Articles for Aspiring Authors
Anyone who says learning how to write a book is easy has never actually tried. If they did, they’d know writing a book takes a lot of work and help from someone who’s done it before.
If you’ve ever tried to write a book, you know how it goes:
You stare at a blank page for 5 minutes, but it feels like hours. To combat the boredom, you stand, stretch, and brew yet another pot of coffee.
While you wait, you do some more stretches (that you don’t really need to do), look outside, and daydream about mowing the lawn.
But then, you stop. You told yourself today is the day you’ll finally start writing your book.
You take your cup of coffee back to your desk, feeling refreshed, and you’re certain the words will flow and you’ll write that perfect book your audience will love.
But first, you quickly check Facebook. You say you’ll only take five minutes…
A week later someone asks how your book is coming, and you think, “Book? What book?”
How to Write a Book Despite Procrastination
There are plenty of reasons why writing a book, whether fiction or nonfiction, puts most writers directly into procrastination mode. Maybe you’re just not sure how to get started. Perhaps spilling your guts onto the page for the world to see makes you want to run far away from the nearest computer (I feel you!).
Or maybe you’re insecure about the quality of your writing, and you’re afraid of getting slammed by negative review after negative review.
Or even worse: you might be worried that even if you do write your book, nobody will buy it and all your hard work will have been a waste.
Take a deep breath (but no more coffee, you’ve had enough). Remember that all authors have been exactly where you are right now. Every successful writer—from William Shakespeare to Walt Whitman to Stephen King—began by staring at a blank page.
You’re in illustrious company!
And I’m here to help. You CAN write a book—you just need to know the steps to do it. And that’s exactly what you’re about to learn.
I’m going to share the same system I’ve used to write my bestselling books in 90 days or less. And that system involves 5 main steps:
- → #1 – Adopt the Mentality of a Writer
- → #2 – Set Yourself Up for Success
- → #3 – Actually Write Your Book
- → #4 – Avoid Potholes Along the Way
- → #5 – Launch Your Book Successfully
Ready to learn how to write your first book and go from blank page to published author in just 90 days? Then let’s get started!
How to Write a Book Step 1: Think Like a Writer
Before you sit down and type a single word, it will pay off if you take some time to address a few attitude questions and adopt the right mindset. This is one of the most frequently overlooked steps in becoming a published author, which is a big reason why so many people fail to finish their book.
Take it from me—it’s worth your time to complete these steps. They will make the rest of your book-writing experience much, much easier and more satisfying.
Write with a Purpose — Find Your “Why”
Before you open your laptop and start daydreaming about which photographer should take your best-selling author headshot, or about getting interviewed on Oprah, you need to answer one question:
It’s not enough to have an inspiring book idea. Before you put pen to paper, you need to know your purpose.
I won’t lie. Writing a book is rewarding, but it requires hard work. It requires emotional labor, long nights (or early mornings), extended weekends, and facing a constant self-critical process that is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
Solidifying the purpose fueling your book will carry you through this difficult process.
Ok, you’re thinking—“Don’t worry, I know why I want to write a book. I want to write to feel important!” That’s an interesting thought, and feeling important may be a byproduct of becoming a self-published author.
However, feeling important isn’t the same as your purpose—your WHY. Feelings are fleeting, whereas a purpose is a deeper, intrinsic motivator which will keep you burning the midnight oil to power through Chapter 23 when the rush of feelings have long dissipated.
While thinking of your own purpose, you may consider why other published authors have taken the leap to write their own books:
- Authority: To build credibility.
- Money: For financial gain or business success.
- Grow a network: To meet and connect with others in the industry.
- Passion project: To share an empowering story for the greater good.
Authority, money, networking, and passion may resonate with you; one of those might be your purpose. Or, your purpose may be something completely independent from this list. There are no wrong or right purposes for writing a book.
Your WHY will be unique to you.
Once you’ve honed in on your WHY, let that purpose help focus your writing. By keeping your purpose at the forefront of your creative process, you’ll make the writing process quicker and smoother than you thought possible.
Get Rid of Your Excuses
You’ve figured out your WHY and articulated your unique purpose for your book. And right on cue, something is going to try to derail your progress already: your excuses.
When there’s nothing standing in your way, it’s sadly typical to start letting excuses become the obstacle to your success. It’s perfectly natural, and it’s part of being human.
But you can overcome it.
It’s worthwhile to spend a little time addressing some common excuses many of us make to prevent us from writing. Once you’ve cleared out the cobwebs and smashed those mental roadblocks, you’ll be better prepared for the writing process ahead. Getting your mind ready is one of the first steps to producing valuable work.
Excuse #1 – You don’t know what to write.
You may not realize it, but you have a story worth telling.
In fact, you may be pleasantly surprised to find as you write that you have more than one story and you’re having a tough time narrowing down the content.
The easiest way to start writing your first book is to choose a topic you’re comfortable with. You can literally write a book about anything, so go with what you know. Start by brainstorming and let your thoughts run free.
Excuse #2 – You don’t have enough time.
Today, we’re all busy. I get it.
But I have some good news: Writing a book takes less time than you think. Find an hour a day you devote to something mindless—social media, video games, internet, or TV—and start writing instead.
And if you don’t have an hour, try 30 minutes. Even 5 minutes 3 times a day can be a source of massive productivity. Think about it.
The average person can type 60 words a minute. 60 words x 5 minutes = 300 words. Do that 3 times a day and you’ll produce close to 1,000 words a day.
You’ll amaze yourself at how an hour per day adds up to something productive!
Excuse #3 – Good writers spend all their free time reading.
Think you need to read all day long to be a writer? Think again.
In fact, many prolific writers cut down on their reading—at least temporarily—in order to give themselves enough time to write.
Besides, you don’t need to be a literary connoisseur to write a great book. Your writing style and voice is your own. And the best way to discover your own natural voice is by sitting down and writing (not reading what others have written).
Excuse #4 – You’re “not an expert.”
A lot of people get tripped up on this. They think, “Oh, I’m not really an expert on ___. I can’t write about that.”
The truth is that the whole concept of “expert” is very subjective. An amateur astronomer wouldn’t seem like an expert to Stephen Hawking…but to 99% of the rest of the world, they would be an expert,
You don’t need to know everything about your topic. As long as there’s a knowledge gap between you and the reader—and as long as you’re helping to fill that gap by teaching them the things they don’t know—then you’re expert enough to write a book.
So stop worrying about “not being an expert!” If you’re passionate and knowledgeable about a topic, then you are 100% qualified to write a book about it.
Excuse #5 – Your first draft must be flawless.
A draft is a work-in-progress, and the goal is simply to get it on paper. A draft will have mistakes and that’s okay—that’s what the editing process is for.
Even experienced professional writers produce first drafts that end up covered in the red pen of an editor
As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “Done is better than perfect.”
If it works for a multi-billion-dollar company, it should work for your first self-published book.
Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve already said, writing is hard work. But shedding these excuses should help get you into a positive frame of mind for the writing process.
Realize You Don’t Need to Be Perfect
The thought of writing a book causes many people to think, “I’m not a good enough writer. I need to do _____ before I start writing.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that:
- You don’t need a creative writing class.
- You don’t need a writing mentor or coach (though it does help).
- You don’t need to read thousands of good books.
You only need one thing: a system for finishing your book.
There’s no such thing as a perfect book or a perfect writer. When you get down to it, the most important distinction is between authors who finish their books and authors who don’t.
Don’t worry about being perfect. Just focus on your book, and your writing will get better and better over time.
As with anything we learn, writing is a skill. It requires practice to hone over time. So let go of the idea that you’re not good enough.
This will help you make the mindset switch from “I can’t” to “Let’s get this done!”
How to Write a Book Step 2: Set Yourself Up for Success
Now it’s time to start your prep work. Before you start putting any words onto the page, you need to focus on a few important preparations. Take the time to complete these steps and you’ll be setting yourself—and your new book—up for success.
Plan When You’ll Write
Without a plan, it’s too easy to let your book writing goals get pushed to the background, eventually fading into the soft mist of “someday.” Don’t let your book end up in the graveyard of dreams. In order to realize your end goal, you need actionable steps to follow.
Here are 3 things you can do to create your own customized book writing plan.
#1 – Plan writing sessions using your calendar.
Assess what’s going on in your life in the next 30 days, then block out when you can write, and when you can’t. It’s common for new writers to set unrealistic time goals, which in turn generates stress when it’s impossible to meet those arbitrary deadlines.
Avoid this and stay realistic. Thirty minutes (or even 5 minutes) spent writing is better than nothing, so resolve to make it happen and find the time.
Look at Laura Bennett, a Self-Publishing School student. She was working full-time, running a business, and working on her Master’s degree—busier than most people—yet she found the time to write her book Live Your Dream: How to Cut the Crap and Prioritize Your Purpose in 2 months!
If Laura could make it happen, then writing your book is certainly an attainable dream.
#2 – Choose the time of day you plan to write.
You might decide to get up early and write before the obligations of your day crowd out your writing time. But if you’d win the gold medal in the Olympic sport of snooze-button slapping, then choose a different time or make sure you get to bed earlier so you’re fresh in the morning.
If your evenings are free, but your brain is mush and you’re only good for sinking deep into the couch cushions, then choose a different time or rearrange your schedule so you aren’t so burnt out in the evenings.
Alternatively, you can grab some time on your lunch break, or sneak small blocks of time into your workday, such as when you’re transitioning between activities, or waiting for a meeting to start.
Whatever time of day is convenient for you, stick with it so that it becomes a predictable part of your day. This will establish a writing habit.
#3 – Set a deadline for your book-writing project.
Setting an end date forces you to stay on schedule and keeps the forward momentum going. So consider giving yourself a deadline for your book.
You may be wondering: How do you choose a deadline when you have no idea how long the book-writing process will take?
One month is a good benchmark to start with. Self-Publishing School recommends writing until you hit a daily word count of 500-1,000 words. If you can commit to an hour a day, you should be able to reach that goal. After 30 days of daily writing sessions, you will have completed a 30,000-word draft.
Consistency is key. Small, consistent actions toward writing your book is how it comes to life.
If that schedule doesn’t work, then commit to a time period and a daily word count that does. It’s okay if that’s 15 minutes per day.
The ultimate goal is your rear end in the writing seat for that allocated period of time each day.
Share the end date of your first completed draft with others so you have extrinsic motivation to keep moving toward that finish line. It’s a good idea to choose an editor for your book (before you finish your first draft) and schedule when you’ll have the completed first draft of the manuscript in that person’s hands.
That way, if you’re tempted to flake out and put off a writing session, that looming deadline can help keep you going.
Create Your Writing Environment
The physical space where you do your writing is important. If you try to write in an environment that’s too loud, too busy, or too cluttered, and you’ll find yourself getting frequently distracted.
True, some authors can write in a disheveled environment…
…but I suspect that most of these authors would become even more focused and productive if they cleaned up their writing space to make it easier to focus on their writing.
However, that’s just my opinion. The truth is that the “best” writing environment is going to be personal to you. We all work well in different settings, so with that in mind, consider these general guidelines to boost your productivity:
(To get the sound of a cafe from the comfort of home, check out Coffitivity.)
You might need to experiment to find the writing environment that allows you to focus and write freely. Bottom line: Find the writing environment that makes you comfortable and go with it. Once you find the best creative process for you, you’ll even look forward to writing!
Equip Yourself with the Right Tools
Would you try to construct a piece of furniture without a hammer, nails, or wood?
Of course not! You need the right tools for the job.
Well, the same principle applies when writing a book. And when it comes to writing, your most important tool is your choice of writing software.
Unfortunately, most people don’t really put much thought into which program they use to write their book. They just use whatever word processor they’re most familiar with.
But doing this can cause you to really miss out—especially if there’s another program out there that would work much better for you.
There are countless options out there, but most people end up using one of the “big 3” word processors:
If you just want a time-tested program that works, Word might be the program for you. It’s the most widely used word processor in the world, which means it’s highly reliable and consistent. It also provides a lot of formatting options and even has a navigation pane you can use to easily find the chapter you’re looking for.
One of the biggest downsides to Word is that it’s fairly expensive as far as word processors go.
If you like advanced features, definitely check out Scrivener. It was created specifically for authors, and it contains all sorts of tools that are really helpful for both fiction and nonfiction authors.
For example, you can use the corkboard view to organize your book using virtual notecards:
The biggest downside to Scrivener? Because of all the advanced features, it has a steeper learning curve than other word processors.
You can think of Google Docs as sort of a “Word Lite” program that you can access online, for free. While it doesn’t boast as many features as Word or Scrivener, it’s the hands-down most convenient program out there for sharing and collaboration.
Because everything is stored online, you can access your work from anywhere. And it’s easy to share your work with others and collaborate by leaving comments in the margins:
The big downside to Google Docs? It lacks the more sophisticated features of Word and Scrivener.
Of course, these are only 3 options—there are many more great writing tools out there.
How to Write a Book Step 3: Actually Write Your Book
OK, we’ve got the preliminary stuff out of the way—time to sit down and actually write this thing!
This is an exciting part of the process…unfortunately, it’s also the part where many people get overwhelmed and give up.
But there’s good news: actually writing your book can be a lot easier than you think—if you have the right system. A system that guides you from your idea through your outline and all the way up to your final, polished, publication-ready draft.
Here are the most important things you need to do when writing your book.
Come Up With Your Book Idea
Before you can start typing, you need to have a topic. That might seem obvious, but it can still be a stumbling block if you don’t know what to write about.
Fortunately, there are countless book ideas that could turn into bestselling books.
I recommend brainstorming a long list of book ideas. This way you’ll have a lot of options—giving you the freedom to choose the best possible book topic.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when brainstorming book ideas:
- What are you passionate about?
- What’s your favorite hobby?
- What do you get paid for? What’s your expertise?
- What are people coming to you for advice on?
- What’s a topic you know a lot about or can’t stop talking about?
These are all great ways to come up with bestselling book ideas. In a nutshell, you’re trying to find topics that you’re knowledgeable or passionate about. Because these are the topics that you’re going to do a great job writing about!
Notice that I highlighted the question, “What do you get paid for? What’s your expertise?”
That’s because this is a particularly useful question for coming up with book ideas. A lot of people seem to forget that there is usually at least one topic on which they are a bona fide expert—and that’s their job!
It might not seem that exciting or special to you, because you’re so used to it, but to someone else who’s trying to learn what you already know…your job-related knowledge can seem very valuable indeed.
Don’t Censor Yourself
When you’re brainstorming ideas, don’t censor yourself. Just let the ideas flow. Realize that there is no such thing as a crazy idea. Anything can make a great book topic.
So don’t ever let yourself feel silly or start to judge yourself—doing so is a surefire way to stop your creativity in its tracks.
On the other hand, don’t feel bad if your topic sounds too commonplace either. Even if you’re writing about an age-old topic—like a weight loss book or a romance novel—that’s OK! The truth is that there are no “new” ideas. Everything has been written about before.
But it hasn’t been written from your unique perspective. And that’s what really matters.
Realize that a writer’s job isn’t to come up with never-before-seen ideas. Doing that is pretty much impossible in this day and age.
Instead, a writer’s job is to explore topics from their own point of view. To lend their unique spin on them.
Take a Reader-Centric Perspective
While thinking of your book topic, here’s a piece of advice that I strongly recommend you follow:
Think from your reader’s perspective (not your own).
Many people are too self-centered when they write. When I say “self-centered,” I mean that they’re thinking only of themselves: their interests, their hobbies, their passions.
Yes, it’s true that those are great topics to explore when coming up with your book topic. But during this process, you’ll need to switch from a self-centered perspective to a reader-centered perspective.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What would my reader be most interested in?
- What would my reader most like to learn?
- What are my reader’s biggest problems?
When you start to think this way, it becomes much easier to write your book in a way that provides immense value for the people who matter most—your readers.
Figure Out Which Book You Should Write First
By now you should have a long list of book topics. And you might be wondering, which topic should I write about first?
Here are a few tips to help you choose the best starting project:
- Which one can you finish the fastest? Usually, this is the topic where you have the most experience. This is a good thing to keep in mind because the faster you can finish your book, the faster you can get it out in the world where it can earn you money and help people. (And the faster you can get started on your second book!)
- Which one are you most likely to finish? Usually, these are the topics you are more passionate about. For your first book, I highly recommend choosing a topic that you’re really passionate about to help make sure that you’ll remain interested throughout the entire process.
- Which one is going to make you happy? This is a little harder to define, but it might be something that strikes a chord with you. Maybe there’s a certain book topic that stands out for one reason or another. If that’s the case, then go for it! Remember, writing should make you
Now with these tips in mind, choose the topic for your very first book before proceeding to the next step.
Come Up With a Title
The most important words of your book are the ones that appear on the outside cover:
Your book title.
You don’t have to decide on your final title at this point, but your title is so important that it’s worth thinking about up-front. I recommend brainstorming ideas and letting them simmer in the back of your mind.
Here are a few tips on creating standout, marketable titles.
For a nonfiction book, your title should…
- Include the solution to the reader’s problem
- Use a subtitle for clarity
- Be unforgettable
And for a fiction book, your title should…
- Be appropriate to your genre
- Pique the reader’s interest
- Take its inspiration from your characters
It always helps to do a little research on Amazon. To do that, just head here and select your genre on the left-hand side of the page:
Then you can take a look at some of the best-selling titles in your genre. You can even sub-niche down several times, like “History > Ancient Civilizations > Mesopotamia.” Now pay attention to the titles and look for common themes or trends to use for your own book.
Remember that you’re just starting, so you can always change the title later. But for the time being it can help to have a “working title” (a temporary title that you may change before publication).
Fill Out The BookMap
The BookMap is a free downloadable book outlining template you can use to quickly gather all the important information you’ll need for your book — fiction or nonfiction.
Essentially, the way it works is you’ll create a mind map—sort of a brain dump with a line connecting related ideas together—on your book’s topic.
Start your BookMap by writing your intended topic in the center. From there, answer the questions and add as many related ideas as you can think of. (Again, connect related ideas with a line.) The BookMap gives you the benefits of writing in free-form and creating structure from all the connections you make.
Turn Your BookMap Into an Outline
Once you’ve completely filled out your BookMap, the next step is to group all the related ideas into categories. There’s no hard and fast rule for how to do this; just combine your ideas in the way that makes the most sense to you.
One way to do this is to rewrite each idea on a fresh piece of paper, this time grouped together in related topics. Or, you could simply use different-colored highlighters to categorize your ideas with different colors.
Either way, the result is the same: when you’re done grouping your ideas, those categories will form the outline for your book—each category is a new chapter. So now you know exactly which topics to write about, and you know which points to cover in every chapter of your book.
Capture More Notes with The Sticky Note Method
You can use this method instead of the BookMap, or as a supplement to it.
For about a week, carry around sticky notes and write down anything and everything that crosses your mind regarding your possible book topics.
When the week is up, organize all your sticky notes into sections and themes. Then, organize these themes into the patterns that would make sense in the context of chapters of your book. You can then elaborate in areas where you notice missing pieces to the puzzle, and use all of the material you’ve gathered and organized to create an outline.
This method may be helpful if you’re struggling with the notion of committing to writing a whole book since it lets you break down the process into manageable pieces. The ultimate outcome of using this method is deeper thinking, clarity, and concise organization of thoughts and patterns.
Now Write Your Book…One Chapter at a Time
You now have a chapter-by-chapter outline for your book. The only thing left to do…is to actually sit down and write it!
There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to write your book. But there are some ways that are easier, faster, and more successful than others.
And in my experience, there’s one writing method that works better than any other. Here’s how it works:
- Complete a mini-BookMap for that chapter, brainstorming everything you know about this topic. (10 minutes.)
- Organize your ideas and turn that BookMap into an outline. (10 minutes.)
- Write or speak the chapter by following the outline you just created. (45-60 minutes.)
- Repeat this process, chapter by chapter, until your book is completed.
Steps 1 & 2 should be familiar by now—they’re the same steps you followed to create your overall book outline. You just repeat those steps on a smaller scale for each chapter.
Then in step 3, you have a choice: you can type out your chapter on a computer, or you can use a recording device & transcription service to dictate your chapter.
If you like the idea of dictating your book, rather than typing it out, here’s how to do it.
How to Speak Your Book
This method works well if you’re a strong speaker and you prefer speaking to writing. The ultimate outcome is that you can create your book draft as quickly as possible, with no actual “writing” on your part. Cool, huh?
Once your chapter outline is complete, the next steps are:
- Speak your first draft aloud into a recording app or device such as Voice Memos or Audacity.
- Get that audio file transcribed using a transcription service like Rev.
- Read through the transcription and revise/polish it up.
As I mentioned, one of the benefits of this method is its speed. Just how fast can you write a first draft using speech dictation?
Well, if the average book is 15,000-25,000 words long, and if the average person speaks at about 150 words/minute, then you can easily speak your entire book in approximately 2-3 hours.
Of course, your spoken & transcribed book will need some polishing and revision to get it publication-ready. But it’s still the fastest way of writing a book I’ve ever come across.
Speed Up Your Writing
Writing faster means getting to publication—and to profits—that much sooner. Try these pro tips to maximize your daily word count:
- Flex your writing muscles each day. The more you work, the more efficient you’ll get. Create your writing routine and stick to it.
- If you get stuck on a particular section and stop making progress, find a different part of the book that appeals to you today and write that section instead.
- Planning and research can be necessary—or a method of procrastination. Limit your prep work to a reasonable timeframe so it won’t stop you from writing. Use a timer if it helps you stay on track.
- A accountability partner can keep you on track. Set up weekly meetings to review work and cheer each other on.
Looking for even more productivity tips? Here are some more strategies you can use to speed up your writing.
How to Write a Book Step 4: Avoid Potholes Along the Way
If you’ve been following along with steps 1-3, then you’re in the process of writing your book. You’re working from a solid outline, which means you know exactly what to write in every single chapter.
So nothing could possibly go wrong…right?
Unfortunately, no. Even when you have a solid plan, a proven system, and a detailed outline, you can still get tripped up by some of these sneaky book writing roadblocks. Luckily, I’ve got some tips to help you overcome the most common book writing problems.
How to Beat Writer’s Block
Writer’s block can rear its ugly head in many ways. For some, being blocked means no words at all, while for others, it means trying to nail down a functional draft in the midst of a tornado of swirling ideas. Most of the time, writer’s block is a symptom of a paralyzing fear of others’ opinions.
The harsh reality is, if you write, at some point you’ll be on a first-name basis with a bout of the block. The only way to deal with it is to beat it. Here are 8 methods I’ve found personally useful when fighting writer’s block:
- Circle back to your BookMap or outline and see if there’s useful info that sparks fresh inspiration. Sometimes it just takes looking back at the bigger picture to remind you where you’re going with your draft.
- Change up the physical way you’re writing; sometimes a simple shift can boost creativity. If you use a laptop, put pen to pad. Try some new music, a new location, or new beverage to sip at your desk.
- If you find you start writing slowly and warm up as time goes on, allow adequate time during your writing sessions to get the creative juices flowing.
- Review what you wrote yesterday to refresh your memory.
- Talk it out. Sometimes a quick conversation with yourself is enough to work through writer’s block. Or call a friend and bounce some ideas off them if you’re truly stuck.
- Remember that what you’re writing doesn’t need to be perfect—you’re writing a first draft. If you have a case of perfectionist syndrome, tell yourself it’s okay to write something you’ll think is terrible. Making something good is what second drafts and the editing process is for. Always remember: Done is better than perfect.
- Go for a walk. You might be surprised at how a walk outside, or a brief bit of exercise, helps refresh and recharge your creative juices.
- Read another author who has a style you like. Read their book for 10 minutes and then start typing, holding their voice in your head.
Don’t Edit While You Write
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You sit down to write and you bang out a page or two. Then you stop and reread what you just wrote. And instead of continuing on ahead, you go back and start editing those first few pages of writing.
In your mind, you’re just fixing up your work. You want everything to be just right before you continue on ahead.
But in reality, you’ve just stopped all your forward progress. You spend the next hour trying to make those pages PERFECT…and when perfect doesn’t happen, you get frustrated and stop writing.
Usually when this sort of thing happens, it becomes very difficult to do any more writing. Why? Because writing and editing use different parts of your brains—and when you allow yourself to slip into a more critical/judgmental frame of mind, it becomes almost impossible to start creating again.
That’s why, even though editing is an important skill, you need to resist the urge to edit your work while you’re still writing.
Editing is an important skill, obviously. It can turn an OK book into a good book, and a good book into a great book.
But don’t start editing your book until AFTER you’ve already created the entire first draft.
Format Your Book Properly
Few things are more irritating than having to go back through your entire book to fix the formatting.
The take-home lesson? Think about how you want to format your book before you write it, and then be consistent. It’ll save you a lot of time in the long run.
And take the time to figure out how to format your book for publication. For example, did you realize that fiction and nonfiction books typically use different indentation styles?
Nonfiction books tend to use block paragraphs, like this:
Whereas fiction books use indentation instead:
Here are a few more book formatting tips:
- Avoid using hard indents. (Don’t hit “tab” at the beginning of a new paragraph; instead, change the paragraph settings to automatically give each paragraph the indentation you want.)
- Only use one space after a period. (Using 2 spaces was necessary with typewriters, but not with computers.)
- If you want to create a page break, do not hit “Enter” repeatedly until you reach the next page. Instead, use the “Page break” function. This is the only way to ensure that your page break will work even after people resize your book on their Kindle.
Keep Going, & Don’t Stop—You’re Almost There!
Now you know not only how to get started writing your book, but how to complete your book project in a mere 90 days!
Remember to keep your WHY at the forefront of your mind, and you’ll be able to crush any and all obstacles that get in your way. If any of the common challenges or obstacles we’ve mentioned rear their ugly head, you’ll know how to deal with them.
With just a little bit of time and a lot of determination, you are on your way to officially calling yourself an author.
How to Write a Book Step 5: Launch Your Book Successfully
By this point your book is completed—congratulations! You’ve done something that most people will never do.
You’ve written a book.
But you’re not done yet. Not quite. Because you still need to launch your book in a way that sets it up for success. In a way that maximizes your readers, your income, and your influence.
Unfortunately, most people who succeed in writing a book never get this whole “launch” thing figured out. They throw their book up on Amazon without really having a plan, and as a result, they get very few sales, make almost no money, and are frustrated at the lack of response to their work.
It’s true that self-publishing your book on Amazon is a great way to go. But you can’t simply publish your book and expect people to find it. Instead, you need to dedicate some time to mastering the publishing and marketing processes. This is the only way to make sure that your book makes its way into the hands of the people who will benefit from reading your words.
If you follow this simple launch plan, you can rest assured that your book will come out with a bang and will generate steady sales right out of the gate and for years to come.
Get a Good Cover
We all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But in reality, people do exactly that—all the time. And that’s why, if you want your book to sell, your book cover is important.
Really, really important.
And a good book cover does 2 things:
- It grabs people’s attention.
- It instantly tells people what the book is about.
Here are a few examples from some of my own books:
Notice a couple things. First of all, it’s orange—which helps it to stand out and grab attention. Second, it’s super-clear what the book is about. The title is in the upper-third of the book in large print, so you can read it even in a thumbnail.
Both covers were designed using the same basic principles. They’re simple, bold covers that stand out. They also have subtitles that clarify exactly what the book is about.
Now this style of cover works great for my niche, but it won’t necessarily work for every type of book. For example, it would make a terrible cover for a romance novel!
Why? Well, in short, it doesn’t look like a romance novel. Remember that part of a cover’s job is to tell people what the book is about. And in many genres of fiction and nonfiction, readers have come to expect a certain type of book cover.
In order to clearly communicate what your book is about to your ideal readers, you need it to fit in with their expectations—while also standing out enough to grab their attention. This is another reason why it pays to head over to the Amazon bestselling books list and study some of the most successful books in your genre.
What do those covers look like? Do they share a similar layout? Color scheme? Font style?
For example, if you were writing a romance novel, you would want to study these covers:
Find out what the most successful books in your genre look like, then imitate that look—but change it up just enough so that it stands out and grabs your readers’ attention.
Build a Launch Team
The real key to a successful book launch is building and leveraging a launch team.
So what is a launch team?
In a nutshell, your launch team is a small team of people who are supporting your book. They could be friends, family, associates, online affiliates—anyone.
At first, your launch team might be limited to your immediate friends & family. That’s OK! Launch your book with their help, and work on continually building your launch team every chance you get.
When you add a person to your launch team, you need to make 2 things clear for them:
- What are they agreeing to do for you?
- What are they getting in return?
Step 1 is pretty simple: you want them to read your book, leave a review, and share it with their own friends and family.
This is how you spread the word about a brand-new book when you don’t have an email list or a social media following.
Step 2 can vary from person to person. What do your friends & family get in return for helping you? In many cases, they get things like:
- A free copy of your book
- Their name mentioned in the “Acknowledgements” part of your book
- The chance to be part or something inspiring
- The personal satisfaction of helping to create something meaningful
As your launch team grows bigger, you might need to offer more than that. For example, maybe another person in your niche agrees to promote your new book to their email list—but in exchange, they want a percentage of your profit.
(This is called affiliate marketing, and it’s a great way to grow your audience and your revenue while letting somebody else do the marketing for you.)
But don’t worry about that for now. Just reach out to anyone you know who would be willing to support your first book launch and ask for their help.
Get Ongoing Reviews
If there’s one thing we know about the Amazon algorithm, it’s this:
It loves reviews.
If you want your book to show up in search results and as a “Recommended” book when people are looking at similar products, you need to continue generating ongoing reviews to keep the algorithm happy.
When you do, your book will start to show up at the top of Amazon results:
Reviews are a fantastic form of social proof. They’re a credibility sign that lots of people have read your book and loved it—and that makes other people more likely to want to read it, too.
But you have to be careful about how you go about trying to get Amazon reviews. For example, you can get in big trouble if you try to pay for reviews, swap reviews with other authors, or offer free gifts in exchange for reviews.
You can solicit reviews, but they cannot be “incentivized” reviews.
So how can you generate more reviews without offering people something in return? Well, I’ve discovered a few tips that work incredibly well. Click here to learn my 8-step process for generating more Amazon reviews.
Get Help From a Mentor Who’s Done It Before
I’d like to leave you with one final message:
The best way to learn how to write a bestselling book is to get help from somebody who’s been there before.
People often ask me how I was able to make so much money and sell so many copies of my very first book. And I always tell them the same thing:
Because I sought out a mentor. Someone to teach me a proven book-writing process that had been tried and tested. A book-writing system that was almost guaranteed to work, as long as I followed it properly.
Well, that’s the real secret to my success as an author. I sought out the help I needed to give my very first book a major head-start.
And now I’m sharing with you the opportunity to do the same thing. To learn from a mentor who can help you achieve your dream of writing and publishing your very first book.
In this free course, you’ll discover my blueprint to go from blank page to bestseller in 90 days
If you want to finish your book, you need a roadmap. That’s why I’m sharing some of the best strategies and tricks other bestselling authors paid thousands of dollars to get — yours FREE.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- The EXACT blueprint to FINALLY cross “write a book” off your bucket list — in just 90 days
- The Bestselling Book Launch Blueprint behind dozens of bestsellers
- Case studies of bestselling authors who made $1,287, $5,500, even $12,424.03 from their first book
- And much more!
