If you’re looking to become an author, you might be thinking how much do authors make? Is it a sustainable career option?
Many will look at being an author as being a “starving artist.” And while this may have been true when the traditional publishing industry turned away almost everyone, it’s just not the reality anymore.
There are so many people out there making a living writing and publishing books. And not just barely making a living, making a full, healthy full-time income while pursuing something they truly enjoy.
Authors can expect to make a full-time living provided they have multiple books, know how to market them well, and an active, engaged fan base.
There are a ton of factors that play a role in how much authors make in a year. No two authors will make the same amount, though we all wish we could be lumped with the income of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.
How much an author makes per year depends on:
Royalty rate earned per book sale
Up-front advance offered (traditionally published only)
Scope of book marketing
Size of audience
How many books are published per year
How many books are currently out
While most people think traditionally published authors make more than self-published authors because of the fame of authors like Stephen King or George R.R. Martin, that’s not actually true.
The averages actually swing higher in favor of self-published authors.
You can see a real breakdown of each with our self-publishing vs traditional publishing analysis to see for yourself.
Here are the main differences in income for self-published authors versus traditionally published authors:
Traditionally Published Authors
40% – 60% royalties per book
Can publish 2-3 high-quality books a year
No advance, but you make money right away
10% – 12% royalties per book
Can take 2-3 years to publish one book
Up-front advance (but you don’t make royalties until that advance is “paid back” to the publisher)
If you want a specific amount made per book between self-published authors and traditionally published authors (after printing costs as indicated by Amazon, etc.) at a $13.99 retail price and a 50% royalty rate for self-published authors and a 10% royalty rate for traditionally published authors, here you go:
Self-Published Authors – $13.99 retail priced book
$4.77 per book
Traditionally Published Authors – $13.99 retail priced book
Note: Traditional publishing houses may have a lower printing cost through partnership deals or owning a printing press, but a $4.45 printing cost was used in the above calculations for both.
Regardless, you can see the major difference between the two: several dollars per book for a self-published author and sometimes not even a full dollar for traditionally published authors.
How much money does a new author make?
This is such a common question we get here at Self-Publishing School, and it’s understandable. Most people think you have to be really well-known to make money as an author.
This will help you understand how to price your book and help you calculate sales goals in order to reach an income level you really want.
Many of our students sell 2 -3 books per day through our Sell More Books program, and with many having multiple books, this number increases rapidly.
Ultimately, if you want to make money as a new author, your best bet is to write often, publish often, and create series or at a minimum, multiple books.
What are common author royalty earnings?
Since we covered this above for the most part, let’s give a quick overview of what author royalties look like.
Self-published authors can make between 40% – 60% royalties on a single book sale while traditionally published authors usually make between 10%-12% royalties.
First-time authors who want to traditionally publish can get an advance, which is usually $10,000 (usually not that much more for a first-timer). However, with traditional publishing, you do not start to earn royalties until you have sold $10,000 worth of books atyour royalty rate.
Basically, you have to earn back that $10,000 before you actually start to earn a royalty check from your publisher. And many publishers make a deal with the author that if they sell X amount of books, their royalty rate will go up, hence the difference there.
For self-published authors, you start making money from your first sale.
Ways to Make More Money as an Author
So now that you have an understanding of how much authors make, we wanted to let you in on a few tips for making more money as an author.
Here are our best tips for becoming a full-time author.
#1 – Choose between self-publishing or traditional publishing
First and foremost, you’ve got to learn the difference between self-publishing vs traditional publishing, and then make the choice that will be best for you.
Setting yourself up for success with this is crucial if you want to make the most money you can as an author.
There are successful paths with both avenues. Just know that traditional publishing will take longer (2-3 years with the entire process it encompasses) and you might not see big returns unless you end up getting lucky with a bidding war between publishing houses.
Those bidding wars are what usually get authors massive advances, like those 6 or 7-figure deals you hear about.
We actually put together a deep, full analysis for you to decide for yourself. Just click the button in the image below!
#2 – Write to market
Did you know traditional publishing houses have staff who come up with book concepts that are “trending” or hitting really well in the market, and then they also employ writers to bring those ideas to life?
Sometimes it’s the same person, but not always. They do this in order to have the biggest chance of making money by capitalizing on what’s “hot” in literature right now.
The best part? You can do this yourself as a self-published author.
But how do you write to market? And is it a less “legitimate” form of being an author?
There’s an argument between some more entitled authors and those who write to market under the guise of writing to market being a “sell-out” or some of the equivalent.
That’s just people being, well, entitled.
The truth is that if you love to write and can come up with story ideas easily, can write quickly, and are able to publish quickly, then writing to market is a legitimate (and smart) career opportunity as an author.
As a self-published author, you can write to market by looking at categories you enjoy creating stories in and seeing what types of stories are doing really well.
An example would be the Age of Vampire Novels that was initially kicked off by books like Twilight, triggering an explosion on vampire stories by many authors and publishing houses. And these sold really well.
Today, vampires aren’t quite as popular as Urban Fantasy in the Young Adult category.
If you’re someone who likes fantasy, you can benefit from writing those types of books and publishing them frequently.
The idea is to create a lifestyle with writing your novels. Instead of dedicating an entire month to it, you dedicate your life to building habits around writing every day.
Because if you want to make money as an author, you have to make it a habit, a part of your life, and a job.
So we recommend creating writing habits you can stick to in order to always be working on a story.
#4 – Publish series
If you truly want to “make it” as an author, writing and publishing a book series is a fast way to get there, especially if you publish multiple series.
The reason you make more money with publishing a series is simple: one customer is more likely to make multiple purchases.
If you have a great first book, they’ll buy the second and then the third, etc. This means you can make more money off of a single person.
Not only that, but if one customer buys every book in your series, they’ll also usually leave reviews as well as buy other books you’ve published that aren’t in the series.
Series establish a strong fanbase, which keeps you “employed” as a full-time author.
#5 – Put together an email list or other platform
Having a singular way you can communicate with people who have said “yes!” to wanting information from you is crucial. It’s like having a sales list.
We always recommend an email list because you own your list. Whereas with social media platforms, the company owns your followers, you don’t.
So if anything were to happen to a social platform and you lose all those followers, you’d have no way of communicating with them–just imagine if a social platform went down the DAY of your launch.
Email lists are also a great resource for recruiting beta readers, launch team members, and getting people excited about your book come launch time.
Here are a few things you need to create an email list:
Email provider like Convertkit (we have an SPS student exclusive deal through them!), Mailchimp, or other
A way to capture emails: like a website, a lead magnet in your book, etc.
That’s it! If you can capture an email address to a service provider, you’re done.
#6 – Commit to being an author
One of the best pieces of advice we have for you is to make a commitment. You can’t expect to make a full-time income if you’re only sort of interested in writing or you only work on writing when the mood strikes.
Just like with any other job, you have to work whether you’re in the mood or not.
This is the biggest mindset shift our fiction coach Ramy instills in our students. So much so that our exclusive community decided to take InNoWriLife a step further and track their progress with each other in a massive spreadsheet.
This is their dedication, and it’s why these students are so successful in being authors.
They wanted it and they made the changes needed to make it happen, like investing in Self-Publishing School to teach them the ropes.
But it’s not just our fiction students who are crushing this. Our Become a Bestseller nonfiction students are just as dedicated and have created the same habits.
Russell Brunson is the founder of ClickFunnels and the author of three books: Dot Com Secrets, Expert Secrets, and his most recent book, Traffic Secrets. He was also a guest on episode three, where he talked about how to outline a book. To date, Russell has sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his books. Today we are going into how Russell is conducting his launch for book three of his trilogy.
As ClickFunnels grew, his business became less challenging and less exciting. For Russell, “Selling books extend my message more than anything else I’ve ever done.” Although never planning to write a trilogy, however, when he was offered to purchase Traffic Secrets from another offer, he realized he could easily create a trilogy series.
Russell brings us through his journey of writing, rewriting and republishing his books in hardcover. He tells how he revised his first two books while publishing the third in his series. Then, with his first advance from his new publisher, he realized he had to buckle down and write the third book by the deadline.
Although COVID has affected his book launch, his click funnel is sending thousands of people to his site, which is converting at a rate of 20,000 books per month sold for his latest edition. His book launch includes three phases, which involve social media, interviews on podcasts, and long-form content.
Listen in to find out how COVID affected his book launch, how he is using his click funnels, and the types of ads he is using for his funnel. Learn how Russell is using the content of his book to drive traffic to his book, the short term and long term strategies you can use to promote your book, and Russell’s plan to add radio, infomercials and social media buys into his three-phase book launch.
[02:37] Why books are the hardest project for Russell to make happen.
[03:46] Did Russell plan to have a trilogy from the very first book?
[06:06] Each book has its own stand alone funnel and how he manages his book funnels.
[08:25] How he manages so much content in a very short amount of time.
[11:12] Russell’s team and how they assisted him in writing his book.
[13:48] The launch plan for his new book Traffic Secrets.
[15:49] Phase II of his book launch and how COVID affected his launch, focusing on email traffic.
[17:29] Phase III of his book launch, which includes interviews on podcasts and social media.
[18:49] Short term and long term strategies for promoting your book.
[20:50] How to buy ads to target your market on other channels and platforms.
[25:43] Email marketing and click funnels.
[26:42] Russell’s thank you pages and how they lead into more sales.
[27:39] How Russell and his team have designed click funnels to be mobile-friendly.
[30:12] Lessons he has learned from writing his three books in his trilogy.
Learning how to create an online course is becoming more and more relevant as time goes on, and the coronavirus pandemic has proven just how valuable that is.
While we here at Self-Publishing School hopped on this trend much earlier than the pandemic by creating our Course Building for Authors program, we thought it would also be helpful to break down some tips for creating an online course for all of you.
While we obviously can’t give away all of the secrets for how our students of that program are launching their courses to $10,000+, we can give you a step-by-step rundown of how to create one for yourself.
How to Develop an Online Course With NO Content Yet
If you have nothing and are starting from scratch, you’ll likely be a little more behind than others.
This blog post will help you but most of the time, having some sort of blog or a published book will make creating an online course much easier, faster, and overall better.
Our Course Building for Authors students often either come to us with a book published or another asset they’d like to turn into a higher revenue-generating business.
This gives them a solid base of content to turn into a course outline, an email list generated through a lead magnet inside their book, or a popular blog or other content asset they’ve been making for a while.
That said, if you truly don’t have any content, you can still learn how to create an online course! You’ll just have to understand that it may take a little longer to generate a solid outline.
Online Course Platforms to Use
While we’ll get into more of this specific step later (and how our students save 50% off a high-rated online course platform’s annual pricing), I wanted to drop a few options for you when it comes to where your course will live.
It’s important to have a reliable, trustworthy, and customer-service centered course platform in order to ensure your customers’ needs are met.
Here are some of the top online course platforms to consider:
There are plenty of more out there, but those are the best from our research.
How to Create an Online Course Step-by-Step
So you have your idea, you know you want to use a course to create a passive income revenue source, and you’re ready to go!
Let’s get into how to create an online course that does well and sets you up for success when you launch in order to build your online business.
#1 – Make a plan
You could just put some content together and run with it, but we’ve found this is why most people fail with their online courses. They have the desire but don’t plan appropriately.
You should be aware of what you need, the expenses involved, and how you’ll make a return on that investment (ROI).
Do you have a platform with people asking for a course?
Do you have a platform to sell to? (We teach you how to do it without one in our program!)
These are just a few of the items you want to plan for while thinking about creating an online course.
From there, you should build an action-plan to tackle some of these prior to launching your course (though you can start developing the outline and content before).
#2 – Know what you want the course OUTCOME to be
Most people don’t think about what success looks like for their customers before they develop the course. This is a huge area of importance we cover in-depth in our Course Building for Authors program, mostly because it sets you up for the long-term.
The more of your customers who find success, the more likely they are to refer, give you a high rating, and ultimately grow your business.
After all, the course is about them. Not you or what you’ve made. It’s about their struggles and how you’re solving that problem for them.
So ask yourself: what will the outcome be? What will be changed from starting the course to finishing? What will they have when they’re done?
You can use our program promise as an example: Turn your book into an online course and get your first 10 sales.
The result of this program is that our students will walk away with a complete course based on their book, and a guaranteed first 10 sales (because we also cover how to SELL your course).
If they don’t receive that, then we have some serious making up to do.
This also gives us a clear line of sight into what success means, which allows us to track this in order to make sure our students are getting what they paid for.
#3 – Get feedback about your idea
This is most helpful if you have an actual platform to go to. One of our Course Building for Authors students had a bit of a large Facebook group, and she was able to use that to ask them exactly what they wanted.
While we don’t necessarily advise people to make a course only to give people what they want, you should absolutely make sure that what you are covering is needed.
If you create a course on how to create a solid morning routine when what your audience really needs is a method of getting their tasks done throughout the whole day, it won’t perform as well.
Ask your friends and family, search forums, take to social media and research the need for what you want to create. If there’s a great need and little help, that’s the idea to go for.
#4 – Decide if you want guidance creating your course
You’ve already read all about how we help people build online courses with our program. But this is where you should decide if you want that help, or if you want to risk the odds alone.
You can check out that program page linked all over this post, and you can also research other methods of creating an online course.
All I can really advise you on is this: if you want to succeed, to make money from your course, and create a course that truly makes a difference, getting guidance from someone experienced will make a difference.
Imagine yourself without any help, trying to navigate this by Google search…and then imagine if you had a program walk you through step-by-step how to make it, with 1-on-1 coaching for specific questions, as well as a large exclusive community to support you.
You can absoutely have success without going to a coach or program to teach you this. However, it’ll likely take a lot longer and you’ll have to put forth much more work.
As a company that’s gone from $0 – $16 Million in 5 years from online courses, we know a thing or two…or ten 🙂
And we’re teaching you our exact methods, our sales tactics, and more.
If you have a book, this step is likely a lot easier, though there are some major differences between a book’s content and a course’s content.
That being said, creating an outline is super important. Think of each line item in this outline as a module for your course.
Having a clear plan with your destination (what you’ve determined “success” to be for your course) will help you create a better course, faster.
And in the age of time being the most valuable resource, this is really important.
Here are the steps for outlining your course:
Create “modules” for each section that differentiates from the one before it
Then go through and list 2-5 topics for each module
Then go deeper and indicate the biggest “takeaway” for those unique topics as well as for each module
Don’t forget to make a section for proof, examples of someone or yourself accomplishing what you’re asking them to do
Review your outline to determine if it needs anything else in order for people to succeed in your course promise
#6 – Develop the entire course content
Now’s the time to dig deep and make your content!
There are a few options you can use to put the course together:
We here at Self-Publishing School recommend have all three available. But first, start with the written content (unless you’re more of a speaker, in which case record, then transcribe).
The reason for having several different types is because people learn in all sorts of ways.
By giving them choices, you create a better user experience and will be more likely to have people succeed and then leave positive reviews, boosting your course sales (not to mention the testimonials you can use for marketing).
Remember to be clear with your instructions, use metaphors to make it easier, and use examples from your own life. People love authenticity. Be real about what you did and how it worked in order to get them to take action.
#9 – Launch to a BETA group
Before you go live, you should always launch your course to a beta group at a lower offer price than you plan to go public with. This is super important for setting your course up for success later on.
It can be hard for those of you without a platform, but even offering a discounted price and letting people know it’s for a testing phase can help you get conversions through your website.
This stage is really vital for understanding what people are actually getting out of your course. Much like with writing a book, you can’t always tell what’s working and what’s not because you created it.
Have others go through, let them tell you what’s confusing, what didn’t work, and what was even hardest for them.
This gives you a list of “fixes” you can make before launching publicly that will give your new customers the most success.
#10 – Make any adjustments from the beta group
This is pretty self-explanatory, but make those changes! Don’t just ignore the feedback you get.
While you don’t need to change everything, especially if only one person had an issue and others didn’t, you do want to make sure you’re adjusting things that several people spoke up about.
Make your course the best it can be for your customers, and remember you can always make tweaks and updates later on as well.
#11 – Launch & Sell!
Now’s the time! We know these are a lot of steps, but they’re necessary to build a course that will perform well and bring you and your customers success.
That being said, selling it all on you. Whether you’re selling straight from a landing page or you’re getting on sales calls, the important thing is to focus on their need and how your course helps them solve it.
In our course building program, we actually have an entire section on selling and how to do it without feeling “salesy,” with our own blueprint for what we do here at Self-Publishing School.
If the Coronavirus pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that online course platforms and e-learning definitely has a bigger place in our future.
Panicked with what to do without school or work, a staggering amount of people have taken to the internet to educate themselves, their kids, as well as simply pass the time.
With that comes the need for online course platforms that performreliably.
Since Self-Publishing School is an online education company featuring several programs all hosted with an online course platform, we’ve got some tips for you!
And if you’re new to online course creation and are looking to get your foot in the door of this online learning growth, you’ll need a reliable course platform.
While we cover this process of choosing a course platform and even creating a course in its entirety in our Course Building for Authors program, we also wanted to provide you with a list of the best online course platforms for you to decide for yourself.
Online course platforms are softwares and other technical programs used to host an online course you’ve created, including videos, photos, quizzes, and more.
Instead of learning how to code or hiring someone to code on your website in order to encompass everything you want for your online course, you can use one of these course platforms.
They usually have features of hosting, brand customization, email integrations, and more convenient features you can easily hit a button and use.
Online course platforms take a lot of the technical work out of creating and launching your course.
Questions to Ask to Choose the Best Online Course Platform for You
Knowing your goals, your own technical capabilities, as well as what you need in terms of features will go a long way in helping you decide which online course platforms will work for you.
Here are some questions to help you understand what you need in a course platform:
What’s your budget for a course platform?
What’s your current tech use level?
What special features do you want your course platform to have (email integration, quizzes, etc.)?
How much do you want to be automated?
Do you need video, images, text, and other formatting features?
What email provider will you be using (needed for special integrations)?
Do you need an all-in-one payment and course platform?
What type of customer support do you need (quantity, do you employ someone already, etc.)?
Do you need your course platform to save user data and results?
For this blog post, you’ll see some boxes at the bottom of each course platform indicating the price, overall rating by users, as well as a “tech level” needed to use, on a scale of 1 – 5: five being “a lot of tech knowledge needed,” meaning coding, and extensive web development knowledge and one being so easy a chimp could do it.
So if you struggle with tech a little bit, look for a software with a lower score in that department.
How to Create an Online Course Platform
We have all of these steps covered, along with how to actually sell your course in our Course Building for Authors program, but we’ll give you the main steps here.
This is how to create an online course platform:
Decide on your course topic
Outline the content in full
Decide on what “success” looks like for your course
Choose a course platform that best fits your needs
Create the course content (quality is key!)
Upload materials to the course platform of your choosing
Make sure all integrations are set up and working flawlessly
Price your course to sell (& generate revenue)
Sell your course!
There are obviously many steps involved with creating a course, it’s why we have an entire program about it. However, the above steps can get you there if you know what you’re doing and what you want.
The Best Online Course Platforms
Let’s get to the good stuff!
Below you’ll find 11 of the best course platforms in 2020. These will have several categories covered along with a summary box at the end in order to help you choose with course software is best for you.
#1 – Teachable
This is the course platform we use here at Self-Publishing School, and have for years. We rate Teachable higher than others because it’s been really easy to use, is highly customizable, and you can even host it on your own website with certain plans.
Teachable, like other course platforms, has a few different plan options you can choose from based on your own needs, business size, and more.
Below you’ll find a screenshot of their pricing tiers.
Their tiers are based on different needs and sizes. If your business is just you, the Basic plan will likely fulfill the needs you have. But if you’re looking to grow your business or expect a large launch, the Professional plan is usually the way to go.
The Business plan is going to be best for larger buisnesses looking to switch to Teachable or those who have a very large platform launching a course.
Also note: there is a FREE plan with Teachable, but it’s very, very limited. For example, you can only. have 10 students with a free plan and an unlimited amount with all other plans.
So if you do want to try Teachable before paying, you can start with the free plan!
— Special Features
There are almost too many features to count with Teachable. You can check out a full list of features here, but we’ll touch on some of what we believe are the best ones.a
Here are some of Teachables best features:
Highly customizable, from landing pages to in-course branding
Coupons / promotions
Great integrations (we’ll cover below)
Web hosting capabilities for your own domain
— Tech level needed
You don’t have to know a whole lot about tech or we development to create and launch a course with Teachable. They make it super easy to upload and edit content.
We’ll say you’d need about a 2/5 tech level in order to use this course platform.
— User Rating / Reviews
We love Teachable here at Self-Publishing School, which we’ve already mentioned.
Overall, teachable has a relatively high rating with a couple issues regarding cancellation, but they do seem receptive to this feedback and even replied in once case above.
— Customer Support
We’ve personally found it really easy to work with Teachable’s customer support team. Tickets are usually handled with a couple of days, which is saying something for a company of their size.
However, others in some reviews state having difficulty with support, so this may be an area that’s not as consistent as some would like.
In addition to tickets and support from an actual person, they do have a large knowledge base with really easy-to-follow articles.
Our suggestion would be to first search Teachable’s knowledge base before sending a customized help ticket. This can cut down on your own time, as well as theirs, which only increases ticket response for more urgent matters.
— Ease of Starting
We love Teachable for how easy they make it to start. It’s why we recommend this platform to our students.
Here are the steps from sign-up to creation:
Visit their site and click “create a course”
Make your account with name, email, and password
Confirm. your course’s name
Answer a few questions about you and your business
Access your dashboard and start!
It’s really that simple, and that few steps. So long as you can create your course content, you’re good to upload in minutes.
Teachable has really great integrations! We’ve found the better the course platform, the more integrations they likely have due to their size, which makes it easier for them to create partnerships between companies.
Here are some of their featured integrations:
Teachable Course Platform Overalls
PRICE: Free – $249 per month
USER RATING: ★★★★☆
TECH LEVEL: ⬤⬤◯◯◯
#2 – Kajabi
If you’re familiar with Jenna Kutcher or other big name business owners, you’ve probably heard of Kajabi promoted by them. It’s one of the most popular course platforms, rivaling Teachable and even ThinkiFic.
In terms of overall pricing comparison, Kajabi does run more expensive than Teachable for their Basic, Growth, and Pro plans.
However, Kajabi also markets themselves as an “all in one business platform” and not just a platform for courses.
Below you can see the pricing breakdown with what’s included, with the Growth plan being the most popular at $159 per month (billed annually), which breaks down to $199 per month if you choose to submit monthly payments.
They do offer a free trial period so you can test it out!
— Special Features
While there isn’t a specific page dedicated to all Kajabi’s features, their home page does a good job of breaking some of them down. Remember, this has far more capabilities than just course building.
Here are the best features:
Course creation and hosting
Many integrations, including your website hosting (WordPress, Squarespace, etc.), Infusionsoft, WooCommerce, and more we’ll cover below
Because Kajabi is far more than just a course platform, the learning curve can be a bit steeper.
And that means you may benefit from being proficient in using tech and automations if you want to go with Kajabi. Remember, it does have its “Kajabi University,” which includes a ton of training for those of you who can learn quickly.
However, if you are rather tech challenged, this might not be the best option for you just yet.
Overall, we’d give this a 3.75 / 5 (rounded up to 4 in the overall score below) for tech knowledge needed to use and create.
— User Rating / Reviews
You can find a ton of great things said about Kajabi’s interface. However, we don’t just want the success stories posted on their homepage, so we did some digging for real user ratings and reviews, ranging from very happy to less than ecstatic.
Overall, ratings for Kajabi’s course platform do steer in the 4/5 star rating area, with a smaller number of users rating it less than 3-stars.
It seems that you really need to make sure you can handle the large interface and capabilities before going with Kajabi, like we said in the tech rating above.
