How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book self-publishingschool

How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book?

How Much Does It Cost to Publish A Book?

To learn more about the cost of publishing a book and how to get connected with some of the best (and most affordable) designers, editors, and formatters, join Chandler on this FREE webinar!

“Remember to think of the cost of self-publishing as an investment, not a cost. [A book is] an asset that earns you money long-term.” – Joanna Penn

It’s been an epic journey, from coming up with your idea to fleshing out the first draft of your book, and now, it’s time to launch your book out to the world for everyone to enjoy.

However, you may be wondering, “How much does it cost to publish a book?” Self-publishing has broken down a lot of barriers for writers and dramatically lowered the costs of publishing a book, but there are still costs involved.

Since the explosion of digital books on Amazon and various other platforms like KoboiBooks, and Smashwords, first time authors and professional authors alike can write, publish and promote their books for less than $1,000. On the other hand, you can spend as much as $20,000 on self-publishing and book marketing costs if you have that kind of budget.

Let’s break down the costs of the self-publishing process. We’ll share some secrets to bring those costs down if you’re budget-conscious.

The Rise of Self-Publishing

If you’re an author dreaming of making your books available to millions of readers, you can make it happen. You only have to invest your time, some money and a little bit of sanity.

The sky’s really the limit. Self-publishing on Amazon has made it possible for us to all fly with our books. Are you ready to make yours fly?

There are many factors that can affect the cost of publishing your book. What it really boils down to is this: How much are you willing to spend, and how well do you want your book to sell?

The reason I ask these questions is because if you go cheap on everything, you could end up putting out a low-quality book that gets panned by bad reviews, and then it won’t sell.

On Amazon, quality sells. And yes, quality costs money. But there are ways you can creatively cut costs and still put out a quality book. Let’s take a look.

Crunching the Numbers: How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

To start, let’s look at a sample budget. Now, these aren’t the high-end numbers for self-publishing. You can spend as much money as you want — this is a list of budget-conscious pricing for getting your book done within a reasonable budget.

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I’ll go into each of these in more detail, with links you can check out for yourself and find what works within your budget. Take some time to shop around see where to get the best value for the best price.

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To learn more about the cost of publishing a book and how to get connected with some of the best (and most affordable) designers, editors and formatters, join Chandler on this FREE webinar!

How Much Does a Book Cover Designer Cost?

Even though we’ve been told “you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover,” the reality is, we do it anyway. The design of your book can often determine whether or not people will actually pay for it and read it. Your cover will make or break your book right off the bat.

If there’s any one cost you don’t want to go cheap on, this would be it. While it’s true you can outsource to someone on Fiverr and get a decent cover for less than $20, it pays to do your research and find a better designer who is going to deliver a cover that sells your book.

Check out this video Chandler Bolt recorded on how to use Fiverr.com to outsource your book cover design.

I would recommend setting aside a budget of at least $100. This isn’t to say that spending tons of money will get you an awesome cover, but going cheap may hurt your sales in the long run.

How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?

A high-quality book should always be edited by a real editor. Whether you hire a line editor or copy editor, you should get a professional to look over your work. Don’t try to cut corners here. Even if you’re a professional editor yourself with 30 years of experience, you need to outsource it to a professional editor.

Trust me: A book that contains typos will get bad reviews and sales will drop flat. Love your book by spending the cash on editing. You can find quality editors at Upwork, or you can find the editors we recommend in our Preferred Outsourcer Rolodex if you’re a member of the Self-Publishing School community.

You can get a very short book, around 15,000 words, line edited for about $150-$250. Ghostwriting, developmental or structural editing will run you much more than that depending on the length of your book and the depth of edits you require — prices run around $2,000 for 100,000 words.

How Much Does Book Formatting Cost?

When it’s time to format your book, if you’re publishing on Amazon, you might want to get it formatted both for print and for Kindle. You can outsource the formatting of both your e-book and print book for around $60-$200. Fiverr has some good formatters at reasonable prices.

I’d also recommend asking fellow authors if they have any great recommendations for book formatters. Once you find a book formatter you really like, hang on to their contact information for future reference.

How Much Does it Cost to Promote Your Book?

When it comes to spending cash on promotional sites, you could empty your bank easily. Set a budget for yourself and go with the best of the best within that budget.

Budgets vary but I’ll spend $29 on the low end for Buck Books and go as high as $1,000 if you add on a bundle of promo sites to launch your book.

Again, this is a major money suck if you’re not careful; you can throw thousands into it and get mediocre results.

For the best results on several paid launches, I have used:

Bookzio ($19-29)

Robin Reads ($35)

Buck Books ($32)

BKnights ($5-40)

Awesome Gang ($10)

Bargain Booksy [$25 for nonfiction]

BookSends [$40]

When it comes to paid promotions, do your research on the top sites that can generate a good return. Check out this detailed list of promo sites — some are free!

How Much Does it Cost to Record an Audio Book?

Creating an audiobook can run you anywhere from $300 to $3,000 depending on the length of your book and who you hire to do it.

If you have a novel with multiple characters and want different people to read different roles, it can run towards the high end of the budget, especially if you’re using high-end talent.

If you have a good voice or acting experience and you want to give it a shot, you can purchase the basic equipment and record the audiobook version yourself. Check out this blog post for setting up your recording studio and doing it yourself.

Additional Author Tools and Expenses

Here are some of the basic tools for professional authors. This will add a price tag to your book, but many of these are just a one-time payment. Other tools will bill you monthly.

Book Publishing Courses

If you’re new to the game of self-publishing, take a course like Self-Publishing School or join our Mastermind community for everything you need to get started.

You could also look into taking multiple courses on Udemy. But again, you can spend a fortune on various courses. I would recommend sticking with one course until you complete it and branching out to learn other skills after you get your first big win.

An Author Website

Building an author platform is a great consideration if you’re looking to expand your business, write blogs and promote your work. You can build an entire website or just a landing page with a call-to-action to get users to opt in. It’s also important to capture leads to build your mailing list. A lead capture form on your website helps you find quality leads and determine your primary audience.

Here are some things you’ll need to look into in order to get started with building a website:

Hosting

You can sign up for hosting with servers such as Bluehost or Hostgator. The cost would be around $150 per year, which is very reasonable for website hosting. You will get a discount when you sign up for the first year, but pay full price when you renew.

Domain Name

You can purchase a domain name to secure your brand and start driving traffic to your site. Check out Name.com. A domain name will cost around $10-$15 a year.

Email Subscription Services

If you want to collect email addresses, you’ll need to sign up for an email subscription service to manage your emails. There are several choices:

  • MailChimp: This is free up to the first 2000 subscribers. If you opt in to use their autoresponder service or other upgrades, you’ll have to pay around $10 a month depending on the number of subscribers.
  • AWeber: This platform costs $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
  • ConvertKit.com: ConvertKit has tons of value. Price is based on subscribers but starts at $29 a month for your first 1,000 subscribers. This is now one of the most robust sites for building an email list.

Publish Under Your Own Company

I’ve talked about this elsewhere, but there are perks to publishing your print book under your own company, instead of publishing with a CreateSpace ISBN or another print on-demand service.

The ISBN (the 13-digit number above the barcode at the back of your book) lets bookstores and libraries know everything about your book, including the publisher.

If you use a free, generic ISBN assigned to you by CreateSpace or IngramSpark, you’ll limit your chances of a bookstore carrying your own book. Free ISBNs eliminate your ebook from being stocked on Overdrive, for example, which circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014 to public libraries all over the world.

Getting your own ISBN and setting yourself up as your own publisher will cost $295 for 10 ISBN codes, but it will help you access all distribution channels.

This isn’t necessary if you’re just starting out — it’s more important to publish your book and get it out there. However, if you are serious about building a self-publishing empire and making a full-time living from your writing, you’ll want to eventually invest in getting your own ISBN codes and setting up your own publishing company.

How to Increase Book Sales

We all want to make cash with our writing. It may not be the only reason we write, but self-publishing your own book is still an investment. And like any investment, it’s nice to get a return rather than taking a loss.

Here is a list of strategies you can implement to increase your book sales and get more eyeballs on your work.

