Joining me today is Michael Hyatt. He is the former chairman and CEO of a publishing company, now he is the founder and CEO of Michael Hyatt Company. An Inc. 5,000 company for several years, he has written and published dozens of books. Today, we are going to chat about how he is self-publishing books, how he has sold hundreds and thousands of planners and journals, and his new book The Vision Driven Leader and talk about the behind the scenes of his book launch.
Michael believes that “books are the tip of the sphere.” He uses books to network and go where he wouldn’t be able to be. Additionally, he says that books are “working while I’m sleeping.”
On advertising, Michael says, “We never use Facebook Ads to sell directly, except for self-published books.” These books are used as a lead generation when offering free value-added content. “We want them to opt-in, buy the book, and buy additional products.” While the number one way Michael gets traffic is through speaking engagements, he receives valuable traffic through his book lead-generation process.
Other forms of lead generation, especially during COVID, are evergreen webinars or live webinars, and assessments. From the assessment, the potential client fills out a planner. At this point, they can be vetted as a possible client for business coaching. Clients who buy a bundle of books are a flag that this client has a team and is a company Michael wants to market his higher-level sales.
Listen in to find out how Michael sells his books directly from his website, how he moves potential clients from his lead funnel to his business and the channels he uses to sell over a half a million planners in a year. Learn why his planners are spreading like wildfire in major corporations, why there is nothing more important for your business than having a clear vision of your company, and why lacking in a vision script will put leaders on shaky ground.
[02:30] Why books are the meat and potatoes of the Michael Hyatt Company.
[03:11] How Michael decides which books to self-publish and which books to publish traditionally.
[04:27] He answers the question “What is a tradebook?”.
[07:00] Questions asked when they take their book order.
[08:13] How Michael ties in assessments as a lead generation tool.
[09:57] The downside of traditional publishing.
[11:30] The challenges of getting readers to see and read ebooks and his clear Customer Journey Diagram.
[15:45] Top acquisition channels for Michael to sell his planners.
[20:16] Consider the possibility of setting up a subscription for a paper book.
[23:24] Michael’s game plan for marketing his new book based on previous experiences.
[25:09] Three things a clear Vision Script will give you in your business.
[26:47] Differences between vision and mission and the four parts of the core ideology of a business.
[29:08] How Michael drives book sales to his bestseller list.
[34:39] Free offerings Michael gives with his book sale.
[37:35] Why Michael’s book is more relevant now than ever and how he pivoted his messaging.
[40:16] Michael’s advice to the Michael Hyatt’s of today.
A book proposal is a “pitch” of a nonfiction book used to sell or get the attention of agents and publishers. The purpose of a book proposal is to intrigue publishers while also explaining your book and its marketability to them in order to get them to buy it.
Think of a book proposal as your book’s sales page or letter.
The idea is to not only give them a summary of your book, but to sell them on the idea, how popular the idea and concept could be, and how viable it is in current literary markets.
Book proposals are primarily for nonfiction books looking to make it in the traditional publishing market, but knowing how to write a great book proposal is also important for self-published authors as well, and we’ll get to those details more below.
Self-Publishing VS Traditional Publishing
If you want to learn how to write a book proposal, chances are you’re looking to pursue traditional publishing—meaning working with a publishing house to publish your book.
Now, from what many of our Become a Bestseller program students tell us when they first arrive, many of you might not know that another option exists.
It’s called self-publishing (in case you haven’t got the gist already!).
What will you be teaching them or what will impact them the most?
What will each chapter be like?
What tone and style will you use (think back to your audience)?
What examples will you be using to further confirm your message?
We do recommend you have a really, really strong idea as to what the book will cover in full. It makes the process of writing out your entire proposal much, much easier (and stronger).
#2 – Write the book, or at least start it
Some publishers will want to see samples, but that’s not the only reason to write part of the book first.
In truth, you have to know what you’re selling in order to sell it well and write a book proposal that’s going to speak loudly about your message.
Most of what we find with our Become a Bestseller students is that they almost always change what their book is about when they get into the thick of it. Meaning, once they start outlining and getting feedback from their coach, a lot of their book changes.
Imagine writing a 25-page (minimum) book proposal only to be left to change almost everything after you start your book?
That would be a huge waste of time.
#3 – Put the right information in the header
This is more of a formatting tip, but when you start your proposal, make sure you have the right details in your header.
This is where they’ll know to contact you and honestly, if this part isn’t organized and displayed correctly, they might just ignore your proposal altogether.
After all, not many agents or publishers will want to work with someone who can’t follow basic instructions.
Here’s what you need in your book proposal header for each page:
Your last name
Your book title
You can also learn more about how to format a book proposal here.
