pages until the glorious end.


finish writing your book

How to Finish Writing a Book: 8 Actionable Steps to Finish Your First Draft


Do you struggle with actually finishing a full draft of your manuscript? Do you actually know how to finish writing a book?

Trust me, it can be a lot harder than you think and I’ll explain why below…

If you’re someone who hops projects when you get bored or stuck, we have the solution to your common problem—and it might be different than you think.

how to finish writing a book

Here are our top tips to help you finish writing a book:

  1. Outline your book
  2. Schedule writing time
  3. Budget & save for publication
  4. Be realistic with your goals
  5. Get accountability partners
  6. Make finishing your book a part of your life
  7. Power through to finish your book
  8. Avoid burnout

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

Why Many Aspiring Authors Don’t Finish Writing a Book

I think we’ve all been there before…

We have fantastic story ideas or even writing prompts, are so motivated to sit down and write a book, but we end up hitting the midway point and…stopping.

So many writers out there fall short when actually finishing their books.

Sure, you might be able to write a poem and finish that, or even complete writing a short story or two…but manuscripts are different.

But why?

They’re longer and take a lot more time and discipline to finish.

Most writers are going through the process of writing and publishing a book blind. And without the right process (or help) in place, it’s easy to fall off the rails and end up with only half a manuscript shoved in a desk drawer somewhere collecting dust.

Most writers fail to finish writing a book because they don’t have a process to keep them accountable in order to finish.

But that’s where we come in.

How to Finish Writing a Book

Obviously you’re ready to commit—to take the leap and actually finish your book.

Maybe you’ve struggled for a few months or maybe you’ve been trying to finish your book for years. Either way, we’ve got the best tips to actually complete your manuscript.

#1 – Outline

The best way to finish a project (and finish it quickly!) is to have a plan. A book’s plan is your outline.

Now, not everyone is on board with book outlines. There are “plotters,” there are “pantsers,” and there are the in-betweeners (which we affectionately call “plotsers”).

However, even writers who finish books regularly and claim they are vehemently against outlines are usually outlining.

What’s the difference between pantsers and plotters?

“Pantsers” tend to call their first draft something like a discovery draft, or draft zero, or, as Nora Roberts calls it, the piece of shit draft.

Even though they say they don’t outline, this first draft is a type of outline.

Even though Stephen King says, “Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers,” we know what he really means is, “My first draft is actually a type of outline, and that’s the method I’ve found that works for me, personally.”

“Prose is architecture. It’s not interior design.” – Ernest Hemingway

Some people love every single detail planned before they begin writing, while others think outlines make their stories too formulaic. The good news is, there’s a type of outline for everyone! If there isn’t one already penned in existence, you can make. one. up. 😮

There are so many different kinds of outlines:

  • Extremely detailed outlines with a sentence for every action in each scene
  • Basic bullet points of the ideas you want to cover, or “first draft” outlines where you plan your book by writing a version of it
  • “Draft zero,” a pansted first draft, is one you can finish in roughly the same amount of time it takes you to plan and outline your book

You don’t have to follow certain outline rules or guidelines–your outline is a tool for you and the way you work. So find a system that works best and utilize it!

Pro Outlining Tip: If you’re more of a “pantser,” use what I call a “liquid outline.” Let it be flexible as your project progresses. For example, start with a bullet point outline of what you expect to happen, then as you write each chapter, go back and revise your outline when things change. This will keep you on track and organized, but it will also allow you the freedom and on-the-spot creativity of “pantsing” your book.

New call-to-action

#2 – Schedule your writing time

A great way to stay productive is to set a writing schedule in order to develop a writing habit.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to finish writing your book:

  • Which days and times will you write?
  • How long will you write in each session?
  • Will you hit a time limit each day, or do you want to reach a certain word count?

Further than scheduling your writing, you can schedule the entire publication process to keep your book on track through production and into marketing!

Having a timeline for drafting, editing, beta rounds, cover, and interior design, book release, marketing, etc., will help you work more efficiently and coordinate the steps that require other people.

For example, many cover designers require you to book months, or even years, in advance! Scheduling and planning will help you stay ahead of possible roadblocks.

#3 – Budget and save

Self-publishing might be more expensive than you think it will be! If you haven’t done it yet, take some time to research possible costs of publishing a book.

For example, do you want a cover designer? A professional editor? Special marketing? Determine out how much it will cost and how long you have to save, then set up a savings plan to be sure you can cover these costs.

Here’s a breakdown of potential costs you have to consider when writing your book:

finish writing a book

If you have no idea how to set up a savings plan, Jenna Moreci has a great video on budgeting and savings basics!

If you don’t take the time to budget for book production and save ahead of time, you may happen upon a charge you weren’t expecting and aren’t prepared to pay. Then your options are to halt production to save for it, go without, or take a loan.

Saving ahead of time is much better than all three of those options, so do your research!

If you want more information on the publishing expenses you can expect, check out the video below—and the biggest cost might be the most surprising.

#4 – Be realistic

In scheduling, budgeting, and saving, be realistic about your goals and timelines.

If you convince yourself you have four hours of writing time each day to finish a draft in a month, but you have a full-time job and three kids? That’s probably not a realistic goal.

Maybe you can only write for twenty minutes a day. Maybe you can only write on weekends. Maybe writing a few paragraphs during lunch breaks is your only option for now.

Be honest, be logical, and set goals you have a chance of achieving. While you can always find ways to write faster in order to make the most of that writing time, you still have to set reasonable goals.

Nothing is more demoralizing than never reaching your goals.

#5 – Consider finding a team to hold yourself accountable

I have a critique group with two other writers who are also writing fantasy novels. Every Sunday, we exchange the chapter we wrote that week, as well as the other two writer’s chapters from the previous week with our critique comments.

When utilizing a critique partner or group, I recommend the following:

  1. Find people with similar WIPs
  2. Set up a schedule for swapping chapters, stories, poems, scripts, etc.
  3. Keep open lines of communication!

Having other people expect your routine updates, as well as having other people to discuss issues and setbacks, will help to keep you on track with a writing schedule.

At Self-Publishing School, there’s actually a Mastermind Community each student gets to be a part of where accountability partners run rampant. All these writers are looking for others to help them finish writing their books.

how to finish writing a book

#6 – Make your WIP a part of your life

Let your book take up a lot of real estate in your mind, your home, and your daily life.

As you grow your writing platform and market your book, talk about your work in progress. Tell your friends and family about it.

The more people who know you’re writing a book, the more they’ll ask you about it.

This hold you accountable to actually finish writing your book.

You can even make a Youtube channel, like mine, in order to have more people familiar with you writing a book. (This is also a great strategy to market yourself as a writer)

If you make a physical outline or a moodboard, hang it by your desk where you can see it. Set your main character’s profile sketch as your phone background.

Make it where you can’t skip a writing day without thinking about it.

This will keep your mind working toward solutions for your project every day.

#7 – Power through!

Don’t let yourself get hung up on edits before your draft is finished. Don’t overthink it–just focus on getting through your first draft.

Of course it won’t be perfect!

But, like Nora Roberts said, “you can fix anything but a blank page.”

You can’t edit nothing! Don’t slow down, keep your momentum, and pound out that first draft!

The hardest part of writing a book is finishing the first draft. After that, it’s all downhill so just get it done!

#8 – Avoid burnout

Writing burnout is when you feel like your work is trash. You think you have nothing important to say. Maybe you think no one cares about what you’re writing or maybe you’ve fallen into a pit of writer’s block.

Don’t fall into this hole!

Your first instinct when confronted with writing burnout is usually to stop writing. Never stop writing. Maybe this WIP is sucking your joy, but realize that it isn’t you, and it isn’t your writing–it’s the project.

Try swapping to something a little easier, like a short story or a poem, but set a time to return to your book.

Don’t let so much time slip away that you get too far away to return.