When you start writing a book, it’s as if everyone around you becomes the expert. You’ll hear that you should show don’t tell, start with action, or even embellish your stories to sound “better.”
People start spitting advice in your face like they’ve been through it all before even though most of them have hardly even thought about writing a book, let alone put forth an ounce of work to get started with tips like show don’t tell.
So how do you know which advice is garbage and which you should actually take?
It’s safe to say that the idea of showing not telling is one all writers should pay close attention to.
Show don’t tell in writing is a piece of advice that’s been around for longer than you might realize. Even if it didn’t have a phrase attached to it yet, the best authors out there have been using it for the duration of their careers (and even before, most likely).
In fact, it’s why they’re known as the best writers of all time.
But although these writers knew how to bring their writing to life instinctually, not all of us are so lucky. We have to learn the process of show don’t tell, which can be tricky if you don’t know where to start.
What does show don’t tell mean?
At a first glance, this writing rule could be confused for the best day in Kindergarten when you bring your pet lizard in to show the class.
But in actuality, show don’t tell refers to the way in which you describe the experience you (or your character) went through.
It’s about showing the actions and relationships and feelings instead of just telling the reader what happened. This creates a much deeper connection and brings readers closer to you (or the main character).
And that makes them feel deeper and stronger about the story. It creates empathy and invests the reader – which is exactly what you need.
Writing your book introduction with an abundance of showing not telling is a powerful way to draw readers in for the duration of your entire book.
But this technique is much easier shown than told (hehe – see what I did there?).
Show Don’t Tell Examples:
These examples are pretty basic but that’s the best way to gain an understanding of what this looks like. Keep in mind that your sentences may be more complex than these examples, but still full of “tell” words or phrases.
Be on the lookout for the details.
Tell – “I heard footsteps creeping behind me and it made the whole situation scarier.”
Show – “Crunching hit my ears from behind, accelerating the already rampant pounding of my heart against my ribs.”
Why it’s better – In an instance such as this, you want the reader to feel what you did: the surprise and the sense of urgency, the fear. Describing the crunching that hit your ears even through the pounding of your heart not only creates a powerful visual, but it also tells the reader the state your body was in during that intense moment. The first example is weak and does little to explain how you actually felt in that moment.
Tell – “She was my best friend. I could tell her almost anything.”
Show – “I met her at the town square, running in for our usual hug that carried on for far too long as we gushed about our lives with smiles lighting our faces.”
Why it’s better – The first example of telling is shorter, but it doesn’t do a great job of really showing the impact you have on each other. Anyone can think of “best friend” and form an overall thought about what that looks like. But this isn’t just “anyone.” This is your best friend. Showing your relationship with one another is vital to forging that deeper connection.
Why should you show don’t tell in writing?
The entire point of showing versus telling in writing is to make a stronger emotional connection with your readers and hook them.
The idea behind this writing technique is to put the reader in your shoes. Make them feel, hear, and sense the situation as you did.
It’s about creating an experience for the reader instead of just a recount of events.
Doing this makes the reader want to root for you. They want to hear your whole story and in turn, they’ll read your whole book.
Why is showing not telling important for non-fiction specifically?
If you write fiction, you hear this advice all the time. However, all of you non-fiction writers out there, this piece of writing advice might be new to you.
Show don’t tell isn’t always the first thing a non-fiction writer thinks of when it comes to adding more intrigue to your story.
But it is the most vital for pulling your reader in and not only hooking them, but keeping them with you throughout the duration of your book.
Many fiction writers hear this writing advice often because it’s one of the best ways to make real people feel deeply for fictional characters.
When it comes to writing a story about your life and something you went through, the idea is the same. By showing and not telling, you’ll be able to guide them through your real-life situation as an experience and not just some book they’re reading while the kids are yelling at their video games and the oven alarm is blaring in the distance.
If you can show don’t tell the right way, the reader won’t even notice those distractions.
How to Show Don’t Tell in Writing
So now you know what it is and why it’s important, but how the heck do you actually do it? The process of taking a single story and crafting it to create more emotion can be difficult.
Thankfully, we have some of the best tips for showing not telling in writing.
#1 – Get rid of all basic sensory words
Phrases like, “I heard,” “I felt,” and “I smelled,” are all very weak. These are “telling” words and phrases that force the reader further away from you and your experience.
That’s exactly what you want to avoid.
Instead, you need to pull them into your world and into your psyche the very moment you were encountering the situation.
Writing Exercise #1:
Read through your writing and circle every telling word you can find. Anything that explains one of the 5 senses.
Then write down specifics for each. If you heard someone creeping up behind you, how did you hear it? Was it crunching on gravel? Was it the shuffling of shoes against carpet?
Once you have these, rewrite those sections by explaining how the senses manifested to you and not just what you sensed (detailed below in the next writing exercise).
#2 – Don’t use “emotion explaining” words
This might be a bit tricky and you certainly don’t have to follow this one 100% of the time, but if you can get this right, it’ll make showing versus telling so much easier to grasp.
Think of any word to describe an emotion. I’ll help you out a little:
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
These are all great words to describe how someone felt. However, they’re also very weak, unexciting ways to do so.
If you need your readers to understand how excited you were at any given time, show them. Don’t just tell them, “I was so excited!”
Show them the sweat beading your forehead as you raced to your destination. Show them the lifting of your cheeks as your lips parted way for an uncontrollable smile.
Writing Exercise #2:
Skim through your writing and circle every word that’s an emotion.
Then, for every emotion-explaining word you find, write down physical reactions of feeling that way.
Once you have a small list for each circled word, use it to craft a couple sentences to describe (and show!) just what that looked like.
You can see the difference alone between these two paragraphs. By replacing all of the “telling” words and phrases, it develops into an experience for the reader and not just a retelling of what happened.
#3 – Describe body language
One of the best ways you can show not tell in writing is to use strong descriptive language when it comes to body language.
A person’s actions are really a gateway to their mind and how they feel.
You can tell if another person has a crush on someone just by paying attention to the way their body adjusts when in that person’s presence, right?
Showing versus telling in writing is exactly that. You want to show the reader what is happening and allow them to form a conclusion about how you or others in your story felt based on what they look like.
In all honesty, a lot of this one is about having faith that your audience can put two and two together.
Oftentimes, we tend to over explain in an effort to make something obvious when really, the emotion is in the guesswork; it’s in allowing someone to draw their own conclusions. That over-explaining is what comes across as “telly” and not as emotionally compelling.
And honestly? It’s also pretty boring and flat.
If you do a great job of showing what you want readers to see, they’ll understand how someone feels – and they’ll even feel that way themselves.
That’s the power of showing not telling.
#4 – Use strong language
Showing itself can be extremely impactful, but using strong language and verbs in specific situations is even more powerful for adding depth to your story.
The way you make someone else actually feel how you did as you were going through the experience is to make sure the words you’re using directly reflect the emotions.
This can be a difficult task for those who aren’t sure what “strong language” looks likes, but I’ll make it easier for you.
Writing Exercise #3:
Think of a situation you want to explain in your book (or maybe something you already have written out).
Now imagine what feeling you want to convey through that scene. What do you want your readers to take away from that specific moment in your story? List those emotions so you can see all of them.
Take that list and start writing ways in which you can bring those emotions to life. What do those things mean for you? How would these emotions manifest during that specific time?
Now take those stronger verbs and words that depict a deeper emotion and craft your sentence or paragraph with those to reflect how you truly felt.
How does this sentence make you feel? Do you feel comfort, relaxation, and a sense that I love being there?
That was the purpose.
It’s about taking one specific idea or vibe or feeling and using what you know to transform it into something that’s showing not telling.
This specific example for show don’t tell can be a little time-consuming at first, but you will get the hang of it and these methods will soon become second nature to you.
What to do Next?
Show don’t tell can be difficult to master unless you’re constantly thinking about it. But because this specific writing skill is vital for building strong emotional connections, you have to implement this information.
Here’s what you can do going forward.
#1 – Practice
There are 3 writing exercises listed above. As you write going forward, keep showing not telling in the forefront of your mind to foster a more compelling emotional connection.
You can use these exercises every single time you sit down to write or you can take a day of editing to go through each section you think needs more showing.
If your manuscript is finished and you’re ready for a full self-edit, these exercises are also extremely helpful editing guidelines.
Either way, practicing will help this technique become easy and even natural – which will allow you to write more, faster.
#2 – Watch for it in books you read
You’ll quickly learn that any good books you’ve read that make you feel something will have an abundance of show don’t tell examples.
If you’re okay with scribbling in your books, you can even highlight examples to learn from when you feel stuck.
Not only will doing this help you to recognize these instances more, you’ll also get better at writing it yourself. The easier showing not telling is for you, the stronger your writing will be.
#3 – Learn more!
You can’t have too much knowledge when it comes to writing and publishing.
If you’re looking to start writing a book or need help getting started, tune into Chandler Bolt’s FREE Webinar Training where he takes you through everything you need to know to get started.
Being informed and increasing your writing knowledge is essential because the more you know, the better your writing, and in turn, the better your book will be.
Let’s get your story heard!
Are you a master of show don’t tell or are you just getting started? Let us know what works best for you when it comes to forging a deeper connection with your readers through your writing!
The right book writing software can make all the difference in the world.
With the best writing tools, 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 organized. But you can’t do either without the right book writing software.
You’ll have to make some choices.
Nowadays, authors have so many options when looking for the best book writing software.
Should you stick with tried-and-true Microsoft Word? Move to Scrivener, the up-and-coming writing software of choice for experienced 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’ve compiled a list of the 11 best book writing software programs – both free and those that’ll justifiably cost you – so you can up your author game:
- Microsoft Word – Word Processor, $79.99
- Scrivener – Word Processor, $45
- Pages – Word Processor, $28
- Freedom – Productivity Software, $2.42/month
- Google Docs – Online Word Processor, Free
- Evernote – Note-Taking Software, Free
- FocusWriter – Word Processor, Free
- FastPencil – Word Processor, Free
- yWriter – Word Processor, Free
- 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.
Which book writing software features are right for 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 writing 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:
- How easy is it to format text the way you want?
- Does it have templates available? How many?
- How much does it cost?
- Is the program simple & easy to use?
- Does it offer any extra features or other bells & whistles?
- How about a distraction-free writing experience?
- Is the program user-friendly?
- Can you access your files no matter where you are?
- 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 Top 3 Book Writing Software Programs
#1 – Microsoft Word
Before any other writing 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.
And it’s easy to see why. Word has a lot going for it!
It’s been around a long time. It’s trusted, reliable, and gets the job done well.
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 an obvious choice of book writing software. 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 also 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 as a writing tool, 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. Thankfully, Apple offers a comparable program called Pages, that we reviewed below for you.
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.
#2 – Scrivener
You just learned that Microsoft Word is the most widely used word processor in the world. But does that mean it’s the best book writing software?
Think 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:
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.
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 also praises 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, but let’s keep things concise for you. Here are some of the top takeaways of this book writing software:
- 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:
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 specific writing tool 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!
Check out our free training, 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 learn how to use Scrivener, click below for our free training:
Long story short: Scrivener is an investment, but one that’s worth it. It will take some time to master. But once you get the hang of it, 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:
#3 – Google Docs
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 for varying reasons:
Essentially, Google Docs is a stripped-down version of Word that you can only use online. It’s a simple, yet effective writing tool.
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.
Lesser-Known Book Writing Software
Just because you may not be familiar with a specific writing software doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial or even better than what you’re using now.
Let’s get to know some powerful, helpful book writing tools you can use to up your author game and make some progress.
#1 – Pages
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 so you can access it in a number of different places.
Personally, I love the ease of Pages. It works great for creating ebooks or manuscripts with a variety of writing tools you can get creative with.
#2 – Freedom
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 – something more than beneficial for those of us who get sidetracked easily.
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.
Free Book Writing Software
There’s not much we love more than getting stuff for free – especially when it comes to our aspirations. You don’t have to doll out a ton of cash just to use highly beneficial book writing software.
In fact, there are many free book writing software programs. These are among the best free writing tools.
#1 – FastPencil
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 (paid upgrades are optional)
#2 – FocusWriter
FocusWriter is a word processor for writers that’s intended to eliminate distractions to help you get your book written quicker. It’s a basic, lightweight writing tool that was designed to be completely free of progress inhibiting 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.
You can customize the image in the background to suit your project to help inspire your writing.
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 free writing tool.
#3 – yWriter
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:
One thing that yWriter does differently than a lot of other writing 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’s free to use. But one downside is that it only works for Windows (at least, for now)).
#4 – Evernote
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
#5 – Hemingway Editor
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.
It’s basically your own personal editor rolled into a writing software.
Here’s an example of what it looks like:
(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.
#6 – Dropbox
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 writing tool. Especially for 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.
How Much Does 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 Book Writing Software?
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?
What to do Next
Writing a book takes a lot more than discovering some helpful book writing software. Here’s what you can do right now to head in the right direction with your book.
#1 Try a few different options
Don’t just pick one of these writing software options and be done with it. Sometimes you really need to try them out before you can determine which will fit your needs with your current project.
Make some notes as you work through a few and be sure to put together a pros and cons list to ensure you’re choosing the best option to propel you forward on your writing journey.
#2 Nail down your book information
I know it might seem fun to get started once you have a super helpful writing platform to use, but you need to nail down your book idea first.
Without these two necessities, you won’t get very far – even with some beneficial writing software.
#3 Learn more!
The process of learning never stops when it comes to writing and publishing a book. Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals 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!
Do you use one of these writing software programs? Let us know how they are below!
“Build it and they will come” is advice that rarely works when trying to sell books. Amazon is full of self-published books that have barely made any sales, leaving many writers dejected.
If you want your books to succeed, to get into the hands of your readers, to potentially achieve bestseller status…. you need a book launch plan.
After all, you’ve already spent months (or even years) crafting your manuscript. You’ve also spent a small fortune on a book cover, hiring an editor, proofreading, formatting, and other related expenses.
The last thing you need after all you’ve invested is for your book to fail, to make exactly zero sales.
(Okay you might make a few, to friends and family. But that’s not why you wrote your book, right?)
If you have a book, or are looking to write a book, and are already thinking about promotion, then this is for you. Contrary to what you might expect, launching a book isn’t hard, and it doesn’t need to break the bank (although you do need to invest some money).
By focusing on the minimal book launch strategy I’ll outline here, you’ll avoid being overwhelmed and launch your book on Amazon like a pro.
We’ll guide you through how to:
- Price your book during launch
- Set up your complete launch strategy during soft launch
- Collect reviews from your launch team
- Set your book up with the best promo sites for both paid and free
- Stick to a minimalist launch plan
Pre Book Launch Checklist
Before you go any further, there are a few things you need to do in between finishing your manuscript and launching your book. I put together a 13-point checklist of these action items.
You don’t need to carry them out with perfection since they can be tweaked later. But don’t launch your book without doing them.
- Book Description — Create your book description using the Book Description Generator at Kindlepreneur.com.
- Keywords — Select 7 keywords for your book. I use KDP Rocket and Kindlespy. There is also Merchant Words and Google AdWords.
- Categories — Choose 2 main categories for your book in the KDP dashboard. Once your book is live you can email Amazon and request to have your book put into eight additional categories.
- Landing Page — Create a landing page for your book. This can be used to collect email addresses and give away a chapter of your book before its release (optional).
- Upload Manuscript — Upload your manuscript to KDP. Proofread your book using the KDP online previewer.
- Upload Cover — Upload your Kindle cover to KDP.
- Launch Price — Set your launch price at 0.99.
- Lead Magnet — Insert a lead magnet into your book, both at the front and back. Connect this to your email list provider such as Mailchimp or ConvertKit.
- Audiobook (Optional) — Get your audiobook created. Plan to release your book through Audible or ACX.
- Paperback — Get your paperback version created. You can set up your paperback at CreateSpace. Optional: Your paperback can be launched after the Kindle release.
- Emails — Pre-write emails that you’ll send to your launch team.
- Goodreads — Goodreads account created and author profile setup. Your book will end up there either way, so it’s worth setting up an account to associate the book with.
- Launch Plan Model — Map out the specific action steps you are taking for each day of your launch. I have provided a model for this further down the post.
Just like there are a variety of business models to choose from when planning your venture, there are a variety of book launch strategies to choose from.
For example, you could follow Steve Scott’s 5-Day Launch Plan That Works which he used to effectively launch the bestselling book 10-Minute Digital Declutter that he co-authored with Barrie Davenport. Or you could emulate Nick Loper, of Side Hustle Nation fame, and his successful launch strategy which sold 2600+ copies of his book Buy Buttons. There’s even the detailed launch plan of Rob Cubbon, the author of The New Freedom.
These are all plans that work because of one thing:
They are strategic in their planning and strategic in their execution.
However, while there seems to be a lot of steps, an effective book launch plan isn’t complicated. Your launch plan will depend largely on:
- Your objectives and purpose.
- Your platform. The bigger your platform and access to influencers, the bigger (and more diverse) your launch.
In the strategy I’ll show you, I keep things simple. It’s a 12-day launch, including a 3-day free promo through Amazon.
If you’ve ticked everything on that checklist, then it’s time to hit publish on your book and to start your launch strategy.
But, before we dive into that, there are a few things you need to know about Amazon’s algorithm as it informs your book launch strategy.
The Amazon Algorithm: A Few Basics for Your Book Launch
Amazon uses an algorithm to measure and track book sales, and everything else on their platform. It’s worth remembering that Amazon wants you to succeed: if you make money, Amazon makes money. Knowing a few basics of it can help you to have a greater launch and to sustain the life of your book for months (and years) after the launch buzz wears off.
Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
Your book starts ranking as soon as someone buys a copy. Every purchase of your book pushes the ranking up the ladder. As a book moves up, it jumps ahead of the other books in your selected category. The rankings are based on recent sales and Amazon favors a book that is getting consistent, ongoing sales.
A book that runs a promo and gets 200 sales in one day, but then nothing else for the week, will not perform as well as a book that gets the same number of downloads over the course of a ten-day period.
Slow, steady traffic and a long-term plan is the way to succeed with your book.
Steady, organic growth will always outperform a sudden burst of downloads.
It’s worth noting also that while reviews and the price of your book do not affect your sales rank, they’re still worth having. The more quality reviews you have, the more credible your book will be to shoppers. This affects their decision-making power to buy, which translates into more downloads and an increase in sales rank. Focus on getting as many quality reviews as you can during this launch phase. Then, continue to work on getting reviews from organic traffic.
With that out of the way, let’s look at two necessary steps you need to do before you promote your book.
Setting Up Your Amazon Bestseller
There’s a very specific formula to follow during your book launch that will have you hitting those Amazon bestseller lists. And you definitely want to become a bestseller so you can increase your sales and maintain your position at the top.
The $0.99 Launch Strategy
I know what you’re thinking, “$0.99? Why would I essentially give my book away for free? I didn’t get into this business to fulfill the starving artist stereotype.”
I know how you feel, but trust me, there’s a good reason for launching it at this price. You may be selling it at a super-low point now, but the rewards are coming later. Remember: think long term. It’s better to have a book that has steady sales in the long term than to just have a burst of downloads now, then zero in the future.
Action Item: Go to the KDP dashboard and set your book at $0.99. With the exception of the free promo period (which we’ll get to shortly), your book will be at $0.99 for the duration of the launch.
The Free Book Launch Strategy
I mentioned that our strategy will have a 3-day free launch. Setting this up is easy. If you plan to run a free promo for your book, you can set this up as soon as your book is live on Amazon. To run a free promotion, your book has to be enrolled in the KDP Select program for 90 days.
A book that is listed for free will be ranked in the free store and books set at a price are ranked in the paid store.
If you don’t have a following (email list) or you are just getting started, I suggest you do the free promo. The free promo gets your book into more hands (that will hopefully read it) and increases its visibility across more platforms.
Action Item: Go to the KDP dashboard, and under “Kindle eBook Actions,” enroll into the KDP Select program. While enrolled in the KDP select program your book has to be exclusive to the Kindle Store.
Book Promotion Sites: Free and Paid
When launching your book, especially during your free promo, you want to put it into the hands of as many readers as possible. Amazon ranks your book in the free store based on how many downloads it gets.
The higher you rank, the more downloads you’ll get from Amazon browsers. Which means to maximize your launch, you need an initial surge of readers that don’t come from Amazon.
This is where book promotion sites come in. You can use them for both your paid and free launch. In the launch scenario later on in the post, I’ll show you how to batch these sites together to give your book the boost it needs.
An aside if you have a healthy email list: you won’t need to rely on these sites as much. This is especially beneficial for authors who are just starting out and don’t yet have a strong platform.
Keep in mind that results vary for each site and your performance will largely depend on your book’s quality. You still need the essentials: a great cover, a compelling book description, and an eye-catching book title.
Below is a list of my favorites that I have personally used, in combination with an email list to launch multiple bestsellers. You can also check out Dave Chesson’s blog on this as he covers the best sites to use for both free and paid.
The price for each promo site varies depending on the niche and category.
The Best Book Launch Promo Sites
- Buckbooks. If you can get onto any of these promo sites, Buckbooks is the one you want to try to get into. You need 10 reviews before they’ll schedule you. Note: You can promote the 2nd book on the same day for only 25% of the price. Great deal. But you can only promote once every 6 months for each book. If you use their Archangel Ink book production services you’ll get a guaranteed placement.
- Robin Reads — (need 10 reviews and a 4.9 rating) Takes a couple days to get approved ($55). Great results. I usually get anywhere from 60-100 downloads with this one. https://robinreads.com/author-signup/ Note: They have a calendar that is usually booked out weeks in advance. In this case, consider using Robin Reads for future promos of existing books already launched.
- BookSends — $40. If you can match this up with Robin Reads or Bucks on the same day it’s a great little boost. https://booksends.com/
- BKnights (Fiverr) You can’t go wrong for $5. I would also take the extra gig for $5 and get in on their daily newsletter. Downloads average 12-30 depending on the book.
- eReader News — Great gig but hard to get approved at times. takes several days for a response. Various prices. https://ereadernewstoday.com/
- Booksbutterfly. You are basically paying for downloads, one of the few (if only) sites that do that. They have various packages for everything. I recommend the Silver Eagle ($90) that gets you 50+ downloads + KU borrows. (https://www.booksbutterfly.com/bookpromo…/paidbookpromotion/)
- The Fussy Librarian (https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/). Great promo but very hard to book in advance. They are usually booked out 2-3 weeks ahead. Need 10 reviews to get accepted. Various price ranges. Strong results.
- Bargain Booksy. I love this one, no reviews needed and you can sign up right away and get approved. $25 for nonfiction. Lots of categories and good results. https://www.bargainbooksy.com/sell-more-books/
- eBooks Habit. Great little promo, I recommend the guaranteed placement for $10. https://ebookshabit.com/for-authors/
- Awesome Gang. This one is great for the price, $10. They have a free option but go with the paid. https://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/
- Many Books. Great little gig, average returns, $29. You can also sign up to become a featured author. https://manybooks.net/promote
- Digital Book Today ($40). Good gig, average returns and works better with fiction than non-fiction. https://digitalbooktoday.com/
- eBook Stage. Another great little promo site, reasonably priced. $10. https://ebookstage.com/
- Book Runes (https://bookrunes.com/). Global reach with over 50k mailing list, $25. Average to very good results.
- BookBub. This is by far the biggest and the best promo site. Very tough to get accepted and it is expensive, but worth every dime. At the very least you should set up an Author profile on BookBub and start to get people to follow you. They have a great blog too that gives powerful tips on how to get a BookBub feature. https://insights.bookbub.com
- Email your list (if you have one). if you don’t, BUILD one. This is by far better than all of the promo sites combined. If you don’t have a list yet, start building one with Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convertkit.
The Book Launch Sequence and Set-Up
To keep things simple, I’m giving you an example of a book launch that covers 12 days. This is similar to the launch that I did for my book Relaunch Your Life, except that I didn’t run a free promo. However, for this post, I will look at how to include a free promo as well.
Your launch will look and perform differently than this, but you can use this as a model and tweak as required. This launch assumes you are launching your book at $0.99 with a free promo set up through KDP for 2-3 days.
What is the difference between a soft launch and the actual launch?
I use the term soft launch below, which is different from your actual book launch. Your soft launch begins from the moment you hit publish.
As Amazon takes about 24 hours to set up your book, I recommend hitting the publish button at least 24 hours before you begin your actual launch. For example, if your launch plan beings on a Sunday, then publish your book on a Saturday.
The 12-Day Book Launch Model
Ready for your book launch? In this book launch model we use 3 days for our soft launch window, and then begin the actual launch on day 4.
Day 1: First Day of Soft Book Launch
The first day of your soft launch is critical. This is the day when you are going to set up your book to successfully launch over the next 11 days. The price point is set at $0.99.
Here is a brief checklist of what to do on day 1 of the soft launch:
- Create your Amazon Author Page. Set up your bio and upload an author pic.
- Claim your book by hitting the ‘add more books’ tab. This will appear on your author page within 24 hours.
- Email your launch team. Let them know the book is ready for verified reviews.
- Email Amazon customer support. Request that your book is placed in additional categories.
- Set up a few promo sites for days 2 or 3 while your book is at 0.99. This starts to build momentum. Recommended Awesome Gang, Bknights, and Booksbutterfly.
- As soon as you have ten reviews, set up the rest of your promo sites for the week. Not all of these promo sites require a set number of reviews. Check the list for links to the sites and submission requirements.
- Set up your Free promo in the KDP dashboard. Your free promo will be 2-3 days. This will start on day 4 (or however long you decide to run your soft launch). If you do a 5-day soft launch your free promo will start on day 6. Set up several paid promo sites to advertise your book for free. Although your book is free, the promos will cost you.
For your free promo on days 4-5 contact:
- James H Mayfield (Note: his calendar is very busy. You might not get on for the days you want with short notice. Consider using your remaining free days at a later date and arrange to have James promo your book.)
- Bknights (free promo)
- Awesome Gang
If you combine these promo sites with the organic traffic you’ll get from Amazon, you should do very well for free downloads.
Day 2-3: Soft Book Launch (Optional: You can extend this up to 5 days)
Social media burst to your FB page, mastermind groups, and other sources to spread the word. Don’t forget about other social platforms with large reader audiences like Twitter and Tumblr.
Day 4-6: FREE Promo
The promotional sites you got in touch with on day 1 will be advertising your book. Send an email to your team to notify them that your book is now free. Promote to social media!
Day 7-10: Paid Promo Sites
Run paid promo sites recommended from the list above. You can cluster these a day apart or combine 2-3 promos a day.
Day 11-12: Winding Down the Book Launch
If you followed the plan you should have had a considerable number of downloads for both your free promo and your $0.99 promo. Remember that your numbers will vary depending on your platform, book quality, niche, and sometimes, luck.
Email your list and remind them the book will be 0.99 for only one more day. Contact your launch team and thank them for reviews and their support.
This is the last call for reviews and downloads.
Day 13: Increase the Price to $2.99
Leave it there for one week and raise it to $3.99. You can test the pricing by going up to $4.99 and watching what happens. Monitor the sales and adjust accordingly.
I usually spend around $300-$400 per launch minimum on promo sites but how much you spend is up to you. Stagger them out over the course of 10-12 days.
Beyond the Book Launch
One of the biggest challenges authors have is where to go after the initial book launch is over.
How do you promote, market, and keep bringing in traffic so that your book doesn’t drop off into oblivion? Here are two things you can focus on:
#1 – Write another book
Multiple books create momentum. Look at the army of fans that Game of Thrones had before the TV Show launched. How did George R.R Martin build that? By setting up and writing the books as a series. Do you have a series of books you could write? A series is a great way to build your brand, a list, and to keep traffic growing with increased interest in your books.
#2 – Build your business on the back end
Create a business around your book with coaching, a course, or an automated email course that gets readers engaged after they are finished your book. They want to know more about you and so, if you have a business set up to kick in for subscribers, this is the start of what could be a great author business.
Launching a book is a combination of strategy, imagination, and hard work. If you have a great book to promote and a team of people (a small team will do) backing you up, you can have a great launch that gets your book into the hands of your market.
With every book launch, there is more to learn. If you keep launching, you’ll get better. And as you get better, you’ll get more fans. Eventually, you can turn your launch into a massive movement with thousands of fans standing behind you pushing your book towards New York Times Bestseller status or get featured in The Wall Street Journal.
What to do Next!
It’s not enough to just launch your book and leave it be. In truth, you should always be looking for new, better ways to maintain your book sales. Here’s what you can do right now to make a difference during your book launch.
#1 – Build a valuable launch team
Your book launch will only be as successful as the work you put into it. That includes the team you have assisting.
Building a launch team is essential but it’s also important to make sure that team is not only willing to help, but willing to go above and beyond for you because they believe in your book and your work.
Make sure you choose top-notch individuals who really want to push for your book. This will help you book launch reach heights you never imagined.
#2 – Learn more!
The learning never stops – not when it comes to this ever-changing (yet growing) field of self-publishing. And in order to stay ahead of the curve, you have to continue to invest in your knowledge.
Join Chandler Bolt on his FREE Webinar Training as he takes you through just what it takes to write, market, and publish your book. This webinar is full of valuable information that will only help you find success in your journey as an author.
What are some of your biggest concerns when it comes to your book launch? Comment below so we can help you out!
Knowing how to copyright a book — the right way — is something that scares the crap out of most authors!
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) while also protecting our book babies. Learning how to copyright a book can help alleviate all of that worry.
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.
We’ll give you all the information and resources you need to protect yourself and your own work from being misused or stolen while keeping you from committing the same crimes against your fellow authors.
We’ll also look at the 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)
Disclaimers When Copyrighting Your Book
You may not think you really need a disclaimer but it’s essential for protecting yourself and potentially others.
So how does a simple sentence or two do this?
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.
Let’s take a look at some specific examples of different types of disclaimers for different types of books.
#1 – 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.
#2 – Nonfiction Disclaimer
The typical disclaimer you’ll find in works of nonfiction?
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.
#3 – Memoir Disclaimer
The typical disclaimer you’ll find in memoirs?
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.
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.
I get it. It can seem boring but the better you understand how copyright law works, 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.
- 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 by learning how to copyright a book the right way. Don’t make things harder for yourself!
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:
- What can I actually use?
- 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 from country to country. You can check the copyright office in the US here.
#6 – Are authors liable for content used in a book?
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?
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.
What to do Next?
So now you’ve got all the information you really need when it comes to knowing how to copyright a book. But where do you go from here?
#1 – Finish your book
If it’s not already done, get on it! Writing a book can be difficult but we have a number of different resources available to make the process much easier –and faster.
Before you can really worry about knowing how to copyright a book, you have to actually have a book first. Get to work and put a schedule together so you can stay productive when writing your book.
#2 – Double check that you don’t violate any copyright laws
Depending on where you are in the book writing process, you have to check your work over to make sure you’re not using song lyrics without permission or violating any other copyright laws.
Do a once-over and, as always, make sure you work with an editor to ensure nothing is missed.
#3 – Keep learning!
There’s really no limit to the amount of knowledge you can have when it comes to getting a book written, marketed, and published.
Thankfully, Chandler Bolt has a wealth of information that he’s giving away FOR FREE!
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. Save your spot and sign up here!
Do you have another question about copyrighting a book we didn’t answer above or any additional advice you’ve found helpful for you? Post it in the comments below!
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 and title. 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?
That’s why we’re here to teach you how to write a book introduction that will actually boost book sales.
