Rory Vaden Interview

SPS 086: Building A Personal Brand That Sells More Books & Grows Your Business with Rory Vaden

Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Rory Vaden. Rory’s first book, Take the Stairs, is a bestseller that has been translated into 11 languages. Rory Vaden writes and speaks about the key to building a rock-solid reputation and how to achieve success by doing the right thing. He is passionate about helping others build their personal brands with Brand Builders Group.

Brand Builders Group is the world’s leader in the Reputation Strategy study, with the mission to help every person identify their voice, tell their story, and share their unique message. BBG is one of the only true Personal Brand Strategy Firms. Co-founded with his wife AJ Vaden, Brand Builders Group helps people become the type of person they want to do business with.

“The book conversation is the #1 accelerator of credibility in the world.” Rory self-published before he traditionally published. “The question is not whether I should do a book or not because the answer to that is always ‘yes.’” 

Rory notes that the New York Times isn’t looking for the once and done author when speaking about getting on the bestseller list. To achieve this status, you must be a cereal author and show an established track record. “What you really want is the real bestseller – the long-tail, perennial bestseller.” Selling hundreds and thousands of copies over the years is more useful to business and brand success.

Authors have numerous challenges when writing a book. “Authors struggle the most with telling people what their book is about in one sentence. If you can’t explain the message of your book in one sentence, then you have more thinking to do.”

Listen in to find out what is the common factor among the best sold books in the world, the hardest challenge when writing a book, and why you should build your personal brand before you write your book.

Show Notes

  • [02:27] Why Rory chose self-publishing before traditional publishing.
  • [05:28] His marketing launch process which landed him his first best-seller.
  • [07:15] What authors struggle with the most before their book is published.
  • [10:15] How Rory and his wife started Brand Builders Group.
  • [12:22] Why personal branding should come before creating a book.
  • [15:20] The six components of Rory’s Brand DNA.
  • [21:22] Why there’s not a right way to do it, but a right way to do it for you.
  • [24:53] Why building a personal brand matters and why your brand drives sales.
best writing blogs

13 Best Writing Blogs to Master the Craft of Creative Writing

Writing blogs are some of the best resources to become a better writer, which let’s be real, is the goal of all writers.

You already know this:

Writing is hard.

It’s so difficult, in fact, that there are countless writing tips and resources online dedicated to helping you better understand and improve the craft.

We here at Self-Publishing School are even committed to giving you the best advice out there.

But we wanted to offer you more by highlighting blogs about writing that contain solid advice for writing.

We’ve compiled a list of the best writing blogs on the internet for you to learn and grow from.

Here are the best writing blogs we’ll cover for you:

  1. SelfPublishing.com
  2. The Write Life
  3. Writer’s Digest
  4. Write to Done
  5. The Write Practice
  6. Count Blogula by Jenna Moreci
  7. The Creative Penn
  8. Terribleminds by Chuck Wendig
  9. Daily Writing Tips
  10. Better Novel Project
  11. Well-Storied
  12. Shayla Raquel
  13. Beemgee

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Best Writing Blogs for Tips and Advice

If you’re not quite serious yet about getting your book published yet, we’ve put together a list of the best writing blogs to learn how to write a book from.

Let’s dive into exactly what these writing blogs have to offer and why you should be paying close attention to them if you want to improve your writing, start your book, and publish it on Amazon (or wherever else you want to publish it through)!

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

#1 – SelfPublishing.com

Don’t let the name fool you. This website isn’t just for publishing tips and advice, although it does cover those topics in great detail.

SelfPublishing.com also offers advice for writing successfully as well.

writing blogs

Everything from character bios to full, in-depth blog posts about how to write a book can be found here.

You can also check out their tools section, where they feature must-haves for writers everywhere.

#2 – The Write Life

If you’ve been searching through for writing blogs long enough, you’re probably already aware of all The Write Life has to offer.

This blog about writing is a fantastic resource for writers of all kind.

writing blogs the write life

Whether you’re looking to write a book for the first time or jump into the freelance writing community, The Write Life has you covered.

They even have tips for blogging and marketing. All the bases are covered!

Make sure to check out their helpful writing blog posts and read the comments for extra help from their dedicated community.

Click here to check out this writing blog!

#3 – Writer’s Digest

If you love writing tips by writers, this is one of the top writing blogs to visit.

This writing blog is all about uncovering your potential through real, easy-to-follow blog posts that simplify more complicated issues in the writing community.

writing blogs writer's digest

They even host competitions, feature blog posts by editors, and give you insights to events they host or even attend.

If you’re someone who loves to physically join a writing group, you’ll love this writing blog and all it has to offer.

Click here to check out this writing blog!

#4 – Write to Done

There are a lot of different avenues writers have to be aware of when it comes to building a successful career from their work.

And Write to Done gives you just that!

writing blogs write to done

Being both a creative writing blog along with covering nonfiction writing, Write to Done teaches you how to master a number of different techniques and habits geared toward helping you succeed in the literary world.

You don’t want to miss out on all the writing advice they have to offer along with motivational material to help you keep it up.

Click here to check out Write to Done.

#5 – The Write Practice

The Write Practice is a massive source of helpful information for writers everywhere. They cover writing blog posts touching on topics revolving around key writing practices, writing exercises, and even writing prompts to get your mind stirring.

writing blogs the write practice

You won’t be without help with The Write Practice.

Not only do they offer free help through their blog posts, but they also have programs, writing contests, and help involving your author platform in general.

Click here to check out The Write Practice.

#6 – Count Blogula by Jenna Moreci

Jenna Moreci is an Award-Nominated Self-Published Author with two novels on Amazon, in libraries, and on shelves all over the country.

Count Blogula is her writing blog where aspiring authors congregate to ask specific writing, marketing, and publishing questions to be answered by this wildly successful Youtuber and Self-Published Author.

writing blogs jenna moreci

Moreci is honest (sometimes brutally – in the best way), real, and lets all writers know what it truly takes to make a career out of writing.

Head on over to her blog if you want to scroll through pages and pages and pages of free writing advice by someone who has been through it all before.

Click here to check out Count Blogula by Jenna Moreci.

#7 – The Creative Penn

If your goal is to make writing a job, it’s worth giving The Creative Penn a read.