— Customer Support
Some distaste for Kajabi comes from a lack of support, while others rave about how great their 24/7 support is.
One great thing to remember is the help center and articles and videos they already have that could answer your questions for you.
— Ease of Starting
The ease of starting for this course platform isn’t as seamless as it is for say, Teachable. But they do have more capabilities that you might want to set up before actually creating your course.
Getting signed up for an account is actually easy–all you need to enter is your name and email and you’ll have access to your account.
From there, you’ll have to choose integrations, get familiar with your portal, and watch some training videos to learn how it all works. It’s less straightforward than other course platforms.
This is really where Kajabi shines in terms of its integrations. It seems they can connect with most softwares your business may already be using.
Here are some of their integrations (you can also find listed here):
LearnWorlds is a software specific to building online courses and monetizing them, specifically on your own website.
LearnWorlds offers very competitive pricing for what you get, plus an additional customized plan if your needs exceed their highest offering.
This is very convenient for those of you hoping to grow extensively and don’t want to have to switch to a larger platform (which can be a huge pain). You can see their overall pricing plans below.
They also have a free trial that’s 30-days long, which is double the time Kajabi gives you free, so you can really get a feel for the software before committing.
— Special Features
What I appreciated a ton about LearnWorld’s website is that they have a really thorough breakdown of each plan on their “Features” page, so you really understand what you get and which will work best for you.
Here’s a screenshot of what this looks like as well as another that’s what you get when you click “+ Expand All” button.
Overall, the pricing is very comprable with Teachable’s when it comes to what you get for the price. Having unlimited courses and students with their Starter tier is very convenient, with the loss of unlimited landing pages and you can’t use their hosting for a blog.
The Starter tier also only allows for 3 customizable pages (home, course cataglogue, and after login), which means if you want highly customizable options, you’ll want to go for their Pro Trainer or higher.
Another note: if you go with the Starter plan, you will have to pay a $5 fee per course sale. So doing some math to see if going with the Pro Trainer tier would end up saving you money is a good thing to consider.
— Tech level needed
Once you sign up, you’ll go to your dashboard, the typical view with the menu on the left of pages you can navigate to, as seen in the image below.
In full honestly, this looks more intimidating than it is. However, because it does look complicated and has a lot of moving parts, the tech level needed to create and navigate would be a bit higher.
If you can log in to something and figure out where stuff is, you’ll be just fine with LearnWorlds. Just know that is can be a little overwhelming at first.
— User Rating / Reviews
On this review site, LearnWorlds has an overall 4.9/5 star rating, which is really good for software like one for course building.
You can find more detailed user reviews as well, covering the most helpful features along with some pros and cons as well.
One thing of importance to note: I’m trying to find some lower rated reviews to share some of the other end of experiences, but am having a hard time finding them. This is good!
Most people rate LearnWorlds 4-5 stars.
— Customer Support
All but the Starter plan come with 24/7 support, the starter plan with 24 hour support 5 days a week.
However, the only tier that has phone support is the Corporate High Volumne, which is their customized plan for larger entities.
All the tiers do have a Help Center you can access, but the Starter plan does not have any onboardng help, whereas the other plans do, along with increased time as you move up the tiers.
— Ease of Starting
It’s pretty simple to create your course and get started on your free trial. All you really have to do is hit a button and you’ll enter your email, school name, as well as answer a few questions to help set a few things up.
From there, you can hit “finish” or “OK, take me to my school now” and be greeted with your dashboard, which you can hit “Courses” and “Create Course” to begin.
When you do the above, it’ll lead you to a pop-up questionairre to set your course up, which is really easy to navigate and it “plugs in” your answers where needed.
LearnWorlds is another larger course platform, meaning it has more integrations than the average, which you can see a full list of details for here.
Here are some of the listed integrations for LearnWorlds:
Google Tag Manager
They also have an area for businesses to connect with them to set up integrations, which may be why they have so many.
There’s also an option for getting an API for further integrations, which would require a bit more tech knowlege to get going.
LearnWorlds Course Platform Overalls
PRICE: $24 – $249+ per month
USER RATING: ★★★★☆
TECH LEVEL: ⬤⬤⬤◯◯
#4 – ThinkiFic
ThinkiFic is another top runner when it comes to the original course building platforms out there. You’ll find this one on most lists you end up researching due to its longer reputation.
Not only does ThinkiFic have a money-back guarantee, they also have a free version that allows up to 3 courses with quizzes and surveys, content hosting, as well as ulimited students.
Of the course platforms we’ve covered so far, this is the best unpaid offer for small creators.
They also have a 30 day money back guarantee if you do decide a paid version isn’t quite right for you.
The paid versions of ThinkiFic are a tad bit higher than other course platforms, but overall very good for what they offer, particularly getting Drip content and emails included in their Basic tier for $49 per month.
— Special Features
A feature many tech-challenged will love about ThinkiFic is their drag-and-drop building feature. It’s easier to design and edit than other types of course platforms.
What’s less great is that you can’t really view all of their features in a list format or comparatively very easily. Their “Features” page leads you to a landing-page style that goes through all the features without indicating which pricing tier it would be in.
However, if you navigate beneath the pricing table, you’ll see an option to view more comparisons, which is where they give you a thorough breakdown of what’s in each plan.
Overall, here are some of ThinkiFics key features:
Website builder (Basic plan and up only)
Drag-and-drop course creation
Video, PDF, and other content storage
Student progress tracking
Course packaging and payment options
Ability to host course on your own domain
— Tech level needed
ThinkiFic is a relateively user friendly course platforms, offering the ease of a drag-and-drop builder.
That said, we’d rate the tech level needed as a 2 out of 5. It’s easy to navigate, it’s clean and uncluttered, and most people with a working knowledge of the internet can likely maneauver it.
Below you can find a couple reviews from this site, one good and one with a couple issues highlighted you might want to think about.
— Customer Support
It’s a bit difficult to find how to gain support through ThinkiFic. If you go to the footer, you’ll find a “Support” column with a Help Center and other links, but nothing to contact them directly.
I had to search through their Help Center for “support ticket” in order to find this page that teaches you how to get help and how to contact the support team.
Overall, this could be improved with a button on your account dashboard to bring you directly to this page or others, as I can see this being difficult for some people who aren’t as tech knowledgable when it comes to searching for help and information.
— Ease of Starting
Getting started is just as easy as other course platforms, including a great questionairre to help tailor it a bit more.
Thankfully, the dashboard for ThinkiFic is far less overwhelming than that of LearnWorlds. It’s clean, clearly labeled, and also gives you a checklist for “onboarding” to learn the material better.
Thinkific Course Platform Overalls
PRICE: $0 – $499 per month
USER RATING: ★★★★☆
TECH LEVEL: ⬤⬤◯◯◯
#5 – LearnDash
LearnDash is probably the most unique of the 5 best course platforms we’ll cover. Instead of logging into an account on thier site, it’s a paid plugin you can use to add to your WordPress website and manage in the backend.
This gives you high customization and complete ownership of the hosting, meaning if another course platform’s servers go down, it will be down for your students whereas with LearnDash, the plugin is more likely to avoid server problems, so long as your own domain and hosting provider are in good shape.
However, this also comes with a steeper learning curve, meaning the more tech and web development knowledge you have, the better for this program.
Since LeardDash isn’t a subscription model, you pay full price for the plugin to use this software. This also means you pay for this yearly, it’s a recurring annual purchase, not just a one-time purchase.
If you want to break down these packages to monthly rates, they’d be:
Basic – $13.25 / month
Plus – $15.75 / month
Pro – $27.41 / month
Comparing these prices with the monthly rates of other course platforms, LearnDash is actually very affordable for what it offers.
Plus, they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’ll be able to purchase, download, upload to your site, and try it out within 30 days before choosing to keep it for good.
NOTE:Because this is a plugin, all course content will need to be hosted on your own domain, meaning you will likely pay more for storage through your hosting provider than you would with a course software that allows for free content hosting, like Thinkific. So while these price breakdowns are really affordable, there may be other expenses elsewhere to think about.
— Special Features
Because LearnDash is a WordPress plugin, it does have certain features that are unique to it.
This includes the fact that you can host it directly on your website or multisite (yes, it has multisite capabilities!).
There are so many great features with LearnDash, especially the forums, where students can congregate, discuss, and learn even more.
Most of the reviews listed boast about it’s customization and customer service. Others with lower ratings usually feel that way due to their tech challenges, which is just confirming that you should have more tech knowledge if you want to use this course platform seamlessly.
— Customer Support
LearnDash’s support isn’t quite up to the level of other online course platforms. However, it does have standard support, with their support conditions stating:
“Support is available from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays of the United States.”
Many reviews, however, praise the support and thoroughness of replies and feedback, which is good news! So while they don’t have 24/7 support, it sounds like their support thoroughly solves your problem quickly.
— Ease of Starting
This is where LearnDash does have some drawbacks, simply because it’s a WordPress plugin and requires a few steps to install and begin.
For a seasoned WordPress-er, they’re really simple steps:
Purchase the plugin
Download the plugin
Log in to your WordPress site (or create one if you don’t have one)
Go to your dashboard
Go to “Plugins” on the left sidebar
Click the “Add New” button at the top left
Click the “Upload Button” at the top left
Click “Choose File” and select the zip file of LearnDash OR just draft the zip file over the “Choose File” button
Click “Install Now”
Wait until it’s done and then click “Activate”
Your LearnDash section will be at the top left of your dashboard in those menu items
Navigate to “Overview”
Open the email you got when signing up, it should have your LearnDash license number
Copy and paste that where indicated on the “Overview” section of LearnDash
Your course platform should be goo to use now!
If you’re using a multisite through WordPress, make sure to first navigate to the site you want to use’s dashboard before uploading the plugin.
From there, it’s as easy as navigating to your specific area and adding course content. They also have helpful videos on how to use each section and how to proceed.
Because this is a WordPress plugin, that integration is the most important. However, there are other integrations for payments, emails, and more.
Here are some of LearnDash’s integrations:
Visual Composer (WordPress plugin for display/theme layout)
PRICE: $13.25 – $27.41 per month (annual payment options only)
USER RATING: ★★★★☆
TECH LEVEL: ⬤⬤⬤⬤◯
Which online course platform do you think you’re going with? If you want to save up to 50% off of a Teachable annual subscription, you can do so by becoming a student of our Course Building for Authors program.
Jon Gordon, an author of 20 books, speaker, and consultant, comes on the show today. His clients include Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Heat, and Publix. Over his career, he has used books for his business marketing. Books have also been a big driver for clients and businesses.
He always knew he wanted to be a writer and a speaker. However, he had a very negative mindset. Until one day, when his wife told him to change his mindset or their relationship was finished. Jon researched ways to be more positive and began his journey of writing with a newsletter, “A Weekly Positive Tip,” with five subscribers, all of which were his family and friends.
A publisher came across Jon’s weekly newsletter and reached out to him to write a book. His first book, “101 Ways to Get Addicted to Positive Energy,” was tip-driven and did not go well. Another publisher brought him to the Today Show, and his second book, “The Ten Minute Energy Solution.” His career started to slump, then one day, while walking and praying, he came up with the idea for his next book, “The Energy Bus.”
Writing this book in three and a half weeks, his book was rejected by 30 publishers. This is the book that started Jon’s career. Jon’s advice is to continue to do the work, continue to write, and eventually, you’ll find your voice. He discovered his voice when at a book signing with the author of Marley and Me, he realized he wanted to try and write a story. Jon explains how the characters took on a voice of their own while he was writing his book.
Listen in to find out Jon’s trigger point for the Energy Bus to take off, when and how Jon gets his best ideas for books, and the types of positive impacts made when you author several books. Learn why you shouldn’t write to make money, why speaking and consulting assist you with book writing ideas, and why you should think about additional sources of revenue when writing your book.
[01:53] Jon remembers his first book and what spurred his motivation to write his first book.
[05:00] He comes up with the idea for the book, “The Energy Bus”.
[06:42] How Jon found his voice with his books and realized he needed to make a shift in his genre.
[08:13] What Jon put in place to get the The Energy Bus written in under one month.
[10:02] The differences between writing a story and his first two book genres.
[12:48] How his business came from writing his book.
[15:32] Jon’s favorite book that he has published and why this book is his favorite.
[17:52] Was there a correlation between The Energy Bus sales and previous books?
[20:10] Why he thinks his book The Energy Bus sells so well.
[20:22] Jon doesn’t write just to write, he writes because he loves to write and what he is meant to share.
[24:12] Do what you are called to write is Jon’s message to other writers.
[26:26] How Jon and Chad Morris became a team from Chad’s training camp.
[30:33] Chad’s training camp videos and Chandler’s take on the videos.
[34:24] The power of writing and why more people don’t become authors.
[37:48] While writing, think of an additional source of revenue such as a playbook.
[40:12] What happened to Jon’s business when COVID hit.
[43:35] The effects of Jon’s books on other leaders in business.
When it comes to your career, your business, and even your author goals, learning how to become a speaker at events might be on your mind.
After all, thousands of people go to events to hear from authorities on topics they’re interested in learning more about. In order to place yourself as that authority, speaking at these events is important.
Over the past couple years, I’ve spoken at over 40 events on the topic of writing and publishing a book successfully.
This had brought in over 7-figures for my business, not to mention all the people who are now aware of me, what I do, and Self-Publishing School as a whole.
We recently launched a new product here called PR & Speaking for Authors on this very topic, with even more information. But in this post, I’m going to unveil our own process for becoming a speaker at events.
This might be a hard pill to swallow but the truth is that if you want to get paid to speak at events, you have to have experience, a message worth the price tag, and authority.
Usually, people pay to speak at events when they first start. Sometimes you pay to “sponsor” the event, which you then get to speak at.
Until you become someone who has a platform and can bring more people to the event. In most cases, being able to show extreme authority in your field can also benefit getting paid to speak at events.
And for authority, we always recommend at a minimum, publishing a book. Being a published author is like having an immediate “authority” stamp on your forehead.
Here are other ways you can get paid to speak at events:
Publish that book 😉
Grow your platform
Build a resumé of high-quality events you’ve spoken at
Network with people who can vouche for you
How to Become a Speaker at Events: Our Foolproof Methods
I’m basically handing you our playbook for booking stages and becoming a speaker at events. Most of this was formulated by my Head of Business Development, Pedro Mattos.
He’s been largely responsible for this process and booking speaking events that have generated over $1.5 Million in sales for our business.
You’ll see a couple different types of steps for becoming a speaker at stages. These are separated by “networked” steps as well as “cold”.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, networked steps involve getting speaking gigs from people you’ve met and connected you to the right people whereas cold research and outreach are the opposite, where you find the information and reach out without having any prior connection to the event or coordinator.
Both are really important, though networking will usually get you the most bang for your buck down the road. When you’re starting out, cold outreach will be your most lucrative, since you likely don’t know many people in the event business…yet 🙂
#1 – Finding events to speak at through networking
Say you’re in a position where you’ve been able to connect with people who are in the event business. By that, I mean they either work at events, throw them, or speak at them regularly.
These people can also be a past or current client, colleague, or strategic partner or someone’s event you’ve already spoken at.
Here are some people you can get in touch with in the “event business”:
associations you’re a part of
online groups or forums
experts you know
We recommend listing some names you can think of and putting those all in one place where you can track the progress of this before actually reaching out.
Organization is KEY for becoming a speaker at events. You’d be surprised how many opportunities can fall by the wayside without organized outreach and follow up, which we’ll cover.
For Self-Publishing School, we use Asana’s “Board” structure, as you can see below:
This way, it’s super organized. You know exactly who is in what stage so you know which steps you need to take next to become a speaker at their event.
You can also create something similar in a spreadsheet if you don’t want to use other software. Either way, make your list, label each step, and keep track!
#2 – Finding events via cold research
This is where the majority of you will likely fall if you’re just getting into the speaking world. You’ll do “cold” work when you don’t have any prior connections to people who work at the event, the event itself, or speakers.
Most of this requires good, old-fashioned online research, and we have a few tips for that.
This will take some work. It’s not an instant result. That said, it’s worth it and you’ll likely make some connections within your niche that allows for other opportunities as well.
Keep track of these events and contact information in a spreadsheet or task organization software like Asana.
#3 – Outreach for networked events
You should have two lists at this point, one for people you know/of and another for cold outreaches. Once you’ve got that research down, start with the people know you, since these are usually the best chances of becoming a speaker at events.
When getting in touch with these people, there are certain methods that work better than others.
Reach out via channels in this particular order until you get a response:
Text (ideally voice memo)
Direct mail via a hand-written letter
Here’s an example of a message Pedro sent out about an event.
We like to follow a specific formula for outreaches that we’ve figured out gets the most responses.
Here are a few things to remember for this:
Mention how you know them
Don’t ask for a referral, instead ask where they are going (and give a reason for your ask)!
BONUS: End by asking for their address and sending a gift
#4 – Cold outreach to speak at events
Your cold outreach will be a little different than messaging those you already know. While a little more of an uphill battle, there are a few ways you can put yourself ahead of others.
Knowing event planners main problems can help you craft your outreach to get attention.
Here are their 3 main problems:
They need to fill their event (aka sell tickets)
They need to provide amazing content that solves a problem for their audience
They need to cover their overhead / make revenue from the event through means other than ticket sales (sponsorship revenue, back-end sales revenue, etc)
With that stuff in mind, you need to at least mention and cover one of those needs in your first outreach, specifically how you can solve that problem.
Remember that with an initial outreach, you are not selling the event planner on having you on their stage. You’re selling them on getting on the phone with you for a 15-minute call.
Here are all of the components I would cover in the initial email:
Direct subject line that talks about the opportunity of you and them working together. Ex: Partnership Opportunity
In the first line two lines, explain who you are and why they should care (hit on one of the 3 pain points above)
In the next line, explain why you believe that would be a good fit for their stage, and what your ideal scenario would look like.
End with a CTA to book a short 15-minute call or an opened ended question asking if they have completely filled their speaking slots (this really works)
Add a PS. with a link to something that proves your credibility (if you have a book, this should always be linked in your signature to begin with)
#5 Following up with initial outreaches
Follow-ups are arguably even more important than anything else. If you don’t bake this into your system, you’ll lose out on a lot of opportunity.
Our philosophy is “the money is in the follow up”.
If you are not getting a response, it’s probably one of three reasons:
Your message is not relevant for them right now
You are not talking to the right person
You are not using the right medium (Facebook vs. email vs. text)
With that said, it is important to address all three of those points in your follow up – which means:
Reach out to different people in the organization and ask to be directed to the correct person
Change your ask, subject line, etc
Try multiple mediums until someone replies (but don’t annoy them, spread out your contacts over some time to give them a chance to look at your messages)
#6 – Navigating your first call with event coordinators
We’ll cover two things in this point: how to schedule your first call and how to execute it to book the event.
How to Schedule Your First Call
If and when someone replies to your initial outreach positively, you’ll want to get on an actual phone (or video chat) call with them as soon as you can to close the deal while you’re fresh in their mind.
Your initial outreach should have included something about hopping on a quick call to chat details (since that was the purpose of it). Now when they respond, try to make that call happen in the next 48 hours to increase your chances of booking the event.
From here, you’ll include a link to a calendar where they can book, or you’ll confirm the time and send out a detailed calendar invite.
You’ll see an example of a Google invite below:
What to do While on Your First Call
The goal of this call is to familiarize yourself with the meeting planners and get a better understanding of their goals, challenges, and really anything you could help solve.
The second purpose is to get some logistics around stages and offer a solution that includes you speaking at or “sponsoring” their event.
Here’s an “outline” of what you should be shooting for during this conversion:
Step 1 – Introduction and rapport
Ask where they’re from
Introduce everyone on the call and provide:
Context for who you are and what you’re doing
How what you do relates to them and their event
Step 2 – Give context and figure out their goals
“It’s so great to connect, and I really appreciate you taking the time to hop on this call. I know we don’t have a ton of time scheduled and I want to be respectful of yours, so to give you some context…”[give context around the call, sample below]
Provide them with some more details about your mission, passion, and overall purpose, as well as why you want to grow our event connections and speaking resumé
End this bit with: “So with that said, I’d love it if you could give a quick overview of the top projects / goals you’re working towards over the next few months, and we can see if there’s a way we can help.”
Step 3 – Let them know what you’re working on and why you’re building partnerships
Give an overview of a few projects we have in the works that lend themselves to partnership opportunities
Start off with a content sponsorship pitch “I think one easy win to start this relationship off is to start with a sponsorship. I’m sure you’re always looking for new sponsors, we’d love to see what would make sense”
Go with an assumptive / “this-is-a-no-brainer-and-the-obvious-next-step” tone and you’ll pretty much get a 100% conversion on this
Then ask them what it would look like to have you do a 45-60 minute presentation on your speech topic
Finally, if it’s a fit and they have a decent-sized list (10k+ for bigger platforms, smaller if you’re just starting out), pitch an affiliate webinar:
“Last thing that I think could be really cool for your audience and this relationship, is I’d love to do a live training around [your niche topic/speech]. We’ll set it all up, your audience gets access to some great content, and the best part to you is you get $x for any person you send to the training who becomes a student. Is that something we could get on the calendar in the next couple of months?”
The idea with these steps is to move through the conversation seamlessly and in a way that makes sense to them.
As with any professional call, don’t interrupt or ignore questions, etc. You want to have a cordial conversation that’s upbeat, fun, and makes them want to be around you, which will help with their decision to include you in their speaker lineup.
#7 – First call recap email
Yes, even your call needs a recap email. This helps to clear up any confusion and have a physical reference for both of you for what needs to happen next.
Ideally, this recap email should be sent to ALL relevant parties less than 3 hours after the call takes place.
It should recap EVERYTHING that was discussed, and specifically note dates, percentages (for discounts), specific next steps, and the names of people responsible for those steps.
If additional intros need to be made (content teams, for example), include everyone on the recap email, and indicate that the introductions will be made in a separate thread.
Be hyper-specific here. It might feel unnecessary or OCD. It almost certainly won’t come across that way.
Here’s an example of a solid recap email:
#8 – Confirming the event!
Now, don’t just go taking any event you can. It’s tempting but remember, you’re also vetting the event owners, their mission, and ensuring it aligns with what you’re doing.
BUT, if the event checks all of your boxes and meets all the requirements you set up for yourself, here’s what you’ll do next:
Email the meeting planner confirming that you will be attending the stage
Send an email to connecting anyone within your business (if there’s more than you) to the event planner
Add the event to your personal calendar so you don’t forget
Move this event over in your planning / tracking software or spreadsheet
Transfer all known information, contracts, etc into the task you have in order to have all the info in a single place.
That’s how you become a speaker at events! It seems complicated, but this process isn’t as simple as sending one email.
We’ve nailed down this process and our Head of Business Development swears by it. Let us know how it works for you!
When you make the decision to write and publish a book, for whatever your unique reason is, like growing your business, establishing authority, or just wanting to make an impact, having the right program to assist you makes all the difference.
You can do it all by yourself. But the level of success you have will mostly depend on the strategies you implement.
And if you’ve never done this before, you’d want to work with someone who has to get it right.
We’ll cover some of the best publishing educational programs over a few different fields and certain publishing software programs, along with what you should look for in one to make it worth your time, investment, and effort.
What’s the difference between a book publishing program and a publisher?
A book publisher will basically do everything but write the book for you…including taking the majority of your royalty earnings.
On the other hand, a book publishing program that’s education-based, meant to teach you how to do it, shows you the process and allows you to keep all of your royalties.
If you’re looking for a publishing program like a software that helps you take your book from a document to a published piece of work, that’s a whole other set of needs you can learn about below.
What’s the difference between a publishing course and a publishing program?