#4 – Give a short synopsis of the book’s contents
What would the back of your book say? That’s what you want to put here. But remember, this one can be a little more fleshed out than just a couple paragraphs.
You really want to give a sense of what your book is about, who it’s for, and what they can gain from reading your book.
It’s the one time all authors dream of: time to brag about yourself!
This is the section where you’ll basically show off and explain why you’re the person to be writing this book. State some awards, features, and other examples of what makes you credible to share this message.
What publisher are looking for in this section of your book proposal is something unique and interesting that would set you apart from someone else who might have a similar or even the same book idea.
Don’t be afraid to get personal—in fact, do! You have to make sure they. understand that nobody else is the right author for this book.
Focus and dig into what makes your perspective unique and therefore, better and more marketable than others.
#6 – Plant the hook
Now it’s your time to make a “big reveal” about what makes this book so unique and sellable.
What’s the hook?
What is the #1 thing that will get readers to buy, review, and love your book? In essence, this is the real selling point of your story!
Make it important, impactful, and most importantly: make it speak to them emotionally as well as in a light where they can see how it can be marketed.
#7 – Reveal the target audience
Who is this book for? You should be able to paint a really clear picture about who they are, what their needs are, and even what type of language they would use.
This should be direct, and the market for this audience should be wide.
This doesn’t need to be very long, but show them you have a strong understanding of the readers you’re speaking to, their age range, and why they’ll want to read your book.
#8 – Chapter outline
This is best with a sample chapter or two!
You should start with your book introduction, and move on to chapter one and possibly two.
After that, provide a fairly comprehensive chapter outline, including what each chapter is about, some examples you’ll use, and other details specific to your book.
You can even offer what the reader will learn specifically in each to help give the publisher an overview of the true contents of the book.
#9 – Marketability
Here’s where you’ll want to put in the research and pull some stats into play. You really want the publisher to realize just how much your book will sell.
Some important things to include here might be some search history for your topic, a blog or website you have and the website traffic, and any other information proving that your book will be easy and lucrative to market.
#10 – Comparable books already out there
While you usually want a publisher to think your book is 100% unique and nobody’s ever done it before, this is actually the wrong way to think about it. Reason being…they want proof of concept.
They want to know that your book will sell.
So while no book can ever be exactly like yours, they want to know a concept similar to yours has succeeded, and done well.
This is your time to convince them that your book’s idea is almost like another book that did really well. Make sure to put down some statistics if you can!
Show them this idea has value and that it will speak to people so loudly, they’ll have to buy.
Writing a book proposal takes a lot of work, and it doesn’t even include what’s needed to find an agent before publishers can see this proposal.
While there are advantages of the traditional publishing for some, it’s not right for the large majority of people.
That said, we hope this helps you write your proposal if you do choose to go this route!
Joining me today is Joey Coleman. He is a speaker, teacher, and author of the book Never Lose a Customer Again. I’m a big fan of his book, and we recently used his book for our team at Self Publishing School. At the end of the book club, Joey came on, and we did a Q&A with him.
Joey describes the message of his book as “If we want to be in business, grow our businesses and earn the right to continue to be in business, then we have to take care of our customers.” We need to focus on the clients who have signed up and want to be part of our business family.
He realized as he was speaking, he could only reach a fraction of the people he wanted to reach others who didn’t have the opportunity to hear him speak. “I wanted to create a product that would serve them well.” He wanted to write a book that contained long-lasting principles.
We talk about different types of publishers, and why he wanted to go with a traditional publisher. Make sure to get clear on why you are writing your book and what you want to accomplish before you choose a type of publisher. He and I talk about the financial tracking that accompanies using a publisher and the opportunities that my book has given me, not counting book sales.
Listen in to find out the two primary goals for Joey to write his book, his perception and the reality of the cost of writing a book, and how Joey received a six-figure advance for his book. Learn why Joey hasn’t earned out his advance, how his book has improved his speaking fees, and his marketing plan for his book.
[02:12] Joey shares why he decided to write his book and the purpose behind Never Lose a Customer Again.
[03:33] His two primary goals for writing his book.
[05:13] Perception and reality of the cost of book writing.
[08:08] How Joey received a six-figure advance on his book.
[11:40] Why he received five bids out of five pitches and got the contract for his book.
[13:33] Have multiple people, including your agent and your attorney, review any contract before signing.
[16:44] The economic reality of Joey’s book, 23 months post publishing.
[22:27] How his published book has impacted his speaking fee.
[25:12] Why Joey hired a team to write his first book.
[27:29] The marketing strategy leading up to book launch.
[33:58] Why you should leave a review for a book author.