Remind yourself of the reason to write a book in the first place.

Ask yourself these questions if you’re feeling writer burnout:

  • Where does your inspiration come from?
  • Who are you writing for?
  • Why is it important to you?

Write down your motivation and hang it somewhere you can see it

Don’t let yourself get burned out before you can finish your project. Take a breather, but make a promise to yourself that you’ll get back to work and set a specific time to do so.

Moral of the story: plan ahead and DON’T STOP UNTIL YOU’RE FINISHED!

Are you ready to start—and finally finish—your book?

Turn in to our free training to help you go from blank page to published author in as little as 90 days.

Yes, how long it takes to write a book can be as little as three months with our methods!

become bestselling author

How to Become a Bestselling Author & Get on a Bestseller List

We know it’s your dream.

It’s almost every author’s dream…

…to become a bestselling author—to have your name on a list indicating that people wanted to buy your book more than all the other books.

It sounds great, right?

But there’s more to becoming a bestselling author than simply writing and publishing a book.

There are steps you need to take both when writing your book and during the publishing process that will make the difference between landing yourself on a bestseller list and hardly selling books.

how to become a bestselling author

As a bestselling author of 6 books, I’ve got some tips to help you become one, too.

Here’s how to become a bestselling author:

  1. Decide which Bestseller list you want to be on
  2. Write an amazing book
  3. Build your author platform
  4. Market your book ASAP
  5. Decide between traditional or self-publishing
  6. Build a launch team
  7. Create a strong launch plan
  8. Become a bestselling author

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

What is a bestseller list?

A bestseller list is created by different publications indicating and recognizing the top selling books of a given time period in any given number of places.

I think you’ve all heard of the New York Time’s Bestsellers list. This is by far the most popular list, but there are many other types of bestseller lists out there today.

Types of bestseller lists

Not all besteller lists are the same. Like I mentioned above, the New York Time’s Bestsellers list is among the most popular, but any publication can craft their own version of a bestseller list.

And that means you, as an author, have more opportunitites than just one to become a bestselling author.

After all, the term is “bestselling author” not just “New York Times bestselling author”.

These are the most popular bestseller lists you can land on:

  • New York Times Bestsellers List
  • Publishers Weekly Bestsellers List
  • Amazon Bestsellers List
  • USA Today Bestsellers List
  • The Wallstreet Journal Bestseller List

Are bestseller lists a lie?

I can’t continue with this blog post without touching on the controversary surrounding bestseller lists—espeically the New York Times bestseller list (but all of them are like this).

Most of the bestseller lists you know about or hear about aren’t exactly all they’re cracked up to be.

I’ll explain…

When we hear or see the term “bestseller list” we automatically think that it encompasses all the books who had the most sales.

That’s what “best seller” technically translates to.

There’s only one problem.

Bestseller lists (like the New York Times bestseller list) choose their own criteria for what constitutes a “best seller” and they don’t only rely on book sales.

For example, most lists only take into account the number of book sales in a very specific time period and from very specific places—and most of them don’t count online book sales the same as in-store sales.

become bestselling author

What does this mean for you and your desire to be on a bestseller list?

While bestseller lists aren’t exactly a “lie,” they don’t paint the whole picture. Someone who sells a lot of books right at launch and then nothing for a while can still make the New York Times bestseller list…even though they might sell far fewer books than someone else who just didn’t have as many sales at once.

Essentially, it means that becoming a New York Times bestseller is a great goal to have, but it doesn’t mean that your book is any better than the millions of others out there.

That being said, many of us love the title of becoming a bestseller, so I’m here to walk you through how to do that in the way that makes the most sense for you.

Benefits of being a bestselling author

Even if most of the popular bestseller lists aren’t necessarily “fair,” there are still some perks to becoming a bestselling author.

Here are some benefits of landing your name on a bestseller list:

  1. The title. There’s really nothing that has quite as satisfying of a ring to it as “bestselling author” does. It makes you feel good and rightfully so! It’s an accomplishment no matter how it happened and the confidence boost alone is enough of a reason to work hard to reach that goal.
  2. The credibility. People just take bestselling authors more seriously. Because there’s some sort of proof that your book sold more, people think that means it’s better. When they feel that way about you being a bestselling author, they’re far more likely to respect you, your book, and anything else you put in front of them—like a business.
  3. It helps you sell more books. Just like I mentioned above, being a bestselling author increases credibility. That means people will buy your book simply because it has that title—even if they’re not quite sure who you are or what’s in your book. It’s a simple way to increase your book sales.
  4. It’s easier to sell future books. Once you hit bestseller status once, you can then add that title to your future books. Because of the same reason I mentioned in the point above, people are more likely to buy your book because the public perceived a bestseller status as an indicator of a good book.
  5. You can charge more for non-author gigs. This includes if you want to be a speaker or any other side business connected to your book. Because you have that bestseller status, you can charge more.

How to become a bestselling author

If your heart is set on becoming a bestselling author and reaping all the rewards associated with it, we can help you get there

No matter if you want to become a New York Times bestselling author or an Amazon bestselling author, we’ve got you covered.

#1 – Decide which bestseller list you want to get on

This will ultimately define which path you follow to get published.

Our list above details a couple bestseller lists you can aim to get on, or you can shoot for all of them if you’re really ambitious.

Here at Self-Publishing School, we teach our students how to excel in becoming Amazon bestselling authors in order to gain authority, increase your book’s rankings on the #1 platform for book sales in the world, and ultimately, sell more of their books.

It’s up to you to determine if you want to get on one, two, or even all of the bestseller lists available.

New call-to-action

#2 – Write an amazing book

Obviously, your book is important. While there is a lot of strategy involved in becoming a bestselling author, you do have to write a book worthy of selling.

Here’s how you can write an amazing book:

  1. Decide if you want to write fiction or nonfiction. Both types of books can land on their respective bestseller list. This is a fairly easy decision—just go with the first idea you have.
  2. Come up with a book idea. This can be made a lot easier with a list of writing prompts like this one right here. Remember that you have to be passionate about your book because if you’re not, your readers will be able to tell. No “bestseller” banner will save you from negative reviews.
  3. Outline your book. One of the best ways I’ve learned how to write a good book is to outline it. When you know where you’re going, everything in between is easier to write, and that means you can focus on writing with quality.
  4. Write your book. It may take time, but if you follow our process for writing a quality book, you will be proud to have it out into the world. Keep our tips in mind throughout the process and you’ll write a better book, faster.

#3 – Build an author platform

This should happen before you write your book—or during it, if you just decided you want to become an author at all, let alone a bestselling author.

What is an author platform?

Your platform is your audience. In order to sell your book and on a consistent basis (which is key if you want to be a full-time author), people need to:

  1. know you exist and
  2. that you’re writing books for them to read.

In order to do this, you have to be present on social media, have an author website, and market yourself as an author regularly.

Where you spend your most time and how you go about that marketing will depend on what type of book you’re writing and who your audience.

As an example, if your intended audience is an older generation between the ages of 45-60, they’re more likely to be on Facebook than other social platforms simply because those are Facebook’s deomgraphics.

Here are the demographics for social platforms so you can determine where you’ll focus your efforts:

  • Facebook: 54% female, 46% male, 65% between 50-64 years old
  • Twitter: 24% women, 23% men, 40% between 18-29 years old
  • Instagram: 39% women, 30% men, 72% between 13-17 years old
  • Pinterest: 41% women, 16% men, 34% between 40-49 years old

Using these numbers, you can get a better idea of where you should start building up your author platform first.

#4 – Market your book NOW

Yes, before it’s even done.

If you start on your author platform like I mentioned above, you can start marketing by simply creating social posts, videos, and more content related to your book and its contents.