Some people use the term “course” and “program” interchangeably but they’re actually very different.
A book publishing course is often pre-made or pre-recorded that you can go through in your own time without the assistance of its creators or support.
A book publishing program, on the other hand, often has the course plus other materials or assistance, like our Become a Bestseller program that has 1-on-1 coaching along with group coaching calls, a community, and more.
So the main difference is the level of content and assistance you get with each. A book publishing program will likely be more interactive with support and interaction whereas a course will likely only be online content with nothing else, unless it’s an in-person course like at a college.
Book publishing program for education or a book publishing software program?
You may be in both camps or you may just be in one. Are you looking for a computer software to help you publish? We’ll cover that here!
But we’ll also go into some book publishing programs that are actually education-based where you’ll learn the entire process, start to finish.
Obviously you want to make sure you get what you need in order to publish a book successfully. But what we’ve learned through working with thousands of students is that most don’t exactly know what they should be looking for.
It’s one of those “you don’t know what you don’t know” situations, and we want to clear up a few things.
Here’s what you should look for in a book publishing program for education:
A community of some sort
Thorough, up-to-date content
Lifetime access to the information
NO royalties taken (if you self-publish, you should never sign over royalties to a company with a publishing program–those are YOURS)
Here’s what to look for in a book publishing program software:
Ease of use
Outlining capabilities (for the writing–a “nice to have”)
Up to 4 additional free coaching calls within the community weekly–including 1 per week with Chandler himself
Expert interviews by industry experts in the Mastermind Community
From blank page to published author, and everything in between
Over $1000 in exclusive Self-Publishing School author discounts for services like editing, cover design, and more!
While we may be biased since this is our program, we truly believe it’s the best, and we continuously upgrade and improve our programs in order to ensure this by keeping track of industry trends, Amazon’s updates, and listening to the needs of our authors.
Check out the image below for a sneak peek of a portion of our program (we don’t share these often!):
Our specialty here is 1-on-1 coaching as well as a Bestseller status guarantee on Amazon (in as little as 90 days if you follow the program!), which increases exposure, boosts your book in Amazon’s rankings, and helps you sell more!
If you’re searching for publishing options and programs, you’ll likely come across Balboa Press at some point.
This publishing program has several options, including “done for you” services that allow you to sit back and let someone else take care of the majority of the work, aside from the actual book topic and contents.
Below is a chart for their services along with price points.
This publishing program has services from hardcover publishing to copyright information, social media setup guides, and more depending on the package you choose to go with.
Outskirts Press has been around for a long time, another publishing company taking advantage of the self-publishing boom since 2002.
They offer a variety of services, including publishing, marketing, and book production assistance.
I had a hard time finding any prices for Outskirts Press and their website was a little hard to navigate, making me think I’d likely have to go through channels to get prices for what they offer, and even find everything they offer.
Below you’ll see a screenshot from their “All Publishing Packages” menu item in the “Publishing” dropdown menu item.
If you do some digging, you’ll be able to find the pricing for specific packages, ranging from marketing information to genre-specific “done for you” services, as you can see in the images below.
As you can see, it looks like pricing for their services ranges widely, from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on what you’re looking for.
On the other side of book publishing programs that are full of educational materials and “how-tos” are the software programs you can use to write, edit, format, and even upload to Amazon.
Let’s take a look at some of the best publishing programs out there.
#1 – Scrivener
If you’re starting to write a book but haven’t heard of Scrivener, I’d be surprised! This is one of the most popular writing softwares out there right now.
If you want to keep your writing highly organized, outline it effectively, and write directly inside the software, this is a great one for you.
We’ve got a video detailing a few of their features below:
#2 – Blurb
If you’re looking for more of a book formatting software, and not necessarily a writing one, BookWright by Blurb.
This publishing program boasts features like customizable templates, really high quality, and that it’s free! You can upload the content you need, add images, and formulate a layout that works for what you want.
If you head to their “Sell & Self-Publish” menu item, it’ll show you the various things you can do with this platform.
Check out the image below for a few ideas:
From what I could conjure, this service really does look free. Blurb doesn’t charge fees for using its platform for distribution. However, if you sell through the Blurb Bookstore, they’ll obviously take a cut of your royalties there, similarly to Amazon and other retailers.
Here’s another handy comparison chart on Blurb’s website that compares its services to other book publishing programs.
#3 – KDP Wizard
KDP Wizard is a publishing program that keeps all your KDP data, books, and information in a single place for you to keep track of it.
It saves data ranging from descriptions to reviews to categories, and more, all in one place.
You can see the pricing and plan options below:
While these are monthly subscriptions, you can actually get the entire thing for a lifetime for $699. So if you’re looking to be a career author, this might be an option worth considering.
#4 – Press Books
If you’re looking for a quick publishing program that allows you to upload, “click a few buttons,” and have a great looking book, Press Books allows for just that.
Here’s an image of their prices if you want the paid options:
As you can see, they’re pretty affordable and according to them, super easy to work with.
College Book Publishing Programs
There are more and more courses being developed at colleges for learning how to publish a book successfully. While you’re probably already aware of creative writing or journalism majors, book publishing programs are newer in terms of their content.
More and more, universities are including content surrounding self-publishing and the know-how surrounding this.
If you’re going to college or you want to and publishing is your focus, know that you can get the information you need with online programs, unless you want to end up at a traditional publishing house. In which case, it helps to have a degree in publishing.
Ultimately, the publishing program that’s best for you will meet your unique needs as an author or author-to-be.
The only reason you’d need to learn how to get a book deal is if you’re pursuing traditional publishing, which means not self-publishing.
Book deals are when a traditional publishing company offers you a contract selling your book to them under certain conditions, like an advance, a specific royalty rate, and other requirements and specifications.
Ultimately, it means you’re going to be a traditionally published author!
But it typically takes a long time to land a book deal and if you’re writing a nonfiction book, it’s even longer with fewer chances you’ll be able to publish. Either way, our hopes are to detail the process for you so you really understand everything that goes into traditional publishing…
Everything that you could avoid if you were to self-publish a book (but that’s a topic for this blog post).
Self-Publishing VS Traditional When it Comes to Book Deals
You only need a book deal if you’re traditionally publishing, so that’s what this blog post will follow. And while we self-publish books here at Self-Publishing School, we ensure to know and understand traditional publishing in order to better help our students (many of whom come to us after waiting years with no word on a book deal).
Here are the main differences between traditional and self-publishing:
What You Get
Sole control of your book's outcome
Sole control of your book's rights
Control over the story
Control over the cover
100% of royalties
How do book deals work?
A book deal works by a writer querying an agent for representation, that agent pitching the project to traditional publishers, and publishers buying the rights to that book from the author.
There are a few main components of getting a book deal we’ll go over in this post:
Creating a book worth buying
Querying an agent for representation
Your agent pitching your book to publishing companies
The publishers either accepting or denying the proposal
This is a very simplified explanation, which we’ll explain in much further detail below.
How long does it take to get a book deal?
It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to get a book deal, so it varies greatly. Because of the long process and subjectivity within the traditional publishing industry, there are many hands your proposal must “pass through” before you can get a book deal.
While you should not query a book that’s self-published, you can pitch a brand new book to an agent and provide details about your book sales, email list, and overall platform size, which can increase your chances of an agent taking interest in you.
More than ever, both agents and publishing companies are looking to your online platform/presence in order to determine if you’ll be a good “bet” to publish.
How much do you get for a book deal?
Most first-time authors with a traditional publishing company will get between $5,000 to $10,000 as an advance. While outliers do make much more, those cases are very far and very few between and their advance is often the result of a “bidding war” between publishers.
The more offers you get for your book, the bigger your advance. This only really happens if you have the next big book idea or series and your agent is very well connected.
But ultimately, your first advance likely won’t be enough to quit your job. You’ll usually have to keep a full-time job while finishing your book and waiting for publication.
How to Get a Book Deal: Step by Step
The time has come! Let’s get into the details about how to get a book deal, broken down step by step so you can ensure the best chance of getting published.
Remember, some of these steps may vary per agent, but the overall structure of the process is the same.
#1 – Be 100% sure of your publishing decision
Nowadays, the biggest publishing decision you’ll make is choosing self-publishing or traditional publishing.
The self-publishing industry is soaring, it’s growing, and it’s very lucrative for people now. It’s nothing like it was when it first started, where books were of poor quality and anyone with Microsoft Word uploaded ramblings they called a book.
So why would anyone want to traditionally publish then?
Well, there’s the lure of the NYT Bestsellers list, for one. As well as the “prestige” still connected to traditional publishing because of the fact that your book has to pass through several hands, making people think your book is “better” than others.
The above is the main reason people still want to traditionally publish.
But if you’re a business owner looking to grow your business with a book or a nonfiction writer in general, self-publishing is almost always the better route unless you’re famous, very highly known, or have a massive platform.
So before going through the work and time to traditionally publish, make sure it will really work for you.
#2 – Write a killer book proposal
You want your book to sell, right?
Then you need to have something that will sell it. In this case, it’s a book proposal. This is what will convince the people with decision-making power to give your book a chance, to prove that it will sell.
You want a combination of your personality, writing skill, and a strong book description in this letter.
This is a really long, arduous path to traditional publishing that does take some luck and situational advantages into account.
The truth is that a lot of the time, knowing someone who knows someone who can get you in touch with an agent is the quickest way to find out. Otherwise, you’ll be left with the old fashioned method, which is somehow finding agents online, getting their contact info, and sending a query letter.
What’s a query letter?
A query letter is something a writer sends to literary magazines, literary agents, or other publications in order for them to request their full work. This query letter is essentially “selling” both you and your work so they’ll want to know more.
There’s a specific structure that works best for query letters in order to better sell your idea.
Here’s a basic structure of a query letter:
Opening: Start with any credentials, awards, and more that would basically “qualify” you as someone worth taking a chance on.
Describe your book, but the main hook! What will set your book apart from something else? Make this concise and yes, you can include some spoilers here. Overall, you should communicate who the main character is, why we care about them, and what the overall plot is.
Write a short bio with details like other published works, self-published books, what you do, maybe even a fun fact about you.
Conclude the letter with some more details about if you have a series in mind, and any other requirements listed if there are guidelines for that specific agent available.
Follow. The. Guidelines. You should do enough research about the agent to know if they have certain guidelines. Follow these. It only increases your chances.
If you want to increase your “luck” in terms of landing an agent, network. Figure out where these agents and editors are hanging out and make yourself available to connect with them.
Tips for networking to find an agent:
Go to writing conferences where editors frequent
Ask great questions at panels
Get on Twitter! So. Many. Agents.
Participate in writing-related hashtag games on Twitter
Embed yourself in the publishing world
Guest post on authority websites around writing and publishing (to increase credentials)
Ultimately, querying can be difficult and it’s all up to whether or not the agent is interested in your idea…or how well connected you are to people in the publishing world.
#4 – Wait…and wait…and wait some more
It’s a torturous part of the book deal process, but you do have to wait a while.
For the agent to check their email and get back to you.
For any agent to show interest.
And even for the agent to read your full manuscript if they requested it, which is something that may happen and is a great sign! It means they liked your query and book idea and want to see your overall writing abilities and how the story you told them about plays out.
If you get an agent, congratulations!!! That is a very difficult step some writers never, ever get to. Many give up before this happens.
Having an agent means that you will most likely sell a book, but not necessarily the one you pitched to them. After you land the agent, the ball is in their court and now they get to do what they do best: their job, selling your book.
#6 – Push your proposal out via your agent
You do nothing right now, except maybe work on the second book (if this is a series) or move on to your next project.
Let your agent do their job, check in with them to see if they need anything, and keep doing what you have been and keep writing!
#7 – Wait and wait for a publisher to pick up your book
It’s a waiting game, like I said earlier. I’m not an agent and have not worked with an agent, so I don’t have all the details about how they go about selling your book, how long this takes, and what that process looks like.
The overall process is this: the book agent typically knows editors at publishing houses that specialize in the books they usually represent (which is also your book). They send these manuscripts off to them in order to gauge interest in the project based on market trends, current events, and what’s simply “hot” right now.
#8 – A deal has been offered!
If your book has interest from a publishing company, your literary agent will do the negotiating. This is another thing that comes in handy with an agent: they have the sales skills to get you the best deal.
And they will, because their pay comes as a result of your overall deal. The more you get, the more they get.
If your book has interest from more than one publishing house, a bidding war could commence! And this is great, because that’s how you get those massive, 7-figure advances.
#9 – Book deal acquired
Once you and your agent are good with the contract, you sign and BOOM, you now have a book deal!
After this, you’ll likely work with an editor, meet deadlines, and then wait until your book is up next in the publishing queue. This can take up to two or three years at times, depending on how much work the book will take to get publish-ready.
Usually, you’ll have to wait over one year minimum after you have a book deal in order for it to launch.
That’s how you get a book deal. Remember, it can take years to get a book deal for a single piece of work. Oftentimes, writers query a project while working on another project so if they don’t hear back, they can query another project.
This is one the longest processes for publishing a book and usually, publishers don’t take nonfiction books unless you have serious clout or backing.
So good luck, and let us know if you have any tips below in the comments!
A Nonfiction book is a piece of written document that is focused on facts. It’s opposed to fictional stories such as Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia. It can be a memoir, a captivating biography, an instructional book on how to make a coffee table, or even a travel guide to Chile. As long as the content is real and none of it is made up, it can be considered a nonfiction book.
Writing a Nonfiction Book for Beginners: Quick Tips
The biggest reason most people don’t write a book is because they think they’re not a good writer. But as a C- English student who used to hate writing… Trust me, you can do it.
Even though I didn’t have the best English skills, I still wrote and published 6 bestselling books. That’s why I started Self-Publishing School and our Become a Bestseller program to begin with.
I figured out how to write a high quality book despite writing skills, and that’s what I want you to know: you don’t need to be a good writer to product a good book.
All you need is an idea…and we here at Self-Publishing School believe that everyone has a book in them. We just specialize in getting it out and published to its best form.
But in addition to that, I wanted to drop some other tips for beginners, those looking to start writing a book for the first time:
Don’t compare yourself
Don’t try to copy or recreate a popular book
Write about what you know, have experienced, and what people ask you about often
Be honest with yourself (and therefore, the readers)
Look to those with experience to go through this process correctly (think of: How vs Who…you always want to look for the Who to solve things)
Get some support from friends or family (our students usually make an accountability buddy in our exclusive Mastermind Community)
We actually have a book outline template generator created by one of our coaches who has written and published 30 books.
That’s right, she has a ton of experience and knows what she’s doing.
You can fill out the generator below and the template will be emailed to you right away. You will have to go do File > Make a copy in order to save this template for yourself, otherwise you can’t edit it since this is used for everyone needing a 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.
Sit down with a sheet of paper and jot down subjects you consider yourself an authority on (you know a ton of accurate information)
Write down a few things people often ask you questions about (I originally wrote The Productive Person because many people wanted to know how I got so much done)
Think about the topics that make you talk a bunch during get-togethers/gatherings
What are you crazy passionate about?
This is a great start and you’ll likely even have a few ideas pop up as you read this. Make sure to write them down and choose the one that falls into the above two criteria I mentioned.
#2 – Do market research
One thing we do a little differently here at Self-Publishing School is teach our students how to ensure your book is hot in the market. While this isn’t necessarily “writing to market”, it does ensure you’ll bring in some income from it.
If you’re not worried about that, then this isn’t necessarily something you need to do, but we still recommend it to understand what books in your genre are doing as far as the cover, title, etc.
Here’s my process for market research for the book idea/s I’m planning to write:
Go on Amazon
Choose “Books” from the search dropdown departments
Search for something in the range of what you want to write, keywords help (publishing, paleo recipes, mental health self-help, etc.)
Take note and even save some titles/topics that are close to what you want to do
To go deeper, click on a book that is close to what you want to write about
Scroll down to the “Product Details” section view the categories they’re ranking in under “Amazon Best Sellers Rank”
Repeat that exercise with various categories related to your idea.
The reason we do this is to see what’s working so you can build off of an already stable foundation.
Additionally, if you want to know more about Amazon Categories, check out Dave Chesson’s PublisherRocket service.
#3 – Nail down your target audience
This is one of the most crucial steps for your book’s longevity. The more you can create a clear picture of who your avatar is, the better your book will perform and the better Amazon reviews you’ll get.
This is something that’s really special about our programs. Every one of them has 1-on-1 coaching with a highly experienced bestseller, and they go through a big deep dive on your target audience, before you even start your outline with us.
Ultimately, you want to get to the point where, when you’re writing your book, you’re speaking to one person: your ideal audience member.
This helps the book be concise, highly targetted so it will be received better by people who need it, and those who do read it will review it highly because it’s made for them.
But how do you nail down your target audience details when writing a nonfiction book?
Check out these steps:
How old are they?
What do they do for fun?
What’s their financial status?
Are they aware of their problem?
What have they done already to try to solve the problem that didn’t work?
Where have they been looking for help with this problem?
What type of style do they have?
What’s their vocabulary like?
What will their name be for your own reference?
These questions can help you get started so you know exactly who you’re writing for, what type of writing/style they respond to, and what problems and objections you’ll have to face when writing your nonfiction book.
#4 – Mindmap and outline your nonfiction book
Mindmap first, then outline.
That’s the system we follow and it’s by far the best because when your mindmap is complete, you can just pull over each topic into an orderly outline like one you (hopefully) downloaded earlier.
When it comes to this tactic, you have to sit down with no distractions and jot down everything and anything you can think of in your mindmap. Go nuts! This is not the time for thoughts like, “is this necessary here?” No.
The idea is to get out every piece of knowledge you have on the main topic that’s in the middle of your mindmap.
Then when that’s done, move on to filling out your outline in order of what topics you think should go in what order. Once your book outline is done, it’s (mostly) smooth sailing from there.
#5 – Schedule time to write your book
If you don’t put it on the calendar somewhere, it probably won’t get done.
Writing a nonfiction book isn’t something you can just shrug at and say, “I’ll get to it when I get to it,” because you and I both know there are a million things that could get in the way of that—like watching Tiger King on Netflix.
But if you give it space in your calendar, you’re announcing to you and everyone else that it’s a priority, it’s something you’re committed to.
Check out this great video about building a writing habit if you want to get this down better:
But we’ll also go over the main details here as well, so you can get started right away. You can also download our book outline template if you haven’t already, which has an introduction detailed and outlined (developed by one of our coaches who has 30 self-published books).
Really what you’re doing with a book introduction is selling your book. It’s more in line with copywriting than anything else. Copywriting meaning salesmanship in writing.
Which is what you need your introduction to be. Otherwise, why would they buy the book? Why else would they read the whole thing?
Now onto your introduction…
Identify the problem you’re going to solve
Present the solution you have to that problem
Reassert your credibility and why you can solve this
Show them the benefits of solving this issue
Give your reader proof as to how and why this works
Give them a huge promise, a major, bold promise
Warn them against waiting to start/reading
Prompt them to start the first chapter (if someone’s only peeking at the Amazon “Look Inside” this can prompt them to buy!)
Check out this video I filmed for y’all for more details:
#7 – Write your nonfiction book in order
Once you know the order you’ll keep your book in from the outline, write it exactly in that order. This is really important because there needs to be a sense of progression and cohesiveness overall.
If your book reads like it skips around, people will be put off by the lack of consistency in the style.
That’s why we always recommend writing it in order and not just writing whatever you want first. Trust us on this one.
It seems simple but being able to mention previous parts of the book for reference is super important for refreshing a reader’s memory and pulling them back into that same frame of mind.
#8 – Write the first draft straight through
This means no stopping to research or edit. Nope. We write our drafts completely through because this is the fastest way to make sure your draft gets done.
What we’ve found that the biggest obstacle between someone who has a book idea and someone who becomes an author is finishing that first draft.
Too many writers get caught up in making the first draft perfect and when it’s not (because it’s a first draft) they throw in the towel. Don’t be that person.
If you have places where you need to do some factual research, put the letters TK in place of data you need, and move on. You can later do a Command/Ctrl+F in order to search each of these places and provide the right information.
#9 – Do nonfiction book research
After you completed your draft and put that TK in place of research, do a Command/Ctrl+F and search those letters.
You’ll find all the areas of research you need to complete and you can go through in order, same as you did when writing. This is the best way to do research because you’ll only spend time finding exactly what you need to find instead of spending hours digging through information for stuff to “pull” into your book.
Research should be used to confirm and validate your own experiences, not as a starting point for you to start writing. It comes off as much more authentic and authoritative this way.
#10 – Self-edit your book
You’ll both love and hate this part. Going back over your first draft can be a little emotionally troubling because you’ll want it to be perfect the first time.
It can feel like a setback but this is why we self-edit!
First, you got out what you needed to. Now, you chisel away the excess, sharpen the message, and drill your solution home. This is the part where you make everything merge together.
We have a full blog post on how to self-edit your book you can read to learn more about the process and what specifically you should be looking for.
#11 – Choose a nonfiction book title
You might be wondering why this is so far down on the list. Most people come up with the title before they even write…don’t they?
If they do, it’s likely not a fitting title. When students go through our Become a Bestseller program, they’re most shocked by this because our coaches instruct them to not title their book until they’re finished and have edited it.
The main reason for this is because so much can change from your idea to your outline to the finished product itself. So instead of trying to fit your book to a title that just might not work, write the book and then craft a compelling title that will actually encompass and sell the book’s content.
The time has never been better to write and publish a book. If you are thinking of writing a book but you are stressing out over all the steps to write, publish and launch to market, you should seriously consider enrolling in one of the best self-publishing courses available today.
Although all the best online courses here come highly recommended, the course content and purpose of each course varies depending on:
What you need as an author.Are you writing your first book? Scaling up your author platform to 6 figures a year?
Your budget.How much cash are you willing to invest in your self-publishing business?
Your expectations. What are you expecting by taking an online publishing program? A strong return on ROI? Can the course deliver on its promise?
If you’re a business owner looking to make a solid ROI and see how a book can help grow you business, just fill out the ROI calculator below.
Book Launch ROI Business Calculator
Just input your core offer product or service average order value to see just how much you can scale your business in the next 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years by writing and self-publishing a high quality book with Self-Publishing School!
*These results are calculated based on Self-Publishing School's Become a Bestseller and Sell More Books program costs in the ROI calculations and with our students' average books sold per day at a 5% book to appointment (or landing page) conversion rate and a 20% closing rate—book sales profit not included in final numbers. Individual results may vary.*
Want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox?
But, before we dive into the best self-publishing courses on the market today, let me ask you this:
Thousands of authors—just like you—have a dream to see their books in print, on a bookshelf, or for sale online in the Amazon store, the largest ebook retailer in the world.
To get your book to the publishing stage takes a lot of work. If you are not familiar with everything needed to self publish a book, you could end up spending more money than planned or, unknowingly fall into the hands of a deceiving vanity press publisher that waits for new authors desperate to publish.
Don’t let haste or desperation lead you to a bad decision. Check out the best courses here and any questions, contact support through the course so you can be confident you’re making the right decision.
Why Self-Publish Instead of Traditional Publishing?
So yes, self-publishing can be a great path to launch your writing career. You can work from home, set up a writer’s temporary workstation at your local Starbucks, or hunker down in a library hammering away at perennial bestseller after bestseller.
Now, you might be thinking to just do it yourself without any help from a self-publishing course. I did this too, and I made a lot of mistakes that could have been avoided had I invested in a course with a built-in blueprint.
This is why I have put together a solid list of the best self-publishing courses on the market today. Only the best made this list because I know what it is like to waste money on courses that went nowhere.
I have personally been inside each of these courses so I can share with you first hand the pros and cons of each.
Why take a self-publishing course?
Good question. Take into account the marketing, networking, and getting the book ready for print. The steps are many and it is a big investment of your time and effort.