[37:38] Relationship building and why it’s important when you are pitching a publisher.
[41:10] Providing more value for your customers.
[45:42] Marketing his list and internet advertising.
[50:39] How many people have participated in Joey’s book experience.
When thinking about your publishing options, there are two main avenues to take into consideration: self-publishing and traditional publishing.
We’ll go into more detail in each individual section below, but just know this is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to decide on if you want to be an author.
The short overview is this:
Self-publishing gives you all creative control, is faster to publish, gives you full royalties, with more upfront investments
Traditional publishing takes a lot longer, no upfront investments, but you make a small fraction of royalties per book
We actually compiled a ton of data on self-publishing versus traditional publishing you can find in this free download here:
Publishing Options: Choosing the Best Type for YOU
Not everyone will be a good fit for all of these publishing options. You have to think about your goals as an author, what you want to make financially, and where you see yourself in the long-term—as well as how many books you want to publish and how frequently.
All of these are important to consider when making your decision, but we want to give you all the information so that decision is easier.
#1 – Self-Publishing
If self-publishing isn’t on your radar, you’re severely missing out on a huge opportunity. We truly believe this is the best publishing avenue for the large majority of people.
This is why Self-Publishing School started in the first place. Chandler Bolt (the founder and CEO) started this company because he had such a massive success with his first bestselling book.
Now, that being said, there are things to think about when it comes to self-publishing.
So what is self-publishing?
Self-publishing is when you have complete ownership and control of your book and its rights, and you can publish on any medium that allows for it (including Amazon publishing, Barnes & Noble, Nook, and more).
Difficulty to publish:
It’s very easy to self-publish a book. In fact, pretty much anyone with access to Amazon’s publishing platform can do it.
But that doesn’t mean everyone should, nor should you publish a book that’s not ready (or not of high quality), which is why we have our programs in the first place.
Timeframe to publish:
Our students publish in as little as 90 days with our process for going from blank page (yes, nothing written!) to a fully published book. You can take longer to publish, and many students in our Fundamentals of Fiction program often do take longer since fiction can be more extensive.
This is the best part! You have 100% of the creative control over everything from your book’s content to its title, cover, everything. Especially the rights to your book!
This is all on you—just like it is with traditional publishing, which you’ll learn more about down below. Thankfully, there are a ton of resources online to learn how to market a book, as well as our Sell More Books program to increase your book sales.
When publishing through Amazon, your royalty rate will be anywhere from 35% – 70% depending on your book’s retail price. SelfPublishing.com has a fantastic book royalties calculator right here that you can check out for a comparison as well.
Cost to publish:
Self-publishing has a higher upfront investment and cost to publish. These can range anywhere from $300 – $1200+ for high-quality editing, book cover design, and more.
But do keep in mind, you make a lot more in royalties back straight away.
Book production (cover design, editing, etc.):
This is all on you. From the cover design to the book editing (yes you have to get it edited if you want it to do well) all the way to the inside formatting is up to you.
Thankfully, there are resources to help you do all of this right, and we cover this entire process in our programs for our students, as we’ve seen this is one of the most difficult parts of self-publishing.
Questions to ask if you think self-publishing is right for you:
Do you need 100% creative control?
Do you have the ability to invest upfront for a higher royalty rate later?
Can you effectively market your book (even with help)?
Do you want to write and publish multiple books quickly?
If you answered yes to the above, self-publishing is likely your best option, and you can learn more about how to do that with our free training. Just click the image below!
#2 – Traditional Publishing
Traditional publishing is what we grew up learning was “publishing”: You get an agent through querying your book, that agent pitches your story to publishers, they choose to buy your book from you, and it gets published a while later!
Let’s look at some details about this traditional publishing option.
Difficulty to publish:
Very high. The traditional publishing industry is really hard to get into. It’s not impossible, but it often takes writers years just to land an agent. And then they have to wait until their manuscript is bought, which isn’t guaranteed.
Many will say traditional produces “better” books or you’re a “better” writer if you publish traditionally, but that’s not true. All this proves is that you have a book idea that’s “hot” and “trending” in the market: remember, publishing houses are after one thing and that’s book sales. If it’ll sell, they’ll purchase it, which means unless it’s a trending topic or book idea, you likely won’t get a book deal.
Timeframe to publish:
If we start the timeline to publish after your agent sells your manuscript, meaning a publishing house has purchased your book rights, it can still take up to 2 years for your book to actually publish.
And this doesn’t take into consideration the time spent trying to get an agent and the time it takes your agent to sell your book. You’re looking at a 2-4 year time period unless you get very lucky or have traditional publishing connections.
You don’t really have much creative control with this publishing option.