  1. Run a contest through Goodreads.
  2. Reach out to podcasters and influencers in your niche and set up an interview. This has proven to be a big game-changer for authors like Hal Elrod and Tim Ferriss.
  3. Run promos every 3 months. After your book has been at regular price for a while, wait three months and then drop it to 99 cents again. Set up some paid ads every other day for one week. Try using the KDP countdown strategy.
  4. Blog about the topics in your book. Set up a blog and get more traffic and interest in your work by writing about what you love. Traffic that lands on your page can be directed to your Amazon Author Page and that means more book sales!
  5. Write another book. Building a catalog of books is a great formula for generating higher monthly income.
  6. Apply for a spot on Bookbub. Bookbub is the big gorilla when it comes to book promoting. It’s expensive ($300 and up), but it’s a solid investment and you will make your money back on the promo costs. You can check out Bookbub here and sign up for an author account to get started.

4 Ways to Save Money on Your Book Costs

Self-publishing can be expensive if you let it. Here are a few tips to help you save on your book costs, both now and in the future.

Tip #1: Save Money on Book Formatting (if you dare!)

Write your ebook with Scrivener. Not only is Scrivener the number one author tool for writing and organizing your manuscript but, if used effectively, it can save you money on formatting costs. If you’d like to learn more about how it works, check out this Scrivener webinar hosted by Joseph Michael with Chandler Bolt.

Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer also offers a bundle of Book Design Templates for both fiction and nonfiction. These templates cost money but will save you money in the long run from outsourcing. I have personally been using these to do the formatting for my books. It can be time-consuming at first but once you get the hang of it, you’ll save money on formatting costs.

Tip #2: Build a List of Email Subscribers

Although this topic deserves its own blog (or book), I’ll mention it here because if you build up an email list now, it can save you thousands of dollars in promotional costs down the road.

When you launch your next book, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of fans waiting for your next release. Not only that, but these are the fans who will leave reviews if they join your launch team and purchase your book the first week it comes out.

This drives your rankings up, and this drives sales even further. Sound good?

You can start to build your email list by including a link to a lead magnet in your ebook. A lead magnet is an offer of a free, valuable piece of content that readers will get if they go to your website and subscribe to your email list.

Tip #3: Barter When You Can

If you’re just starting out with self-publishing and you’re on a tight budget, look to barter services when you can. By coming to a deal where you exchange your services or something you have that is of value to people, you can save yourself lots of money.

As a writer, maybe you have some copywriting skills. See if you can share some of that in exchange for design work from a cover designer. But it doesn’t have to be just raw skills that you barter — Dana Sitar got a cartoonist friend of hers to do the illustrations for her book in exchange for $50 and 10 percent of direct sales of the book. It’s a decision she doesn’t regret, as the illustrations get her raving reviews.

If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to fully cut back on the quality of your book. See if there are possibilities to cut a deal and get the service you require to set your book apart.

Tip #4: Write a Great Book!

This might seem like an obvious tip, but paying attention to the quality of your book throughout the writing process is going to save you money. The better your book, the less you’ll have to spend on editing.

You will also gain a solid reputation as someone who writes really well. This means loyal fans will spread the word about your book and your blog, your email list grows and any future books you release will practically promote themselves. Well, almost.

Time to Start

We are in a great era of self-publishing. Anyone can turn their dream into a reality with just a few months of hard work, a bit of cash and a great book idea.

We’ve broken down the different costs in self-publishing your book so that you have a rough idea of what to budget. Writers have gone on to publish bestsellers with as little an investment as $1,000, while others have required up to $20,000. It all depends what you prioritize and if you can save costs in a manner that doesn’t decrease the quality of your book.

While money matters, remember the reasons you want to self-publish your book: to get your message out there, build authority, and add something new to the world. Spend what you can to make your book as high quality as possible. If your audience likes it, you’ll be sure to hit your goals.

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 six bestselling books in a row…and use them to build a seven-figure business in less than two years. Click here to save your spot now!

Write a book faster

7 Game-Changing Strategies to Write a Book Faster

“The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.” – Raymond Chandler

We’ve all been there: You finally squeeze in some writing time in between all your commitments. However, when you sit down to write, something odd happens. You thought that a torrent of words would flow out — after all, you have so much to say. Yet, each word that comes out of you is dragged out. Writing feels less like fun, and more like bleeding. At the end of the hour, you find you’ve only written 100 words, and not the 500 words you budgeted.

Any writer understands how frustrating it is to schedule time to write, but to have almost nothing to show for that time.

I have some good news: This doesn’t have to be the case. You can set up your writing process in such a way that it’s guaranteed you’ll find your writing flow and have words stream out of you faster than you can catch them. You can make sure that your writing session is as efficient and effective as possible so that not a single minute is wasted.

Writing faster will not only mean that you complete your book’s first draft, which can be a life-changing achievement, it’ll also mean that you’ll be quicker at anything you write. Your blog posts, emails, letters, and even your social media updates will be written faster.

Here are all the practical tips I’ve gathered over the years to help me and my students write book drafts in less than 30 days.

Write Every Day

I’m going to start with an essential tip: If you want to write faster, you have to write every day.

Writing, like any craft, gets better the more you do it. The more you practice your writing skills, the faster the words will come to your mind and your fingertips. You’ll get better and quicker at connecting different pieces of knowledge, forming new ideas and improving your natural storytelling abilities.

You’ll also get quicker at the mechanical process of writing. You’ll develop a muscle memory for your keyboard and your writing speed will go up. Soon you’ll wonder how you could have ever survived at your slower words-per-minute speed.

What to write? You could update your WordPress blog every day, or a chapter of your book every day. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re writing.
Action Steps

  1. Choose what you’re going to write about every day, whether it’s blog articles, chapters of your book or even a personal journal.
  2. Set your word count goal for each day.
  3. Track how many words you are writing per hour or day.

However, even writing everyday won’t stop you facing that feeling you get when you see a blank page. To avoid that and guarantee your words flow every time you see a new page you need to create an outline.

Create an Outline

Here’s the writing world’s worst-kept secret: outlines work! To achieve any goal, you need to plan first. The same can be said for writing. Even if you’re able to crank out 3000 words an hour, it won’t matter much if your content lacks direction, as readers will get confused and drop your book. A solid outline gives you the direction you need to keep your readers engaged.

Writing a book is a lot of work, but we can cut out a ton of obstacles with a well-written outline that builds passion and purpose into your writing.

Here’s how an outline can double or even triple your writing speed:

1. Outlines Eliminate Writer’s Block

One of the reasons writers experience writer’s block is by not having an outline, or having a poorly written outline. If your outline is well-organized and fleshed out with all the ideas, chapters and sections flowing in logical sequence, chances are writer’s block won’t be an issue.

When you have to stop to think about what comes next, you’re no longer in writing mode. Instead you fall into confusion and frustration and then default to research mode.

“I know I can get through this if I just it look up…” You start doing everything else but writing. The next time you hit a wall, check the flow of your outline. Revise what you need to and keep moving forward. Be sure to do as much research as you can before the initial writing begins.

2. Outlines Provide an Organized Framework for Your Book’s Structure

Your outline is the roadmap for your book. Without it, your writing time is slow and grueling, like running up a mountain with a ball and chain. Sounds tough, right? A well-organized outline boosts productivity throughout the writing phase.

The secret to completing any big project is to break it into small manageable chunks, and an outline breaks this marathon project into small manageable writing tasks. You’ll write much faster when the chapters flow from one to the next and ideas are combined and clustered. When your outline flows with a well-organized structure you don’t have to stop to think about what to write next. Your fingers can keep moving in flow with the plan you created.

3. Outlines Give You a Bird’s Eye View

When you can see your book in its entirety on the page, you feel compelled to write as much as possible. Think of it as a race. You’ll perform much better knowing the exact distance you have to run — especially as you near the finish line and you have the end in sight.

Behind every great post and book is a bulletproof outline. Here are some steps you can take today to get started with this process.
Action Steps
For your book:

  1. Spend some time today and go back and revise your book outline. If you don’t have one, make one.
  2. Look at areas that could be better researched. Review the chapters that have ideas that require deeper development.
  3. The aim is to make your outline the best it can be. Revise your outline as you go, but make sure your words keep hitting the paper.

