author platform

How to Build an Author Platform: 8 Important Steps for Beginners


Once upon a time, you can become a successful author as long as you have good writing skills and can get a publishing contract.

But today, it takes a lot more than that.

You need to have an author platform, if you want to sell a lot of your books and become successful, either through self-publishing a book or even through traditional publishing.

And in case you haven’t heard, traditional publishers won’t give you a contract these days, unless they’re convinced you have a solid author platform.

But do you know the good news?

You can build your author platform one step at a time, and we’ll teach you how.

Social Media FOR AUTHORS (and authors-to-be)...  Learn how to use social media to build a sustainable author platform and sell  more books WITHOUT being pushy, salsey, or annnoying to your followers!  YES! TELL ME LEARN MORE!

Because it’s a long-term process that doesn’t end, you can move at your own pace, using only those tools and strategies you feel comfortable with.

So, whether you’re a first-time author or an aspiring author or maybe you’ve even published once or twice without any platform, it’s not too late to start.

Here are 8 actionable steps to build your author platform:

  1. Know your target readers
  2. Identify and define your brand
  3. Create a website
  4. Start blogging consistently
  5. Build an email list
  6. Write guest posts
  7. Connect offline
  8. Use social media wisely

What is an Author Platform?

Let’s face it, different people define an author platform in many different ways but according to Jane Friedman, an author platform can be defined as the ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach.

An author platform can be described as everything you’re doing online and offline, to create awareness about who you are and what you do, so you can boost your brand visibility and make it easier and faster for your target audience and even the general public, to discover and connect with your brand and books.

[Pssst! If you want to check out some of our Students’ books, check out the SPS Library!]

what is an author platform

Benefits of Having an Author Platform

Without an author platform, most likely, only your family, friends and associates will know about your books and everything you do as an author.

But with an author platform, you can:

  • Help your target readers and the general public to discover your books easily
  • Attract new readers on a regular basis so you can connect with them
  • Engage existing readers, retain them and ultimately convert them to raving fans that buy from you
  • Boost your credibility as an author and earn the trust of your target readers because once they do, they’ll be more likely to buy your books
  • Build meaningful relationships with influencers and other relevant groups of people who can help promote your brand further
  • Sell more books on a regular and consistent basis

At the end of the day, your author platform makes it possible for you to build relationships with a diverse group of people online and offline so you and your books can get noticed quickly. 

author platform basics

How to Build An Author Platform With 8 Steps

Now that you know what an author platform is and why you need one, let’s look at the steps you can take to build your own:

#1 –  Know your target readers

To build an author platform that will help you succeed, it’s important for you to know everything about your target audience and be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What’s their age, sex, marital status, and location?
  • What are their hobbies, interests, and motivation?
  •  What challenges and problems do they struggle with?
  • What makes them happy and unhappy?
  •  Where do they spend their time online and offline?

When you know who your target audience is, it helps you learn where to focus your time and energy and on who.

author platform target audience

And here are some tips to help you identify your target readers:

  • Use Google to search for blogs, forums, and communities where your audience may be active e.g. blogs within your niche, websites of authors with similar books, etc.
  • Look for books similar to yours and take note of the kind of people reading them because they might be your target readers also
  • Use key details about your book to identify the specific type of people that usually buy such books, e.g. book format, book genre, price, number of pages, etc.
  • Do research on social media for groups interested in books similar to yours

When you know your target readers, you can apply that knowledge to everything you’re doing and build an author platform that draws and engages the right audience successfully.

#2 – Identify and define your brand

Your brand helps people to recognize you and form an opinion about you and your books, through your personality, your values, your voice, your promise to your readers and even the feelings you stir up in them, every time they read your books or come across your website and social media profiles.

Your brand is what makes you unique so you can stand out among others.

To identify and define your brand, consider the following:

  • Decide if you’re going to use your real name or a pen name. Whatever you decide, use it consistently
  • Use only one professional headshot everywhere so you can be easily recognized
  • Come up with a one-sentence tagline that communicates the uniqueness of what you’re offering
  • Choose words and phrases that best describe your brand and use them in all your communication
  • Identify colors and fonts that fit with your brand and limit yourself to them
  •  Use all the above points consistently on your website, social accounts and also in your emails, email signature, author bios and so on

When you take the time to identify and define your brand, you can influence people’s impressions and opinions about you to your advantage and create a solid foundation for your author platform.

⟶ Related Read: How to Build Your Author Brand

Social Media FOR AUTHORS (and authors-to-be)...  Learn how to use social media to build a sustainable author platform and sell  more books WITHOUT being pushy, salsey, or annnoying to your followers!  YES! TELL ME LEARN MORE!

#3 – Create a website

One of the best tools you need to build your author platform is a website.

And it should be a website with a modern and attractive look plus a functional design so that everyone that visits the website can have a great user experience at all times.

Here are a few ways your website can help build your author platform:

  • Your website is one place where you can showcase your brand as much as you want, using your brand colors, tagline, headshot and so on
  • A website makes you appear more professional and credible and boosts your chances of gaining the trust of your target audience
  • Because your website is your business headquarters, you can remain open for business 24 hours a day seven days a week
  • With a website, you and your books can be found easily by your target audience and the general public
  • On your website, your target readers can learn about your books at their convenience, irrespective of their time zone or location, all over the world
  • You have 100% control over your website so it cannot be taken away from you without notice, unlike your social media accounts
  • You can use your author website to sell your books directly to anyone who is ready to buy

To be able to enjoy all these benefits from your website, it’s important to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly, contains content that’s easy to read and scan, loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and is also accessible from any browser.

Bottomline, avoid website mistakes that can drive people away from your website.

author platform website

#4 – Start blogging consistently

Blogging is a way for you to share pieces of your writing with the public, in the form of blog posts and articles published on your blog.

Even though it’s not compulsory to have a blog on your website, it can help build your author platform in the following ways:

  • Blogging consistently compels you to write on a regular basis which helps to improve your writing
  • When you publish content regularly on your blog, you’ll attract more people to your site
  • As long as you produce quality and valuable content, blogging can position you as an authority and expert on your subject, which increases your credibility
  • Blogging makes it possible for you to have a two-way conversation with your readers because they can respond by commenting. This can help you build a community or a tribe of loyal fans (that can leave you those 5-star reviews!)
  • Blogging can help you connect and build strong relationships with other bloggers, influencers, authors, the media and so on

To build your platform through blogging, it’s important to write for your audience and always provide value.

Also, don’t forget to observe blogging best practices like adding images and graphics, optimizing your posts, writing magnetic headlines, and publishing consistently, maybe once or twice a week or every two weeks or monthly and so on.

#5 – Build an email list

Your email list is a list of people who gave you permission to send emails to them regularly when they signed up on your website and gave you their email address. 

One key advantage of having an email list is that no one can take it away from you.

Here’s how to build your email list:

  • Choose an email service provider like  Convertkit, Aweber, Mailchimp, etc.
  • Create a sign-up form on your website
  • Make available a thank you gift, also known as a lead magnet or reader magnet, for people that sign up
  • Decide how often you’re going to send emails to your list and be consistent about it. This could be weekly, biweekly, monthly and so on
  • Ensure you always send personalized emails that provide value
  • Avoid buying a list or putting people on your list manually
  • Remember to provide a way for people to unsubscribe easily from your emails
author platform email list

With an email list, you now have people that are interested in your brand and can be reached directly through emails, one on one.

You can use this unique opportunity to share relevant information about you or your new releases, when you’re ready for a launch team, to sell your books or provide information about your book launch or events, or to even sell directly to them, from time to time.

Check out this interview video with Chandler Bolt and Nick Stephenson that goes over how to build your audience as an author:

Just in case you’re not aware, email marketing is known to be one of the most effective marketing strategies with a whopping 3800% return on investment.

Remember, it’s okay to start with nobody on your list because that’s where most people start from but with time, persistence and best practices, you can grow your email list which helps to build your writer platform

#6 – Write guest posts

A guest post is a blog post or an article that you write and publish on another person’s site.

This can help you:

  • Introduce your brand to a new group of people
  • Direct more traffic to your website
  • Attract new people to your email list
  • Boost the SEO of your website so it can show up in search engine results
  • Develop relationships with other bloggers, authors, influencers and so on

For you to successfully build your platform through your guest posting effort, don’t forget to:

  • Research and confirm that the blog you’re interested in accept guest posts, allows an author bio with links back to your site and have an audience that matches the type of audience you want to attract
  • Read their guidelines and follow them
  • Pitch an original post title that has not been written before on their site or anywhere else
  • Respond to comments once your post is published

#7 – Connect offline

While it’s true that a lot of your author platform building activities will be done online, there are some steps you can also take offline, to connect with your target audience and build your author platform.

Here are some ways to connect offline:

  • Inform family, friends, neighbors, and other groups in your community about what you do
  • Create business cards that has your website information, using your brand color, font, logo, etc and share them everywhere you go
  • Join author groups and associations in your local community and beyond
  • Attend writers conferences and events
  • Accept speaking engagements
  • Support your local libraries and bookstores and participate in some of their activities
  • Become a guest on a podcast or on radio or television

⟶ Related Read: How to Market Your Book Effectively in 2019

#8 – Use social media wisely

Having a presence and being active on social media can put your brand in front of a large number of people that you may not have the opportunity to connect with anywhere else, which goes a long way to increase your brand visibility and build your author platform.

Examples of such social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and many others.

Here are some simple tips for using social media as an author:

  • Identify all the social media platforms where your target readers can be found
  • Choose one or two that you like and are comfortable with and learn everything about them
  • Come up with a strategy on how you will use each social media platform to achieve your goal
  • Decide in advance how much time you can afford to spend on social media daily and keep to it
  • Create a profile and start posting, using the strategy you came up with

Even though social media can be used effectively to build your author platform, almost everyone agrees that it can take up a lot of your time if you’re not careful, so remember to take preventive steps to avoid that. 