Ultimately, the publisher buys your book rights for the idea, but this is subject to change based on what your editor sees as selling the most.
Unfortunately, this can be everything from the main characters, the title, the ending, and even major plot points. The upside is that publishers do know what sells, so this could give your book a better chance of “taking off.”
Just know that you’ll have to make sacrifices with creative control through traditional publishing.
This is on you! Unless you’re a “big name,” (and even then) you do the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing your book.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the traditinoal publishing industry. Many want to go with this publishing option because they think the publishing house will market their book, and they do, but only to a certain extent.
The bulk of the marketing is up to you, and this is increasingly more evident as book agents continue to ask about your author platform size as a decision criterion for representing you or not.
Many traditionally published authors can expect to make 10% – 12% and (very rarely) up to 15% royalties on their books. As you can see, this is significantly lower than self-publishing due to the publisher taking a big cut to pay for the editing, cover design, and everything that goes into it, as well as your agent taking a cut.
You do get an “advance” if you sign a book deal. This is a large sum of money, usually under $15,000 for new authors, that you have to make back in book sales before you actually get a royalty check.
Many traditionally published authors never see a royalty check because their books never sell more than their advance’s worth after publication.
Cost to publish:
Time. This is the real true cost of the traditional publishing option. If anyone tries to get you to pay them, this is not traditional publishing and is likely a hybrid or a vanity publisher (for the latter, RUN!).
Book production (cover design, editing, etc.):
This is all done in-house at the publisher. They have a cover made, editing completed, formatting finished, as well as book distribution—meaning getting your book in bookstores across the nation.
You can learn more about the main differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing by watching the video below:
Here are some questions to ask if you want to go with this publishing option:
Will you be okay with altering your story, characters, and plot?
Do you want to publish less frequently, at a book every one or two years?
Do you want to relinquish ownership over the cover design and more?
Will you be okay with a smaller royalty rate for your book?
Are you willing to spend a year or more querying just to find an agent?
If you answered yes to all of those, this avenue might be for you!
#3 – Hybrid Publisher
If you’re not sold on either self-publishing or traditional publishing, there is another option called hybrid publishing.
Hybrid publishing is just as it sounds: a combination of both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Most often a hybrid publisher will have specific criteria for authors they work with and will have the distribution opportunities self-publishing doesn’t (like nation-wide bookstores).
One distinguishing factor here: the author usually has to make some sort of investment in order to publish through them.
Difficulty to publish:
This depends entirely on the publisher’s rules and regulations for new authors. Most don’t just take anyone in off the street, which means it is more difficult than self-publishing, though usually not as much so as traditional.
Timeframe to publish:
This is another differentiating factor. Hybrid publishers vary so greatly that most of these will depend on the specific publishing house. However, you can expect an elongated path to publishing here as well.
Since the publisher in this case usually deals with the book cover, title, and such, your creative control is at more risk here. However, most of these publishing houses are more likely to work with you to come to an agreement whereas traditional publishing houses don’t give you much of a choice.
Again, as with any publishing option, marketing responsibilities fall to you, the author. Though because this is a hybrid publisher, you’ll have more exposure due to their distribution capabilities (which is a note to make sure this is included if you choose this option).
Since this also varies, all we have is an approximation range: you can expect roughly 40% – 60% in royalty rates depending on the deal you make. This is definitely higher than traditionally published authors make, but you’ll make less than self-publishing simply because the publisher will still get a cut.
Cost to publish:
Guess what, this one depends as well! Different hybrid publishers work on different models, which means their revenue will be earned differently. That said, some authors pay a large sum to work with hybrid publishers, as well as give up a chunk of their royalties.
Book production (cover design, editing, etc.):
This usually goes through the hybrid publisher, and the process is much like that of traditional publishing. This means you don’t have to worry about any of this and that you also don’t get to change or alter any of this.
#4 – Vanity Publisher
We wanted to include this in the options because it is an option you’ll see out there. However, it is not an option to consider.
It’s here so you can know what to look for when a vanity publisher is involved in order to AVOID one. We do not recommend this option.
In other words: you may see people who look like hybrid publishers but are not. Do not work with them!
So what type of publisher is Self-Publishing School?
None! We’re not a publishing option, we’re an online education school that teaches you how to successfully self-publish a book so you can save time, money, (and tears), while earning a steady income from your books.
Joining me today is Pat Flynn, host of Smart Passive Income Podcast. He is also the author of three books: Let It Go, Will It Fly, and his most recent book SuperFans. Today we are going to talk about SuperFans, his book launch, and how he has built his incredible ecosystem. He also shares updates about the email list building since he has last been on the show on Episode 19.