Here are some ideas for marketing your book before it’s done:

  • Create social posts with tips and tricks related to your book’s contents
  • Update your followers on your book’s progress
  • Talk about the process of writing a book
  • Voice your challenges with the writing or content itself
  • Create countdown posts when it gets closer to time to launch
  • Engage with your followers by asking them to comment below—and then have conversations with them
  • Reach out for interviews about you and your book

We have more tips for marketing your book right here that will help you grow your following and get your book’s name out here.

#5 – Decide to pursue self-publishing or traditional publishing

This is where your earlier decision of which bestseller list you want to be on comes into play.

If your goal is to become a New York Times bestselling author (which isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but you do you), you’ll have to go the traditional publishing route and commit to spending a couple years mostly waiting.

However, if you want to become an Amazon bestselling author, that achievement is right around the corner.

Ultimately, you have to decide which is best for you, traditional or self-publishing?

Here are some of the main differences to help you decide:

What You GetSelf-PublishingTraditional Publishing
Sole control of your book's outcome
X
Sole control of your book's rightsX
Control over the storyX
Control over the coverX
100% of royaltiesX
Editing includedX
Cover designX
MarketingXX
DeadlinesX

#6 – Build a large launch team

And make it a good one.

If your goal is to hit bestseller numbers on the first week of your launch, you need a large and dedicated launch team to help make it happen.

What is a launch team?

A launch team is a group of people dedicated to helping you launch your book. They read it, review it on Amazon and other platforms, and participate in promotional activities.

Here’s what to look for in a good launch team:

  1. They’re actually interested in your book.
  2. They’re motivated and enthusiastic
  3. They participate in promotional tactics
  4. They offer new promotional methods
  5. They have a moderate sized audience of their own
  6. They’ve been on a launch team before

Your launch team will be an integral part of whether or not you become a bestselling author—keep that in mind when recruiting volunteers.

#7 – Create a solid launch plan

become bestselling author

We have a very specific process for launching your book to become an Amazon bestseller.

These tactics may not work for if you want to be a NYT’s Bestseller. But they will get you that coveted orange “#1 Bestseller” banner on Amazon, which has relatively the same perks.

Here’s the launch plan we recommend (and you can read the full method right here):

  1. Price your book for maximum sales
  2. Host a “soft launch” and nail down your complete launch strategy
  3. Get book reviews from your launch team
  4. Reach out to book promotion sites for both paid and free promo
  5. Stick to a minimalistic launch plan

Again, our full book launch guide can be found right here for you to set up your book launch on Amazon in order to become a bestseller.

#8 Become a bestseller

If only it was that simple.

This last step should really be something along the lines of “mess up, try again, try it all over again, and then hope and pray, and try again” instead of “become a bestseller.”

Because that’s what it usually takes:

Luck, the right marketing, the best launch team, and a lot of hope.

But if you have a system that is proven to make you an Amazon bestseller, then it’s almost guaranteed.

How many books do you have to sell to become a bestselling author?

There is no set specific number of book sales needed in order to become a bestselling author. After all, it depends on how many books other authors are selling at the same time.

And it also depends on the rules and criteria of that specific bestseller list.

Here’s a guideline you can follow when it comes to other lists:

  • New York Times Bestseller list: 9,000 copies
  • The Wall Street Journal Bestseller list: 3,000 books
  • Amazon Bestseller list: this number depends on current numbers being sold in the categories you listed your book in

Ultimately, we here at Self-Publishing School believe becoming an Amazon bestseller is not only the most attainable goal of becoming a bestseller author, but it also grants the same rewards as the others.


how long does it take to write a book

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

The most valuable thing a writer can learn is how long does it take to write a book.

And while most sources say it depends, we break it down for you.

Many authors, when asked how long it took to produce their debut novels, the answers ranged from four years to a decade.

In other words, a very long time, BUT…

We’ve focused the process of writing and publishing a book, and our students are able to complete their drafts in as little as 60 days, publishing in 90 days…and we’ll teach you how.

how long does it take to write a book

But there is amazing news:

Writing your book can take far less time than you think. You just need to have the right mindset, a reliable system, and to stay motivated to write.

Here’s what you’ll learn about how long it takes to write a book:

  1. How to create a deadline
  2. Prioritizing to take less time to write a book
  3. Create word count goals
  4. Find accountability to write a book faster
  5. Set challenges to finish writing your book

Here at Self-Publishing School, our goal is to improve this arduous writing process. Right now, we coach our students to routinely complete a new book in just 90 days, finishing their first draft in as little as 30 days!

They are able to accomplish this by following a simple step-by-step guide that we’re going to share with you today.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

How long does it take to write a book?

Many authors report that it takes up to a year to write a book, but more recently, authors are finishing their books in as little as a month to 90 days.

How long it takes to write a book largely depends on how much time the writer puts in to actually writing it, though.

The truth about how long it takes to write a book depends on how many words are in it.

Here’s a guideline for how long it takes to write a book:

  • 30,000 – 50,000 words: 500 words/day = 60 – 100 days
  • 50,000 – 80,000 words: 500 words/day = 100 – 160 days
  • 80,000 – 100,000 words: 500 words/day = 160 – 200 days

Essentially, the length of time it takes can be anywhere from two months to 7 months (or even longer!) depending on how often you write and how many words you write per session.

If you want a quick way to find out, fill out this word and page count calculator below and it will tell you the average time it takes to write that book:

Choose your book type, genre, and audience for a word count and page number total.

Your book will have

words

pages

*These results are based on industry standards. The total word and page count will vary from book to book and is dependent on your writing and overall book formatting*

Average Time to Write This Book: 60 days

Following the guidelines below, you can learn to supercharge your own book writing process, and you’ll become a published author much faster.

How to Write a Book Faster so it Doesn’t Take as Long

If you want to know how to write a book faster so it doesn’t take as long, here are our best tips.

#1 – Establishing a Strategic Deadline

Deadlines are designed to help you inch closer to completing your book by giving yourself a writing habit. It also encourages you to work every day hitting both short-term and long-term goals.

However, you won’t find success by setting arbitrary due dates. They must be set up for your book’s success.

Here are 3 ways to establish strategic deadlines:

  1. Define realistic deadlines. Set short term and long term deadlines for each portion of your draft that breaks down your entire book.
  2. Set honest expectations. If you’re only able to write 500 words a day, so be it. Don’t push yourself into thinking that you can complete an unrealistic task. Be honest with your abilities and align it with your deadline.
  3. Implement rewards. Don’t make writing a book feel like a tedious job. Reward yourself for achieving your goals! Attaching rewards to each accomplishment will make finishing your book much more aspiring to complete.

New call-to-action

#2 – Prioritizing Your Writing Into Tasks

What separates those who can write multiple books to those who can barely write a page is the ability to prioritize. Because there are so many competing factors that pull away our time and energy, prioritizing is actually a very hard concept to implement.

But in order to write your book, you need to establish clear priorities to get anything done.

Here are some ways to prioritize your work:

  • List out every detail of your book and turn them into tasks
  • Assess each task to identify what carries the biggest value to completing your book
  • Order tasks by its immediate priority and length of time to complete
  • Anticipate unexpected changes to your schedule, and plan an alternative schedule to stay on track

Action Step:

Make the effort and spend a few hours prioritizing your writing process. You will be surprised with how much writing you can accomplish with a well thought out task plan.

#3 – Creating Word Count Goals

One of the best ways to accelerate the writing process is to set word count goals. Like training intervals, setting up word count goals will pace how many words to write a day.

First you have to understand how many words in a novel for your genre. Once you know this, you can work backward to figure out how much you have to write each day in order to reach your deadline.

By establishing these parameters for your own success, not only will you be more likely to accomplish these goals, but you will also notice improvements to your writing.

Here’s an example of a tracking sheet you can set up in order to accomplish your word count goals:

how long does it take to write a book

We recommend writing down your daily, weekly, and monthly word count goals to not only show your current progress, but to keep you motivated until you reach the end.

It also helps to include rewards for every new milestone!