⟶ Related Read: How to Use Instagram for Authors

Actionable Steps to Build Your Author Platform

Now that you know all the steps you can take to build your author platform, come up with your own plan of action by identifying the step you want to start with and those you can even do at the same time.

Remember, building an author platform takes time and cannot be done overnight so the earlier you start, the better.

author platform

how to edit a book

How to Edit a Book: An Easy Step-by-Step Guide

Learning how to edit a book is hard.

It just is, and editing your own stuff is even harder. It’s your baby, and it’s hard to cut and change the thing you’ve spent so long laboring over.

The fact that writing and publishing a book successfully is so important to you can make this even more difficult.

But your baby has to grow up.

That means growing pains, the terrible twos where nothing makes sense, and an angsty teenage phase where the words themselves rebel against you and you regret that drunken night so long ago when you thought you had the next great novel idea…

Thankfully, we have a step-by-step guide to make it a lot less painful.

Book Editing Checklist: Learn How to Self-Edit & What You Need to Hire a Pro  Editor  Download your FREE book editing checklist to boost the quality of your book to  its very best. Hit the button to claim yours.  YES! GET THE CHECKLIST!

Here are the steps for how to edit a book:

  1. Finetune your book editing goals
  2. Break it up to edit
  3. Redefine the point of the book
  4. Dig into your characters
  5. How to edit chapters
  6. Editing for pacing
  7. Line editing your book
  8. Common book editing mistakes to avoid
  9. Next steps for editing your book

How to Edit a Book in Full

It’s not fun, but in the end, learning how to edit a book is necessary for your writing to grow into an adult capable of standing on its own.

You might want to just hand off your book to an editor and be done with it, and that still may be a good idea as a final step, but there are decisions that no editor can make for you. 

Self-editing isn’t about just fixing some typos, it’s about turning a mess of ideas into a publishable book, and unless your editor can read your mind, it won’t be the same unless you self-edit first.

[Pssst! If you want to see some of our Students’ books, check out the SPS Library!]

#1 – Define Your Book Editing Goal

Your goal should always be for your writing to be clean, concise, and easily understood. 

Just because you can write a grammatically correct sentence that goes on for 3 pages won’t make people want to read your book.

In fact, it will probably send them looking for anything else to do. 

If your goal is to impress people with your technical skill and ability to write long beautiful sentences that barely make sense, then you’re not writing a book, you’re creating an art piece using a book as a medium. That’s fine if that’s your goal, but that’s not what we’re doing here.

If you want the story to be the art, not the words themselves, then clarity should be your number one priority.

Where do you begin? At the beginning of course.

It doesn’t really matter where you start, but the beginning is never a bad choice. You generally want to start with the big picture and work your way down to the small stuff. 

Your focus should be on story, character and flow first, then grammar and exact words later.

Think of editing like woodworking. The craftsman goes over their piece hundreds of times. First, they cut out the basic shape, then they shape it, add in the fine details, and finally come through with finer and finer sandpaper until they’re polishing up a beautifully finished work.

It’s the same thing with a book. 

#2 – Break Your Book Up in Sections to Edit

If you’re starting at the beginning of a long book it can be helpful to break it up into manageable chunks. Split it into four or five pieces that you can edit one at a time.

A great way to do this is to break it up by Act, if you’re using a three-act story structure.

If you do this you need to be careful that you pay attention to the flow, and that all the pieces that you edited separately still fit together in the end.  

One of your final edits should always be a top to bottom read through for flow, and when editing in chunks, this step is even more important.

#3 – Step Back and Define the Point of Your Book

I said we start at the beginning, but that’s not entirely true. Not yet. First, we need to step back from the manuscript entirely.

Before you put red pen to virgin paper, you need to know what your book is about. 

I know what my book is about, I wrote the fool thing,” I hear you shout at your screen. 

Too often though, I find that it is remarkably easy to finish a piece and not really know what the main point is. We can become so bogged down with all the side plots and tangents that we forget what’s vital to the story. 

What is the story really about if you trim all the fat? What is necessary to tell the story, and what isn’t?

You want a sleek, streamlined story. Not a bloated one, that’s so full of side plots that it’s impossible to tell what the main one is.

How do we know what the point of our book really is?

Write a short synopsis. Anywhere from 500-2000 words. Don’t just write one though. Write several synopses explaining it in different ways, from different points of view and perspectives. This will give you an extremely clear idea of what’s important and what’s not to tell your story.

This will help you focus on what’s important, and it tells you where you need to do more work.

Book Editing Checklist: Learn How to Self-Edit & What You Need to Hire a Pro  Editor  Download your FREE book editing checklist to boost the quality of your book to  its very best. Hit the button to claim yours.  YES! GET THE CHECKLIST!

#4 – Focus on the Characters

This brings us to characters. Every major character should appear in your synopsis.

If they don’t then likely they aren’t really a major character. Ask yourself what purpose they serve and why they’re there.

If they don’t have a purpose you need to give them one, remove them, or trim their part down so they’re not distracting from the overall focus. 

Your characters should all have a purpose, from major to minor.

Make sure every character serves their purpose, and none of their arcs are left incomplete. If you leave them with open ends, it can make your character development weak and therefore, uninteresting.

#5 – Editing Chapters

Now you know what your story is saying, you’ve synopsized it several different times from different angles, and your characters work. Now let’s go on a level.

Let’s look at all your chapters. 

Just like your characters, every chapter needs a purpose that moves the main plot forward.

Ask these questions about each chapter:

  • Does this chapter have a purpose? 
  • Does it move the plot forward?
  • Does it develop an important character?
  • Can I continue the story without it?

If the chapter doesn’t do one of these things, either cut it or find a way to condense anything important into another chapter, it may not need to stand on its own.

#6 – Editing a Book for Pacing

While you’re going through the chapters, consider the pacing of the book as a whole. 

This can be a hard thing to explain, as it is very much a feeling, but until the climax of your book, you shouldn’t have any big breaks in the action. Little breathers can be good to set up the next scene, but you shouldn’t have long stretches where the tension drops.

Above all, the story should never grind to a halt.

Don’t give your reader whiplash by slamming on the breaks and then speeding off a second later.

Let your story breathe slowly. Slowly increasing and decreasing the pace like your book is taking a breath. All the while you are slowly ramping up the pace and tension until the climax.

Here are a few ways to pace your novel effectively…

Book’s Overall Pacing

Will it be faster (think horror/thriller novels), or will it be slower (think contemporary or romance). This will determine how you write and finish chapters.

You likely have a preference as an author for a fast or a slow-paced book. This is often the same as what we prefer to read.

Do you like your books to be the type you can’t put down and read in a couple of sittings, or the type of book readers can pick up every night and read a chapter or two?

Certain book genres also predetermine your pacing, so keep this in mind.

Book genres with typically fast pacing:

  • Horror
  • Thriller
  • Mystery
  • Action / Adventure
  • Comedies
  • Paranormal

Book genres with slower pacing:

  • Epic fantasy
  • Dramas
  • Contemporary
  • Romances
  • Historical Fiction

Book genres where pacing varies greatly:

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Dystopian

Pacing Within Chapters

The pacing within a chapter is also very important, and there’s a great way to manage this with your writing.

A really great way to manage pacing within chapters is to use paragraphs wisely.

Now, there are grammatical rules to follow for paragraphs, but you can also use paragraph breaks and writing chapters intentionally to slow down or increase the pacing.

If you want a fast-paced chapter: The key to faster pacing is shorter, more frequent paragraphs. Dialogue is also very useful for increasing pacing because it pulls readers farther down the page, quicker.

If you want a slow-paced chapter: Fewer paragraphs, written longer, will slow down the pacing significantly. This means more internal thoughts and more in-depth descriptions. Essentially, you’re creating more text on the page, which takes longer to read, which slows the pacing.

Putting these methods together: You can use these techniques to create a rhythm within your work. If you feel like an area is too slow, see where you can break up paragraphs or add bits of dialogue. And if a section is too fast, see where you can add more internal musings or setting/character descriptions.

Remember, if you end a chapter on a cliff-hanger, this will make the pacing for this section seem faster.

Overall Book Pacing as a Whole

It’s important to step back and look at your book in terms of pacing as a whole. It can be easy to pace a few chapters in a row slowly, only to have that section of your book feel boring to readers.

While you may have reasons for keeping those chapters slower-paced, too many in a row can create that “rut” readers often complain about in the middle of a book.

Step back and look at your chapters next to each other. A great way to do this is with sticky notes.

Use one color for a slow pace, and another for faster-paced chapters.

Line them up along your wall and step back.

If you have too may slow-paced chapters next to each other, do some digging and figure out how you can add tension there—and realize that if you have several fast-paced chapters next to each other, your book will speed by, which can often cause information overload or confusion.

You control pacing on the large scale with plot and structure, and on the small scale with sentence and paragraph structure. Short punchy sentences speed the reader along, and long, complex sentences and paragraphs slow the reader down.

#7 – Line Editing a Book

Now we begin my least favorite part… the line by line edit.

There’s no shortcut here. You have to go through your book, line-by-line, word-by-word, and consider each paragraph sentence and word.

You’re looking for typos, grammatical mistakes, passive voice, but largely just, how can you make this more readable?

Ask yourself this when line editing a book:

  • Would this sentence be more clear if I rearranged it? 
  • Is this sentence necessary? 
  • Does it add anything? 
  • Is this paragraph clear? 
  • If not, how can it be more clear? 
  • Is it obvious who’s speaking here? How do I fix that?

These are the kinds of questions you need to be asking about each and every sentence and paragraph in your book.

There’s no shortcut. You just have to force yourself to sit down and do it or hire a professional book editor.

That being said, there are some common things to look for that I’ll show you in the next section, and it never hurts to have a copy of the Chicago Manual nearby as well.

Common Book Editing Mistakes to Avoid

Not everyone is perfect and can edit a book perfectly the first time. That’s what book editors are for, after all.

However, handing over a manuscript littered with these mistakes can not only make the editing more expensive, but it can also hinder your book’s final product because, well, the better version you send to the editor, the better final product.