Pat unpacks the thought courses behind building companion courses for his books, what types of courses work well with books, how he transitions his classes into other revenue streams, and shares his results for Will It Fly.
He sets up his classes on Teachable, and in each course, he gives a deeper dive, a higher resolution image, or a video explaining a concept or example from his book. The course is only powerful because it compliments the book, the course cannot stand alone on its own.
Checking on the progress of his clients, Pat will send them an email follow-up or reward those who have completed the course, to encourage his clients and keep his content fresh in their mind. Make sure to provide your value in steps of progression for your customer.
Listen in to find out how Pat uses the email generation from his companion course to generate future income, how you can give your readers more value in your course, and how to increase your viral coefficient. Learn why Pat is writing SuperFans, why his ghostwriting process didn’t work, and how he was able to place his book at Barnes and Noble and airport book shops.
[02:34] Pat shares his updates with building email lists from Episode 19.
[04:30] His inspiration for the companion course to provide more to his reader than what they are reading.
[06:21] Adding complimentary links inside his book to his companion Teachable class.
[07:25] How Pat uses the email list he generates from his course companion to his book.
[10:35] The companion course is a “circle of life” to your published book.
[14:00] Why Pat is writing SuperFans.
[17:24] Why writing SuperFans is so important to Pat.
[18:58] The ghostwriting process for Pat and his book SuperFans.
[20:56] Pat lets his followers in on what he is doing for accountability and to follow him on his journey.
[23:41] Why Pat thinks the ghostwriting process didn’t work for his book.
[25:00] What triggered him to come to the realization that he needed to write this book himself.
[27:30] How he was able to get into airports and Barnes and Noble bookstores.
[30:39] A hybrid publishing company can connect you with the selling outlets you need for your book.
[33:50] Different options with airport distribution and one example of an author who sold his book at airports.
[34:43] How Pat’s audio book became his largest income stream.
[37:52] Elements of books that can sell themselves.
If you’re anything like me, you probably get a ton of your information from podcasts or Youtube channels—some sort of medium in which you can listen and also do something else (yay for you multitaskers!).
When it comes to this industry, there are a few publishing podcasts that provide the best, and realest, information out there.
In this post, I’ll cover some of the best podcasts on publishing and a few related to it that can help you out along the way.
Here are the best podcasts for publishing, writing, and marketing:
Continued learning makes the entire difference because…
The only way to make real change is to grow, and that often requires learning. After all, how can you do something differently if you don’t know what that something “different” is?
As an online education company helping people write and publish their books to bestseller status with our Become a Bestseller program, we know the information most don’t know or understand, and we break it down into chunks you can absorb and learn from.
Now let’s get into some of the best publishing podcasts, as well as great resources for writers in general.
The Best Publishing Podcasts
As we said, education is so important for continued growth, and that’s especially true when it comes to an industry so transformative as self-publishing.
It’s growing and changing every day!
That’s why we’re giving you some of the best podcasts to listen to with the most thorough, up-to-date information to learn and grow from.
#1 – Self-Publishing School Podcast
That’s right! We brought this back with brand new content hosted by Chandler Bolt, with interviews with the likes of Russell Brunson, Ruth Soukup, Pat Flynn, and plenty of new names you probably recognize coming up!
Some of our previous guests included Gary Vaynerchuk, Joanna Penn, and other experts who divulge some of their best secrets to our listeners.
Here’s one of our newest episodes with Ruth Soukup about self-publishing versus traditional and her own experience (spoiler: it’s not looking good for the traditional industry…yikes!).
Don’t forget to subscribe, and hit us with a review 🙂
#2 – Writing Excuses
Writing Excuses covers much more than just publishing, and it’s all done in 15-minute bite-sized chunks for easy digestion.
It’s hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler—with the occasional guest speaker!
I could put this down in the writing section since they often go through questions and topics related to actually writing, but they also cover a ton of thorough information about publishing (both traditional and self-publishing), as well as general career advice from career authors.
So to bring you help with that half of the equation are our top podcasts for writers.
#1 – So You Want to Be a Writer
Australian-based Valerie Kho and Allison Tait host this podcast that delves into the world of author interviews, cover their processes, important issues in the literary world, and overall writing guidance.
This tried-and-true writing podcast is on its 770+ episode, bringing some insight into the more technical side of writing.
While you may get broader overviews from time to time, Grammar Girl is largely known for helping you understand how writing works, how the sentences fit together, and why certain things and rules are the way they are.
From episodes like “Why do we say ‘cool on your heels’?” to specific episodes highlighting how your language can affect the perception of time, you’ll be more informed and you might come up with some cool ideas for our own stories.
