Become a Motivational Speaker

Become a Motivational Speaker (Why All Authors Should)

Writers don’t just write, they communicate. They have a burning message that they have to get out there, and if they are successful, they find an audience hungry for that message. 

But as an author you’re not just limited to writing when it comes to communicating with your audience. You can also speak to your audience. When you learn how to become a motivational speaker, you will connect with your audience in ways you never could as a writer, and you’ll be able to build a much stronger brand. 

In this article we’ll set out to convince you that, if you’re serious about becoming a professional author, you should also think about building up your speaking career. Since becoming a public speaker isn’t easy, we’ve put together a few tips on how to get started so that you can begin planning your public speaker journey today.

8 Reasons Why You Should Become a Motivational Speaker

Once your book is published, your next move will determine your book’s success in the long term. We’ve already discussed how to launch your book, and some other ways you can market your book, but speaking will establish your author brand. Here are eight reasons why.

1. Becoming a Speaker Sets You Apart

The truth is, the world of self-published books is quickly becoming a saturated field. That means you need to do whatever it takes to bring attention to your book, including being assertive about marketing. Us writer types are often reserved and introverted and may not seek out public speaking opportunities. If you’re a speaker and an author, you stand out from those one-trick ponies!

While some authors prefer to stay out of the spotlight, it’s not a good marketing move. To find readers and make a name for yourself, you need to put yourself out there. Speaking engagements garner attention for your book and set you apart from the (shy!) pack who aren’t as comfortable in the limelight.

The good news is that even if you aren’t a born speaker, you can learn the skills you need to become comfortable on the stage.

2. Speaking Engagements Make You a Better Writer

Learning the art of both forms of communication — writing and speaking — will bode well for your career. Reading passages from your book is commonplace at book launches, author events and speaking engagements. The beauty of this exercise is that you get to see your words through a different lens — that of your readers. You can see the real-world, real-time impact your words have on others. Not only is this a cool feeling, it can help you tailor your next book to whatever your audience responds best to. There’s nothing like real world feedback to let you know which topics ring true with your audience and which don’t. 

3. Speaking Establishes You as an Expert

People make value judgments, and if you’re speaking in front of a specific group about your passions, then you MUST be an expert, right? While writing a book can also establish you as an expert, there’s something about standing up in front of a crowd that solidifies you in that “expert” light.

Speaking engagements in your professional area or your book’s niche will earn you professional credibility within that community. Your perceived authority and prestige will be boosted by your association with the event you choose to speak at. 

4. Speaking Fees Generate Income

Speaking fees can add up when you consistently book speaking engagements. If you do it enough, speaking can become a significant income stream for you as an author. In fact, speaking fees can even surpass the money you make from book sales.

The more speaking engagements you book, the higher the rate you can demand for your services. The more you speak, the better you’ll be at it, thereby opening the door to lucrative engagements, like keynote speaking at large events.

5. Speaking Gigs Sell More Books

If you knock it out of the park with your speech, you’ll have attendees clamoring to buy your book. “Back of the room” sales can boost your book’s success! Take your books to your events, and press the flesh in the back of the room. Sign, smile and meet your fans, and you’ll make money while feeling like a rock star in the process.

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6. Becoming a Speaker Broadens Your Network

Public speaking enables you to connect with your existing fans and create new ones. If you make a connection with your speech, and you take the time to develop a relationship by answering questions and signing books, you’re marketing yourself, your brand and your books.

By extension, this type of marketing will result in your fans talking about you to other potential fans. The word will spread that you’re a speaker who must be heard, and an author who must be read. Leverage these connections by collecting emails at your speaking engagements so you can follow up on future speaking dates and book releases.

7. Speech Writing Lets You Test New Ideas

Perhaps you have a cool new idea for a blog post or a book topic? Write up a speech and try it out during a small speaking engagement, before committing it to print. This is how big-time comedians test their material: a surprise appearance at a tiny venue. They get to see the audience’s reaction to what they’re saying up close so they can refine their messaging.

You can join Toastmasters International if you’d rather not test material on a “real” audience. Interacting with your audience and getting their read on your material can help you decide whether your ideas are publication-worthy.

8. Speaking Generates New Income Sources

CDs, DVDs, courses, and workshops: All of these options are secondary sources of income from your book and your role as a speaker. The more prolific you become as a speaker, the more marketable your additional revenue streams will become.