Here are a few things to avoid when editing your book.

#1 – “Keep it simple stupid”

KISS, the old Navy saying is a good one to live by when you’re editing. Shorter and simpler is almost always better. 

If you can say it in fewer words, do it.     

If a shorter word will work, use it.

If you can say that whole beautiful monologue in a sentence, guess what? Shorten it.

There are always exceptions to the rule. If you have a good reason, breaking this rule can make a section stand out. Exceptions can be for characterization, mostly. If you have a character who is long-winded and this serves a purpose, their ramble of dialogue can likely stay.

If you’re ever unsure, though, stick to simple.

#2 – Avoid redundancies

It’s very easy to do because it’s often how we talk. In writing though, it’s unnecessary, and it can actually make your point less clear as the audience tries to figure out why you just repeated yourself.  

Don’t just say the same thing you did another way to make sure the point got across.

Don’t drone on and on because your words are too bountiful a crop to cull, and the audience should marvel at your use of words…. 

You see what I did there?

Don’t do it.

Your audience is smart, and will usually pick up what you mean the first time, Even if they don’t, guess what? It’s a book, not a Snapchat, they can go back and reread if they need to.

Give your audience credit, they’re often smarter than you think.

This brings me to my next point.

#3 – Don’t preach

It’s one of the things I struggle with the most. I’m just itching to have a character, the narrator, or some pretty prose spell out the fascinating philosophical implication of this character’s actions or thoughts. 

Don’t do it. It’s cheap, and it comes across as flat and boring. 

Find a way to show it with action instead.

Your audience is smart; if your writing is done well, they should come to the conclusion you wanted them to on their own. It will be far more powerful than if you simply told them because it’s an active experience for the reader.

They may also come to a different conclusion than you expected, and that can be even more fun.

#4 – Show, don’t tell.

This is very similar to the last point. If you have some piece of information you need the audience to know, show it with action instead of telling them, or have it come up in natural conversation between the characters.

This is the classic rule of “show don’t tell.

Don’t tell the audience about the terrible PTSD your character is suffering from. Don’t fill the page with beautiful prose about how the character feels.

Show them how the character is affected. Let your audience experience the emotions through the character. 

Showing is always more powerful than telling, and powerful is what you want.

#5 – Don’t Overdo Styling

Don’t be cutesy or flowery with your word choice or styling. 

For instance, 

“He wheezed an answer,” 

or 

“Don’t… goooo. DON’T!!!”

It’s distracting and silly. It’s like the literary equivalent of the over the top drama in a soap opera.

It’s comical, and not in a good way.

#6 – Watch for writing tics

Just like you have verbal tics that you fall back on when you’re speaking, like “umm,” we have writing tics as well.

They’re often unconscious and entirely unnecessary. They clutter up the page, and you need to excise them from your piece like little tumors.

book editing


These are words like:

  • Just
  • So
  • Which
  • Basically (Many adverbs really)
  • Great (most Adjectives)
  • Like 
  • About

For instance, I have a bad habit of using, “So,” and “which,” far too often. 

I may say, 

“So, because of that….” 

Or,

“Which is why we need to…”


Be on the lookout for your common tic words. They’re almost always unnecessary and can rob your writing of power by making your sentences wordy and confusing.

Keep in mind that you likely have a word or phrase you use often as well. For example, you may use “pulled” or “snatched” or even “reluctantly” repeatedly and not even notice.

Keep an eye out and learn to recognize these words or phrases.

#7 – Don’t over-edit

Generally, the more you edit the better your book, but there is such a thing as too much editing.

You don’t want your book to be stuck in perpetual editing hell. 

It’s easy to get trapped by the feeling that your book has to be perfect, but perfection is often unattainable. Eventually, you need to publish it. 

Get it as good as you can, but don’t obsess over it. Share it. You’re writing isn’t complete until you share it.

What’s next? Editors, beta readers, and more!

After you’ve done everything I’ve said so far it may still be a good idea to hire an editor.

Beta readers are a great choice if you can’t afford an editor, and even if you can, I still recommend it.

All a beta reader is, is someone, usually a family member or friend who you ask to read your book and give you feedback before you publish. The value you get from seeing what normal people think of your book is massive.

And this should be done before you send to an editor, for obvious reasons (you wouldn’t want to pay for another editor after betas have pointed out major flaws you need to rewrite, would you?).

But you have to take their criticisms to heart. You don’t have to change everything they bring up, but seriously consider what your readers and editor say. 

Try to avoid defending your piece too strongly. It’s easy to simply write off criticism as someone just not understanding what you were doing. Especially if it’s a phrase or section you like. 

And a major tip for when you have beta readers: never explain or correct their assumptions. It can be tempting for you to dive in and tell a beta why they didn’t understand a section, but doing this risks their feedback being unbiased and fresh, and therefore, unusable.

The bottom line is that if someone misunderstands something you said then others may too. You may not be wrong, your friend may have been an idiot, but chances are there is a clearer way for you to say whatever it was they didn’t understand.

Remember, there’s no “right” way & this is YOUR process

In the end, there is no perfect way to edit a book.

If your finished project is clean, clear, and easily understandable, then you edited perfectly. Whether you follow this guide, talked to a monk on top of a mountain, or you laid all the pages on your floor and changed every sentence your cat stepped on, it doesn’t matter if the final product is good. 

And ultimately, every writer has a different editing process. If you want to print your book to edit it, perfect! If you prefer to use Google docs, great!

It’s all about whatever works best for you and allows you to create real progress and change in your manuscript.

What I’ve given you is a guide to get started. Take it, tweak it, make it your own, and go finish your book! 

what makes a good audiobook

What Makes a Good Audiobook and Why You Should Create One!

Are you listening? Your future readers are.

Is this a familiar scenario:

“The only person in your way is you.”

You nod as the light turns green. Time to go, time to move forward. 

“Letting fear drive you will only drive you to disappointment,” the narrator reads his book to you. Your speakers beg for just a little more volume to drown out the traffic.

You lean in and turn it up.

This is what you want for your readers, this is what your current readers are missing, and these are the readers/listeners you are missing by not having an audiobook.

Get your FREE Audiobook of Published: The Proven Path From Blank Page to  Published Author  Learn the exact step-by-step method needed to write, market, and publish your  book on Amazon in 2021!  YES! GET MY FREE COPY!

There is an entire audience who have no idea that your book could change their lives.  In fact, they don’t even know it exists if they only listen to audiobooks. 

Don’t worry! We can fix this, just hang out with me for about 10 minutes or so, and you will be equipped with encouragement, inspiration, and most importantly, a plan!

After writing multiple books and recording my own audiobooks, I’ve learned a few things that will help both green and seasoned writers. With so much useful information packed into one post, we’re going to break it down to some basic questions straight from middle-school English class.

Here’s what we’ll cover in relation to audiobook creation (if you’re in a hurry, skip to 1, 3, and 5):

  1. WHY make an audiobook?
  2. HOW do I make an audiobook?
  3. WHAT makes a good audiobook?
  4. WHO should narrate the audiobook?
  5. WHEN should I start on this? (+ Actionable steps)

#1 – Why make an audiobook?

Audiobooks are POWERFUL lead magnets.

Benefits include:

The obvious: More Book Sales! 

Why not just sell both the digital and the audio? I know the temptation. After investing all this time and money into this audiobook, I need it to “pay” off, so why should I give it away? If that’s a hurdle you can’t get over, at least try using it as a lead magnet for a limited time, then switching to paid. Doing it this way allows for #4 (below) to thrive.

Fewer customer complaints.

When people get something for free, they are less likely to complain about it, though it still happens. However, this releases you from feeling like you have to have the perfect product. As Chandler says, “done is better than perfect.” We’ll cover more in the HOW and WHAT  sections.

Audiobook sales.

If you decide to put the book on Audible (the leader in audiobook production) or other sites like Findaway Voices, you will still get sales from people who never took the time to visit your Amazon (or other) page.

The most obvious: Build Your Subscriber List!

Having an author career is a long game. It requires support and a following at the least. This is the point of a lead magnet, to entice readers to sign up for your correspondence. Subscribers by email are gold for an author. Check it out here (and get a free audiobook) to see how the process looks from the subscriber’s side.

None of the other questions matter if we don’t understand our “why.”

As an author, you want to reach a broader audience while also better serving your current readers. 

The market for digital and print books is saturated (which isn’t the worst thing), but the audiobook market is still wide open. This is a great time to jump in, stand out, offer more, and expand your reach. 

Find out how I “read” 50 books in 2018 and see which ones they were, but only after you finish reading this post! I use Audible; they have a great referral program where they’ll give you a free book to start, sometimes TWO!

Go ahead, right click and “Open Link in New Tab,” and click back over here. This post isn’t going anywhere.

Need some more social proof? How about actual statistics? Here are some highlights from the 2018 global audiobook trends article:

  • Audiobooks are growing faster than any other digital publishing.
  • Nearly half of all listeners are under 35 and listen to 15 books a year, claiming that “audiobooks help you finish more books.”
  • People choose audio for multi-tasking, portability, and the novelty of someone else reading to them.
  • Podcasts (another growing industry) are a gateway to audiobooks.
  • Some publishers are skipping ebook production and going straight to audio, recognizing that audiobook sales are independently increasing.

Are you convinced yet? Before you go hire someone or crank up your voice memos, read on to see how best to create your audiobook.

#2 – How do you make an audiobook?

SPS has a great post here about how to make an audiobook. It includes tips on prepping your content, recording, hiring narrators, equipment, uploading to ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) for Audible, and more.

In addition to those things, here are a few tips from my experience when producing my first audiobook.