#3 – The Writer Files
The Writer Files podcast covers topics ranging from writing to productivity, creativity and even neuroscience.
Essentially, everything you’ll need to hack your way to writer life.
While they don’t post too often, they do have consistent uploads every two weeks max, so you’ll have something new to consume (in order to further put off your writing, I’m sure).
You can listen anywhere podcasts are published!
#4 – Dead Robots’ Society
A twist on ye old Dead Poet’s Society, Dead Robots’ Society is a podcast all about so many lovely, nerdy aspects of writing. If you like chatting Gods and Monsters, dystopian topics, and more, this might be the podcast for you!
Once you begin your writing journey, there are a ton of steps involved in turning that writerhood into authordom. This writing podcast helps you along with that very initiative!
From this podcast, you’ll learn tips for writing a great opening hook to the benefits of writing and much more to take you from hobby writer to fully published author.
#6 – Ditch Diggers
Keeping up on the latest publishing news isn’t as easy as it seems. In the world of self-publishing, with all its moving parts, it’s important to keep up on trends and changes in the marketplace on a highly consistent basis.
That’s what Ditch Diggers helps you do.
From updates in the publishing industry to growing your audience and more, it’s there.
Chandler Bolt, six-time self-published bestselling author and creator of Self-Publishing School has hit new milestones with his business… including teaching 8-year-old Emma Sumner how to write and publish her first book.
Self-publishing at any age is a major accomplishment. Especially when you have to balance your responsibilities as an author with homework from your 3rd-grade teacher. This is why Emma Sumner is gaining media attention for The Fairies of Waterfall Island, a 10,000-word, 120-page book that is available on Amazon.
So how did this young girl go from no book idea to published without an agent or publishing company? She followed Chandler Bolt’s Self-Publishing School course and took action on these steps to ensure her book would be successful.
Here are the nine steps an 8-year-old took to publish a book as a kid:
When Emma first came to me and said she wanted to write and publish a book, I wasn’t sure if this was just a passing idea in the mind of a bored grade-schooler, or if it was really going to be something she would be passionate. So I started by giving her a challenge.
Complete 1 chapter to her story
Write at least 150 words
Create 3 different characters with backgrounds
Have a plan ready for the rest of the book
She came back with:
A handwritten story in her spiral-bound notebook that had 172 words (she made sure I counted),
Four distinct characters
A plan for a total of 10 chapters and four other characters that she would introduce later in the book.
It was clear from her effort that she was serious — so I was, too!
At that time, the 170-word story was the longest thing she had ever written. It gave her a taste of what was possible if she put forth the effort.
YOUR TURN: How can you challenge yourself? Be creative and find ways to create achievable goals and then turn them into a challenge. You can write them down as a contract with yourself, or even bring on a friend as an accountability partner to encourage and motivate you.
#2 Build a Rewards System
Emma’s first reward was a simple one. We decided that the next morning after she finished her first 150 words I would wake up early and before I went to work I would sit down and give her story my full attention as I read it from start to finish.
The next morning I read her story and instead of giving constructive criticism, I just gave encouragement. I told her how much I loved it and left a small sticky note for her to read when she woke up.
It is vitally important in the beginning to forget about the little things like grammar or spelling and just be proud of the fact they (or you!) completed the challenge. Most children (and adults for that matter) are most vulnerable in the writing process the first time someone reads their words.
Whether you’re reading your child’s, friend’s, or your own work, focus on the good. There will be plenty of time for the rest later when it comes time to edit.
Challenge: Complete detailed descriptions of your top 4 characters.
Reward: We will go onto Fiverr.com and get someone to do a pencil drawing of the characters based off your description.
Challenge: Finish Chapter 2
Reward: I will copy your handwritten notes to the computer and teach you how to use Microsoft Word.
Challenge: Finish Chapter 10
Reward: We will sit down and write an email to a cover designer.
YOUR TURN: What is your reward? Find something that you can get excited about that will also lead to more progress with the book.
#3 Make a Plan
After Emma completed her first challenge of 150 words, we decided that we needed to have a plan for moving forward. Instead of just writing everything out and hoping it would all make sense, we sat down to plan out what we wanted to do.
Each week, we met on Saturday morning, waking up before the rest of the family. During our “strategy sessions,” we would have breakfast together and plan out the week. These planning sessions would often happen at a local coffeeshop. After the first couple weeks, we started to bring my laptop along with us so she could sit down and write for 20-30 minutes.
Here are some of the things that we would do each week:
Decide on goals
Pick out rewards
Talk about the story line
Talk about any struggles
In order to allow Emma to refer back to what we talked about each week, we would record the session with the audio recording feature of Evernote on my phone. With the recordings available to her on our iPad at home, she could just tap on the button for this week’s strategy session and review it whenever she wanted.