But first, let’s talk about why it’s so important.
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 your book introduction.
This means you’ve been given the opportunity to grab their attention and make them reach for their wallets.
This is why your book introduction is crucial to your book’s ultimate success. Readers will pick up your story and make a decision about you as an author and your book based on those first few paragraphs.
Book Introduction, Preface, Or Foreword?
Before you write an introduction and dive in on writing the rest of your book, 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.
Who would want to read a book (or many) from someone who can’t get even the introduction right?
So, what are the differences between an introduction, preface, and a foreword? Where do you use them? Can you use several of them? We’ll go through these questions in detail.
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, its limitations, and any acknowledgments 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.
According to the Chicago Manual of Style, a foreword is written by someone other than the author or editor and is usually someone with authority to lend credibility to your book, with their name appearing at the end.
Think of a foreword as a letter of recommendation that someone with credibility writes for your book.
It’s usually by someone the reader will respect, and the foreword will contain reasons for why the reader should read the book. There are fewer rules for a foreword than a preface. For instance, it can talk about the subject matter if desired. However, forewords tend to be short – usually one or two pages.
Many non-fiction book deals wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the foreword. Publishers are less likely to offer a major advance to first-time authors as they are untested. However, this becomes a different story if they can secure a foreword from someone of influence, (known as foreword deals in the industry.) John Romaniello (with his co-author Adam Bornstein) was able to get an advance of more than $1,000,000 for his first book, Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha, a practically unheard of amount for a first-time author.
How did this happen? John credits securing Arnold Schwarzenegger to pen the foreword as a factor that helped.
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’s the purpose?
Each one of these exists to sell your book in the opening pages. They exist to hook a reader who flips to the beginning of the book and gives clear reasons as to why they should read on to the end. A potential reader or buyer will judge whether your main argument, point of view, or tone of voice is worth reading on your introduction, preface, or foreword.
If someone they admire recommends your book in the foreword, they’ll sit up and listen.
If your preface reveals some main sources that have never told their story before, they’ll be curious to read more. If your introduction shows that you’re a great writer and you know what you’re talking about, they’ll give you a chance by reading more.
Since we’re dealing with non-fiction, we haven’t discussed prologues or epilogues, though they have the same purpose; to hook the reader and sell them on why to read on.
Where do they go?
So, do you only have to choose one for your book? No.
Your book can have all three if you want, though you don’t want to go too overboard, as your reader might end up skipping it anyway, or might feel like you’re trying too hard. Getting a foreword can be a lot of hard work if you don’t have the network or credibility to get an influencer to write one for you. And if your reader ends up skipping it, it’ll be a waste of your time.
But if you want to have all three, this is the correct formatting of where they appear in your book, (relevant sections are highlighted in bold. We provided a comprehensive overview of a book’s matter for reference:)
(Each point gets at least its own page.)
- Half title page (Sometimes called the bastard title, it’s a page that has nothing but the title. No subtitle or author name.)
- Blank page (Or “Also by the author…”)
- 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.)
- Introduction (Optional.)
- Prologue (Optional. Not applicable to non-fiction.)
- Epigraph (or after the dedication and before the table of contents. Optional.)
- Another half-title (Optional.)
- Main text
- Epilogue (Optional. Not applicable to non-fiction.)
- Afterword (Optional.)
(These are all optional.)
- Chronology (Or in the front matter.)
- Abbreviations (Or in the front matter.)
- List of contributors
- Illustration credits
- Colophon (Optional brief statement by the publishers on the book’s production, where it was printed etc.)
- Authors or Editor’s bio
- Invitation to review the book [Usually found in eBook formats asking readers to consider a review if they liked the book]
Don’t panic if your book doesn’t have up to half of these sections. Many of them are not necessary unless you are writing for a higher education audience. What matters is knowing where your foreword, preface, and/or your introduction needs to go in your book.
How Your Book Introduction Will Help You Sell Books
Your book introduction serves two goals. Think of your first 1,000 words as the foundation for the rest of your book’s chapters. Writing your introduction is going to be a useful exercise to help you distill down your ideas and to succinctly encapsulate the message of your great work into a few, short paragraphs.
The second goal of your introduction is to act as a sales pitch to intrigue readers so they’ll buy your book.
It’s intimidating, yes, and a lot of pressure is riding on just a few paragraphs. This is why writing your book introduction can be one of your first major stumbling blocks as an author. That’s why we’re here to help you overcome this significant hurdle so you can continue merrily on the path toward your finished manuscript, and ultimately higher sales of your book once it is published.
How to Write a Book Introduction in 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 book introduction, we’re going to use the example of a book called How to Get College Scholarships.
As you read, take notes, and insert your own book’s topic into your thinking and note-taking process.
#1 – Identify the Problem
Don’t dance around the problem. What’s the problem your book promises to solve? State the problem clearly for your readers from the outset. Be straight-forward, unambiguous, and concise when you identify the issue that readers hope you can solve for them.
Don’t try to be all things to all people—you want readers to know the specific problem your book will solve for them.
Using our example of How to Get College Scholarships, the problem is simple: college is expensive, and scholarships seem out of reach for most high school students.
#2 – Present the Solution
Now that you’ve identified the problem readers are struggling with, you’re going to make their day by telling them you’re going to share the solution in your book. You’ve helped them with a problem AND you’ve revealed that your book holds the solution on the first page. Your book’s going to be a winner!
Directional phrases such as, “In this book, I am going to show you …” or “This book is going to solve your problem by …”
Thinking back to our example, some solutions we’d present in our book would be teaching readers how to write a good essay so you can stand out from the competition, and how to find and apply for the top scholarships.
#3 – Assert Your Credibility
Now that you’ve presented a problem and posted a solution, your next step is to convince your readers that you, the author, are qualified to help solve their problem. 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
#4 – Show Them the Benefits
How will your book improve your readers’ current circumstances? Now’s the time to really sell them on how reading your book is going to change their life for the better.
Sold! Who doesn’t want a better life? (It’s rhetorical: We all do!)
You’ve briefly touched on the solution—in our case, how to write a great essay and how to apply for scholarships. In this part of your introduction, you’re going to go a little deeper and explain what good things will happen if your readers take advantage of the information you present in your book.
In short, tell your readers what they’ll get—what knowledge or skill they will gain from reading your book and how that’s going to impact their future for the better.
In our example, the benefit of our book is that readers will go to school for free and live a life without the financial burden of student loans. Readers can achieve their dream of getting an education, without breaking the bank.
#5 – Give Them Proof
Show your readers the proof of why your book is the answer to their prayers. Give the most tangible and relatable proof you can provide.
In our example, we might share how we put ourselves or our children through school on scholarship. We might also include testimonials from other people we know who followed our advice and got a free education.
#6 – Make a Promise (The Bigger the Better)
Don’t make a promise you can’t keep, but make the biggest promise that you CAN keep. Aim high.
To come up with your promise, circle back to your books’ purpose—what is the problem your book is solving? Now promise that this book will solve their problem! It’s that easy.
You need to be able to deliver on your promises, but don’t be shy in stating what they will get in return for reading your book.
While we can’t promise someone they’ll be awarded a scholarship (after all, their grades will have a big impact there,) we can promise that we will increase their chances of getting a scholarship by showing them where to find them and the steps to take to apply.
#7 – Warn Them Against Waiting
You need to create a sense of urgency to buy so your readers know that if they pass on your book, they will regret it because readers will miss out on something really good.
A sense of urgency is created by two magic words, “RIGHT NOW!”
In our example, we would urge people to start well ahead of the scholarship application deadlines so they can submit the best applications they can. Don’t delay, or others who are in the know will snatch up those scholarships! So, let’s get started on getting you a free education RIGHT NOW!
#8 – Prompt Them to Read (Call to Action)
You want readers to continue reading your book the second they finish the introduction. To do that, you have to hint at the juicy secrets your book will reveal to them that will change their lives. You want to intrigue them and hint at the exciting revelations you’re going to make inside the book. They will have to buy it in order to find out.
Here’s how to craft a compelling Call to Action to prompt them to read your book right away:
The scholarship tips and tricks you’re about to read have proven results. Each chapter provides new secrets that will help you stay in control of your financial future AND get a leg up on the competition for scholarships. If you follow the formula we reveal in this book, it’s highly possible you can enjoy the rest of your life unburdened by debt.
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 from reading your book. They will thank you later after they buy your book and they’re reaping all the benefits of taking your advice.
- Joel Friedlander’s Unabridged List of the Parts of a Book, a great resource on an amazing page of articles by The Book Designer
- What’s the Difference Between a Foreword, Preface, and Introduction? (Donald Bastian, BPS Books)
- Forewords, Prefaces, and Introductions: Where to Begin? (Carol Saller, Lingua Franca, The Chronicle of Higher Education 4-5-12)
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!
Outlining. That word may conjure images of 7th Grade English, scribbling at your desk in frustration while a stern teacher looks over your shoulder.
A book outline can be almost as intimidating as that teacher’s blatant glare.
Many of us learned how to outline in middle school, and it’s a skill we haven’t revisited since our braces came off and the acne faded away. But have no fear! You’re a grown-up now, and this project isn’t being graded.
You have free reign to structure your book outline to benefit your writing process—whether that’s a spaghetti-on-the-wall approach or a color-coded Excel spreadsheet.
Us at Self-Publishing School? We love this tried-and-true Mindmap to Outline procedure.
What is a Book Outline?
It’s easy to see this term and wonder exactly what that means. Is it a bullet list of topics for your book? Is it a chapter by chapter overview written in paragraphs?
No matter how you write an outline, the purpose is the same.
A book outline is a roadmap for your story.
It tells you where you need to go and when. Think of it as a GPS of sorts but instead of giving you driving directions, your outline will give you writing directions.
Why Should I Write a Book Outline?
No matter which type of book outline you choose, planning before you write has many benefits. It’s not just about getting your thoughts on the paper, either. It’s about so much more than the actual writing.
Outlines can do a number of things for you:
- help you define your goals
- finish your manuscript quicker
- stay focused
- avoid plot holes
- create a cohesive plan
- see your story from start to finish
- help you stay motivated
- ensure you can focus on the quality of your writing instead of what to write
You don’t need to spend huge amounts of time outlining, but some (mostly painless!) prep before writing will be time well-spent since you won’t be spinning your wheels by staring at the blank screen of death.
When you start with a plan, you’ll unconsciously make connections and think about your draft, even when you’re not actively writing. Mentally writing in the shower is one of the perks of outlining, because it will get your thoughts percolating. Be sure to keep paper and pens scattered about so you can capture your brilliance the minute it bubbles up, rather than letting all those ideas fade away.
Once you have a plan to write your book in outline form, you’ll be better able to put these thoughts to paper and compose your chapters when you do sit down to write.
This means a finished book in less time!
And I have some good news: there’s no “right” way to outline. Each writer will have their own process that’s personal to them. Keep reading for tips on how to outline different ways. If one of these exact methods doesn’t strike a chord with you, you can combine methods to create your own way that works best for your unique book.
Are you writing a fiction or non-fiction book? Depending on which you’re working on, the outlining process may look be different.
Thankfully, there are plenty of relevant tips you can apply in the section about outlining a non-fiction book. Likewise, even if you’re writing non-fiction, the section on how to write a fiction outline can help spark some ideas for your process, so we recommend authors of all types of books read the full list:
5 Ways to Write a Non-Fiction Book Outline
Most non-fiction authors find outlines useful due to the nature of their books. Generally, works of non-fiction require research and citation of sources (although many novels require their own research!).
An outline can help organize your research so it doesn’t overwhelm you, plus your outline will help you create the best structure for your finished book. These are some of the beneficial methods we recommend for you.
#1 – Mindmap + Book Outline
This is the main method of outlining that we teach in Self-Publishing School. The mindmap method requires you to create a brain dump based on your book’s topic. Write your topic in the center of a piece of paper, then use lines and words to draw as many connections as you can.
It doesn’t need to make perfect sense from the get-go—the goal is free-form thinking to get all of your ideas out of your head and onto the page.
You’ll start to notice connections between different categories of information. This makes it easier to spot the relevant “book-worthy” ideas. Then you can pluck those ideas out of your mindmap and put them into a cohesive book outline.
We also recommend doing a mindmap for each chapter you select from your original mindmap. It will help you structure your entire book chapter by chapter.
Fun, and so easy—we told you this would be (mostly) painless!
At Self-Publishing School, we encourage students to make a mess with their mindmap. Regardless of what your mind map looks like in the end, it is an essential element to your book writing process.
This mind map will be the jumping off point for you to begin your outline. In this brief video, Chandler explains how to turn your mindmap into an outline:
#2 – Simple Book Outline
A simple book outline is just as it sounds; keep it basic and brief. Start with the title. Don’t get too hung up on the perfect title at this stage of the process; you just want to come up with a good-for-now placeholder.
You can always change the title later—in fact, you probably will—but starting with some kind of title gives you a better idea of where you want your book to go. Plus, it jump-starts the creative process.
Next, you’ll list all of the key points that cover your book’s overall theme and message. You’ll use these key points to generate your notes. Later, you’ll flesh out these notes to draft your book chapters.
#3 – Chapter-by-Chapter Book Outline
Your chapter-by-chapter book outline is a pumped-up version of the simple book outline. To get started, first create a complete chapter list. With each chapter listed as a heading, you’ll later add material or shift chapters around as the draft evolves.
Create a working title for each chapter, and list them in a logical order. After that, you’ll fill in the key points of each chapter. Finally, you’ll link your resources as they would appear in each chapter, including books, interviews, and Web links.
#4 – Sketch Your Book Outline
Perhaps you find the idea of a written outline confining. That’s OK — there’s another option which might appeal to your artistic side. Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, wrote about how sketching your ideas can simplify complex thoughts.
To create this type of book outline, hand-draw your book concept in sequential order. This may be as simple or as elaborate as you desire. Feel free to use a Bic pen and a spiral notebook, or take it to the next level with a color medium on canvas-sized paper.
Others find satisfaction in sketching ideas with dry erase markers on a whiteboard or the old-fashioned feel of chalk on a blackboard.
#5 – Book Outline With Scrivener
If you like being uber-organized, then the writing software Scrivener might appeal to you. Their book outline program allows you to upload your research, organize it by moving it around, and filing it into folders.
The program does have a fairly extensive learning curve, which can be a major downside—especially if you tend to procrastinate and really want to get your book published quickly. However, some writers say it revolutionized their organizational process for longer works.
You can learn more about the program and its uses here or check out this tutorial for an overview.
6 Ways to Outline Your Novel
While you can incorporate the book outlining tips we shared in the non-fiction section above, creating an outline for your novel will be inherently different from creating a non-fiction outline. Your novel outline will require character development, the evolution of plot points, and resolution of conflict.
While the methods may be different, the goal is the same—organization and pre-planning so that you can write a great, cohesive book much faster.
#1 – Basic Document
Your goal with the Basic Document format is to use a Word or Excel table to give structure to your theme. Create a table and organize and summarize your key points and plot. You’ll then create a separate section for characters and themes, and an additional section with relevant research.
#2 – Post-It Wall
This is for the creative mind, and another method we teach in Self-Publishing School. All you need is a blank wall and a box of Post-It notes. Carry a pad of Post-Its with you wherever you go, and doodle your book on the fly.
Write your ideas and inspiration on your Post-Its when the mood strikes you.
Next, affix the Post-Its containing words, snippets, doodles, and phrases to the wall. After a week of this exercise, organize these words into novel outline form. Voila—simple, effective, creative!
#3 – The Snowflake Method
The Snowflake Method was created by fiction writing coach Randy Ingermanson based on the notion, “Good fiction doesn’t just happen. It’s designed.”
The process of the snowflake method focuses on starting small, then expanding. For example, you’d start with one line from your book, then add a paragraph, then add a chapter. Since the snowflake method is fairly detailed and based on scientific theory, Randy’s article is worth a read so you can review the detailed steps involved in this outlining method.
#4 – The Skeletal Outline
If you’ve ever written a term paper or thesis, then you’re probably familiar with the skeletal outline. You’ll lay out your narrative points in the order they’ll appear in your story, which involves a broad 7-step story arch.
This gives you a big picture idea of the flow of your story, so you can adjust your story and add subplots for maximum impact.
#5 – Novel Outline Template
Why reinvent the wheel? If you’re impatient to jump right into the fun part—writing!—or you aren’t sure exactly how to format your novel outline, then a pre-formatted template outline might be your saving grace.
A fill-in-the-blank novel outline can help you develop your plot, characters, and ideas without getting bogged down with the notion of striving for “proper” outline form.
#6 – The Reverse Outline
Sometimes looking at the problem from a different angle can give you the answer to the question. The same applies to outlining. Reverse outlining is exactly what it sounds like: Write down how your novel ends. Then once you know the ending, outline backward to get to that happy (Or sad? You’re the author!) ending.
For more ideas and creatives ways to jump-start your novel outline, check out How to Write a Novel Outline.
Here’s the take-away: No matter which option you choose, ultimately, you’ll write faster and better with a book outline. If one way doesn’t work well for you, then experiment and try another. Remember, your goal is a finished manuscript, not the gold medal for “Most Perfect Book Outline.”
Discover what works best for you and you’ll be one step closer to a finished book.
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!
It happens to all of us! Because of that, I have the perfect solution for you right here in this article.
I want to introduce you to a book-outlining system you can use to dramatically speed up the time it takes to write a book—while making the whole process simpler, easier, and less intimidating.
Better still, I’m sharing a free template (below, no opt-in required!) you can use to go through this process for your next book (and your next book, and your next, and your next).
It’s called the BookMap, and it’s about to become your secret weapon for outlining books faster and more easily than you ever thought possible.
You CAN Write a Book (And This Will Make It Easier)
You might think that most authors grew up getting straight A’s in English class, and that their teachers loved them for being such amazing wordsmiths.
Well, you would be wrong!
Believe it or not, I got terrible grades in my writing classes. Teachers hated my papers—truth be told, I wasn’t that strong of a writer—and as a result, I hated writing.
That might sound surprising for someone who turned out to become a 6-time bestselling author. But it’s true.
Lucky for me, I didn’t give up on writing a book just because I didn’t know how to do it. Instead I sought out a mentor who knew what they were doing—and his advice helped me to write my first book and make it a huge success.
I’ve continued to use that system for all my subsequent books, which has helped me to write my books in just a fraction of the time it takes many other writers.
Now I’m paying it forward and sharing that advice with you.
The BookMap: Your Key to a Solid Book Outline
So many people want to write a book…but they get overwhelmed at the thought of all that work. They don’t know what to do or how to get started. As a result, the entire process seems impossible.
Well, that’s not going to be the case any longer. Not for you.
The BookMap is the key to getting your book project off the ground in just a few hours. It’s a template you can follow to quickly pull together all the subjects you want to write about and organize them into topics that will become the chapters of your book.
Here’s how the BookMap works:
- Step 1: Print out the BookMap and have a few clean sheets of paper ready.
- Step 2: Use the BookMap template to draw your own map with everything you know about that topic.
- Step 3: Organize those sections to form your book outline.
(Note: don’t let your ideas hold you back! It may be a little difficult to fit all your ideas onto one page and that’s totally normal. Don’t think smaller just because you have less space :).
Now let’s dive into each step in a little more detail.
Outline a Book Using The BookMap Step 1: Choose Your Book Topic
First things first: you have to download the BookMap. There are 2 versions of this (free) download—one for fiction books and one for nonfiction books.
As you can see, the BookMap is a kind of mind map that’s been pre-filled with the most relevant questions you’ll need to answer to write your book. And no matter which version of the BookMap you’re using, you’ll notice that the center question is the same:
What’s your book topic?
So first, go ahead and choose a topic. What do you want your book to be about? For a nonfiction book, this could anything that…
- Is a hobby of yours
- Is related to your occupation
- You are passionate about
- You consider yourself an expert on
- You’re curious to learn more about
And for a fiction book, think about what you’re inspired to write! Do you love mysteries, or coming-of-age stories? Are you fascinated with a particular event in history, a specific person, or a concept that can be dramatized in a novel?
Another tip is to think about the kind of books you love to read. That’s usually a good indication that you will enjoy writing that kind of book. If you love reading romances novels or science fiction books, then try writing one yourself! Because you’re familiar with the genre, you’ll be able to shortcut the learning curve and will probably be surprised by how great a story you can write in your very first try.
Once you have a topic, move on to step 2:
Outline a Book Using The BookMap Step 2: Fill Out the BookMap
Now that you have a topic for your book, the next step is to brainstorm everything you know about that topic by filling out the BookMap. This will help you get all the most important and relevant ideas down on paper, making them much easier to work with.
Here are some of the most important prompts to answer when you’re writing a book:
BookMap Prompts for a Nonfiction Book
What problems are you helping people to solve? A lot of people make the mistake of writing about themselves—the things they love, the things they find interesting—without stopping to consider what the reader wants. What are your reader’s problems and frustrations? How can you help them to solve those problems with this book?
Example: I know from experience that new moms have a hard time losing that baby weight—especially since you’ve got a little infant taking up all your time now. So I’m going to help new moms overcome this frustrating situation with a book that will help them make smarter choices in the kitchen and ultimately, feel better about themselves.
Lessons you’ve learned: Think about how you have personally grown over the years, as it relates to this topic. What are the biggest things that you’ve learned? How have your views changed and evolved over time? This can be an insightful thing to brainstorm, since it can help you get a better idea of where your readers are probably at right now and some of the challenges they’re facing.
Example: One thing I learned in the process of losing my baby weight is that you can’t beat yourself up every time you make a mistake. Doing that will only lead to more emotional eating!
Stories & examples: People learn best from hearing stories about real people overcoming real problems. What stories can you remember that will help you to illustrate your points more effectively?
Example: My friend Mindy tried to lose her weight through exercise alone, without changing her diet. And she continued to gain weight—until she finally realized that she needed to change the foods she was putting in her body.
Ideas to explore: What concepts or themes can you bring up in your book? Does your topic relate to any deep ideas or universal truths that might resonate with your readers?
Example: One idea I want to explore is the importance of self-esteem. Yes, it’s important to be at a healthy weight…but what really matters is the way you feel about yourself—no matter what the scale says!
Other books you’ve read: Have you read any other books on the topic? If so, did those books have any helpful messages you can include in your book?
Example: In Dr. Berg’s book The New Body Type Guide, he talks about how your hormones can impact your body shape. This could be a helpful thing for women to learn about, so they can realize not everything is under their control.
Topics to research: Are there any other topics you would like to include in your book, but you might need more time to learn more about? If so, make a note of them so you can remember to do a little research.
Example: I’d like to do more research on insulin and learn more about how carbohydrates affect fat storage.
Frequently asked questions: Are there common questions, myths, or misconceptions about your topic that people have? If so, your book gives you a great way to bust those myths and enlighten people with the truth. Try to think up at least a few common misconceptions.
Example: “Should I avoid eating fat?” This is a common question for many women. Some people think that eating fat will make you fat…but the truth is, eating healthy fats can actually help keep you feeling fuller, longer so you can stick to your diet.
Ready to get started outlining your non-fiction book?
BookMap Questions for a Fiction Book
Main characters: Who are the main characters in your story? Flesh them out and start to learn more about who they are and what their purpose is in your story. Make sure to include your protagonist, antagonist, and any important supporting characters.
Example: Sarah is a stubborn teenage girl who becomes convinced that her neighbor is a serial killer.
Background: Explore your important characters’ backgrounds. Where were they born? What was their childhood like? What’s the educational level? What are their beliefs? Where do they work? Flesh out your characters until they start to feel like real people.
Example: Sarah was betrayed by her best friend in 5th grade, and as a result she has a hard time trusting people.
Character development: How does each character change and grow (or regress) during the course of the story? What causes this change to occur, and what effect does it have on the other characters?
Example: Sarah learns to trust other people which helps her to escape from the killer and bring him to justice.
Theme: What larger ideas do you want to explore in this book? Betrayal, love, friendship? How do the events of your story shed a new light on these concepts?
Example: I want to explore the concept of trust, and why you can’t always do it alone in life.
Scene & setting: Where do your story take place? Is it a real location, a historical one, an invented one? Be sure to think about different factors like the climate, geography, culture, and government. How do these things affect the characters in your story?
Example: Sarah lives in a wealthy suburb where crime like this is very uncommon, which makes it that much more terrifying to Sarah’s parents.
Major events: What are the big turning points that take place in your story? Your best bet is to brainstorm a long list of dramatic events so you can choose the options that fit best in your story.
Example: At one point, Sarah sneaks into the neighbor’s house looking for clues—and she discovers a bloody knife in the basement! Before she can get out, however, she hears the front door open upstairs…
Climax: The climax is where your story reaches a crisis point. Tension and drama are at their highest, and the protagonist faces his or her worst fears—and they either succeed, or fail, for good. Don’t lock yourself into one climax here. Instead, brainstorm a few possible climax ideas so you can choose the best one.
Example: At the story’s climax, Sarah is forced to trust her new friend Alex to help her escape from the killer’s basement.
Conclusion: Your conclusion takes place after the climax, at the very end of your book. What happens to your characters when it’s all said and done? Do they live happily ever after, or face a tragic end? Once again, feel free to brainstorm several possibilities. You don’t have to lock yourself into one ending just yet.
Example: It’s a happy ending for Sarah, who survives the killer and grows as a person. But the ending is bittersweet because of all the tragedy the killer has left in his wake.
Ready to get started writing your fiction book?
Outline a Book Using The BookMap Step 3: Organize Common Topics into Sections
Phew! Step 2 is a long one, I know. But trust me—by answering those questions, you just took a MAJOR step forward in completing your book.
You now have all the topics you need to write your outline.
The final step in this process is to look at your BookMap and combine all the related topics into sections. Those sections will become the chapters of your book.
There are a couple ways to do this. You could write them out on a separate piece of paper, keeping them organized by section. Or you could use different colored highlighters to connect the ideas in your BookMap visually.
No matter how you choose to do it, the idea is the same: combine all the related ideas together.
Nonfiction example: Maybe you have an anecdote that would serve as a great example for one of the lessons you want to share. In that case, group those 2 things together—they deserve to be in the same chapter.
Fiction example: Maybe one of your character traits really seems to resonate with one of the themes you want to explore in your book. If so, group those 2 things together—this way you’ll know to use that character trait as a way of exploring that theme in your novel.
Once you’re done with Step 3, step back and take a look at what you’ve completed.
That, my friends, is the outline for your book!
Yep, believe it or not, you just outlined an entire book. Now you have a detailed roadmap of exactly what to write about in each and every chapter of your book.
And that’s huge, guys!
See, the rest of the process—actually writing the book—is so(ooo) much easier when you know exactly what to say in each and every chapter.
So give yourself a pat on the back. Because in a lot of ways, you just finished the hardest part of writing a book.
Download Your BookMap!
If you’re having trouble getting your book project started, I REALLY urge you to give the BookMap a try. It’s been invaluable to me, and I know it will help you, too.
And if you’d like to learn more about the 3-step system I use to write my books, then register for my book writing workshop, “Want to Launch a Bestseller in 90 Days?”
In this free hour-long webinar, you’ll get the step-by-step launch roadmap that can take you from blank to page to a $10,000 book launch! You’ll learn the exact same system I use to write my books in as little as a week.
Want to write a compelling, dramatic story?
One that draws readers in, takes them on a roller-coaster ride of emotions and thrills, then leaves them hungry to devour your next book, and your next, and your next?
If so, then I have good news:
With the right understanding of story structure, I believe anyone is capable of writing an amazing story.
Yes, that includes you.
And the key to making this process as easy and natural as possible is to start every novel with a good story foundation.
This is where most new writers struggle. Either they have trouble getting their story off the ground, or they can get it off the ground, but it nosedives partway through the book.
Either way, the cause is the same: they didn’t start their book from a good story foundation.
In other words, they were missing one or more of the three critical elements that every novel needs to succeed. I call these foundational elements, “The Story Foundation Trifecta.”
Let’s talk about it…
The Story Foundation Trifecta
First off, what IS the Story Foundation Trifecta? It’s a combination of three things:
- An interesting premise
- A sympathetic hero
- A clear & compelling “A-story”
As you’re about to learn, these are the most critical and fundamental pieces to any successful story. As long as you have these three things in place, your story is bound to be engaging and entertaining.
In the rest of this post, I’ll explain what these things are and how you can improve these elements in your story idea. And to help you understand, I’ll be using examples from well-known stories such as The Hunger Games, The Matrix, and my own series GoneGod World.
Foundation #1: An Interesting Premise
Your premise is the foundation of your plot. The collection of situations or presuppositions that make up your story world.
That sounds complicated, so let’s put it in simpler terms:
Your premise consists of 2-3 seemingly unconnected ideas that have been meshed together to make something truly unique.
If you analyze really popular stories like The Hunger Games and The Matrix, you’ll realize they have great premises. And that’s a big part of the reason why they were so successful.
So how do you come up with an awesome premise of your own?
One common method is to use the “What If” technique. Here’s how that might look using The Hunger Games as an example:
The Hunger Games: What if, sometime in the future, there is a society which demands children must fight to the death once a year?
Immediately, the premise opens up a hundred other questions that your story may or may not answer.
- What happened to create this world and contest?
- Why children?
- What happens to the victors?
Your story may not answer all of these questions, and certainly Suzanne Collins – the author of The Hunger Games – doesn’t answer all of them. See how that works? You take a few different ideas and combine them. See how they might fit together.
In this case the premise is using the familiar idea of a gladiator story…but it’s mish-mashing that concept by having the gladiators be children.
Then when you throw in a couple extra elements, like…
- Setting the story in the future
- Including a love-triangle with the main character
- Having a power struggle behind the scenes only the audience knows about
…you end up with a really great premise for a story.
Here’s another example:
The Matrix: What if reality isn’t what we think it is, and in fact we’re all connected to computers as human batteries for the robot world?
Here we’re taking the idea “reality isn’t what you think it is” and mashing it together with “we’re human batteries connected to computers.”
These are cool ideas on their own. But when you put them together, they become something really fascinating. With a premise like this, is it any wonder why The Matrix was so successful?
And here’s one more example, from my series of books:
GoneGod World: What if all the gods are gone, and when they leave they force all their denizens to go to earth?
Here I’ve combined the ideas of “divine creatures” and “refugees” to create a unique story premise out of two familiar ideas.
In this story, every sort of magical creature you can think of—dragons, faeries, etc.—is forced to become a refugee on earth. As you can imagine, this opens up all kinds of possibilities for interesting storylines and conflicts.
So that’s foundation #1 of the Story Foundation Trifecta: create an interesting premise. Now it’s your turn:
- Exercise: Take a look at your favorite stories and identify their premise. Turn those premises into “What if” statements.
- Bonus: Among the premises that you have identified, see if you can alter them slightly to turn them into something completely unique.
- Challenge: Create 3 to 5 premise statements of your own, statements that ultimately create world, you’d love to write in.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly you start cranking out really unique story premises.
Foundation #2: A Sympathetic Hero
Foundation #1 focuses on your plot. It’s a big-picture statement of what happens in your story.
But remember, stories don’t just happen by themselves. They happen to characters—to people. To human beings. (And sometimes, to elves and aliens.)
At the heart of every story is a hero who strives to meet an important goal. And the more your audience can understand and identify with that hero, the more likely they are to become engrossed by your story.