  1. Use two computers or devices. I used one to handle the recording and audio editing (I chose to do simultaneous editing), and the other to read from while revising. No matter how many times you edit your book, you’ll always want to tweak something; recording your audiobook is no exception. If you’ve hired out your formatting, make notes for them of what you’ve changed.
  2. Keep plenty of water nearby. One time while recording some of my music in a studio, the producer told me to take a drink of water before every take. I didn’t realize how much difference it made until I tried it. Take a deep breath and a big swig before each take.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up for tripping over words. If it keeps happening, take a break. “Ahh! Can you even read? Come on, Michael!” Believe me, I understand the frustration.
  4. Invite or hire a professional or semi-professional to help with setup. If you have any musician friends or podcaster buddies, have them help set up your environment and equipment, down to chair placement and lighting. I made the mistake of trying to do it all by myself (cue Eric Carman) and I ended up re-recording my book 1.5 times—that’s 2.5 total! It was a mess.
  5. BONUS: A crucial piece of advice: listen to audiobooks in your genre. This should sound familiar, as it’s common advice to read the genre you write in, and it’s just as important to listen to it. To be a great writer, you must be an avid reader (and listener!) 

With so much screen fatigue, it’s nice to break away and maybe look at, I don’t know, the sky or something real. Try that now…I’ll wait…

Ah, wasn’t that nice? 

Let’s get back to business! What makes a good audiobook?

[Pssst! If you want to see some of our Students’ books, check out the SPS Library!]

#3 – What makes a good audiobook?

  1. Start with a solid foundation: Before producing an audiobook, be sure that you have invested in proper and sound editing, cover design, formatting, and a strong launch plan.
  2. Cast the right voice (even if its yours): coming up in #4: WHO…patience, young grasshopper…
  3. Conviction: Not only does your book need to be believable, but your narrator needs to convey the same conviction as you did when writing it.
  4. Eliminate Mouth Sounds: This. Was. A. Pain. You, like me at one point, probably have no idea how much sound your mouth makes, from breath control to saliva and lip smacks. I ended up hiring someone from Fiverr to go through and edit my four-hour audiobook; the cost was around $300, which included mastering (adjusting the levels and frequencies for the specific ACX requirements). 

“Is my book right for audio?” 

I would argue that ANY book can be useful as an audiobook!

“What about children’s books?” 

Imagine the novelty of having the author narrate his/her own work while the kids flip through the pages, all without having to go to a book-reading.

“How about short, daily reads, like religious devotionals?” 

My non-fiction book is a weekly devotional for people wanting to grow in worship, 

“I’ve got you on this one: cookbooks!” 

Au contraire…imagine how helpful it could be to have someone walk you through a recipe in real time, hands-free. If that doesn’t quite work, it can still serve to push people to your digital/physical book for reference and pictures. 

In fact, some audiobooks come with companion content such as Good Clean Fun by Nick Offerman.

By now, you’re seriously considering this audiobook thing. Logically, the next thing to work out is WHO should narrate your book. 

#4 – Who should narrate my audiobook?

Having a perfect book will not save you from poor narration. Audible makes it a point to offer a Performance section in their reviews. 

good audiobook

Did you also notice the tab below for Amazon Reviews? That’s even more reason to get the “WHAT” right in this entire process. 

When it comes to narration, there are two ways to go: do it yourself or hire it out.

Narrating Your Own Book:

There a plenty of advantages here. If you choose this route, you can either set up your own recording space or purchase studio time with an engineer.

Many readers will say they prefer authors to narrate their own works because it’s more authentic to the intentions. However, not all writers are great narrators.

I suggest this, a test run: 

  1. Use a phone app or voice recorder and try reading a chapter into it. 
  2. Listen back with objective ears, imagining your ideal reader. 
  3. Ask yourself if you were drawn in to the story or distracted by the narration. Be honest with yourself, and consider what it would take to make it better: cadence, pronunciation, accent, or perhaps a professional narrator. *If you choose to tackle accents, do your best to respect them rather than stereotyping. Audiobook listeners tend to care about accuracy and honor. For example, in England alone, there are half a dozen or more accents. In America, southern accents vary across states and regions.
  4. Send the sample to an objective friend (preferably one familiar with the accents and style you’re going for), and be open to honest feedback.

If you decide self-narrating isn’t for you, then you can hire a professional.

Tups for hiring a narrator:

what makes an audiobook good
  • Cost: Narrators can be paid in different ways. ACX offers an hourly rate or a 50% split royalties option. There are other ways as well, such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Voices.
  • Voice: fiction or non, nailing the voice is a make-it-or-break-it detail for many listeners. In fact, Audible has an entire section of its reviews dedicated to Narrator Performance. There is a common consensus that says having an non-preferred narrator is one of the biggest turn-offs for listeners.
  • Communication: you’ll want to make sure the narrator gets the pronunciations right as well as any specific occasions of sarcasm, humor, drama, timing, or more. They can fix some things in post-production, but changing the pronunciation of a main character’s name after finishing the book would be nearly impossible. It’s not as simple as “Find and Replace” (one of my favorite word processing functions!). ACX has great videos to help with such things.
  • More tips: ACX | AME | Stacked

#5 – When to start making an audiobook?

If this post has stirred you up at all, then you must act! 

You and I both know this to be true, so here are some things you can do right now to become a better writer and jump start your audiobook production.

  1. Try the self-narrating tip from #4. For me, I’ve always loved doing impressions and finding new voices and accents. In fact, it has influenced my writing; I now try to include characters whose voices I know I can give life to. Recently, I made one of my characters Scottish, an accent I’ve always admired and respected.  
  2. Get started listening with Audible right now if you haven’t already, and start reading reviews, specifically in the Performance section. There are also plenty of free audiobook sources out there.
  3. Continue polishing your book as best you can. Adjustments to the written word are fairly easy, but punching in seamless narration is nearly impossible. It doesn’t have to be perfect though! There is always the option to re-record your book (and likely be even better the next time around) or hire someone else to do it.
  4. Read the SPS post about making an audiobook, and revisit the myriad links in this post.

Get your FREE Audiobook of Published: The Proven Path From Blank Page to  Published Author  Learn the exact step-by-step method needed to write, market, and publish your  book on Amazon in 2021!  YES! GET MY FREE COPY!

Mind Map Template

How to MindMap a Book Step-by-Step [Free Book Outline Template]

So you have a killer book idea….the next step is taking that small idea and learning how to mindmap for a book in order to set yourself up for success.

Coming up with a writing prompt or story idea that both will interest you and drive sales is probably the hardest part of self-publishing. But that doesn’t mean the process of taking that idea and turning it into a book will be easy.

The first major step in that process is mindmapping, and in this blog, we’re going to explain the best ways of how to mindmap for a book.

Here are the steps to mindmap for a book:

  1. Understand why you need a mindmap
  2. Know the benefits of mind-mapping
  3. Choose your mind-mapping method
  4. Make a central topic in your mindmap
  5. Add secondary topics
  6. Branch out from the secondary topics
  7. Remember your mindmap will change
  8. Start your mindmap today

Why do we need to mindmap?

25-page Book Outline Templates—nonfiction or fiction  Finish your book FASTER by downloading these FREE templates (both fiction or  non!) that are pre-formatted, easy to use, and you can fill-in-the-blank!  YES! GET MY OUTLINE!

One might wonder why mindmapping is even necessary. First-time authors may find it tedious or boring while other full-time writers might be talented enough to get away with it.

Mindmapping may not be essential to a successful rough draft, but it makes getting to a refined manuscript a whole lot easier.

For a fun relatable metaphor, I would compare it to grocery shopping.

Do you really go to the grocery store without a plan or list of things to buy? Do you aimlessly walk up and down the aisles and just throw whatever looks good into the cart?

Maybe if you’re 10, and Mom’s buying, but most people would probably say they went to the store with the intention to buy certain items. In this comparison, the prepared list before heading to the store is your mindmap.

And from your mindmap, you create your book outline.

For that step, check this out:

Book Outline Template Generator

We’ve already put the brunt work in, creating front matter, and a fill-in-the-blank style book outline template that’s easy to use.

It even has guidance for what to cover in what chapters in order to plot a really good book readers will love.

Fill in your information below to get your outline template!

Book Outline Template Generator

Choose your book type to receive a "fill-in-the-blank" book outline template you can use to plan your book.

Enter your information below to receive your free outline template!

Book Outline Template Generator

Thanks for submitting! Check your email for your book outline template.

In the meantime, check out our Book Outline Challenge.

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

Benefits of Minmapping a Book

Creating a mindmap for your book is essential for setting your book up for success.

Three main reasons to mindmap:

  1. Helps to organize thoughts
  2. Begins to carve out natural book chapters & creates a story structure
  3. Continues the brainstorming idea process

Without your grocery list, it will take a lot longer walking up and down every aisle to make sure you have everything you want and need in your cart. There’s also a greater possibility that you forget something that you actually do need, and you won’t notice until you’re home.

You can also check out the training below in order to not on understand the importance of this step, but to get a better idea of what you need to set your book up for success:

#1 – Mindmapping helps organize thoughts of your book

After you initially devise the main idea or theme of your book, there’s probably a ton of loose thoughts in your mind of what you want to include.

Before losing them in the cobwebs of your head, write them down in your mindmap!

Mindmapping is all about getting every single, teeny-weeny thought or concept written down on paper. Then you can begin organizing which thought goes where. 

Doing this as you write is nearly impossible. Mindmapping helps get all your thoughts on one subject together in one place. That way, they are all grouped together in your book, and you didn’t forget any (like when you forgot to buy peanut butter at the grocery store).

#2 – Mindmapping begins to naturally carve out book chapters

When authors perform the grouping part of mindmapping, they are actually beginning to form the chapters of their book. This happens so seamlessly, that they might not even realize it!

If you tried to skip mindmapping and subsequently, outlining, and just began writing the rough draft, you might not know where to begin.

Well, after mindmapping, because you wrote out all of your thoughts of every idea you had on each topic, you now know which topics are the most important and have the most supporting information.

Start your book with those bigger topics. When you make a switch in topics during your writing, you know it’s time to begin a new chapter.

#3 – Mindmapping ensures you don’t forget anything & provides structure

As I said in the grocery store example, it’s much easier to forget an item that you need in the refrigerator if you’re just aimlessly walking around the store looking for what you need.