Even if you start off speaking for free to 10 students at the local community college, your speaking career can evolve to higher levels. If you’ve recently been published in a well-known publication, had a media appearance or hit a best-seller list, you can up your speaking engagement fee and product prices accordingly.

You may now be convinced that it’s time for you to you dust off your shoes and hit the public speaking circuit to sell more books, but the question remains, how do you become a motivational speaker? Where do you start and how can you guarantee success?

5 Steps to Becoming a Motivational Speaker

Becoming a public speaker can launch your books to the next level and add credibility to your author brand. Sometimes there’s nothing that screams “expert!” louder than seeing someone give a speech on stage to an attentive audience. 

However, if it was easy to become a speaker, then everyone would do it. We’re not going to sugar coat this: Becoming a speaker can be tough, and it can be hard to figure out where to start. But, we’ve made things a bit simpler by putting together five steps that you can follow to get started on your speaking journey.

1. Improve your speaking skills

You’re getting into the field of speaking to build credibility and heighten your audience’s perception of you as an expert. But, there is no quicker way for your audience to think you don’t know what you’re talking about than to bomb on stage. If your talk is filled with lots of “ums” and “ahs,” you get flustered when the microphone stops working, or you speak really fast, your audience will lose confidence in your message faster than they can say “refund.” 

Before you run you first have to learn how to walk, and before you can fill out a room and sell more books, you first have to learn effective public speaking skills. You need to learn the right tone of voice, perfect your body language and hone your speaking abilities. 

You can do this by joining your local Toastmasters club for practice and by watching lots of motivational speeches by successful speakers. Find a speaker’s style that you like and see how you can adapt your own speaking style to match.

2. Network Like You Mean It

To get better at speaking, and potentially build a speaking business around your book, you’re going to have to meet other speakers. Only they have the know-how of the industry in your local market and know the names of agents and venues that can land you speaking gigs. 

Meeting inspirational speakers will not only improve your speaking skills, it will in turn inspire you on your speaking journey. Any self-employed project can be disheartening, and you’ll need all the inspiration you can get, so network like it’s your job. 

Ask your friends and family if they know anyone with public speaking experience. Find and join your local Speakers Bureau and the National Speakers Association

Networking will also introduce you to something else that can fast track your success.

3. Get a Mentor

Often as writers we avoid any formal or informal training. We choose to be self-taught instead of seeking training or mentorship. This can be fine, as some of the best writers in the world were self-taught. However, many other crafts require you get a helping hand before you succeed.

Can you picture Rocky Balboa without Micky? Harry Potter without Dumbledore? Or Thoreau without Emerson? It’s not possible. There’s no way any of these characters or writers could have undergone their personal development journey without a mentor, and you’ll need the same in your speaking journey. 

Speaking is still a “who’s who” type of industry. There isn’t a formal marketplace for speaking gigs and speakers. Mentors can help you get a leg up and introduce you to speaking gigs if they think you have potential. 

4. Invest in Yourself Up Front

Before college we have to go to high school, before high school we go to junior high, and before junior high we go to elementary school. You can’t go straight from elementary to college. Sure, there are some geniuses who get to skip all of that, but those happen once or twice in a generation. The rest of us mere mortals have to go through each stage. 

Public speaking is the same. If you stick at it, continue to improve, build your network and your reputation, there will come a day where your inbox will be filled with lucrative speaking opportunities. However, before you get there, you need to invest in yourself. And that involves giving lots of free speeches. 

Take up any speaking gig you can find. Whether it be at local events that match your book’s topic or speaking to college students who are studying something related to your work, land any free speaking gig you can. 

Most great speakers succeeded because they were in it for the long term and weren’t ashamed to take free or low-paying gigs in the beginning. They knew they were investing in their future. Adopt this mindset and instead of thinking of free speaking gigs as a burden, you might start to become excited to do them.

But don’t speak for free for too long. The next step is crucial.

5. Have a Marketing Plan

Think about your cliché pirate story. There’s swashbuckling pirates, the one-eyed baddie, the seven seas and what else? Treasure, of course!

And how do they find the treasure? With a treasure map! Even though they brave the fierce seas, battle sea monsters and put down crew mutinies, the protagonist in a pirate story is confident they’ll find the treasure eventually because they’re following a treasure map.