This website has writing blog posts covering topics from genre-specific writing advice to marketing to publishing tips.

writing blogs the creative penn

Joanna Penn is an Award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and she runs The Creative Penn to teach others how to reach her level of success with their books.

She has a number of writing-specific books available for purchase along with podcasts, courses, specific tools, and more. This is one of the best blogs about writing to add to your arsenal.

Click here to check out The Creative Penn.

#8 – Terribleminds by Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig has a must-acquire-a-taste-for personality. He’s curt, brutal, and gives humor to his writing tips and advice for aspiring authors.

His writing blog covers topics ranging from his own personal work and the work of others to help you specifically ask for.

writing blogs terribleminds

You’ll never be bored with Wendig’s unique delivery style and real advice.

Click here to check out Terribleminds by Chuck Wendig.

#9 – Daily Writing Tips

Daily Writing Tips is exactly as it sounds; they give writing tips for aspiring authors daily.

Their advice ranges from writing-specific to motivation to oddities, like words that Shakespeare invented.

writing blogs daily writing tips

If you’re someone who wants to improve the craft of writing with very specific tips and tricks, this is the place to frequent. You’ll never want for more help with Daily Writing Tips.

Click here to check out Daily Writing Tips.

#10 – Better Novel Project

If you love doodles along with writing tips, this is the site for you.

Better Novel Project has a number of different writing blog posts centered around helping you become a better writer.

writing blogs better novel project

From NaNoWriMo content to blog posts all about genres, writer life, character development, and even writing scene-specific details.

It’s easy to get lost the abundance of content available for you on this writing blog – so be careful, but get your fill.

Click here to check out Better Novel Project.

#11 – Well-Storied

Kristen Kieffer is the author behind Well-Storied, as well as an author of fantasy and writing resources.

Not only does she offer great writing advice, but her dedication to helping writers uncover their true abilities is nearly unmatched.

writing blogs well storied

You can check out her free courses, listen to the podcast, and even participate in her community chats.

Well-Storied has an abundance of help in the writing-world and you’ll be better off by tuning in regularly!

Click here to check out Well-Storied.

#12 – Shayla Raquel

Shayla Raquel’s writing blog is filled to the brim will knowledge regarding all aspects of writing. From prepping to writing to marketing, she has you covered.

writing blogs shayla raquel

As an editor and seasoned writer herself, Shayla works one-on-one with authors nearly every day. She has edited over 300 books and launched Amazon Bestsellers – making her experienced and competent!

Click here to check it out Shayla Raquel!

#13 – Beemgee

Beemgee backs up the features in its story development tool with in-depth posts on every aspect of creating characters or planning plots.

This blog covers topics ranging from classical Chinese literature to James Bond, always with a view to what authors can learn about the craft of story development. Click here to check out Beemgee.

All of these writing blogs have something unique to offer that you won’t find any anywhere else. When it comes to learning any craft – especially writing – it’s important to broaden your search and learn as much as you can from as many talented minds as you can.

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dialogue tags

All About Dialogue Tags

Mind your dialogue tags!

Conversations are an important part of storytelling and are used to reveal a wealth of information: from a bonding moment, to a backstory, to a plot twist, and everything in-between.

It’s the writer’s job to ensure that the dialogue used within a conversation not only fits the character speaking, but that it flows in a realistic fashion.

In fiction writing it is vitally important that the speaker within a conversation is easily identified. This is where dialogue tags come into play.

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What are dialogue tags?

They are markers, little sentence clauses that follow the spoken words and act like a signpost for the reader. Their function is to attribute written dialogue to a particular character. These small phrases indicate speech, telling the reader exactly who is speaking.

For example:

“Did you hear that?” Emma asked.

The phrase ‘Emma asked’ is the dialogue tag in the sentence.

The main use of those is to keep characters straight for the reader. Writers can also use them for: mimicking the natural rhythms in speech, breaking up long pieces of dialogue and making them more digestible, maintaining, elevating or break tension.

Tags can, and for the most part,  should be basic and simple. The words ‘said’ and ‘asked’ are the most obvious and the most used tags. However, dialogue tags can, of course, go beyond ‘said’ and ‘asked’ – we will get to that in a later.

First, let’s discuss how to properly utilize them in a written conversation.

How to use Dialogue Tags

Dialogue sentences are made of two parts: the dialogue, which is the spoken portion of the sentence, and then the dialogue tag, which identifies the speaker. The dialogue tag is the telling part of the sentence, while the actual dialogue used is the showing.

Dialogue tags can be found in three places: either before the dialogue, in-between the actual dialogue, or after.

The rules for punctuating dialogue and associated tags are quite precise. Commas go in particular places, as do terminal marks such as periods, exclamation points, and question marks. In this article we shall be following the rules for standard American English. (UK English uses a different set of punctuation rules.)

#1 – Tag Before the Dialogue

Adding a tag in the beginning means that the character who is speaking is introduced before the actual quote.

Examples:

Rising slowly from her chair, Emma asked, “Are we sure about this plan?”

or

Placing her hands on her hips, Emma said, “I doubt you know more than I do!”

The rules:

  • Use a comma after the tag.
  • If the dialogue is the beginning of a sentence, capitalize the first letter.
  • End the dialogue with the appropriate punctuation and keep punctuation within the quotation marks.

#2 – Tag in the Middle of the Dialogue

Dialogue can be interrupted and then resumed in the same sentence. The tag can also be used to separate two sentences. In both cases, this signifies a pause your character takes.

Examples:

“I thought you cared,” Emma said, “how could you let her leave?”

or

“I thought you cared.” Emma said, hoping to provoke him. “How could you let her leave?”

The rules:

  • When it is one continuous sentence, a comma is used before the dialogue tag and goes inside quotation marks.
  • A comma is used after the dialogue tag, outside of quotation marks, to reintroduce it.
  • Unless the dialogue tag begins with a proper noun, it is not capitalized.
  • End the dialogue with the appropriate punctuation keeping it inside the quotation marks.
  • When it is two sentences, the first sentence will end with a period and the second begins with a capital letter.

#3 – Tag After the Dialogue

Most often you will likely place your dialogue tag after the quote. Therefore, making the quote the focal point of the sentence.