Now when you’re creating your hero, the three most important things to figure out are your hero’s…
- Key traits
- Outer journey
- Inner journey
“Key traits” refer to your character’s distinguishing features. Is your hero…
- Strong as an ox?
Your character’s journey refers to the challenges they will be forced to overcome throughout the story. And we break that journey up into inner and outer journeys.
A few examples:
The Hunger Games: Katniss’s outer journey is to survive the games. Her inner journey is to mature as an individual, to let other people in, and to learn to accept help from others.
The Matrix: Neo’s outer journey is to defeat Agent Smith and the robot forces enslaving humanity inside the Matrix. His inner journey is to believe in himself and accept that he’s the only one capable of saving the human race.
Make sense? Great. Now go figure out who your hero is, give them a few key traits, and most importantly decide on their inner and outer journey. Then when you’ve completed that, you’re ready to move for…
Foundation #3: A Clear & Compelling “A-Story”
Once you know your story’s premise and have identified your hero, your next step is to use those 2 elements to create your “A-story.”
Loosely defined, your A-story is the main storyline in your novel. It’s the one story we need to see resolved in order for us to put down your book and feel satisfied at the end.
Your book can have multiple storylines—maybe you have a romance subplot, for example—but your A-story is the main story. The big problem that gets resolved at the end.
In most cases, your A-story is going to be the same as your hero’s outer journey. In The Hunger Games, for example, the A-story is Katniss’ trial to survive the games.
But your A-story can also tie into your hero’s inner journey. In The Matrix, the A-story deals in part with Neo’s struggle to believe in himself and become “the one.”
Here are some common A-stories for different genres:
- Sci-fi: Repel the alien invasion
- Action: Get revenge on the bad guys
- Romance: Finally succumb to the love of your life
It’s important to know your A-story. This is the storyline that you need to focus on, to keep coming back to. This is the major conflict of your story, so don’t lose sight of it.
Exercise: Identify two or three unique A-stories that fit could each premise. Spend a few minutes contemplating how the premise and the A-story work together. (And also relish is how your A-story is better than the original 😊.)
Bonus: Could you alter one of the premises to fit with your own unique A-story? If so, you very well may have the a kickass story on your hands!
Challenge: Now that you have defined your premise in step one, identify 2-3 A-stories that could work within that premise statement.
You Know Your A-Story…Now, What’s Next?
OK, so you’ve gone through the Story Foundation Trifecta and figured out your premise, hero, and A-story. What should you do next?
In a word, you need to start outlining.
Now this does NOT mean you have to go through every single part of your story and create a step-by-step outline of everything that will happen.
You can do that, but you don’t have to.
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of writers out there:
- Plotters (like James Patterson)
- Pantzers (like Stephen King)
Plotters are people who like to plot their stories in advance, while pantzers are people who don’t—they “fly by the seat of their pants,” coming up with their story ideas on the fly.
You might think that outlining is only important for plotters…but actually, that’s not the case. EVERY writer needs to come up with at least a basic outline before they start writing.
Even Stephen King, the most well-known pantzer out there, has admitted that he writes his stories with an end in mind.
So whether you want to write an in-depth, blow-by-blow treatment, or just a general outline to help give some direction to your pantzing, there are 5 Key Milestones that you’ll need to include in your story outline.
These are the 5 Key Milestones that every story has to hit in order to reach a satisfying conclusion. Luckily, I’m hosting a new (free) workshop where I’ll teach you what the 5 story milestones are and how to work them into your story.
Once you know the 5 Key Milestones you need to include in your story, you’ll NEVER again feel lost while you’re writing. You’ll always know where to go next to keep your story moving in the right direction.
As a result, you’ll find it much easier to guide your readers through a story that feels complete and satisfying. So that when they finish reading the last page of your book, they’ll feel like they went on a meaningful journey with your hero—and that nothing was missing or incomplete.
Click here to learn more and register for the free webinar now, before you forget.
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 Kobo, iBooks, 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.
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.
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.
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:
Robin Reads ($35)
Awesome Gang ($10)
Bargain Booksy [$25 for nonfiction]
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
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:
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.
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
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.
- Run a contest through Goodreads.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Write another book. Building a catalog of books is a great formula for generating higher monthly income.
- 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!
“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.
- Choose what you’re going to write about every day, whether it’s blog articles, chapters of your book or even a personal journal.
- Set your word count goal for each day.
- 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.
For your book:
- Spend some time today and go back and revise your book outline. If you don’t have one, make one.
- Look at areas that could be better researched. Review the chapters that have ideas that require deeper development.
- 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.
- When you begin writing a piece, throw perfection out of the window and aim for a rough draft. Think B- work and not A+.
- 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.
- 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.
- When drafting, if you can’t remember a piece of detail, put TK as a placeholder, instead of going to Google.
- 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.
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.
It’s a tough, yet brave decision. Sitting down to get your message out in the world will be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you do. But now that you’ve made this decision, you may be wondering:
Should I approach a publisher and go down the traditional route? Or should I self-publish and become an indie author?
Before the age of the internet, the only way a writer could get their book in front of millions was to send a book proposal and a query letter to a traditional publisher or agent. The writer hoped that day’s gatekeeper had drank their morning coffee, woken up on the right side of the bed and actually given your letter and proposal more than a 10-second glance.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening was slim to none.
This resulted in brilliant people like yourself being denied the opportunity to share their experiences, stories and knowledge with the world.
The Publishing Industry Is Shifting
Thankfully, this is no longer the case.
With the development of online marketplaces like Amazon, the publishing process has changed. You can distribute your book to everyone, regardless of what some traditional publishing house thinks about your idea.
You have a book inside of you and the world needs to read it!
The publishing world has changed, and it’s time for you to reap the benefits. Here are seven reasons why self-publishing is the best route to take—and why you’ll think twice before dealing with a publishing company again.
1. You Don’t Have to Wait for Permission.
With self-published books, you do not have to wait for anyone to give you the green light.
- You decide when and how to publish a book.
- You decide whose hands your book gets into.
- You decide how successful you are.
In other words, you don’t have to convince any gatekeepers to allow your book to reach the global market.
“But, don’t traditional publishers have a good idea for what will sell or not? I mean, if they reject my book, they’re probably right that no one would want to buy it.”
Have you ever heard of Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4-Hour Workweek”? It has been a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller for over four years. It sold nearly 1.5 million copies and has been translated into 35 different languages.
Oh, and get this: It was rejected by the first 26 publishers it was presented to.
Maybe you’ve also heard of a certain children’s book, the one about a young boy with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead who discovers he is a wizard. The ”Harry Potter” franchise is a patent bestseller, with the last four books in the series being the fastest-selling books in history.
Yet it was rejected by 12 publishers in a row, and was only picked up because the eight-year-old daughter of an editor demanded to read the rest of the book. Even then, after the editor agreed to publish, they advised J.K. Rowling to get a day job as she had little chance of making money in children’s books. Little did they realize the publishing success they had stumbled onto.
Now, just imagine all the other authors out there who stopped after the first 10 or 20 doors slammed in their faces, believing the lie that they didn’t have a profitable idea.
You cannot allow other people to determine your success.
Self-publishing gives you the avenue to do that. You and your readers decide the worth of your words, rather than one person at a publishing firm who may not realize the potential publishing success in their hands.
2. You Can Publish Your Work Quickly
If you were to take your book to a traditional publisher, it would take years to publish.
For example, it may take up to six months for you to even hear back about the book proposal. And assuming they accept your proposal, it will take at least another year before the book is actually published.
With self-publishing, you can produce your content as quickly as you want. And in the Amazon Kindle store, you can publish a new book whenever you want. That way, you can share your work as quickly as you create it!
3. Bring Home the Bacon
Traditionally-published authors are typically paid an amount of money up front. However, once the sales come rolling in, they only get a small cut of the earnings.
Why? Because they have to pay the publishing house, the editor, the marketers, the designers, etc.
But when you self-publish, you take in most of the earnings (save for the money you actually choose to spend on marketing, book production and publishing). On Amazon, for example, self-published authors receive 70% of the royalties for an eBook priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Now that isn’t bad!
4. You Form Invaluable Connections
Self-publishers around the world have gathered online and in person to provide a community that supports one another in publishing their work.
These connections become priceless as you meet other up-and-coming influencers like yourself.
“Wait—so where would I meet these people?”
Because self-publishing requires that you find your own editor, cover designer, formatter and launch team members, you end up connecting with people throughout your whole writing experience.
Self-published authors also gather on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit.
The camaraderie allows people to expand far beyond what they could have done on their own, or what they would have been limited to with a traditional publisher.
Want My Best Done-For-You Plans to Finish Your Book Faster?
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Click here to learn more now!
5. You Control Your Objective
So much of a book is influenced by the motive that fuels it.
- Is your motive to make money?
- It is to launch a new career?
- Is it to share your story?
- Is it to become a public speaker?
- Or, is it simply something to cross off your bucket list?
Remember, writing a book is hard work. And nothing is worse than seeing your hard work be transformed into something you didn’t want. When you self-publish, you are able to preserve the dignity and genius of your objective. No one is pressuring you to sell more books, or to taint your message so that it will reach wider audiences.
You are not pigeonholed or made to become someone you’re not comfortable with.
You write as you, and for you. And that is liberating. That is self-publishing freedom!
6. You Control Your Creative Concept
There are horror stories about authors whose ideas and voice became unrecognizable after they went down the traditional route.
When you work with a traditional publisher, you don’t just sell them your manuscript, you sell them your idea.
Your book may become something you are not comfortable with. Or, your dreams for a sequel or a revision may be completely squandered if it does not comply with the motives of the traditional publisher.
But as an independent author, you retain total creative control.
You are free to be expressive with your work. You are free to be vulnerable and controversial. You are free to be you.
When you self-publish, you also control who you write for. If you sell via the Amazon Kindle store, you can choose, and then tweak, your categories and keywords. You determine your marketing efforts.
With 45 percent of e-book sales going to indie authors, audiences are showing that they respect and want to purchase the ideas of everyone—not just those endorsed by traditional publishers.
7. You Control Your Future
Most people looking to write a book want to earn more money, gain more freedom or have a platform to share their ideas.
When you self-publish and have complete ownership over your ideas, you also have complete ownership over your future.
There is no traditional publishing firm to stop you from selling a supplementary online course that includes material from your book, starting a speaking career, re-releasing your book with a hardcover or audiobook, or even releasing an updated version of your book.
You determine the trajectory of your book, your ideas, and your publishing career when you self-publish.
Even Big Names Self-Publish
Though there are some benefits to traditional publishing, even some well-established and successful authors admit that the joys of being an indie author outweigh a traditional publishing deal.
So much, in fact, that big name entrepreneurs who have large followings and could easily get a traditional publishing deal are opting to go the self-publishing route.
Self-Publishing Will Change Your Life
It may be that, like quite a few writers, you’ve dreamed about working with a big-name publishing house all your life, and nothing will satisfy you until you get that experience. There is nothing wrong with that. If you’ve identified this need early on, then maybe it’s best for you to go down the traditional publishing route.
But let’s say you win the book lottery and get published. There is still no guarantee that your publisher’s efforts will get your work in bookstores or into the hands of the editors of your favorite literary magazines and newspapers. There’s also no guarantee in sales volume.
However, self-publishing gives you an alternative path. It gives you an assured chance of getting your book out there. You have a better chance of seeing success in your sales and making an impact if your message resonates with enough people. Not to mention, you get to stay true to the vision of your book.
Self-publishing allows you the freedom, money, community and control to shape your life into one that you adore.
So, start writing your own bestseller today.
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!
Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
If you’re new to writing fiction, I may have just offended the pantz off of you — but hear me out!
Fiction authors tend to fall into one of two buckets when writing their books:
Bucket One: Pantzers are writers who basically only have a few vague elements about the story in mind when they start writing, but nothing else.
Armed with almost no details, they hit the keyboard, banging out a magnificent novel in no time. One of the most famous pantzers is Stephen King. In interviews, Stephen King has said that he often has an idea of the beginning, the premise, and a vague idea how it’s all going to end – and that’s all he needs to start writing his book.
Bucket Two: Plotters are writers who need to know every piece of their story, down to the minute detail, before they will write a single word.
They will know who each and every one of their characters are, what their motivations are, the chapters needed for the book, chapter sections, and in some cases, even paragraphs. Probably the most famous plotter out there is James Patterson.
Clearly, it’s possible to be successful whether you’re a plotter or pantzer. But here’s the harsh reality: whereas Stephen King and James Patterson sit on opposite extremes of the ‘Outline Spectrum’, most of us fall somewhere in between.
If you are a new author who has never written a piece of fiction before, how can you know if you are a pantzers or a plotter?
The answer is unfortunately you don’t. And the deeper answer is, the more you write, the more you will tend to go to one end of the spectrum or the other. I started out my writing career as a pantzer, but the more I write, the more novels I publish, the more and more I’m becoming a plotter.
So, who you are as an author changes.
But that still doesn’t answer the question: Are you a pantzer or a plotter?
My best advice is to be something in between. Someone who looks beyond the “outline” of a novel, and identifies something much more important in their story…
The 5 Key Milestones.
How you outline your novel is absolutely moot if you can’t identify these five critical milestones in your story — and that’s what we’ll be discussing today.
Got your pen and paper ready? This guide will not only cover the milestones but challenge you to start documenting your own. Once you’re done, you’ll be ready to get down and dirty with your novel’s outline… pantz or plot style.
How to Write a Novel: The 5 Key Milestones of Every Successful Novel
Most novels and movies have five key points that make up the core of their story.
What’s more, these milestones are something that readers have subconsciously been trained to look for when digesting a piece of fiction. In other words, if you don’t have these five key moments, your reader is likely to turned off of your story because it didn’t meet expectations set by the hundreds (if not thousands) of stories they have already digested before yours.
Let’s take a look at the milestones:
How to Write a Novel – Key Milestone #1: The Setup
This is where you make your story promise.
You tell your reader what kind of story it will be – a comedy drama, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi – and you give a few clues as to what they can expect. Whatever you said in these initial pages must be followed to the end of your story.
A stone-cold drama cannot turn into a slapstick comedy by the end of the story. That doesn’t mean a stone-cold drama can’t have humor in it, it just means that you can suddenly pivot and become an Adam Sandler movie.
Also, during the setup, we learn a little bit about…
- The characters
- Their challenges
- The world they live in
We get a sense of where the story is heading.
One mistake made by first-time fiction authors is that they do not properly set up the story expectations and the reader goes in expecting one thing, only to get another.
Nothing annoys readers more and so it is essential that during the setup phase of your novel, you set the expectations that you will meet during the book.
Example: In the Hunger Games, we meet Katniss. From her surroundings, it is obvious that she is poor, and as soon as she steps outside of her wooden shack we see hovering drones.
- Within the first few pages of this book, we have learned three essential things:
- This book is a drama
- Katniss is our heroine and she has a miserable life
- SURPRISE! There are drones and other technologies that indicate this to be a sci-fi
- We are about to read a dystopia set sometime in the future
- What does your story’s setup look like?
- What happens?
- What story promises do you make?
Create a list of everything your reader needs to learn in order to enter your story’s world.
How to Write a Novel – Key Milestone #2: The Inciting Incident
The inciting incident is the moment in your story when your hero’s life changes forever. It is the ‘no-going back’ moment, where nothing that happens afterwards will return your heroes world back to normal.
Katniss volunteers, Neo takes the blue pill, Dorothy lands in OZ … the aliens are here!
As soon as your inciting incident happens, your story should be full throttle towards the climax.
The most common mistake first-time authors make is that their inciting incident is reversible. That means that something could happen that would return the hero’s life back to normal.
No, no, no!
Your inciting incident should as final as the severing of a limb or a death of a loved one. Nothing should be able to reverse the effects of your inciting incident has on your hero.
Example: Katniss volunteers! In the Hunger Games, the inciting incident is irreversible because – quite literally – soldiers grab Katniss, whisk her away from her world, and into the world of the games.
There is no escape.
And even if she could get away, she would be hunted by the Capital for the rest of her life. With those two simple words, “I volunteer!” her life has changed forever.
- What is your inciting incident?
- Is it strong enough?
- Are there ways you could up the stakes or shorten the timeline?
- How can you make it your inciting incident as impactful and irreversible as possible?
Brainstorm several inciting incidents… Don’t settle for one. Take a look at your inciting incidents and ask yourself this: Which one of these is the harshest, deadliest inciting incident of the bunch. Then pick that one.
Note: There is an exception to this rule when it comes to romances.
With romances, the inciting incident is almost always win the two lovebirds meet. (Not always, but for the vast majority of romances, this is the case.) With romances, try to create an inciting incident that simultaneously shows how perfect these two people are for each other while setting up the numerous reasons why they can’t be together.
How to Write a Novel – Key Milestone #3: The First Slap
Now, we are away to the races!
Over the next few chapters, your character should be making a series of gains and losses, where the aggregate result is that their situation is slightly better than what it was at the moment of the inciting incident.
The reason why we need this upward trajectory is because we are setting up the reader for the first slap.
The first slap is the moment when everything that our hero has gained is lost in fell swoop. Your hero is brought down to zero. In other words, all gains are lost, and your hero’s situation has never been bleaker.
The greater the fall, the more engaged your reader will be.
Example: In the Hunger Games, Katniss’s world is brought down to 0 when she actually enters the Games.
Between the inciting incident on the first slap, Katniss has made several gains, garnering the attention of the Capital and making some friends along the way. But none of that matters the moment she enters the Games – and what a moment it is.
Challenge: Brainstorm what your first slap can be. Like with the inciting incident, try to come up with 3-5 scenarios and pick the one that is harshest.
Take a look at all the events that could potentially happen between the inciting incident and the first slap. This is a loose mind map as you are not committing to anything at this point, but do try to get a sense of whether or not your hero will be making gains and losses (with a net value of gains) and try to assess whether or not the first slap is harsh enough to truly wow your reader.
Remember, you want your readers to hate you for what you’ve done to the characters they love.
How to Write a Novel – Key Milestone #4: The Second Slap
Your hero has rose to the challenge! She has successfully thwarted the big evil that has been thrusted upon her by the first slap and she is doing well.
…Now it is time to bring her back to 0 again.
The second slap should be as harsh, if not harsher, than the first slap. This is the moment when the reader should be looking at your book and thinking, “Wow, this author is mean. Diabolical villain mean!”
But there are two essential differences between the second slap and the first. In the second slap we are setting up for the climax, which means that the hero needs to have an out. In other words, there should be some semblance of hope.
Example: In the Hunger Games, the second slap is when the Game Masters announce that two tributes can survive the Games should they both be from the same district.
Katniss goes looking for Peeta, only to find him mortally wounded – he is bleeding to death and won’t survive the next few hours, let alone the rest of the Games. We know enough about Katniss to realize that Peeta dying is the worst thing that could happen to her (besides her own death).
But there is hope!
An announcement is made that there is something at the cornucopia that the Tributes need, and Katniss just knows that there is medicine there for Peeta.
Challenge: Brainstorm several seconds slaps and pick the harshest one. Then ask yourself – where is the hope and how will it lead into the climax?
How to Write a Novel – Key Milestone #5: The Climax
The rollercoaster that you’ve put your reader on is almost over.
The reader has gone from an engaging setup where they get to learn about your characters and world to the inciting incident where everything is turned on its head. Then they are subjected to the first and second slaps where you embrace your inner sadomasochist in order to punish your hero and give the readers the thrills they so richly deserve.
Now it is time to wrap it all up with the climax.
There is only one rule to the climax. A rule that must be adhered to, no matter what genre you are writing in…
Make it amazing! The climax should be the moment where your reader puts down the book and goes, “Holy S&*%! That was awesome!”
Example: The climax in the Hunger Games is the final confrontation between Katniss and the remaining Tributes, as well as the monsters that the Game Masters send after her. It is wrought with danger and excitement. But what makes the climax truly kickass is the poisonous berries at the end.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, pick up a copy of Hunger Games today and read it! You’ll immediately get why this scene is so amazing.
Challenge: Brainstorm your kickass climactic scene! Show us how amazing, smart, resourceful, powerful your hero is when overcoming their final obstacles.
There you have it, the framework to creating a kickass story. This method is particularly effective for first-time authors who are still finding their writing feet (or should I say typing fingers) and is an awesome resource that experienced writers can rely on time and again when planning their stories.
The 5 Key Milestones combined with a spot-on Premise and A-Story will tell you where your story starts, where it is headed and how it will end. In other words, if you do the exercises above, you should have everything you need to get your novel to the finish line.
(If you haven’t planned your Premise and A-Story, do so using these guidelines.)
And with those elements in place, there’s nothing stopping you hitting that keyboard.
Before we go, I’d like to leave you with one last piece of advice. All of the above are guidelines … a roadmap, if you will, to help your story stay on track and get you to the finish line. But be warned, your characters will surprise you, your plot will take unexpected twists – don’t worry, that’s where the magic is.
If your character does something that you didn’t expect, then your reader will most likely be blown away by their actions.
If your plot has a twist worthy of Six Sense or Fight Club that wasn’t in your outline, then your reader will walk away, entranced by your writing skills.
Go with it, enjoy the process, because your readers certainly will enjoy what you produce.
That said, do pause for a moment to take a look at the unexpected elements and see if they affect your 5 Key Milestones. If something unexpected happened somewhere in between Key Milestone 2 and 3, for example, then see how, or even if, it will affect Key Milestones 4 and 5. Adjust accordingly – then write boldly.
And if you need a bit of extra help, I’m going through these 5 Key Milestones in a lot more detail in an upcoming webinar I’m going to conduct with Chandler Bolt. Get the full scoop and register to join us (before we fill up!) here.
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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Click here to learn more now!
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.
Have you ever seen an Amazon book description that looked absolutely stellar? Nice big words, perfect layout, well structured? What am I saying? Of course you have!
Well, there’s a secret to how those self-publishers are making it look that way. They’re using Amazon’s approved HTML in their product description. That’s right, they’re coding it to look that way and you can, too.
By adding a little code in the editor when writing your book description, your sentences can now be bold, underlined, or even bigger in size.
Having an eye-catching book description is critical to marketing your book. After all, why would your potential buyers read your tantalizing book description and click “buy” if it’s ugly to look at?
By adding some code here and there, we can craft your book description to catch the attention of your audience and improve conversion rates.
As you can see, there is a clear difference between a well-structured book description using basic HTML and a book description that just uses plain text.
It isn’t as simple as writing it in a Word document then copying and pasting it into Amazon.ope. That well-formatted beauty requires a little HTML-love in the text editor.
I’m going to show you exactly how you can tap into this, even if you know nothing about HTML or CSS. I’ll even introduce you to a free book description tool that will help you build beautiful, eye-catching summaries so that your book will stand out and get even more customers.
Amazon Book Description Tips
Lucky for us, we can use special snippets of code in our Amazon listings to access their font styles. All you need to do is type the right things around the sentences in your product description to make the words stand out and look great.
However, there’s a limit to what we can do. Even though we can use HTML, it isn’t like eBay where you can make flashy banners, pretty tables and style your product description with your web design kung-fu. There are restrictions on what we can and can’t do.
Let’s look at Amazon’s allowed HTML tags:
Formats enclosed text as bold.
Creates a line break.
Emphasizes the enclosed text; generally formatted as italic.
Determines the appearance of the enclosed text.
<h1> to <h6>
Formats enclosed text as a section heading: <h1> (largest) through <h6> (smallest).
Creates a horizontal “rule” or line. Often used to divide sections of text.
Formats enclosed text as italic.
Identifies an item in an ordered (numbered) or unordered (bulleted) list.
Creates a numbered list from enclosed items, each of which is identified by a <li> tag.
Defines a paragraph of text with the first line indented; creates a line break at the end of the enclosed text.
Defines preformatted text.
Formats text as strikethrough. See also: <strike>
Formats text as strikethrough. See also: <s>
Formats enclosed text as bold. See also: <b>
Formats enclosed text as subscript: reduces the font size and drops it below the baseline.
Formats enclosed text as superscript: reduces the font size and places it above the baseline.
Formats enclosed text as underlined.
Creates a bulleted list from enclosed items, each of which is identified by a <li> tag.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what all that means. I’ll show you.
To get your words to do the above, all you need to do is sandwich your sentence or words with the <fill in the code> above and end your sentence or word with </fill in the code>.
So, for instance, if you wanted to add a bit of code to the sentence, “My book is the best thing you’ve ever read,” you would type into the editor:
<fill in the code>My book is the best thing you’ve ever read.</fill in the code>
(Don’t write “fill in the code”—instead, use the cheat sheet above to see what letters will make the change you’re seeking.)
HTML Examples for Each Tag
Now that you know how to wrap a tag around a sentence and which HTML tag you can use, let’s go through each one, apply it and see how it will look on the U.S. Amazon market.
Header Font Size
To get the words to be larger, you’ll need to use the Header Tags which are <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6>. The H1 tag is the largest; H6 is the smallest.
Let’s see what they look like when wrapped around a word:
To make a sentence or word bold, all you need to do is wrap that word or sentence with <b></b>
Like this: Self-Publishing School is <b>amazing</b>.
To italicize a word, you can use either <i> or <em>.
Like this: Self-Publishing School is <i>amazing</i>.
Underline uses <u></u>.
Like this: Self-Publishing School is <u>amazing</u>.
If you want to separate some text with a horizontal line (also called a line break), all you have to do is add <hr> and it will look like this:
There are two types of lists: ordered lists and unordered lists. Ordered lists are numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. Unordered lists use bullet points.
Unordered are denoted at the beginning using <ul> and their structure looks like this:
<ul><li>Unordered Item One</li>
<li>Unordered Item Two</li>
<li>Unordered Item Three</li>
Ordered Lists are denoted by the <ol> and their structure looks like this:
<li>Ordered Item One</li>
<li>Ordered Item Two</li>
<li>Ordered Item Three</li>
HTML Tags You Can’t Use
So, what can’t you do in your book’s HTML description?
Well, you can’t do anything with images, like you can with normal HTML. You can’t insert images into your book description, nor set a background image. But who would want to do that? That’s what your book cover is for.
Anyone familiar with HTML will also know its cousin, CSS. You can’t use CSS with a Kindle description. So no fancy new fonts, font colors or CSS styles for any Kindle-specific summary you’re crafting.
Quick Word on Special Characters
Though it isn’t necessary, you can use trademark and copyright symbols in your book description by using the following code:
Copyright symbol ©
Trademark symbol ™
Registered trademark symbol ®
Free Amazon Description Generator Tool
Hand-coding your own book description can be tedious. That’s why I designed a special free software that lets you see in real time what your description will look like. It’s called the Amazon Book Description Generator.
Just type in or copy and paste your book description, and with a few clicks, you can make it look the way you want it.
Once you’ve gotten it the way you like, just click “Get My Code” button and it will automatically create the HTML code you need for Amazon.
Then take that code, go to the KDP bookshelf and update your book’s description.
Examples of Well-Formatted Book Descriptions
To get your creative juices flowing, here are some examples of other books that have used book description formatting on their product page and taken it to the next level:
Chandler Bolt’s “Book Launch”: It’s clean, and effectively uses the “bold” feature to highlight the most important words. That way, those who skim the description will immediately see the parts that Chandler wants them to see.
Patrick King’s “Conversation Tactics”: This is one of the most effective uses of underlining as well as bullet points to neatly organize information. Patrick rocked his final sentence, the call to action. It leaves a strong lasting impression—and how can you NOT see it?
Steve Scott’s “Email Marketing Blueprint”: Here’s another well-laid-out description that highlights the right spots and makes it easy on the eyes. My favorite part about his book description is the first paragraph, which shows up even before the customer clicks “read more.” Steve has made it so that his most eye-catching hook is featured right smack dab at the top of his sales page. Nice move.
Get Our Feedback on Your Description
Now that you know what is allowed by Amazon, how to code HTML for book descriptions and have a cool free tool that will do it for you, it’s time you get started on creating your book descriptions.
Remember, making a well-formatted book description will not only make your product listing more professional, it’ll be sure to hook your potential readers.
So get started now! Use the free tool in this article to bypass the hassle of using HTML code and make a gorgeous book description today.
Once you’ve created a savvy-looking book description, comment below with your book’s link, and I’ll check it out and respond.
“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 writing. Madness, 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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.
- A killer book cover.
- An irresistible book title.
- An amazing book description.
- Stealthy keywords.
- 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?
- The more reviews you get, the more visibility your book gets. This means more sales and potential organic reviews.
- You create a stronger relationship with your readers.
- 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:
- 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.
- Offer a free ‘gift’ in exchange for a review. No gifts allowed. This is still considered payment for a review.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Mailchimp, Convert 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:
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?
- Didn’t like the book.
- Forgot to review altogether.
- Didn’t read the book.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Select the rating of the book from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the best score.
- 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.
- Create a headline for the review.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hire a site that specializes in finding honest reviewers for your book. I recommend BookRazor.
- 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.
Publishing your book on Amazon is only the first step.
The next part, and it’s the hardest, is getting that book in front of the right readers at the right time.
There are more ways to market your book than there are TV shows on Netflix, but there’s only one that can:
- Give you results instantly
- Is easier to use than most other platforms
- Is targeted at where your audience are when they are in a shopping mindset
And that’s advertising on Amazon.
Thanks to Amazon’s own advertising platform, authors can now create ads that show their book to the right people either in the search results, or on the product listing of another book.
It might sound difficult, but once you’ve read this article, you’ll be able to setup your very own Kindle advertisements in less than 10 minutes.
The best part about this book-marketing tactic is that not only can it help you with your initial book launch, but it can also help to revive book sales of previously published books as well.
What are AMS Book or Kindle Advertisements?
First let’s define what they aren’t, because quite a few authors can get confused by the term “Kindle ads” which is used interchangeably by book marketers and consumer blogs.
When you purchase a new Kindle from Amazon, you have the option to purchase a standard Kindle e-reader or one with “Kindle special offers” for a lower price. For the special offers version, when your Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Voyage or Kindle Touch is in sleep mode, your screensaver displays targeted and relevant ads. There’s also a persistent banner of ads at the bottom of your home screen on your device. On your Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD these ads come up on your lock screen and also in your notification bar. Consumer blogs sometimes refer to these as “Kindle ads”.
That’s not what I’m talking about here. In this article I’m talking about advertising across the whole of Amazon. Specifically, I’m talking about using Amazon Marketing Services. Also called AMS for short, it’s a platform where you can tell Amazon that you want your book to show up in certain search results, or on the sales page of another book on Amazon.com, and that you’re willing to pay them some money for every person who clicks on your ads.
Book marketers call these Kindle adverts, as we use AMS specifically to advertise our Kindle eBooks. Your advert appears everywhere your target buyer is on the Amazon platform. You can purchase ads that show up on your audience’s Kindle device if you so wish, but they have to meet Amazon’s policies.
Back to AMS, the amazing part is you only pay Amazon if someone clicks on your ad, and you’re in control of how much you pay. You can set your own price which is usually somewhere between .02 cents to .35 cents per click.
And that’s it. After setting it up with Amazon, AMS will start showing your book to their shoppers on your terms.
What Type of AMS Ads Can I Create?
AMS offers two types of ads. This allows you to choose where exactly your ad will be displayed to Amazon customers.
Sponsored Product Ads
If you want to show up in Amazon’s search results for a particular keyword, you should choose a sponsored product ad. If, for example, you choose the keyword ‘gardening book’, and someone searches for this phrase, they may see your ad alongside the other search results.