Action Step:

Start your daily word count goal to 500-1,000 words per day. By completing 1,000 words per day, you’ll be looking at your completed 30,000 word first draft in one month!

#4 – Finding Your Accountability Partner

A supportive partner can be a great soundboard, a first pair of eyes, and a protector of your sanity. They can also be the extrinsic motivation you need to meet your own deadlines and word counts.

When you have an accountability partner backing you up, it makes it harder to procrastinate because they expect great results from you!

At Self-Publishing School, we believe in the accountability system and encourage our students to pair up with other like-minded students to encourage one another and hold each other accountable for reaching goals and deadlines.

This is done through our Mastermind Community, so everyone has the same goal in mind: start writing a book and finish by self-publishing a book.

It’s a great motivating tactic and helps our students complete their books on time.

Action Step:

Find an accountability partner who is willing to encourage and hold you accountable to meet your deadlines!

#5 – Setting Challenges for Yourself

Following the same routine can get old quickly especially for something lengthy like writing the first draft of your book.

To combat the fear of boredom and add more spark to your writing project, we encourage you to set challenges for yourself!

Here are some simple challenges to set to write your book faster:

  • Double the word count you’ve originally set daily, monthly, yearly
  • Purposely tighten deadlines to increase pressure
  • Ban the use of your phone or all forms of distractions to make time for writing
  • Read your unfinished draft out loud to someone new for feedback

Action Step:

Include a few of these challenges every so often to increase the intensity of your writing. You may tack on even better rewards for each successful challenge you’ve completed.

If you ever dream of becoming a self-published author, now is the time to finally make it a reality.

By following these guidelines on how to develop a robust writing process, you will have your first book ready to self-publish in no time.

self-publishing companies

Self-Publishing Companies: What to Expect & If It’s Worth it

It might not be clear to you yet (we’ll get to it), but you need some help self-publishing your book.

I get it. The concept might seem a little crazy right now. After all, it’s called self-publishing, not self-and-a-company-publishing.

But the thing is…you don’t know everything you need to in order to self-publish…

Okay, that’s not true. You don’t know everything you need in order to self-publish successfully.

That’s the key here. Do you have what it takes to self-publish and actually achieve the level of success you desire?

The truth is that the large majority of self-publishers out there don’t.

And we’re going to cover exactly how self-publishing companies can help you bridge this gap.

self publishing companies

Here’s what you’ll learn about publishing companies:

  1. What self-publishing companies do
  2. Benefits of using a self-publishing company
  3. How you’ll keep your rights
  4. How much time you’ll save
  5. How much money you’ll make
  6. Staying accountable with a self-publishing company
  7. You can get 1-on-1 coaching
  8. You’ll make connections
  9. How you’ll create a bigger impact
  10. How you’ll gain more opportunities
  11. How your business will grow
  12. Self-publishing companies to avoid

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

What is a Self-Publishing Company?

A self-publishing company is a business dedicated to helping you achieve your desired level of success within your self-publishing journey.

They detail the process and streamline otherwise difficult avenues you might not be able to maneuver yourself.

But every self-publishing company is different.

Here at Self-Publishing School, our mission is to make the process as easy as possible for you while ensuring you do everything you can to succeed the right way.

Sure, you can throw your book online with a cover you created in Canva and call yourself a self-published author. But will that yield book sales? Will that give you the authority, recognition, and fulfillment you’re looking for?

How is a Self-Publishing Company Different than a Traditional Publishing House?

Self-publishing companies and traditional publishing houses are completely different in the sense that the former does not publish the book for you, but rather, we help you by providing necessary (crucial!) information about how to complete the process successfully.

Traditional publishing houses are where you first land an agent, and then they submit your manuscript, and they take care of the printing/editing/publishing – at the expense of your hard earned royalties, of course.

Here’s a table detailing the differences between self-publishing companies and traditional publishing.

What You GetSelf-PublishingTraditional Publishing
Sole control of your book's outcome
X
Sole control of your book's rightsX
Control over the storyX
Control over the coverX
100% of royaltiesX
Editing includedX
Cover designX
MarketingXX
DeadlinesX

Why Use a Self-Publishing Company?

After all, you want to do this yourself, right? Self-publish. But like I mentioned before, you don’t know everything about self-publishing.

Do you know the best method for actually writing your book?

Do you know exactly how to craft your subtitle and book description to maximize sales?

Do you know the best book launch process for getting your book with the coveted orange “Bestseller” banner (that also increases your book’s ranking, and sales!)?

There is far more to self-publishing than simply hitting “publish” on Amazon, and without the right process, your book might end up as one of those stereotypical self-published books that sells 3 copies – to family members.

And that’s why you use a self-publishing company. Someone else has already done the research, the work, and has the experience to guide you through the process.

If you’re someone who wants to see real book sales and achieve other goals, like growing a business or becoming a full-time author, then a self-publishing company will help.

What You Can Expect with a Self-Publishing Company

What does working with a self-publishing company look like?

While not all self-publishing companies are the same or provide the same type of information and training for you, it’s important to understand what you’ll take away from working with one.

This is what you can expect when working with a company that helps you self-publish.

#1 – You keep all rights to your book

Unlike traditional publishing houses, you actually get to keep all the rights to your books.

What does this mean?

It mean that, when you publish, you are the sole owner of the book and all of its contents. It’s copyrighted under your name and the self-publishing companies will not have any of their information inside of the book (unless you want to thank them for everything they’ve helped you with).

This is a major benefit because with self-publishing companies, you can keep the book in print for however long you want.

On the flip side, traditional publishing houses can choose when to pull your book from shelves and simply no longer print or sell it. And since you no longer own the rights, you can’t self-publish that book unless you buy the rights back (which some publishing houses don’t even offer you the option of).

New call-to-action

#2 – You’ll save time

Time is our most valuable asset. It’s the one thing in our lives we can never get back no matter what.

Unless you’re a secret time traveler and have uncovered the secrets of bending and warping time (and if you are, PLEASE SHARE), you have to treat time like it’s precious.

One of the biggest perks of using self-publishing companies to help you get your book published is the simple fact that they tell you what needs to be done, when, and how.

Not only will you save time actually writing the book (assuming the company gives you instructions on how to write faster, like we do here at Self-Publishing School), but you won’t have to go through the hours upon hours of research in order to get it right.

And, you don’t have to waste time making mistakes and adjusting them.

#3 – You keep 100% of royalties

Everything you earn, you keep. Now, there may be self-publishing companies out there who require a percentage of your royalties, since they helped you, but here at Self-Publishing School don’t’ believe in that.

After all, you did the work. You put forth the time and effort. This is your book. Therefore, you keep what you actually earn.

Aside from what Amazon takes for allowing you to use their platform, 100% of your profit is yours to keep.

This is much different than traditional publishing houses in the sense that through them, you’re only pocketing about 10% of royalties (and sometimes even less).

#4 – You’re kept accountable

The hardship is in the name itself: self-publishing.

It’s a very lonely process if you don’t have anyone else going through it with you. And we all know how much easier it is to stay on track when we have someone else rooting for (or hollering at) us.

Many self-publishing companies have some sort of progress tracking, coaching, or community to help keep you motivated and working to achieve your dream.

How we do that here at Self-Publishing School is through all three of those methods, including a Facebook Mastermind Community with hundreds of dedicated current and past students ready to help.

self publishing companies

#5 – You get coached by experts

At least here at Self-Publishing School, you do. Not all programs have this perk, and boy is it a perk.

Our coaches are all experts in their field. You get one-on-one coaching that allows you to take personalized tips and put them to use in your own publishing journey.

Since coaches have been exactly where you are and have come out on top, and maintained book sales themselves, you get a leg up on anyone else doing this without that help.

Take a look at one of our amazing coaches, Lise Cartwright, and how she still manages to bring in $4,000 on her self-published books, all while helping our students learn to do the same.