You have to do the same with a marketing plan. In case you didn’t notice from everything else we’ve mentioned in this article, speaking is competitive. In order to see success, you’ll not only have to differentiate yourself from other good speakers, you’ll need to have a focused and consistent effort to get the word out there to potential clients.

A marketing plan will help you with all of this. Often newbie speakers use a “hope and pray” approach to marketing, or follow their latest creative marketing idea, and this is why they fail. You cannot fall for this trap. Having a solid marketing plan will keep you focused, give you room for continual improvement and help you discard what isn’t working. 

Time to Start

Being a writer is great, but if you want to become a successful and professional author, then speaking might be a great next step in making sure your book makes it into the hands of your intended audience. By sharing your message via the spoken word, you gain credibility and build your brand in ways that books alone can’t do. Gaining success as a speaker may not be as easy as writing a book, but the rewards are well worth it to your brand. 

Writing a Book? 9 Killer Research Tips self-publishingschool

Writing a Book? 7 Killer Research Tips

“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!

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!

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.

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2. “TK” is Your Friend

Here’s an editorial trick: 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.

Start

Remind yourself that your goal right now is not the most perfectly researched book, it’s a finished one. You’re not going to be selling your research on Amazon, you’re going to be selling your story.

Writing a book is a mind game. Don’t let the lure of research (or cat videos!) distract you from finishing your draft. Plan and set an end date for your research process, and then put all your energy into research. When that’s done, begin writing your first draft no matter what, and hold off on any research until you’ve got a finished rough draft. Use our tips to manage your research efficiently and get to work on writing.

Don’t let research be the death of your book.

13 Reasons Why You Should Write a Book This Year

Deciding to write a book is analogous to the decision to become a parent. You can weigh the pros and cons and read all the expert books on parenting. You’ll try to decide whether you’re emotionally, financially, and physically ready to take the plunge. But until you become a parent, you’ll never know how amazing, enriching, and challenging your life could be. Once you become a parent, you know that your life will never be the same.

These same concepts apply to becoming an author. Until you’ve ushered new creative life into the world you have no idea the incredible, myriad of ways writing a book can better your life. You’ll ask yourself why you waited so long to make it happen.

We’re here to tell you that you should write a book, and you should do it this year. If not now, then when?

Here are 12 reasons why this is the year you’ll write your book.

1. You are a writer (you just need to write).

Listen, everyone can be a writer. Each one of us has a story to share. In fact, most of us have more than one story to share.

The simple truth is that in order to be a writer, you just need to write. And to become an author, you just need to publish. At Self-Publishing School, we’re here to tell you that both of these worthy goals are within your reach. You just need to start—today.

2. You’ll discover who you are.

By it’s very nature, writing is an introspective, thoughtful activity. The process of writing a book will force you to turn your thoughts inward. Through writing, you’ll gain perspective about what really matters to you.

Writing a book will also teach you about the unique value of your own willpower. The simple act of committing to a writing project, and seeing it through, will measure the depths of your discipline.

Writing a book can be a powerful way to get in touch with your thoughts, values, and motivations. Plus, writing is cheaper than therapy!

3. You’ll have created a professional-quality, ready-to-sell book.

It used to be that only writers with a publishing deal or those who paid for vanity publication ever got to see their books in print. Those days have changed. Thanks to the rise of self-publishing, any person with a story to tell can become a published author and sell their book.

Self-publishing is now affordable, easy to implement, and requires only basic computer skills. If you can type your book on your keyboard, you can figure out how to self-publish. As your own publisher, you call the shots. You’re the CEO of your own destiny. Even better, you get to retain more of the royalties if you self-publish. What’s not to like?

4. You’ll pocket a healthy chunk of change.

The brilliant ideas you have kicking around in your head aren’t earning you any money. Only once you commit those ideas to paper and hit publish will you earn income from your thoughts.

Your book can earn you a stream of passive income simply by existing. And then there’s the future—audiobooks, courses based on your book, and speaking gigs! And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can make money off your self-published book—but you need to write it first.

5. You’ll let Amazon do the heavy lifting.

Amazon is the King of the self-publication market. Amazon makes it intuitive and straightforward for authors to upload and sell their books. They’ve also made it easy for readers to find and buy your book. It’s a win-win.