This type of ad is a great way of attracting the attention of people who your book would be suitable for, but who wouldn’t otherwise come across it.
Product Display Ads.
If you’d rather your ad shows up for a particular product, rather than in the search results for a keyword, you should choose a product display ad.
Amazon allows you to specify particular products, or particular types of products, that your ad will show up alongside. If you know you offer a superior version of a competing book, you can advertise in this way to persuade buyers to choose your title instead of, or along with, their original search.
Now that you know the way that AMS operates, and the basic types of ads you can choose, let’s take a look at how to get started by creating your first campaign.
Let’s Create an Kindle Advertisement.
The only basic requirement for advertising with AMS is to have a book published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). The book doesn’t need to be part of the KDP Select program.
To get going, log into your KDP dashboard. Choose the book that you wish to create an ad for and click ‘advertise’.
The exact steps you need to follow differ depending on whether you choose a sponsored product ad or a product display ad, as you will now see.
(Pro Tip: though anecdotal, many authors have reported better results from Sponsored Product Ads, so that’s a good place to start).
How to Set Up A Sponsored Product Ad.
- Choose a name for your ad campaign. It can help with tracking and monitoring, particularly if you have multiple campaigns, to choose a unique and specific campaign title.
- Select your daily budget. This is the maximum amount you are willing to pay on any given day. Generally, it’s better to start small and scale up based on results.
- Choose whether you want your campaign to run for a fixed time or to carry on indefinitely.
- Select between ‘manual’ and ‘automatic’ targeting. It’s better to pick the manual option, as you can choose the exact way to advertise your work, rather than relying on Amazon’s automated choices.
- Choose the keywords you wish your ad to show up for. A lot of authors make the mistake of choosing a low number of keywords. To have the most success possible, the higher the number of relevant keywords, the better. You can pick from Amazon’s suggestions of keywords to target or enter your own.
- Select the default amount someone will pay when they click on your ad, known as ‘cost per click’, or CPC. This amount will apply to all keywords initially, but you can make adjustments later on.
- Pick an effective 150-character elevator pitch for your ad. You need to write something that is attractive and engaging in order to have the best possible chance of someone clicking on your ad.
- Select an existing credit card linked to your account. If you haven’t already done this, you need to add one at this stage.
- The final step is to click on ‘Launch Campaign’. Amazon will review your ad to ensure it complies with their requirements and get back to you in 1-3 days. As soon as Amazon approves, your campaign goes live!
How to Set Up A Product Display Ad
- After clicking the ‘advertise’ option on the book you wish to create a campaign for, select the ‘Product Display Ad’ option.
- Amazon offers two choices for Product Display Ads – ‘by product’ or ‘by interest’. ‘By product’ allows you to choose the exact products you want your ad to show up for, whereas choosing ‘by interest’ allows Amazon to select products for you on the basis of a theme or topic.
- Decide whether or not to allow Amazon to associate your ad with similar products to the ones you have specifically selected. This is a good way of associating your ad with products you haven’t specifically heard of, but that have been bought by customers in your target audience.
- Title your campaign.
- Select an overall budget as well as a CPC (cost per click) amount. Product Display Ads have an overall budget that gets spent over a longer period of time, so don’t be scared off by the larger numbers. That’s not what gets spent daily, just the pool that the ads are drawing from.
- Produce the copy for your ad. The 50-character limit for the headline and 150-character limit for the body necessitates succinct, impactful copy.
- Select ‘Submit Your Campaign for Review’. Amazon will get back to you within 1-3 days depending upon whether your campaign meets their guidelines.
How to Get the Most From AMS
You can skillfully use AMS to reap benefits beyond increased book sales alone (although they are, of course, awesome.) There are three advanced approaches to AMS that allow you to get a lot more bang for your buck.
Promote Other Versions of Your Work
Offering multiple formats of your book effectively allows you to get several adverts for the price of one. When someone clicks on your ad, they are taken to your book’s Amazon sales page. If you offer various formats, such as a paperback from CreateSpace or an audiobook for Audible, browsers will be exposed to those options and this leads to more sales.
Introduce Readers to A Series
If you’ve ever become hooked on a book series, such as Harry Potter, you know that reading the first book alone is never enough. Readers who love the story and characters in the initial installment can’t wait to get their hands on the next editions.
If you use AMS ads to draw a browser’s attention to the first book in a series, you stand a great chance of creating a fan who will willingly buy the other books in your series without further prompting.
Nathan Van Coops even goes as far to use AMS to promote the first book of his series In Times Like These, which is permafree. The amount of money he ends up making from the subsequent book sales, and other forms of book, outweighs the ad cost for the free book.
Get More Email Subscriptions
If your book offers a content upgrade like a free book, or checklist, then AMS can help to increase your email optins by increasing the number of people who get your book.
Pat Flynn, of Smart Passive Income, used his book ‘Will It Fly?’ to generate email optins. By offering a free course to go along with his book, Pat saw 33% optin rate. Although Pat has a large following, AMS has allowed him to increase his reach, create continuous sales, and grow his email list daily.
Market Other Products & Build Blog Traffic
You can use AMS to create funnels towards other products and services you offer apart from your books alone.
Some books encourage readers to visit the website or blog of their author. If you advertise a book which has this purpose, you can drive relevant customers to your external work that may never have otherwise found it.
Ryan Cleckner’s ‘Long Range Shooting Handbook’ is a perfect example of this concept in action. By advertising it through AMS, he drives more people to his book, which in turn drives traffic to his post on how to get an FFL. This results in increased sales for his courses – all for the price of an AMS click.
How to Improve Your AMS Ad Skills
AMS book advertising can be a wonderful skill for authors to use in order to sell their previous, current and even future books.
And while I strongly believe that AMS is a great opportunity, the more you know, the better your ads can be. The better the ads, the more profit you’ll gain.
So, to help you improve your AMS book ad skills, here’s a completely free course on AMS that will not only show you what we discussed above, but will also go deeper into creating profitable long term ads, that will continuously bring you book sales.
Kindle Advertising Summary
Hopefully by now you understand the immense potential of AMS and why I love it so much. After all:
- Only AMS lets you advertise to the most relevant and profitable people possible – interested Amazon customers.
- Setting up a campaign is quick, easy and affordable.
- You can show your ad in Amazon search results through Sponsored Product Ads.
- Product Display Ads allow you to reach people interested in particular products.
- AMS can generate income through more than just book sales. You can increase traffic to your external offerings and generate additional revenue as a result.
As with all advertising platforms, earlier adopters often have better results. If you delay getting started, you will have increased competition, your conversion rates will go down (as shoppers get used to adverts) and prices will go up. You’ll have a tougher time if you delay taking action.
If you want to delve deeper into the best strategies and tactics for Amazon advertising, check out my free Kindle advertising course. It contains hours of high-quality video, as well as notes and quizzes, to help you understand the full potential of AMS and put the best ideas and strategies to work for your books.
I’d love to hear your experience with Amazon Marketing Services in the comments!
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.
Then on the Indents and Spacing tab, go to the box under Special and click on First line. You can change the size of the indent using the box to the right.
If you’re wondering how big to make your indents, my advice is 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:
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:
An exception to the block paragraph for non-fiction / indents for fiction guideline: non-fiction narrative, such 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.
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
In Google Docs go to Insert > Break > Page Break
7. Use the Styles Feature Instead of Formatting Yourself.
Stop formatting your chapter titles yourself. Many writers indicate a title or subtitle by simply changing the font size and changing the font from the default font (ah Times New Roman, how we miss you) and thinking their job is done. This makes navigating and formatting your book a pain.
What you want to do is use MS Word’s “Styles” feature. Google Docs also has this feature.
In Word 2016, you can find the Styles section under the Home tab on both Mac & Windows.
In Google Docs the styles section can be found by clicking the box between the zoom level and the font type.
When creating a new chapter, highlight the chapter heading, and then make it a header by applying the relevant style. If it’s the main heading make it “Heading 1”, if it’s a subtitle make it “Heading 2”, etc.
This has the added benefit of allowing you to easily automatically create a table of contents page, or to navigate through your 30,000-word manuscript with Word’s navigation pane.
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.
This is an incredibly unfortunate (but common) position to be in—taking steps to break a publishing contract with a traditional book publisher because, among other reasons, your hard work and dreams of book publishing aren’t going as expected.
Luckily, you’re in great company!
Many authors embark on this mission to break their contract in an effort to take more control and see more success through self-publishing or through new opportunities.
Today, we’ll take a look at what it takes to break a publishing contract with a traditional book publisher, as well as the advantage to pursuing your writing career with self-publishing.
(Note: Before we dive in, let’s make something clear: We are not lawyers and so, any information you find here is to be taken by suggestion only. Every publishing contract has its own stipulations, clauses and restrictions based on an agreement between the publisher and author. It is therefore recommended you always read your contract carefully and adhere to the binding agreement. We also strongly suggest you become familiar with the US Copyright laws.)
Depending on where you are in the process—you may be exploring what it would take to break a publishing contract before you’ve even signed, or you may be beginning to initiate the “break up”—use the links below to jump around sections of this post… though we’d like to think the whole thing is worth reading :).
- Finding a Good Book Publisher
- Pitfalls to Publishing Contracts: What to Know Before You Sign
- How to Avoid Signing a Bad Publishing Contract
- Making The Decision to Break a Contract With a Traditional Book Publisher
- How to Break a Publishing Contract With a Traditional Book Publisher
- Hiring a Literary Lawyer
- Breaking a Contract With a Vanity Publisher
Every writer has a big dream…to become a published author and see their books being displayed in bookstores across the nation. Even if you haven’t envisioned your success to this point, let’s be honest: The thought of it is exciting. So, when it comes to making choices about how to publish your book, it comes down to this: Should I seek out a traditional publisher? Or, take the self-publishing route?
Many authors have chosen the traditional route for publishing their book, only to realize that, after months of frustration and hard work, they have gotten nowhere. What initially looked like a great deal to start with has become your worst nightmare.
Or, maybe this isn’t the case. You could have a good relationship with your publisher but feel that you want to have more control over your books creativity. Whatever reasons, you have decided that you want to break free of your publishing contract, but…you signed a binding agreement
First of all, every contract is different, so there isn’t a magic formula for authors to navigate through the various pitfalls and obstacles in contracts. But knowing the basics of what to watch for can help you to make the best decision for your writing career.
TV and Film Rights
Do you hold the rights to your material for film, TV, and any and all media based contracts? Don’t sign over your rights unless you are being paid for it, and paid well. A publisher should not have exclusive rights to all TV and/or film rights. This includes digital media and world rights
Selling books is just one avenue for authors to build their brand and earn income. There are also [as mentioned above] film rights, online video and/or audio courses, audio books, coaching, or software the author has created to support the material.
If there is a competition clause that prevents you from upselling, this would be a serious hindrance to your growth as an author not to mention income loss. This is one reason many authors are turning to self-publishing. They can do all of these things without any restrictions and receive 100% of the profits.
Books do go out of print or become less popular as time goes on. In this case, if your book actually becomes out of print and the publisher is unwilling to do anything more with the manuscript, a break clause ensures that all rights are reverted back to the author.
You want to make sure that the publisher does not hold your book ‘hostage’ for years after it goes out of print or is remaindered. There should be a time frame here, 3-5 years, and if there isn’t, make sure that they implement this.
Right of First Refusal Clause
If the publisher has a clause stating your next book [and subsequent books] must be submitted to the publisher first before you can submit anywhere else, be sure to check the details carefully.
This is a standard clause but, there needs to be a term specifically stated such as 60 or 90 days. The publisher has until the end of this term to either accept or reject the book. This could work against your favor if your relationship with the publisher has not been good to begin with. Your book is tied up with them until the end term and holds you back from submitting elsewhere.
Early Termination Clause
Let’s take a situation: You have decided to move on from your publisher and separate the ties. But, in your contract there is an early termination clause that states you are to pay a specified sum to the publisher in the amount of XXX dollars before in order to terminate the agreement.
Although a publisher may have reasons for placing this in a contract, in most cases it only benefits the publisher to squeeze more income from the author before parting ways.
Now, if your contract does have a termination clause, this doesn’t mean you should walk away. But, be aware that if you do, you’ll have to pay to get out of the club.
Termination fees could range from a hundred dollars to thousands. Check the print. Make sure of what your rights are if the contract is terminated early by either the author or the publisher.
Copyrighting: You or the publisher?
Be sure the book is copyrighted under your name and not that of the publisher. If the publisher copyrights under their name, they own it.
Red flag here. Only legitimate publishers will copyright under the author’s name.
In addition, be sure to register your name with the U.S. Copyright Office even if the publisher doesn’t do this.
[RELATED: How to Copyright a Book]
Termination & Reversion of Rights
To elaborate on what we said above, your contract should have a Termination & Reversion of Rights clause. This is not only for author but protects the publisher as well. In the event that book sales are weak and the publisher desires to terminate the contract, they can do so with full rights reversing back to the author.
In the event of bankruptcy, the rights of publication may revert back to the author after a period has elapsed. Ideally, this is what you want, but be sure to check the print. If you are not sure, consult with a lawyer. You don’t want your book tied up for years if it isn’t selling or has been remaindered.
Flexibility is an important part of doing business. If the publisher is offering a contract that is non-negotiable, you might want to think twice.
Although you may not agree with everything in the contract, if there is something slight that you want changed and by making this change it has no negative impact on the publisher. but they are unwilling to change it, chances are you’ll have more problems down the road.
Non-negotiable means “take it as it is or walk away”, so, they may not value the relationship with the authors who sign up.
Think Before You Sign
Contracts have many causes but, just because it is there doesn’t mean you need to accept it. Be aware of the red flags and clauses set up that tie you up or force you to pay high fees for breaking a contract. Publishers are not known for being flexible with the contract terms.
So, if there is anything in the contract that you are uncomfortable with, and the publisher is not willing to change the terms you find inappropriate, best to walk away and look for a better deal.
In addition, publishing contracts are not forever. Be aware of contracts that try to tie you up with “Perpetual Renewal” clauses that continue indefinitely. Other factors to consider are:
- Will you receive any free review copies?
- Is there a publication date for the book, and is it an accurate date? If you are publishing a book on the best clothing to wear for this winter season, you don’t want it coming out in the beginning of spring.
- How often are royalties reported?
- Are there subsidiary rights? If so, what are they and is it written in easy-to-understand text?
While the scope of this post covers how to get out of a publishing agreement, let’s take a look at how we can avoid buying into a bad agreement in the first place. This could also help you if you get out of one contract and are looking into signing on with another publisher.
You might be at the stage right now with an offer from a publisher and you’re not sure if you should sign or not. A bad book deal would be classified as a contract that favors the publisher in most ways. As an author, we have to be aware of the pitfalls that are out there. Before you sign, do the research
Ultimately you, the author, have to decide if it is a good deal or not. You have worked hard on your book, and now it needs to opportunity to be handled carefully.
Here is a list of red flags to watch for and how to avoid buying into a contract that you later regret. Keep in mind every contract has clauses and contract terms. The question is, are these clauses acceptable? Do they favor the publisher and not the author? Are any of the clauses considered red flags [aka danger zones for authors]?
When reading over your contract, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I retain the rights to my book if I terminate this agreement?
- Is there a termination fee if I try to break this contract?
- Is the publisher locking me into a long term contract that benefits them financially for years to come?
- Is breaking this contract going to hurt my career as an author?
- Is the copyright under my name or the publisher?
If there is anything you are not sure of, ask a literary lawyer to review your contract—we’ll talk about hiring one later in this post.
Take a week to review the contract details and fine print. Do your own research before you sign anything. Even though you are an author and the business side of the publishing industry may be new territory, it is time to think of writing as a business because, for the publishing companies, that is exactly what it is. Business. They are in business to make money from your work, and yes, so are you.
The reasons you are considering breaking your publishing contract:
- The publisher has not provided the support they said they would.
- The author lost control over most of the creative process of the book.
- The author still has to market and promote the book with little to no financial backing from the publisher.
- The publisher has proven unreliable with communication or working with the author to make the book successful.
- The author has decided to sign on with another publisher, or, publish the book themselves.
- The author has decided to self-publish instead hoping to have better success.
If you are seriously ready to try and break your contract with a traditional publisher, there are several things you have to consider before taking action. Keep in mind that publishers are in the business of making money from author’s works. This means they are in it to protect their own interests and in most cases, consider the needs of their company before that of the author.
The best scenario you can look for is a publisher interested in forming a working relationship with the author. What this means is, a contract that benefits both sides equally and protects both the author, the works, and the publisher.
There are many authors out there who unknowingly jumped into a contract with a publisher before researching all of the legalities involved. In haste to get a book published and start a new and prosperous career as a writer, you may be in that situation now.
Realizing that the situation isn’t what you had hoped for, you are a crossroads: Stick with the publisher and hope things improve. Or, make an attempt to break the publishing contract.
You could be looking into signing on with a publisher in the future, and have yet to make that big leap. If so, you need to consider carefully the risks as well as the rewards.
The Critical Question
This is the critical question: Is it time to break your contract with your publisher, and the reasons for doing so. Here are several reasons why authors have decided to make the break.
- The publisher has stopped investing in the book. It could be that your book is out of print or remaindered and now being squeezed to the back. You feel there is potential here for more growth but the publisher is not willing to invest anymore in the book.
- The publisher hasn’t followed through on book marketing or distribution. This is when reading the contract carefully will pay off later. Many publishers will not state specifically what their intentions are for marketing the book. For this reason, authors may find themselves in a situation where they are responsible for handling most of the marketing side.
This could also include paying for it out of their own pockets. In some cases the publisher will allocate an allowance to the author to spend on marketing as they see fit. But without any support from the promotional side of things, the book is really going to struggle to sell.
Be clear on the marketing strategies from the beginning and, it should be in writing. If not, you are leaving yourself vulnerable.
- The publisher has proven difficult to work with. Every publisher is different with respect to flexibility and agreeing on terms. Even after the contract is signed, and both parties appear to be satisfied, problems can emerge. The author is dissatisfied with the way the book has been handled. Or, the publisher expected more from the author.
If you feel that an ongoing relationship with the publisher is only going to harm your writing career and bring harm to your book’s success, consider breaking the contract. You can find another publisher or, do what many previous traditionally published authors have done and taken the self-publishing route.
Whether you are considering signing with a book publisher, or you have already done so, you need to know everything in the contract. There are so many minor details written in such a way that you could overlook something that could cost you thousands [or even millions] further down the road.
The bottom line is: Know what you are getting into. To move ahead a step further, if you are already under contract and you want to break the agreement, know what you could be getting into by doing so.
- Are there any penalty fees?
- Will this ruin your chances of getting picked up by another publisher?
- Will your book survive the transition?
There are lots of things to consider, but if you are absolutely certain breaking your contract is the thing to do, the next sections in this post will be immensely helpful.
If you decide to hire a lawyer to look into your case, we would recommend you find someone who specializes in copyright law and matters involving publications works. A lawyer could provide you with another avenue to take and steer you away from potential risk imposed by the publisher.
These specialized lawyers, also known as a literary attorney, can examine the minute details in a contract that an author or an author’s agent are not trained to spot. Bear in mind the publishers have lawyers draw up their contracts and in legal terminology most people are not experienced with. So, it only makes sense you should seriously consider having a lawyer on board as well.
You may be weighing the cost of hiring a literary attorney but consider this: How much would it cost down the road if a misunderstanding occurred between you and the publisher? Suddenly you are facing the publisher and a legal team that could have been avoided if the contract had been understood completely from the beginning. In some cases, while the publisher may be at fault for breaching the conditions, many cases the author was not fully aware of all the minute details and fine print.
Should you decide to break from your publishing company, as we have discussed, you may be in need of a literary attorney to navigate through the legal channels you are not familiar with.
For more information and a contact list, epic fantasy novelist Laura Resnick has compiled a directory of literary lawyers.
Understanding Copyright Laws
It is important that you have a strong grasp on copyright law. The publishing companies do and they may not always share the legalities with you. It is up to each individual author to protect his or her own rights.
Agreement of Termination
If everything goes well, you will have the opportunity to sign an Agreement of Termination. This would effectively end your contract with the publisher and restore your book rights. The publisher would then remove your works from all published platforms, including Amazon, the publisher’s website, or any social media promotion sites.
Here we are. If you’ve read through the entirety of this post, and have still found yourself wanting to take action to break your contract with your traditional book publisher, this action plan will help you take next steps.
Use this brief action plan to move forward the right way.
(Regardless, if you feel uncomfortable or unsure of the proper actions to take, we recommend consulting with authors who have been through a similar experience and a literary attorney that can provide counsel.)
- Understand the terms, clauses and conditions of the contract completely. It is important that you understand everything you have agreed to in the contract. Most contracts have a termination clause. If you are stuck on the legal terminology, get help. Many grievances with publishing houses occur because the author was not fully aware of all the minute details listed.
- Termination Clause. If there is a termination clause and you are asked to pay a sum in order to be released, consider paying it if that is what it takes to be released. This could involve paying a termination fee. Depending on how much that fee is, it could be worth it in the long run for your writing career to pay it and get out if you can. If there isn’t a termination clause, you can request to be released. The publisher may grant you this request if they would rather not keep someone under contract who is not happy.
- Wait it out. If the contract cannot be terminated, and the publisher is unwilling to let you go, ride it out, keep writing, and focus on moving past this when the term ends. As every contract varies in terms of the clauses and fine details, be aware of what you can and can’t do during the term you are still obliged to stay with the publishing company.
- Seek support and feedback. Chances are you know a lot of authors in the business. Ask people for advice and sign up with an organization that can protect you. This is something I encourage all writers to do before they get into trouble. In this post we have listed various groups such as the Authors Guild or Griefcom that authors can contact for legal advice regarding publishing law and ongoing support throughout the grievance process.
- Don’t be discouraged from trying again. As a writer, you must find another way to get your story out there. If it didn’t work out with a publishing company, take what you have learned and move forward. If finding a traditional publisher is your thing, now you are better prepared than before. Or, if you want to try self-publishing, many authors today are having great success with this path.
To learn more about copyright laws, you can visit: www.copyright.gov
There is another type of publisher that landed on the scene about a decade ago when writers started to figure out self-publishing was becoming a big thing. Now, these “publishing companies” are often mistaken for traditional book publishers. Although they do have similarities, many authors have unknowingly fallen under the umbrella of a vanity publisher.
These publishers have one interest only: To take a writer’s money.
They charge exorbitant amounts for editing, cover design, and a book marketing campaign. Worse yet, they lock authors into a long term contract that could last for years. In other words, they hold your book hostage, blocking you out of any decision making. You lose control over most of the rights of your book. You can’t even buy your own author copies unless you pay the full retail price.
If you have found yourself in this situation, with a vanity publisher that is taking more and more, terminating this contract would be in your best interest. Many authors have learned a lesson from this and started successful self-publishing careers where they had full control over their brand and products.
Breaking away from a vanity publisher can have its difficulties just as a real book publisher has. The same rules apply here. Do your homework and know what you are getting into.
If it is the case where you are already signed and ready to break, get legal help if needed and look at your options to terminate. If doing so would cause legal harm or could prove to be costly, your alternative solution would be to abandon the book to its fate while it is under contract.
Remember: it is the book that is under contract, not you. Write another book and take it down a new publishing road. You can self-publish next time. You can find a legitimate publisher that offers up a fair contract deal. They are becoming harder to find, but they are out there.
Consulting Legal Counsel and Support Groups
In some cases seeking legal counsel may be the only solution to breaking your contract. Keep in mind that the majority of cases are rarely won unless the publisher has broken the agreement or failed to deliver on the agreement.
In this case, hiring legal counsel would be a strong option. If you must take this route, be sure to choose a lawyer that is experienced or specializes in copyright law. They can help you to find the loopholes that you missed on your own.
There are several groups that can help authors with support when it comes to dealing with the legalities of the business:
- The Authors Guild is the oldest and largest professional organization for writers. As a member of the Authors Guild, you’re entitled to legal help, web services, access to all seminars, and member events. This is a great place for support.
- The National Writers Union handles grievances for writers. The grievance officers have handled grievances against global publishing houses, newsletters and institutional house organs, and local and regional newspapers and magazines. They have also taken on literary agents, subsidy presses (including scam artists), and vanity publishers.
- The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America [SFWA] is running Griefcom, a service for writers. They can help with onerous contracts and intercede on behalf of the author. As the website states, what they can also do is successfully mediate non-monetary, non-contractual disputes with publishers; get non-publishers in the SF&F world to pay monies legitimately owed to authors; and in short, get people to respect copyrights
Your book is important to you and your readers. Be certain to do everything you can to protect your rights, the copyrights of your works, and avoid signing into a bad situation by hiring the right kind of experienced people who can navigate through the less-obvious pitfalls.
Alliance of Independent Authors. This is a non-profit organization for self-published authors but is a good group for getting alerts on shady promotions and support from the writing community.
The Self-Publishing Route: Is This For You?
After terminating your contract with your book publisher, or making an attempt to, you now have a new path to pursue in building your writing career. Regardless of what happened with the traditional book publishing route, self-publishing could be your thing if you decide to keep on writing and build that platform you have been dreaming of.
Authors have switched over to self-publishing after years as traditionally published authors with great success. If you decide to take this path, self-publishing may work out in your favor if you learn the ropes of how to DIY. I have been self-publishing for several years and I love the creative control I have over my work. Maybe you will, too.
You have no doubt heard of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform and the massive success it has been with authors around the world?
There was a time not too long ago when a writer would have to submit manuscript after manuscript to a traditional publisher. After years of getting rejected by agents and big name publishers many good authors gave up writing or just kept writing without being published.
Well my friends, not anymore.
Now, Amazon has cut out the big gatekeepers and provided authors with massive opportunity to write the books of their dreams. The best part is, an author has control over all of the creative aspects of their books, from the writing to cover design. For many, this is a huge advantage.
With self-publishing, nobody is paying you a huge advance for your book but, for most authors, the dream to be published and hold that book in their hands is the golden ticket. If it goes on to become a big bestseller with millions sold, that is an additional bonus.
The great news for authors is, Amazon has positioned itself as an aggressive player in the publishing industry. Traditional publishers are scared. Writers now have options that didn’t exist before. The big New York publishers held all the cards and called the shots.
There is a long list of self-published authors who have proven that you can make money with your writing without the “big publishers” getting involved. Look at Mark Dawson, the bestselling author of the John Milton action series. Dawson published his first book, The Art of Falling Apart, with a traditional publisher back in 2000.
The book completely bombed. Casting aside the traditional publishing route, he published The Black Mile selling over 50,000 copies after giving it away for free, followed by the John Milton series books that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
Amanda Hocking, a writer of paranormal fiction, had written 17 novels while working full time only to have them rejected by publishers. Giving up trying to catch the attention of traditional publishers, she self-published on Amazon’s website and has since then become a million copy global bestseller.
So, you can decide to publish with a publishing company, or, take the path of a self-publishing authorpreneur. No matter the journey you take, I am certain you will succeed if you don’t give up.
Are You Ready To Publish?
Now, after reading this post, you may still be on the fence about pursuing a traditional publishing contract, or, trying it out yourself the self-publishing way. The good news is, even if you get rejected a hundred times by agents and publishers, having the door slammed closed too many times, there is one door you can always open and see your dream of publishing a book come to fruition.
Keep in mind that publishing contracts vary so widely that it’s up to each individual author to read the contract terms carefully and, if you are unsure of anything, ask the publisher for better clarification. If you have to seek legal counsel, do that, but don’t sign until you are ready.
All the best with your publishing journey!
For up-to-date information on author rights and a list of bad publishers to avoid, visit the following sites:
- EPIC [the Association for Published Authors]
- The United States Copyright Office
- Writer Beware [provides up to date information on scams, schemes and rip-off publications that take advantage of authors]
- The Author’s Guild [aiding and protecting author’s interest in copyright, fair contracts, and free expression]
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America [SFWA] / Griefcom
- Click HERE for a sample of a Publishing Agreement
- FAQs: Working With a Literary lawyer [by Laura Resnick]
(NOTE: Join Self-Publishing School’s Chandler Bolt in his new workshop where he’ll share the 3-Step System he used to rapidly mind map, outline, and write his books in as little as one week, how to leverage your book to grow your authority, income, and business, and more! Ready to sign up? Get started here.)
Anik Singal the founder and CEO of Lurn is here today to talk about his book Circle of Profit. He is one of today’s most successful digital publishing marketers. He specializes in product launches, building backends, and having funnels that lead to conversions. He also teaches people how to create their own line passion-based businesses.
Today we talk about how he wrote his first book and how his writing process has evolved over time. He shares great tips like writing an outline, using dictation, and just starting. He talks about some of the fear and hesitation he had, and how he overcame that. He also shares his funnel technique where he gave his book away for free, while still making a profit. Anik talks about how to create a book and book launch that serves your unique purpose.
You can find Anik here:
[01:12] Anik has written a lot of training and free reports. He also wanted to say that he wrote a book. He knows it comes with a level of credibility.
[02:16] He was actually scared to write a book.
[02:58] He decided not to be fear driven. Then he started focusing on the book writing process. He also realized that his book needed the deeper purpose.
[03:39] He realized he can use his book as a lead generation tool and have a funnel behind it. A book serves as the best first thing or tripwire offer.
[04:37] He decided to write the book in an environment that he was comfortable with. He needed momentum with his first book.
[05:08] He decided to call his book a really long free report.
[05:47] He took five days off and decided to write a book. He decided to just write and leave it to the editor to make it perfect.
[06:37] They self published with a Kindle version and they create space hardcover. They have sold close to 50,000 books.
[07:10] He’s writing two other books now. He has the process down with outlines and bullet points. He records his voice. Then has it transcribed. Then sends it to an editor or he edits it.
[08:03] He is focusing internally on book marketing and publishing.
[09:23] The biggest lessons learned were that writing on blank paper is a lot harder than using bullet points and dictating. This gets him going even if the final finished product is much different.
[10:49] If you nail a great title, a book will sell itself. Books have great credibility and are tied to knowledge. They also created an affiliate program that tied into one of their information products. This was incentive for affiliates to promote the book.
[13:53] Anik likes to use his own network to distribute his content. With his own network, he can own the data and the email addresses behind the sells.
[15:03] He can also offer training. This facilitates him financially and helps his a customer gain more knowledge.
[15:51] When someone buys a book Anik does have upsells. The average book buyer is transacting about $26 before leaving his cart. He’s actually able to make a profit by giving the book away for free and having an upsell and basically getting paid to acquire leads.
[19:08] The strongest word ever invented in the history of marketing is free.
[20:52] Books make you into an expert and give you authority and a following. People even quote you.
[21:54] His $25 funnel has a $47 bump and a $197 upsell and a $97 down sell.
[23:59]10 days into the book they start a second funnel. Phase 1 of this funnel is about email marketing. Then phase 2 is about information products. This is a second funnel that matches the flow of the book.
[27:48] Dropping the price doesn’t make your conversions increase. The more plain the video was the better the conversion.
[30:30] Sometimes to see an increase in conversions, you can actually raise the price.
[31:23] Facebook ads are something you need to learn how to scale.
[33:35] He can spend about $15 in ads marketing his book.
[34:57] The publishing company will help Anik’s internal goals when it comes to scale. To be a publisher you have to publish at least five different authors.
[36:21] Being a publisher fits in with Anik’s business model. Today is the best day to be an author.