Again, not all self-publishing companies offer this service to their students, but if they do, it can help you understand a side of the industry you likely wouldn’t get to see otherwise.

#6 – You make connections

This is particularly true for programs that include access to a community of somesort.

You never know who you’ll get to know, like, and befriend. These are all like-minded people who are after the same things as you.

You can make dear friends, get even more advice when needed, and maintain a sense of purpose when you’re constantly fed motivation from them.

#7 – You create a bigger impact with your book

What’s the reason you’re self-publishing. Why do you really want to get your book out into the world?

I’m willing to bet it has something meaningful to you. You want to help others, share information, or show the world a theme or message that’s important to you.

By using one of the self-publishing companies out there, you’re able to create a bigger impact with your book.

How?

Because you will write it better, market it smarter, and sell more. And after all, that’s the point. Right? You want to get as many eyes on it as you possibly can.

#8 – You gain more opportunities

Because your book will do better than it would if you didn’t have that outside help, you gain many more opportunities.

Becoming a published author places you as an authority in any field you’re writing in. Not only does this help your business grow, if that’s your goal, but it also helps you sell more books through new and better opportunities than you’d have otherwise.

Take these students of ours for example:

publishing companies

After publishing their books, they have been either contacted or pursued speaking engagements on their own along with other opportunities to grow their book and platform.

#9 – Your business will grow

Leveraging your book to grow your business is one of the best methods out there.

Chandler Bolt, you know him—the guy who built this 8 figure business from his first bestselling book—swears by it.

But he’s not the only expert out there who agrees.

Ryan Deiss, CEO of DigitalMarketer, also uses a book to grow his business. You can check out how he does so in the video above, but the point remains: self-publishing is a perfect way to grow your business.

And if that’s your goal, then you want to make sure you’re self-publishing for success. Otherwise, your book won’t make nearly as big of an impact on your business, which is why working with a self-publishing company can help.

#10 – You have a repeatable, successful process

Many of our students write multiple books with our program – not just one.

As one of our favorite author says, if you write one book and you enjoy it, you will write another book.

self-publishing companies

The most successful self-published authors out there are those who write more than one book. Not only do they maintain a steady stream of passive income this way, but since they have a reliable, repeatable process, it makes it easy for them to publish multiple.

So long as the self-publishing company you’re working with has lifetime access (like we do), you can hop on and go through the system every time you want to.

Plus, imagine how nice it would feel to say, “Yes, I’m a published author of multiple books.” Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid

Not all self-publishing companies are created equal. Unfortunately, there are some self-publishing companies who only want your money and don’t want to see you succeed.

These are some red flags to keep a lookout for when researching self-publishing companies to help you get your book out there.

#1 – They take a cut of your royalties

Why even self-publish if you don’t actually get to keep your hard earned money?

This won’t necessarily mean that self-publishing company is a scam or fraudulent in any way. However, it is something to think about and be wary of.

You want to make sure you’re actually benefiting fairly for your book’s success. So working with a company that allows you to keep every cent is essential.

#2 – They make you sign over your book rights

As mentioned earlier, traditional publishing houses technically “purchase” your book from you. It’s why you get that nice big (usually not big, though) advance.

However, self-publishing companies should not require this. Since you are self-publishing, all of the rights should remains 100% yours.

#3 – They maintain creative control

Obviously, self-publishing companies are meant to help you.

list of self publishing companies

That being said, they can certainly offer advice on your book title, subtitle, cover, and even contents, but they should never demand something of your book in order for you to continue with their program.

#4 – Unrealistic expectations

Self-publishing is a varied game. No two authors can expect the exact same outcome and your results largely vary on how much you’re willing to work and how well you’re following their program.

However, self-publishing companies also shouldn’t guarantee crazy expectations—especially without having the proof to back it up.

Guarantees of making $10,000 in the first month are often unfounded. Look for company promises that you feel good about actually being able to achieve them.

#5 – There are a large number of complaints online

Not every self-publishing company can meet everyone’s expectations. Not every single review will be positive – and that’s understandable.

What you do want to lookout for is a large number of negative reviews, complaints, or claims of fraud or scams. These are certainly something to be wary of, but make sure you research some positives as well.


book marketing

Book Marketing: Best Practices for Higher Sustained Book Sales

Just because you wrote a new book doesn’t mean that your book is guaranteed to sell.

Harsh? Maybe. But it’s true. And here at Self-Publishing School, you first have to learn the truth before taking action.

Even if your book is the next Great American Novel, it won’t be a success if it doesn’t get into the collective conscious of the public. 

This is why you need good book marketing tactics to back it up.

book marketing

Here are the book marketing strategies we cover:

  1. Social media marketing strategies
  2. Use a launch team for book marketing
  3. Pricing your book effectively
  4. Build a website to market your book
  5. Grow your email list
  6. Influencer outreach for book promotion
  7. Apply for BookBub
  8. Land interviews on podcasts
  9. Reach book clubs
  10. Write another book

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

Book Marketing for Self-Published Authors

Marketing takes planning, organization, and consistent action; it’s hard work. But the good news is that marketing is also about fostering connections and relationships, which can be rewarding to you and your fan base.

And since you’re the one who knows your book from cover to cover, your backstory, your reasons for writing it, and who your ideal reader is, it’s your duty to put a plan in place to best connect with your intended audience and share your story.

We know, we know…you’ve put a ton of effort into writing, editing, and getting your book ready for publication that the thought of adding another layer of “work” is not the most appealing idea.

But realize that if you launch your book without a marketing plan, FAR fewer people will read it.

It will hamper the success of the book you’re working on now, as well as others you plan on publishing in the future. So if you dream of becoming a New York Times bestselling author, or if you want your book to help you reach other lifestyle goals, a book marketing strategy is your essential key to success.

Book Profit Calculator

If you want to know why you have to market your book, the profits will explain it.

If you want to make a living writing your books, it’s important to understand exactly what that means.

In order to earn a living writing your books, understanding how many books you need to sell and what you’ll bring home for each is vital.

Check out this book profit calculator in order to know how much you need to market in order to become a full-time self-published author.

STEP 1

Enter Your Information Below To Calculate Your Potential Book Sales

STEP 2

Want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox?

CONGRATULATIONS!
Here's What You'd Earn:

Your profit per book:

In 3 months, you'll make:

In 6 months, you'll make:

In 1 year, you'll make:

Book Marketing Strategies for Social Media

Having a quick overview of exactly what you can do and how much time and effort each will take can help you better plan for your book marketing plan.

Here are our recommended book marketing strategies and what you need for each.

Book Marketing PlatformWhat to do
Twitter- use appropriate hashtags
- post relatable tweets to increase shares
- engage by liking and replying to others
- search common hashtags to find your audience
Instagram- use appropriate hashtags
- post photos related to the content of your book
- engage by liking and replying to others
- ask questions in photos to increase engagement
- search common hashtags to find your audience
Facebook- create a page for yourself or your book
- post video content
- go Live to answer questions or discuss your book
- post blog posts supporting your topic/ideas/book
Pinterest- create pins linking back to your website
- repin content related to your genre
- create appropriate boards for your content
- optimize pins with keywords
- join group boards
- connect with others who pin similar ideas
LinkedIn- great for business-related topics
- share insights/stats
- share blog posts supporting your ideas/topics
- connect with leaders in your industry
Personal Website- create a website
- maintain a blog with posts about your main topic
- use this to create an email list
- keep this updated regularly

Free Book Marketing Plan

Having seen and been involved in so many book launches ourselves, we know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to book marketing.

We’ll walk you through a play-by-play of exactly what you need to do so that your readers can find your book and buy it.

We’ve broken this guide down into three main sections for learning book marketing:

  1. Pre-Launch: Building Your Book Marketing Launch Team
  2. Pricing Your Book for Maximum Sales
  3. Post-Launch: 8 Strategies for Selling More Books

Let’s get started!