That’s not to say that you can set up an Amazon page and let it flap in the breeze untended. In order to sell your book, you’ll need to do some marketing and PR. The good news is that Amazon gives you the tools and resources you need to succeed.

6. You’ll embrace the mantra, “nobody lives forever.”

Nobody’s getting out of this life alive. Our time here is finite. It’s our choice how we want to spend our time.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book, don’t wait for a life crisis to force your hand. The time is now. You have a chance to share your words, thoughts, and passions with the world. Don’t let that chance slip through your fingers.

7. You’ll reignite a passion.

Each one of us has a passion for something—whether that’s rock-climbing, organic cooking, or comedic storytelling. What’s your passion? You already know the answer to that question.

Here’s our next question: When’s the last time you stoked that passion? If that answer is, “you can’t remember” or, “it’s been years,” then you’ve got some work to do. You owe it to yourself to explore your passion and write a book. We promise that when you’re writing about something you love, it won’t feel like work.

8. You’ll be a pro author.

Only 1% of the world’s population ever publishes a book. That’s a heady statistic. By writing a book, you set yourself apart from the masses.

Even if your book is fiction or a memoir, the fact that you’re now an author lends an air of authority to your professional endeavors. You can now add “author” to your CV, LinkedIn, and professional website.

In short: No matter what you write a book about, becoming a published author boosts your professional authority. You’ll have accomplished something few other people have. Our preemptive greeting: Welcome to the Author Club! We guarantee you’ll like the rarified air up here.

9. You’ll tackle a new challenge.

Life has so many obligations—taxes, school pick-up, miles on the treadmill—it can be easy to fall into a daily rut.

Writing a book is leaving your comfort zone. Trying something unfamiliar can be scary—we get it. But, that’s precisely why it’s exciting. The only way you grow as a person is by forcing yourself to leave your comfort zone.

Time to jump off the cliff—write a book and become an author this year. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll gain by pushing the limits of your own self-imposed boundaries.

10. You’ll become smarter.

Writing a book requires research. No matter what topic you’re writing about, you’re going to have to research new concepts and topics. By opening the door to new ideas, you’ll educate yourself on a broad array of ideas. You’ll be invigorated by how much you learn while you’re writing, and emerge much brighter for having done so. And when you’re done, you can assert yourself as an expert in your field.

Your book can then open the door for speaking engagements, conference presentations, and other professional networking opportunities.

11. You’ll stop making excuses and just do it.

We know, we know, you’ve been mulling over the idea of writing a book for months (years?) now. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article. How long are you going to give yourself permission to keep quashing your dreams? It’s time to commit and just do it.

12. Because you can!

And you will! No more excuses. You can’t afford to put off writing a book any longer. All that counts is that you get your first word on paper, and then a word after that. Before you know it, you’ll have a completed first draft. Think about how amazing you’ll feel?

Don’t put it off another day. Write your book today. This is the year for you to finally become an author.

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!

Book Formatting 5 Book Formatting Mistakes to Avoid self-publishingschool

How to Format a Book: Don’t Make These 7 Mistakes!

Self-publishing has changed everything. Before you were at the mercy of your publisher on how your book title was formatted and designed, today you have control over this process. In fact, you have the final say over everything in your finished manuscript.

However, 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. Your completed self-published book should convey professionalism in all aspects.

The 7 Most Common Book Formatting Errors.

There are over a hundred things that can go wrong in your book, and if we wrote about all of them you’d be reading from sun-up till sun-down. However, not to worry, from our experience most authors make the same formatting mistakes. 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, 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 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. Just Say “No!” to Hard Indents.

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.

When it comes to writing fiction, 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 your book formatting process 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.  

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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.

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If you’re wondering how big to make your indents, my advice is 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 2016 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.

2. Choose Carefully: 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 format for modern non-fiction books 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 separation between paragraphs.

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

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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. 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 of what it looks like to use indents instead of block paragraphs:

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An exception to the block paragraph for non-fiction / indents for fiction guideline: non-fiction narrativesuch 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 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. Generally, keep these three rules in mind while you write to stay on top of your hyphens:

  • 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.

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 punctuation errors. You want to make sure you’re using quotes and apostrophes correctly so you don’t lose credibility with your readers. Here are a few quick rules of thumb:

Use of Quotes

  • 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.

Use of 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.

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 2016 go to Insert > Page Break

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In Google Docs go to Insert > Break > Page Break

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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.