[37:17] He would also consider traditionally publishing books
[38:42] Anik shares how we got endorsements from Robert Kiyosaki and Les Brown.
[40:19] He was shaking when he met Robert Kiyosaki it was really a great honor.
[41:08] He promotes his book wherever he goes and always carries a copy with him. This is his message to the world and he asks for endorsements whenever he can.
[41:48] Stop thinking and start doing. When you are passionate about something it will come out.
[43:57] Also it helps to write an outline.
Links and Resources:
“To reach more readers and take your sales to the next level, you must proactively market your book”.
— Mark Coker
After months of effort and thousands of dollars, you finally finish writing your book. You upload it to the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, and you eagerly await the thousands of sales that you’ll get upon pressing “publish”.
Yet a week later you see that you’ve only made… a few sales.
Dejected, you realize this isn’t your ticket to passive income. Making money from your book isn’t as easy as they say, but it doesn’t have to be impossible if you set your book up for success right from the start.
That’s exactly what this post will show you how to do: sell more books on Amazon.
There are no hidden gimmicks or secret formulas to making money from your writing. You don’t have to be a marketing genius either: when I started out book publishing, I struggled for the first year to break the hundred dollars a month mark. Yet, with troubleshooting, testing, and learning from the people who were making five figures a month, I finally started to see results.
If you’re a writer wanting to make money from your book (and who doesn’t, right?) this post will help you navigate through the trenches of bookselling.
Is it easy? No, like anything worth having in life, there is a lot of work involved. We have to do things right and set our efforts up for long term sales. As a self-published author, you should know as much about marketing your book as you do about writing it. While writing will get your book published, promotion and marketing is what will get you sales and more readers.
Every decision you make about your book, right from the beginning, will be made with the intention of getting it into the hands of your audience and bringing new readers into your brand.
How much effort will you need to invest?
This depends largely on your goals as an author. If you are doing this part time and you just want to recoup your expenses for the cost of publishing your book, your marketing strategy will be much different than author who has a goal of earning a full time income.
In this post I will run you through the essentials of marketing, packaging and promoting your book in order to maximize book sales and earn your money as an author. After all, who doesn’t want to get paid well for what they love to do?
Regardless of what your book selling goals are, there are seven elements that must be met if your book is going to even stand a chance in the marketplace. Remember: you’re competing with millions of other books and that there are around 4500 new books published every day.
That’s a lot of books.
But not to worry. If you follow the criteria below, you will jump to the top of the heap where the top 5% of authors making money are hanging out.
Selling your book begins, not when your book is published, but from the very moment the idea pops up in your head, before you even put pen to paper.
The 7 Essential Elements of Your Book to Get More Sales
“Thirty seconds. As an author (or publisher) that’s about all the time you have when talking to someone to generate interest in your book.”
— Sarah Bolme
You may be thinking right now: “Wait, where are the promotion strategies? How can I sell thousands of books a month?” We will get to that. However, before you begin to think about selling a truckload of books, you must first engineer it from the ground up to prepare for future sales. You must make your book appealing enough to the reader to catch their interest.
When it comes to selling a book, you have a short window to convince someone that your book is the best investment they are about to make. You can do this right away by sticking with the 7 essentials we’re about to show you.
1. An Awesome Book Cover that Gets a Second Glance
Someone once said: “You can never tell a book by its cover.” That might have been true back in 1946 but in today’s world, readers DO judge by the cover and they will buy your book based on the front-end window dressing. The principle here is simple: If it looks good, it must be valuable. Most books get three seconds to sell a reader. If you want to sell more books, have a cover that grabs attention and gets your browser to take the next step.
For cover designers we can recommend a few sites here:
2. An Intriguing Book Title and Subtitle
Your cover is what grabs the reader’s attention, but your book title is what makes the sale. It will depend largely on the theme of your book but taking time to craft a title/subtitle will be a deciding factor for potential readers to buy… or not.
The title is the hook that draws readers in and the subtitle is your elevator pitch that tells them what they can expect to gain by reading this book. Will they lose weight? Become better at saving money? Run a full marathon in under six hours?
Brainstorm as many possible titles as you can for both the main title and subtitle. Although the title can make them guess what the book is about, the subtitle is what sells it. Good books that sell often have great subtitles that gives browsers a stronger idea of what is behind the cover.
Check out these great titles for inspiration:
Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy
3. Book Reviews & Book Launch Sales Volume
If a book browser is sold on your cover and the theme resonates with a subject they want to know more about, a quick scan of the book reviews will be the final selling point for most.
A book with less than ten reviews, or no reviews at all, may get passed over in favor of other books with a strong review ranking. Tattoo this inside your skull: Reviews sell more books. Getting reviews is an ongoing marketing strategy you should always be working on.
The Amazon algorithm is strongly linked to book sales and reviews. A book that sells well within the first two weeks combined with a set of high ranking reviews will get your book higher up the sales ranks of new releases during the launch.
This also sets you up for an effective long-term strategy. If you want to maximize the amount of sales you get over your book’s life span, then focus everything you have on the first 2-3 weeks. If you get lots of sales and reviews during this critical period, your book is set for long-term growth and will perform better than most competitors.
Reviews are a lot of work but they’re worth it. Aside from the cover, the reviews you get will make or break your sales. Focus your efforts on building a strong launch team of early reviewers who will receive a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.
To stack up on reviews during your launch you can:
- Provide a request to review page at the back of your ebook with a direct link to your book’s Amazon review page.
- Invite people to join your launch team and provide early reviewers with a copy of your book to review 2 weeks before you publish.
- Scroll through the list of Amazon’s Top Reviewers and request a review.
4. A Killer Book Description
Amazon allows authors to include a lengthy book description on the author page, don’t ignore this. While your book cover, title, and reviews are enough to make the sale, a solid looking book description adds that “heft” factor to the quality of your product.
Your book description will be a sales page that lists the benefits of the book. It should have a mixture of various font style and structure to create a clean, attractive description of your book. We recommend using the free Amazon Book Description Generator Tool at Kindlepreneur.com. This saves time in messing around with nasty HTML coding.
For some great examples for book descriptions check out these titles:
5. Amazon Keywords
What use is a treasure hunt if there are no clues? If nobody can find your book, then what use was there in writing it? In order for people to buy your book, they’ll need to find it, and this is where keywords come in.
Researching and implementing the right keywords will play a big part in driving traffic towards your platform. Regardless whether you blog, have a website or you sell products online, setting up your keywords is a critical strategy. But where do we find these keywords? How do we know what keywords are the right ones?
Finding the right keywords will get your book ranking in the top search results, which means it’ll turn up in front of your customers as they search for the relevant keywords. High rankings means more visibility which leads to greater book sales.
There are three tools we recommend for researching relevant keywords for your book. They are:
Using the right software, you can get results for the number of times your keyword is searched. Google also shows you related searches and the competition that particular word has. What you are looking for is a word that has good search volume but not high competition.
Another tactic is to search for your book’s title and keywords by using Amazon’s search bar. Check the suggestions that drop down. Imagine what your readers are searching for when they are looking for your book.
You are allowed to include seven keywords, or short-tail phrases, in your book. Most people, when they search in Amazon, are more likely to type in a short tail phrase instead of a single keyword. You want to be specific with your search. Specificity narrows down the choices and makes your book more searchable.
For example, if you are looking for a book on losing weight, and you are over 50, type in losing weight after 50 and you will target the books related to your short tail phrase. Readers search this way. When you eventually become a successful author (touch wood,) then people can just search for your name, go to your Amazon author page, and buy your book. However, that comes later, once you’ve built your brand. Until then we’ll need to make your book easy to discover.
6. Professional Editing
A book that has been poorly edited is going to receive negative reviews. Period. While it is perfectly fine to have negative reviews on your book, you don’t want those reviews to be about the writing quality. It is an instant turn off for book buyers.
By poor writing quality we’re not talking about the occasional error (which can easily be corrected,) but a book filled with bad grammar, misspelling and a sloppy appearance. Would you buy a car with the doors falling off? Of course not, and a reader will not read a book that hasn’t been properly edited.
You can hire a great editor through Upwork or Freelancer. Ask other authors if they can recommend someone. Your editing will be the biggest expense for the book but trust me, you don’t want to cut corners with this.
7. Pricing Your Book
One question that I often get from authors is: “How much should I price my book at?” This is a tricky answer.
Yes, yes, I know you want to maximize your profit, but you’ll also not want to scare away potential readers because of an overpriced book. Also, remember that for any book priced $1.99 or 0.99 cents, the royalty is just 35%, while books priced between $2.99 – $9.99 net 70% royalty. The sweet spot for many books is $2.99 – $5.99.
Price your book accordingly and by that, I mean, take into account the size and quality of your platform. Established authors with a strong following can charge more, and books priced slightly higher than the norm may do well if they are packaged well (quality cover, large volume of reviews etc.)
You could start pricing your book at $2.99 and move it up $1.00 a week, testing the boundaries until you notice a significant decrease in sales. You might sell less books at $4.99 but if your book has all the best elements mentioned in this section, and you market accordingly, the perceived value of your product will stand the test.
As for paperbacks, most indie authors are averaging a sales price between $9.99 and $12.99. Remember that you need to take into account the printing costs, but your royalties can do better per sale based on the higher price of the book at a 60% royalty rate.
These are the core essentials of any book. Even if you are not a good marketer, you can sell more books if you get these steps right.
Now, let’s take a look at some more advanced marketing strategies that includes book promotions and building an author brand.
The Permission Marketing Plan
“Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers. It’s not just about entertainment – it’s about education. Permission marketing is curriculum marketing.”
— Seth Godin
Now that we have looked at the basic elements you need to sell your book, it is time to get into the initial marketing. Generally speaking, most authors are not marketers. But you don’t have to be to sell.
Following the above steps will place your book in the top 10%, but it’s time to enter the pro leagues by using a solid marketing plan. This is where you can start making some real money.
Mind you, these strategies represent the infrastructure of a long-term book business. If you’re looking to make a quick buck they won’t help, but if you’re looking to lay the foundation for setting up passive income and drawing monthly income from your books over time, they’ll help.
First, understand this, to create sustainable income from your books, you can’t just tweet your way to sales, or send out weekly blog posts. To sell lots of books you need one thing: traffic.
How to get traffic? By invitation. How to invite people to buy your book? By giving stuff away and providing so much value that they can’t possibly say no.
We do this by setting up an email list of raving fans.
With an email list, you can create a sustainable platform of fans that are eagerly anticipating your next book release. Picture this: in the buildup to launch day you have 1000 impatient readers yearning to grab your book. They’re counting down the minutes. You click “publish” and send out an email to your list. They instantly buy it, and your book skyrockets up the bestseller lists, leaving you in the top of your category, the Amazon top rankings and in search engines. How great would that be?
An email list of raving fans is worth its weight in digital gold, but building it takes time, patience, and a lot of work. You need to be strategic with your list and deliver valuable material that they need. Consistent engagement builds your list and becomes the foundation for your author brand.
Without an active email list, you’ll be relying heavily on luck and organic traffic. Although you can still do well without a list, you’ll work twice as hard to get your book into the top search engines.
If the money is in the list, you want to start building your list right now. You can do this by first offering an incentive inside your book. Do you have something of value to provide readers to entice them to sign up? If so, offer it now and begin list building.
But remember: People are giving you permission to email them. This is the beginning of a relationship with your readers. Value that relationship and you will have started the foundation for a business. Write for your readers and you will never have to worry about selling more books. Your readers will help you to market your book and they will always be your best customers.
You can start by signing up with an email subscriber service. There are several to choose from:
Mailchimp: This service is to free for up to 2000 subscribers. However, there is no support until you pay a monthly fee.
Mailerlite: a nice platform, very simple with easy-to-navigate features.
Get response: Also, simple to use and industry standard.
Once you have a comfortable list that you are engaging with regularly, it is time to focus your core efforts on providing value to that list. The subscriber gave you permission to email them, and now it is your responsibility to follow through by building that relationship.
Action Task: Sign up with one of the email subscriber services recommended. Spend a few hours and come up with ideas on two things:
- How to provide so much value up front that your reader demographic will be eager to join your list?
- What type of content can you regularly write to engage your list and build a relationship with them?
Look to newsletters you’ve signed up for inspiration.
Run Book Promos Every 3-6 months
You’ll find that, even the best books out there drop in rankings over an extended period of time. This is where we can keep things fresh by running promotional campaign for the book every 3-6 months.
Here is how you can do this.
Drop the price of your book to 0.99 for 5-7 days. You can adjust the price by going into the KDP dashboard. It takes Amazon anywhere from 6-24 hours to set this up.
Stack multiple book promotional services for each day for the week your book is set at the promotional price. Setting up book promos does cost money but it gets your book rankings moving up again and gives the book a fresh kick. You can set up promos with the following sites:
BKnights [Fiverr] You can’t go wrong for $5. I would also take the extra gig for $5 and get in on their daily newsletter. You won’t get a ton of downloads but on average 12-25 depending on the book.
Robin Reads. [Requires 10 reviews and a 4.9 rating] Takes a couple days to get approved [$55].
BookSends. Requires average 5 reviews at $40.
Bargain Booksy. I love this one, no reviews needed and you can sign up right away and get approved. $25 for nonfiction.
Awesome Gang. This one is great for the price, $10.
Many Books. Great little gig, average returns, $29.
Book Runes. Global reach with over 50k mailing list, $25.
eBooks Habit. Great little promo, I recommend the guaranteed placement for $10.
Booksbutterfly. Various promo packages with guaranteed paid and free downloads.
This is an opportunity to set up a small support group to read the book and leave a review during the promotion period. This boost in downloads and new reviews boosts the rankings of your book. If you have multiple books, it’s an opportunity for traffic coming into your platform to be introduced to your book library.
Create a Library of Books and Build Your Brand
It’s really hard to make money from just one book. Which is why I recommend writing and publishing a lineup of books that your fan base can’t wait to read. Writing multiple books is a long-term strategy that can build a profitable book business over the course of several years. Remember, you’re in it for the long-haul.
Can you imagine if you had ten books for sale and each one is set up for success to bring in an average of $1000 a month? You can do this with a strategic plan for your author business.
Publishing new content regularly builds your email list and pushes your Amazon Author Ranking up the charts. By putting out a new book every 3-4 months, you are creating new content that keeps your author platform sizzling with activity.
In addition, it is easier to promote several books at the same time. You can set up a book bundle and have your books available in multiple formats including audiobooks and paperback.
Action Task: Block out 30-minutes a day for the next 30 days. Come up with ideas for at least ten books you want to write. Do a mind map followed by an outline for each one. Then, set out to create a publishing schedule for each book.
Questions to ask yourself are:
- How long is each book?
- Am I targeting a general audience or a specific niche?
- What is the estimated profit potential for this book?
- How can I put out a new book every 3-4 months?
- What is my featured lead magnet to start building subscribers email list?
Here are a few authors creating a library of books and doing very well with their platform of consistent releases:
Patrick King, Social Interaction Specialist
S.J. Scott, Develop Better Habits
Martin Meadows, Self-Discipline and Grit
Peter Hollins, Human Psychology
Zoe McKey, Communication and Personal Development
Oh, and let’s not forget Stephen King, who has published over 65 books with 350 million copies sold since Carrie was published in 1974.
Wrapping It Up
If you want to sell more books and earn money as a paid author, write and publish books that sell. Target a specific audience and write your content for that fan base. Build a brand around your work and market your writing accordingly.
Stick to the essential elements of book publishing and be sure to write a book that engages your readers interest, provides them with entertainment [fiction] or life lessons [nonfiction], and invest your time into creating a series of books that have impact and branding appeal.
This sounds simple, and it is, but it isn’t easy. Selling books and making money is a long-term strategy. There are hundreds of ways to promote your book and brand. But you don’t, and can’t, do everything. Focus on the strategies that will have the long term results you want.
Now, I’ll leave you with a list of additional marketing and promotional strategies you can consider to build your brand and promote your work.
20 Ways to Promote Your Work and Build an Author Brand
- Create a book trailer and post the video on YouTube or Vimeo.
- Set up an Author Page on Facebook and have readers sign up. You can take this a step further and create a private facebook group where you share some of your best content and insider information with your tribe.
- Create an author website. Use this to promote your books, blog about content in your books, and keep readers engaged through online discussions about your work and mission.
- Set up a professional author email. For example: [email protected]
- Get professional author pictures taken. Post these to your website, social media, and the paperback copy on the back.
- Approach foreign book publishers and try to get your book translated into other languages. Nowadays many authors are translating books into Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and Spanish.
- Get video testimonials for your book. Post to YouTube and your website.
- Send your paperback to fans and ask them to take a photo holding up the book. Use this as a promotional tool by creating a landing page for your book. Additionally, you can create book pages for your books on your website [Note: We strongly recommend you have an author website].
- Run a book giveaway on Goodreads.
- Write a series of blog posts related to your books and overall branding theme.
- Guest post blog for well-known sites and drive backlinks to your website or Amazon author page.
- Get featured on as many podcasts as you can. This is a great way to drive traffic to your book pages and site.
- Set up a URL forward that sends people to your Amazon author page. When you promote your books, you can use this URL as your main website even if you don’t have an actual website yet.
- Continue to pile reviews onto your book. This should be an ongoing marketing strategy. Aim for a goal of adding two new reviews per week.
- Set up an AMS ad for your book. You can check out this free course right here: Book Advertising: Free AMS Advertisement Course for Authors
- Create free content (checklist, mini ebook, or audiobook) and give it away for free inside your book.
- Create a virtual bundle of your books when you get several titles published.
- Create a course based on your book. This has the potential to be a strong upsell. Take a look at Udemy and teachable for launching your course to these platforms.
- Create an email autoresponder series for subscribers.
- Create a SlideShare presentation using the best material from your book.
David Allen is the author of Getting Things Done the book that many refer to as the productivity bible. David has 35 years experience as a management consultant and executive coach, but he is best known as the personal productivity guru behind the Getting Things Done Method. He is also known as the GTD Guy.
David believes in having a relaxed balance of perspective and control, by getting things off of your mind, so you are free of stress and can achieve a “mind like water”. The GTD work-life balance system has helped countless individuals and organizations bring order to chaos. David is considered the leading authority in organization and personal productivity. Today, we discuss the GTD approach to book writing and the power of getting things done.
You can find David here:
Getting Things Done
@gtdguy on Twitter
Books by David Allen
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
David Allen on LinkedIn
David Allen on Instagram
David Allen on Facebook
Ready for Anything
Making It All Work
[01:10] It took David 25 years to figure out that what he had figured out was unique.
[02:09] David decided to write the manual on what he had figured out.
[02:33] He spent a day with an advisory group. To talk about writing a book or manual.
[03:31] In 1997, he decided to get his life out of his head and write Getting Things Done.
[04:02] He had no idea the movement that his book would spark.
[04:48] He had high anticipation, but no expectation. There was still a lot of time management and organization information already out there.
[06:12] Making his vision available for the rest of the world.
[06:38] First, David did research about how to write a book. How writing the business plan for the book was agonizing and productive.
[08:56] How a publisher suggested that a broad book would offer more value. He also suggested that David get an agent. He still has the same agent today.
[10:08] David had been capturing ideas with mind mapping software. Then he wrote a business plan. Then a crude outline of the book and content which included his earlier notes organized.
[12:12] It took a year to make it a real project. The next year was writing the first draft that didn’t work.
[12:58] David discovered that books and seminars are different. He also wrote reviews for his book first and raised the bar too high for what he needed to create.
[13:55] He threw away his first draft and started again. He wanted people to see the methodology sooner. Then he wrote the book in three parts: methodology, implementation, how cool the outcome could be. This took another year.
[15:06] The fourth year was spent creating the title, book cover, etc.
[15:55] One of the most impactful things David did was let a line editor clean up his work. He rewrote his book with their edits to learn to think about simplifying what he was saying.
[17:15] Editing was the art. This changed his writing from then on. He now tries to simplify and say things in the shortest way.
[18:02] How a book is a very intimate thing. You need to reach readers with an idea of nurturing and support and making things easy and fun.
[18:46] Talking with a reader as if you have your hand on their shoulder.
[19:26] Writing requires bandwidth and freedom of time. David needed at least four hours with nothing else to do to get into the flow of writing.
[20:22] Structuring time to write depends on your life, but everyone needs to block out time when they can think best. You need freedom of consciousness to write.
[22:06] Writing takes dedicated time. It can’t be done between the lines.
[22:25] Get everything meaningful out of your head and clarify actions. You can only feel good about what you are not doing when you know what you are to doing.
[23:27] Have a place to capture any idea that might be relevant. From mind mapping to Word docs. Don’t lose your raw data.
[24:21] Have a process for a trusted capture system to get to a rough draft. The rough draft gets things going.
[24:48] Build quality time take your raw data and blueprint and follow the path.
[25:15] Redrafting edits can teach you a lot. Using as few words as possible.
[28:31] How it was fun working with a ghost writer on David’s second book Ready for Anything.
[29:35] How most business books are ghost written they aren’t usually written by the guru.
[31:25] Finding a format with categories or common themes and how they tie together.
[32:56] You can’t write a book without blocking quality time. Create a marketplace with the idea for your book and have one place for your ideas. Ask yourself why you want to do it.
Links and Resources:
Getting Things Done
@gtdguy on Twitter
Books by David Allen
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
David Allen on LinkedIn
David Allen on Instagram
David Allen on Facebook
Ready for Anything
Making It All Work
In the early days of World War 2, the Japanese military sent messages back and forth. The Allies needed to crack their intricate numbering system to get an edge in the war and turn the tables. But how did they crack this complex system? MI6 recruited a young mathematician named Gordon Foster to work as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, where he scanned millions of numbers looking for patterns in the code.
Decades later, when the book industry needed a standardized tracking programme in order to coordinate the increasing number of titles being published each year, Gordon Foster was approached by WH Smith, a British retailer, to write a report on how to create such a system.
This report led to the 9-digit standard book number which went live in the UK in 1967, and eventually led to the ISBN system used worldwide. Several years later this turned into a 10-digit numbering system when a policy was needed for new editions and variations. Then, in 2007, the ISBN switched to a 13-digit format and is now the standard used everywhere.
ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number” and, before it was implemented in 1967, the method and system for cataloging, ordering, organizing, and locating a specific book was a chaotic mess.
Today, to get your book into a bookstore, a library, or almost any book distribution channel on the planet, you need an ISBN.
But how does this long string of numbers on the back of books work? How do you get it? If you’re a self-publisher, do you need an ISBN? Why would you need one?
These are all questions answered in this article. It’s a mammoth of a post and will get quite technical at certain points. If you just want to know if you should get an ISBN as a self-publisher, and where to get it, feel free to skip these sections.
With that disclaimer, let’s unweave the intricate web of ISBNs and how they work in the publishing industry.
How To Read an ISBN: What do the Numbers Stand For?
As of 2007, the ISBN is a 13-digit number. This came about in part because of the large volume of eBooks now being published every year. Knowing how to break down and interpret these 13 digits aren’t of much use and interest to most book readers, but for publishers and distributors it’s a necessity. If you want to publish lots of books under your own publishing name then it’s something you may want to pay attention to. You can tell a lot about a book and its author by reading the ISBN number.
The 13 digit ISBN number helps:
- Identify the specific title
- Identify the author
- Identify the type of book they are buying
- Identify the physical properties of that particular book
- Identify the geographical location of the publisher
Let’s break it down and look at what all these numbers mean.
Here is the ISBN for a particular book:
You’ll notice this sequence is divided into 5 number combinations. But the first three digits “978” indicates that this string of numbers is for an ISBN. if we remove these digits we have:
First is the initial digit, in this case: 3
The 3 is the language group identifier which here indicates German. For English speaking countries a 0 or 1 is used. Numbers for language identification generally range from 1-5.
Here is a list of the most common Group identifiers:
0 or 1 for English
2 for French
3 for German
4 for Japan
5 for Russian
7 for People’s Republic of China
It’s worth mentioning that the rarer the language, the longer the number identifier will be. For example, Indonesia is 602 whereas Turkey is 9944. You can reference the complete list at the International ISBN Agency.
Next is “16”. This is the “publisher code,” and it identifies the publisher on any book that has this number. This number can be as long as 9 digits.
“148410” — This six digit series represents the title of the book. The publisher assigns this to a specific book or edition of the book, such as a hardcover version or paperback. This could be a single digit or stretch to multiple digits.
“0” is the last digit and is known as the “check digit”. This number is mathematically calculated as a fixed digit. This is always a single digit. This number indicates that the rest of the ISBN numbers have been scanned and is calculated based on the other digits in the code.
The ISBN and Barcode
The ISBN is usually found above the barcode on the back of the book, so it’s reasonable to assume they’re the same thing, right?
Except, they’re not. The barcode isn’t the same as the ISBN.
This is an important distinction because:
- When you purchase an ISBN you don’t automatically get a barcode
- The barcode of your book can change, while your ISBN can remain the same.
We’ve already discussed what data the ISBN carries, however the barcode includes extra information such as the book’s fixed price and the currency it’s being sold in. Barcodes are a necessary element of your book as they allow for most retailers and distributors to scan your ISBN for retail and inventory reasons.
The standard barcode is known as the EAN (European Article Number) barcode, and your barcode must be in this format to sell your book in bookstores.
(Breakdown of the typical EAN barcode on the back of a book by Publisher Services)
Reading a barcode: If you look at the picture of a standard barcode, you’ll notice two barcodes side by side. The barcode that appears on the left is the EAN generated from the ISBN number. The other number appearing on the right is a 5-digit add-on, called an EAN-5, that contains the price of the book. The first digit is a 5, and is a must for scanners to read. The 4-digits after the five indicates the price of the book.
For example, if the number reads 52995, this means the price of the book is set at $29.95. If the price of the book changes, a new barcode must be used, though the ISBN wouldn’t change. This would only be replaced by a new ISBN if the book is published as a new edition or as a new version.
To buy a barcode you must first purchase an ISBN. You can buy your barcodes at Bowker and they even offer a barcode-ISBN combo:
- 1 barcode + 1 ISBN is $150.
- 1 barcode + 10 ISBNs is $320.
The Difference between ASIN and ISBN
If you’ve used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program you’ve probably come across an ASIN. ASIN numbers are used by Amazon to manage and identify the products they are selling on their site. It’s a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier that’s assigned by Amazon.com and its partners. You can find this on your book page. In your browser, the Amazon ASIN will be after the product’s name and “dp”. The next place to find this is in your book or product details area of your book page.
However, an ASIN is not the same as an ISBN. You can only use it with Amazon. If you want to sell through other platforms or in brick and mortar stores, you’re going to need an ISBN.
Reasons Self-Publishers Need an ISBN
And now we come to the most pressing question on your mind: do you need an ISBN?
If you want to publish and sell your eBook on Amazon, then the quick answer is no, it isn’t necessary. Amazon will assign your eBook an ASIN number which will be used to identify and track your title.
However, that’s only with Amazon, and only with eBooks.
If you want your readers to get a hold of a print version of your book, then you’re going to need an ISBN. This might be important if you have a brick and mortar marketing strategy, or if you want your book to be accessible through libraries (more on this later), or if you’re looking to deal with wholesalers or other online retailers.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you want to sell your book by means other than as an ebook on Amazon, then you’ll need an ISBN.
Should You Get a Free or a Paid ISBN?
You might have noticed that self-published authors can get assigned a free ISBN by Createspace, the On-Demand publishing company owned by Amazon. You can also get an ISBN when dealing with a whole host of On-Demand or self publishing companies, like Draft2Digital, Smashwords or IngramSpark. If you can get a free or cheap ISBN with them, then what’s the use in paying for your own one?
Here’s the problem: most of the time, you can only use those free ISBNs with the channels those companies distribute through.
Let’s say you get a free ISBN with Draft2Digital, but then you notice that there are some retail channels you can access through Smashwords that you can’t with Draft2Digital. You can’t use the Draft2Digital ISBN with Smashwords. Smashwords will only let you use your own ISBN or an ISBN they assign to you. So what do you do?
You get a free ISBN with Smashwords.
And now you have two ISBNs for the same book. Same book title, same book format, but two ISBNs.
You then hear of some exclusive channels you can get through eBookPartnership. The only wrinkle? You need an ISBN and they won’t take your Smashwords’ or Draft2Digital’s ISBN. So you sign up for their free ISBN instead.
Now you have three ISBNs for the same book. This problem can repeat itself again and again as you discover more ways to distribute your book. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for the ISBN, sometimes you won’t. But it leads to you having several ISBNs, all from different publishers, for the same book.
Can you picture how unprofessional that looks to a bookstore? Wouldn’t it have been easier to start off by buying your own ISBN? Wouldn’t that make you look more professional?
On top of this, each of those free ISBNs identify the self publishing company as a publisher. It’s the equivalent of using your business email address as [email protected] or [email protected] instead of [email protected] (assuming you’re named Matt). Not only does this make you look unprofessional, but there are some stores that will refuse to stock your book on this basis. If you have a CreateSpace ISBN, there are a number of bookstores that will refuse to carry your book.
All of these issues can be sidestepped by simply purchasing your own ISBN through Bowker.
If You’re Publishing An eBook, Don’t Ignore Libraries
We briefly mentioned that if you want to stock your book in libraries you’ll need an ISBN. However, that might be the furthest thing from your mind. You might have decided to focus purely on eBook publishing and what part do libraries play in eBooks?
A big one.
Libraries are becoming more important to the distribution of eBooks. Overdrive are the largest supplier to schools and libraries in the world (serving more than 30,000), and they circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014, a 33% increase from their previous year. They also supply to retail stores globally, making $100 million in sales in 2013.
And guess what you need to be able to partner with Overdrive? Yup. An ISBN.
How do I get an ISBN?
Hopefully you’re convinced that if you want to look professional in the industry and be able to access all distribution channels, you need your own ISBN.
But how do you get one?
ISBNs are free in many countries, provided either by the government or a publicly administered branch. However, in the US and the UK, ISBNs are administered by Bowker and Nielsen respectively, and require you to pay.
If you’re located outside the USA you can find out your local ISBN Agency here. While ISBNs are assigned locally, you can use them internationally.
If you live in the USA, you have to get an ISBN through myidentifiers.com, run by Bowker, the only company that is authorized to administer the ISBN program in the United States. You can purchase ISBNs as a single unit or in bulk of 10, 100 or 1000.
How to Register Your Book and ISBN
As soon as you purchase your ISBN through Bowker, or the International equivalent in your local area, and you publish your book, you should register here at Bowkerlink. This is an automated tool that will add your book to Bowker’s Books In Print and Global Books In Print. I recommend you download the free PDF “ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration” with step-by-step instructions on setting up your title.
How Many ISBNs To Get
So how many ISBNs should you get?
First off let’s clarify a few common mistakes:
- You can only use an ISBN once. The ISBN is a unique number for that particular book, and can be assigned once, and only once, to that title. It can’t be used with any other book in the future, even second versions of the same book.
- You don’t need an ISBN to sell in each individual country. ISBNs are international, they are just assigned locally. A US based publisher can purchase their ISBN through Bowker, but can stock their book worldwide using that ISBN.
- You need an ISBN for every specific format of the book, and any new versions. Want to sell your book in print, as an eBook, and also as an audiobook? That’s great, however you need a different ISBN for each one. If you want to publish a revised and updated version you’ll also need a new ISBN. (This doesn’t cover fixing some typos and errors).