Pre-Launch: Build Your Book Marketing Launch Team

The first step of preparing for your book launch, and the marketing behind it, is to build your launch team or street team, as it’s also commonly referred to.

What is a launch team?

The ideal launch team, also known as a “street team,” is a dedicated, hand-selected group eager to make your launch successful. If you use your team’s talent and communicate well, there’s nothing your launch team can’t accomplish!

This video does a great job of detailing what a launch team is and exactly what they do:

 

#1 – Launch Team Size

The first step is to determine the projected size of your book marketing launch team based on the size of your audience.

Your audience is anyone interested in you, your book, and your product.

They could be five of your lifelong friends, members of your community, big organizations you’re connected to, social media followers, email subscribers, anyone who might be interested in what you’re sharing.

If you have a smaller following, we suggest you aim for a launch team of 10-50. Those with hundreds in their network can aim for 100-250 team members.

New call-to-action

How to Find a Launch Team

If you don’t have much of a following right now, start by looking at your personal inner circle— your family, your close friends—then branch out to their connections, families, and colleagues.

You can reach out to peers from college, your volunteer work, or even your first job. You may even consider parents at your child’s school, fellow dog owners, or members of your yoga class.

Even though you may not know these people well, they are a part of your network, and you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that they’re inspired by your book and would be eager to share it.

Once you’ve completed this exercise, you should have an initial list of potential launch team members!

#2 – Recruit Quality People for Your Launch Team

Now that you’ve determined your potential recruitment pool, the second step is to initiate contact and gauge their interest level.

The most important lesson to consider about your book marketing launch team is that QUALITY trumps QUANTITY.

One top-quality, dedicated team member trumps a handful of mediocre ones.

To begin recruitment for your launch team, create a simple questionnaire process that describes your book, your expectations of the team, and questions asking:

  • Why are you interested in supporting my book?
  • What part of my book speaks to you?
  • What specialized skills can you contribute?
  • What’s your available time commitment?
  • Who are influential people you can reach out to?
  • Why would these influential people be interested?

To sweeten the recruitment deal, feel free to offer a free signed copy of your book or an inclusion in the “acknowledgments” section. You can easily do this through email, or through online forms like Typeform.

#3 – Record a Welcome Video

Take the time to record a warm welcome video for your new supporters! In your video, first, congratulate your team for being selected and express gratitude for their help.

Then, detail your expectations, your unique mission for writing your book, and why you want to share it with as many people as you can!

This welcome video will help you create a more personal connection with your book launch team, and show them a bit more about why you’re creating it and what message you’re trying to convey.

Be sure to send it to everyone who completes your questionnaire!

market a book

#4 – Establish a Communication Style

Here’s the secret to a successful book marketing launch team: Effective communication.

Communicate with your team regularly to keep them focused on weekly tasks, progress, and innovative ideas by doing the following:

  • Strive to send one email per week preceding launch then increase it to three or more during launch week.
  • Use a Facebook group to engage, share ideas, and post feedback. Set the tone by posting “Dos and Don’ts” to keep conversations focused and positive.
  • Boost morale and build rapport by sharing inspiring quotes, gifts, and goofy photos to keep energy high and build vital connections.

No matter which mode of communication you’re using, remember people like to be treated well.

Always make sure your team knows how grateful you are to them and their dedication!

#5 – Book Marketing Launch Team Assignments

You can’t just build up a catalog of supporters and not use them, though. You have to give them small assignments to help you with launching and the book marketing process in general.

It might feel weird telling people to help you, but don’t worry about it!

They’re here because they want to support your project, and as long as you’re gracious and ask nicely, they’ll be happy to support your work.

Facebook Groups will be the most effective way to dole out weekly team assignments.

Here are some book marketing initiatives you can assign your team to do:

  • Share snippets of content from your book across social media
  • Submit reviews on Amazon
  • Add their reviews to Goodreads
  • Share a book review on their YouTube channel
  • Record a testimonial for your book
  • Buy extra copies to give to their friends
  • Give you more marketing ideas!

#6 – Utilize Talents

Your team members will have a different variety of skills and talents, and it’s your job to effectively manage your team by assigning work based on their strengths.

To identify your team’s talents, write a post during the introductory week and say the following:

“If you have any special talents or connections you’d like to lend towards my book launch, please comment on this post and let me know. I’m looking for ways to help spread my book’s message to a wider audience.”

#7 – Have Fun and Say “Thank You!”

Your launch team will commit weeks of their time, energy, and talent, so make sure you thank each and every person for their contribution!

Ensure that each person on your team feels valued and appreciated for their efforts.

And most importantly, let them know how to get your book for free (or at least at a deep discount)!

Which brings us to…

How to Price Your Book

One of the most important factors in how successful your book launch is will be how you price it.

To find out how to price your book for success, we recommend reading Book Launch.

But for the sake of this article, here are some of Self-Publishing School’s biggest secrets that will get your book to soar up the Amazon’s charts:

  • If you have a sizable audience, we recommend launching your book for $0.99, and then increasing the price to $2.99 or higher after about a week.
  • For first-time authors, we recommend Amazon’s Free Book Promotions for your book launch.

Although you won’t get paid by putting your book out for free, realize that it will be featured on another author’s page which instantaneously increases your exposure and recognition.

Once the free promotion has ended, switch your book’s price to $0.99 for the following week, then slowly increase the price by $1 per week until sales stagnate.

Post-Launch: 8 Book Marketing Strategies for Selling More Books

All marketing—no matter which market or industry—is fundamentally about people and making connections.

Part of pitching your book will be figuring out how your book relates to your readers and how they will benefit from it.

Now that your book is out in the wild, you want to get as many people to it as possible. Here are the eight best strategies for doing just that.

NOTE: We cover everything in this post-launch marketing section and much more about how to build a platform and maintain consistent book sales in our Sell More Books Program.
Learn more about it here

#1 – Build Your Book Website

Can you imagine if you came home one day and your house was…missing?

Well, that is what an author’s life can be like without a website to post fresh content.

You’ll always be missing a home where you can park your books. Many authors think they don’t need a website because they can promote their books through social media or the author platform on Amazon.

Sorry, not exactly.

There is a huge difference. Having an author website is the difference between renting or buying a piece of property. When you rent, you are living in someone else’s space.

It doesn’t belong to you and they can cancel your lease at any time. Maintaining your own website on a hosted server with your domain name is the same as having that piece of real estate.

You can customize your site your way, publish your own content, and you are always in complete control of how it looks and what gets published.

When it comes to book marketing with your own website, the sky’s the limit. You can:

    – Publish your book’s landing page on your site.
    – Post blogs about your upcoming book
    – Create a countdown timer for the book’s release date.
    – Set up an affiliate link to your Amazon page so you get commissions on book sales Include sample chapters from your book
    – Link to video clips about the book on your website
    – Communicate directly with your email subscribers about new releases or your current blog post

    And you can also set up a Google Alert so you can be notified about where your name and your book show up online.

    If someone gives you good feedback or a stellar review, reach out and thank them and ask them to link back to your book’s website.

    Action Step:

    If your book doesn’t already have a website, get one started! To set up your website and personal blog on a paid server, you can try Bluehost or Godaddy and use WordPress for building your site.

    #2 – Build Your Email List

    There is a saying going around that says: “the money is in the list.” Why? It’s simple. A list of followers who are in love with your writing will be the first to line up when you have a new product to sell.

    These people are essentially your customers.

    Your email list is yours. It doesn’t belong to Amazon or social media. You control what you want to say, how you say it, and when. Imagine if every time you had a new book ready to launch, hundreds or thousands of people were waiting for it so they could get it first.

    If you are serious about your book marketing your current project and all future ones as well, building your list should be a top priority. Nothing else comes close.

    Although building a list takes time, in the long run it is the easiest way to market.