For other writing:

Commit to this rule whenever you’re writing anything: Five minutes of outlining for every 500 words of content. Writing a 1,000-word article? Spend 10 minutes developing an outline. Writing a 100-word email? Spend a minute outlining your points. Every minute you spend outlining will save you a heap of time later.

“Write Drunk, Edit Sober”

Want to write better quality stuff? Then you’re going to have let go of your inner perfectionist.

Hemingway is often attributed with the quote, “write drunk, edit sober.” While I’m not advocating you become an alcoholic to produce content, you can adopt the figurative meaning of the quote.

The largest obstacle to entering that zen state where the words zip out of us effortlessly is our tendency to censor ourselves. We continuously correct what we’re about to say before we put the words on the page. Us writers tend to be perfectionists, yet this self-criticism gets in the way of our creativity.

A better strategy is to write a rough draft first. Think B- quality instead of A+. This is what Hemingway means when he says to write drunk. During the drafting phase you let go of caring about the quality of your work, but instead focus on the quantity. Aim to finish your daily writing goal, no matter how bad the draft is. The goal is not to have a perfect manuscript.

Once you’ve finished, then and only then, begin the “edit sober” phase. Here you can engage your inner critic. You can cut what doesn’t work and polish what does. It’s best to begin the editing phase with a fresh set of eyes, usually after you’ve taken a break. If it’s a short article, then sleep on your draft before editing. If it’s a book draft, then take at least a week off the project before looking back on it.

It’s hard to let go of that inner judge when drafting our work, but once you do, you’ll write significantly faster. Often when you look back on the draft that you thought was horrible, you’ll find it’s better than you thought. Not perfect, but better than you imagined. You’ll also see that there were some ideas you put in there that couldn’t have happened if you were writing as a perfectionist.

Also, if you’re still worried about the quality of your book draft, remember that you’ll hire an editor to polish your book to be the best it can be.

Action Steps

  1. When you begin writing a piece, throw perfection out of the window and aim for a rough draft. Think B- work and not A+.
  2. If you find it hard to lock up your inner perfectionist, set yourself a challenge to write a word count in a set time, like 500 words in 30-minute chunks.
  3. After you finish your draft, put it away for a bit of time before you begin editing.

Write First, Research Later

Here’s a piece of great advice many journalists receive: write first and research later. It might be counter-intuitive, but before you close this page and think I’m crazy, hear me out.

When you begin writing you have one mission: enter flow. This is the state where the words come out of you effortlessly and you lose awareness of time flowing by. This is the key for quality and effective writing.

Once you enter flow, your mission is to stay there.

A sure way to get thrown out of the zone is to stop mid-sentence to find the capital of that country you want to reference, and then get sucked down a Wikipedia rabbit hole.

Instead of interrupting your flow of writing, use a writer’s tip I’ve talked about before: TK your research point.

TK is short for “to come” and is a handy placeholder to use for research points you want to look up later. There are barely any words in the English language that have those two letters next to each other, making it easy to use the Command+F function to find these placeholders.

For example, let’s say you were writing about the Golden Gate bridge and couldn’t remember the date it opened and its length. You would write:

The Golden Gate Bridge was opened in TK and was the longest bridge with a main span of TK.

This takes 10 seconds to write, and you can stay in your flow and move on to the next sentence. If you had Googled each of those facts, the sentence would have taken you 60 seconds and taken you out of your flow. After you finish the draft, you can go back in and fill in the blanks:

The Golden Gate Bridge was opened in 1937 and was the longest bridge with a main span of 4,200 feet.

Action Steps

  1. When drafting, if you can’t remember a piece of detail, put TK as a placeholder, instead of going to Google.
  2. During your editing phase, use Control+F to search for “TK” and replace each result with the relevant piece of research.

Schedule Brief Typing Practice Sessions

Think of your typing speed as the bottleneck between your brain and your piece of content, like the narrowest part of the road that’s causing a traffic buildup. Your fingers simply can’t type as fast as your mind is working.

Unfortunately, technology hasn’t yet progressed to the point where we can think of the words and they magically appear on the page, but with the help of a few fun and simple online games we can improve our typing speed.

I’ll share a secret with you: I used to not be able to type very well. I was like someone from the early 20th century, using two fingers to pound out my content. My typing speed was barely above 30 words per minute. Yet, writing was important to me, like it is for you, so I worked at it.

Even now, for ten minutes a day I play online typing games to test my writing speed and provide feedback on how efficient I am a typist. It’s a great way to master the skill of getting your word count up. Check out 10FastFingers or Key Hero.

Use Proper Sitting Posture

The position of your body has a lot to do with typing speed and efficiency. If you slouch in your chair you’ll cramp up and find it hard to concentrate. Here is how you should position yourself:

  • Make sure that you are sitting up straight — don’t lean or hunch over towards the desk.
  • Position your elbows at right angles to the keyboard — avoid bending your arms upwards or downwards.
  • Properly position your fingers on the keyboard.

Buy a Standing Desk

It’s scientifically proven that the standing desk has major benefits for your health. Standing gives you higher energy levels and better blood flow. But that’s not all! It also boosts productivity and makes us more efficient when typing.

Challenge Yourself

Writing faster will not only allow you to finish your book’s first draft faster, it’ll make you quicker at all forms of writing. You’ll be speedier at composing emails, recommendation letters, cover letters, social media posts and articles. Writing is also closely related to thinking. Being a faster and clearer writer will make you a faster and clearer thinker.

Follow the above tips on your next great article idea or book chapter and see how many words you can get out in a timed writing session. You’ll be amazed at the difference in your writing speed. Instead of your draft taking months to produce, you might find that you’ll be able to pound out full-length novels on the weekends.

Book Writing Software: Which Is Best? self-publishingschool book writing software

The 11 Best Book Writing Software Tools For Authors

The right book writing software can make all the difference in the world.

With the right software you can write faster and more effectively. You’ll be more focused, with fewer distractions. And just as importantly, you’ll have an easier time keeping your outline and notes better organized.

But to get there, you’ll have to make some choices. Authors have all kinds of options when looking for the best book writing software.

Should you stick with tried-and-true Microsoft Word? Move to Scrivener, the software of choice for many professional authors? Or maybe it’s worth giving Google Docs a try, so you can easily share and co-edit your book with an editor?

We’ll cover the best options in this article. For a quick overview, here are the 11 best book writing software options for writers:

  • Microsoft Word – Word Processor, $79.99
  • Scrivener – Word Processor, $45
  • Pages – Word Processor, $28
  • Google Docs – Online Word Processor, Free
  • Evernote – Note-Taking Software, Free
  • FocusWriter – Word Processor, Free
  • FastPencil – Word Processor, Free
  • yWriter – Word Processor, Free
  • Freedom – Productivity Software, $2.42/month
  • Hemingway App – Style & Grammar Checker, Free

Let’s get started by comparing the 3 book writing software “giants,” and then I’ll share some less well-known tools that might help improve your writing process even more.

First, though, there’s one thing you should spend some time thinking about:

Which Book Writing Software Features Are Most Important to YOU?

I’m not trying to sell you on any particular book writing software in this article. Instead my goal is to give you an idea of what’s out there so you can weigh the options for yourself. Who knows—you may even discover a brand-new tool you absolutely love.

There are 9 things to consider when deciding which program to use for your book. Depending on your needs, some of these questions may be more or less important to you:

  1. How easy is it to format text the way you want?
  2. Does it have templates available? How many?
  3. How much does it cost?
  4. Is the program simple & easy to use?
  5. Does it offer any extra features or other bells & whistles?
  6. How about a distraction-free writing experience?
  7. Is the program user-friendly?
  8. Can you access your files no matter where you are?
  9. How easy is it to collaborate with editors & team members?

In the end, the truth is that there are many great writing tools out there. It isn’t really a question of which tool is BEST. What it comes down to is: which tool works best with YOUR unique writing process?

The Big 3, #1: Microsoft Word Review

Before any other tools came along, Microsoft Word was the only option available. Everyone used it.