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

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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.

Conclusion.

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 is devoid of errors. Then once you’re ready, check out our guide on getting published on Amazon. 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. Here’s a guide for formatting your book for CreateSpace, though the advice it gives is for Word 2007.  

Thirty years ago, it would have been impossible to publish a book yourself. Today you have all the tools you need to produce a flawless manuscript. Take the time to review your book—and hire an editor and a book designer—to make sure your book formatting is perfectly professional.

How to Write an Introduction That Sells Your Book self-publishingschool

How to Write an Introduction That Sells Your Book

To learn more about how to craft the perfect book introduction, join Chandler on this FREE webinar where he explains how to write a winning intro for your book.

“There’s no second chance to make a first impression.” Not only does this apply to meeting your future in-laws, it applies to readers first impressions of your book.

Alright…maybe not their first impression of your book, that comes from your book cover. However, their second-first impression is going to be formed while reading your book’s introduction.

It’s easy to think an introduction isn’t important because so many people skip them, but did you know your book’s introduction is actually a vital sales tool if you’re a non-fiction author?

In this article, we’re going to tell you how to write an introduction that will actually boost book sales.

But first, let’s talk about…

Why Your Book Introduction Is Crucial.

You’re about to learn about the most wonderful page in your book to boost sales. It’s going to be your secret weapon to stand out from the competition.

Amazon offers customers a chance to give your book a sneak peek before purchase. It’s called the Look Inside feature, and when shoppers click on it, they’re treated to a free preview of the beginning of your book. This means you’ve been given the opportunity to grab their attention and make them reach for their wallets.

This is why your book’s introduction is crucial to your book’s ultimate success. Readers will pick up your book and make a decision about you as an author and your book based on those first few paragraphs.

Introduction, Preface, Or Foreword?

Before you write an introduction, you first have to check if what you’re writing is actually an introduction. If you aren’t careful it might be a preface or a foreword instead. While this difference might not seem like much to you, mislabeling this section will signal your book as an amateur piece of work to your reader, harming your brand and sales in the long run.

So, what are the differences between an introduction, preface and a foreword? Where do you use them? Can you use several of them? We’ll go through these questions in detail.

Preface.

Though they may initially seem the same, and serve the same purpose, a preface is different from an introduction. The author and/or editor of a book can write a preface, but no-one else can. A preface discusses how the book came about, the scope of the book, why the book was written, it’s limitations, and any acknowledgements the author or editor has.

What it doesn’t do is talk about the meat of the book. It doesn’t go into the subject matter, the point of view, or arguments that the book presents.

The purpose of a preface is to let the reader know how you came to write the book. Without delving into the book matter, it gives the author a chance to talk to the reader and let them know your story, why you decided to write this book, why the world needs this book right now (helpful if you’re writing about something that’s been written about several times before, such as the hundredth biography of a famous figure,) where you got your information from, and why you are the best author to write this book. If you have several editions of your book, your preface is also where you discuss why there is a new edition, and what’s different from the old edition.

An author’s preface requires tact; you can’t be too self-promotional. You have to address your selling points indirectly. This is why it’s best to have an editor’s preface or to have someone else write a foreword.

Foreword.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, a foreword is written by someone other than the author or editor and is usually someone with authority to lend credibility to your book, with their name appearing at the end.

Think of a foreword as a letter of recommendation that someone with credibility writes for your book. It’s usually by someone the reader will respect, and the foreword will contain reasons for why the reader should read the book. There are less rules for a foreword than a preface, for instance it can talk about the subject matter if the foreword writer desires. However, forewords tend to be short, usually one or two pages.

Many non-fiction book deals wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the foreword. Publishers are less likely to offer a major advance to first-time authors as they are untested. However, this becomes a different story if they can secure a foreword from someone of influence, (known as foreword deals in the industry.) John Romaniello (with his co-author Adam Bornstein) was able to get an advance of more than $1,000,000 for his first book, Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha, a practically unheard of amount for a first-time author. How did this happen? John credits securing Arnold Schwarzenegger to pen the foreword as a factor that helped.

Introduction.

An introduction differs from the previous two as:

  • It’s written by the author
  • It does talk about the subject matter.

An introduction can include everything that would be in a preface; how the book came about, the scope of the book, why the book was written etc. However, an introduction also supplements the subject matter of the book. Whether by presenting a point of view the reader should take, outlining to the reader what is to come, or by teasing the writer’s conclusions.