    These are the true fans that will get the word out and be the first to leave verified reviews after buying your new release at the special price of 0.99. But that is just the beginning.

    You can continue to build your list by including a reader magnet at the front and back of your book. Get people hooked on your brand and then keep them there by writing your next book, and then, including them in your next launch.

    As your book reaches more people, and you get more signups, your marketing capacity grows…exponentially.

    Action Step:

    If you haven’t started on your list building, go to an email management system such as Mailchimp or AWeber and sign up for an account. Then get building and start to funnel your fans into your books today.

    #3 – Reach Out to Influencers

    When it comes to book promoting, nothing can have a bigger impact on your book than influencers through book endorsements.

    Even Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most influential and knowledgable people in the marketing game, thinks so.

    What is an influencer?

    Influencers can be podcasters, bloggers, or authors with strong email lists. It’s someone with an established platform that can get you noticed if they notice you.

    An influencer is someone who has a lot of promotional weight and can spread the word about your book to thousands of people with just a brief mention to their email list, on their blog, or by sharing on social media, for example.

    Influencers have a long reach. What you can do is identify the influencers in your niche and reach out to them. Tell them who you are and ask if they can help to promote your latest book.

    A lot of the time, they’ll want a free copy to read and review. You can also offer to support their future endeavors as a way of giving back.

    Influencers can have a major impact on your exposure as an author, so try to set up interviews in your hometown or reach out to someone online and offer to do an interview so you can deliver value to their target audience.

    Guest post blogging on an influencer’s blog or website is another way to market your book.

    For example, if you wrote a book on recipes for Italian food, you could try connecting with people in the Italian cooking niche.

    They may have a blog, podcast, or a webinar on which you want to appear.

    Action Step:

    Identify at least one influencer in your market and reach out to that person. Tell them who you are and what you do. Get on their podcast or get interviewed. Exposure to fans in your niche will have a big influence on book sales.

    #4 – Leverage Two Social Media Platforms

    Social media is a powerful way to promote your book to potential readers. We can engage with thousands of people just by hitting a few buttons.

    But with social media sites, the big scare is the amount of time we can get sucked into trying to do everything. If you try to connect with everyone, you’ll match up with nobody.

    When promoting and marketing your book, you can’t be everywhere doing all things at once.

    That is why we recommend you choose two social media sites to work with and post your content regularly on these two sites.

    For example, you can have a YouTube channel and post weekly videos covering a wide range of topics centering around your book. After a few months, you could build up a library of content that will bring in the right audience, engage with new subscribers, and even create a course out of your videos.

    Here’s an example of Youtube content from a writer currently working on her first fiction novel. She created a Youtube channel to engage fellow writers, who are also readers:

    book marketing youtube example

    By creating a Youtube channel and giving advice about writing, she’s appealing to writers while also advertising that she is also a writer and has a book in progress.

    Switching gears to Facebook, you can promote your book or blog using Facebook ads that drive new readers to your Facebook page or your book’s website.

    You could also post popular quotes or snippets of material from your upcoming book. With Twitter, you can post multiple times a day with brief quotes or messages under 280 characters. Twitter has proven to be a powerful platform for authors when it comes time to promote and market a book.

    And if your book is more business-focused, you may find that LinkedIn works best for you, since it allows you to connect with new readers on a more professional platform.

    We recommend choosing two social media platforms and focusing on consistent engagement. This will keep your book’s appearance fresh and invite new people in to check out your work.

    New call-to-action

    Using Specific Hashtags to Grow on Social Media

    In the writing community, there are a number of very popular hashtags authors and writers use to connect with each other.

    Why make connections with other authors? Because almost every other is also a reader!

    Here are some of the top hashtags you can use on each platform:

    Twitter

    • #amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
    • #writerslife
    • #fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
    • #writerprobs, #writerproblems

    Instagram

    • #amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
    • #writerslife
    • #fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
    • #writerprobs, #writerproblems
    • #writersofig, #writersofinstagram, #writersofinsta

    Facebook

    • #amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
    • #writerslife
    • #fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
    • #writerprobs, #writerproblems

    Action Step:

    Choose two social media platforms and commit to publishing content regularly. If you only want to focus on one, master it, and then move to another that is perfectly fine! It is better to do one thing and get it right then do two things poorly.

    #5 – Get on Bookbub

    Bookbub is the cream of the crop when it comes to promoting and marketing your book. In fact, you should submit your book for promotion as either free or for 99 cents right after your book launch.

    Bookbub has a massive following and can get your book delivered to thousands of readers. It really is the “Big One” when it comes to book marketing.

    The cost isn’t cheap and can run you anywhere from $200 to $2,000 for a promo, depending on the genre, category, and the price of your book.

    But is it worth it? Yes. Definitely.

    For example, if you are running a promo for 99 cents in general nonfiction, you could potentially sell, on average, 2,000 copies of your book. Not only will you make a profit, but this could bring in hundreds of subscribers and leads to your email list.

    From there you can upsell readers on your other books or even a course if you have one.

    Action Step:

    Go here for Bookbub submission requirements. You can also check out the pricing here and submit your book here.

    #6 – Interviews and Podcasts

    A local radio or podcast interview can introduce you to new readers. While this may sound intimidating, you can pull this off like a pro with a little preparation.

    Look to local colleges, podcast hosts, or local radio stations for interview opportunities

    (Pro Tip: Hosts love to interview up-and-coming authors, so you may be surprised at the many offers that come your way when you reach out).

    Reach out, let them know a little bit about your book and why it might be interesting to their audience, and include a free sample of it so they can see if you’d be a good fit.

    If you have a press release describing what your book is about, feel free to include that as well to give them more context.

    Then be sure that when you go on, you present a great story about your book and get their listeners excited to read it!

    Action Step:

    What are three podcasts or radio shows you could go on to talk about your book? Find their contact info and reach out with a pitch about having you on.

    #7 – Book Clubs

    Local book clubs are another goldmine of new readers; you already know they like books! Find and connect with these groups.

    You can offer to attend a meet-and-greet and hand out copies of your free signed book. You can also get your book listed in Facebook Groups and other groups dedicated to readers.

    There are also paid lists, such as Buck Books, that can reach tens to hundreds of thousands of readers. Book Launch also teaches what lists are out there, and which ones are the best to use.

    Action Step:

    Are there any book clubs you could join? Look on Facebook for groups that would be a good fit for your book.

    #8 – Write Another Book

    Publishing another book is great for brand building. In fact, it’s much harder to market just one book unless it is a ground-breaking phenomenal masterpiece.

    Your book may be great, but you can compound that greatness by writing more books, preferably in a series.

    With every new book you put out there, you increase the chances of your work getting recognized by influencers and people online who are hanging out in all the places you can target for promotion and sharing.

    marketing a book

How to Publish an Ebook: A Simple Ebook Publishing Guide to SELL

Learning how to publish an ebook can be pretty painful without the right process.

Writing and publishing a book successfully by itself is a challenge.

But with kindle direct publishing, Amazon publishing, and other forms of self-publishing at your disposal, publishing an ebook can even be easy—with our help.

We get how much information is out there about learning how to publish an ebook.

So how do you know what’s legit?

How do you position your ebook to sell in a the current times of millions of ebooks available online?

And how do you sell your ebook effectively?

how to publish an ebook

Here are the steps for how to publish an ebook:

  1. Write a strong book
  2. Create an Amazon KDP account
  3. Format your ebook for publishing
  4. Upload your ebook to KDP
  5. Choose your ebook publish date
  6. Build your book launch team
  7. Create hype for your ebook
  8. Publish your ebook!
  9. Create emphasis for it on your site

With all the different types of advice, how do you know what to follow and what will just elongate your already lengthy process?

Since we specialize in self-publishing, we can easily teach you how to publish an ebook without all the fuss and fluff that can bog you down along the way—because there is a lot.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs data-lazy-src=

Why write an ebook?