If that’s how you approach your book, you will likely forget to discuss a topic or make a point that you wanted.

Devising a plan for your book through mindmapping helps guarantee that doesn’t happen. It also pushes you to continue brainstorming. You may believe you already have enough to cover a certain subject, but going through the mindmapping process will push you to think of even more great ideas to include when writing your book.

Now that you understand the importance of mindmapping, let’s dive into how to mindmap for a book.

Choose Your Method of Mindmapping Your Book

After learning the three key aspects of why mindmapping is necessary to write a strong manuscript, you’re ready to begin your mindmap. 

mindmapping a book

Now, there are essentially two different ways to mindmap. Let’s dive into each one!

The two different ways to mindmap for a book:

  1. Bubble maps on printer paper
  2. Post-it notes on a bulletin board

Each author should choose the mindmap technique that makes them feel the most comfortable.

Self-Publishing School teaches to avoid using a computer when performing the mindmap phase. I couldn’t agree more.

Surely, it can be done on a laptop or a tablet, especially an interactive one where the user can use his fingers to write and draw. But I find a good, old-fashioned paper and pencil to be the best way to mind map.

You can also use post-it notes if that’s your preferred style.

Mindmap Option #1 – Bubble map on printer paper

The last real requirement before beginning is a piece of paper without lines. Printer paper would work best. Because of the added flexibility of erasing, I would also advise a pencil instead of a pen, but that’s my preferred use of writing utensil anyway.

On the first piece of paper, write your book topic (make it as general as possible) real big in the middle and circle it.

Next, take the more specific topics and put them in smaller circles around the big circle in the middle of the page. Draw a line from each little circle to the big, center circle.

Now, you have the beginning of your mindmap. More than likely, each of those smaller circles are going to turn into your chapters. Essentially, you’re creating a roadmap for your rough draft.

Here are the keys to successful first bubble midmap:

  • Make your central topic in the biggest circle as general as possible.
  • The reasons you want to write the book or important arguments you want to present will make the best topics in the second-tiered bubbles.
  • Continue your roadmap, writing key aspects to include for each topic to fill out the mindmap.

When you’re finished, you are going to have something that looks a little like this:

mindmap example

How to Mindmap For Your Book Using the Bubble Method

Everyone has slightly different methods for mindmapping a book. What I’m taking you through is my experience, plus some tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Keep in mind that this is just a base. The real benefit comes from making this process your own and finding what works.

25-page Book Outline Templates—nonfiction or fiction  Finish your book FASTER by downloading these FREE templates (both fiction or  non!) that are pre-formatted, easy to use, and you can fill-in-the-blank!  YES! GET MY OUTLINE!

#1 – Make a Central Topic

As you can see with the first mindmap I did for my first book, His World Never Dies: The Evolution of James Bond, my central topic is very, very general — James Bond.

If someone asked me what my book was about, I would be a lot more specific than that, but start very general in the mindmap. 

Staying general allows the secondary bubbles—the ones that directly link to your very general topic—to be the main subjects of the chapters in the book.

#2 – Secondary Topics Are Your Central Arguments

More than likely, the general topic is what the subject that you love, but your central arguments are the secondary topics of your mindmap.

They are also what is going to make your book unique.

Returning to my book as an example, I wanted to write a book about the James Bond film series. But many people have done that.

What makes my book unique is the secondary bubbles on my mindmap surrounding the generic topic. Those were the central arguments to my book, and eventually, they became my chapters.

#3 – Branch off from your secondary topics

Referencing my mindmap example again, you can see that each secondary bubble then has multiple bubbles of thoughts coming out of it.

This is where you start to see a “road” for your rough draft.

I wrote down every possible idea I had on each of my topics that links to my general subject. I basically kept writing and making more road until I ran out of paper.

A lot of the ideas I wrote here were already in my head, but I also came up with new ideas through the process of mindmapping.

I never would have came up with all of these concepts if I hadn’t taken the time to mindmap.

How to Mindmap Your Book With the Post-it Notes on Bulletin Board Method

The other way to construct a mindmap is with post-it notes on a bulletin board or wall. If you love post-it notes, this may be the best way for you.

The keys to a successful post-it notes map is the same as the bubble map. The only change is in the display.

mindmap a book post it notes

In the above example, each big piece of paper with a number in the middle marks a chapter and certain topic pertaining to your larger, general subject. Each colored post-it note applies to a chapter and is the same as the third-tiered bubbles from my own mindmap.

Both techniques will work. You choose which one is best for you!

After completing your first mindmap, you want to repeat this process for every chapter.

The post-it notes picture above is the beginning of the next step of the process, which is then mindmapping each chapter. If you prefer the printer paper mindmapping technique, then repeat the exact same mindmap except plug your more specific topic in the middle.

This allows you more space and enables you to get even more detailed with your roadmap.

Here’s the mindmap for chapter 1 of my book, His World Never Dies: The Evolution of James Bond.

Notice how I included even more details off the “masculinity” bubble in this mindmap than I did in the first one. The main mindmap was definitely a good starting point, but then diving into a mindmap for each major topic or chapter pushed me to brainstorm even further.

This will have the same affect on you and place you well on the path of writing a well organized rough draft.

Tip: Another way to think of your mindmap is to think backward from the outlining phase, which comes directly after the mindmap.

While the bubble roadmap and the post-it bulletin board are the most popular mindmaps, there are other techniques you could try! Here’s one more example of a mindmap:

mindmap for a book example

Yes, this looks more like a book outline than mindmap, but if you feel more comfortable with a list like this, then do that.

There’s no right or wrong to mindmapping. The important part is to really begin brainstorming that great book idea and begin organizing your thoughts into possible chapters. 

Last big key to a mindmap? Remember, it’s going to change

Let’s return to our grocery store list analogy to end our blog. Even with the best, most-detailed shopping list, we all tend to deviate from it sometimes. Whether an item that you don’t necessarily need is on sale or you find a different brand for cheaper price, audibles to the shopping list happen.

Keep that in mind when you’re mindmapping. This isn’t going to be EXACTLY how your final draft will go. The mindmap process is just supposed to place authors on a road to an organized and well thought-out first draft.

book outline

25-page Book Outline Templates—nonfiction or fiction  Finish your book FASTER by downloading these FREE templates (both fiction or  non!) that are pre-formatted, easy to use, and you can fill-in-the-blank!  YES! GET MY OUTLINE!

Mind Map Template

[DOWNLOAD] The BookMap: Simplify Your Brainstorming & Outline a Book Using This Free Template

Trying to get into the writing groove, but find yourself getting tripped up when you try to start? an outline?

It happens to all of us! Because of that, I have the perfect solution for you right here in this article.

I want to introduce you to a book-outlining system you can use to dramatically speed up the time it takes to write a book—while making the whole process simpler, easier, and less intimidating.

Better still, I’m sharing a free template you can use to go through this process for your next book (and your next book, and your next, and your next).

25-page Book Outline Templates—nonfiction or fiction  Finish your book FASTER by downloading these FREE templates (both fiction or  non!) that are pre-formatted, easy to use, and you can fill-in-the-blank!  YES! GET MY OUTLINE!

It’s called the BookMap, and it’s about to become your secret weapon for outlining books faster and more easily than you ever thought possible.

You Can Write a Book (And This Will Make It Easier)

You might think that most authors grew up getting straight A’s in English class, and that their teachers loved them for being such amazing wordsmiths.

Well, you would be wrong!

Believe it or not, I got terrible grades in my writing classes. Teachers hated my papers—truth be told, I wasn’t that strong of a writer—and as a result, I hated writing.

That might sound surprising for someone who turned out to become a 6-time bestselling author. But it’s true.

Lucky for me, I didn’t give up on writing a book just because I didn’t know how to do it. Instead I sought out a mentor who knew what they were doing—and his advice helped me to write my first book and make it a huge success.

I’ve continued to use that system for all my subsequent books, which has helped me to write my books in just a fraction of the time it takes many other writers.

Now I’m paying it forward and sharing that advice with you.

Download Your Book Outline Template

Yes.

We really did create an easy, fill-in-the-blank style book outline template in Google Docs for you to use.

All you have to do is fill out the information below and get your outline, complete with front and back matter, along with resources to guide you through the chapter-by-chapter outline.

Book Outline Template Generator

Choose your book type to receive a "fill-in-the-blank" book outline template you can use to plan your book.

Enter your information below to receive your free outline template!

Book Outline Template Generator

Thanks for submitting! Check your email for your book outline template.

In the meantime, check out our Book Outline Challenge.

The BookMap: Your Key to a Solid Book Outline

So many people want to write a book…but they get overwhelmed at the thought of all that work. They don’t know what to do or how to get started. As a result, the entire process seems impossible.

Well, that’s not going to be the case any longer. Not for you.

Click below to download your FREE mindmap for outlining:

Download your Non-Fiction Mindmap Here

Download your Fiction Mindmap Here

The BookMap is the key to getting your book project off the ground in just a few hours. It’s a template you can follow to quickly pull together all the subjects you want to write about and organize them into topics that will become the chapters of your book.

(RELATED: 7 Strategies to Start Writing Your Book Today)

Here’s how the BookMap works:

  • Step 1: Print out the BookMap and have a few clean sheets of paper ready.
  • Step 2: Use the BookMap template to draw your own map with everything you know about that topic.
  • Step 3: Organize those sections to form your book outline.

(Note: don’t let your ideas hold you back! It may be a little difficult to fit all your ideas onto one page and that’s totally normal. Don’t think smaller just because you have less space :).

Now let’s dive into each step in a little more detail.

Outline a Book Using The BookMap Step 1: Choose Your Book Topic

First things first: you have to download the BookMap. There are 2 versions of this (free) download—one for fiction books and one for nonfiction books.

As you can see, the BookMap is a kind of mind map that’s been pre-filled with the most relevant questions you’ll need to answer to write your book. And no matter which version of the BookMap you’re using, you’ll notice that the center question is the same:

What’s your book topic?