What They Do.

Each one of these exist to sell your book in the opening pages. They exist to hook a reader who flips to the beginning of the book and give clear reasons why they should read on to the end. A potential reader or buyer will judge whether your main argument, point of view, or tone of voice is worth reading on your introduction, preface, or foreword. If someone they admire recommends your book in the foreword, they’ll sit up and listen. If your preface reveals some main sources that have never told their story before, they’ll be curious to read more. If your introduction shows that you’re a great writer and you know what you’re talking about, they’ll give you a chance by reading more.

Since we’re dealing with non-fiction, we haven’t discussed prologues or epilogues, though they have the same purpose; to hook the reader and sell them on why to read on.

Where Do They Go?

So, do you only have to choose one for your book? No.

Your book can have all three if you want, though you don’t want to go too overboard, as your reader might end up skipping it anyway, or might feel like you’re trying too hard. Getting a foreword can be a lot of hard work if you don’t have the network or credibility to get an influencer to write one for you. And if your reader ends up skipping it, it’ll be a waste of your time.

But if you want to have all three, this is where they appear in your book, (relevant sections are highlighted in bold. We provided a comprehensive overview of a book’s matter for reference:)

Front Matter. 

(Each point gets at least its own page.)

  • Half title page (Sometimes called the bastard title, it’s a page that has nothing but the title. No subtitle, or author name.)
  • Blank page (Or “Also by the author…”)
  • Title page
  • Copyright page
  • Dedication (Optional.)
  • Epigraph (Quote, or poem that highlights the theme of the book. Can be before main text. Optional.)
  • Table of contents
  • Book quote (optional: A quote chosen by the author based on the subject matter of the book.)
  • List of illustrations, tables or maps (Optional.)
  • Foreword (Optional.) 
  • Preface (Optional. Editor’s preface comes before author’s preface if you have both. If you have a separate preface for a new edition of the book it comes before the old preface.)
  • Abbreviations (Optional. Or in back matter.)
  • Chronology (Optional. Or in back matter.)

Main Body.

  • Introduction (Optional.)
  • Prologue (Optional. Not applicable to non-fiction.)
  • Epigraph (or after dedication and before table of contents. Optional.)
  • Another half title (Optional.)
  • Main text
  • Epilogue (Optional. Not applicable to non-fiction.)
  • Afterword (Optional.)
  • Conclusion

Back Matter.

(These are all optional.)

  • Acknowledgments (Yes that’s spelled correctly. There isn’t an “e” before ments here.)
  • Appendix
  • Chronology (Or in front matter.)
  • Abbreviations (Or in front matter.)
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography 
  • List of contributors
  • Illustration credits
  • Index
  • Errata
  • Colophon (Optional brief statement by the publishers on the book’s production, where it was printed etc.)
  • Authors or Editor’s bio
  • Invitation to review the book [Usually found in eBook formats asking readers to consider a review if they liked the book]

Don’t panic if your book doesn’t have up to half of these sections. Many of them are not necessary unless you are writing for a higher education audience. What matters is knowing where your foreword, preface, and/or your introduction needs to go in your book.

How Your Book Introduction Will Help You Sell Books.

Your introduction serves two goals. Think of your first 1,000 words as the foundation for the rest of your book’s chapters. Writing your introduction is going to be a useful exercise to help you distill down your ideas and to succinctly encapsulate the message of your great work into a few, short paragraphs.

The second goal of your introduction is to act as a sales pitch to intrigue readers so they’ll buy your book.

It’s intimidating, yes, and a lot of pressure is riding on just a few paragraphs. This is why writing your introduction can be one of your first major stumbling blocks as an author. This article is going to help you overcome this significant hurdle so you can continue merrily on the path toward your finished manuscript, and ultimately higher sales of your book once it is published.

How to Write a Book Introduction: 8 Steps.

Self-Publishing School created a roadmap, much like we did for mind mapping and outlining, to nail down that book introduction—and also to jumpstart your writing process for the rest of your chapters.

As we go through these 8 steps to writing your introduction, we’re going to use the example of a book called How to Get College Scholarships. As you read, take notes, and insert your own book’s topic into your thinking and note-taking process.

Step 1: Identify the Problem.