Examples:

“Are you done?” Emma asked.

or

“Are you done?” asked Emma

The rules:

  • Punctuation goes inside quotation marks.
  • Unless the dialogue tag begins with a proper noun, it is not capitalized.
  • End the dialogue tag with appropriate punctuation.

All the examples given up until this point have focused on using ‘said’ or ‘asked’ as part of the dialogue tags. These are the most common tags, and simply let the reader know who is talking. They serve the purpose without distracting from what is being said. 

Often times both ‘said’ and ‘asked’ are overlooked by readers, becoming invisible as they act out the conversations in their heads.

As long as ‘said’ and ‘asked’ are not overused, (repeated in every paragraph of dialogue) they will definitely fade into the background. However, if they are used in every sentence during a section of dialogue, then they will most definitely cease to be invisible.

As a writer, you never want your conversations to stand out and distract, confuse, or slow the read.

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Avoiding Unnecessary Dialogue Tags

The purpose of dialogue tags is to identify the speaker, not to draw attention to the writer’s broad vocabulary or their limitless ability to consult with a thesaurus.

Two common mistakes every author makes:

  1. Adverbial
  2. Synonyms 

#1 – Adverbial

An adverbial dialogue tag is when an adverb modifies the verb used. They are those ‘–ly’ adverbs used to convey emotion and tone. The problem with these types of tags is they are all tell. Readers are being told how a character feels, as opposed to the words themselves showing what is happening.

Example:

“This is not your concern,” Emma said angrily.

The adverb ‘angrily’ adds nothing to this sentence. What it does instead is distract from it. A writer should want to evoke the emotion, and using adverbial dialogue tags take that away.

An example fix for the above sentence could be as follows:

“This is not your concern!” Emma said.

By using the exclamation mark you are showing the readers Emma’s emotions. There is no need for extra embellishment. When you tell the reader how a character says something, you remove the power from their spoken words. Try and refrain from using adverbial tags, instead show the reader character emotions though punctuation, dialogue, or action.

More on using action with dialogue tags later.

First, let’s discuss the second faux-pas when it comes to dialogue tags: synonyms 

#2 – Synonyms

I like to call these types of tags, saidisims. A saidism is a synonym used to replace the word ‘said’ in a dialogue tag.

The key to realistic dialogue is keeping it simple. Using distractive synonyms such as ‘exclaimed’ and ‘uttered’ draw attention to the mechanics of the conversation you are writing.

Example:

“Emma,” she implored, “please listen.”

The word implored stands out like a sore thumb. It jarrs the reader from the moment putting the focus of the sentence on the tag, not on the dialogue. Instead of using this saidisim, you can simply use punctuation to get the point across.

Example:

“Emma,” she said, “please listen.”

By placing the word ‘please’ in italics, the writer shows the reader that the speaker is earnestly begging Emma to listen. No need to switch out ‘said’ for ‘implored.

The key to realistic dialogue is to keep it simple. Avoid searching for synonyms to use as creative descriptive dialogue tags which will only stand out. The dialogue tag should do its duty and identifying the speaker without shining light on itself.

Sometimes (emphasis on sometimes) it is indeed okay to substitute the word ‘said’ for something else. 

Example:

“Stop.” Emma said.

Versus

“Stop.” Emma muttered.

The tag ‘muttered’ adds a new understanding to the way the line of dialogue is spoken. This saidism enhances the dialogue and gives the reader a deeper grasp of the conversation. That is the key difference between the ‘intoned’ example and the ‘muttered’ example.

Substitutes for ‘said’ should be used sparingly and when they are used they need to elevate the dialogue, not distract from it.

When you find yourself using a saidisim, pause and ask yourself these two important questions:

  1. Is the dialogue itself able to convey the expression without the use of the tag?
  2. Can punctuation be used in place of the tag?

The more you write and find your own writer’s voice/style, the less you will not need to pause and question your use of dialogue tags. However, until then it’s vital to take a moment and make sure you’re getting them right.

What happens when a writer has a lot of conversational ground to cover and does not want to overwhelm the reader with repetitive dialogue tags? In that instance should the tags be avoided?

Let’s examine this in detail.

Should you avoid dialogue tags?

Dialogue tags should not be completely avoided, but their use can be reduced so as not to wear about the reader. Make sure that readers always know which character is speaking, but keep in mind that dialogue tags aren’t the only means to identify the speaker.

A safe alternative is the use of action beats along with your dialogue tags.

What are Action Beats in dialogue?

An action beat is the description of an action a character makes while talking. It serves to let the reader know not only who is talking, but also show the character in motion. An action on the same line as speech indicates that particular person was speaking.

Example:

 [Dialogue tag] “Leve,” Emma said, “right now!”

versus

 [Action beat] “Leave,” Emma pointed at the door, “right now!”

As you can see, action beats help break up dialogue, and can be used in place of dialogue tags. If you are writing a conversation with multiple speaking characters, then you don’t necessarily need to use a dialogue tag to let the reader know that there has been a change in speaker.

Action beats can turn the reader’s focus from one character to another.

Example:

 “I’m gonna kill him,” Emma said.

Victoria grinned. “Want some help?”

“I’ll need to hide the body.”

“I know the perfect place, very isolated.”

Geri let out a deep sigh as she stepped between them. “No one is killing anyone or hiding any bodies.”

In this example, there has been only one use of a dialogue tag, yet it remains clear who is speaking each line. The key is to use the tag only when it is needed. Once you identify the speaker, the reader should be able to go for several lines without needing another identifier.

An action beat can replace many words of description. We associate a frown with displeasure, clenched fists with anger, and tears with sadness. However, like any other literary device, action beats can distract the reader if overused and abused.

Remember, dialogue should sound real.

The most effective dialogue is the conversations that readers can imagine your characters speaking, without all the clutter and distractions of incorrect punctuation, repetitive tags, adverbs, or synonyms. Reading your manuscript out loud, actually hearing how the conversations sound, will be the best way to see if you have your dialogue tags right.

research for a book

Writing a Book? 7 Killer Research Tips

Researching for a book, while super important in the process of publishing a book, is difficult and if you’re not careful, it can stop you from finishing at all.