Today, even though there are many other word processors out there, Word is still the most widely used book writing software in the U.S. Millions of people continue to use it for their writing needs.best book writing software: microsoft word

And it’s easy to see why. Word has a lot going for it!

It’s been around a long time. It’s trusty and reliable.

It also provides a relatively distraction-free writing experience. (Much better than working on Google Docs in your browser, for example, where you’re only an errant mouse-click away from the entire internet.)

If you just need to wake up in the morning and meet your word-count goals by keeping your head down and getting those words pounded out onto the page, then Word is a good choice. No fuss, no muss. It’s about as simple as it gets.

Word also offers some simple organization. Using headers, you can organize your book into chapters—and then you can navigate through them quickly using the Navigation pane:

You can create your own free book writing template using Word. And if you start writing your book in Word and don’t begin with the correct formatting, it’s pretty easy to clean up your formatting to make it “book ready” with a few simple steps.

If you’re a Word user and you’ve got your own system in place for writing books, then perhaps you need to look no further.

But Word does have some downsides.

For starters, it doesn’t always play well with Macs. If you use a Mac, then Word might cause you a lot of frustration with crashes and formatting. (Luckily, Apple offers a comparable program—scroll down to the “Pages Review” to learn more.)

Word is also pretty vanilla. That’s part of its appeal, sure, but it also means Word lacks some of the more advanced features you get with other programs like Scrivener and Google Docs.

(For example, Scrivener offers more advanced outlining functionality. And Google Docs makes it easier to share and collaborate on your files.)

All in all, Word is a solid contender for best book writing software. But there are many other choices out there.

Cost: $79.99 if purchased separately.

The Big 3, #2: Scrivener Review

You just learned that Microsoft Word is the most widely used word processor in the world. But does that mean it’s the best?

best book writing software: scrivenerThink about it this way. The fact that Word is so prevalent means that it has to cater to all sorts of users—students, businesspeople, writers, teachers, marketers, lawyers, the list goes on and on and on.

But Scrivener was created for one type of person only:

Writers.

And if you’re a writer, chances are you’ve heard of Scrivener. A lot of writers absolutely love this program, with its advanced features and distraction-free writing experience.

This 6-minute video gives you quick overview of Scrivener along with some highlights and screenshots:

In short, Scrivener gives you an insane amount of flexibility for writing, formatting, and organizing your book.

Blogger and author Jeff Goins swears by Scrivener after giving up Word. He says: “I wasted years of my life doing all my writing on Microsoft Word. But that’s all over now. I have finally seen the light.”

Entrepreneur Michael Hyatt says about Scrivener: “I now begin every piece of content—no matter what it is—with this tool. It has simplified my life and enabled me to focus on the most important aspect of my job—creating new content. I am more productive than ever.”

Scrivener has a ton of benefits for authors that we could fill up dozens of pages discussing. I’ll keep it simple and give you the top benefits here:

  • Helps with plotting for fiction authors
  • Easily export your data to other digital platforms such as Kobo, ibooks, etc. (this is one of the best features)
  • Provides outlining functionality that keeps your content organized
  • Powerful composition mode with distraction-free writing environment
  • Easily drag and drop to move sections around
  • Provides a collection of robust templates
  • Supports MultiMarkdown for bullets and numbers

Because Scrivener was designed for writers, it’s super easy to lay out scenes, move content around, and outline your story, article, or manuscript. Instead of keeping all your content in one big file, Scrivener allows you to create multiple sub-files to make it easier to organize and outline your project:

best book writing software: scrivener

Scrivener is a fabulous tool for plotting out storylines. Using the corkboard view, for instance, you can recreate the popular “notecard method” for outlining your project:

But as awesome as Scrivener is, it’s not perfect.

And the biggest downside to using Scrivener is the steep learning curve involved. You aren’t going to master this program overnight.

But if you’re serious about your writing career, then investing the time to learn this program will be worth it. You’ll save time and energy in the long run.

And if you want to learn how to use Scrivener as quickly & easily as possible, we can help!

We offer a free training called Learn Scrivener Fast, where we teach you how to use all the most powerful features in Scrivener to supercharge your writing process…all in just an hour. To watch that free training, just click this image (it will take you to a separate page with the video training):

best book writing software: scrivener

If you want to dig even deeper, you can also download the Scrivener Manual (550 pages), or watch the Scrivener YouTube tutorials they’ve put together at Literature & Latte.

Long story short: Scrivener is an investment. It will take some time to master. But once you do, you’ll never go back—it’s the single most powerful book writing software out there.

If you like what you see from Scrivener, you can buy it here:

Buy Scrivener 3 for macOS (Regular License)

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular License)

Cost: $45

The Big 3, #3: Google Docs Review

We’ve looked at the appealing simplicity of Word and the in-depth power of Scrivener, but there’s another writing software that more and more people are starting to use: Google Docs.

Essentially, Google Docs is a stripped-down version of Word that you can only use online through a Chrome browser. It’s a simple yet effective word processor.

The beauty of this program (and Google Drive in general) comes in the ability to share content, files, and documents among your team. You can easily communicate via comments, for example:

This program keeps a complete history of all changes made to a document, so if you accidentally delete something you wanted to keep, simply click the link at the top of the screen that says “All changes saved in drive.” That will bring up the version history, where you can review all the changes that have been made to your book file and revert to a previous version if you so choose.

Google Docs doesn’t require any installation and can be accessed anywhere via your browser (or an app on your phone).

And here’s one of the best features: everything is saved on the server frequently and automatically, so you never have to fret about losing a version or draft of your work.

(Anyone who has ever lost a draft of a book understands how valuable this feature is!)

Plus you can access your work when you move from one location or another—no carrying a laptop or thumb drive around with you. When you share a book draft with others, like test readers or your editor, they can comment directly on the draft using the built-in comment functionality.

Out of the “big 3” book writing software tools, Google Docs is probably the least sophisticated when it comes to formatting and outlining tools. But it makes up for that with easy collaboration, sharing, and online access.

Cost: Free

Pages Review

Think of Pages as the Mac alternative to Microsoft Word.

It has a variety of beautiful templates to choose from, has a simple design, and syncs with all devices from within iCloud.

Personally I love the ease of Pages. It works great for creating ebooks or manuscripts with a variety of tools you can get creative with.

Cost: $28

FastPencil Review

FastPencil is a nice little platform with lots of tools. You can also use it for distributing your ebook. It is free to start writing with, but they offer paid services as well.

Everything happens online in your browser, which means you can access your files from any computer (as long as you’re connected to the Internet). Here’s what the word processor looks like:

Cost: Free (or you can pay for more extensive features)

FocusWriter Review

FocusWriter is word processor for writers that is intended to eliminate distractions to help you get your book written quicker. It is a basic, lightweight text writer that was designed to to be completely free of the distractions.

In its fullscreen mode, there are no toolbars or additional windows, just a background and your text so that you can concentrate solely on writing your draft.

Here’s an example:

Source: https://focuswriter.en.softonic.com

You can customize the image in the background to suit your project to help inspire your writing.

Not much more to say about FocusWriter. It’s simple and effective. If you need a lot of features, it probably won’t work for you. But if simplicity is your thing, then you may have found your perfect writing tool.

Cost: Free

yWriter Review

yWriter is a really popular word processor (intended mainly for novelists) with some impressive features (especially for a program that’s completely free).

It helps keep your project organized by giving you space to include notes on all sorts of things, like character notes, scene notes, scene goals, etc. You can specify whose point of view each scene will be written in, and you can see the word count of your entire novel broken out by chapter—all at a quick glance:

Source: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5_Screens.html

One thing that yWriter does differently than a lot of other programs is focus on scenes, rather than on chapters. A lot of writers prefer this, since scenes are usually fun chunks of story to work on. And using yWriter, you can rearrange all those scenes to compose a compelling novel.

I’d call it a Scrivener alternative that is free to use. But one downside is that it only works for Windows (at least, for now—an iOs version is currently in beta).

Cost: Free

Evernote Review

Evernote is a note-taking app. It’s a great way to keep track of your thoughts—like brainstorming ideas, outlining chapters, and jotting down inspiration when it strikes.