Do I need a course to write a book? Can’t I do this myself?
Yes, you can. But…
Publishing can be difficult with lots of moving parts. You start to feel like a juggler with too many balls in the air! And if you’re already spending the time to get it done, why not do it right.
The good point of joining a course is, you are not alone. And, without support, a launch teamto help launch your book, it is easy to make a lot mistakes could otherwise be avoided.
So, this is why we bring you this list of professional experts, each with years of book writing experience and marketing confidence, sharing with you the best strategies for writing, launching and selling more books. And yes, despite the flood of material out there these days, you can make money from self-publishing…if you do it right and learn from the best.
Making the Cut: The 7-Point Criteria for Choosing the Best Self Publishing Course
The instructors for each course are multi-bestselling authors with the sales and platform to show it. They are trusted by the industry with solid reputations for being honest and driving their business with integrity.
The course content is current and up to date. In an industry that is constantly changing, publishing courses can become outdated within a year. The courses here are updated regularly with additions and updates every few months.
Based on industry reviews and student satisfaction, the courses are praised and recommended by authors who have been through the programs.
The strategies and business practices of the owners do not break any rules pertaining to Amazon’s rules and are morally sound.
I have personally taken these courses and recommend each one.
The material, content and overall course is professionally packaged and high quality.
Support: When you run into trouble, you want to know that you can talk to someone and get everything sorted quickly and efficiently. No-fuss.
Take note: Several courses are open for a limited time only at certain times of the year. The enrollment period is usually every three months, but this varies.
Self Publishing School with Chandler Bolt
Self-published entrepreneur and bestselling author Chandler Bolt quit college back in 2014 and set out to write a book called The Productive Person. The book was hugely successful and Chandler soon set up an online course to help authors self publish their books…in just 90 days!
With this comprehensive go-at-your-own-pace blueprint, the school has created an easy-to-follow system to take you from first time author to course creator with three pillar courses available.
Breakdown of Course Content
When self-publishing school first started out they had a basic course for writing and publishing a book. There are now four premium courses to choose from on the platform, including a full fiction course piloted by successful self-published fiction author RE Vance.
Become a Bestseller—Blank Page to Published Author and Everything Inbetween: From blank page to published author, write your book in 90 days with this course. There are 3 modules to walk you through the program with over 4 hours of video, bonus content and an outsourcer rolodex to assist with hiring professionals for all phases of the book production along with over $1,000 in exclusive Self-Publishing School student discounts and specials.
Mindmap / Outlining
Target Audience Deep-Dive
Book Production Instructions/Guides
Marketing and Publishing
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Fundamentals of Fiction & Story: For all the fiction writers looking to learn everything you need to in order to write a high-quality fiction book that actually sells! Fiction is a different game than non-fiction, and Self-Publishing School knows that, employing a bestselling fiction coach to work through plot, the craft of writing, and selling.
Writing, editing, and mindset
Launching your book
The business of writing
Children’s book module
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Sell More Books: For authors that have already published a book and are focusing on book marketing and promotion to achieve sales results. Most often, these are business builders using their book to grow their business or those looking to make being an author their full-time job.
Email Marketing Strategies
Author Brand Strategies
Advanced Marketing Strategies
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Course Building for Authors: Building a course from your book? This premium course is made specially for those authors ready to take their platform to the next level.
Plan & Develop Your Course
Create and Upload Your Course
Market and Sell Your Course
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Each course comes with its own customized, professional workbook. The best part of these courses is that you will be assigned a personal coach after being accepted into the program.
Cost to Enroll: Speak to an SPS representative to discuss best course options and pricing, as each program price varies.
Availability: If you meet the course requirements you can start right away
Target Author: Writing your first book, advanced or pro authors, business owners or future business owners. SPS has courses to cover any level.
Enrollment Availability: If you qualify for access to the course, you will speak to a self-publishing representative who will set you up with the best course to meet your publishing goals.
The one-on-one personal coaching that comes with each course. You will get the best results by working with a professional student success coach.
One hour clarity call with your coach to drill down into your book idea.
Up to 4 weekly live online mastermind group trainings & Q&A, one with Chandler Bolt himself
Customized workbook comes with each course
Mastermind Facebook Community of 2500+ active participants.
4 premium courses to meet your publishing goals
Self Publishing School has a long track record of successful students that have written, launched and turned their dreams of being published into a reality. The course is fast-paced and doesn’t waste time on details.
Authority Pub Academy With Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport
Steve Scott [also known as S.J. Scott] is one of the biggest names when it comes to self-publishing. He has been marketing online for a long time and when the eBook craze started back in 2011, Steve was one of the first authors that as in there doing it.
With the combined talents of two bestselling authors, Authority Pub is everything you would expect it to be: A self publishing course that is focused on teaching authors to write and publish, not just a book, but focuses on building out an author platform.
In today’s overwhelming jungle of books, with thousands being published daily, Steve Scott recognised the importance of turning your book platform into a brand and a book business.
This is the strength and focus of this course, and there is loads of videos, downloads and information taught from two authors that have been engaged in the self-publishing business from the beginning.
Module 6: Advanced marketing and Scaling Up Your Author Library
Authority Pub is a plethora of knowledge and both Steve and Barrie have learned everything through years of trial and error. Authority pub is a “one-stop resource to help writers streamline the whole process.”
Cost to Enroll: $597 or 2 payments of $348
Target Author: If you are just writing your first book, or already published and looking to scale up your author platform with more content and strategies that increase long term growth, Authority Pub is for you.
6 Reasons to Enroll with Authority Pub Academy:
Advanced supplementary materials includes WordPress blog setup mastery, Canva tutorial, email walkthrough using Aweber and Evernote tips for productive writing
Course content professionally delivered via high definition videos supported by quality downloads
Solid case studies and examples of writers who have made it work
Effective advanced marketing strategies to scale up your books
The course removes any guesswork and provides students with a clear roadmap
30 day “try it, test it, apply it” money-back guarantee
As a traditionally published author who used to write for a big firm, Mark Dawson started self-publishing his action and thrillers and, to date, has sold over a million copies. Mark has published 25+ books, has three series in the works, and is constantly launching bestseller after bestseller. His monthly earnings in 2015, according to an interview in Forbes.com, Mark Dawson was being paid $450,000 a year for his works.
So, who better to learn the craft of self-publishing than an established author with both a library of successful bestsellers and the income to show it. This brings us to Self Publishing 101, Mark Dawson’s course for authors.
If you are new at self-publishing or have been publishing for a while, this course has something for everyone. You will learn the basics as well as advanced marketing strategies to scale up your author platform.
With Self Publishing 101, you’ll write, launch and market a quality book that sells. Although Mark Dawson is mainly a fiction author, the course can be customized for nonfiction writers. The same marketing strategies apply to both.
Breakdown of Course Content
Inside Self Publishing 101, the course is broken up into 8 modules that includes:
As additional bonuses, there is also a tech module that walks through how to build a website, lead magnets, email service providers, and formatting your book.
The best part of this course is the system Mark teaches for email list building through an author website. Building an email list is critical to the success of any author, and Mark and his team have these bases covered.
Cost to Enroll: $497 or 12 monthly payments of $49.00. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Availability: Closed after enrollment begins. Cycle is every 3-4 months.
Target Author: Beginner, intermediate and advanced authors looking to build a rock-solid fan base through email list building and advertising.
6 Reasons to Enroll with Self Publishing 101
Deep dive into the Amazon algorithm
Focuses on subscriber communication and building an email list
Bonus tech library with an introduction to using advanced apps and tools
Active Facebook group with high response time
Additional “Writing Copy for Facebook Ads” module
Reasonably priced course for the value it delivers
Your First 10k Readers with Nick Stephenson
If you are looking for a comprehensive, in-depth, no-holds-barred course on marketing tactics, Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10,000 Readers is that course.
The course assumes you already have a book, or a library of books, and now you want to take what you’ve got and line it all up in order to grow your list to a 10k readership…and beyond.
Your First 10k Readers is really better suited for the more seasoned author. It gets into the nitty-gritty of the Amazon algorithm, merchandising, keywords and niche marketing, email marketing, landing pages, giveaways, and what Nick calls “You’re secret sauce.”
So yeah, there’s a lot going on here.
Let’s take a look inside.
Breakdown of the Course Content
The course consists of 6 modules that you can work on at your own pace. The modules are:
Module 1: Rule the Retainers.
This includes Amazon Algorithms, Merchandising, Broad Reach VS KDP Select, and Pricing.
Module 2: Generate Endless Traffic.
This includes Keywords & Niches, Using Free Books, Smart Promotions, and The Author Dream Team
Module 3: Convert Traffic Into Fans
This includes Traffic Funnels, Optimize Your Website, Giveaways, and Events Marketing
Module 4: Build Engagement and Sell—Without Being “Salesy”
This module includes Why Readers Don’t Buy, Priming the sale, Scarcity, the Secret Sauce, Social Media Mastery, Getting Reviews, and Auto-Responders
Module 5: Launch Strategies
This module includes Launch Teams, Building Buzz, and Launch Day
Module 6: Facebook Advertising
This module includes Intro to Power Editor, How to Track Results With Pixels, and Ninja Tricks.
In addition to the 6 core modules, there is also a wide range of bonus content that includes rock star author interviews, email swipe files, and tools of the trade bonus section.
Cost to Enroll: $597 or 12 monthly payments of $59.00. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Availability: Enrollment anytime.
Target Author: Intermediate and advanced authors needing advanced tactics to scale up author platform and build your publishing business into an empire
With a successful blog and five bestselling books, it isn’t any surprise that Jeff has a writing course to market to his raving fans of authors: Tribe Writers.
Jeff’s course is packed with material. With the formula presented in Tribe Writers, you as the author can create your own path to creativity. There are twelve steps of a tribe writer that allows you to tailor fit the best plan while keeping your unique voice.
Tribe Writers is broken up into four individual modules:
Module 1: Honing Your Voice
Module 2: Establishing a Platform
Module 3: Expanding Your Reach
Module 4: Getting Published
In addition to the four modules, you also get:
Exclusive interviews with over a dozen authors, bloggers, and publishing experts
Access to the Tribe Writers community of 6000+ members
Live conference calls to ask questions and get help
Downloadable PDF workbook that summarizes every lesson
Admission to a private Facebook group only for students
The modules take about 2 weeks to get through but you can move at your pace.
This course comes with five additional bonuses to support you including You Are a Writer eBook + Audiobook and The Perfect Book Launch.
Where Jeff’s Tribe Writers is different from the other courses is, a strong emphasis on honing your ideas and creativity as a writer to create a unique brand. There is a strong foundation for support and networking with hundreds of other authors.
Best 6 Reasons to Enroll with Tribe Writers
Loaded with tools to help get you started
Community of writers to help you when you get stuck
Lots of valuable content and expert interviews included
Designed to show you how to find your voice and audience
Monthly conference calls to keep you on track
“12 steps of a Tribe Writer” that clearly outlines the expectations of the course.
Ready to Write and Publish Your Bestseller?
All of these courses are excellent in their own way. Depending on your budget and writing goals, you might choose one over the other.
Now that we have taken an in- depth look at the best self publishing courses for you to write your bestseller, you have a solid idea of what to expect from each course. The question is: Are you ready to write your book?
The best writing course you decide depends largely on your goals as a writer.
Do you want to build a solid library of books and focus on your author platform? Authority Pub Academy could be your best match. Let Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport guide you towards your success of being a multiple bestselling author.
Do you want to learn the essence of email list building, creating an author website and setting up landing pages that convert readers into subscribers? Self Publishing 101 could be the best choice to make.
Need more advanced marketing tools from one of the best in the business? Your First 10k Readers is the path you might consider, and…
Interested in a course that focuses on honing your creative writing talent while showing you how to connect with your unique voice? Tribe Writers with Jeff could be the best option.
Or, you might decide you need two courses and combine together for maximum impact. Self Publishing School can show you how to go from blank page to published author in 90 days. But Nick Stephenson’s course can teach you the more advanced analytics and how to really build out an online book business.
So now, make a choice. You have been sitting on this long enough. Your book won’t write itself and if you have written it already, take it to the next level.
Life is short.
Take action now.
It’s your time to write that next perennial bestseller!
An author bio is a paragraph or so about you, your credentials, your hobbies, and other information you wish to share with readers.
It’s how readers get to know you beyond the pages of your book. While your books are a great way to introduce yourself, an author bio can set you apart, bring in more fans, and even sell more books if you know how to write it correctly.
That’s what we’ll teach you here today.
How to Write an Author Bio That’s Impactful
So you’ve finished your draft and are ready to tackle the next steps of putting it out there in the world. (Promise me that you’re not procrastinating by reading this blog! If you are, get back to writing right now!)
The first step is to figure how who you want to be perceived, how you want to brand yourself, is in your author bio.
This is the blurb that will go on your Amazon author page, your Book Bub author profile, your Goodreads page, your author web page, on the back of your book and so forth. It’s a really important little piece of work that you want to get right!
While your book cover design is the most important tool when marketing a book, your author bio is easily number two. This is where you convince your audience why you are the best person to tell them about the matter at hand.
It’s a place to connect with your readers and build your legitimacy.
You’ll want to stay factual while interesting. You want to make yourself approachable and toot your own horn, just a little bit.
Here are some tips to master these.
#1 – Author Bio Formatting
Although you are writing the author bio, it still needs to be written in the third person no matter how quirky it is. In other words, avoid using “I” as your sentence subject but utilize your name or last name instead.
Additionally, you’ll have many drafts and varieties of this author bio. You’ll want to change it up depending on the application.
You may have a punchier version on your website while your bio for that speaking engagement session at a writing conference that you’re leading (and we’re confident that will happen for you!) will be more serious.
Today, we’re working on the basic draft that you can tweak as needed.
Remember to keep the bio short, less than 300 words. It seems that three sentences is a well-tested length (more on this later). Your author bio is not an entire list of every single award you’ve won or your life story.
Even if you did win the “Young Writer’s” award in middle school, unless you’re still in middle school, this little known fact probably doesn’t deserve to be on the back of your book.
Feel free to have a “full accolades” section on your author website where you can list every single thing you’ve ever done, won or written.
Your mom will be super proud of this list but readers browsing Amazon don’t need to get into the major details.
Here’s how to format an author bio wrapped up:
Use third-person POV when writing it
Keep it under 300 words
Add relevant/recent achievements
Minimize the number of sentences within those 300 words.
And remember: an author bio longer than 300 words or so will take up too much space and become an oversell.
#2 – Know Your Readers
Your bio is an extension of your book.
Write it for your audience. Keep the same writing style and connect this text to your subject matter.
If you wrote a book on productivity, a lengthy sentence about your lazy vacations doing nothing is not relevant and in fact, can persuade readers to avoid your books because they’ll think you to be uncredible.
Here are a few tips for getting to know your audience:
Interact with your readers on social platforms
Listen intently to the feedback during the beta reading process
Run your author bio by a group for feedback and adjustments
Ask people close to you if the bio embodies your personality and is accurate
#3 – Include Your Background
In order to sell yourself to new readers, you will want to include your pertinent background. If you happen to have other books, do include their titles and how many languages they have have been translated into or how many countries they’ve been sold in.
List your related education and memberships. Any higher education beyond college is usually noteworthy too.
Keep your lists short though. Only list three books, for instance, and a couple of memberships. A list of ten books, three degrees, and five memberships will only be skimmed by potential book buyers at the very best.
A huge list like this will become white noise so only include the most important and interesting stuff.
Your fanboys and girls (and your mom’s friends) will look to your aforementioned author website for more info and you can keep the tidy, complete list there.
#4 – Stay Factual
Statements like, “has always dreamed of writing a book,” while certainly may be true, are hard to back up and aren’t going to help sell your book.
Stick to the facts and to what you can prove.
Another reason for this is if you claim achievements that aren’t true or invalid, there will always be someone there to point it out in an attempt to cut you down.
This can reduce your credibility, and therefore, readers’ trust in you.
#5 – Use your personality
One of the best things about being an author is that you get to put your personality, views of the world, values, and more into your writing.
What some don’t understand about authors is: if a reader likes you, they’re very likely to enjoy what you write, because your essence bleeds into the pages.
Being able to showcase this with your personality can do worlds for your readers connecting with you and wanting to read your book out of curiosity if nothing else.
Here are a few tips to add personality to your author bio:
Exaggerate your tone just a little in order for it to be more evident
Be goofy and creative with how you describe yourself (See Jenna Moreci’s example in #11)
Have fun with it!
Throw a joke in your bio
#6 – Include an achievement or award
In addition to your backlist of books, your awards, and education, you’ll want your readers to know any higher-profile stuff you have going on.
Be sure to cover your awards, your following, and any big deal author interviews or features.
Again, if any of these this happened decades ago, it may not be relevant. But if you have a quarter-million followers on Twitter or on your blog, this will sell your authority (and yeah, a quarter-million sounds better than 250,000 but are the same number!).
If your writing has been nominated for awards but didn’t make the cut, that is often fitting for an author bio too. “Award-nominated” anything is pretty cool!
#7 – Get personal in your author bio
Provide a bit of personal information to connect with your audience. The reason for this is if a reader sees something they have in common with you, it’s an automatic bond and gives them more of a reason to buy.
It’s standard for authors to share where they live and what their family make-up is.
A few non-divisive hobbies and interests are also often included. If you have experiences that are related, such as extensive travel or extreme situations, they may relevant to share as well.
Again, know your audience and choose wisely. Maybe (terribly) you were part of a cult as a child?
That’s really interesting but unless you’re sharing this story in the book or proves your authority on the subject at hand, skip including it in your author bio!
Bonus Author Bio Tip: Keep these bits broad enough to include a larger number of people. For example, if you play the flute, simply mention that you’ve been playing an instrument for however many years as this is more inclusive, and there’s a higher chance of others connecting with you.
#8 – Author Bio Example – Chandler Bolt
We all known and love Chandler Bolt, Self Publishing School Founder. We wouldn’t be here learning about writing without his hard work and book writing methods. Chandler’s author bio on the back of his book Published is only three sentences long but packs in a lot of authority building, states facts plus toots his horn a bit.
These three sentences along with the killer book cover art work well to sell Chandler’s mastery of book publishing.
Chandler’s Amazon Author Page is another version of his author bio. Here, Chandler gets really personal stating that his birth was almost miscarried!
He also gives some background about his entrepreneurial experience and awards.
#9 – Author Bio Example – Joanna Penn
Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller and nonfiction author who also writes under the pen names of JF Penn and Penny Appleton.
She’s written and self-published nearly 30 books so she really knows what she’s doing. On her Book Bub author page, Joanna’s short bio is only (surprise!) three sentences.
It concisely tells potential readers a short version of her accolades and narrows down her writing style quickly. Then it tells us where she lives and one of her favorite drinks.
On her own website, The Creative Penn, Joanna provides a different three-sentence version of her short bio and then gets into the details about all her books, the many awards and best-selling experience she’s had plus where she lives and her favorite wine (a different drink mentioned here!)! Joanna’s short bio on her page is three sentences and shoves in a ton of accolades into a small space.
Here she tells about her family, her gymnastic prowess as well as her authority and love of athletic mental training. T
his all builds strong authority for her book and brand.
On her Goodreads page about the same book, she sells the book by telling prospective readers that she’s been where they are and know “what it feels like to try your best and to fail.
I also know how it feels to work hard to achieve your goals.” She sells her wisdom and experience. Note that it is the norm to write in the first person on Goodreads but this is a big rule breaker everywhere else.
All of these examples have variations of author bios written in just a slightly different way for different applications. They all say very similar things about the same person.
Not only does Moreci have ample experience when it comes to self-publishing, but she’s also among one of the best examples of how to market your book effectively, including how she’s written her author bio.
Here’s an example of her Amazon author page with her bio:
Notice how Moreci keeps it short, brief, but very clear with who she is, what she writes, and even has enough personal information to let readers into her life at an appropriate level.
If we take a look at her personal author website’s “about” page, we’ll see she has something similar, but with a few more additions, including her books and more.
In this example, Jenna has also doused us with her personality, giving us insight into how she operates and therefore, the tone of some of her books.
More Ideas for Writing an Author Bio
Know the very essence of your book and find keywords that your readers may search for to find your book. When crafting your author bio, use these keywords that search engines can catch.
Although it may be irrelative in some bio spaces, add links to any free giveaways (we’ve got some ideas on that here..) on your website, your newsletter, social media or whatever web presence you have.
Also, feel free to add a call to action where applicable.
Final Author Bio Thoughts
Remember that there is no perfect bio, and there are no two alike. Although these are all good ideas, it’s not an exact formula. Your author bio will be unique and will change as you write more books and gain more accolades (because we know you will!).
Now tell me the truth. Is your book really done? We can help you finish your manuscript and really make use of this carefully crafted author bio! Schedule a webinar with Chandler today to get started!
Do you have more author bio tips to share with our writing community? Do you think bios should be longer than three sentences or do you like this standard size?
Many people think they need to do something massive or be famous in order to write about their lives…
That’s not true at all.
In fact, more people can relate to regular, non-famous people and their struggles than they can those who have been in the limelight.
The reason writing about your life is important is because you have a story. You have something worth sharing that can actually change the lives of others through your trials and tribulations.
Even if you’re not ready to write a memoir, you still have something valuable to share—knowledge gained through the years or maybe you just experienced a short, influential event in your life that you believe can help other.
No matter what that story is, you can and you should tell it.
How do I write a book about myself?
One of the hardest things in life is looking inside ourselves. We spend so long looking outward, to everyone else, that when we finally decide to take a peek inside, it’s hard.
Not to mention writing a book about yourself.
The most important thing to write a book about yourself is to get really, really honest and dig into the raw and deep parts about yourself.
Nobody wants a book about you that’s all sunshine and rainbows because that’s not real life.
So here are a few steps to write a book about yourself:
Decide if you’re ready to write a book about yourself
Spend some time self-reflecting
Decide which specific experience of your life you want to focus on
Create a mindmap of the things that pop up after step #3
Take those ideas and start creating a book outline, then follow the rest of this blog post
How do you write a true story?
True stories can be tricky because you have to decide if you want people to know it’s a true story about your life. In that case, writing a memoir might be a better idea for you.
There are a few things to think about if you want to write a true story:
Do you want it to be nonfiction, more like a memoir?
Do you want it to be a chronological telling of your life, an autobiography?
Do you want to write a fiction book with certain elements of your life?
Can you truly be truthful without being biased?
It’s often not advised to write a fiction book about your life because your characters can often fall into the archetype of a “Mary Sue”. Meaning, a perfect character with no flaws.
This happens because it’s difficult for us to be unbiased about ourselves. But if you can write a true story while giving the character based on yourself real flaws, it can work.
How to Write a Book About Your Life in 10 Simple Steps
So you’ve discovered you have something to share with the world…but what you don’t know is how the heck to make it happen.
Here are our top tips for writing your life story.
Take a few minutes to free write or journal each day, focusing on one memory. A good writing prompt for this free-write session is to write about a significant 24 hours in your life. This is just to help you get started. The memories written down from this significant moment in your life will be use later to build upon to create your nonfiction narrative.
Even if you don’t ultimately use this particular memory in your overall narrative, getting into the habit of writing down memories will benefit you as a writer and help keep those memories fresh.
After you’ve written down a variety of memories—whether they’re a part of an overall narrative or a collection of essays—they now need to be organized into a coherent story in order to actually write it.
Since you’re writing your life story, technically the plotline is already there; it just has to be written down and organized in a manner that will speak to your audience.
However, if you are the more organized type and not a “pantster” like other writers, outlining what memories you want to include in your life story may help get the writing juices flowing.
Not only can an outline help you get clear on the message and order you’ll write your book, it can also help you form writing goals that will set up a writing habit. These are two keys to actually finishing your book.