“Pencils down.”

The phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of students.

What if you didn’t write enough? What if all the answers are wrong? Too bad; you’re stuck with your final essay. There’s no going back.

There’s something about the finality of closing the door on any knowledge work that’s tough. We don’t want to miss anything—whether it’s a witty quote or that perfect case study. The same with writing books—ending your research and starting your draft is daunting.

It’s possible to go on researching forever, really. Countless book ideas remain unwritten and unpublished because the writer is just looking for that perfect piece of research. But with that attitude, you’ll never publish your book!

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Here’s what we’ll cover for how to research for writing a book:

  1. Outline the research process
  2. Backload your research
  3. Use “TK” when writing
  4. Turn off the internet
  5. Keep everything organized
  6. Change the font color
  7. Outsource the research
  8. Batch the research

We’re not asking you to abandon the research process. Virtually all non-fiction work and most fiction works require at least some research to complete a final draft, but it does require moderation.

This post is split into two parts. First, we’ll show you how to carry out a comprehensive research process in as little time as possible, then we’ll show you how to fine-tune your research once you begin drafting your book.

The Research Process

Many writers fail to publish or even begin drafting their books because they’re stuck in the research process. Here we’ll show you three critical steps you can take to make your research as thorough as possible, and to avoid the trap that many writers fall into–researching their books forever.

#1 – Plan Your Research

Research is a necessary part of writing, and with some genres (e.g. historical fiction), it’s impossible to start without research. However, before you pick a single book or open a new tab in the name of research, there is something you have to do: Plan your research.

In academia, there’s an entire subject called research design, which teaches researchers how to choose their research methods, scope out their timeline and outline their research process. Professional researchers have to plan out their research before they carry out any research. Not only does this tick the check boxes for funding, but it also helps them stay on track and ensure their research project is valid.

Notice what they don’t do. 

A researcher doesn’t just blindly pick up a book and follow where their gut tells them (though this does make up part of the process) or start experimenting and follow what’s interesting. First, they plan, set a specific end date, and then execute.

Instead of approaching your book research in an ad-hoc manner, putting in research time when you feel it’s warranted, we advise that you design your research process.

We’re not asking you to leave no room for spontaneity, often the best ideas come from the most unlikely of sources, but there should still be some structure to your research so, you don’t waste any of your precious time.

Remember many writers have still not begun their manuscript years after they started working on their book because they’re “still researching.”

You want to avoid this trap.

This means you should set a clear end date for your research process, where you promise you’ll start drafting no matter how little, how much, or what kind of data you’ve gathered. It also means that before you start, you think about where you’ll gather your research from, and how much you’ll gather.

As interesting as a side tangent can be, you don’t want to wander too far. Keep your research focused on the subject matter. If something seems interesting, note it down for the future. Maybe it could be your next book.

#2 – Outsource Your Research When Possible

Often, writing feels like a solitary endeavor, after all, it is just you and yourself staring at a screen, tapping away at a keyboard for hours on end. But just because it feels like a lonely mission, doesn’t mean it has to be one. Especially in research.

No matter your subject, there’s an almost certain chance that someone else has done the heavy lifting for you.

Someone who has immersed themselves in the field, found the dead ends, the wrong turns and the secret passageways. So why not tap into their knowledge?

When thinking of where to begin your research, tap into the human capital available before books or the internet. Are there any professors at your local college you can ask? Any editors in your domain that you can first reach out to? A great place to find names are the references used in journal articles or the authors of literature reviews and book reviews.

By asking them for help you can save yourself miles of wasted research, get an expert’s perspective on the topic (differentiating yourself from many other self-published books), and save yourself time.

Often, as long as they don’t have a demanding schedule, they’ll be happy to respond to an email or two.

Don’t forget to remember them in your acknowledgements!

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#3 – Ignore Your Inner Perfectionist

There’s a chance that if you’ve always wanted to write a book, you’ve got a perfectionist streak. And when it comes to book research, you’ll want to keep it under control.

You want to be a laser beam in your research. Focus on the best books for the keywords you’ve identified and don’t get sidetracked. Practical research is the key–find facts and data that will make your book more interesting, not analysis that you find interesting.

It might not necessarily be the same thing.

This also comes in when you’re writing your book. Ignore the temptation to include all the research found in your book. Often 20% of your research efforts will form 80% of your book.

If you found some piece of research you’re just dying to get out there, maybe package and release it as a bonus eBook for the thorough minded amongst your audience (and build your email list,) or have it in the appendix of your kindle edition.

7 Killer Tips on Researching Your Book 

Now that you know the critical steps to carry out your book research, it’s time to look at ways to improve it. Some of these will save you time during the research process, others will help you to finish your manuscript as fast as possible, and yet give you that sense of completeness and thoroughness once it’s done.

#1 – “Backload” Research

There’s a secret to mastering the craft of research when writing your book that might strike you as controversial:

Write first, fact-find second. 

You may think that’s odd, but first hear us out. Consider this scenario: You’re working on your draft and you hit a spot where you feel stuck. You don’t know the answer to a question that arises in your manuscript, so you switch over to Google and start poking around for the answer.

Soon you find yourself wandering around the internet as if you came into a room to find something, but you can’t for the life of you remember what it was.

And here is where you find yourself at the end of your writing time–watching cat videos– and you don’t even like cats.

The problem with researching while you’re writing is that you squash your momentum. Your draft will take longer to finish and it will be harder to write if you need to jump out of your writing mindset to switch over to research.

The solution: Don’t research at all once you’ve started writing until your rough draft is finished.

#2 – “TK” is Your Friend

Here’s an editorial trick:

how to research for a book

When you hit an impasse in your draft and you’re tempted to look something up, whether that’s a quote, a proper name, or details about a location, mark that TBD spot with the letters “TK.

TK annotates a spot in your draft to return to when it’s time to research.

Then keep writing!

Why the letters “TK”? There are no words in the English language that have the letters “TK” next to each other, making it easy for you to use the Control+F command to find your TBD spot later on.

By setting aside your research for later, you can keep moving on your draft and fill in the small details later.

This prevents you from taking up all your time with research and avoiding writing. 