The mobile app is particularly useful for capturing new ideas when they strike, since most people have their phone with them 24/7. Here’s what Evernote looks like on a phone:

While you can use Evernote to write content—I’ve used it for writing blogs and other small sections of books—you wouldn’t want to use it as your main word processor. Its functionality is a bit too limited.

But as a way of keeping track of ideas, it’s a great find.

Cost: Free, but there is a cool upgrade for $5 a month that gets you Evernote Premium

Freedom Review

Freedom isn’t technically a writing tool, but it sure can help improve your writing. It’s a productivity app designed to help eliminate distractions by blocking certain websites.

For example: let’s say you have a tendency to get distracted by social media sites. All you have to do us start a Freedom session that blocks all your social media sites—and then you won’t be able to visit them even if you wanted to.

Here’s what it looks like when you schedule a session:

Notice that you have a lot of options. You can schedule one-time sessions (starting now or later), or you can set up recurring sessions (for example, to block distracting sites every day when it’s time to write).

When you try to visit a site that’s being blocked, you’ll get this message:

This is a really liberating tool. Once you know you don’t have the option of visiting those distracting sites, you’ll find it easier to keep focused on your writing and you’ll be able to get a lot more done.

Cost: $2.42/month and up, or $129 for lifetime access. (Sometimes they offer discounts, so look around for a coupon code.)

Hemingway Editor Review

The Hemingway Editor is a unique kind of writing tool. It’s a style checker that’s designed to help tighten up your prose and make your writing clear and bold.

Simply paste your writing into the editor and scroll through. You’ll notice that the program highlights certain words & passages—like long, hard-to-read sentences, passive verbs, and phrases with simpler alternatives.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

best book writing software: hemingway app

(Yikes. Too bad Dickens didn’t have this app.)

What I love about this tool is how easy it is to use. Everything is color-coded and super easy to understand, so you can see at a glance where your writing could use a little elbow grease.

Cost: Free, or you can purchase the desktop version for $19.99.

Dropbox Review

Reading this, you may be wondering:

Dropbox? How is that a writing tool?

Trust me—it is!

While it’s true that Dropbox isn’t a word processor like Scrivener or yWriter, it is a very helpful tool for writers. Especially writers who write on more than one computer, who need to collaborate with other writers or editors, or who want an easy way to back up their work.

Here’s how it works.

When you set up Dropbox and install it on your computer, it will create a new “Dropbox” folder on your machine.

Any files that you save in this folder will be automatically backed up to Dropbox’s servers in the cloud, and will be automatically downloaded to any other computers that are synced to that same Dropbox account.

A lot of writers choose to save their book on Dropbox, so that it will be automatically backed up. And as you can see, it looks the same as any other folder on your computer:

Using this strategy, you can make it easier to share and collaborate on your files—even if you aren’t using Google Docs.

Cost: Free for a basic plan, or $9.99/month for extra storage.

Pricing: How Much Do These Book Writing Software Programs Cost?

I would recommend not worrying too much about the cost of these programs. After all, dropping $100 or less on a program is not that big a deal if it is going to help improve your writing for years to come.

That said, I know you work hard for your money—and you want to get the best deal you can! Here are the most recent prices for all of the tools in this article:

  • Scrivener costs about $45.
  • Word costs $79.99 US.
  • Google Docs is free, but you have the option to pay for more storage in Google Drive.
  • Evernote is free, but there is a cool upgrade for $5 a month that gets you Evernote Premium.
  • Pages costs about $28 for Mac.
  • FocusWriter is free to download.
  • FastPencil is free, or you can pay for more extensive features.
  • yWriter is also free to download.
  • Freedom costs $2.42/month and up, or $129 for lifetime access. (Sometimes they offer discounts, so look around for a coupon code.)
  • Hemingway App is free to use online, or you can purchase the desktop version for $19.99.
  • Dropbox is free for a basic plan, or you can pay $9.99/month for extra storage.

What’s Your Favorite Tool?

Take some time to check out each of these tools if you aren’t already using them. Stay focused on crafting your next book and stick with the book writing software that gives you the best results in terms of saving you money, time, and frustration.

Keep writing. Keep it simple. Best of all, enjoy the creative process!

Now that you have these awesome tools at your disposal, what is your favorite writing tool? What best suits your needs as an author? Can you speed up the writing process with any particular tool?

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 how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June of 2016. It was most recently updated for accuracy in April of 2018.

How to Copyright a Book self-publishingschool

How to Copyright a Book: FAQ, Resources, and Guidelines

Let’s take a look at a topic that scares the jeepers out of most authors: how to copyright a book — the right way.

A lot of us get caught up in a confusing haze of copyright laws, infringement, and wondering how to stay out of hot water with the law and angry lawyers (okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic).

With the explosion of self-publishing, authors must be aware of what they can and can’t do when it comes to quoting, borrowing and publishing works from other authors. This guide will give you the information and resources to protect yourself and your own work from being misused or stolen, and keep you from committing the same crimes against your fellow authors.

We’ll also look at the nine most frequently asked questions authors ask when it comes to copyright concerns, for both their own works and when borrowing from other sources.

It all begins with creating the copyright page in your book.

How to Copyright a Book: Your Copyright Page

The copyright page will appear in your book right after the title page and just before the table of contents. The copyright page needs to include some essential information in order to copyright your book.

The main components of your copyright page are:

  • The copyright notice. This has the little © symbol or you can use the word “copyright.” So it would look like this: ©2018 Jane Doe
  • The year of publication of the book
  • The name of the owner of the works, which is usually the author or publishing house name
  • Ordering information
  • Reservation of rights
  • Copyright notice
  • Book editions
  • ISBN Number
  • Your website (You need a site where they can learn more about you, your other books, and other opportunities.)
  • Credits to the book (cover designer, editor)
  • Disclaimer

Why Write a Disclaimer?

If you are writing a book on health and fitness, success as an entrepreneur, providing financial advice—anything that readers could fail at—an extended disclaimer is something you should consider.

If you give advice on earning a million dollars this year, and the reader ends up losing money, you could be blamed for their misfortune because of a promise you made. Consider putting an extended disclaimer in your book that comes after the copyright jargon to protect your opinions, advice and information.

In other words, tell readers that they are reading your book and applying your advice at their own risk. The thing to be aware of that most authors don’t realize is that these don’t have to be boring. On the contrary, the more personality these have, the more likely they’ll be read. A disclaimer is meant to protect you, but it can’t hurt if your audience actually reads it.

Helen Sedwick did a great job collecting examples of authors who got creative with their disclaimers and made their work all the better for it. Let’s take a look at some:

Fiction Disclaimer

The typical disclaimer you’ll find in works of fiction?

The characters in this book are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

How could this be “livened” up? See how Thomas Wolf in A Man in Full, acknowledges that parts of his story are from real life:

This novel’s story and characters are fictitious. Certain long-standing institutions, agencies, and public offices are mentioned, but the characters involved are wholly imaginary.

Or Margaret Atwood in Cat’s Eye tries to dispel readers’ assumption that the book is the alter-ego of the writer:

This is a work of fiction. Although its form is that of an autobiography, it is not one. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

If you’ve written about a prominent figure that people might be familiar with and don’t want confusion over whether you’re now writing history or still sticking with fiction, you can approach it similar to D. M. Thomas dealt with using Freud as a character in The White Hotel:

The role played by Freud in this narrative is entirely fictional. My imagined Freud does, however, abide by the generally known facts of the real Freud’s life, and I have sometimes quoted from his works and letters, passim. The letters . . . and all the passages relating to psychoanalysis . . . have no factual basis.

Nonfiction Disclaimer

The typical disclaimer you’ll find in works of fiction?

The advice and strategies found within may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that neither the author nor the publisher are held responsible for the results accrued from the advice in this book.

However, Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks found a way to get her disclaimer to speak to the honesty of the text:

This is a work of nonfiction. No names have been changed, no characters invented, no events fabricated.

Memoir Disclaimer

The typical disclaimer you’ll find in works of fiction?