Other writers struggle with writing unless they have an outline or book template, even if it’s a book outline of their own life. It all depends on you, the writer.
#3 – Pick your genre
“Creative nonﬁction has become the most popular genre in the literary and publishing communities.” – Lee Gutkind, What is Creative Nonfiction?
There are several book genres that fall under the nonfiction genre: memoirs, essay collections, autobiographies, motivational books, and more.
Since you are writing a book about your life, it might feel like you have to put it in the “memoir” genre, but that’s not always the case.
In fact, it might hurt your book sales to mislabel your book as a memoir when it’s actually more of a self-help in a specific category.
An example of this is While We Slept by our own coach here at Self-Publishing School, Marcy Pusey.
While this author does label this book as a memoir, it also fits in several other categories. These Amazon categories will help you 1) reach a wider audience and 2) help you tell the story in a way that will speak to those readers.
If you’re struggling to decide whether your book about your life is a memoir or autobiography, this can help:
The main difference between memoirs and autobiographies are their focus. Memoirs focus primarily on one specific time, or “memory” of one’s life, like a battle with a disease, traveling to a foreign country, or adopting a special pet.
Autobiographies, or “biographies of oneself,” focus primarily on your entire life from start to finish—from when you were born until you die, or at least until the current moment in your life with details about achievements or notable moments.
Autobiographies also tend to be a bit more factual than creative, though there have been some very well written autobiographies published.
What if neither of these makes sense for my book about my life?
Maybe you don’t have a specific period in you want to focus on, but don’t necessarily want to tell your entire life story from start to finish. This is where a collection of personal and/or lyrical essays may be more of your style.
Think Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Why Not Me? Kaling is still telling her life story, or at least memorable moments in her life story, without necessarily being one complete narrative. Collections of personal essays are like the nonfiction version of a collection of short stories.
If you are still uncertain about which nonfiction subgenre to write your life story in, this is a major topic covered in the Self-Publishing School VIP course. They take you through choosing your categories that will help your book sell the most.
#4 – Research
Regardless of how you begin writing your life story—with free-writing or outlining—research can help you build on memories to create a fuller story and establish you as a credible writer.
Memories are fickle, and we don’t always remember things correctly, especially if you are writing about something that happened many years ago.
Researching for a book can seem like a daunting task. In fact, out of all the research you’ll end up doing, only a very small percentage will end up in your story. In order to find that small percentage, however, you need to do your research.
Here are some tips for book research when writing a book about your life:
List memories or facts you’re not 100% certain about
Ask family members or others close to you for details
Get quotes from those people if necessary
When writing and you come across something you need to research, simply make a note to research and keep writing so you can write faster
#5 – Identify characters and perspective
The people you have met in your life influenced you in some way, and as such, they will influence how you write your life story as well.
Here are some tips to organize these characters for your story:
Make a list of people, also known as “characters” in this case, who you want to include in your story
Write down their description: physical appearance, age, background,
Write down their relationship to you (and if you’re close or distant to them)
This will assist you in describing them in your narrative through the rule of “show don’t tell“, that way readers can visualize them and understand how they affected your life personally.
The only thing you may have to alter is a character’s real name, or names.
Changing names can protect a person’s true identity in their story. Unless you have permission to use someone’s true name, change it and include a disclaimer at the beginning of your story. Make a note in your character list of names you change, that way you can keep track of who’s who.
Also, just because this is your life story—so technically, it’s told from your point-of-view—doesn’t mean you can’t explore the perspectives of the other characters in your story.
Keeping other character’s point-of-view in mind will give your story more dimension, and will help you to avoid a one-sided, train-of-thought narrative.
#6 – Add speculation
Use “speculation” to fill in gaps in your life story. Not sure if one of your character’s motivations? Is your memory of the event a bit foggy? Using what you already know, combined with the research you’ve conducted, speculate to the best of your ability.
Here is an example of writing speculation:
“I am not sure why my parents chose to end their marriage after 15 years together. They were always private people, and after their brief announcement to me about their separation, neither of them spoke a word to me about it ever again.
Perhaps they were trying to spare me the heartache of the ordeal. I often wonder if my father’s time in the service made him distant from mother; that was the case with me. Maybe my mother, like me, became lonely as a result of that.”
Words and phrases like “perhaps,” “maybe,” and “I wonder if” show your reader that you, the narrator, are speculating.
Try to find creative ways to speculate, as well. You are, in a sense, still telling a true story; you’re using what you know to create a hypothesis about something that is still a mystery to you.
If you were to claim this hypothesis were true without facts to back it up, you could get end up in trouble.
#7 – Determine the setting
Readers want to know where your life story took place, or the setting. Like fiction, you need to consider how the setting of this story affected you as a person.
Here are some questions to help you discover the setting of your book:
Where was this place?
What did it look like?
Did you enjoy living/visiting there?
Do you remember any smells from the area?
What was the culture like there?
Were you a spectator of that culture or immersed in it?
How did the setting contribute to your experience?
What mood did that setting elicit?
Details like these affected your life tremendously—maybe more than you realize—and therefore must be included in your narrative, just as they would be if this was a fictional story.
Not only that, but this helps paint a much clearer picture for your readers and creates a more entertaining experience.
When you forget to write dialogue…the book can end up reading like a very boring textbook.
Dialogue is what gives the writing—and the story itself—life.
But that leaves the challenge of writing accurate dialogue. Unless you used a tape recorder or video to record a conversation, chances are you’re not going to recall previous conversations word-for-word.
Just write down what you remember to the best of your ability, and paraphrase if you must. If you are still on good terms with the person you’re speaking within your memory, try contacting them to be sure that their memory of the conversation is similar to yours. You can even ask them to approve any written dialogue that’s in quotes if it’s not 100% accurate to what was really said.
Write dialogue the same way it would be used in a fiction book and remember to use correct dialogue formatting and tags.
#9 – Prepare for negative pushback
Not all of us have sweet stories with cute pets. Sometimes our memories and experiences are on the dark side—for example, The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison.
This memoir focuses on the time in the author’s life where she has a sexual (and incestuous) relationship with her father. She received a huge amount of negative reactions to her story.
If you are going to write and publish a personal and scandalous true story about your life, steel yourself for these kinds of negative reactions, particularly from those in your life unhappy with you telling the story to begin with.
How many people can say they wrote a book detailing the most impactful moments of their lives?
And by taking this leap and diving headfirst into your memories and entire life, you’re reaching new heights for yourself and you may even enlighten others by the end of your journey.
What is a memoir?
A memoir is a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources. It’s a book about your life, the lessons learned, and key moments that shaped who you are.
We all typically think of a memoir and cringe a little at the idea of a book about someone else’s life. But that’s not all a memoir is!
Essentially, this is a book written by you about key moments in your life. You bring your memories to life in order to touch on an overarching message others can learn and grow from.
It’s like the highlight reel from your diary (if you ever had one) about the experiences that shaped your life.
And even though you’re technically writing a nonfiction book, memoirs should be more in the category of “fiction” when it comes to the style and flow of the book. It’s an entertaining read fashioned like a story…it just so happens to be true.
A memoir is unique in the fact that it covers your life’s events in a more story-like structure with an overarching theme or message written in.
This means that “how-tos,” “motivational books,” and other topics don’t qualify as a memoir. Memoirs are very specific in the sense that it accounts for the entirety of your life with an emphasis on stories and impactful moments that lead to a great purpose.
Yes, anyone has the ability and experience to write a memoir. The biggest misconception is that you have to be famous or have to have experienced something major in order to write a memoir. But that’s not needed.
In fact, some of the most powerful memoirs can come from the “average” person detailing the biggest lessons in their life.
You have a story. Everyone has a story, and what we do here at Self-Publishing School is get that story out and into a book you can pass down for generations.
Now that you know the overall theme and message of your memoir and what will set it apart, you have to connect the dots of your life to that core focus.
Here are a few areas to think about specifically to help jog some of those memories in order to help you know how to write a memoir worth reading:
College/post high school
Hopes and dreams
There are so many areas that have a direct influence over how you perceive life as a whole. You just have to do a little digging to spark some specific memories that can circle back to the overarching theme of your memoir.
I know this is a book about your life but it never hurts to back up your own experiences with someone else’s – or many other people’s.
Knowing how to write a memoir involves knowing when your message will be loudest. And that’s often with additional stories from others.
Sometimes you can’t always get the message across if only you have experienced it. To get readers to relate, you might have to show them that many people experience the same thing.
One of the most powerful connections you can make to benefit from the message of your memoir is to show your readers that it’s not just you.
Others have gone through the same situations you have and came out with the same perspective.
This one requires some extensive research (and maybe even an interview or two), but possessing the ability to be credible in your readers’ eyes is crucial. And obviously, you’ll want to make sure you’re using their experiences legally in your memoir.
You can even interview family or friends who might see an experience you share differently than you.
Adding those details will strengthen your core message.
Here’s a checklist of what your memoir should include in order to “complete” and at its best:
Elements of a Memoir
A snippet of what your life is like now and why you're writing this memoir
Each memoir should have an overall theme or message that one can take away when they've finished reading.
Writing a memoir without honesty will come across on the pages. Readers will be able to tell and will be pulled out of the book because of this.
Nobody wants to read a memoir that's written like a textbook. Create entertainment value through the stories you tell.
Because you have an overall theme, it needs supporting stories from your life to back it up.
Once again, a memoir is still a book and therefore, it cannot read like a textbook. Great writing is necessary for a great book.
Your life has an arc and your memoir's purpose is to show this through lessons learned from start to end.
#4 – Write truthfully
One of the hardest parts about writing a memoir is the fact that we tend to be a wee bit biased with ourselves.>
*Gasp* You don’t say!
It’s true. Nobody really likes to admit their faults.
It’s one thing to recognize when you were wrong in life, it’s another to actually write it down for the world to see.
It’s hard. We want everyone to see the best version of ourselves and therefore, we leave out details or flat out lie to seem “better” in their eyes.
But that’s not what makes a good memoir.
In order to learn how to write a memoir that really touches people in deep, emotional ways, you have to learn to be honest.
#5 – Show, don’t tell in your memoir writing
No, this doesn’t mean you have to write a picture book. That’s not what “show” means in this case.
When it comes to creating intrigue with your writing – and trust me, you want to do this, especially for a memoir – you have to write by showing, not telling.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll just give you an overview of this writing technique, but if you’re interested in mastering the ability to pull readers in, you can check out this detailed explanation.
Essentially, showing versus telling is the way in which you describe your experiences with an emphasis on emotion.
But that doesn’t mean you should write down every feeling you had during a specific time. In fact, that’s what you want to avoid.
We’ll cover this in more detail below, but here’s a great video outlining this method ↓
#6 – Get vulnerable
Memoirs are not a time to distance yourself from your inner feelings.
You want your readers to gain a sense of who you are not only through your stories but through the voice in your writing as well.
#10 Write a memoir you’d want to read
How do you ensure others will like our memoir? Write it in a way that makes it an entertaining read for yourself!
This has a lot to do with putting your own personality into it but it’s also about crafting the structure of your novel in an entertaining manner, too.
Even though this is a memoir, there should still be a climax to keep readers intrigued. This would be when your life came to a head; where you struggled but was able to pull yourself out of the trenches and forge your own path.
That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you learn how to start a memoir that’s captivating and intriguing.
Let’s draw those readers in!
#1 – Be relatable
Nobody wants to read a book that’s preachy or condescending.
One major mistake many make when writing a memoir is not starting it off in a way that makes the readers connect with them.
This is one of the most important aspects of your memoir.
Do you really think people will want to read about a person’s life if they can’t relate to them?
Think about when you were most invested in a book (or even a TV show or movie). What did you like most? Could you relate to the author or the characters?
Did you understand their pain and triumph and hardships?
This is typically the best way to not only create invested readers but to gain fans. When others relate to you and see themselves in your journey, they’ll want to stick around to see how it plays out.
And that means they’ll read your whole book and any others you write.
#2 – Use emotion by showing, not telling
If you want to give a play-by-play of your life with nothing more than a list of experiences you’ve gone through, that’s fine.
Just know that doing it that way won’t hook your readers and it certainly won’t keep them.
A memoir can be a powerful tool for educating others through your life journeys, but if they’re not intrigued enough to keep reading, it’ll render your memoir pointless.
And we don’t want that.
Showing and not telling, you’ll put more emotion into your writing. This technique might sound confusing but it’s actually quite easy once you learn how to do it.
Here are the basics for showing versus telling:
Use fewer tell words like “I heard,” “I felt,” “I smelled,” “I saw,” to bring readers closer
Stop explaining emotions and instead explain physical reactionsof those emotions (If you want to say “I was scared,” describe your heart hammering against your chest or the sweat beading your forehead instead)
Describe body language in more detail
Use strong verbs that coincide with the emotions you’re trying to convey (writing “crashed to the floor” instead of “fell to the floor” creates more impact)
This writing method can be tricky to master but thankfully, there are countless resources to help you figure it out.
Everybody has an interesting life if you look deep enough. What you have to determine is how your life experiences can aid and shape the lives of others.
Think about how that will manifest from what you’ve lived through before and make sure your readers know what it is from the start (which can also be done through a powerful book title).
How to Write a Memoir Tips from Experts
The best advice you can receive is from someone who’s done it before. These Self-Publishing School students (and graduates!) have first-hand knowledge when it comes to the difficulties of writing your life down on paper.
Here’s what these memoir writers want you to know.
#1 – Write from the heart
Christopher Moss, author of Hope Over Anxiety, says the best way to write your memoir is to be open about your experiences.
“Write from the heart. Show people your experience. Be as vulnerable and honest as you can. If it scares you a little, what you are writing that’s good. The reader has to feel what you are going through.”
#2 – Don’t be afraid to go with the flow
Lou A. Vendetti, who’s in the thick of writing and working toward publication of his memoir, has a few pieces of advice for you.
“Do not be afraid to deviate. If your book doesn’t follow your outline one hundred percent, then that’s okay! Don’t feel like you have to only talk about what’s in your outline. You are the author; you are the publisher, so you are the one making all of the decisions (sounds scary, huh?). In the beginning, I thought it was.”
“Don’t think that the memoir is supposed to be ‘formal.’ As an example, I use contractions in mine, which would not necessarily be used in a nonfiction book. Yes, I wanted my book to be professional, but I didn’t want to make it sound like I’m not ‘on my audience’s level.’ I wanted to keep my voice and make it as if I’m talking to my audience; as if I’m having a conversation with them.”
#3 – Review old photos and videos
Toni Crowe, author of Never a $7 Whore, says it’s best to relive your memories the best you can through photos and videos.
“My advice to new memoir writers is to take the time to review any old documents or photos that exist and to pull those memories out to examine. Doing this during the map mapping process helped me immensely.”
Famous Memoir Examples to Emulate
Sometimes it’s easier to learn by example. That way, you can fully comprehend what a memoir is in order to write your own.
These are famous memoir examples:
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant by Ulysses Grant
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Memoir examples by our own students:
Mile-High Missionary: A Jungle Pilot’s Memoir by Jim Manley
Walking My Momma Home: Finding Love, Grace, and Acceptance Through the Labyrinth of Dementia by Kathy Flora
Prayers, Punk Rock and Pastry by Chris Stewart
Bare Naked Bravery: How to Be Creatively Courageous by Emily Ann Peterson
Shift Happens: Turning Your Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones by Jill Rogers
Hope Dealers: The Calling, The Struggles, The Breakthroughs and The Community of Believers by Nadine Blase Psareas
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is a 13-digit code used to uniquely identify your book amongst the millions out there.
What Is an ISBN Number Used For?
Essentially, an ISBN number, or International Standard Book Number, is a regulated 10- or 13-digit identification number which allows libraries, publishers, and book dealers to locate and identify specific books.
But where did these ISBN numbers even start and why do we have them?
In the early days of World War 2, the Japanese military sent messages back and forth and the Allies needed to crack their intricate numbering system to get an edge in the war and turn the tables.
But how did they crack this complex system?
MI6 recruited a young mathematician named Gordon Foster to work as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, where he scanned millions of numbers looking for patterns in the code.
Decades later, when the book industry needed a standardized tracking program in order to coordinate the increasing number of titles being published each year, Gordon Foster was approached by WH Smith, a British retailer, to write a report on how to create such a system.
This report led to the 9-digit standard book number which went live in the UK in 1967 and eventually led to the ISBN system used worldwide.
Several years later, this turned into a 10-digit numbering system when a policy was needed for new editions and variations. Then, in 2007, the ISBN switched to a 13-digit format and is now the standard used everywhere.
How Much Does an ISBN Cost?
ISBNs cost about $125 for one number in the US. However, if you purchase more than one at a time, this cost could be lowered.
Let’s unweave the intricate web of how to get an ISBN and how they work in the publishing industry.
How to Get an ISBN
ISBNs are free in many countries, provided either by the government or a publicly administered branch. However, in the US and the UK, ISBN numbers are administered by Bowker and Nielsen respectively and require you to pay.
If you’re located outside the USA you can find out your local ISBN Agency here. While ISBNs are assigned locally, you can use them internationally.
If you live in the USA, you have to get an ISBN through myidentifiers.com, run by Bowker, the only company that is authorized to administer the ISBN program in the United States. You can purchase ISBNs as a single unit or in bulk of 10, 100 or 1000.
How Long Does It Take to Get an ISBN Number?
You will receive your ISBN number five business days after Bowker receives your non-priority application. Choosing priority processing reduces the time to two business days, or you can get your ISBN within 24 business hours if you choose express processing.
How to Register Your Book and ISBN Number
As soon as you purchase your ISBN through Bowker or the International equivalent in your local area, and you publish your book, you should register here at Bowkerlink.
This is an automated tool that will add your book to Bowker’s Books In Print and Global Books In Print.
You can only use an ISBN once. The ISBN is a unique number for that particular book, and can be assigned once, and only once, to that title. It can’t be used with any other book in the future, even second versions of the same book.
You don’t need an ISBN to sell in each individual country. ISBNs are international, they are just assigned locally. A US-based publisher can purchase their ISBN through Bowker, but can stock their book worldwide using that ISBN.
You need an ISBN for every specific format of the book and any new versions. Want to sell your book in print, as an eBook, and also as an audiobook? That’s great, however, you need a different ISBN for each one. If you want to publish a revised and updated version you’ll also need a new ISBN. (This doesn’t cover fixing some typos and errors).
We mentioned that in the USA you can buy ISBNs as a single unit, a bulk of 10, 100 or 1000. Here are the prices:
Number of ISBNs
First off, it rarely makes sense to purchase a single ISBN. A single ISBN would cost you $125, but a bulk of 10 only costs $295. Meaning if you purchased 10, each ISBN would cost you $29.50, a 76% discount.
Buying a single ISBN might seem feasible if you only want to publish one title, but remember that you need an ISBN for each format. So if you want to publish your book as an audiobook, you’d need a brand new ISBN for that. As well as needing different ISBN numbers for your eBook and print versions.
Not to mention that you’ll need an ISBN number for any future books you publish, perhaps as sequels to your book.
We recommend that if you’re serious about making book sales, you should purchase at least a bulk of 10 ISBNs. That gives you 3 ISBN numbers to use for publishing as an eBook, in print, and as an audiobook. You can keep the remainder for any future books you might publish.
Do ISBNs Expire?
No, ISBN numbers never expire or go bad. In fact, if you have one from a long time ago, you can simply reconstruct it for use.
But what if my old ISBN is really old and only has 10 digits?
The Book Designer also has a great resource for learning how to reconstruct an ISBN if you finally decided to write and self-publish the book you’ve been thinking about since you bought the ISBN.
How to Read an ISBN Number with an Example
As of 2007, the ISBN is a 13-digit number. This came about in part because of the large volume of eBooks now being published every year.
Knowing how to break down and interpret these 13 digits aren’t of much use and interest to most book readers, but for publishers and distributors, it’s a necessity.
If you want to publish lots of books under your own publishing name then it’s something you may want to pay attention to. You can tell a lot about a book and its author by reading the ISBN number.
The 13 digit ISBN number helps:
Identify the specific title
Identify the author
Identify the type of book they are buying
Identify the physical properties of that particular book
Identify the geographical location of the publisher
Let’s break it down and look at what all these numbers mean.
Here is the ISBN for a particular book:
You’ll notice this sequence is divided into 5 number combinations. But the first three digits “978” indicates that this string of numbers is for an ISBN. If we remove these digits we have:
First is the initial digit, in this case: 3
The 3 is the language group identifier which here indicates German. For English speaking countries a 0 or 1 is used. Numbers for language identification generally range from 1-5.
Here is a list of the most common Group identifiers:
0 or 1 for English
2 for French
3 for German
4 for Japan
5 for Russian
7 for People’s Republic of China
It’s worth mentioning that the rarer the language, the longer the number identifier will be. For example, Indonesia is 602 whereas Turkey is 9944. You can reference the complete list at the International ISBN Agency.
Next is “16”. This is the “publisher code,” and it identifies the publisher on any book that has this number. This number can be as long as 9 digits.
“148410” — This six-digit series represents the title of the book. The publisher assigns this to a specific book or edition of the book, such as a hardcover version or paperback. This could be a single digit or stretch to multiple digits.
“0” is the last digit and is known as the “check digit”. This number is mathematically calculated as a fixed digit. This is always a single digit.
This number indicates that the rest of the ISBN numbers have been scanned and is calculated based on the other digits in the code.
Where Is the ISBN Number on books?
The ISBN is usually found above the barcode on the back of the book. However, they’re not the same.
The barcode is much different than the ISBN number.
This is an important distinction because:
When you purchase an ISBN you don’t automatically get a barcode
The barcode of your book can change, while your ISBN can remain the same.
We’ve already discussed what data the ISBN carries, however, the barcode includes extra information such as the book’s fixed price and the currency it’s being sold in.
Barcodes are a necessary element of your book as they allow for most retailers and distributors to scan your ISBN for retail and inventory reasons.
If you want to look up the ISBN of any book out there, you can do so easily by visiting the website ISBNSearch.org.
You’ll be greeted with a screen like the one above where you will be prompted to type in the ISBN, author name, or book title.
After hitting “search,” you will have a list of books matching your searched items with the both the 13-digit ISBN and the 10-digit, like in the example below.
How to Read a Barcode
If you look at the picture of a standard barcode, you’ll notice two barcodes side by side. The barcode that appears on the left is the EAN generated from the ISBN number.
The other number appearing on the right is a 5-digit add-on, called an EAN-5, that contains the price of the book. The first digit is a 5 and is a must for scanners to read. The 4-digits after the five indicates the price of the book.
For example, if the number reads 52995, this means the price of the book is set at $29.95. If the price of the book changes, a new barcode must be used, though the ISBN wouldn’t change.
This would only be replaced by a new ISBN number if the book is published as a new edition or as a new version.
To buy a barcode you must first purchase an ISBN. You can buy your barcodes at Bowker and they even offer a barcode-ISBN combo:
1 barcode + 1 ISBN is $150.
1 barcode + 10 ISBNs is $320.
The Difference Between ASIN and ISBN
If you’ve used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program you’ve probably come across an ASIN. ASIN numbers are used by Amazon to manage and identify the products they are selling on their site. It’s a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier that’s assigned by Amazon.com and its partners.
You can find this on your book page. In your browser, the Amazon ASIN will be after the product’s name and “dp”. The next place to find this is in your book or product details area of your book page.
However, an ASIN is not the same as an ISBN. You can only use it with Amazon. If you want to sell through other platforms or in brick and mortar stores, you’re going to need an ISBN.
Do I Need an ISBN?
If you want to publish and sell your eBook on Amazon, then the quick answer is no, it isn’t necessary. Amazon will assign your eBook an ASIN number which will be used to identify and track your title.