The ever-rising trend of ebooks should be more than enough of a reason to write and publish your own ebook but if you’re not quite sold, we’ll break it down a bit further.

Here are the benefits of an ebook:

  • In 2018, ebook sales are projected to account for about one quarter of global book sales.
  • Ebooks sell easier online
  • Ebooks can be used to grow your business more so than physical books
  • You make a bigger profit from ebooks
  • You can grow your blog and its income
  • Passive income
  • You help save trees!
  • You can embed links directly to your site and products you sell
  • They’re cheaper to produce

Many authors choose to sell both physical copies and ebooks when they write a book but you can easily sell only ebooks and reap all of the benefits above.

Now that you know the why, let’s talk about how to publish an ebook.

[Pssst! Want to see some of our students’ published books? Check out the SPS library here!]

How to publish an Ebook on Amazon

Amazon is the biggest retailer online and with the world of book-buying migrating and settling on the internet, Amazon is the place to publish.

Here’s how you can publish an ebook on Amazon with Kindle Direct Publishing.

#1 – Write a book worth buying

There’s no point in publishing a book that’s not your best work. But if you’re not much of a writer or have no idea how to write a book in the first place, that can make this entire process much more daunting.

In order to write a great ebook to sell on Amazon or even on your own website, you first have to pick a book idea that you’re passionate about. Remember, you’ll be writing up to and even more than 25,000 words so you want to make sure you have a topic you know a lot about and love.

Here are the overall steps for writing a book and getting it ready for publication:

This might seem overwhelming but I promise, it’s not. We even have free training for you to understand exactly what it takes to write and publish your book.

New call-to-action

#2 – Create your Amazon KDP account

Learning how to publish an ebook means navigating the online space in a way you may not be familiar with, like using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to get your ebook out into the world.

Setting up your KDP account is actually really easy.

Here’s all you have to do:

  • Visit https://kdp.amazon.com and create an account. You can either use your existing Amazon account or a different email address.
  • Set up all your tax information. You can’t submit your published ebook unless you have all of these steps completed.
  • Once your tax information is all filled in, hit “Finished” and you’re all done.

See? It’s pretty easy and simple to use from there. If you’re having trouble, we detailed more in-depth instructions over here.

#3 – Format the ebook properly

Book formatting is really, really important. If you just upload your manuscript as is, you’ll run into a number of different problems.

And this is awful because with the “Look Inside” feature Amazon offers, anyone can see the formatting of your book right away.

If it’s bad and difficult to read, they’ll avoid buying your ebook and your sales will tank.

Most people hire a professional to format their book to ensure everything looks great but we also have a guide to help you format your book properly.

#4 – Upload your ebook to KDP account

This is a very simple step for publishing an ebook. All you really have to do is “plug and chug,” as they say.

You have all of the information you need and now it’s just about uploading your formatted manuscript to your KDP account and filling in the information you need to.

That means you’ll need to fill out the title, subtitle, and the description.

Now, you really don’t want to write a boring “filler” description. After the cover, this is the single most important part of publishing an ebook.

If people aren’t sucked in by your description, they won’t buy your book.

Here’s an example of a killer description that has helped sell thousands of copies of this book:

how to publish an ebook

#5 – Choose a launch date

Believe it or not, there are actually good and bad days to launch your book. Typically speaking, the winter holiday season is the worst time to publish a book simply because the advertising market will be super saturated.

Everyone is putting their best ads forward so they can reap the rewards of those holiday spending dollars.

And although this might seem like the perfect time to launch, it’s actually one of the worst.

Your book can easily become lost in the hype of literally every other book and product marketed during that time.

If you want to launch a book during the best possible time for its sales, use this guide below:

Month to LaunchGood ForBad For
JanuarySelf-help, goal setting, inspirational/motivationalSummer-focused reads, fiction
FebruaryLove, romance, poetryFiction, recipe books
MarchBaseball books, sports, spring, women's booksSelf-help, holiday
AprilReligious, Easter, memoirs, World War II, FictionLove/romance, winter/holiday
MaySummer reads, fiction, history, parentingRomance/love, self-help
JuneContemporary fiction, fatherhood/parenthoodDiet/exercise, romance
July/AugustFiction, heavier reading materialsHoliday, self-help
SeptemberHistory, politics, memoirs, school, collegeFiction, romance/love
OctoberMysteries, horror, thrillers, dark nonfictionLove/romance, happily-ever-afters, self-help
NovemberCookbooks, holidays, religion, children's booksSelf-help, romance/love
DecemberGenerally avoid launching during heavy buy/ad monthsMost books

#6 – Put together your launch team

This is such an important step when it comes to self-publishing an ebook. What you really need is a great group of people who can help launch your book to heights you wouldn’t reach otherwise.

If you want to learn more about how a launch team can hep you, check out the video below:

Your launch team should be composed of people who:

  • Love your book
  • Want to help you
  • Are very enthusiastic about your book
  • Have some sort of following or online presence
  • Are fans of you and your work

Since you’re trusting these people to help get the word out, make sure they’re all committed. A great way to do that is to have an online application form that each person has to fill out.

This will help narrow down those who are serious about helping you and will put in the time and effort to do so.

Make sure to also check out this guide to building and managing your book launch team.

#7 – Build hype for your ebook on your website or blog

Many who publish ebooks usually have a website or blog they can use to drive traffic to it. Not only that, but some actually use the ebook as a lead magnet and even the main source of income on their site.

And publishing a book – even just an ebook – can do wonders for growing your online business as well.

What you have to do before your launch is to build interest about the ebook.

Here’s how you can build hype for publishing your ebook:

  • Link to your book within blog posts
  • Create blog posts related to the topic of your book
  • Create graphics for your book and place in your sidebar and within blog posts
  • Create a graphic to use on the front page of your website
  • Create an email sequence to sell your book (this is for those more advanced with a larger email list)
  • Continuously look for ways to integrate your book into blog post ideas and on social media

The idea with optimizing your website with your book is to convert your blog followers into customers and to give those coming to your website from your book the content they’re actually looking for.

All of this builds fans and most importantly, a loyal and engaged following!

For example, we use Chandler Bolt’s book Published. as a main point of interest on our website. This gives those who are already interested in the publishing industry something of high value right off the bat.

publish an ebook

#8 – Publish your ebook!

It’s time to kick off your ebook and launch! If you’ve followed the steps above, then you’re ready to get your book published and start reaping the rewards.

The best part about publishing an ebook is that you don’t have to worry about ordering prints and going through the proofs and the entire process of adjusting how they look.

Once the ebook format is complete, that’s all you need to concern yourself with in terms of delivery!

Your launch day is very important and exciting.

Make sure your launch team is ready for a day of sharing and even some activities.

It’s best to host activities that your audience can actually engage in. Some fun launch day activities include things like hosting a live webinar, doing a Q&A on Twitter or Facebook or your preferred platform, sending out an email to your entire email list, and any other fun pursuit your readers will benefit from.

Get together with your launch team beforehand and have everyone brainstorm some launch day events.

You can even give prizes to those whose ideas get used!

#9 – Create emphasis of your book on your webiste, social, or email list

Now is the time to leverage that book!

Writing the ebook itself isn’t the hardest part of this process; making continuous sales is. And the best way to ensure you keep pushing buyers to your book is to make it the focus of your blog and website.

Plus, if you have those great reviews from your launch team, you can actually leverage those to make more sales.

Place reviews on your website on the same page your book is linked to. They’re kind of like testimonials for a service. Except, in this case, your service is a book.

You can feature them on your website wherever you want.

Obviously, if you’re someone who only wants to sell your ebook, a blog or website might not even be something on your ebook publishing to-do list.

You should, however, think about creating a website to at least host your book and information on in case others want to find you and even connect with you about speaking engagements and other amazing opportunities a book can grant you.