#3 – Turn off the Internet

Turn off the Internet while you’re writingMadness, you say? Well, why do you need the Internet? You’re going to do your research when you’re done writing, so the Internet is just distracting you. Write now. Google later.

Some pro writers say they like to take their laptop to a locale with no Wi-Fi so there’s zero temptation. Try an Internet desert for a day or two and see if it improves your writing pace. 

#4 – Keep it Organized

When you find a key piece of research, file it so you can track it down later. Whether you do this with a virtual folder on your laptop, an actual folder in your desk, or with a tool like Evernote or Scrivener, the idea is the same.

You need to compile all your resources together in one place so you can find it later.

Organization now will make adding research to your manuscript later easier and quicker. When your draft is done, you can put your hands on your resources right away.

#5 – Red Text Marks the Spot

If you’re humming along in your draft and hit the crossroads of a quote or stat, switch your text color to red to highlight that you need to come back. Red text marks the spot that needs later attention and you can keep drafting.

Of course, if you used the “TK” tip above you don’t need this step, because then you can just use Control+F to find where you placed “TK” in your draft.

However, the red text will give you a visual STOP so you know this is an area that needs more research just by looking at it. Call it extra insurance so you don’t miss anything.

#6 – Hired Guns

There’s no shame in outsourcing the manual work of research. For the most cost-effective resource, consider a college intern. When looking for interns, make sure they have a background in your field. If your book is about demographic trends then look for qualitative researchers, perhaps someone with a major in the social sciences.

If, however, you need to do some number crunching then look for some more quantitative oriented interns.

Or, if you need to hire a pro, look to Upwork to find a good researcher—be sure to check ratings and consider giving applicants a short test to make sure they’re up for the task.

#7 – Add it All In

Batching your work is a trick of the productive. By segmenting what you need to get done, you maintain focus without the need to switch from unrelated task to unrelated task. When your first draft is finished, return to the designated areas that required research, which you marked with “TK” or red text. Fill in these gaps and add in all your research at once.

Researching a book can be tricky, and you definitely don’t want it to derail your progress. With these steps, we make it easy.

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

how to format a book

How to Format a Book: 7 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Self-publishing has changed everything.

Before, you were at the mercy of your publisher on how your book format looked, but today, you have control over this entire process.

In fact, you have the final say over everything in your finished manuscript is displayed. Therefore, knowing the proper book format you need is crucial. And with great power comes great responsibility.

If you’re not careful, you may end up with a sloppy and messy manuscript that an editor will refuse to work on until you tidy it up.

Or worse, your audience will slam your book with negative reviews because you published it riddled with errors.

An unprofessional looking book will not only distract readers, it will harm your brand and label you as an amateur, affecting the sales of future books as well as your current one.

Your completed self-published book should convey professionalism in all aspects – including with its book format. In fact, if budget permits, you may consider hiring a professional formatter.

Here’s mistakes to avoid when formatting your book:

  1. Avoid hard indents
  2. Indentations vs block paragraphs
  3. Avoid double spaces after periods
  4. Be cautious with hyphens
  5. Quotes vs Apostrophes
  6. Be careful with the “enter” key
  7. Use the Style feature

FREE TOOL

Book Outline Template Generator

Choose your Fiction or Nonfiction book type below to get your free chapter by chapter outline!

Enter your details below and get your pre-formatted outline in your inbox and start writing today!

CONGRATULATIONS

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

In the meantime, check out our Book Outline Challenge.

7 Money-Sucking Book Format Mistakes

There are over a hundred things that can go wrong with your book formatting, and if we wrote about all of them you’d be reading from sun-up till sun-down. But fear not!

From our experience, most authors make the same mistakes when with their book format.

In this article, you’re going to learn what the most common book formatting errors and how to avoid them. By avoiding these mistakes, not only will you have a professional looking manuscript, but you’ll make the process of designing your book to publish on Amazon’s Kindle or in print via CreateSpace a lot easier.

If you have a completed manuscript with botched book formatting on your hands, this article will teach you how to fix it using Microsoft Word.

(A quick note: it’s possible to do many of the fixes in Google Docs, however, Word has a more comprehensive set of features, so it’s better to use that when formatting your complete manuscript.)

#1 – Avoid Hard Indents in Your Book Format

A hard indent is when paragraph indentations are created by manual use of the keyboard’s Tab key.

Many of us learned how to type using the Tab key to create an indent at the start of each paragraph, so this can be a tough habit to break.

When it comes to book formatting, use of the Tab key is a no-no, because it results in an indent that’s far larger than you need.

With fiction book formatting, you want to have just a small indent at the start of each paragraph. If your book is non-fiction, generally speaking, you want to use block paragraphs rather than indents, unless your book is a memoir or historical fiction. (More on that in tip #2.)

If your book is fiction, you may be wondering how to create paragraphs without the Tab key. The fix is simple: In MS Word, set the Paragraph settings to automatically create indentations for the first line in each paragraph.

This simple auto fix will make creating your book format way easier. In Word 2016, on both Mac & Windows, to get to Paragraph settings, click the Paragraph dialog box launcher on the Home or Layout tab.   Then on the Indents and Spacing tab, go to the box under Special and click on First line. You can change the size of the indent using the box to the right.

If you’re wondering how big to make your indents, my advice is to pull your favorite book off the shelf, open it up, and take a peek. How big are the paragraph indents?

Experiment with making yours larger or smaller, printing out the page, and comparing them to the book in your hand.

But what if your 535-page tome has already been drafted, using the dreaded Tab key for each and every paragraph? No need to set fire to your laptop!

Here’s what to do to clean it up:

  • Use Find and Replace (Ctrl+H or Control+H or here’s how to find it in Word on Mac and on Windows.)
  • Enter ^t in the Find (This will help you find every “Tab” in the document.)
  • Leave the Replace field blank.
  • Hit Replace All.

Going forward, set your Paragraph settings so that you don’t have to remove hard indents again. Presto!

You now have a much prettier, easier-to-convert document through the magic of technology that will make your book format much more professional-looking.

#2 – Indentation vs. Block Paragraphs

Works of non-fiction today typically don’t use indentation, except for some notable exceptions we will discuss momentarily. Rather, a popular book format for modern non-fiction is the block paragraph.

What’s a block paragraph?