However, that’s only with Amazon, and only with eBooks.
This might be important if you have a brick and mortar marketing strategy, or if you want your book to be accessible through libraries (more on this later), or if you’re looking to deal with wholesalers or other online retailers.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you want to sell your book by means other than as an ebook on Amazon, then you’ll need an ISBN.
How Do You Buy an ISBN Number?
You might not even have to buy your ISBN number because of services offered to self-published authors. You can get assigned a free ISBN by Createspace, the On-Demand publishing company that has now merged with Amazon.
And now you have two ISBNs for the same book. Same book title, same book format, but two ISBNs.
You then hear of some exclusive channels you can get through eBookPartnership. The only wrinkle? You need an ISBN and they won’t take your Smashwords’ or Draft2Digital’s ISBN. So you sign up for their free ISBN instead.
Now you have three ISBNs for the same book.
Should You Buy Your Own ISBN Number?
This problem can repeat itself again and again as you discover more ways to distribute your book. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for the ISBN, sometimes you won’t. But it leads to you having several ISBNs, all from different publishers, for the same book.
Can you picture how unprofessional that looks to a bookstore?
Wouldn’t it have been easier to start off by buying your own ISBN? Wouldn’t that make you look more professional?
All of these issues can be sidestepped by simply purchasing your own ISBN through Bowker.
Libraries and ISBN Numbers
We briefly mentioned that if you want to stock your book in libraries, you’ll need an ISBN. However, that might be the furthest thing from your mind. You might have decided to focus purely on eBook publishing and what part do libraries play in eBooks?
A big one.
Libraries are becoming more important to the distribution of eBooks. Overdrive is the largest supplier to schools and libraries in the world (serving more than 30,000), and they circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014, a 33% increase from their previous year. They also supply to retail stores globally, making $100 million in sales in 2013.
And guess what you need to be able to partner with Overdrive? Yup. An ISBN.
How to Get an ISBN Final Steps
Now that you have a very good idea how to buy and use ISBNs for your own books, all the best on setting this up. If you want to be recognized as a publisher and have your books available to a larger global audience by registering through Bowker, consider investing in your own ISBN numbers.
Think of it as buying a piece of property: You own it and it is registered in your name.
If you publish your paperback through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can fill in your number in the “Paperback Content” section of your book when you log into your bookshelf. If you choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN, KDP will ask for your 13-digit number if you are transferring your physical version over to KDP.
It’s easy to think an introduction isn’t important because so many people skip them, but did you know your book’s introduction is actually a vital sales tool if you’re a non-fiction author?
That’s why we’re here to teach you how to write a book introduction that will actually boost book sales.
But first, let’s talk about why it’s so important.
How to Write a Book Introduction
You’re about to learn about the most wonderful page in your book to boost sales. It’s going to be your secret weapon to stand out from the competition.
Amazon offers customers a chance to give your book a sneak peek before purchase. It’s called the Look Inside feature, and when shoppers click on it, they’re treated to a free preview of your book introduction.
This means you’ve been given the opportunity to grab their attention and make them reach for their wallets.
This is why, if you’re writing a nonfiction book, your introduction is crucial to your book’s ultimate success. Readers will pick up your story and make a decision about you as an author and your book based on those first few paragraphs.
If you aren’t careful it might be a preface or a foreword instead, and these are different than an introduction.
While this difference might not seem like much to you, mislabeling this section will signal your book as an amateur piece of work to your reader, harming your brand and sales in the long run.
Who would want to read a book (or many) from someone who can’t get even the introduction right?
So, what are the differences between an introduction, preface, and a foreword? Where do you use them? Can you use several of them? We’ll go through these questions in detail.
What is a preface?
A preface discusses how the book came about, the scope of the book, why the book was written, its limitations, and any acknowledgments the author or editor has.
Though they may initially seem the same, and serve the same purpose, a preface is different from an introduction. The author and/or editor of a book can write a preface, but no-one else can.
What it doesn’t do is talk about the meat of the book. It doesn’t go into the subject matter, the point of view, or arguments that the book presents.
The purpose of a preface is to let the reader know how you came to write the book.
Without delving into the book matter, it gives the author a chance to talk to the reader and let them know your story, why you decided to write this book, why the world needs this book right now (helpful if you’re writing about something that’s been written about several times before, such as the hundredth biography of a famous figure,) where you got your information from, and why you are the best author to write this book.
If you have several editions of your book, your preface is also where you discuss why there is a new edition, and what’s different from the old edition.
You have to address your selling points indirectly. This is why it’s best to have an editor’s preface or to have someone else write a foreword.
What is a foreword?
According to the Chicago Manual of Style, a foreword is written by someone other than the author or editor and is usually someone with authority to lend credibility to your book, with their name appearing at the end.
Think of a foreword as a letter of recommendation that someone with credibility writes for your book.
It’s usually by someone the reader will respect, and the foreword will contain reasons for why the reader should read the book. There are fewer rules for a foreword than a preface.
For instance, it can talk about the subject matter if desired. However, forewords tend to be short – usually one or two pages.
Many non-fiction book deals wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the foreword. Publishers are less likely to offer a major advance to first-time authors as they are untested. However, this becomes a different story if they can secure a foreword from someone of influence, (known as foreword deals in the industry.)
John Romaniello (with his co-author Adam Bornstein) was able to get an advance of more than $1,000,000 for his first book, Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha, a practically unheard of amount for a first-time author.
An introduction differs from a preface and a foreword because it’s written by the author and does talk about the subject matter.
A book introduction can include everything that would be in a preface: how the book came about, the scope of the book, why the book was written etc.
However, an introduction also supplements the subject matter of the book.
Whether by presenting a point of view the reader should take, outlining to the reader what is to come, or by teasing the writer’s conclusions.
What’s the purpose of a preface, foreword, and introduction?
Each one of these exists to sell your book in the opening pages. They exist to hook a reader who flips to the beginning of the book and gives clear reasons as to why they should read on to the end.
A potential reader or buyer will judge whether your main argument, point of view, or tone of voice is worth reading on your introduction, preface, or foreword.
If someone they admire recommends your book in the foreword, they’ll sit up and listen.
If your preface reveals some main sources that have never told their story before, they’ll be curious to read more. If your introduction shows that you’re a great writer and you know what you’re talking about, they’ll give you a chance by reading more.
Since we’re dealing with non-fiction, we haven’t discussed prologues or epilogues, though they have the same purpose; to hook the reader and sell them on why to read on.
Where do they go?
So, do you only have to choose one for your book? No.
Your book can have all three if you want, though you don’t want to go too overboard, as your reader might end up skipping it anyway, or might feel like you’re trying too hard.
Getting a foreword can be a lot of hard work if you don’t have the network or credibility to get an influencer to write one for you. And if your reader ends up skipping it, it’ll be a waste of your time.
But if you want to have all three, this is the correct formatting of where they appear in your book, (relevant sections are highlighted in bold. We provided a comprehensive overview of a book’s matter for reference:)
(Each point gets at least its own page.)
Half title page (Sometimes called the bastard title, it’s a page that has nothing but the title. No subtitle or author name.)
Blank page (Or “Also by the author…”)
Epigraph (Quote, or poem that highlights the theme of the book. Can be before main text. Optional.)
Table of contents
Book quote (optional: A quote chosen by the author based on the subject matter of the book.)
List of illustrations, tables or maps (Optional.)
Preface(Optional. Editor’s preface comes before author’s preface if you have both. If you have a separate preface for a new edition of the book it comes before the old preface.)
Abbreviations (Optional. Or in back matter.)
Chronology (Optional. Or in back matter.)
Prologue (Optional. Not applicable to non-fiction.)
Epigraph (or after the dedication and before the table of contents. Optional.)
Another half-title (Optional.)
Epilogue (Optional. Not applicable to non-fiction.)
(These are all optional.)
Chronology (Or in the front matter.)
Abbreviations (Or in the front matter.)
List of contributors
Colophon (Optional brief statement by the publishers on the book’s production, where it was printed etc.)
Authors or Editor’s bio
Invitation to review the book [Usually found in eBook formats asking readers to consider a review if they liked the book]
Don’t panic if your book doesn’t have up to half of these sections. Many of them are not necessary unless you are writing for a higher education audience.
What matters is knowing where your foreword, preface, and/or your introduction needs to go in your book.
How Your Book Introduction Will Help You Sell Books
Your book introduction serves two goals. Think of your first 1,000 words as the foundation for the rest of your book’s chapters.
Writing your introduction is going to be a useful exercise to help you distill down your ideas and to succinctly encapsulate the message of your great work into a few, short paragraphs.
The second goal of your introduction is to act as a sales pitch to intrigue readers so they’ll buy your book.
It’s intimidating, yes, and a lot of pressure is riding on just a few paragraphs. This is why writing your book introduction can be one of your first major stumbling blocks as an author.
That’s why we’re here to help you overcome this significant hurdle so you can continue merrily on the path toward your finished manuscript, and ultimately higher sales of your book once it is published.
How to an Introduction for a Book in 8 Clear Steps
Self-Publishing School created a roadmap, much like we did for mind mapping and outlining, to nail down that book introduction—and also to jumpstart your writing process for the rest of your chapters.
As we go through these 8 steps to writing your book introduction, we’re going to use the example of a book called How to Get College Scholarships.
As you read, take notes, and insert your own book’s topic into your thinking and note-taking process.
#1 – Identify the Problem
Don’t dance around the problem. What’s the problem your book promises to solve? State the problem clearly for your readers from the outset. Be straight-forward, unambiguous, and concise when you identify the issue that readers hope you can solve for them.
Don’t try to be all things to all people—you want readers to know the specific problem your book will solve for them.
Using our example of How to Get College Scholarships, the problem is simple: college is expensive, and scholarships seem out of reach for most high school students.
If you’re not quote sure of the problem you’re solving, it’s likely your target audience is unclear and that means the rest of your book will be unclear.
In our Become a Bestseller program (and all of them, really), you get 1-on-1 tailored coaching with a bestselling author about how to nail your target audience and craft an introduction meant to hook them.
#2 – Present the Solution
Now that you’ve identified the problem readers are struggling with, you’re going to make their day by telling them you’re going to share the solution in your book.
You’ve helped them with a problem AND you’ve revealed that your book holds the solution on the first page. Your book’s going to be a winner!
Directional phrases such as, “In this book, I am going to show you …” or “This book is going to solve your problem by …”
Thinking back to our example, some solutions we’d present in our book would be teaching readers how to write a good essay so you can stand out from the competition, and how to find and apply for the top scholarships.
#3 – Assert Your Credibility
Now that you’ve presented a problem and posted a solution, your next step is to convince your readers that you, the author, are qualified to help solve their problem.
What unique experience have you had with this topic?
Why are you passionate about writing this book?
Sharing your own struggles and how you overcame them is the first step to building rapport with your readers
#4 – Show Them the Benefits
How will your book improve your readers’ current circumstances? Now’s the time to really sell them on how reading your book is going to change their life for the better.
Sold! Who doesn’t want a better life? (It’s rhetorical: We all do!)
You’ve briefly touched on the solution—in our case, how to write a great essay and how to apply for scholarships. In this part of your introduction, you’re going to go a little deeper and explain what good things will happen if your readers take advantage of the information you present in your book.
In short, tell your readers what they’ll get—what knowledge or skill they will gain from reading your book and how that’s going to impact their future for the better.
In our example, the benefit of our book is that readers will go to school for free and live a life without the financial burden of student loans. Readers can achieve their dream of getting an education, without breaking the bank.
#5 – Give Them Proof
Show your readers the proof of why your book is the answer to their prayers. Give the most tangible and relatable proof you can provide.
This might require you to divulge some more private information. If you can, talk about finances, mindset, relationship, or other specific gains that are a soft spot for many people.
Here are some forms of proof to add in your book introduction:
Real stories about gains or losses
Financials–hard numbers TALK
Changes in a relationship
Any charts or graphs can also speak really loudly
Testimonials/stories from others who found success
In our example, we might share how we put ourselves or our children through school on scholarship. We might also include testimonials from other people we know who followed our advice and got a free education.
#6 – Make a Promise (The Bigger the Better)
Don’t make a promise you can’t keep, but make the biggest promise that you CAN keep. Aim high.
To come up with your promise, circle back to your books’ purpose—what is the problem your book is solving? Now promise that this book will solve their problem! It’s that easy.
You need to be able to deliver on your promises, but don’t be shy in stating what they will get in return for reading your book.
While we can’t promise someone they’ll be awarded a scholarship (after all, their grades will have a big impact there,) we can promise that we will increase their chances of getting a scholarship by showing them where to find them and the steps to take to apply.
#7 – Warn Them Against Waiting
You need to create a sense of urgency to buy so your readers know that if they pass on your book, they will regret it because readers will miss out on something really good.
A sense of urgency is created by two magic words, “RIGHT NOW!”
In our example, we would urge people to start well ahead of the scholarship application deadlines so they can submit the best applications they can. Don’t delay, or others who are in the know will snatch up those scholarships! So, let’s get started on getting you a free education RIGHT NOW!
#8 – Prompt Them to Read (Call to Action)
You want readers to continue reading your book the second they finish the introduction. To do that, you have to hint at the juicy secrets your book will reveal to them that will change their lives.
You want to intrigue them and hint at the exciting revelations you’re going to make inside the book. They will have to buy it in order to find out.
Here’s how to craft a compelling Call to Action to prompt them to read your book right away:
The scholarship tips and tricks you’re about to read have proven results. Each chapter provides new secrets that will help you stay in control of your financial future AND get a leg up on the competition for scholarships. If you follow the formula we reveal in this book, it’s highly possible you can enjoy the rest of your life unburdened by debt.
The authors who are willing to put themselves out there—whether in the form of speaking gigs, media, or other in-person appearances—have the best chance of standing out from the crowd and grabbing the attention of book buyers.
What area speaking engagements?
Speaking engagements are when you speak in front of a group of people on a specific topic you’re knowledgable about in order to inform or inspire.
Most people think of TEDx Talks when they hear the term “speaking engagement.”
However, not all speaking gigs have to be at the Ted Talk level in order to be considered a speaking engagement. Any scheduled speech you give (even unpaid) in front of a group of people is considered a speaking gig.
How do I book paid speaking engagements?
Not everyone can get paid to be a speaker upfront. If you want to be a paid speaker, you have to first hone the craft of speaking and then gain experience in the field.
Some may get lucky enough to be booked as a paid speaker upfront but usually, it can take time, experience, and a resume of speaking engagements in order to take home money for it.
An easy way to expedite the process of becoming a paid speaker is to increase your authority by writing a book.
Before you can reach the days of paying someone else to book your speaking gigs, you have to put in the work for yourself first.
This means doing research and performing a lot of outreach in order to connect with those responsible for booking speakers at different events.
Keep in mind that you may have to start small (and we’ll touch on this below) before you can expect to book yourself at larger, paid speaking engagements.
How to get speaking engagements at churches?
One major way to not only make an impact but reach new levels with your faith is to book speaking engagements at churches.
While not everyone will need this bit, it’s super important for those of you seeking to share your story and message. And like some other methods listed here, one powerful way to reach more churches is to write a book about your faith and message.
This allows you to present the church with some concrete information about you as a person of faith and the specific message you’d like to share. Not only that, but it can also be a great way to sell more books.
Here are a few ideas to help you land speaking engagements at churches:
Be present in that church community
Share your message and ideas with others
Develop a strong speaking ability
Live your faith and message outwardly
Allow someone else to nominate you (due to #2)
Attend local church activities
Ultimately, you’ll have to pitch your idea and message in order to land this speaking gig. However, the steps above can help others see you as a source of information, inspiration, and faith.
How to Land Your First Speaking Engagements as an Author
We’re not saying it can’t be nerve-wracking to stand up in front of a crowd. That’s why we recommend starting small, saying “yes” to multiple opportunities, and getting lots of practice.
This isn’t a one-and-done proposition if you truly want speaking to become an effective piece of your “professional author” repertoire.
So, how exactly should you land that first speaking engagement?
Read on for our ten tips, and you’ll soon be writing your notecards for your debut talk.
#1 – Start Local
Conferences are a natural place for speakers of all levels to take the stage. However, don’t feel as though you have to limit yourself to formal settings to find speaking engagements.
Any group where your desired audience gathers can provide a chance for you to speak.
You could speak to students, to religious organizations, women’s groups, at your library, local business associations…the list is endless! Look around your own community and make a mental list of all the places where you might ask to speak.
#2 – Speak to Your Niche
If your book is geared toward a specific niche, explore related groups. For example, if your book is a memoir about overcoming an obstacle—such as domestic violence or cancer or another illness—you could speak to a support group.
If your book is about productivity, then seek out entrepreneur groups or the chamber of commerce.
If you’re a nurse, and you’ve written a book about health care, then hospitals are a natural place for you to speak. If your story relates to a specific sport, then hit up the closest sport teams.
No audience or venue is too small or informal for your first “official” speech.
#3 – Find a Natural Connection
While we do recommend starting small and local, look even closer: make sure the group you choose will actually be well-served by hearing your message.
Look, there’s nothing worse than standing in front of a crowd that’s bored, or worse—hostile—because you’re wasting their time.
There’s an easy way to warm up any crowd, and that’s to have something in common with them. You want your first speaking engagement to be closely related to your book and your book’s message.
If your book is all about the stressful life of a lawyer, then you’re not going to want to speak to a group of airline pilots.
For your first speaking gig, your goal is to find an audience that will benefit from your book’s message. Ideally, you want to find an audience you naturally connect with, because that connection will make you more relaxed and authentic, which will result in a better speech.
#4 – Build Excitement
If you’re not quite ready to beat the bushes in order to grab your first speaking engagement immediately, then consider building up some excitement first.
We authors share a common goal: to get our target readers excited about our book’s message!
How do you do that? The good news is the Internet makes building a virtual audience fairly easy these days with consistent effort. You can establish a following of readers through your website, through online forums, via social media, and by writing blog posts, both your own and by writing guest posts for others.
Use all of these types of content to build your audience with the goals of increasing book sales and finding your first speaking gig.
#5 – Hone Your Skills
Think of informal ways to practice your speaking abilities with the goal of scoring a “real” gig.
You can produce videos on your book’s subject, join podcasts, and seek out online interviews to share your voice with the world, gain exposure, and get comfortable with your talking points.
By showcasing your speaking talents, you open the door to an invitation to speak in a more structured setting—that even pays more.
Plus, you get great practice speaking about your book’s message before you have to stand on a stage in person.
#6 – Attend a Writer’s Workshop
A great way to get the inside scoop is to meet other authors and pick their brains about their speaking process.
How did they find speaking engagements? What are their best speaking tips? What fees do they charge?
Meeting other writers gives you a broader network to use as resources on all topics that impact authors—not just the nitty-gritty of drafting books.
#7 – Speak at an Industry Event
These fact-based speaking engagements are perfect for non-fiction authors. Whether your industry is blogging, healthcare, law, plumbing, or real estate, it’s likely you can find a conference about it.
The exact nature of the industry doesn’t have to mirror the topic of your book.
Instead, you can focus your talk on skills that can help people in that industry.
For example, if your book is about productivity, you can create a talk that’s focused on how your audience can adapt the productivity lessons found in your book to suit their particular industry.
#8 – Aim Low (at First)
The first of your speaking engagements probably won’t be a Ted Talk, and that’s okay!
The first time, in fact, you may have to volunteer your time to speak at a pretty tiny event.
But as the saying goes, you have to walk before you can run. Just keep taking steps toward bigger and better events. With each new speaking gig, your resume will grow—along with your confidence!
#9 – Practice Makes Perfect
Write a speech today, and read it to yourself daily—before you even have speaking engagements lined up. You want to be able to handle a speaking engagement that’s the very next day if someone called you out of the blue.
What way when the times comes, you’ll be ready to shine.
#10 – Say YES!
When you’re offered your first speaking engagements—take it!
Even if it gives you butterflies or if it’s not the “perfect” fit for your brand, you need to be open to invitations when you’re just starting out. You’ll gain valuable experience, polish your skills, and get your book’s message out there to the public.
All good things!
Get started now on finding your first speaking gig. No matter the size of your audience, you’ll gain exposure for your message, while achieving the unparalleled life experience of speaking about your passion.
Book Marketing for Authors During the Covid-19 Pandemic
We wanted to add this section at the top in light of everything happening with the Coronavirus sweeping the world.
With so many shut-downs and quarantines, Amazon has decided to cut down production considerably—and this includes paperback books.
For self-published authors, this is a huge problem. After all, some of you make a living from your book. So we wanted to offer you a few pieces of advice that we’re also sharing with our paying students at this time.
Here are some tips for book marketing during the Covid-19 Pandemic:
Switch to an ebook-first marketing plan (switch marketing images to ebooks, talk about the ebooks, make ebooks top-of-mind so more buy those versus physical copies)
Promote that your paperbacks are on other websites (Barnes and Noble, etc.) instead of sending them right to Amazon
Have any collaborators or those who sell your book via an affiliate link with Amazon switch to a different distributor or an ebook link for the time being
Reduce your ebook price or run a special to get the word out
Connect the current events to your story or message (it’s a GREAT time for dystopian authors and those with work-from-home material)
Offer a free PDF for anyone who buys a paperback (so they can start reading right away, waiting until their physical copy arrives)
Run a special that donates a % of the profits toward families in need during this time
Make sure that while still promoting, you’re aware of others’ struggles and hardships during this time. Be sensitive with your messaging.
This is a crazy situation for all of us and all we can hope to do is tweak our lives to fit the current times, and this includes self-published authors impacted by Amazon’s change.
Book Marketing for Self-Published Authors
Marketing takes planning, organization, and consistent action; it’s hard work. But the good news is that marketing is also about fostering connections and relationships, which can be rewarding to you and your fan base.
And since you’re the one who knows your book from cover to cover, your backstory, your reasons for writing it, and who your ideal reader is, it’s your duty to put a plan in place to best connect with your intended audience and share your story.
We know, we know…you’ve put a ton of effort into writing, editing, and getting your book ready for publication that the thought of adding another layer of “work” is not the most appealing idea.
But realize that if you launch your book without a marketing plan, FAR fewer people will read it.
It will hamper the success of the book you’re working on now, as well as others you plan on publishing in the future. So if you dream of becoming a New York Times bestselling author, or if you want your book to help you reach other lifestyle goals, a book marketing strategy is your essential key to success.
Book Profit Calculator for a Marketing Plan
If you want to know why you have to market your book, the profits will explain it.
If you want to make a living writing your books, it’s important to understand exactly what that means.
In order to earn a living writing your books, understanding how many books you need to sell and what you’ll bring home for each is vital.
Having a quick overview of exactly what you can do and how much time and effort each will take can help you better plan for your book marketing plan.
Here are our recommended book marketing strategies and what you need for each.
Book Marketing Platform
What to do
- use appropriate hashtags
- post relatable tweets to increase shares
- engage by liking and replying to others
- search common hashtags to find your audience
- use appropriate hashtags
- post photos related to the content of your book
- engage by liking and replying to others
- ask questions in photos to increase engagement
- search common hashtags to find your audience
- create a page for yourself or your book
- post video content
- go Live to answer questions or discuss your book
- post blog posts supporting your topic/ideas/book
- create pins linking back to your website
- repin content related to your genre
- create appropriate boards for your content
- optimize pins with keywords
- join group boards
- connect with others who pin similar ideas
- great for business-related topics
- share insights/stats
- share blog posts supporting your ideas/topics
- connect with leaders in your industry
- create a website
- maintain a blog with posts about your main topic
- use this to create an email list
- keep this updated regularly
Free Book Marketing Plan
Having seen and been involved in so many book launches ourselves, we know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to book marketing.