This book is memoir. It reflects the author’s present recollections of experiences over time. Some names and characteristics have been changed, some events have been compressed, and some dialogue has been recreated.

But in The Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolf, he buries his disclaimer in his acknowledgments. As he thanks those who read drafts of the book, he says:

I have been corrected on some points, mostly of chronology. Also my mother claims that a dog I describe as ugly was actually quite handsome. I’ve allowed some of these points to stand, because this is a book of memory, and memory has its own story to tell. But I have done my best to make it tell a truthful story.

For further examples of a book copyright page and disclaimers you can check out the Book Designer and Kindlepreneur.

How to Copyright a Book: Familiarize Yourself With Legal Terms

I know, I know…we would rather write books, rake in the cash, and sign autographs than worry about technical legal jargon.

But the more you know, the more time you can spend writing without wondering, “Is this legal?” Here are some legal terms to keep you informed on your rights as a self-publisher and protect your works:

Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works. The copyright holder is typically the work’s creator, or a publisher or other business to whom copyright has been assigned. Copyright holders routinely invoke legal and technological measures to prevent and penalize copyright infringement.

Intellectual property (or “IP”) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect, and primarily encompasses copyrights, patents, and trademarks. It also includes other types of rights, such as trade secrets, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights against unfair competition. Artistic works like music and literature, as well as some discoveries, inventions, words, phrases, symbols, and designs can all be protected as intellectual property.

Public Domain Work refers to works whose exclusive intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited, have been expressly waived, or are inapplicable. For example, the works of Shakespeare and Beethoven, and most early silent films are in the public domain either by virtue of their having been created before copyright existed, or by their copyright term having expired. Some works are not covered by copyright, and are therefore in the public domain—among them the formulae of Newtonian physics, cooking recipes, and all computer software created prior to 1974. Other works are actively dedicated by their authors to the public domain; some examples include reference implementations of cryptographic algorithms, the image-processing software ImageJ, created by the National Institutes of Health, and the CIA’s World Factbook. The term public domain is not normally applied to situations where the creator of a work retains residual rights, in which case use of the work is referred to as “under license” or “with permission”.

Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prevents Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or to petition for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

Fair use in its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. In other words, fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement. If your use qualifies as a fair use, then it would not be considered an infringement.

Libelous writing can be personal libel or trade libel, which is also known as “product disparagement.” Product disparagement can include a product, service or entire company. Libelous statements, whether against persons or products, are published statements that are false and damaging. Slander is the same as libel in most states, but in spoken rather than written form. The terms “libel” and “slander” are often subsumed under the broader term “defamation.” It is a tort (a wrongful act) to harm another’s reputation by defaming them.

Before you publish your next book, take a few minutes to read over this “brief” report from the United States Copyright Office.

You can also check out this handy guideline for authors from Wiley on what needs permission vs. what you can use without asking.

When in doubt, consult with legal counsel or take the time to research the material you are either protecting or planning to borrow from another source. The time invested could save you an embarrassing or costly situation down the road. Knowing what you can and shouldn’t do is a critical part of the publishing business. When you write and publish your own works, you are now in business for yourself, and business owners protect their property. Like this post? Sign up below for a FREE video course and learn how to go from blank page to bestseller in 90 days!

How to Copyright a Book: The 9 Most Common Questions

Nowadays, with the massive expansion of self-publishing, it is more important than ever for authors, artists and creatives putting their work out there to ensure that it is fully protected. When we borrow work from other authors, living or dead, we have to consider:

  1. What can I actually use?
  2. When is permission needed?

Here is the golden rule when it comes to copyright laws: Never assume that anything is free! Everything out there, including on the internet, has been created by someone. Here are common questions authors have about protecting themselves, their works, and others they may have quoted in their books:

1. Do I have to register my book before it is copyrighted?

Your book is legally copyrighted as soon as it is written.

But, to scale up your legal rights and protect your material to the fullest extent, register your book with the Federal Copyright Office. On the chance someone does attempt to pirate your book or portions of it, registering with the US Copyright Office will give you greater leverage if it comes to action being taken.

2. How many words can I quote from another book or source?

Generally speaking there are no set rules on how much you can actually “borrow” from existing works. But, it’s best to exercise common sense here and keep it short, as a general rule under 300 words.

Paul Rapp, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property rights, says that “if the quote drives your narrative, if you are using an author’s quote in your argument, or if you are giving an opinion on an author’s quote, then it is considered fair use.”

What is fair use? A legal concept that allows the reproduction of copyrighted material for certain purposes without obtaining permission and without paying a fee or royalty. Purposes permitting the application of fair use generally include review, news reporting, teaching, or scholarly research. If you use something published by someone else with the sole purpose of monetary gain, this doesn’t constitute fair use.

3. Can I write about real people?

Especially in works of nonfiction, real people are often mentioned to express an opinion or as an example to clarify the writer’s fact or opinion. Generally you can use the names of real people as long as the material isn’t damaging to their reputation or libelous. Stick to the facts and write about what is true based on your research.

4. Can I borrow lyrics from songs?

Stephen King often used song lyrics for his books including Christine and The Stand. He obtained permission for these works. King says, “Lyrics quotes in this book [Christine] are assigned to the singer most commonly associated with them. This may offend the purist who feels that a song lyric belongs more to the writer than the singer.”

Basically, song lyrics fall under strict copyright even if it is just a single line used. Try to get permission if you use a song. You can contact the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) or Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). Once you find the rights owner, you have to ask for permission through writing.

5. Do I need permission to borrow material from a book that is over 100-years-old?

Once the copyright on a book or material has expired, or the author has been dead for seventy years, the work enters into the public domain and you can use it without permission or licensing. BUT this does vary country to country. You can check the copyright office in the US here.

6. Are authors liable for content used in a book?

Yup.

Even with traditional publishing houses, the author is still responsible for the content written and used in the book.

In fact, traditionally published authors usually have to sign a waiver that removes the publisher from any liability pertaining to the material the author used if the writer included that material without proper permission. And you already know, as a self-published author, you’re on your own.

7. If I use an inspirational quote from another writer or famous person, do I need permission?

You don’t need permission to use quotes in a book provided that you credit the person who created it and/or spoke the quote.

For example: “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream”Edgar Allan Poe

8. What is the best way to protect my work from being stolen?

Your work is copyrighted as soon as it is written.

But you can register your work with the US copyright office. If you have a blog where you also post content, you need to have a Terms & Privacy disclaimer on your page. This would preferably be at the top where it is easy to see, although many writers and bloggers include this at the bottom of every page.

You should also include your Copyright on your blog that protects your content from being “copied and pasted” into another site without permission or recognition.

9. A royalty free stock photo means that I can use it for free and don’t have to get permission, right?

Wrong.

Most stock photos are copyrighted, even if they appear in search engines and we can easily download or copy them. If you grab a photo off the net and think you can slap it on a book cover or use it for free in your book, think again. It’s recommended you purchase photos through sites such as Shutterstock or Depositphotos.

Got another question we didn’t answer above? Post it in the comments below!

If you’re ready to write now that you have all your safety precautions in check, join Chandler Bolt in his newest workshop! He’s sharing his process for going from blank page to published author in 90 days, as well as the strategies you need to know to leverage your book to grow your authority, income, and business. Sign up here!

amazon reviews

How to Get Amazon Reviews For Your Book: Top Strategies for Targeting Quality Reviewers

As a self-published author, having a portfolio of authentic positive Amazon reviews, right from the beginning, can skyrocket your book launch and make your book stand out in your market. And yet– it is one of the hardest things to get.

For any Amazon product, positive or negative product reviews can be the difference between success and failure. For books, this is even more so. There’s nothing more painful after going through the blood, sweats and tears of writing, publishing, and launching your book, to get very few to no sales because of your lack of reviews.

But where do we start to get Amazon reviews? Who do we ask? How do we get reviews that our audience will respect? How many people should we have on our launch team to guarantee a certain number of reviews for setting up promotional sites? How many reviews is enough?

In this post, I am going to take you through the step-by-step process for getting all the Amazon reviews you need for your next book launch and to continue to get reviews from readers and organic traffic after the launch is over. We will look at the ways to get legitimate Amazon reviews for your book so that you can reap the benefits of turning your book into a thriving long-term business.