A block paragraph doesn’t have indentation on the opening line, but instead uses a horizontal line of white space beneath each paragraph. This helps to delineate the separation between paragraphs.

For instance, I used block paragraphs in my latest book Published., which looks like this:

how to format a nonfiction book

The reasoning behind whether you should use indentation vs. block paragraphs is this: in works where one thought should flow smoothly into the next, such as in a novel, paragraph indentations are used with no line spacing between paragraphs.

But in books where complicated information is being consumed, having a single line space between paragraphs aids the brain in processing one piece of information before moving on to the next.

Here is an example from a fiction novel, The Savior’s Champion by full-time, self-published author Jenna Moreci of what it looks like to use indents instead of block paragraphs:

how to format a fiction book

An exception to the block paragraph for non-fiction/indents for fiction guideline: non-fiction narrativessuch as a memoir or historical fiction, should use the same indent style described above in tip #1.

In non-fiction works where some information should flow, and other sections require more brain power to comprehend. Some authors decide to mix formatting types and use indentation where appropriate and block paragraphs where useful.

But in general, to avoid confusing the reader and to make your book look uniform, clean, and as if you didn’t make a book formatting error, it’s best to choose one style or the other and stick with it throughout your book.

However, if you insist on getting crazy and mixing it up, knowing how and when to use block paragraphs versus when to indent results in a more professional manuscript.

#3 – Avoid Double Spaces After Periods

Here’s the truth: Two spaces after a period is wrong. Period. (Ha!) Just as with the good old-fashioned Tab key indent, two spaces after a period may have been the norm back when you were learning to type.

This is because, with typewriters, characters were all the same width, so the two-space rule allowed for greater readability.

With modern computer fonts, the characters all fit closer together in a proportional fashion, thereby eradicating the need for that one additional space.

Most major style guides—including the Chicago Manual of Style, which is used by traditional publishers—now formally recognize the more modern single-space rule.

From an aesthetics angle, one space looks neater, which your readers’ eyes will appreciate. Before you convert your manuscript, change all double spaces to single spaces. The result will be a better formatted, stylistically correct book.

You’re going to use that super handy “Find and Replace” function again:

  • Enter two spaces in the Find (This will help you find every double space in the document.)
  • Enter a single space into the Replace field.
  • Hit Replace All.

Voila! Like magic.

#4 – Be Cautious with Hyphens

Improper hyphenation is a common error that may be harder to stay on top of because the rules of hyphenation differ depending on the grammatical situation.

So when it comes to your book format, you’ll have to do some research.

Generally, keep these three rules in mind while you write so you’ll have to do less work when it’s time for book formatting:

  • Two or more words that, together, function as an adjective are joined with a hyphen. For example, dark-pink skirt or two-way street.
  • Two words or more that form a number are joined with a hyphen. For example, twenty-one.
  • Compound words, which are two words that are joined together to make a single word, do not require a hyphen. For example, toothbrush or starfish.
  • Two or more separate words that are used as a single word or idea. For example, action-grabbing, top-notch, or larger-than-life.

When in doubt, look it up! For a more detailed treatment of the hyphen, here is an important source to consider: Elements of Style.

#5 – Know When to Use Quotes vs. an Apostrophe

Few things scream “new writer” like a book formatted with punctuation errors. You want to make sure you’re using quotes and apostrophes correctly so you don’t lose credibility with your readers.

When to use quotes in your book format:

  • When you’re quoting someone, use quotes! This means either a person is speaking—like in fiction—or you are borrowing material verbatim from another source, like in non-fiction.
  • Use of quotes is rarely needed for common expressions.
  • Ironic terms can be set off in quotes.
  • Overuse of quotes can get annoying, so be judicious in their application.

When to use apostrophes:

  • Use an apostrophe for possessive form (except the word its.) For example: The cat’s toys are blue.
  • Use an apostrophe for contractions, such as it is. For example: The cat’s playing with its toys. It’s a happy cat.
  • Avoid using an apostrophe for plural forms. For example: Five cats ran past her.

Again, the rules can be complicated, such as when to use an apostrophe when dealing with an acronym, so when in doubt, look it up.

#6 – Be Careful When Using the Enter Key

There are many times in your book you’ll want to go to a new page or to create a blank page.

This is simple right? Hit enter a few times, and presto, you’ve got a new page.

Wrong.

format a book

Using paragraph breaks, or hitting enter to create a new page can create many problems when it comes to getting your manuscript ready to publish.

For instance, you or your book designer will need to change your page size or page setup according to the book size and style you’ve chosen.

Using paragraph breaks will create extra space where none is needed and will change the page layouts of your book, making your book look ugly.

If you’re wondering why after you change your paper size, your chapter headings are no longer at the top of the page, but halfway down, it was because of your liberal use of paragraph breaks.

Instead, use the page break function.

This instantly creates a new page, and it remains a new page even when you’ve changed the page size, page layout, or added more content above. On Microsoft Word, this can be done by pressing Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Cmd+Enter (Mac).

You can also find it in the ribbon in Word. Google Docs also has this feature. In Word go to Insert > Page Break In Google Docs go to Insert > Break > Page Break

#7 – Use the Styles Feature Instead of Formatting Yourself

Stop formatting your chapter titles yourself. Many writers indicate a title or subtitle by simply changing the font size and changing the font from the default font (ah, Times New Roman, how we miss you) and thinking their job is done.

This makes navigating and formatting your book a pain.

What you want to do is use MS Word’s “Styles” feature. Google Docs also has this feature. In Word 2016, you can find the Styles section under the Home tab on both Mac & Windows.

In Google Docs the styles section can be found by clicking the box between the zoom level and the font type.

When creating a new chapter, highlight the chapter heading, and then make it a header by applying the relevant style. If it’s the main heading make it “Heading 1”, if it’s a subtitle make it “Heading 2”, etc.

This has the added benefit of allowing you to easily automatically create a table of contents page, or to navigate through your 30,000-word manuscript with Word’s navigation pane, while also making your book format look professional.

You Need a Proper Book Format

Without question you want your book to stand out because of its invaluable content, stunning tone of voice, and laser targeted towards your audience.