We’ll walk you through a play-by-play of exactly what you need to do so that your readers can find your book and buy it.
We’ve broken this guide down into three main sections for learning book marketing:
Pre-Launch: Building Your Book Marketing Launch Team
Pricing Your Book for Maximum Sales
Post-Launch: 8 Strategies for Selling More Books
Let’s get started!
Pre-Launch: Build Your Book Marketing Launch Team
The first step of preparing for your book launch, and the marketing behind it, is to build your launch team or street team, as it’s also commonly referred to.
What is a launch team?
The ideal launch team, also known as a “street team,” is a dedicated, hand-selected group eager to make your launch successful. If you use your team’s talent and communicate well, there’s nothing your launch team can’t accomplish!
This video does a great job of detailing what a launch team is and exactly what they do:
#1 – Launch Team Size
The first step is to determine the projected size of your book marketing launch team based on the size of your audience.
Your audience is anyone interested in you, your book, and your product.
They could be five of your lifelong friends, members of your community, big organizations you’re connected to, social media followers, email subscribers, anyone who might be interested in what you’re sharing.
If you have a smaller following, we suggest you aim for a launch team of 10-50. Those with hundreds in their network can aim for 100-250 team members.
How to Find a Launch Team
If you don’t have much of a following right now, start by looking at your personal inner circle— your family, your close friends—then branch out to their connections, families, and colleagues.
You can reach out to peers from college, your volunteer work, or even your first job. You may even consider parents at your child’s school, fellow dog owners, or members of your yoga class.
Even though you may not know these people well, they are a part of your network, and you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that they’re inspired by your book and would be eager to share it.
Once you’ve completed this exercise, you should have an initial list of potential launch team members!
#2 – Recruit Quality People for Your Launch Team
Now that you’ve determined your potential recruitment pool, the second step is to initiate contact and gauge their interest level.
The most important lesson to consider about your book marketing launch team is thatQUALITY trumps QUANTITY.
One top-quality, dedicated team member trumps a handful of mediocre ones.
To begin recruitment for your launch team, create a simple questionnaire process that describes your book, your expectations of the team, and questions asking:
Why are you interested in supporting my book?
What part of my book speaks to you?
What specialized skills can you contribute?
What’s your available time commitment?
Who are influential people you can reach out to?
Why would these influential people be interested?
To sweeten the recruitment deal, feel free to offer a free signed copy of your book or an inclusion in the “acknowledgments” section. You can easily do this through email, or through online forms like Typeform.
#3 – Record a Welcome Video
Take the time to record a warm welcome video for your new supporters! In your video, first, congratulate your team for being selected and express gratitude for their help.
This welcome video will help you create a more personal connection with your book launch team, and show them a bit more about why you’re creating it and what message you’re trying to convey.
Be sure to send it to everyone who completes your questionnaire!
#4 – Establish a Communication Style
Here’s the secret to a successful book marketing launch team: Effective communication.
Communicate with your team regularly to keep them focused on weekly tasks, progress, and innovative ideas by doing the following:
Strive to send one email per week preceding launch then increase it to three or more during launch week.
Use a Facebook group to engage, share ideas, and post feedback. Set the tone by posting “Dos and Don’ts” to keep conversations focused and positive.
Boost morale and build rapport by sharing inspiring quotes, gifts, and goofy photos to keep energy high and build vital connections.
No matter which mode of communication you’re using, remember people like to be treated well.
Always make sure your team knows how grateful you are to them and their dedication!
#5 – Book Marketing Launch Team Assignments
You can’t just build up a catalog of supporters and not use them, though. You have to give them small assignments to help you with launching and the book marketing process in general.
It might feel weird telling people to help you, but don’t worry about it!
They’re here because they want to support your project, and as long as you’re gracious and ask nicely, they’ll be happy to support your work.
Facebook Groups will be the most effective way to dole out weekly team assignments.
Here are some book marketing initiatives you can assign your team to do:
Share snippets of content from your book across social media
Submit reviews on Amazon
Add their reviews to Goodreads
Share a book review on their YouTube channel
Record a testimonial for your book
Buy extra copies to give to their friends
Give you more marketing ideas, such as a book trailer to help build up excitement in your followers!
#6 – Utilize Talents
Your team members will have a different variety of skills and talents, and it’s your job to effectively manage your team by assigning work based on their strengths.
To identify your team’s talents, write a post during the introductory week and say the following:
“If you have any special talents or connections you’d like to lend towards my book launch, please comment on this post and let me know. I’m looking for ways to help spread my book’s message to a wider audience.”
#7 – Have Fun and Say “Thank You!”
Your launch team will commit weeks of their time, energy, and talent, so make sure you thank each and every person for their contribution!
Ensure that each person on your team feels valued and appreciated for their efforts.
And most importantly, let them know how to get your book for free (or at least at a deep discount)!
Which brings us to…
How to Price Your Book
One of the most important factors in how successful your book launch is will be how you price it.
To find out how to price your book for success, we recommend reading Book Launch.
But for the sake of this article, here are some of Self-Publishing School’s biggest secrets that will get your book to soar up the Amazon’s charts:
If you have a sizable audience, we recommend launching your book for $0.99, and then increasing the price to $2.99 or higher after about a week.
Although you won’t get paid by putting your book out for free, realize that it will be featured on another author’s page which instantaneously increases your exposure and recognition.
Once the free promotion has ended, switch your book’s price to $0.99 for the following week, then slowly increase the price by $1 per week until sales stagnate.
Post-Launch: 8 Book Marketing Strategies for Selling More Books
All marketing—no matter which market or industry—is fundamentally about people and making connections.
Part of pitching your book will be figuring out how your book relates to your readers and how they will benefit from it.
Now that your book is out in the wild, you want to get as many people to it as possible. Here are the eight best strategies for doing just that.
#1 – Build Your Book Website
Can you imagine if you came home one day and your house was…missing?
Well, that is what an author’s life can be like without a website to post fresh content.
You’ll always be missing a home where you can park your books. Many authors think they don’t need a website because they can promote their books through social media or the author platform on Amazon.
Sorry, not exactly.
There is a huge difference. Having an author website is the difference between renting or buying a piece of property. When you rent, you are living in someone else’s space.
It doesn’t belong to you and they can cancel your lease at any time. Maintaining your own website on a hosted server with your domain name is the same as having that piece of real estate.
You can customize your site your way, publish your own content, and you are always in complete control of how it looks and what gets published.
When it comes to book marketing with your own website, the sky’s the limit. You can:
– Publish your book’s landing page on your site.
– Post blogs about your upcoming book
– Create a countdown timer for the book’s release date.
– Set up an affiliate link to your Amazon page so you get commissions on book sales Include sample chapters from your book
– Link to video clips about the book on your website
– Communicate directly with your email subscribers about new releases or your current blog post
And you can also set up a Google Alert so you can be notified about where your name and your book show up online.
If someone gives you good feedback or a stellar review, reach out and thank them and ask them to link back to your book’s website.
If your book doesn’t already have a website, get one started! To set up your website and personal blog on a paid server, you can try Bluehost or Godaddy and use WordPress for building your site.
#2 – Build Your Email List
There is a saying going around that says: “the money is in the list.” Why? It’s simple. A list of followers who are in love with your writing will be the first to line up when you have a new product to sell.
These people are essentially your customers.
Your email list is yours. It doesn’t belong to Amazon or social media. You control what you want to say, how you say it, and when. Imagine if every time you had a new book ready to launch, hundreds or thousands of people were waiting for it so they could get it first.
If you are serious about your book marketing your current project and all future ones as well, building your list should be a top priority. Nothing else comes close.
Although building a list takes time, in the long run it is the easiest way to market.
These are the true fans that will get the word out and be the first to leave verified reviews after buying your new release at the special price of 0.99. But that is just the beginning.
You can continue to build your list by including a reader magnet at the front and back of your book. Get people hooked on your brand and then keep them there by writing your next book, and then, including them in your next launch.
As your book reaches more people, and you get more signups, your marketing capacity grows…exponentially.
If you haven’t started on your list building, go to an email management system such as Mailchimp or AWeber and sign up for an account. Then get building and start to funnel your fans into your books today.
#3 – Reach Out to Influencers
When it comes to book promoting, nothing can have a bigger impact on your book than influencers through book endorsements.
Even Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most influential and knowledgable people in the marketing game, thinks so.
What is an influencer?
Influencers can be podcasters, bloggers, or authors with strong email lists. It’s someone with an established platform that can get you noticed if they notice you.
An influencer is someone who has a lot of promotional weight and can spread the word about your book to thousands of people with just a brief mention to their email list, on their blog, or by sharing on social media, for example.
Influencers have a long reach. What you can do is identify the influencers in your niche and reach out to them. Tell them who you are and ask if they can help to promote your latest book.
A lot of the time, they’ll want a free copy to read and review. You can also offer to support their future endeavors as a way of giving back.
Influencers can have a major impact on your exposure as an author, so try to set up interviews in your hometown or reach out tosomeone online and offer to do an interview so you can deliver value to their target audience.
Guest post blogging on an influencer’s blog or website is another way to market your book.
For example, if you wrote a book on recipes for Italian food, you could try connecting with people in the Italian cooking niche.
They may have a blog, podcast, or a webinar on which you want to appear.
And if you want to make sure you sound professional during the interview, you can check out some of the best podcast microphones to use.
Identify at least one influencer in your market and reach out to that person. Tell them who you are and what you do. Get on their podcast or get interviewed. Exposure to fans in your niche will have a big influence on book sales.
#4 – Leverage Two Social Media Platforms
Social media is a powerful way to promote your book to potential readers. We can engage with thousands of people just by hitting a few buttons.
But with social media sites, the big scare is the amount of time we can get sucked into trying to do everything. If you try to connect with everyone, you’ll match up with nobody.
When promoting and marketing your book, you can’t be everywhere doing all things at once.
That is why we recommend you choose two social media sites to work with and post your content regularly on these two sites.
For example, you can have a YouTube channel and post weekly videos covering a wide range of topics centering around your book. After a few months, you could build up a library of content that will bring in the right audience, engage with new subscribers, and even create a course out of your videos.
Here’s an example of Youtube content from a writer currently working on her first fiction novel. She created a Youtube channel to engage fellow writers, who are also readers:
By creating a Youtube channel and giving advice about writing, she’s appealing to writers while also advertising that she is also a writer and has a book in progress.
Switching gears to Facebook, you can promote your book or blog using Facebook ads that drive new readers to your Facebook page or your book’s website.
You could also post popular quotes or snippets of material from your upcoming book. With Twitter, you can post multiple times a day with brief quotes or messages under 280 characters. Twitter has proven to be a powerful platform for authors when it comes time to promote and market a book.
And if your book is more business-focused, you may find that LinkedIn works best for you, since it allows you to connect with new readers on a more professional platform.
We recommend choosing two social media platforms and focusing on consistent engagement. This will keep your book’s appearance fresh and invite new people in to check out your work.
Using Specific Hashtags to Grow on Social Media
In the writing community, there are a number of very popular hashtags authors and writers use to connect with each other.
Why make connections with other authors? Because almost every other is also a reader!
Here are some of the top hashtags you can use on each platform:
#amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
#fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
#amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
#fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
Bookbub is the cream of the crop when it comes to promoting and marketing your book. In fact, you should submit your book for promotion as either free or for 99 cents right after your book launch.
Bookbub has a massive following and can get your book delivered to thousands of readers. It really is the “Big One” when it comes to book marketing.
The cost isn’t cheap and can run you anywhere from $200 to $2,000 for a promo, depending on the genre, category, and the price of your book.
But is it worth it?Yes. Definitely.
For example, if you are running a promo for 99 cents in general nonfiction, you could potentially sell, on average, 2,000 copies of your book. Not only will you make a profit, but this could bring in hundreds of subscribers and leads to your email list.
From there you can upsell readers on your other books or even a course if you have one.
Go here for Bookbub submission requirements. You can also check out the pricing here and submit your book here.
#6 – Interviews and Podcasts
A local radio or podcast interview can introduce you to new readers. While this may sound intimidating, you can pull this off like a pro with a little preparation.
Look to local colleges, podcast hosts, or local radio stations for interview opportunities
(Pro Tip: Hosts love to interview up-and-coming authors, so you may be surprised at the many offers that come your way when you reach out).
Reach out, let them know a little bit about your book and why it might be interesting to their audience, and include a free sample of it so they can see if you’d be a good fit.
If you have a press release describing what your book is about, feel free to include that as well to give them more context.
Then be sure that when you go on, you present a great story about your book and get their listeners excited to read it!
What are three podcasts or radio shows you could go on to talk about your book? Find their contact info and reach out with a pitch about having you on.
#7 – Book Clubs
Local book clubs are another goldmine of new readers; you already know they like books! Find and connect with these groups.
You can offer to attend a meet-and-greet and hand out copies of your free signed book. You can also get your book listed in Facebook Groups and other groups dedicated to readers.
There are also paid lists, such as Buck Books, that can reach tens to hundreds of thousands of readers. Book Launch also teaches what lists are out there, and which ones are the best to use.
Are there any book clubs you could join? Look on Facebook for groups that would be a good fit for your book.
#8 – Write Another Book
Publishing another book is great for brand building. In fact, it’s much harder to market just one book unless it is a ground-breaking phenomenal masterpiece.
Your book may be great, but you can compound that greatness by writing more books, preferably in a series.
With every new book you put out there, you increase the chances of your work getting recognized by influencers and people online who are hanging out in all the places you can target for promotion and sharing.
In the writing world years ago, you only had one option: find a publisher who wants it. If no one wanted to buy and publish your book, you were out of luck. Onto the next manuscript, toss that one in the bin.
Fortunately, things are different today.
The great thing about being a modern author is that you’ve got options! Gone are the days of mandatory querying, submitting, waiting, rejections, and repeat. Now you can take your book and your publishing experience into your own hands with self-publishing.
So which one is better? Traditional publishing or self-publishing?
It really depends on your goals and resources. In this blog, we’re going to discuss the differences between traditional and self-publishing, the pros and cons of each, and what you should consider when making this decision.
Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing: A quick overview
Self-publishing might seem like way too much work! Or maybe it seems like an amazingly fun adventure of choosing your own fate, expressing your creativity, and making your own choices.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of self-publishing your book.
Pros of self-publishing a novel:
Creative control. With self-publishing, it’s all up to you! You maintain all creative control. Write any story you want, include whatever characters you want, market however you want, put your own face as the book cover if you want—it’s all your decision.
Business control. You get to decide everything on the business side too! Cover design, marketing, book trailers, promotions, advertisements—you’re in control and can do whatever you’d like. For example, I was able to offer a free ebook of my short story collection to encourage people to stay home during the COVID-19 outbreak. My goal was to calm people down and provide a distraction. But some unexpected benefits for me were extra Amazon reviews, hype about my next book, purchases of the physical copy, and word-of-mouth advertising that I couldn’t have created on purpose. This isn’t something I could have done with a traditionally published book, because the publisher has control of pricing and promotions. NOTE: Business control could be a con if you don’t have a background in business, don’t take the time to research beforehand, or if you’re just not interested in running the business side of a writing career—so keep that in mind.
Higher royalties! Book royalties for a traditionally published book usually range between 8% to 12%. For self-published books, the range is much higher. For example, publishing a paperback with KDP gives you a royalty rate of 60%. That’s a significant difference, and certainly something to keep in mind.
You pay for everything.Editor, cover art, marketing, copyright—all you, boo. There’s no publisher there to pick up any of the financial slack.
No advance, so no guaranteed payment. With traditional publishing, as we’ll cover in a little bit, you typically receive an advance, which is an upfront payment for your book. This guarantees you make something for your efforts, at least so long as your book sells (otherwise you often have to give that advance back). No such luck with self-publishing. You either sell enough copies to recoup costs, or you eat the loss.
Self-publishing your novel might be the route for you if you:
Want to retain creative and business control
Have the money to invest in producing the book
How to publish a novel
If you’ve discovered this is the right direction for you, here are some steps to get you there.
#1 – Produce the book
Write the book
Whichever publishing path you choose, ya gotta write the book. There are many processes and strategies, and it will look different depending on the author and their preferences.
Edit the book
Just like writing, there are several different processes and strategies available for editing your book. Ideally, you’re going to go through multiple rounds of edits. For example, a lot of writers will edit their book in this order: developmental edits, line edits, and copy edits.
You might try in-house editing. This isn’t recommended. Even writers who are also professional editors would be better off hiring an editor for their book. It’s just so easy to miss things when you’re close to a story. It takes an outside perspective to spot mistakes, especially in developmental edits.
You might do this in-house, or you might hire someone to do it for you. If you have the ability to invest in something, I recommend investing in a cover. This is your customer-facing element and a major marketing tool, so investing makes sense!
This is something else you could do in-house, but you should consider your skill level and amount of time you’re able to invest. Think about what you have more of: time or money. If you have more time, maybe it’s worth it for you to learn to format the book yourself. If you have more money and less time, it might be worth the financial investment.
Publish the book
There are many options for indie authors to self-publish with. KDP, IngramSpark, iBooks, Kobo, and more. Each has different levels of accessibility, different learning curves, and different requirements. There are also differentiation between your publishing and licensing rights between them, so research carefully before making your selection.
Self-Publishing School also has step-by-step processes for publishing through each of the above in their Become a Bestseller program so you don’t have to waste the time learning on your own.
#2 – Market the book
Build a platform
Possibly the most powerful marketing tool to sell your book is having an audience—your author platform—ready to buy it before you’ve finished writing it. There are many things you can do to build a platform for your book. Jenna Moreci’s Skillshare class is a great place to start.
The most crucial time frame to market your book is before and during its release. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hype the art you’ve been working so hard to create! Jenna has another great SkillShare class all about book launches.
Giveaways and promotions
Hosting giveaways on social media is a great way to build hype for your book and platform.
You might buy ads to run where your demographic might see them. For example, if you’re writing romance novels for the age demographic of 40+ readers, a Facebook ad might be a great investment. If your target demographic is teenagers, a Facebook ad would be virtually useless (unless you’re targeting their parents!).
Does self-publishing work? Of course! Is it worth it? That’s up to you. Let’s look at traditional publishing to see if that’s a better fit for your writing goals and resources.
Pros and cons of traditionally publishing a novel
Traditional publishing might seem like an unattainable dream. Or maybe it seems like the PERFECT way to launch your writing career! Let’s look at it objectively with some pros and cons.
Pros of traditionally publishing a book:
Less financial investment up front. Your publisher will cover expenses like editing, cover design, and interior formatting. You don’t have to worry about putting your own money on the line. If your book doesn’t sell, you still make off with your cashbag.
The cashbag (guaranteed paycheck). While self-publishing provides you with significantly higher royalties, traditional publishers often offer the incentive of an advance payment, which typically ranges from $5,000 to $20,000. Advances are not a guarantee with every publisher, so always be sure to read your contract. Royalty payments for traditional publishers kick in if and when the book has sold enough copies to surpass the advance. (Most books never meet that threshold and never start paying royalties to the author.)
Cons of traditionally publishing a novel:
Traditional publishers don’t have your best interest at heart. They’re a business. They have goals and standards that have nothing to do with you. Sure, they’re there if you have questions, and they have the industry know-how, but your book is just another product and you’re just another writer. In some cases, publishers will buy rights to a book they never intend to publish, just to keep another publishing company from getting their hands on it. This is a business practice in many industries—it’s a way to minimize competition. While this isn’t the likeliest drawback of traditional publishing, it is an example of how they’re not “on your side”. They’re running a business. NOTE: Vanity presses are technically publishers, and they certainly don’t want what’s best for you and your book. Vanity presses are publishers who charge writers to publish their book—they don’t care about quality because they’re not making their money off of readers: they’re making their money off of you.
Publishers maintain creative control. If you have specific ideas about how you want your book to be presented or marketed, if you have a picture of what you want the cover to look like, if you want to write about something extremely controversial or that there may not be a market for—you’re going to be disappointed. Publishers know the industry, and they have their own goals with your book: they’ll do what they want with it. They can even control the content of your story. If that bothers you, this probably isn’t the publishing option you should take.
Publishers maintain business control. Just like creative control, the business control lies with your publisher. Like I said earlier, I was able to offer my ebook free, just because I felt like it. With traditional publishing, you don’t have a say in how your book is sold.
While you typically have a guaranteed paycheck in that initial advance, it often isn’t much! If you’re getting $10k per book, and that’s all, you have to have a day job or make sure you stretch that $10k until you can rip out another book fast. While self-publishing doesn’t promise a lucrative life right away either (unless you know how to work the algorithm and gain exposure, which is taught in Self-Publishing School’s Sell More Books program), keep in mind that advances—especially early on—just aren’t that much.
Traditionally publishing a novel might be for you if:
You don’t mind giving up creative and business control
You don’t have the money to invest up front
You’re okay with receiving smaller royalties in exchange for the publisher covering production costs
You understand that they don’t have your best interests at heart, and you’re ready to proceed with a business frame of mind, taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your work
How to traditionally publish a novel
If you think traditional publishing might be the right move for your book, let’s look at the steps to do it!
Most of the traditional publishing process is spent waiting. Some writers can wait for months or years trying to snag a literary agent. You might even end up tossing your manuscript and trying again with the next one.
TIP: Try to use this time productively, like by working on your next manuscript!
If/when you find an agent, you’ll go back and forth with your agent and editor to edit your manuscript over and over again, until it’s right!
Once your book is edited, you wait for publication. Again, this could be months or years, but once it happens, time to market.
Unfortunately (and contrary to popular belief), being traditionally published does not guarantee that your publisher will market the book for you. In fact, they almost definitely won’t.
Unless you’re an established author, publishers really don’t benefit from spending money making sure your book sells. They’ll invest their marketing budget on authors who have already proven to be profitable.
The one guaranteed element from a publisher that you might consider marketing is the book cover (which you have no say in designing). This doesn’t mean publishers are evil and they want you to fail, but they have no incentive to spend any of their marketing budgets on a new author or a debut book—it won’t make them any money, and they’re just running a business.
To sum up, there’s no one-size-fits-all publishing solution that will work for every writer. Consider your goals, your expectations, your strengths and weaknesses, and the amount of time and resources you’re ready to commit to publishing your book.
Do you want to invest less time and money for a smaller reward? Traditional publishing might be your route.
Do you want to invest a little more initially for potentially a more profitable long-run? Self-publishing might be your route.
What’s the difference between a book blurb and a synopsis?
A blurb serves you on the consumer marketing front, giving a glimpse into your story with just enough information to entice, holding back enough to avoid spoilers. It’s a teaser of your book, not a summary.
A synopsis will be part of your press kit and applications for things like reviews, interviews, literary agents, editors, and publishers. A synopsis summarizing the twists, turns, and conclusion of your story.
It’s essentially a condensed version of your book.
Book Blurb and Book Synopsis Examples
This is often easier seen than taught. Below are a couple of screenshots of the Amazon page for both a fiction and nonfiction book.
As you can see, the content readers use to decide whether or not they want to purchase the book is actually a blurb.
Oftentimes, synopsis (where there are spoilers and deeper detail) is usually used more to sell the book to a traditional publisher than for selling your book to readers (or for a homework assignment from school!).
What is a book synopsis?
A synopsis is a one to four page summary of your novel. The synopsis should explain the plot, main character arc, and conclusion of the book.
A common method of writing a synopsis is in a three-paragraph format.
First paragraph: introduction of character, setting, and conflict/inciting incident.
Second paragraph: major plot points, conflicts, and characters that are required for the conclusion to make sense.
Third paragraph: how the conflict is resolved, how the character changes from the start of the book.
Tips for writing a novel synopsis:
Use active voice instead of passive voice. This makes the synopsis more interesting and engaging.