So first, go ahead and choose a topic. What do you want your book to be about?

For a nonfiction book, this could anything that…

  • Is a hobby of yours
  • Is related to your occupation
  • You are passionate about
  • You consider yourself an expert on
  • You’re curious to learn more about

And for a fiction book, think about what you’re inspired to write! Do you love mysteries, or coming-of-age stories? Are you fascinated with a particular event in history, a specific person, or a concept that can be dramatized in a novel?

Another tip is to think about the kind of books you love to read. That’s usually a good indication that you will enjoy writing that kind of book. If you love reading romances novels or science fiction books, then try writing one yourself! Because you’re familiar with the genre, you’ll be able to shortcut the learning curve and will probably be surprised by how great a story you can write in your very first try.

Once you have a topic, move on to step 2:

Outline a Book Using The BookMap Step 2: Fill Out the BookMap

Now that you have a topic for your book, the next step is to brainstorm everything you know about that topic by filling out the BookMap. This will help you get all the most important and relevant ideas down on paper, making them much easier to work with.

Here are some of the most important prompts to answer when you’re writing a book:

BookMap Prompts for a Nonfiction Book

What problems are you helping people to solve? A lot of people make the mistake of writing about themselves—the things they love, the things they find interesting—without stopping to consider what the reader wants.

What are your reader’s problems and frustrations? How can you help them to solve those problems with this book?

Example: I know from experience that new moms have a hard time losing that baby weight—especially since you’ve got a little infant taking up all your time now. So I’m going to help new moms overcome this frustrating situation with a book that will help them make smarter choices in the kitchen and ultimately, feel better about themselves.

Lessons you’ve learned: Think about how you have personally grown over the years, as it relates to this topic. What are the biggest things that you’ve learned?

How have your views changed and evolved over time? This can be an insightful thing to brainstorm, since it can help you get a better idea of where your readers are probably at right now and some of the challenges they’re facing.

Example: One thing I learned in the process of losing my baby weight is that you can’t beat yourself up every time you make a mistake. Doing that will only lead to more emotional eating!

Stories & examples: People learn best from hearing stories about real people overcoming real problems. What stories can you remember that will help you to illustrate your points more effectively?

Example: My friend Mindy tried to lose her weight through exercise alone, without changing her diet. And she continued to gain weight—until she finally realized that she needed to change the foods she was putting in her body.

Ideas to explore: What concepts or themes can you bring up in your book? Does your topic relate to any deep ideas or universal truths that might resonate with your readers?

Example: One idea I want to explore is the importance of self-esteem. Yes, it’s important to be at a healthy weight…but what really matters is the way you feel about yourself—no matter what the scale says!

Other books you’ve read: Have you read any other books on the topic? If so, did those books have any helpful messages you can include in your book?

Example: In Dr. Berg’s book The New Body Type Guide, he talks about how your hormones can impact your body shape. This could be a helpful thing for women to learn about, so they can realize not everything is under their control.

Topics to research: Are there any other topics you would like to include in your book, but you might need more time to learn more about? If so, make a note of them so you can remember to do a little research.

Example: I’d like to do more research on insulin and learn more about how carbohydrates affect fat storage.

Frequently asked questions: Are there common questions, myths, or misconceptions about your topic that people have? If so, your book gives you a great way to bust those myths and enlighten people with the truth. Try to think up at least a few common misconceptions.

Example: “Should I avoid eating fat?” This is a common question for many women. Some people think that eating fat will make you fat…but the truth is, eating healthy fats can actually help keep you feeling fuller, longer so you can stick to your diet.

Ready to get started outlining your non-fiction book?

BookMap Questions for a Fiction Book

Main characters: Who are the main characters in your story? Flesh them out and start to learn more about who they are and what their purpose is in your story. Make sure to include your protagonist, antagonist, and any important supporting characters.

Example: Sarah is a stubborn teenage girl who becomes convinced that her neighbor is a serial killer.

Background: Explore your important characters’ backgrounds. Where were they born? What was their childhood like? What’s the educational level? What are their beliefs? Where do they work? Flesh out your characters until they start to feel like real people.

Example: Sarah was betrayed by her best friend in 5th grade, and as a result she has a hard time trusting people.

Character development: How does each character change and grow (or regress) during the course of the story? What causes this change to occur, and what effect does it have on the other characters?

Example: Sarah learns to trust other people which helps her to escape from the killer and bring him to justice.

Theme: What larger ideas do you want to explore in this book? Betrayal, love, friendship? How do the events of your story shed a new light on these concepts?

Example: I want to explore the concept of trust, and why you can’t always do it alone in life.

Scene & setting: Where do your story take place? Is it a real location, a historical one, an invented one? Be sure to think about different factors like the climate, geography, culture, and government. How do these things affect the characters in your story?

Example: Sarah lives in a wealthy suburb where crime like this is very uncommon, which makes it that much more terrifying to Sarah’s parents.

Major events: What are the big turning points that take place in your story? Your best bet is to brainstorm a long list of dramatic events so you can choose the options that fit best in your story.

Example: At one point, Sarah sneaks into the neighbor’s house looking for clues—and she discovers a bloody knife in the basement! Before she can get out, however, she hears the front door open upstairs…

Climax: The climax is where your story reaches a crisis point. Tension and drama are at their highest, and the protagonist faces his or her worst fears—and they either succeed, or fail, for good. Don’t lock yourself into one climax here. Instead, brainstorm a few possible climax ideas so you can choose the best one.

Example: At the story’s climax, Sarah is forced to trust her new friend Alex to help her escape from the killer’s basement.

Conclusion: Your conclusion takes place after the climax, at the very end of your book. What happens to your characters when it’s all said and done? Do they live happily ever after, or face a tragic end? Once again, feel free to brainstorm several possibilities. You don’t have to lock yourself into one ending just yet.

Example: It’s a happy ending for Sarah, who survives the killer and grows as a person. But the ending is bittersweet because of all the tragedy the killer has left in his wake.

Ready to get started writing your fiction book?

Outline a Book Using The BookMap Step 3: Organize Common Topics into Sections

The final step in this process is to look at your BookMap and combine all the related topics into sections. Those sections will become the chapters of your book.

There are a couple of ways to do this.

You could write them out on a separate piece of paper, keeping them organized by section. Or you could use different colored highlighters to connect the ideas in your BookMap visually.

No matter how you choose to do it, the idea is the same: combine all the related ideas together.

Nonfiction example: Maybe you have an anecdote that would serve as a great example for one of the lessons you want to share. In that case, group those 2 things together—they deserve to be in the same chapter.

Fiction example: Maybe one of your character traits really seems to resonate with one of the themes you want to explore in your book. If so, group those 2 things together—this way you’ll know to use that character trait as a way of exploring that theme in your novel.

Once you’re done with Step 3, step back and take a look at what you’ve completed.

Phew! Step 2 is a long one, I know. But trust me—by answering those questions, you just took a MAJOR step forward in completing your book.

You now have all the topics you need to write your outline.

(RELATED: How to Boost Your Writing Productivity and Write Your Book)

Conclusion

Yep, believe it or not, you just outlined an entire book. Now you have a detailed roadmap of exactly what to write about in each and every chapter of your book.

And that’s huge, guys!

See, the rest of the process—actually writing the book—is so(ooo) much easier when you know exactly what to say in each and every chapter.

So give yourself a pat on the back. Because in a lot of ways, you just finished the hardest part of writing a book.

25-page Book Outline Templates—nonfiction or fiction  Finish your book FASTER by downloading these FREE templates (both fiction or  non!) that are pre-formatted, easy to use, and you can fill-in-the-blank!  YES! GET MY OUTLINE!

Stage to Scale: Don’t Buy Pete Vargas Method Until You Read This

Don’t buy Pete Vargas’ Stage to Scale Method until you read this review. You’ll kick yourself later if you do.

Aside from supporting Pete Vargas as an affiliate, our team at Self Publishing School has applied the lessons from Stage to Scale to generate over $1,000,000 in revenue from speaking in 2018, while our founder Chandler Bolt spoke on 24 different stages around the globe.

I’m breaking down a full review of Pete Vargas’ Stage to Scale Method, along with what you get, the real drawbacks, and even exclusive bonus content (you won’t get elsewhere).

Here’s what you’ll learn about the Stage to Scale Method:

  1. The Pros of the Stage to Scale Method
  2. The Cons of the Stage to Scale Method
  3. What you’ll learn
  4. Our Real, Raw Stage to Scale Method Results
  5. Exclusive Bonus – Book Outline Challenge
  6. Exclusive Bonus – Stage Whisperer Blueprint
  7. Exclusive Bonus – Our $0 – $1 Million in Stage Revenue Breakdown
  8. Exclusive Bonus – Free Ticket to Author Advantage Live 2020
  9. Exclusive Bonus – Full $110,000 (in a weekend!) Presentation Example

Full Disclaimer: We are affiliates of the Pete Vargas course. That does not affect any of the breakdowns below.

What that does mean, however, that if you buy through our link, we’ll earn a commission on your purchase. It also means that you will earn access to over $7,000 of exclusive bonuses.

What is the Stage to Scale?

Stage to scale is a proven method developed by Pete Vargas for both entrepreneurs and business owners to learn how to scale their businesses through speaking and attending stages—developed for both experienced speakers and newbies.

Often referred to as “The Stage Whisperer,” Vargas has booked over 25,000 stages in the past 15 years, helping businesses of all kinds flourish in this more-competitive-than-ever environment.

Basically, if you’re looking for a way to quickly grow your business, Stage to Scale helps you make it happen with a specialized process.

Stage to Scale Method Pros & Perks

There are obvious pros to the Stage to Scale method. Self-Publishing School alone was able to generate $1,000,000 in sales using this very method.

Here’s a breakdown of the best parts.

#1 – Relevant for both the beginner and advanced speakers

From the start, Pete does an awesome job of letting you know that this course if for both the beginner speaker that has never stepped on a stage, to the most advanced speaker looking to increase their results. 