Amazon Reviews and the Review Process

When you publish a book, there are essentially 6 things that score at making your book a bestseller.

They are:

  1. killer book cover.
  2. An irresistible book title.
  3. An amazing book description.
  4. Stealthy keywords.
  5. Targeted book categories.

And… Book Reviews.

When Amazon ranks your book, the ranking is based on the volume of downloads your book gets and, the amount of reviews stacked on the book’s review page. Amazon’s system is designed to take notice of books that are getting steady traction when reviews get posted.

This is why it is critical that when you launch your book you set everything up to get as many reviews as possible to get momentum going, increase organic traffic, and drive your rankings in the search engines. This means a higher percentage of people writing reviews for your book, not just at launch, but for months (and years) down the road.

The bottom line is, reviews carry big weight in the form of social proof that can drive your book to a bestseller and continue to bring in healthy passive income every month.

Why do reviews matter?

  1. The more reviews you get, the more visibility your book gets. This means more sales and potential organic reviews.
  2. You create a stronger relationship with your readers.
  3. A boatload of reviews adds credibility to your book and brand.

Book reviews for your book on Amazon are one of the defining factors that determine if a potential reader will click the BUY NOW button or not. In fact, if your book has less than 10 reviews, there is a strong chance that your book will get passed over. People want validation before purchasing, and the best way to make that decision is on the front of the product page: reviews.

Amazon Reviewer Guidelines

You can find everything you need to know about posting reviews on Amazon right here under the Community Guidelines. Amazon has tightened the ropes on reviews and as an author, you have to be aware of the tactics that are prohibited.

Here is what you shouldn’t do:

  1. Pay someone to leave a review.  This not only goes against Amazon’s terms, but it could get your book removed from the shelf and your account banned.
  2. Offer a free ‘gift’ in exchange for a review. No gifts allowed. This is still considered payment for a review.
  3. Join Facebook groups offering book review swaps. These sites are bad news. Amazon prohibits review swapping and is considered gaming the system. The Amazon algorithm can easily trace reviews back to these sources.
  4. Offer an Amazon gift card after a review has been published. It works like this: “You download the book and leave a review, and I will send you a gift card.” Again, this is against policy and is considered paying for a review.
  5. Leave a review for an author, then contact that person requesting they leave a review in return. This would be a form blackmail or trapping the other author into guilt. But this doesn’t work and if you receive any such email, inform the other author that you don’t work that way. I did this once and they just removed their review.

Most of these fall under the label of “incentivized reviews“, as there is a form of compensation in exchange for a review by Amazon sellers. Amazon has made it their mission to crack down on these on their platform.

Verified or Unverified Book Reviews

There are two kinds of Amazon reviews: verified and unverified. What is the difference?

According to Amazon:

An “Amazon Verified Purchase” review means they’ve verified that the person writing the review purchased the product at Amazon and didn’t receive the product at a deep discount.

Product reviews that are not marked “Amazon Verified Purchase” are valuable as well, but we either can’t confirm that the product was purchased at Amazon or the customer did not pay a price available to most Amazon shoppers.

Verified reviews are favorable and are social proof that the reader did in fact buy the book and has potentially read through it before posting a review. A verified review shows up as a yellow banner that says “Verified Purchase.”

For unverified reviews, in most cases, the reviewer received an advance copy of the book and was possibly on a launch team to support the book’s release. While this is still a legit practice for garnering reviews for your book, if the majority of reviews are non-verified, this could affect your potential customer’s decision to buy or not.

Strategies for Scoring a Boatload of Reviews

There are many ways to get reviews but searching for reviewers to review your book is a time-consuming process. You could waste precious time chasing bad leads and end up with nothing for your effort. So where do you get reviews without spending hordes of time?

No matter how you do it, remember that it isn’t just about quantity but quality as well. While we can’t control what reviewers will say about our work, we can stay focused on writing great content that adds value in order to increase our chances of getting positive reviews.

To get Amazon reviews for your next book launch, or to add reviews to an existing book, consider taking action on these following strategies:

1. The Launch Team (Advance Review Team)

There are many ways to hunt down reviewers for your book. As we have seen, you can contact the top reviewers, target free book review sites, or reach out to book bloggers. These methods, while they may get you a handful of reviews, is time intensive and a lot of work.

I have found, after running over two dozen book launches, that the most effective way to get reviews fast on launch is through setting up a launch team. These are the people who have agreed to read your book in advance and follow up with a review immediately after the book is live.

When it comes to building a launch team, it is about building relationships over the long term. This is why, in order to run an effective launch team, you should focus on the relationship with your early-bird reviewers.

Here is a step-by-step process for organizing your team:

Step-by-Step Process for Setting Up a Launch Team

1. Start building your relationships early. Launch teams don’t just happen. They take work, months of outreaching, and asking the right people if they want to help launch your book when the time is right. You can generate interest by posting snippets of the book on Social media, sharing chapters of your work with your list, and promoting your cover to people.

Share your content and advertise your brand. Communicate with people in person and through online channels about your writing. Keep in mind the purpose for this is to make genuine relationships with people and not to just add them to your launch. And most importantly, to make friends with people who read in your niche, so that your book gets recommended alongside the other books they’re reading.

2. Create your list of potential reviewers. As you build these relationships with your fanbase, start making a list of people who express interest in joining your launch. If you have multiple books and have been through the publishing process already, take note of the readers who have left reviews already.

Contact them closer to the launch of your next book to get them on board. Set up an excel spreadsheet and keep track of the names of people who sign up.

Action Step: Contact people directly and invite them to the launch team. Keep track of early-bird reviewers in excel.

3. Set up an email template through your email server. Add everyone to the list. If you aren’t using an email server yet you can check out MailchimpConvert Kit or Mailerlite. Make it as easy as possible so you aren’t wasting time searching for contact information.

Send out a welcome email with a link to your book in PDF or/and Mobi form. You can create a folder in Dropbox and just include the link to a shared folder. Make it easy for them to access the material.

Action Step: Import your list of emails onto an email server list.

4. Send out the Welcome email. Ideally you want to send out your book at least two weeks before launch. This gives people enough time to read it through. In the welcome email I include details for the launch date and any other expectations. At this stage the book isn’t live yet so you will send another email on that day with the link.

For the book delivery, you can upload a PDF version as well as a Mobi version of the book. To create a MOBI, PDF or EPUB file you can check out the Calibre ebook management software. After you have all the files ready, you can create a shared folder in Dropbox and share the link with your team.

If any top reviewers agreed to leave a review, you absolutely want to message them to follow up.

Action Step: Create a welcome email template. Send out your welcome message to the team. Include a link to your book content.

5. Send out your ‘Take Action’ email on launch day. Your book is live and it is time for people to step up. Contact the team on launch day as soon as the book is live. After hitting publish it should take 12-24 hours for Amazon to get it posted. In the email, include a link to your book. More specifically, a link to the review page so that team members can go straight to the page with one click.

6. Day 3: Reminder email. I wait 3 days and send out a reminder email. In this email I thank everyone who has left a review and thank people in advance who are still working on the book and haven’t posted yet.

7. Final Call: This is the last email I will send out. Similar to the previous email, reminding people the book is live and is ready for a review whenever you are. You can remind your team that book is at a special discounted price if you are launching it at 0.99 or it’s free.

8. Contact Your List: If you have a list, this is gold for getting paid downloads and possible reviews. You should contact your list on the first day the book is live and let people know that the book has just launched. Then, several days later, email them again asking if they had a chance to get into the material. You could add something of value here just to show subscribers how much you value their support. This is the email where I include a ‘leave a review’ invite.

It reads like this:

Hi there…

I have a quick favor to ask you…  

Amazon uses reviews to rank books AND many readers evaluate the quality of a title based solely on this feedback from others.

To put it simply:

Reviews are very important to an author like me!

So, if you’ve enjoyed [Book title here], or even if you’re still working through it, could you take a minute or two to leave a review? Even a sentence or two about what you like really helps!