Use third person point of view. This is standard.
Consider your synopsis as a representation of your writing skills. Don’t just summarize the book–summarize it in a way that portrays your writing style.
Write clear and concise copy. If your synopsis is too long or rambly, you’ll lose the reader’s interest and they might assume your novel is also too long and rambly.
Don’t try to cover too many things or include too many details. Your main plot points and character arc are all you need in a synopsis. Don’t try to include every beat and character in the book.
Don’t try to write an intriguing or mysterious hook–simply give the information required. Don’t hold something back to be mysterious. That’s something for your book blurb, which we’ll tackle below.
What is a blurb?
Often referred to as a “book description,” a blurb is a short piece, around 150 words, to promote your novel. You find blurbs on the back cover of paperbacks, the inside back cover of a hardback, and on book description pages in online stores.
Think of this as the elevator pitch of your book.
Unlike a synopsis, a blurb does not outline every major plot point of your story, and it doesn’t give spoilers.
Blurbs are extremely important to market your book. They’re for “selling” the book to the consumer.
How to write a book blurb
Let’s go over the structure, formula, and some tips for writing a good book blurb.
Here’s the structure of a book blurb:
Snappy opener. You usually have to catch the reader’s interest within the first sentence for them to continue reading the blurb.
Character introduction. All you need is your main character! Don’t worry about introducing every named character in your book. Don’t include more than two characters.
Presentation of stakes. What’s at risk in your story? What questions can you present that will make people want to read your book to find the answer?
Keywords. Especially if you’re selling online, keywords do a lot to help potential readers find your book. Make sure you’re using accurate and effective keywords for your book and genre.
A hook–why should readers buy this book? What’s the cliffhanger?
Book Blurb Formula
Most fiction blurbs you’ll see follow this kind of format:
Situation–introduce your character. Who are they, where are they, what are they up to?
Problem–what pressing issue does your character have to face? This is often the inciting incident.
Obstacles–what’s stopping them from solving the problem?
Stakes–what does the character have to lose? The last bit should also set the mood for your book.
Here are some more tips for writing a book blurb:
Read a ton of blurbs, especially blurbs from successful books in your book genre.
Work on a great first sentence. Like I said earlier, if you can’t catch interest with the opener, your reader likely won’t finish reading the blurb.
Use audience-catered language. This includes keywords, but also the way your blurb can relate to your audience. Age demographic is a great thing to consider when you’re crafting language for your particular target audience.
Offer setting. With description, word choice, and tone, let the reader know when and where the story is set.
Keep it concise. 200 words max!
Get others to read and critique your blurb. Feedback on any piece of writing is important, especially something that can make or break book sales like a blurb. Get several sets of eyes on it, and listen to the notes people give you.
Write a few different versions and experiment. You might surprise yourself with how creative you can make it.
Don’t give spoilers! That’s synopsis content.
Avoid comparing your work to a famous author’s work or a famous piece of literature. If you welcome a comparison, people will take you up on it…potentially in the reviews, and you don’t want that.
Good Book Blurb Examples
Let’s look at a few examples of blurbs from popular novels.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
The first paragraph introduces the situation. The character, her current state, the premise, and the setting.
The second paragraph gives us the problem (she sees something shocking), the obstacles (she only gets a glimpse, she might be unreliable), and the stakes (has she harmed something?).
Some genre keywords we get are: police, investigation, shocking
And what mood are we left with from this blurb? Intrigue, mystery, and the promise of a possibly unreliable narrator make this an exciting blurb.
Sometimes a quote from the novel works as a blurb itself. Let’s look at this example.
Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be—that thirsted for my blood.
Third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
The situation is that our character lives in a world where vampires exist, and they’re in close proximity to one. The problem is that the vampire wants to eat them. The obstacle and stakes (ha ha) is a wrap-up in the fact that they’re in love with the vampire that wants to eat them.
Some genre keywords we get are: vampire, blood, and love.
The mood this blurb gives us is, “Oooh, dangerous. But like, in a sexy way?”
Tobias Kaya doesn’t care about The Savior. He doesn’t care that She’s the ruler of the realm or that She purified the land, and he certainly doesn’t care that She’s of age to be married. But when competing for Her hand proves to be his last chance to save his family, he’s forced to make The Savior his priority.
Now Tobias is thrown into the Sovereign’s Tournament with nineteen other men, and each of them is fighting – and killing – for the chance to rule at The Savior’s side. Instantly, his world is plagued with violence, treachery, and manipulation, revealing the hidden ugliness of his proud realm. And when his circumstances seem especially dire, he stumbles into an unexpected romance, one that opens him up to unimaginable dangers and darkness.
Situation: Tobias is to compete for The Savior’s hand in marriage, and he absolutely doesn’t care.
Problem: Tobias has to fight for his life in a tournament.
Obstacles: Everyone’s trying to kill, manipulate, and betray him.
Mood: This blurb leaves us with a sense of urgency and danger.
If you plan to sell a book, you’ll become intimately familiar with the process of writing a compelling synopsis and blurb. They’re essential elements in a book marketing plan, and they are cornerstone elements of presenting your book to multiple levels of the book publishing industry.
Believe it or not, writing a book isn’t as difficult as it’s made to seem. At least, getting started isn’t.
We have a complete guide that will cover best practices to start writing a book asap – even today if you sit down and put your pen to paper, so to speak.
How do you begin to write a book if you never have before?
This might be hard at first but really, you can write a book even if you’re not the best writer. Chandler Bolt (the man who started Self-Publishing School) was a C- English student and still wrote and published 6 bestselling books.
The truth is that if you’re brand new to this, guidance will be the most important thing. Having someone tell you what to do and what works best will help you be the most successful and learn the most during this process.
Learning as much as you can will give you most of the knowledge you need to get it done.
But you can also get started right here with these steps for starting to write a book.
#1 – Start by setting Up Your Book Writing Environment
One of the most important things to remember if you want to start writing a book is designing a writing space that allows your creativity to flourish unhindered.
Create an environment that is designed to help you stay focused.
Whether you prefer noisy environments or absolute solitude, it’s up to you to determine which will get you into the writer’s flow.
What you want to avoid is a super messy environment, even if you think you work well in those types of spaces (like the one featured below).
If anything can distract you from writing, it’s not worth it.
Here are a few ideas to create your ideal space for writing:
Have collections of inspiration. Decorate your work area with inspiring quotes or pictures that house references to deep work.
Unclutter your space. Create an uncluttered open space to help organize not only what you need, but also your thoughts.
Be Flexible. Your creative space doesn’t need to be one spot, it can be anywhere. Even your favorite authors have discovered their best ideas in the most unexpected places.
Buy a calendar: Your book will get written faster if you have set goals for the week/day. The best way to manage this is by scheduling your time on a calendar. Schedule every hour that you commit to your author business. What gets scheduled, gets done.
Create a music playlist for inspiration: Many authors can write to the sound of their favorite tunes. Is there anything that gets you working faster? Do you write better with deeper focus when listening to rock music or classical? Set up several playlists that you can use to get into the flow of writing.
Try Multiple Locations. You won’t know how creative you can be if you don’t try different spots to write. Maybe writing from your bed is your ideal creative space. What about working in a noisy cafe? Change up your location frequently particularly if you feel creatively spent.
Here are some more tips for starting your book and putting together your writing environment:
How to Start Writing Tip
- isolate yourself from family/friends/even the family dog
- remind everyone it's YOUR time
- Turn your phone off
- Close ALL web browsers
- Close your email
- invest in a GOOD chair
- or resort to using a stand-up desk for more energy
- fill the area with motivational quotes
- make sure you're physically comfortable for the next 30 minutes or an hour
Choose Beneficial Background Noise
- turn off all sounds if it distracts you
- turn on lyric-less music to help you concentrate
- choose energizing music to help you focus
#2 – Start Writing by Developing a Writing Habit
The number one reason authors fail to publish a book is because they never finish the book they intend to publish. Why?
Because they didn’t form a good writing habit.
Feeling overwhelmed when writing a book is natural, but you must remember that this journey always begins with the first page. And in order to write your first page, you must take action.
For example, schedule your writing time daily so that you can stick to a solid writing routine that will allow you to make real progress.
This is why having a writing habit will develop your writer’s flow.
But before you can start your habit, you’ll want to know how much you need to write during each session in order to stay on track for your writing goals.
Here’s a word and page count calculator to help you figure out how many words you should be planning for in your book:
Choose your book type, genre, and audience for a word count and page number total.
Your book will have
*These results are based on industry standards. The total word and page count will vary from book to book and is dependent on your writing and overall book formatting*
Want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox?
Your writing habit can start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking that you must write your every thought on the page. You can start with a few paragraphs, a sentence, or even just a word.
The purpose of this exercise is to commit to your writing session every day until it has become second nature.
#3 – Create an Outline Before You Start Writing
A clear book outline provides clarity and direction to your story. It is also the roadmap for your book that keeps you on track and ensures you have all your ideas organized in a natural flow. And that’s not even to mention that it helps you write a lot faster, too.
There are many types of outlines you can use here.
We highly recommend starting with the mindmap outline and then moving to the sticky note method, as our students find it the most helpful.
When you get stuck or suffer writer’s block, you can always go back to your outline to find what comes next regardless of whether the book is 100 pages or 300 pages long. It will help you see the overall picture.
Learn to say “NO” to any additional projects no matter how intriguing they appear.
Create an action plan and commit to it. Learn to be selfish and practice saying “NO” often. It’s better to complete one book and get it right than to write two books with poor results.
#5 – Maintain Your Focus
Once you get into the flow of starting your book, you want to remain focused through the duration of your writing session. Any break to your concentration can set you back 20-30 minutes and disrupt your flow.
We become less efficient when we are distracted, and it can end up taking twice as long to complete our writing.
Thankfully, there are very effective techniques that can help you remain centered and in the moment.
Leave the distractions behind by doing the following:
Create a writing schedule. Schedule your writing for the same time each day. This conditioning will develop your writing habit until it becomes as natural as knowing when to brush your teeth.
Use the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management strategy that breaks down work into intervals separated by short breaks. With a clock ticking, you will less likely be distracted by email or social media.
Turn off your phone. Your phone is the most addicting device that steals your precious attention. Don’t let it take that from you, turn it off. If you don’t want to turn it off, then download a writing software or app that limits distractions.
Have a Task Management app. Task Manager apps, like Todoist, helps you organize your tasks by their time and priority, so you know exactly what to do in what order the next day.
Disconnect from the Internet. Want to ensure you don’t get distracted by email notifications, Facebook notifications, etc.? Disconnect your computer from the Internet and enjoy distraction-free writing time.
Experiment with each of these productivity techniques and optimize your writer’s flow. By becoming a productivity expert, you will easily double your output and complete your book in no time.
#6 – Schedule Your Writing Time
Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most popular comedians of all time, and he attributes his success to his unbelievably strong writing habits. In the early days of his career, Seinfeld was asked how he managed to have such great content.
He said, “The way to be a better comic is to create better jokes, and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.”
Seinfeld used the “Calendar Method”, otherwise known as the “Don’t Break the Chain” method, and it worked like this:
Get yourself a calendar, and hang it on the wall.
For each day you write, draw an X on the calendar for that day. By the end of the week, you should have a row of Xs at the end.
If you miss a day, start over and see how long you can go before breaking the chain.
Buy yourself a calendar and get started on the “Calendar Method!” Being held accountable will keep you motivated and not “Break the Chain.”
#7 – Start by Dealing With Writing Distractions First
Distractions can hinder you and your deisre to start writing a book.
Resistance is a common obstacle that has the ability to distract us for too long. It’s a form of fear that intimidates you from writing and can throw you off your writer’s flow.
Not only do you have the distractions of everyday life, but if someone in your life has qualms with you spending time to write, it can be extra difficult to concentrate and just write.
Everyone has encountered this awful feeling, but it doesn’t have to defeat you.
Here are a few ways to deal with resistance:
Read morning affirmations. Affirmations are powerful snippets of positive words that set the tone and atmosphere for writing. An affirmation could be a quote from a writer, a motivational speech from a public figure, or an inspirational video.
Free Flow for 10 Minutes. Julia Cameron, the bestselling author of The Artist’s Way, called these morning pages, and its purpose is to clear your mind of all the anxiety and junk rolling around in your head onto a piece of paper. Write anything. You don’t have to edit, publish, or have a word count, it’s simply a 10-minute exercise to clear out heavy thoughts and prepare you for a more productive day. This is best done with pen and paper instead of typing into a document with your digital device.
Exercise. Exercising is not only good for your health but will help keep you mentally sharp. Working out will increase the blood flow to the brain which will sharpen your awareness and give you the energy you need to tackle your book.
Create a resistance plan! Figure out which methods best filter out the negative noise and get you to prepared to write.
Start Writing a Book TODAY!
If you want to become a published author, you must take ownership of your writing habits.
By following these strategies, you can have a completed book within months and be on your way to becoming a successful writer.
It’s a tough, yet brave decision. Sitting down to get your message out in the world will be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you do.
But now that you’ve made this decision, you may be wondering:
Should I approach a publisher and go down the traditional route? Or should I self-publish and become an indie author? Which is better, traditional publishing versus self-publishing?
Before the age of the internet, the only way a writer could get their book in front of millions was to send a book proposal and a query letter to a traditional publisher or agent. The writer hoped that day’s gatekeeper had drank their morning coffee, woken up on the right side of the bed and actually given your letter and proposal more than a 10-second glance.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening was slim to none.
This resulted in brilliant people like yourself being denied the opportunity to share their experiences, stories, and knowledge with the world.
Thankfully, this industry is changing for the better – at least for those of us who are savvy in self-publishing.
With the development of online marketplaces like Amazon, the publishing process has changed. You can distribute your book to everyone, regardless of what some traditional publishing house thinks about your idea.
You have a book inside of you and the world needs to read it!
Is it better to self-publish or get a publisher?
Whether or not self-publishing or getting a publisher is better relies entirely upon your own goals and resources. For you as a person and a writer, one or the other will be better.
If you want to have far more creative control but pay a little more upfront (with the knowledge you also make a lot more in royalties), self-publishing is the best route.
But if you want to put in a year—sometimes two—more to find an agent, write a great book, and get a deal in exchange for that $5,000 – $10,000 first-time advance, it might be better for you.
The truth is that you have to inform yourself of each and make the decision for yourself, which is why we put this comprehensive blog post together for you.
Let us know which you’re going for in the comments too!
How much can you make from self-publishing?
The amount you make from self-publishing depends on your royalty rate, how much you sell the book for, and how much time you’re spending marketing the book.
But also keep in mind that you have to know how to self-publish the book correctly if you truly want to see high returns.
Thankfully, self-published books have a much, much higher royalty rate than traditional publishers because you get to keep anywhere from 50-70% of your book’s profits.
With a traditional publisher, they take much more and you only end up with 10% maybe 12% after years of proving yourself as an author.
Want to see how much you’d need to sell in order to make a specific amount? Fill out the calendar below so you know exactly that!
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Does self-publishing hurt your chances with a traditional publisher?
Self-publishing does not hurt your chances with a traditional publisher at all. The opposite is true, actually. Self-publishing a book and having success can make it more likely you’ll publish with a traditional publishing house.
Major publishers like their authors to have an edge. The more successful you are on your own, and the bigger your author platform, the more likely it is a traditional publisher will publish your book.
So by having success and building your following as a self-published author, it makes landing an agent and a book deal that much easier. And it also saves you a ton of time searching for that agent too!
Some literary agents may actually approach you if your book does well enough. Does the book The Martian ring a bell?
It does happen. But first, your book has to sell and be successful much like The Martian was.
The publishing world has changed, and it’s time for you to reap the benefits. Here are seven reasons why self-publishing is the best route to take—and why you’ll think twice before dealing with a publishing company again.
#1 – You Don’t Have to Wait for Permission
With self-published books, you do not have to wait for anyone to give you the green light.
You decide when and how to publish a book.
You decide whose hands your book gets into.
You decide how successful you are.
In other words, you don’t have to convince any gatekeepers to allow your book to reach the global market.
“But, don’t traditional publishers have a good idea for what will sell or not? I mean, if they reject my book, they’re probably right that no one would want to buy it.”
Have you ever heard of Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4-Hour Workweek”? It has been a New York Timesand Wall Street Journal bestseller for over four years. It sold nearly 1.5 million copies and has been translated into 35 different languages.
Oh, and get this: It was rejected by the first 26 publishers it was presented to.
Maybe you’ve also heard of a certain children’s book, the one about a young boy with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead who discovers he is a wizard. The ”Harry Potter” franchise is a patent bestseller, with the last four books in the series being the fastest-selling books in history.
Yet it was rejected by 12 publishers in a row, and was only picked up because the eight-year-old daughter of an editor demanded to read the rest of the book. Even then, after the editor agreed to publish, they advised J.K. Rowling to get a day job as she had little chance of making money in children’s books.
Little did they realize the publishing success they had stumbled onto.
Now, just imagine all the other authors out there who stopped after the first 10 or 20 doors slammed in their faces, believing the lie that they didn’t have a profitable idea.
You cannot allow other people to determine your success.
Self-publishing gives you the avenue to do that. You and your readers decide the worth of your words, rather than one person at a publishing firm who may not realize the potential publishing success in their hands.
#2 – You Can Publish Your Work Quickly
If you were to take your book to a traditional publisher, it would take years to publish.
For example, it may take up to six months for you to even hear back about the book proposal. And assuming they accept your proposal, it will take at least another year before the book is actually published.
With self-publishing, you can produce your content as quickly as you want. And in the Amazon Kindle store, you can publish a new book whenever you want. That way, you can share your work as quickly as you create it!
#3 – Bring Home the (passive) Bacon
Traditionally-published authors are typically paid an amount of money up front. However, once the sales come rolling in, they only get a small cut of the earnings.
Why? Because they have to pay the publishing house, the editor, the marketers, the designers, etc.
But when you self-publish, you take in most of the earnings (save for the money you actually choose to spend on marketing book production and publishing). On Amazon, for example, self-published authors receive 70% of the royalties for an eBook priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Now that isn’t bad!
#4 – You Form Invaluable Connections
Self-publishers around the world have gathered online and in person to provide a community that supports one another in publishing their work.
These connections become priceless as you meet other up-and-coming influencers like yourself.
“Wait—so where would I meet these people?”
Because self-publishing requires that you find your own editor, cover designer, formatter and launch team members, you end up connecting with people throughout your whole writing experience.
Self-published authors also gather on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit.
The camaraderie allows people to expand far beyond what they could have done on their own, or what they would have been limited to with a traditional publisher.
#5 – You Control Your Objective
So much of a book is influenced by the motive that fuels it.
Is your motive to make money?
It is to launch a new career?
Is it to share your story?
Is it to become a public speaker?
Or, is it simply something to cross off your bucket list?
Remember, writing a book is hard work. And nothing is worse than seeing your hard work be transformed into something you didn’t want. When you self-publish, you are able to preserve the dignity and genius of your objective. No one is pressuring you to sell more books, or to taint your message so that it will reach wider audiences.
You are not pigeonholed or made to become someone you’re not comfortable with.
You write as you, and for you. And that is liberating. That is self-publishing freedom!
#6 – You Control Your Creative Concept
There are horror stories about authors whose ideas and voice became unrecognizable after they went down the traditional route.
When you work with a traditional publisher, you don’t just sell them your manuscript, you sell them your idea.
Your book may become something you are not comfortable with. Or, your dreams for a sequel or a revision may be completely squandered if it does not comply with the motives of the traditional publisher.
But as an independent author, you retain total creative control.
You are free to be expressive with your work. You are free to be vulnerable and controversial. You are free to be you.
When you self-publish, you also control who you write for. If you sell via the Amazon Kindle store, you can choose, and then tweak, your categories and keywords. You determine your marketing efforts.
Most people looking to write a book want to earn more money, gain more freedom or have a platform to share their ideas.
When you self-publish and have complete ownership over your ideas, you also have complete ownership over your future.
There is no traditional publishing firm to stop you from selling a supplementary online course that includes material from your book, starting a speaking career, re-releasing your book with a hardcover or audiobook, or even releasing an updated version of your book.
You determine the trajectory of your book, your ideas, and your publishing career when you self-publish.
Even Big Names Choose Between Traditional Publishing VS Self-Publishing
Though there are some benefits to traditional publishing, even some well-established and successful authors admit that the joys of being an indie author outweigh a traditional publishing deal.
So much, in fact, that big name entrepreneurs who have large followings and could easily get a traditional publishing deal are opting to go the self-publishing route.
It really is…but only if you’re dedicated and have the right process to get you results.
The fact is, a lot of misinformed people judge self-publishing as being a waste or that you won’t make money. Those people just don’t know how to properly position their book on Amazon, market it, or even title their book to sell.
That’s why so many of our students are successful; they follow our program and with the help of their coaches to tailor their strategy, they make money and have major success with their books.
Why Go With Traditional Publishing?
As you can probably tell, we here at Self-Publishing School are huge advocates of being in control and ensuring you get all the money you deserve for the work you’ve put in.
That being said, sometimes traditional publishing will be the best option to fit your needs.
Here is why some people might opt to go with traditional publishing instead of reaping the rewards of self-publishing.
#1 – You have connections in the publishing industry
The chances of landing and agent and making it in traditional publishing is very low.
Because this market is very saturated and publishers really only publish certain types of books, those who have better luck with traditional publishing are those who have connections within the industry.
Basically, if you know someone who is an agent or an editor at a publishing house, it might be beneficial for you to work with them in order to get published through that house.
#2 – You want the label
The best perk when it comes to traditional publishing is typically the fact that you can say you’re a traditionally published author.
Because you have to go through a number of different processes and rejections in order to “make it” with traditional publishing, it can be seen as a sign that you’re a better writer than others.
However, as much as it can sound impressive, it doesn’t always mean it is.
#3 – Distribution
Book distribution is much easier as a traditionally published author, mostly because you don’t have to deal with any of it.
Traditional publishing houses have very wide reaches and because of this, your book can reach a lot more stores in more places than if you traditionally publish.
#4 – Less responsibility on your part
If you’re the type of person who just wants to write the book but don’t want to worry about the title, book cover design, editing, or more, then traditional might be for you.
Keep in mind that traditional publishers do purchase the rights to your book when you get a book deal and therefore, can make you alter anything in it to meet their needs.
Meaning, your plot and characters can drastically change. If you’re okay with that, then traditional publishing works for you.
#5 – No upfront costs to you
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean traditional publishing is necessarily “free.”
Typically, those who get traditional book deals receive an upfront payment of varying amounts. From there, the rest of the expenses fall on the publisher.
However, those upfront payments aren’t often big enough to cover your living expenses for the length of time it takes to get your book finished and out into the world. And that means you’ll still have to continue to work another job while writing and meeting deadlines in order to get your book done.
#6 – A slow and steady process
This can be both a pro and a con. If you’re not in a rush to get your book out into the world, then the slow and lengthy traditional publishing process might be a good thing for you.
Ultimately, Self-Publishing Will Change Your Life
It may be that, like quite a few writers, you’ve dreamed about working with a big-name publishing house all your life, and nothing will satisfy you until you get that experience. There is nothing wrong with that.
If you’ve identified this need early on, then maybe it’s best for you to go down the traditional publishing route.
But let’s say you win the book lottery and get published. There is still no guarantee that your publisher’s efforts will get your work in bookstores or into the hands of the editors of your favorite literary magazines and newspapers. There’s also no guarantee in sales volume.
However, self-publishing gives you an alternative path. It gives you an assured chance of getting your book out there. You have a better chance of seeing success in your sales and making an impact if your message resonates with enough people. Not to mention, you get to stay true to the vision of your book.
Self-publishing allows you the freedom, money, community and control to shape your life into one that you adore.