The way that Pete ensures this is through teaching based on principles and frameworks such as the heart, head, hand, and heart speaking framework, that you can use to create a powerful signature talk.

This is so powerful that here at Self Publishing School, we’ve had both our Founder Chandler Bolt as well as our speaking team design their own signature talks based on this framework.

#2 – Pat Quinn is phenomenal

Although Pete Vargas does an amazing job throughout the majority of the course, I’d have to say that he is no match for the unbelievable teacher that is Pat Quinn.

Pat brings to the table the background of a cognitive scientist expert, as well as a professional magician. And what that means for you is a combination of both entertaining and scientifically proven way to learn, retain and apply the information that you learn throughout this course.

Ever have a hard time retaining what you’ve learned in a course? I guarantee that will not be an issue with Pat Quinn’s teaching.

#3 – This is not a speaking course

This is a grow your business through speaking course.

Although the speaking content in the course is great, this course was not meant to help you become a better speaker.

The Stage to Scale course was designed to help you use stages and speaking as a key channel to find qualified leads, spread your message and attain clients.

Pete goes into extreme detail about to structure your talk so that it actually converts. He also goes deep into how to create a backend offer that will allow you to drive huge revenue numbers for just one-hour on the right stage.

If you are looking for just a way to sound better during your presentations, this course is not for you.

But if you are really looking to use stages and speaking as a true driver of growth in your business, then you should definitely consider the Stage to Scale method.

#4 – The Unstoppable Stage Campaign

Most people don’t know how to book stages in the first place. They think they need to hire an agent, create a speaking reel, join national speaking organizations, and hope that one day an email with a request to speak will come into their inbox.

The reality is that none of that is necessary. If you were to ask our team why were we able to get on 24 stages and generate over $1,000,000 from those stages in 2018, the main reason would be the Unstoppable Stage Campaign.

In this training, Pete breaks down everything from Gold-Mining, Finding Your Dream Stage, Cold-Outreach Approaches, and Closing the Deal.

This alone is worth the price of the course.

#5 – The templates and scripts are unreal

I’ve found that in courses that teach through principles and frameworks, a lot of times you can still feel stuck once it’s time to execute.

One of the best practices that Pete Vargas uses in his Stage to Scale course is he actually gives you word-for-word templates and scripts that you can use to:

  • Reach out to meeting planners 
  • Execute a win-win call where you position yourself as the solution to the meeting planners problem (hint: that’s how you actually win stages) 
  • Get referrals from your ‘champions’ to win stages within your network (this is the easiest way to get booked) 
  • Create a ‘Why Me Video” to showcase how you are the right person to solve a specific problem to any event planner’s audience

We’ve personally used these scripts to book over 40 stages over the last 18 months for our founder Chandler Bolt and our team, so I know they work like magic. 

Stage to Scale Method Cons & Areas of Improvement

Alright, so I’ve shared a lot of the awesome resources and learning you’ll be getting once you go through the Stage to Scale course.

What about the not-so-good stuff?

Well, as much as this course over-delivers in multiple areas, there may be things that are you may not like.

#1 – Lack of Mindset Training

Now, if you are looking to learn the exact how-to’s on booking stages, executing amazing talks, and growing your business, there is very little missing in this course.

However, the reality is that you will need to have a great mindset to deal with the out-of-comfort-zone moments that you will face while implementing this course.

This isn’t a course that you can get results from by just sitting back and letting a program do all the work. You’ll have to send cold emails, negotiate with meeting planners, and speak in front of large audiences.

All of this is taught in the course, but you’ll still have to overcome your limiting beliefs in order to actually do it and get a return on your investment.

A small section on how to get over those limiting beliefs could have been a good addition to the already amazing content in the course. 

#2 – No examples of High Converting Talks

Although there is more than enough content in the Signature Talk section for you craft your own talk, some people might prefer to actually see what a high-converting talk following Pete’s methodology actually looks like!

What are the nuances that the great speakers have, how do they carry themselves on stage, etc?

We all know that body language makes up 80% or more of all communication. The great news is, however, that we’ve recorded multiple of Chandler Bolt’s talks that generated as much as $110,000 from one event.

In fact, you get you to watch that talk here as a part of one of our bonuses when you enroll in Stage to Scale with us!

And if you have ever wanted to land a TEDx talk, check how Chandler used Pete’s Story Braid Framework to deliver an incredible message about how book creates leveraged impact.

What You’ll Learn With Pete Vargas’ Stage to Scale Method

The course is broken into 7 modules and additional bonus content such as how to land a TEDx Talk.

Module 1: The Foundation 

Using stages to grow your business is not an easy task.

That’s why before you start crafting your talk, booking your dream stage, and impacting millions, you need to have the right foundations set.

The foundations you will learn include:

  • Why Stages Matter
  • How to find your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) 
  • The Stage to Scale Success Method 
  • And more…

This is a powerful module. Make sure to go deep on your BHAG exercises, and listen closely as Pete takes you through the Stage to Scale Success Method, and your chance of success will sky-rocket.

Module 2: Crafting Your Signature Talk

Have you ever wondered about the formula that the best speakers in the world use to craft their talks?

Not only that but wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to start from scratch every time you gave a new presentation (no matter if the talk time was 60 minutes or 5 minutes)?

In this module, Pete and Pat will walk you through how to: 

  • Use the Story Braid Framework to create a high-converting talk 
  • When to share your call to action with an audience (so that you don’t sound salesy)
  • How to expand and contract your content to fit any talk time 
  • How to open and close your talk so that your audience feels connected to you

Module 3: Deliver and Maximize Your Talk 

What separates the good from the best?

Details. 

This one is good.

A lot of courses talk about the intricacies of a subject, but only a few actually deliver. In this section, Pete and Pat hold nothing back. Everything from pacing to ‘embedding’, to reducing risk and increasing urgency is covered so that you can quickly go from average to world-class (seriously).

I do warn you that implementing all of this at once, maybe a bit overwhelming.

So take your take and try to add one piece of advice at a time to your signature talk.

Module 4: Create Your Scaling Offer

Zig Ziglar once said, “I’ve never changed anyone’s life from the stage, but if they buy my cassettes, I then have a chance at changing their life.

Zig was right.

The stage is the key that opens the door to being able to go deeper with someone and truly creating transformation in their lives with your products or services.

This module is all about understanding the different ways that you can scale past the stage with your audience, and how to turn those ideas into reality.

Pete breaks down in amazing depth the pros and cons of those methods which include courses, coaching programs, in-person intensives, and others.

This is a very powerful exercise for you as a business owner whether or not you choose to use stages as a way to find your dream clients.

Module 5: Collect and Convert

There is a delicate art to converting from the stage. What most people don’t know, however, is how to convert after the stage and maximize your revenue long after your 60 minutes are up.

You’ll want to dive into this training to learn:

  • 3 types of opt-ins and the exact format of what converts the highest from stage
  • The Art of collecting leads – maximize your opt-in rate (this will even help you off stage)
  • The Step-by-step playbook of what to do pre-game, game time, and post-game to maximize sales (our complete checklist)

Full disclaimer – this is where your most or your money will be made (so pay close attention).

Module 6: The Business Model of Speaking

When most people think ‘stages’ they think of you speaking in front of a full room of spectators, giving a well-prepared talk for either 45 or 60 minutes at a time. 

Also, when they hear that our founder Chandler Bolt spoke 24 times in 2018 alone, they usually are worried that they will also have to spend time on the road and away from their family…

The reason why Stage to Scale is so powerful is because Pete Vargas completely re-writes what most people believe of stages to be.

In this module, he will help you discover the 5 types of revenue-generating stages that you can take advantage of.

He will also breakdown the 8 online and 8 off-line stages and will help you identify which ones are ideal for you (hint: if you don’t want to travel, take advantage of the online stages, they work just as well, and sometimes even better than off-line stages).

Module 7: Winning Stages

Pete Vargas says that he wants to impact 100,000,000 people through 1,000,000 stages. That mission is what drives him and his team, and he wants you to help him reach that number.

In this section, Pete finally reveals why they call him the Stage Whisperer.

He walks you through his Unstoppable Stage campaign, responsible for helping him personally book over 25,000 stages out of his offices.

Pete also helps you understand the decision-makers who hold the key to your dream stages so that you can solve their needs and close the deal every single time.  

This is my personal favorite and I have probably watched this training at least 15 times. It is that powerful and you will want to reference it often. 

Our Results Using the Stage to Scale Method

As I mentioned before, Pete’s Stage to Scale course works. 

Let’s dig deeper into what it actually meant to go from 0 to $1,000,000 in revenue from stages in one year.

Firstly, there were trials and tribulations involved, as with any growth project for a company.

Were their stages that we should not have gone to? Of course.

Was traveling a bit excessive at times? You bet. 

Did Chandler have a team that helped him execute so that we could hit the million number?

Yes, he did, and we know not everyone has access to that. But was it worth it? 100%.

My advice as you go through this course, especially if you are a speaker who wants to make stages a great part of your business, is to have a team member go through it with you.

You will want help executing the outreaches, the research, and the logistics of the event (again, if you are planning on doing this in a big way).

The great thing is, part of our bonuses include how to find, hire and manage your own Stage Whisperer so that you can focus on showing up to the gig and nailing your talk.

Exclusive Self-Publishing School Bonuses!

When you buy Stage to Scale through us, you’ll get these exclusive bonuses not found anywhere else.

With over $7000 in bonuses, it’s a deal you can’t miss out on!

Bonus #1: The 24-Hour Book Outline Challenge – $299 Value for FREE

In an interview with Pete Vargas, Hal Elrod mentioned that the #1 key to demanding speaking fees as high as $35,000 is to have a best-selling book on your topic.

Why? Because having a best-selling book signifies to everyone around you that you are the authority in your space. Because, well… you wrote the book on the topic!