- If you create a series of books you can’t use the same ISBN for them. You can use the same ISSN, however. Many fiction and nonfiction authors, have an ISSN number assigned to their book series. ISSN stands for International Standard Series Number, and can be purchased from the Library of Congress. However, each book in the series will need its own ISBN.
We mentioned that in the USA you can buy ISBNs as a single unit, a bulk of 10, 100 or 1000. Here are the prices:
|Number of ISBNs You Get||Price|
First off, it rarely makes sense to purchase a single ISBN. A single ISBN would cost you $125, but a bulk of 10 only costs $295. Meaning if you purchased 10, each ISBN would cost you $29.50, a 76% discount.
Buying a single ISBN might seem feasible if you only want to publish one title, but remember that you need an ISBN for each format. So if you want to publish your book as an audiobook, you’d need a brand new ISBN for that. As well as needing different ISBNs for your eBook and print versions.
Not to mention that you’ll need an ISBN for any future books you publish, perhaps as sequels to your book.
We recommend that if your serious in making book sales you purchase at least a bulk of 10 ISBNs. That gives you 3 ISBNs to use for publishing as an eBook, in print, and as an audiobook. You can keep the remainder for books you publish in the future.
Wrapping It Up
Now that you have a very good idea how to buy and use ISBNs for your own books, all the best on setting this up. If you want to be recognized as a publisher and have your books available to a larger global audience by registering through Bowker, consider investing in your own ISBNs. Think of it as buying a piece of property: You own it and it is registered in your name.
Here’s a simple actionable checklist for ISBNs.
To buy an ISBN for your next book, here is what you should do:
- Go to the website https://www.myidentifiers.com
- Under the ISBN drop down tab, click on ISBNs—Buy Here. You can select 1, 10 or 100. For a bulk purchase, go to “Buying ISBNs in Bulk” and you can contact Bowker directly to discuss your options.
- Once you have your ISBN assigned, you can then use it everywhere that requires your ISBN number.
- At Createspace, under the “Setup” channel, you can choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN. When you buy your own ISBN at Bowker, just put in the 13-digit number and Createspace will use this in your paperback.
- If you publish your paperback through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can fill in your number in the “Paperback Content” section of your book when you log into your bookshelf. If you choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN, KDP will ask for your 13-digit number if you are transferring your physical version over to KDP.
- Register your ISBN here at Bowker as soon as your book is ready for sale. Download the free ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration step-by-step guide.
Helpful Links & Resources
These links appeared throughout the post but here they are for easy access.
International ISBN Agency
ISBN.org by Bowker
Bowkerlink Publisher Access System
Bowker Identifier Services
U.S. Copyright Office
Historically, if you wanted to publish a book, you needed an agent to get a traditional publisher to look at your manuscript. In fact, many publishing companies won’t even open a manuscript if it doesn’t come through an agent. What’s worse is that even if they do open it, it’s still unlikely that your book will be published and sold in bookstores!
Is there a better method?
Yes! In fact, there is another way for your book to not only be published, but to even become a bestseller! This method has led to the success of many authors, and is changing the book and traditional publishing industry.
It’s called, self-publishing.
Personally speaking, I’ve self-published 6 bestselling non-fiction books on Amazon, sold tens of thousands of copies, and continue to collect thousands per month in royalty checks. The success of my books has been directly responsible for the strong performance of my business, which has grown to over 7 figures in less than 2 years.
Five years ago, in order to achieve this level of publishing success, you would have needed to be extremely lucky to even land an agent who would attempt to find you a deal at one of the “Big 5” publishing houses.
This is no longer the case. Not only do you no longer need one of the “Big 5” companies to publish your book, now self-published authors are actively turning down offers from publishing companies!
So If you are trying to publish your book and are having no luck landing a publisher, self-publishing could be the best option for you.
Because many writers get overwhelmed with the abundance of information about the self-publishing process, I’ve created a step-by-step comprehensive self-publishing guide that will walk you through on the beginning steps on how to write your book all the way to self-publishing it on Amazon’s Kindle (KDP) Network.
This guide will cover:
- Deciding Why You Want to Write a Book
- Writing Your Book
- Getting Feedback on Your Book
- Choosing a Book Title
- Hiring a Great Book Editor
- Designing a Book Cover that Converts
- Creating Your Kindle Direct Publishing Account
- Formatting and Uploading your Book
- Self-Publishing Your Book
- Pricing Your Book
- Forming a Launch Team
- Maximizing Book Launch Exposure
1. Deciding Why You Want To Write A Book
What you need to decide first when self-publishing a book, is WHY you want to write a book. I encourage going through this brainstorming process as it’s the only way to ensure that you’re 100% committed to writing a book (and doing it for the right reasons).
Here are some questions for you to consider:
- Are you an entrepreneur or freelancer with a new business trying to get a leg up on your competition by publishing a book?
- Do you want to leverage your skills and knowledge to become a paid speaker or coach?
- Do you have a well established business and you want to write a book to diversify your income streams and land speaking engagements?
- Or do you already have a successful story, and want to build an asset that will share the knowledge and skills you’ve gained over decades of experience?
Action Plan: Come up with at least 10 valid reasons why you want to write a book. Use the questions above as a starting guide to brainstorm.
2. Writing Your Book
If you’ve ever tried to write a book, you might have had moments where you’ve stared at a blank page for hours with nothing to show for it Feeling frustrated, you resort to procrastinating and get nothing done! This is normal, writing a book is hard work.
In order to start writing your book, you must develop a writing process.
Here’s are some effective ways to develop the writing process:
- Buy a calendar. The best way to have your book complete is to have a calendar that schedules your goals per day/week.
- Create an outline. An outline is like a map of your book that provides direction to your story. It keeps you on track and ensures that your ideas are organized.
- Develop a writing habit. Condition yourself to write at the same time every day. With this practice, it will soon become a habit that will make writing a book automatic.
To learn more tips on how to write, here’s a tutorial video of the simple process I use to write over 1500 words per hour:
Action Plan: Create a resistance plan! Figure out which methods best filter out negative noise to get you into the writing process.
3. Getting Feedback on Your Book
When writing your book, it’s important to get as much feedback as early in the process as possible. As writers, it’s all too easy to retreat into your cave for a long period of time, spend countless hours writing what you think is the perfect first draft, only to find that a) your draft doesn’t make sense to anyone else or b) no one else is as interested in the topic as you originally thought.
Not only can a fresh set of eyes on your book help you catch typos and grammatical errors, but a new perspective can give you ideas for tightening up your story and making the theme more clear. Giving your book to one (or more) “beta readers” before giving it to an editor can also cut down on the time and cost of paying a professional editor.
Action Plan: Reach out to a few friends who could provide good feedback, and ask them if they’ll be willing to read a chapter or two (or the whole book!) as you finish writing.
4. Choosing a Book Title
Contrary to popular belief, you should never decide on a book title until after you are done writing your first draft. This is because choosing a book title first often results in you “writing yourself into a corner” because you’re trying so hard to align your story to the title of the book instead of writing what needs to be written.
Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be.
The key to choosing a perfect title is: the simpler the title, the better. As you’re brainstorming ideas, always remember to keep it simple. Your title should also be clear on what your readers will receive by reading your book because experts state that a clear promise or a guarantee of results will further intrigue your readers.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your memorable title:
- Is your title going to teach a high demand skill?
- Can your title impact someone’s life?
- Can your book solve a very difficult problem?
Action Plan: Once you’ve narrowed down your book titles, send out an email to your friends and family or put a poll up to your audience asking what title they’d prefer. You could also ask a community of other authors what they think. To learn more about book titles, check out our article on Book Title Ideas.
5. Hiring a Great Book Editor
Hiring a great editor can mean the difference between writing a bestseller, or a mediocre book. Therefore, it’s important to take as much time as necessary on this stage of the process.
To find an editor for your book, begin with your personal network. Do you personally know any English teachers or others in the editorial field? Start there. If you don’t, then do you know someone who knows an editor?
If you don’t have any luck finding an editor within your personal network, don’t worry! Depending on your budget, you can either hire a professional book editor, or hire a more budget-friendly editor from Upwork. Self-Publishing School also has a Rolodex of approved and vetted book editors who all do a great job.
No matter how you find your editor, make sure you’re a good fit before committing to the full book by paying them a small sum ($25 or so) to edit a few pages or a chapter of your book. Make sure the editor is interested in the subject matter, that they can get your whole book edited in 3.5 weeks or less including back-and-forth revisions, and that their edits are both accurate and make sense to you. If you don’t feel you’re a good fit following a sample edit, then let that $25 go, and find an editor that’s going to work out rather than sinking more money into a relationship that might be a mistake.
Whatever you do, don’t give up during the editorial process! If one editor isn’t working out for you or meeting your needs, find another.
Action Plan: Find a friend or professional editor who can make sure your book is error-free, and start working with them sooner rather than later!
6. Designing a Book Cover that Converts
When it comes to self-publishing, a high quality book cover is one of the most important elements that will get your book to convert into sales! The reason is because your cover design is what readers see first and will immediately determine whether they want to read your book or not.
So you must make sure that it is created professionally and that it will stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category.
You can find amazing book cover designers on freelancing sites such as:
Prices will vary depending on what type of service you want, but the end result will be well worth the spend.
Action Plan: Find a book designer with any of these sites and your book will stand apart from the rest of its competition!
7. Creating Your Kindle Direct Publishing Account
Amazon has a self-publishing service called Kindle Direct Publishing where you can create and manage your Kindle eBook, paperback, and audio books. You can even link it with CreateSpace to offer print books to your audience. It’s the best way to start selling books quickly, and I’ve used it for all my self-published books. I highly recommend it for all new self-publishers!
Setting up your KDP account is very simple! Start by following these steps:
- Visit https://kdp.amazon.com and create an account with either your existing Amazon account or your email address.
- Next, you must complete your tax information. You will not be able to submit your published book if you do not complete this step.
- Once your tax information is complete, hit “Finished” and your account is complete!
Action Plan: Follow these steps to create your KDP account! With this platform, you can publish your book within minutes and soon have it appear worldwide!
8. Formatting Your Self-Published Book
If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of resources online that can tell you how to format your book yourself for free. You can start by looking at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forums where there are plenty of discussions on book formatting. You can also use KDP’s free resources to help format your book. Formatting can be a frustrating experience for the uninitiated though, so if you have a few bucks to spare, you might consider paying someone to help you.
Here are 5 book formatting mistakes to avoid.
If you want to pay for formatting, Liber Writer is a low-cost, effective option for converting a Microsoft Word file to Amazon’s Kindle format. If $60 is too much, you can also find people on Fiverr to format your book for Kindle.
Action Plan: Make sure your book is formatted properly by using the free online resource above, or hiring someone who can handle the formatting process for you.
9. Self-Publishing Your Book
When you feel confident your book is ready for the public, you can create a KDP account and upload your book.
- On the KDP mainpage, locate and click on “Your Bookshelf”.
- Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions”.
- Then, locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
- Finally, click on “Upload eBook Manuscript”, and upload your manuscript file from your computer.
Amazon also allows you to select 7 keywords or keyword phrases to make sure your intended audience can find your book when searching on Amazon. It’s highly recommended you also select two different categories your book might fit into so you can reach a broader audience. To select keywords and categories, look at other best-selling books in your niche and notice what keywords and categories those authors chose.
Once Amazon finishes uploading your file, a confirmation message will be sent and you can preview the uploaded file to check for any errors.
Create your Amazon author central account after uploading your book. Include a bio, photo, and link to your website or blog to help you stand out among authors. After a few more steps, you’ll be ready to publish your book, at which time you’ll click “save & publish” in your KDP book dashboard.
Afterwards, you should be ready to publish your book, at which you’ll click “save & publish” in the book editing screen!
Action Plan: Follow these steps to upload your book. You are allowed to upload your manuscript as many times as you want with each upload overriding the previous.
10. Pricing Your Book
One of the most important decisions when it comes to self-publishing a book is how to price it. The most common question I get from new writers is, “How much should my book cost?”
To answer this, my general rule of thumb is to have your book priced is between $2.99 to $5.99.
To be more specific, when beginning a launch, I would begin by pricing the book at $0.99 for the launch period. Then I would set the price to 2.99, and I would moderately increase the price by $1 every week and measure how well the new price performs. Once you see a sales dip, that will determine the exact price of your book that will guarantee book sales.
Action Plan: Find the perfect price by using this strategy that will attract your readers and best drive long term success.
11. Forming a Launch Team
Your launch team is the group of people who are dedicated to helping make your book successful. should be a passionate group of individuals who are eager to make your book launch successful. Remember, one highly skilled team member is better than a group of mediocre ones!
To find quality candidates, here’s an questionnaire you can use to assess applicants and see if they’re qualified to market your book:
- Why do you want to support my book?
- What goals are you trying to reach with this project?
- How would you market this book?
- Which influencers would you reach out to and why?
Action Plan: Create an application with questions that align to your thought process. Try to be open-minded with those who think outside the box – they maybe the perfect candidates that can get your book to become a bestseller. To learn more about book marketing, check out our article on How to Skyrocket Sales of Your Book.
12. Maximizing Book Launch Exposure
As soon as your book goes live on Amazon, be sure to leverage your launch team and your audience to help you market your book! It may be odd to ask your fans for help, but your fans are there to support your project and want to see you succeed. You might be surprised how willing they’ll be to help you if you just ask!
Here are some marketing initiatives you can assign your team and audience to do:
- Share content from your book as blog posts across social media
- Submit reviews on Amazon
- Help build your book’s website
- Reach out to influencers for a future guest post or podcast feature
- Share a book review on their YouTube channel
- Buy extra copies to gift their friends
The additional exposure generated from your launch team and audience will help push your book up Amazon’s rankings, which will drive more sales!
Action Step: Create your book marketing launch plan using these methods. Measure each of these methods to see which will best get your book in the hands of new readers and convert into sales.
13. Celebrate! (Now, decide what’s next)
Publishing a book is just the beginning. Depending on your goals for your book, self publishing can get you more customers, free publicity, and establish you as an expert in your niche. This can help you land speaking gigs and build a business within your area of expertise. Your book sales can also help fund your lifestyle with passive income.
Dream big about what you want your book to do for you. When you have a vision for where you want your book to take you, it will be easier to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Getting clear on what you want will also help you to be more effective when expanding your network along on your journey.
So there you have it…that’s how to self publish a book. If self publishing a bestseller is something you want to do, and you’re serious about changing your life and your business for the better by getting your book out there in the world, then you need to watch this free 4 part video training series, where I walk through the exact steps I’ve taken to write, publish, and market 6 of my own best-selling books (and how I’ve helped 1,000’s of students do the same).
There needs to be a driving force behind product launches. Danny Iny has found that using books is the perfect driver. Danny is the founder of Mirasee, the host of the Business Reimagined Podcast, and bestselling author of multiple books including Engagement from Scratch!, The Audience Revolution, and Teach and Grow Rich. He is also the creator of the Audience Business Masterclass and Course Builder’s Laboratory which has graduated over 5000 value driven entrepreneurs.
Danny is on top of his game, and a great friend of mine. He doesn’t lose sight of the importance of impact and making a difference in people’s lives. Today, we talk about mistakes Danny made with his very first book. The tactics he used to write and market his official first book, and the importance of creating value for everyone you are involved with from readers to customers and collaborators.
You can find Danny here:
@DannyIny on Twitter
Books by Danny Iny
Danny Iny on LinkedIn
Engagement from Scratch!
The Audience Revolution
Teach and Grow Rich
Audience Business Masterclass
Course Builder’s Laboratory
Business Reimagined Podcast
[01:37] Danny’s actual first book was a book about writing published in 2006. It’ a self-published book and Danny knew nothing about marketing. The lesson learned from this book was that he needed to learn about marketing.
[03:13] In 2011, he published Engagement from Scratch! this was a compilation book about building engagement with your audience.
[04:00] This book was about building an audience when you don’t have one. This book put Danny on the map and grew his initial audience.
[05:36] His co-authors were people who had an audience and reach that he worked hard to build a relationship with. These people are rock stars now and it helped Danny build his reach.
[06:40] Danny was guest posting everywhere. His pitch invited people to contribute a chapter.
[10:32] When asking present what is in it for them and be honest about it.
[11:27] His strategy was to glean knowledge and get extra promotion from his guest authors for the book. He also sent each co-author two or three copies.
[13:03] Measuring up against expectations of people who help you out.
[14:40] The large amount of people who get a book deal and then don’t deliver.
[15:17] With self-published books, you can control everything.
[16:32] How giving away free books actually boosted sales and helped Danny’s career.
[18:13] Having a book support team of people with an audience.
[20:01] If people download a book from your website, you can reach out to them. Danny told his list he was available for podcast interviews.
[23:59] Using the book itself as part of the prelaunch process.
[25:04] People look at things differently when they are learning as opposed to being sold to.
[25:54] The importance of delivering real value and information in a way that people are receptive to it.
[26:41] How a real book can be powerful. Educate the market and help readers accomplish something meaningful.
[28:04] More people will optin in for a download rather than a video. The pages of your book determine how much people will read.
[31:49] Properly resourced projects tend to do well.
[32:52] The book should be great, but your offer is the core of what you are doing.
[34:43] Structure of a launch. First video helps people to see an opportunity that wasn’t there before. Second video helping them to see that it is possible for them. Overcome objections. Third video show what life can be like after the journey.
[36:52] 1 star reviews can be frustrating, just accept it and move on.
[38:35] Books as a long term play. It leads into a launch or an evergreen offer. A book is part of your body and work. The more you create the more visible it is. Create great stuff and write a great book.
[40:25] When cool things happen it is not a surprise. Writing something great will attract a higher caliber or better fit of students or customers.
[42:29] Think about why you want to write and publish a book. Don’t have things that are just steps in the ladder.
Links and Resources:
@DannyIny on Twitter
Books by Danny Iny
Danny Iny on LinkedIn
Engagement from Scratch!
The Audience Revolution
Teach and Grow Rich
Audience Business Masterclass
Course Builder’s Laboratory
Business Reimagined Podcast
When it comes to self-publishing your upcoming book, do not make light of selecting your book categories! Although it may appear to be a small detail, you must realize that your readers often resort to categories when looking for books on a specific topic. Therefore, selecting the best book categories for your upcoming bestseller is a critical decision as it will impact your book sales.
Here are more notable reasons why your book should have best fitting categories:
- It can help you become a bestseller. Like the New York Times bestseller, Amazon can also tag your book with an orange badge that says “#1 Bestseller”. And with thousands of Amazon categories to compete and rank for, this means that there’s plenty of opportunity for you to become an Amazon bestseller!
- You can gain more exposure on Amazon. By appearing on different categories, your book can appeal to different audiences. And if your book ranks in the top ten of any category listings, Amazon will include your book to its “Recommendations Engine” which will generate more publicity!
But with plenty of book categories on Kindle Direct Publishing as well as the plethora of books competing for attention, how do you choose the right categories to make your book stand out to your reader?
In this post, we will share our best strategies to help you pick the right categories for your book that will increase your sales rank and obtain maximum exposure through Amazon’s search engine.
Here are the three topics we will cover:
- How to Research Your Competition
- How to Strategically Select Your Category
- How to Acquire Additional Categories
Let’s get started!
1. How to Research Your Competition
If your goal is to appear on the first page of search results on Amazon, then you must take advantage of every window of opportunity to succeed. In order to do so, you first must research your competition.
When you begin researching for book categories, you should start by scanning the bestselling books on every first page results of your target category.
The reason is simply due to the fact that the first page results are most likely what your readers are going to be looking for! Therefore, it’s important to identify the top selling books for each category you want to target.
Notice that for a book on Entrepreneurship, it’s ranked highest for “Labor & Workforce” and “Economics”. This goes to show that by placing their book into such unique categories, the author completely understood their target audience which is why The End of Jobs appears on several first page results.
So if you want to have a high ranking for your category, make it a priority to research your competitors’ categories and emulate their methods with your book.
Action Plan: Research the first page competitors in five categories of your choosing. Take note to any unique categories your competitors rank in, and apply them to your upcoming book.
2. How to Strategically Select Your Category
Because the Amazon’s Kindle Store has thousands of categories to choose from as well as an overwhelming amount of books fighting for attention, the competition can be relentless and unfair to new writers. But there is one approach that will have you stand out: Select trending categories with little competition.
What is considered a competitive rank?
We find that any categories with books ranking higher than #2000 is considered very competitive and not a recommended category for new writers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t place your book in a competitive ranking, but if you do, be sure to have a well planned book launch with a sizable audience that can provide a lot of verified reviews. For new authors with a smaller following, we recommend aiming for certain categories with books that rank between #10,000-30,000.
Once you’ve completed this research, you should have a list of thriving categories to place your book in that will outrank your competitors.
Action Plan: With the five categories you’ve researched, take the time to review your competitors’ ranking that fall between #10,000-30,000. For even better results, we also recommend using the KDP Calculator to calculate how many books you would need to sell in order increase your ranking.
3. How to Acquire Additional Categories
When you upload your book for the first time, Amazon will offer you a select list of categories to choose from. At a first glance, you will notice that the selection seems rather limited and is missing plenty of categories that you’ve seen other books rank for. Unfortunately, Amazon has done this intentionally so that they can place new books into their own kindle categories.
Don’t let Amazon determine your categories! There’s thousands of sub-categories you can rank for, and you can even include an additional eight sub-categories not found in the usual channels.
Here how you can acquire these categories:
- Use Amazon Keyword Selection. Include the name of your category as one of your “Amazon Keywords”. In order to obtain a particular category, you must include specific keywords in the Kindle submission form. For more information on Keyword requirements, visit Amazon’s browse category page to learn more.
- Place your categories in strategic places. To convince Amazon that your book should be placed in specific category, strategically work the words of the category onto the title, subtitle or even the summary of your book page.
- Contact Amazon. You can contact Amazon and request your book to be placed in a particular category. Amazon will then assess your entire book and determine if it’s an appropriate fit for the specific browse category. If approved, These categories will appear in the “Look for similar items by category” at the bottom of the book page.
Action Plan: Experiment with these strategies to acquire additional sub-categories for your book. Remember you can include eight additional keywords that can convince Amazon to place your book in the categories of your choosing.
If you want a successful book launch, you must not overlook even the tiniest of details. By following these guidelines on how to select your book category, your first book will have maximum exposure and the best chance to appear in the Amazon bestseller list.
Fiction writing is fun and creative, but it has it’s own unique set of challenges. Things like character, plot, dialogue and more can trip up new fiction writers. Today, we have NY Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author J.F. Penn here to explain the nuances between writing fiction and nonfiction.
Joanna Penn is a creative entrepreneur, podcaster, professional speaker, and travel junkie who has broken the code with writing fiction and nonfiction and is an expert in the publishing and self publishing industry. She shares the importance of choosing a genre, finding good editors, setting deadlines, research tips, her favorite tools, her favorite books and all kinds of knowledge that will help first time and more experienced authors.
[01:56] Differences between writing fiction and nonfiction. There are skills that you need for fiction that you never needed before.
[02:19] Point of view. When writing fiction you can choose a first or third person point of view.
[02:50] Dialogue. This is a skill unto itself.
[03:05] Story structure. If you have read thousands of books it may be embedded, but this is where the craft comes in. There a quite a few things you need to learn to make a reader feel satisfied.
[03:31] You can get some of this through osmosis by reading the genre in which you are going to write, but these skills also need to be honed.
[03:47] Joanna’s first fiction book process. She also blogged about it. She discovered genre and that she loved super natural thrillers. You need an idea to sustain you through the tough times.
[05:05] Her first novel took 14 months. You need to be so excited about your idea. Joanna has been journaling since she was 15. The seed for her idea was from 10 years before. Put everything in your head, so that it can come out in a story.
[06:11] The first book was based on her travels and put into a framework of a story.
[06:47] Sustainable idea? Believing that you are creative enough There is a creativity muscle. Any skill that you use, you can learn more. Look into things you are curious about.
[08:12] Build an audience over time by writing a series.
[08:45] Research and get ideas. Joanna travels a lot. Read other books. Put it all in your head, so that it can come out again. Follow your curiosity.
[10:09] People who like similar things to you will be interested in your fiction.
[10:55] Use Scrivener for your first draft. Often in fiction you don’t write in order. You can write in scenes.
[11:54] Put everything into Scrivener and flush everything out or just start writing. Use timed writing.
[13:22] First drafts for fiction writers are really bad. When you discover you need to learn something learn it by taking a class on dialogue.
[13:51] Hire a ton of editors. Your first book will be the most expensive because you have the most to learn.
Structural edit – story structure etc. Line edits and proof readers. This teaches you how to write.
[15:23] Find an editor that likes your genre. It’s unlikely to find a perfect match on the first try. As you change, your editor will change.
[16:14] Your editor needs to understand your genre. You want one that will fix you and make you better without changing your voice. It takes about 5 books to find your voice.
[17:10] As we become better writers it is ok to rewrite. Your voice comes out when you write what you really think.
[18:00] Joanna uses beta readers for expert suggestions to critique and their expertise and make the book more accurate.
[19:17] Writers groups aren’t really the best place for a critique. Pay an editor.
[20:52] Network with groups of authors online that are in your genre.
[21:48] Joanna goes through every edit manually because she is always wanting to learn.
[22:37] How it feels to get the edits. It can be brutal. Don’t look at it immediately. Give yourself time to read it. Then wait before making changes. Then go back and try to see with different eyes.
[24:03] Series are easier because you already have the characters and a design. HEA happily ever after. Once you understand your genre think about what you need.
[25:21] Destroyer of Worlds based on a statue in India. Brainstorming and Hindu mythology and Oppenheimer then start researching and reading books. Create questions and notes. Maybe spend a month on this part. Create characters, setting, and then start putting scenes in Scrivener. Have a plot because something needs to happen.
[28:06] Joanna has a Pinterest board for each book. Learning and going down rabbit holes can help flush out the book.
[28:43] How much research is enough? Joanna keeps her research in Scrivener. Set a deadline to get it done.
[29:42] Look at your schedule and work out how much time a day that you can spend writing. You can research more as you write.
[31:10] How fiction uses a different part of your brain. Stuff can just come out. It’s stuff you put in your brain at some point. Filling the creative well.
[31:57] Joanna now dictates her books. She also listens to rain and thunderstorms when she writes.
[32:57] You need structure in order to let your creativity out.
[33:25] Joanna writes between 2000 and 4000 words a day. In the morning at her desk or outside as she dictates.
[33:59] Fiction writing is tiring. If you use your willpower early. Fiction writing requires making decisions for your characters which makes it tiring. Writing a novel is hard work.
[35:45] After the first five novels, you get more relaxed and trust yourself more. What comes into your head tends to be the right structure.
[39:03] Carrying over subplots keep notes or have a series.
[40:10] Use brevity to reintroduce characters.
[40:35] Write in areas that you are interested in. How AI will help with book discovery.
[42:14] Deconstructing a novel to learn how to write. Using this as an outline to model.
[43:37] Finding story and plot in the real world. 95% truth and 5% fiction.
Links and Resources:
Joanna’s Blog About Her First Novel
The Story Grid
Bird by Bird
Save the Cat Moment
The Creative Penn
J.F.Penn on Pinterest
Joanna on Twitter @thecreativepenn
SPS 016: My Exact Process for Writing 16 Books with Joanna Penn
The biggest question new writers ask is “How long does it take to write a book?” And the common answer normally is: “It depends”.
According to this article that interviewed famous authors, when asked how long it took to produce their debut novels, the answers ranged from four years to a decade. In other words, a very long time.
While it’s nice to be able to take your time honing and polishing your new book, a rough draft sitting on your hard drive isn’t doing anything for you. It’s not building your author name, spreading your message, or growing your audience. Moreover, it’s not earning you a single cent.
But there is amazing news: Writing your book can take far less time than you think. You just need to have the right mindset and stay motivated.
Here at Self-Publishing School, our goal is to improve this arduous writing process. Right now, we coach our students to routinely complete a new book in just 90 days, finishing their first draft in as little as 30 days! They are able to accomplish this by following a simple step-by-step guideline that we’re going to share with you today.
This guideline covers:
- Establishing a Strategic Deadline
- Prioritizing Your Writing Into Tasks
- Creating Word Count Goals
- Finding Your Accountability Partner
- Setting Challenges for Yourself
Follow these guidelines to supercharge your own writing process, and you’ll become a published author faster before you know it.
1. Establishing a Strategic Deadline
Deadlines are designed to help you inch closer to completing your book. It also encourages you to work everyday hitting both short term and long term goals. However, you won’t find success by setting arbitrary due dates. They must be set up for your book’s success.
Here’s 3 ways to establish strategic deadlines:
- Define realistic deadlines. Set short term and long term deadlines for each portion of your draft that breaks down your entire book.
- Set honest expectations. If you’re only able to write 500 words a day, so be it. Don’t push yourself into thinking that you can complete an unrealistic task. Be honest with your abilities and align it with your deadline.
- Implement rewards. Don’t make writing a book feel like a tedious job. Reward yourself for achieving your goals! Attaching rewards to each accomplishment will make finishing your book much more aspiring to complete.
Action Plan: Before writing, set your first draft time frame between 30-90 days and set target dates that tackle both short term and long term goals for your first draft.
2. Prioritizing Your Writing Into Tasks
What separates those who can write multiple books to those who can barely write a page is the ability to prioritize. Because there are so many competing factors that pull away our time and energy, prioritizing is actually a very hard concept to implement.
But in order to write your book, you need to establish clear priorities to get anything done.
Here are some ways to prioritize your work:
- List out every detail of your book and turn them into tasks
- Assess each task to identify what carries the biggest value to completing your book
- Order tasks by its immediate priority and length of time to complete
- Anticipate unexpected changes to your schedule, and plan an alternative schedule to stay on track
Action Plan: Make the effort and spend a few hours prioritizing your writing process. You will be surprised with how much writing you can accomplish with a well thought out task plan.
3. Creating Word Count Goals
One of the best ways to accelerate the writing process is to set word count goals. Like training intervals, setting up word count goals will pace how many words to write a day. By establishing these parameters for your own success, not only will you be more likely to accomplish these goals, you will also notice improvements to your writing.
We recommend writing down your daily, weekly, and monthly word count goals to not only show your current progress, but to keep you motivated until you reach the end. It also helps to include rewards for every new milestone!
Action Plan: Start your daily word count goal to 500-1,000 words per day. By completing 1,000 words per day, you’ll be looking at your completed 30,000 word first draft in one month!
4. Finding Your Accountability Partner
A supportive partner can be a great sound board, a first pair of eyes, and a protector of your sanity. They can also be the extrinsic motivation you need to meet your own deadlines and word counts.
When you have an accountability partner backing you up, it makes it harder to procrastinate because they expect great results from you!
At Self-Publishing School, we believe in the accountability system and pair our students up with other like-minded students to encourage one another and hold each other accountable for reaching goals and deadlines. It’s a great motivating tactic and helps our students complete their books on time.
Action Plan: Find an accountability partner who is willing to encourage and hold you accountable to meet your deadlines!
5. Setting Challenges for Yourself
Following the same routine can get old quickly especially for something lengthy like writing the first draft of your book. To combat the fear of boredom and add more spark to your writing project, we encourage you to set challenges for yourself!