Here’s a link of where you can leave a review:

[My Book Title] Book Review

I really appreciate you taking the time to check out the book and I look forward to seeing any feedback you may have in the review section.

That is it!

These are the steps I use to communicate with my launch team. Generally speaking, if you want 100 reviews for your book, you should aim for at least 200 people. That is a lot of emails but, what I have experienced is that, on average, you are batting a 50% success rate. What happens to those other 50% who don’t review?

They…

  1. Didn’t like the book.
  2. Forgot to review altogether.
  3. Didn’t read the book.
  4. Couldn’t be bothered to review.

If you can get 20+ reviews on launch after one week you are looking very good. This is enough to get momentum moving and the Amazon algorithm will see that your book is doing well.

2. Contact Amazon Top Reviewers

There is a list of top 1000 reviewers on Amazon. These people review everything via the Amazon vine program, although certain reviewers target books specifically. If you can get an Amazon Top Reviewer to look at your book, this is well worth it. Check out the Amazon Top Customer Reviewers list. This is a time-consuming process but, if you can get 2-3 reviewers to agree to a book review, you’re all set.

Here is what you can do:

  1. Go into the reviewer’s profile and check the books they have reviewed. To be specific, you want to check for books in your genre. If you wrote a book on weight loss and the reviewer has written most of their reviews for romance novels, it’s a good indication what they favor. Target the reviewers interested in your topic.
  2. Check for contact information. Due to the large volume of spam and requests for reviews, most top reviewers have removed their personal email. If they have a website set up, you can send a direct email to request a review.
  3. Wait for a reply. Most reviewers, from my own experience, did not reply. I would recommend targeting 20 reviewers and wait one week. You can then resend the request again.

This is a time-consuming process but, if you get a top reviewer to agree to a review, keep that person’s contact information in an excel file. Then, when you launch your next book, you can reach out to them again and again.

3. Book Review Sites

There are a number of sites out there that will find reviewers for your book. This is not the same as buying reviews for your book which, I’ll restate again, goes against Amazon’s review policy and should be avoided. In fact, Amazon has taken action against over 1000 sites on Fiverr that were selling incentivized reviews and fake review services. Yes, avoid.

Review services however can speed up the process and find reviewers for your book. One of my favorites is BookRazor. It is a paid site but they promote a system of honest reviewers for your book by providing a contact list of potential readers.

There are many other sites you can check out as well, and many of them are free while some are paid:

4. Include a Kindle Book Review Request Page

Here is a tactic that works well. Did you know that you can include insert a request in your book for readers to leave a review? It’s a great way to invite people to review your book. I have a page at the back of my books that looks like this:

What Did You Think of [Your Book Title Here]?

First of all, thank you for purchasing this book [Your Book Title Here]. I know you could have picked any number of books to read, but you picked this book and for that I am extremely grateful.

I hope that it added at value and quality to your everyday life. If so, it would be really nice if you could share this book with your friends and family by posting to Facebook and Twitter.

If you enjoyed this book and found some benefit in reading this, I’d like to hear from you and hope that you could take some time to post a review on Amazon. Your feedback and support will help this author to greatly improve his writing craft for future projects and make this book even better.

You can follow this link to [Book link here] now.

I want you, the reader, to know that your review is very important and so, if you’d like to leave a review, all you have to do is click here and away you go. I wish you all the best in your future success!

When you do this, you want to have a link directing customers right back to the review page on Amazon. Make it so easy for them that it requires as little effort as possible. Many authors will include a cute ‘cat photo’ or even pictures of their kids begging asking for a review. This strategy can work well if you sell a large volume of books during the initial launch phase. But remember it takes readers time to go through your book and so, if you don’t see the reviews appear in the first week, you might get them trickling in weeks or even months later.

5. Relaunch Your Book

You can relaunch your book if book sales drop and the reviews stop coming in. When you relaunch your book, you can put together a new launch team, and even add a new chapter to the book to generate a renewed interest in your book.

I have tried this strategy several times in the past year and, by relaunching the book, adding new value to the content, I put together another small launch team of 30-40 people. This brought in another 20+ reviews for a book that was suffering from lack of sales and poor rankings. It happens, so we have to stay on top of keeping the book active.

Dealing with Negative Reviews

Getting positive reviews on your book is a great feeling. In a perfect world, we all want to have just the good stuff when it comes to our review platform. But alas, there will always be that dissatisfied reader that was expecting something much different than what your book was offering. Readers will leave a negative review for various reasons, and in most cases, there is nothing we can do.

But first of all, receiving a negative review isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it can lend to a book’s credibility. Look at it from a reader’s perspective. If a book has 100 positive 5-star reviews, although the reviews may be legitimate, we know that not every book is perfect. Having a load of good reviews and nothing that is under three stars could create doubt for the browser, just as having a book with only a handful of reviews turns browsers the other way.

While negative reviews aren’t all bad, there are steps we can take to reduce the amount.

So how can we prevent our book from getting a lot of negative reviews and turning away potential book sales?

Here are four areas to pay attention to:

  1. Book quality: the single biggest reason a book will get panned by negative reviews is poor quality. This is credited to sloppy editing. A book that is not up to the quality expected by readers will get hit with a high amount of bad reviews. Then, it could get pulled off the shelf by Amazon until the author upgrades to better quality. Make sure your book is up the high standards people expect. Always respect your readers. The book business is like any other business, make good products, and your customers will love you.
  2. Inaccurate description of the book: make sure that your book description, title and cover all point towards the theme of the book. If your book is titled, “How to become rich in 21 days” and, after reading through the book the reader isn’t rich, well, they bought the book because of the promise you made. So, if reading a book delivers a negative outcome for your audience, someone is going to shout about it in a review.
  3. Your book is a sales pitch for your other products. If there is one thing that readers don’t like, it is being hit up with offers and the push to check out other services or products in the book. This could come across as spammy and devalues the content that the readers paid for. While your goal may be to use the book to attract customers for your online business, you want to avoid any sales pitches in the book.

Writing and Submitting a Review

Writing a review for a book you like is a great way to drive potential readers to the title. If you read a great book recently and you want to tell people about it, you can take a few minutes to write up a positive review.

Writing a review is easy. Just go to the book’s front page and, under the heading Customer Reviews, you will see a button for write a customer review. Click on that and you will be taken to a page set up for ‘Your Reviews’ where you can write reviews for your purchases. What you do is:

  1. Select the rating of the book from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the best score.
  2. Write your book description in the box provided. Keep in mind that if you leave this page before submitting your review, you’ll have to start over again. I would recommend writing the review first in Word or Evernote and then copy and paste.
  3. Create a headline for the review.
  4. Hit submit. Your review will go live within a couple of hours, although it could take up to 24 hours.

One point to note here is that, with Amazon’s policy for posting reviews, you have to have an account that has made a purchase of at least $50 using a valid credit or debit card.

Your Checklist for Getting Reviews

  1. Set up a launch team for your book. Send your team a PDF/MOBI file and follow up with email right up until launch. Follow up with several reminders after the launch.
  2. Include a ‘Review Request’ page at the back of your book. Insert the link taking customers directly to the review page. Make it so easy they don’t have to search around for the book on Amazon.
  3. Contact Amazon Top Reviewers. Send a personalized email to each, targeting the people who review books similar to your genre. Wait at least two weeks before following up.
  4. Contact people in your business. This doesn’t include friends and family. Contact professionals in your field who would be willing to read the book with the possibility of leaving an honest review.
  5. Hire a site that specializes in finding honest reviewers for your book. I recommend BookRazor.
  6. Relaunch your book. Add more content, a new book cover, or make it appealing for people to join your relaunch of an existing book. You can relaunch a book as many times as you want.

There are a lot of strategies out there to get reviews for your books, most are legit, and some are not. As an author, make sure you are aware of what Amazon considers to be authentic reviews when it comes to gathering reviews for your next book, and steer clear of anything it considers to be “incentivized reviews”. If a site promises to get you positive reviews in return for cash, stay away. It isn’t worth it, trust me. Keep hunting and adding reviews to your book.

Book reviews are the secret sauce to adding value and credibility to your work, boosting sales and making your book stick on the bestseller lists. Don’t skimp out on them.