If you are interested in writing, publishing and launching your book so that you can demand higher speaking fees, check out our 24-Hr Book Outline Challenge as a bonus for signing up for Pete’s Stage to Scale course. 

Bonus #2: The Stage Whisperer Blueprint – $999 Value for FREE

Has the thought of doing your own research, reaching out to event planners, and negotiating deals sound like the last thing that you want to do? You know that your value is truly in being the one on stage, and not the one setting up the stages?

Chandler Bolt thought the same thing.

That’s why we created an exclusive training called The Stage Whisperer Blueprint, designed to help you find, hire, train and manage a rockstar stages manager, who will book on only the best stages so that you can focus on doing what you do best. Sharing your message.

Bonus #3 – How Self Publishing School Went from 0 – $1 Million in Revenue from Stages (Live with Chandler Bolt) – $5,000 Value for FREE

Honestly didn’t think Chandler would agree to this.

He’ll be peeling back that curtains and going deep on a live training around exactly how Self Publishing School booked 24 stages which led to $1,000,000 in revenue (while booking 0 stages and generating $0 in revenue in 2017).

This is absolutely can’t miss stuff.

Bonus #4 – Free General Admission ticket to Author Advantage Life – $697 Value for FREE

Author Advantage Live is the #1 conference for authors who want to learn how to sell 10,000 copies of more of their book and make a true impact.

Have a book? Amazing. AAL will blow you away. Don’t have a book yet (but know you will write one some day)? Perfect.

We’ll cover that too. See you in Orlando?

Bonus #5 – Full Access to a $110,000 Generating (in one weekend!) Presentation – $297 Value for FREE

I don’t know about you… but I personally love to see the best in action (as opposed to just learning the techniques).

We mentioned that Stage to Scale didn’t have a full example of someone using the Story Braid Framework to convert a large percentage of the room.

Well, we decided to give that to you as a part of the bonuses.

If you’re ready to grow your business, Stage to Scale is essential.

Click right here to sign up today!

author branding

Author Branding: How to Build & Maintain Your Unique Brand

Author branding can get tricky…

But what if you knew of a way to be a successful author before you opened that blank Word document?

What if you knew you could share the story inside you with an audience excited to hear your every word?

There’s a way to up your levels of success before ever writing the first word or your book. Actually, for some people, it’s even easier to up their chances of success than it is to write the book.

Social Media FOR AUTHORS (and authors-to-be)...  Learn how to use social media to build a sustainable author platform and sell  more books WITHOUT being pushy, salsey, or annnoying to your followers!  YES! TELL ME LEARN MORE!

Let me explain…

When people hear I’ve written a book they often respond with, “I’ve always wanted to write a book!”

The next phrase is usually something along the lines of, “I’m terrible at writing.”

And in the back of their minds, the other hesitancy might be, “Who would even read it?”

It’s a scary thing to sit down and stare at a blank screen.

It’s intimidating to write that first sentence.

“What if I never make it to the last sentence?”

“What if nobody cares if I do end up finishing?”

Perhaps the biggest question of all: “What if no one reads it?”

These are real questions. Questions I’m here to answer.

It all comes down to branding.

A few decades ago books sold based on the quality of the writing. While that’s still true today, often books are sold based on the platform of the person writing the book. That’s where branding comes in.

Here’s what you’ll learn about author branding:

  1. Passive author branding
  2. Active author branding
  3. Developing your brand voice
  4. Choosing your author brand themes
  5. Discovering your why
  6. Developing author brand colors
  7. Discovering your audience
  8. Focusing on the author behind the brand

Author Branding Basics

When it comes to being an author, your best bet for success is attracting the right readers.

Contrary to popular belief, you should never aim to attract all types of readers, because your content isn’t going to speak to all of them the same way.

As an author, establishing a brand is one of the best ways you can put yourself out there and show people what you’re about in a simple glance.

Here’s how to do that.

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

#1 – Passive Author Branding

Everybody has a brand…

Not everybody realizes they have a brand.

If you’re in college maybe your brand is sweatpants and too much coffee, late-night Instagram stories, and weekend adventures.

If you’re in the world of business, maybe your brand is pristine suits, important meetings, and networking with the right people.

Either way, this is your passive brand. It’s the self you portray to the world without really thinking about it.

Of course, you considered what to wear this morning. You saw the still kinda clean shirt on your dorm room floor and decided to wear that to the exam.

Or you chose the darker suit to wear to your business meeting because you didn’t want to stand out too much. You probably made sure it matched your pants (always a good thing!).

But you probably didn’t think about it much more than that. And that’s ok!

Regardless of what you put on this morning, let’s talk about how personal branding can be the difference between writing a book and writing a book people read.

#2 – Active Author Branding

Active brand is the part of you that you intentionally choose to let the world see.

There are ways to do portray yourself that will greatly impact the influence you have. Influence brings followers.

Followers turn into fans.

And fans…?

Fans turn into avid readers…who leave you 5-star reviews that allow more readers to find you.

The following tips will help you develop intentional author branding.

#3 – Developing Your Author Voice

Your author voice is important. After all, it’s what the world hears from you. Yes,

you can alter this if you want to, but we recommend leaning into your natural voice so the you you’re showing the world is authentic and real.

Countless factors determine your voice:

  • Your job
  • Stage of life
  • Personal goals
  • Who you hang out with
  • Your past experiences

All of these and more play into your personal voice.

What’s “voice?”

It’s how you talk, in person and online. It’s how you communicate to the people around you. The type of punctuation you choose. Even the emojis that consistently stay in the time box in your messages.

All of this factors into your voice.

But using voice to intentionally create your active brand goes a long way in establishing yourself.

If you don’t know what your specific voice is, go through some of the recent texts you sent your friends. Next time you grab coffee with someone, take note of how you naturally communicate with them. That’s your voice.

The next step is to implement that voice across all platforms. The social media outlets you use. The blog you run. The conversations you have.

People want to hear what you have to say, but more importantly, how you say it. They want to know you, not just the knowledge you bring.

#4 – Discovering Themes in Branding

Next up are themes.

These themes seem to run through your life and your writing.

When identifying the themes of your life here are some questions to ask:

  • What opportunities do you jump at the chance to volunteer for?
  • What type of movies do you regularly choose to see?
  • What books do you read?
  • What type of people do you choose to hang out with?
  • What stories do you love re-telling from your past?

These are the themes you’re passionate about. These are the themes that should dominate and infiltrate your writing.

Why?

Because readers can tell when you’re passionate about what you’re writing and when you’re not. Passionate writing engages readers.

Engaged readers read books, cover to cover.

That’s a win!

Social Media FOR AUTHORS (and authors-to-be)...  Learn how to use social media to build a sustainable author platform and sell  more books WITHOUT being pushy, salsey, or annnoying to your followers!  YES! TELL ME LEARN MORE!

#5 – Discovering Your Personal Why

We’ve established you want to be a writer, it’s why you’re here learning about author branding.

We’ve talked some about how you want to communicate what you want to communicate. But why do you want to write?

The answer to this question is one of the biggest factors when it comes to defining your personal brand.

Simon Sinek has a great video on this called Start With Why. I’d highly recommend you take a few minutes and give it a watch.  

If you don’t know why you want to write, it will be hard to continue when the writing gets tough.

While writing books is a privilege and a truly creative process, getting all the words on the page can feel daunting. Editing can get overwhelming. 

Ask yourself why you want to write a book. Then ask yourself “why” again. Do this until you get to the core of why you truly want to write a book.

It will pay off when you’re stuck in the middle and you need to remind yourself why you started in the first place.

#6 – Your Author Branding Colors

Why you want to write a book greatly influences how you portray yourself online and in person.

Let’s say you were a college drop-out and started your own graphic design business. You grew it from the ground up with nothing but your creativity and an old desktop computer.

You market to large businesses and while you’re still growing, you’re pretty successful already.

Now you’re several years into the hustle and want to write a book about your life and this incredible journey.

Using neon colors on all your social media platforms probably wouldn’t be your best idea. Showing up to meetings in a plaid suit wouldn’t be the best option either.

Big businesses usually take a more formal persona. And as you’ve probably guessed, neon isn’t usually associated with formality.

Instead, using neutral colors with a pop of red or yellow could be a good starting point for you.

Clean formatting is huge when it comes to marketing, and if you’re a graphic designer, you’re going to want to be ahead of the curve on this.

Dark colors would portray a completely different theme than pastels.

White space comes across much differently than black.

Decide what you want to communicate, then choose colors that help you communicate this theme through your author brand.

#7 – Finding Your Audience

At first glance, you might think an audience is the result of personal branding, not part of it.

While audience does come with good author branding—and that’s definitely part of the why behind personal branding—it’s important to know your intended audience.

If you don’t know who you want to reach, it’s hard to know how to brand yourself.

Scroll through the social networks you think your audience would use most, then take note of:

  • The voice your audience uses online
  • The themes they gravitate to
  • The colors they most use

Having a personal understanding of your audience will go a long way as your work to build your personal brand.

People post photos, captions, and colors they gravitate to, so make it a point to know your audience’s likes and dislikes.

This will not only help you brand yourself, but help you successfully reach your audience!

#8 – The Person Behind The Author Brand

Author branding takes time and effort.

It’s easy to know you like a certain movie or that particular color shirt, but it’s harder to know why. It takes purposeful time to discover what you naturally gravitate to.

It takes effort to use those personal preferences to market to your intended audience.

But it’s so worth it. People connect with the person behind the product.

Defining who you are and what you’re passionate about will reap dividends when it comes time to write the first sentence of your book.

Not only will you know why you’re writing, you’ll know who your audience is and your audience will know YOU.

It’s one thing to write a book.

It’s another to write a book to people who already know the person behind the words.

Author branding is just that – personal.

It takes book marketing from selling a product (book) to sharing a passion with friends.

It allows you to give your followers what they actually want, because you know who they are.

It takes the fear out of writing, because when you have a personal brand you know the people who will want to read your book.

Now you can write that first sentence in confidence, knowing your fans are just as excited to read your book as you are to write it!