#4 Create Accountability [Or as Chandler Bolt calls it: Find an “Accountabilibuddy”]
For Emma, we found a great way to keep her accountable while also promoting her book and making it fun for her. Inspired by Pat Flynn and the group he created to help launch his first eBook, we created a private Facebook group filled with friends and family called “Emma’s First Book.”
Each week she would record a short video to the group and report back on her progress.
The group quickly grew from 20 people to over 200 people within a week as friends and family started to message me asking to add one of their friends or coworkers who was interested in watching Emma’s progress.
As people began to comment on her videos and post encouragement for her, we began to incorporate this as one of her rewards. If she finished the week’s goals she could spend 20 minutes commenting back to the people in her group.
YOUR TURN: Who is going to keep you accountable? Find someone in your life, in person or online, that you can meet with for 10 minutes each week and check in on your goals. They may not be writers, but maybe they have another goal in mind for weight loss or exercise, and you can work together to keep each other on track.
#5 Celebrate Big Wins
As I mentioned earlier, Emma and I would create weekly challenges and rewards to make the week-to-week process more fun and exciting, but beyond that we also celebrated each time she achieved a big milestone.
More important than just the celebration was the fact that we were doing it together. She was able to share her victories and be proud of her accomplishments, and I was there to cheer her on. During these celebrations, we did not talk about strategy and details but we just reflected on how far she had come and what more she could still do.
YOUR TURN: Who can you celebrate with? Find a friend, family member, pet, stuffed animal… anyone who can help you enjoy the wins.
#6 Hire Professional Outsourcers
Based on my experiences with publishing my own books, I knew there were four things we needed to hire professional help to accomplish: illustration, editing, cover design, and formatting.
There’s a wide range of costs for each of these items, so as a family we worked out a budget and made a decision on what we could afford.
Then we contacted outsourcers that fit our needs, based on a list of preferred contractors from Self-Publishing School.
This was a time-saver since we didn’t have to waste time or money dealing with an untested resource. Before starting with each we discussed our project, described the book and Emma’s personality, and asked some questions about their style via email to make sure they were a good fit.
We worked with people from Boston, Michigan, Mexico and even Sweden. Emma was involved in communicating with each of them by both email and video chat.
While working on this project, Emma learned much more than just how to write a book. At each stage we took any opportunity we could to introduce a skill or technology that would expand her knowledge and comfort level.
Here are just some of the programs or skills Emma has learned during the last year:
Typing with Microsoft Word
Using a thesaurus
Typing and sharing documents with Google Docs
Using Skype to do video chats
Posting, commenting and doing live videos in Facebook
YOUR TURN: What new skills are you looking forward to learning? Make a list of things that you want to try and incorporate them as you go.
#8 Remove Barriers
Small points of resistance can keep you from moving the entire book forward. These little things can cause you to stop your progress, lose your inspiration, or even cast doubt that you should be writing at all. If you can identify those small roadblocks and find a way to remove them early on, then you will be more successful.
For Emma, one of her points of resistance was that she often worried so much about her spelling and grammar that she would not make any progress. She would see the red line under the word show up in Microsoft Word and get completely distracted, and then end up feeling discouraged. Then her progress or creative momentum would be ruined.
Our solution was simple: If spell check was the issue, let’s get rid of it! We disabled spell check completely and chose to forget about spelling until the entire first draft was done. Instead of having her worry about it, we let the editor handle it.
YOUR TURN: If you find something that is blocking you from moving forward, take the time to identify it and find a solution. When you think about writing (or completing) your book now, what barriers do you predict? Make a plan to get rid of it!
#9 Build a Launch Team
A launch team is a group of people chosen to help you market the book and spread the word about your book.
By the time Emma was done with her book, she had a large group of people who had been following her progress and were ready to help her by being part of her launch team.
Starting about 2 weeks prior to launch, we began sending emails to everyone who had signed up, letting them know what to expect. One week before our official launch, we put the book up on Amazon and only notified those on the launch team. Many people on the team had never purchased a book on Amazon before, much less read a book on Kindle or left a review, so we had to be very detailed on our instructions.
She had a total of 95 people sign up to be on her launch team, and in just one day after we hit the publish button on Amazon she had 87 books purchased and 16 reviews up.
YOUR TURN: Start thinking about who will be on your launch team and how you will manage it. I strongly suggest signing up for an email service like ClickFunnels, Aweber, or MailChimp so you can collect email addresses and contact your launch team directly.