However, don’t let your book formatting or grammatical errors get in the way of your book’s success. If you’ve written your book, and are ready to get it published, follow the guide you just read to make sure your manuscript isn’t full of errors.

For tips on how to format your book for Kindle, it’s best to follow Amazon’s comprehensive guide on the matter. It will help you design your title page on a different first page, your copyright page, trimming to the correct paper size, and the million other things you need to do to get your book ready for print.

FREE TOOL

Book Outline Template Generator

Choose your Fiction or Nonfiction book type below to get your free chapter by chapter outline!

Enter your details below and get your pre-formatted outline in your inbox and start writing today!

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In the meantime, check out our Book Outline Challenge.

speaking engagements

Speaking Engagements: How to Find & Book Speaking Gigs

Once you’ve done the hard work of writing and publishing your book, it’s time to consider getting some speaking engagements so you can spread the word about your book’s message…

…and make even more cash from it.

As an author, it’s highly possible you’ve convinced yourself that speaking in front of an audience simply isn’t for you—after all, you’re a writer, not a speaker…right?

That’s not exactly true.

While the walls of publishing are coming down, and there’s never been a better time to become a published author.

…but this means there’s an awful lot of competition out there.

We’re here to cover this information all about speaking engagements:

  1. What are speaking engagements?
  2. How do I book paid speaking engagements?
  3. How do I get speaking engagements
  4. How to get speaking engagements at churches
  5. Start local to land speaking engagements
  6. Speak to your niche
  7. Find a natural connection
  8. Build excitement around your speaking engagement
  9. Hone your skills
  10. Attend a workshop
  11. Speak at an industry event
  12. Aim low (at first)
  13. Practice often!
  14. Say YES

How Speaking Gigs & Podcasts Generated

$750,000 In Sales in Less Than 10 Months

Learn the exact step-by-step methods I’ve used to speak at over 40 stages and generate more than $1.5 Million in revenue over the past two years. I’m giving away my secrets!

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 are 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.

Why are speaking engagements important?

Speaking engagements are important because they allow you to reach a large audience with your message. Members of the audience who connect with your talk might go on to buy your book or invest in other products or services you offer.

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.

Becoming a bestseller by self-publishing a book (something we here at Self-Publishing School teach) is even better. It’s a surefire sign that you know what you’re talking about and have credibility behind you.

Check out our Become a Bestseller program where we can teach you how to self-publish successfully in as little as 90 days.

https://youtu.be/2k1NHZ_5s50

How do I get speaking engagements?

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.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/4qU7ZWgHWsS3UjUtzq5j4H

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:

  1. Be present in that church community
  2. Share your message and ideas with others
  3. Develop a strong speaking ability
  4. Live your faith and message outwardly
  5. Allow someone else to nominate you (due to #2)
  6. 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.

https://youtu.be/fULvrr8SDhs

#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.

How Speaking Gigs & Podcasts Generated

$750,000 In Sales in Less Than 10 Months

Learn the exact step-by-step methods I’ve used to speak at over 40 stages and generate more than $1.5 Million in revenue over the past two years. I’m giving away my secrets!

#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

infographic showing 10 ways to land a speaking engagement

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.

Once you’ve taken the time to put together your speech about your book, you’ll notice ways to refine it and improve on it day after day when you practice like you’re speaking in public.

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.

Carlos Whitaker Interview

SPS 085: How To Sell 50,000 Copies Of Your Book “Out Of The Trunk Of Your Car” with Carlos Whittaker

Today, I’m joined by Carlos Whittaker, a people’s choice award winner, a former recording artist who spends his time creating new books and travels to speaking gigs. I’ll be chatting with Carlos about how he sold his books “from the trunk of my car.”

With a passion for writing starting with his blog, Carlos was pursuing writing in addition to a career as a singer. In 2010, he created a VLOG that went viral, which, in turn, produced traffic for his blog. At this point, he had 30,000 readers per day looking at his website, and publishers started to find his blog. “Although I was a singer, I had more people reading my words than buying my music.”

When Carlos decided to write his first book, he chose his best blog writings from his work that created the most traction from his past seven blogging years. Moment Maker was birthed from his blog in 2014. Although it didn’t sell well, “this was my little experiment, and I’m proud of it.”

He took his first offer from a publisher that approached him. “The first book was a book that I wanted to write that felt good for me, and I thought that maybe this could help a lot of people.” Carlos decided to be strategic in writing his second book and directly answered his audience’s pain point. Doing beta testing, targeting sales, and tweaking his talks to target more book purchases in the lobby post-speaking. “Once I found that secret sauce, I just stuck to that.”

With his third book, he is creating many Zoom talks and hasn’t had as much success with video marketing. Carlos is looking forward to 2021, when he can hit the road and see people in person to market his book.

Listen in to find out how you can make your audience the hero of your story, how to set up your book sale to get more people to buy your book, and Carlos’ pro tips for selling books.

Show Notes

  • [01:40] Why Carlos decided to write his first book.
  • [05:16] Getting approached by publishers to write his book and had one offer.
  • [07:01] Tips for bloggers who want to turn their blog into a book.
  • [09:52] Why he wrote his first book.
  • [18:18] How to make your audience the hero of your story.
  • [24:26] Pro tips for selling books at speaking gigs.
  • [28:05] Figuring out how many books to bring with you to sell.
  • [32:14] What Carlos reviews when revising his talk to sell more books.
  • [37:30] Parting advice for listeners about how to be a better author.
Emma Sumner Interview

SPS 084: How To Write A Book At 8 Years Old That Sells 1,000’s Of Copies with Emma Sumner

Today, I’m joined by Emma Sumner, one of the youngest authors at Self-Publishing School. She has inspired many other children to write books. Emma decided to write her first book when she found out her dad was writing a book. Her dad gave her the challenge to write 150 words and create a few characters, and he would help her write her first book. She was up for the challenge and came up with her new book’s first few sentences within a week.

“I was thinking of the different traits that I’d want to have, and I put those into each of the characters.” Her writing process was free form as she would write down all the ideas that came to her mind then create a story around her ideas. Emma wrote for her age group as she wrote her book as a book she would enjoy to read. “When I first started writing, it was to entertain myself. Then it just grew from there!”