Don’t dance around the problem. What’s the problem your book promises to solve? State the problem clearly for your readers from the outset. Be straight-forward, unambiguous and concise when you identify the issue that readers hope you can solve for them.

Don’t try to be all things to all people—you want readers to know the specific problem your book will solve for them.

Using our example of How to Get College Scholarships, the problem is simple: college is expensive, and scholarships seem out of reach to most high school students.

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Step 2: Present the Solution.

Now that you’ve identified the problem that readers are struggling with, you’re going to make their day by telling them you’re going to share the solution in your book. You’ve helped them with a problem AND you’ve revealed that your book holds the solution on the first page. Your book’s going to be a winner!

Directional phrases such as, “In this book, I am going to show you …” or “This book is going to solve your problem by …”

Thinking back to our example, some solutions we’d present in our book would be teaching readers how to write a good essay so you can stand out from the competition, and how to find and apply for the top scholarships.

Step 3: Assert Your Credibility.

Now that you’ve presented a problem and posted a solution, your next step is to convince your readers that you, the author, is qualified to help solve their problem. You need to build your credibility and provide readers with a reason to trust you and follow your advice.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  • Why should people trust you?
  • How do you know about this topic?
  • Why are you passionate about writing this book?

Sharing your own struggles and how you overcame them is the first step to building rapport with your readers 

Step 4: Show Them the Benefits.

How will your book improve your readers’ current circumstances? Now’s the time to really sell them on how reading your book is going to change their life for the better.

Sold! Who doesn’t want a better life? (It’s rhetorical: We all do!)

You’ve briefly touched on the solution—in our case, how to write a great essay and how to apply for scholarships. In this part of your introduction, you’re going to go a little deeper and explain what good things will happen if your readers take advantage of the information you present in your book.

In short, tell your readers what they’ll get—what knowledge or skill they will gain from reading your book and how that’s going to impact their future for the better.

In our example, the benefit of our book is that readers will go to school for free and live a life without the financial burden of student loans. Readers can achieve their dream of getting an education, without breaking the bank.

Step 5: Give Them Proof.

Show your readers the proof of why your book is the answer to their prayers. Give the most tangible and relatable proof you can provide.

In our example, we might share how we put ourselves or our children through school on scholarship. We might also include testimonials from other people we know who followed our advice and got a free education.

Step 6: Make a Promise (The Bigger the Better.)

Don’t make a promise you can’t keep, but make the biggest promise that you CAN keep. Aim high.

To come up with your promise, circle back to your books’ purpose—what is the problem your book is solving? Now promise that this book with solve their problem! It’s that easy. You need to be able to deliver on your promises, but don’t be shy in stating what they will get in return for reading your book.

While we can’t promise someone they’ll be awarded a scholarship (after all, their grades will have a big impact there,) but we can promise that we will increase their chances of getting a scholarship by showing them where to find them and the steps to take to apply.

Step 7: Warn Them Against Waiting.

You need to create a sense of urgency so your readers know that if they pass on your book, they will regret it because readers will miss out on something really good.

A sense of urgency is created by two magic words, “RIGHT NOW!”

In our example, we would urge people to start well ahead of the scholarship application deadlines so they can submit the best applications they can. Don’t delay, or others who are in the know will snatch up those scholarships! So, let’s get started on getting you a free education RIGHT NOW!

Step 8: Prompt Them to Read (Call to Action.)

You want readers to continue reading your book the second they finish the introduction. To do that, you have to hint at the juicy secrets your book will reveal to them that will change their lives. You want to intrigue them, and hint at the exciting revelations you’re going to make inside the book. They will have to buy it in order to find out.

Here’s how to craft a compelling Call to Action to prompt them to read your book right away:

The scholarship tips and tricks you’re about to read have proven results. Each chapter provides new secrets that will help you stay in control of your financial future AND get a leg up on the competition for scholarships. If you follow the formula we reveal in this book, it’s highly possible you can enjoy the rest of your life unburdened by debt.

Time to Get Started

There you go—not too hard, is it? By applying a few principles of psychology as you draft your introduction, you can demonstrate to your readers how and why they need to read your book, right now. Take advantage of this one chance you get, to explain in a few short paragraphs how readers will benefit by reading your book. They will thank you later, after they buy your book and they’re reaping all the benefits of taking your advice.

Resources:

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!