#10 Give Back
We wanted to make sure that Emma learned more than just how to write a book, and one of the biggest lessons we were able to incorporate was the idea of giving back to charity.
Here are just some of the benefits of giving back with your book:
Inspiration: Inspire others around you to be a part of your journey.
Motivation: When the book will help others either directly or indirectly, then you will have even more motivation to continue.
Satisfaction: Giving back to a charity to which we feel personally connected has given both Emma and me a great feeling of pride and satisfaction that would not have been possible without that participation.
In order to maximize what you can do for a cause, pick a charity that can work with you to help get the word out about the book.
Does the money stay locally or go to a national or international fund?
You may want to find a charity where the money stays to help the local community.
Do they have a local chapter or contact?
It helps to have one person that knows the local area to help you set up speaking engagements
What kind of social media presence or email list do they have?
Part of raising money to donate means getting the book in front of those who will be willing to buy it. If the charity has a large contact list, they can help send that information out to more people — which will help them AND help you!
Does the charity have a marketing team?
Many large charities already have a marketing and PR team in place that can help create engaging posts or advertisements, as well as using their already established network to get your book into the media.
Don’t be afraid to ask these questions when you get in contact with the charity. After all, you want to make sure you are donating your time to the right cause.
Emma and I talked with several charities before finally deciding on Autism Speaks, a wonderful group with both national and local ties.
YOUR TURN: What charities or causes do you feel passionate about or connected to? Start now by using the resources above to evaluate your options.
A Dream Come True
“The Fairies of Waterfall Island” has already exceeded our wildest dreams. Every time we talk about it Emma says “I am just so excited, I never thought it would actually get this far.”
Each new step from writing to editing and now to publishing has been challenging, but the rewards have been incredible — in our relationship, in the growth I’ve seen in Emma, and in the inspiration she’s been to other children and adults.
To support Emma and her book go EmmaLovesBooks.com where you can find a link to purchase the book and more information on Emma and her journey. Remember that all proceeds for the first 3 months go to Autism Speaks.
By following Chandler Bolt’s Self-Publishing School and taking action on the challenges I gave her each week, Emma was able to successful write and publish her first book with flying colors. If an 8-year-old can do it, you can too.
One of the most asked questions when it comes to publishing is whether to go the traditional or self publishing route. Ruth Soukup has done both and is here to share both her experiences and her recommendations.
Ruth is a New York Times Best-Selling author, founder of Elite Blogging Academy, and host of the Do It Scared Podcast amongst so many other things. After blogging for several years she decided to write a book and so started her journey into publishing.
A friend of hers referred her to an agent and after paying thousands to have a book proposal written up, her blog exploded. While she was in the process of pitching one book, she decided to write and self publish, How to Blog for Profit. She kept being asked the same question over and over again and the book was born.
She received amazing feedback on the book and later built Elite Blogging Academy to further help her audience learn to create a source of income from their blogs. By the time her traditionally published book came out, she’d written and self published another book.
Ruth signed a contract with her publisher for two books and after she fulfilled her obligations, swore she would never go the traditional route again.
Later on she did end up going the traditional publishing route one more time, but is now completely done with it. She has more control over her self published books and she receives almost 100% of her royalties.
Listen in as she shares her experiences from both sides of the publishing world and why, for her, self publishing makes the most sense. She stresses that the way in which you publish your book needs to align with your overall goal for that book.
Is your book meant to be an introduction to your company or are you publishing so that you can be labeled an author? Do you plan on writing more than one book and want to be able to use earlier books in your marketing? Are you building a business rather than JUST becoming an author.
If you’re on the fence about which publishing journey you want to take, then you need to listen to this episode. Ruth lays it all out there so that you can truly make an informed decision!
[00:41] Welcome back to the show New York Times Best-Selling author Ruth Soukup.
[03:24] What’s the difference between traditional and self publishing?
[04:27] If you want to do traditional publishing, you have to have an existing platform.
[07:41] During the process of trying to propose her book to a publisher, her blog exploded and she wrote a new book and self published it.
[09:59] Traditional publishing is a much longer process than self publishing.
[10:56] What was the most difficult part of the traditional publishing route?
[13:23] The experience has gotten worse and worse with each new book.
[16:26] Were her self published books outselling her traditionally published books?
[18:16] All this said, why did she decide to traditionally publish a third book?
[20:23] One thing traditionally published books do is make it easier to make the lists.
[23:08] Learn more about “list” practices and why they mean nothing.
[24:37] Why will Ruth never traditionally publish again?
[26:56] How you can use your book in your buyer’s journey when you self publish.
[29:45] Which path does Ruth recommend for someone who has never published a book?
[31:48] Is there a good reason to traditionally publish?