The book writing process has lessons that come with writing and publishing. “The biggest lesson I learned is that you can’t let people judge you.” She understands that not all people are going to like her book. Additionally, Emma says that you have to focus on writing your book for yourself and not writing for others.

Listen in to find out how Emma leveraged her family for her launch team, her restaurant partnership, her advice on marketing your book and how she landed her first speaking gig.

Show Notes

  • [02:37] What inspired Emma to write her first book.
  • [04:19] How Emma decided on the characters and plot for her first book.
  • [05:45] The process of her book unfolding to her first draft.
  • [08:53] When Emma started the process of publishing her book.
  • [10:30] Emma’s advice for authors is to not let other people judge you and your work.
  • [15:55] How her family became involved in marketing her book.
  • [19:51] Her first book signing experience at Barnes and Noble.
  • [26:03] Emma’s suggestions for book marketing.
  • [32:47] How she is paying it forward and working with other child authors.

Links and Resources

SPS 083: How To Turn Your Nonfiction Book Into A Children’s Book (Advanced Publishing & Fulfillment Strategies) with Ellaine Ursuy

I’m joined by Ellaine Ursuy, a self-published author of two books, a coach at SPS school, and has completed hundreds of coaching calls with students. Since she is well-known in her peer group for having the ability to explain concepts to others that are hard to understand, she thought turning her adult non-fiction book into a children’s book would be her next step in publishing.

“I remember being five and people telling me that I’m going to do big things one day.” Her intuition told her that she would do bigger than life projects, but she wasn’t sure where her journey would take her in life. “When I got the opportunity to work for Self-Publishing School, it was an obvious choice.”

Her first book, Don’t Be Weird, was a book based on Gospel teachings. She decided to write a children’s version as she saw a need in the market for another way for children to learn God’s teachings besides large, expensive courses. “I’m Not Weird was born in about 15 minutes.” With her first draft in hand, she was excited to move forward in her publishing process.

Elaine’s biggest takeaways from her creating her children’s book are the differences in the editing process from adult to children’s books, types of books, binding and printing, and how fulfillment is different on Amazon for children’s books.

Listen in to find out how she assigned every page a job in her book, how she chose the age range to write her book for, and the most challenging phase of writing her children’s book.

Free Video Training

Write & Launch a Bestselling Book in 90 Days – Even if You Only Have 30 Minutes Per Day!

Learn the exact step-by-step methods you need to cut through the noise, harness the Amazon algorithm, and self-publish your book successfully this year!

Show Notes

  • [01:43] Why Ellaine decided to write her first book.
  • [03:02] How she made the transition from adult non-fiction to children’s book.
  • [04:12] The process of writing her first children’s book.
  • [06:35] The differences in both of her processes of book writing. 
  • [09:50] Hardest part of the children’s book process for Ellaine.
  • [12:39] How she decided what age range to write for and who she received her best feedback from during the editing process.
  • [15:35] The advice she gives clients she coaches on publishing children’s books.
  • [19:15] Fulfillment choices and how KDP is the best for easy fulfillment.
  • [22:00] How she found the novelty press she used to print her children’s book and her tips on finding an illustrator.
  • [29:02] What Ellaine decided to do to market her book and how she chose her niche market.
  • [32:47] Tips on choosing keywords and categories to sell your book.
  • [35:19] What you should prepare for before you jump on your first coaching call with a book coach.

Links and Resources

SPS 082: How To Use Guest Posting & Media To Sell Thousands Of Copies Of Your Book with Susie Moore

Today, I’m joined by Susie Moore, a Life Coach advice columnist for several of the world’s largest media outlets. Susie has been obsessed with mastering the confidence game since her childhood. The one thing she knows is that having self-confidence is learned. She has made giving others self-confidence and the ability to lead an approval-free life. She is the author of multiple books, including her most recent Stop Checking Your Lights. Susie utilized her PR so well that she was noticed and picked up by traditional publishers.

“I feel like being an author and being in the media are two of the best things you can do for your business. Becoming an author is a natural extension of being in the media; they go hand in hand so well if you’re a writer.” Using guest blogging on another website is the “most frictionless” method of getting the word out about your book to your audience on a different platform. Susie utilizes this form of media and guest posts once a week.

On having a good network, Susie gives this advice, “When you have a couple people in your corner to promote you with audiences, you’ll have to give them notice, assets, and make it clear what your book is about and with enthusiasm.” Make sure to call in your favors when your book comes out and when you interview, know why your book will benefit their audience. Susie doesn’t believe in hiring a publicist; she says, “you can do it all yourself.”

Also, make sure to test without limiting your markets. If your brand crosses two or three different niches, make sure to market to all of those niches, not just one or two. The pivotal question to ask yourself is, “Can someone who is reached by this market be helped by what I have to say?” if your answer is yes, then Susie recommends that you go for that market.

Listen in to find out the most important factor in advertising yourself, two main reasons you may not be getting the response you want from your book promotion, and how to write a guest post that converts readers to buyers.

Free Video Training

Write & Launch a Bestselling Book in 90 Days – Even if You Only Have 30 Minutes Per Day!

Learn the exact step-by-step methods you need to cut through the noise, harness the Amazon algorithm, and self-publish your book successfully this year!

Show Notes

  • [01:57] Why Susie decided to self-publish her first book.
  • [03:33] Where Susie focuses her attention when she is selling books.
  • [05:45] The first platforms to reach out to when looking for book PR. 
  • [09:35] Why it’s important to get someone’s attention in the moment. 
  • [12:12] The essential part of getting PR is to have a good network. 
  • [13:50] The questions to ask yourself to find the right platform to post your book content. 
  • [15:51] Alignment of your book to another brand is the most important factor in deciding where to promote your publication. 
  • [19:55] Why editors like authors and content producers. 
  • [21:49] The most important factor in advertising yourself and your book. 
  • [25:35] Susie’s recommendations on how introverts can successfully market their book.
  • [29:12] Two reasons why you may not be getting the responses you want from your book promotion. 
  • [31:00] How to write a guest post that converts readers to buyers. 
  • [33:40] Elements you need to write a good short tail (byline) in a guest post.
  • [35:25] Ways to add value to other platforms to sell your book.
  • [37:35] Susie’s advice to her former self.