Here are some simple challenges to set:
- Double the word count you’ve originally set daily, monthly, yearly
- Purposely tighten deadlines to increase pressure
- Ban the use of your phone or all forms of distractions until you’ve completed your task
- Read your unfinished draft out loud to someone new for feedback
Action Plan: Include a few of these challenges every so often to increase the intensity of your writing. You may tack on even better rewards for each successful challenge you’ve completed.
If you ever dream of becoming a self publisher, now is the time to finally make it a reality. By following these guidelines on how to develop a robust writing process, you will have your first book ready to publish in no time.
Becoming a new author requires a unique fortitude and strength of character.
Writing a book forces you to plan, write, and edit between 50,000 to 100,000 words!
It also requires working with an editor, a publisher (or self-publishing), a design team, and developing a book launch strategy to get readers to see your upcoming bestseller on Amazon. This amount of work can feel overwhelming and can easily crush your confidence.
But what makes new authors become bestsellers like Stephen King comes down to one factor: hard work.
Writing takes tremendous effort, but more importantly requires a strong mindset. Having coached and taught so many successful writers ourselves, we’ve studied and compiled all of their strongest personal qualities that you can adopt and apply to your life to become an author.
This guide covers how to:
- Exercise Patience
- Apply Consistency
- Practice Optimism
- Value Criticism
- Be Empathetic
Let’s reveal how these qualities can shape you to become a published author.
1. Exercise Patience
Writing a book is not an overnight process. It takes a lot of time! Part of learning how to be a professional writer means that you have to cultivate not only discipline and focus, but patience.
The good news is that patience is something that can be developed with practice. Suzannah Windsor Freeman, author of The Busy Mom’s Guide to Writing, discovered that “infinite patience” was the key to her success.
Freeman also famously said, “If your dream were to be a concert pianist, you wouldn’t expect to sit down and just play. You’d take lessons for many years, practice every day, and sacrifice a great deal in order to achieve that dream. So, why do we expect ourselves to be able to write well without the same level of commitment and patience?” Her words advocate that the more time you spend practicing your craft with patience, the better writer you will become.
Action Plan: Cultivate patience by practicing your craft everyday. Whether it’s creative writing or creating short stories, experiment with any form of writing to improve your skills and develop great ideas.
2. Apply Consistency
To become a professional writer, you must treat writing like a serious job. This means that you must commit to a consistent schedule and adhere to a writing process in order to develop good habits and not waste time.
Consider the following strategies to make yourself more consistent as you start the writing process:
- Emulate the “Calendar Strategy.” With a calendar, mark an X for each day you write and make it a goal to not break the chain.
- Find your creative space. Find and create your own space where you’re most comfortable and creative. Whether it’s your office, a coffee shop, or even your kitchen, use it as your place to write everyday.
- Create a writing schedule. Writing at the same time everyday will develop a consistent writing habit. Consistent writing actually creates a muscle memory, triggering your brain to turn on creativity when you sit down to write.
For more writing strategies, check out our guide on 7 Strategies to Start Writing Your Book Today.
Action Plan: Experiment with these methods to optimize your writing process. Following a consistent plan will easily double your output and complete your book in no time.
3. Practice Optimism
Psychologists say that practicing optimism can help you be more productive and live a happier life. It can also help you overcome inevitable pitfalls like writer’s block. The best part is, you can train yourself to think more positively and take on even the worst events that can negatively impact your life.
Here are a few ways to practice optimism:
- Anticipate a positive outcome. Our realities reflect what we think, making our perception of reality the mirror of our thoughts. So having a positive attitude will always increase your optimism, even at your worst.
- Share your optimism with others. Optimism is a contagious attitude powerful enough to shift the momentum of any negative situation to a positive one. So share your positivity with others and build that unshakable force to complete your goal.
- Remove all negativity. Negativity will bring you down, and surrounding yourself with it will encourage more pessimistic thoughts and self-doubt. Avoid it at all cost.
Action Plan: In your writing process, come up with both negative and positive outcomes for any given situation. For each negative situation, try to look for positive outcomes and work towards turning it into a favorable result.
4. Value Criticism
No matter how amazing your book is, there’s always someone who will harshly criticize your work. Instead of viewing it as a humiliating remark, learn to apply the feedback to your writing.
Developing a thick skin is one the hardest things to do, and like many of the other characteristics, takes time to build.
When writing your book, you can build resilience to criticism by practicing the following:
- Anticipate harsh edits and rearrangements across your entire book.
- Prepare to cut out your favorite paragraphs or sentences.
- Count on reading plenty of negative reviews on Amazon, social media or by the press.
Action Plan: Try to find positive feedback from every negative criticism or review on your book. Make it a goal to develop enough flexibility so that one day it will no longer bother you.
5. Be Empathetic
Know that by sharing your story, you’re helping someone else. Your unique experience will empathize with readers and they will draw strength from the words you wrote in your book.
Here are two successful authors whose work has touched many readers:
- Professor Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, was faced with a terminal illness at a young age. Rather than wallow and fade away, he used his last days to create his masterpiece. His book wasn’t about death, but rather short stories that advocated the importance of overcoming hurdles and capturing every moment you have to live for. His generosity to share his life resonated with readers as a tale of courage and inspiration to anyone facing similar adversities.
- Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, wrote her memoir while going through a devastating divorce that left her full of anxiety and panic. She stressed the importance of discovering the best version of herself by leaving behind her previous life to set out to explore the different aspects of nature within food, travel, and love. Her painful story of loss and regrowth profoundly connected to readers so much that it eventually became a movie.
Action Plan: Make the effort to write down the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered and explain how you have dealt with them. You will be surprised to see how meaningful your story is to your readers.
Adopting these characteristics can mean the difference between seeing your name on the best-seller list and never publishing your first book. Applying these practices not only help you become a published author, but also a better person.
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!
Perry Marshall has turned 80/20 into a verb. It’s an action you take on your business. It’s the central lever to any great strategy. Perry’s book 80/20 Sales and Marketing is mandatory reading in many growth oriented companies. It’s also one of my favorite books of all time. After reading it, I started giving copies away like I was Oprah. The book is legendary.
He also is a pioneer in web advertising, as the author of the Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords, he laid the foundations for the $100 billion pay per click industry. He is one of the world’s most expensive and sought-after business consultants. He has consulted in over 300 industries and even was an expert witness for Google AdWords litigation. He is a man that actually doesn’t need an introduction. Today, we talk about his book, marketing, advertising, and more.
You can find Perry here:
80/20 Sales and Marketing
Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords: How to Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes
Books by Perry Marshall
@PerryMarshall on Twitter
Perry Marshall Facebook Page
[01:58] Perry’s first book evolved organically. In 2002, he went to a seminar and started using Google AdWords.
[02:48] Perry discovered Google AdWords should be the first marketing step for testing. He was invited to speak at a Ken McCarthy seminar So, he made an ebook to sell at the seminar and on his website in 2003.
[05:15] AdWords became so popular that Perry had to work to stay current with his knowledge and ahead of the competition.
[06:09] The snowball effect of his testimonials worked for him, and it became a self-publishing success story prior to the Kindle.
[06:56] He was selling half a million dollars a year of ebooks.
[09:04] Wikipedia flagged Perry as a non-notable person. To have real longevity Perry needed to engage with the rest of the world.
[11:01] He went to an agent speed dating seminar and found an agent and got a publisher.
[11:58] He makes less money with the published book, but he is established as an expert. It is a long-term play to be a number one author on Amazon.
[13:24] How there can be good reasons to go the traditional route, but there are trade-offs.
[14:11] His first book was about beginner to advanced intermediate PPC or Google AdWords.
[15:28] The seminar got him great customers and testimonials.
[18:19] If you can become the number one expert, you can make a good living.
[19:02] 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
[20:21] There is an 80/20 inside of every 80/20.
[21:03] 50% of customers comes from 1% of your business.
[21:50] In Google AdWords it’s closer to 90/10. Perry cracked the code on AdWords using 80/20.
[23:14] 80/20 became a staple of what he taught.
[23:52] Perry decided to write an 80/20 book because this was the secret to everything. He wrote the book that he wished he had years ago.
[25:23] 80/20 applied to book marketing. Purchasing a book is like racking a shotgun.
[27:40] Playing poker with marks or guys who are going to lose.
[29:05] Everything in marketing is like racking a shotgun.
[30:33] 20% of people who buy your book will actually read it. 20% of them become your customers.
[32:53] The penny book offer is like the Columbia record and tape club. He makes money off of the backend. The penny won in Columbia’s marketing tests.
[35:03] The advantage of reading a book over looking at a computer screen.
[38:10] How buying Perry’s book is a lesson within a lesson.
[38:35] The average person who takes up his offer spends about $25. You can learn a lot about marketing technique from how they sell the book.
[39:54] Perry is a legendary copywriter.
[40:46] Copywriting is the art and science of saying things so that people want to take action.
[43:03] How to make your book twice as good for $500. Go on Fiver and find candidates for reading your book. Pay 5 gigs or $25 to get them to read the book and answer questions. This can make your book twice as good.
[46:41] Write for an hour everyday, first thing in the morning.
Links and Resources:
Perry Marshall Round Table
The Jeff Herman Agency
The 80/20 Principle
The Marketing DNA Test
Eat That Frog
80/20 Sales and Marketing
Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords: How to Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes
Books by Perry Marshall
@PerryMarshall on Twitter
Perry Marshall Facebook Page
Publishing a book today is easier than ever. You no longer need to go through painstaking efforts to land a book deal which locks you into unrealistic deadlines and cuts you out of most of the earnings. You can now have complete control of your book, and its revenues, by self-publishing.
But many writers get overwhelmed by the abundance of information about self-publishing. It can be intimidating for first-time publishers. So we created a step-by-step comprehensive self-publishing guide for you to follow in order to get your book published on Amazon’s Kindle (KDP) Network.
This guide will cover:
- Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account
- Crafting Your Book Title/Subtitle
- Writing Your Book Description
- Choosing the Right Keywords
- Selecting the Right Categories
- Utilizing the Preorder Option
- Uploading Your Manuscript
- Creating a Book Cover
- Pricing Your Book
1. Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account
Amazon has a platform called Kindle Direct Publishing that can create and manage your Kindle eBook, paperback, and audio books. It’s widely used to build books from the ground up. Fortunately, setting up your KDP account is easy, and should be the first step you complete.
- Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and register with either your Amazon account or with your email address.
- Next, click “Update” in your account information and fill in your tax information. It’s important to note that you need to complete your tax information BEFORE you can publish your first book. So don’t skip this step!
- Once your tax information is complete, click “Finished” and return to the main page.
- Your profile is complete!
With your KDP account setup, proceed to setting up the details of your book.
2. Crafting a Book Title and Subtitle
In your KDP profile, you need to fill in the title and subtitle of your book. While a subtitle is optional, having a good subtitle is something you should definitely consider.
Here are a few tips to crafting a great book title:
- Use a Book Hook: Your book hook should speak to the reader in a unique voice that grabs their attention and feeds into what they are looking for.
- List the Benefits: Your potential readers want to know what they will get from reading your book. One technique is to deliver the benefits in the subtitle,providing enough tantalizing information to further attract readers.
3. Writing Your Book Description
Here’s what people notice first when seeing a new book:
- Book Description
A book description is essentially a short written narrative that illustrates what your book is about. It should be written like a sales page to capture the interest of your reader. This is crucial because the description, in many cases, is the final factor that determines whether the reader will read your book or not. Done correctly, a well-written book description can practically sell a book on its own.
Here are some strategies to help craft your perfect description:
- Make your first sentence as enticing as possible
- Write your description like a sales page or advertisement, not a dry summary of your book
- Have the description feel personal and empathetic
- Detail the benefits your reader will gain by reading your book
Here are our favorite books with great descriptions:
- Champion Mindset: Tactics to Maximize Potential, Execute Effectively, & Perform at Your Peak – Knockout Mediocrity! By Patrick King
- Novice to Expert: 6 Steps to Learn Anything, Increase Your Knowledge, and Master New Skills by S.J. Scott
Spend some time crafting your eye-catching book description. It will make your book stand out to your readers and motivate them to purchase your book. For the best results we recommend using the Free Amazon Book Description generator at kindlepreneur.com
4. Choosing the Right Keywords
If you want your book to show up in Amazon and Google search engines, you’ll need the right mix of keywords. Since Amazon allows only seven keywords per book, keyword selection requires strategy.
You can research the right keyword phrases by using search tools such as:
- KDP Rocket: This is a great tool for comparing Google search results to Amazon. It gives you a competitive score from 1-99, keyword results from both Google and Amazon, and how much money other books are making.
- KW Finder: This tool gives an analytical view of the keyword popularity using a competitive ranking. You can search five keywords for free per day.
- Amazon’s Autofill Function: Take advantage of Amazon’s search box to find good keywords. Amazon’s suggestions are based on search history so you want to search for words that are high in demand with little competition.
Make a list of possible keywords for your book, then leverage the tools above to test your keywords. Putting in the time to get keywords right will have your book rank higher and appear more frequently to readers.
5. Selecting the Right Categories
Amazon provides a collection of categories and subcategories to choose from. Like keyword selecting, your goal is to look for trending areas that don’t have tons of competition. You can also check the rankings of the top three books on the first page of each category.
Amazon sales ranking measures how well a product is selling compared to its competitors. All books that are ranked 2,000 or less are considered to be highly purchased products in that particular category. Unless you have an established audience with significant downloads and reviews, try to aim for categories with books that rank between 10,000-30,000.
6. Uploading Your Manuscript
To upload your manuscript, it first must be saved in a supported kindle format. Once that’s complete, you can upload your book very quickly:
- In your KDP account, go to “Your Bookshelf”.
- Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions” next to the title of book.
- Locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
- Click on “Upload eBook manuscript”.
- Upload your manuscript file on your computer.
- Upload complete!
Once Amazon finishes uploading your file, a confirmation message will be sent and you can preview the uploaded file to check for any errors. You can upload the manuscript as many times as you want and the new version will override the existing.
It’s important to check how your book looks using the “Look Inside” feature once the book is live on Amazon. This feature is often the first thing your prospective readers will click on when checking out your book. If the formatting is off here, it can deter readers from picking up your book. Take this extra step to make sure your formatting looks good here too.
7. Creating Your Book Cover
When it comes to publishing a successful book on Amazon, having a perfect book cover is one of the most important aspects to get right. Your cover is exactly how your book will be judged on first glance.
So you must make sure that it is created professionally and that it will stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category.
You can find cover creators on freelancing sites such as:
Prices will depend on the level service, but these sites will give you plenty of amazing graphic designers to choose from! It’s a great investment that will make your book stand out perfectly.
8. Pricing Your Book
A question often asked is: “How much should I be pricing my book at after the initial launch is over?”
This is up to the author, but generally the best range to have your book priced is between $2.99 to $9.99.
The royalty payments vary depending on the country, but you can learn more on KDP Select pricing page.
One popular strategy for beginners is to price your book at $2.99 and gradually increase it by $1 per week. At some point, your sales will begin to dip. And while that’s normally a negative statistic, for this case, it confidently tells you the perfect price of your book that guarantees profit.
Here are the 4 main pricing strategies to consider in order to be competitive and sell books:
- Know the price of your competitors. Compare the list price of your book to the books around you and determine if you would be able to sell your book for a higher price.
- Know the size of your followers. Famous authors can charge a lot for their books because they have a big following. If you’re not in this category, your book should be priced lower to encourage new readers to your work.
- Determine price based on size of your book. Size makes a difference when it comes to books. Don’t charge $20 for a 75 page book. Customers will immediately be turned off with the lack of content at that price point.
- Measure price based on reviews. Reviews carry a big weight on influence, and is social proof that your book has been read and well received. Therefore, a book with higher reviews (1000+ reviews) can be priced higher compared to a book with fewer reviews (30+ reviews).
You can get legitimate and honest reviews from:
- Your personal launch team
- Amazon’s top reviewers
- Fans of your social media page
- Personal email list
Experiment with these strategies to pinpoint the price for your book, it will drive long-term success.
If you want to become a self-publishing author, you must be fluent with platforms such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Use these guidelines to self-publish your book, and it will appear on Amazon’s bestseller list in no time.
Writing a book can benefit your business as well as benefit you as a topic expert. Learn how my guest David McKay was able to do just that. He and his wife Ally have built a successful photography company called McKay Photography where they offer classes and travel photography tours around the world. His bestselling book and speaking engagements have helped propel their business to successful levels.
David is also the author of the Photography Demystified book series. This is a great episode because we dive into how David used his books to build his company and business. We also learn about business, life, travel, and photography with this artistic photographer and successful businessman and author who has built his business on a local and international level.
[01:19] How everyone has a story within them. David’s just happens to be about photography. Much more has come out of his writing than he had anticipated.
[02:17] Once David makes a decision, he goes for it. The reason behind the first book was to help the business and residual income.
[03:24] Chandler’s step-by-step process was instrumental to David’s success.
[03:50] He went to a hotel room with a poster board and colored pencils and made a mind map and then started categorizing it.
[04:33] He locked himself in and just went for it. The first book took just over two weeks. It took a half week to get on the bestseller list.
[05:26] How setting the time aside was the big trick to David’s success to getting everything done so fast.
[06:12] After mind mapping and categorizing, he wrote down everything he could in each category and just started typing.
[06:54] He thinks on a linear level, so this helped him stay on track.
[09:34] David had developed an email list through his business, so he sent the list a notice asking if anyone would like to join the advance team and get a free copy of the book and leave a review. He ended up with 900 people.
[10:57] He used followed up emails to encourage people to leave the reviews. He figured if people unsubscribed they weren’t the target market.
[11:41] Inviting the group to stay for the next book worked really well. He also left a special surprise for the first 50 reviewers.
[12:47] He went to number one on free on Amazon. Then when he switched to paid, he also shot to number one.
[13:35] He also sent the $1.99 promo to his entire list to catch the people who didn’t take advantage of the free offer.
[14:17] It took David four years to build his list traveling around the country teaching photography.
[15:17] Then he started running contests giving a free trips on his tours. He also worked with a partner on YouTube. Partner with someone who is doing well.
[16:13] After the contests his email lists went to 21,000 subscribers.
[16:23] The cost isn’t all recouped through the book, but the book is an avenue to get people to take the travel tours.
[17:24] David evolves and changes with the market. Anyone can find a way to do it. He also reached out to manufacturers to sponsor contests.
[18:29] The strength is in numbers. Partnering with people is a great way to get those numbers.
[19:28] If the sponsor also emails the contest they too get to participate in the new email list.
[20:41] It only takes one person to buy into the tour to pay for the contest prize. They booked two tours through the contest.
[23:04] They are willing to work with anybody to get them on the tour. They also offer high and lower priced tours so anyone can do it.
[24:09] There is a link in the book to free content for email subscribers.
[25:36] They also participate in travel and adventure shows to advertise.
[27:19] Old-fashioned advertising is dead. Things need to be done in new creative ways.
[27:47] All of the different streams are leading back to the tours and classes.
[31:30] His first residual check was $856.00 and then $400.00, $400.00, then $500.00. This is still worth the investment especially with the valuable back-end of the book and the email list. He is working on his third book, which he plans to hit hard with the advertising.
[34:21] The power of leveraging local media and PR.
[37:02] Going to libraries and get them to purchase your books.
[37:47] For some people it is just a matter of taking a step.
[38:51] The toughest part of writing the book was overthinking and being a perfectionist. His first editor was not one. Get a good editor.
[41:51] Everyone has a story in them that will affect someone else.
Links and Resources:
Photography Demystified Books
McKay Photography Academy Facebook
McKay Photography Academy YouTube
When it comes to writing a book, creating a book title is surprisingly one of the hardest parts to complete. It’s difficult because titles are essentially short hooks that advertise your book using the fewest words possible. It’s also what readers look for first when they discover new books, and can take less than 5 seconds to make a decision. This is why it’s so crucial to craft a perfect name.
To help spur your creative process, we’ve created a few essential guidelines for you to follow as you craft your perfect title. Since there are different title considerations for fiction and non-fiction, we broke these two topics down separately into:
- How to Choose a Book Title for Non-Fiction
- How to Choose a Book Title for Fiction
Let’s create your selling title!
How to Choose a Book Title for Non-Fiction
As you begin crafting your title ideas for your non-fiction book, the key is knowing that non-fiction readers are looking for solutions. Whether it’s losing weight, becoming a master in sales, or better at fostering relationships, they’re simply looking for a book that will solve their problem.
To leverage this idea, here are a set of rules to consider:
Rule of Thumb #1: Your Title Must Include a Solution to a Problem
Your title should be crystal clear on what your readers will achieve by reading your book. Experts say that a title with a clear promise or a guarantee of results will further intrigue your readers.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your title:
- Are you teaching a desirable skill?
- Can your personal discoveries impact someone’s life?
- Can your book solve a very difficult problem?
Here are our favorite book titles that offer a clear solution to a problem with promising results:
- Asperger’s Rules! How to Make Sense of School and Friendship by Blythe Grossman
- How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss
Action Plan: Write down the best solutions or teachings your book offers and form these into potential book title ideas.
Rule of Thumb #2: Use a Subtitle for Clarity
A great non-fiction title employs a subtitle to clarify what the desired outcome will be from reading your book.
In this video clip, Chandler explains in 5 simple steps how to create a compelling subtitle:
Here are some questions to consider when creating your subtitle:
- How can your subtitle further expand on achieving a desirable outcome?
- What are the biggest pain points that your subtitle can provide a solution for?
- How can you further address your innovative solution in the subtitle?
Here are our favorite book subtitles that spell out what their readers can expect from reading their books:
- The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna
- Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
- Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock
Action Plan: Make a list of 10 attention-grabbing subtitles that promise big outcomes and other positive benefits.
Rule of Thumb #3: Make Your Title Unforgettable
Catchy titles are memorable, boring titles are not. So make an effort to be more creative and fun with your book title! Use alliterations to make your title easier to read and remember. A memorable and light hearted title adds additional character to your book, and is also a great way to attract readers.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your memorable title:
- Will a fun title turn a normally boring subject into something more interesting?
- Will adding humor to your title further entice readers?
- Will a cleverly written title stand out from other books in this genre?
Here are our favorite books that engaged us with clever titles and subtitles:
- Me Talk Pretty One Day and Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
- Trust me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
Action Plan: Experiment with different types of styles and poll your audience to determine whether a comedic, shocking, or even bizarre title will be the most appealing to your target audience.
No matter which method works best on creating a compelling title for nonfiction books, a good thing to remember is to always test multiple titles with different audiences to determine which title generates the biggest response. Feedback is the only way to know for certain which title is perfect for your book.
How to Choose a Book Title for Fiction
Generally, fiction titles are allowed more creative wiggle room than their non-fiction counterparts. That being said, an effective fiction title must still pique your readers’ attention.. And while it’s true that you can title your fictional book with random names, it still must pique the reader’s attention.
Here are some key guidelines to keep in mind:
Rule of Thumb #1: Your Title Should be Appropriate to Your Genre
Your novel title should use language that resonates with both your genre and target audience.. For example, a romantic book can call for dreamy language whereas an action book can warrant strong and powerful words. This means that you must know your book’s genre and words that best fit the style of title.
Here are some questions to consider for appropriate genre titles:
- What genre best fits this story?
- Which are the perfect choice words for your genre?
Here are our favorite fictional titles based on genre:
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Action Plan: Based on the genre of your book, pick out a few keywords that best suit its category and evoke strong emotions in your readers.
Rule of Thumb #2: Your Book Title Should Pique Your Reader’s Interest
A great fiction title teases and leaves your audience wanting more. You want your audience to read your title and think, “I must read what’s behind that cover!” Create fictional titles intriguing enough to capture the imaginations of your readers, and get to them to read your story.
Here are some questions to consider on how to pique interest with your title:
- Which key component of your story best captivates your readers?
- What emotions do you want your readers to have once they read your title?
Here are our favorite fictional titles that drew our attention:
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Action Plan: Choose a theme that will best draw your reader’s attention. Come up with 5 titles that will catch your reader’s attention and pique their curiosity..
Rule of Thumb #3: Look to Your Characters for Book Title Inspiration
A great book title captures the spirit of the protagonist. Some authors simply use the hero’s name for their title. Others have combined the names of their hero along with their special qualities to inform the audience about their protagonist’s accomplishments like Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.
On the flip-side, a formidable antagonist can also be an amazing book title. A sinister name can convey a sense of dread and expectation for what’s to come like Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. Both choices are great title ideas and should be seriously considered for your fictional book.
Here are some questions to consider when including a character as a title:
- Between the hero and villain, who impacts the story more?
- Are there any stunning qualities from your characters that will draw a reader’s emotion?
- Can the plot of the story be summed up as a title?
Here are our favorite fictional books that uses characters for its title:
- Harry Potter (Literary Series) by J. K. Rowling
- Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Action Plan: Determine which character best conveys what the story will tell in your title. You may also include creative words or themes to further showcase the character’s unique qualities or the journey itself.
Ultimately, the title of your book depends on you, the author. By following these constructive guidelines, you will be able to create a marvelous title that will grasp the attentions of readers and soon become an Amazon bestseller in no time!
Beginning the process of writing your book and presenting it to a worldwide audience is very exciting. You have amazing ideas that you want to share with the world, and you’re more motivated than ever to educate your readers about them!
But once you begin, you may realize that writing a book is hard work. There are many obstacles that can prevent you from writing and can create stress leading to anxiety. For example, you may find yourself in front of a blank page unable to type and thinking of stressful questions like: “How do I write this entire book?”, “Do I need to blog first?”, or “Should I start without an outline”?
Writing a book shouldn’t be this hard! But many get overwhelmed because they lack a writing process.
If you’re feeling demotivated when it comes to starting your book, you’re not alone. Writing can still be one of the hardest parts for most authors even if they have been writing for a long time!
Fortunately, there are some extremely effective techniques for how to start writing a book and overcome these hurdles.
Here are seven effective strategies you can put into action to assure you show up with a game plan to get your thoughts out of your head, down on paper, and into the minds of your readers.
1. Set Up Your Creative Environment
Create an environment that is designed to help you stay focused. Whether you prefer noisy environments or absolute solitude, it’s up to you to determine which will get you into the writer’s flow.
Here are a few ideas to create your ideal space for writing:
- Have collections of inspiration. Decorate your work area with inspiring quotes or pictures that house references to deep work.
- Unclutter your space. Create an uncluttered open space to help organize not only what you need, but also your thoughts.
- Be Flexible. Your creative space doesn’t need to be one spot, it can be anywhere. Even your favorite authors have discovered their best ideas in the most unexpected places.
- Buy a calendar: Your book will get written faster if you have set goals for the week/day. The best way to manage this is by scheduling your time on a calendar. Schedule every hour that you commit to your author business. What gets scheduled, gets done.
- Create a music playlist for inspiration: Many authors can write to the sound of their favorite tunes. Is there anything that gets you working faster? Do you write better with deeper focus when listening to rock music or classical? Set up several playlists that you can use to get into the flow of writing.
- Try Multiple Locations. You won’t know how creative you can be if you don’t try different spots to write. Maybe writing from your bed is your ideal creative space. What about working in a noisy cafe? Change up your location frequently particularly if you feel creatively spent.
Action Step: Spend 30 minutes to create your ideal space for writing. You will feel more inspired to show up and write.
2. Develop a Writing Habit
The number one reason authors fail to publish a book is because they never finish the book they intend to write. Why? Because they didn’t form a good writing habit.
Feeling overwhelmed when writing is natural, but you must remember that the journey of writing a book always begins with the first page. And in order to write your first page, you must take action. This is why having a writing habit will develop your writer’s flow.
Your writing habit can start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking that you must write your every thought on the page. You can start with a few paragraphs, a sentence, or even just a word. The purpose of this exercise is to commit to your writing session everyday until it has become second nature.
Action Step: If you don’t have a writing routine already, get one started! Momentum begins by taking that first action.
3. Create an Outline
A clear outline provides clarity and direction to your story. It is also the road map for your book that keeps you on track and makes sure you have all your ideas organized in a natural flow. When you get stuck, you can always go back to your outline to find what comes next regardless of whether the book is 100 pages or 300 pages long. It will help you see the overall picture.
Before you write, spend some time creating your outline with these steps:
- Brainstorm: List every thought and story idea you want in your book.
- Organize: Combine all related ideas together.
- Order: Arrange ideas into subsections from general to specific.
- Label: Create main and sub headings that will eventually be your chapters.
Action Step: Spend a good portion of your time constructing an outline. If you want more on creating it, be sure to check out our guide.
4. Work Only on One Project
One challenge many authors experience is taking on multiple new projects when they should be focused on one. Although enticing, the division of attention can spread your energy thin producing bad writing or worse, failure to complete your book.
There’s only one clear solution to this problem: Cut the clutter and focus on one project until it’s finished.
Be fully committed to your project by doing the following:
- Create an action plan that breaks down the entire project into realistic portions to complete.
- Set hard deadlines for each and every phase of your book.
- Learn to say “NO” to any additional projects no matter how intriguing they appear.
Action Step: Create an action plan and commit to it. Learn to be selfish and practice saying “NO” often. It’s better to complete one book and get it right than to write two books with poor results.
5. Maintain Your Focus
Once you get into the flow of writing, you want to remain focused through the duration of your writing session. Any break to your concentration can set you back 20-30 minutes and disrupt your flow. We become less efficient when we are distracted, and it can end up taking twice as long to complete our writing.
Thankfully, there are very effective techniques that can help you remain centered in the moment.
Leave the distractions behind by doing the following:
- Create a writing schedule. Schedule your writing for the same time each day. This conditioning will develop your writing habit until it becomes as natural as knowing when to brush your teeth.
- Use the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management strategy that breaks down work into intervals separated by short breaks. With a clock ticking, you will less likely be distracted by email or social media.
- Turn off your phone. Your phone is the most addicting device that steals your precious attention. Don’t let it take that from you, turn it off.
- Have a Task Management app. Task Manager apps, like Todoist, helps you organize your tasks by their time and priority, so you know exactly what to do in what order the next day.
- Disconnect from the Internet. Want to ensure you don’t get distracted by email notifications, Facebook notifications etc? Disconnect your computer from the Internet and enjoy distraction-free writing time.
Action Plan: Experiment with each of these productivity techniques and optimize your writer’s flow. By becoming a productivity expert, you will easily double your output and complete your book in no time.
6. Stay Accountable with the “Calendar” Strategy
Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most popular comedians of all time, and he attributes his success to his unbelievably strong writing habits. In the early days of his career, Seinfeld was asked how he managed to have such great content. He said, “The way to be a better comic is to create better jokes, and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.”
Seinfeld used the “Calendar Method”, otherwise known as the “Don’t Break the Chain” method, and it worked like this:
- Get yourself a calendar, and hang it on the wall.
- For each day you write, draw an X on the calendar for that day. By the end of the week, you should have a row of Xs at the end.
- If you miss a day, start over and see how long you can go before breaking the chain.
If you can keep this chain going, you will have your book written faster than you can imagine.
Action Plan: Buy yourself a calendar and get started on the “Calendar Method”! Being held accountable will keep you motivated and not “Break the Chain”.
7. Deal With Resistance
Resistance is a common obstacle that holds us back from creating. It is a form of fear that intimidates you from writing and can throw you off your writer’s flow. Everyone has encountered this awful feeling, but it doesn’t have to defeat you.
Here are a few ways to deal with resistance:
- Read morning affirmations. Affirmations are powerful snippets of positive words that set the tone and atmosphere for writing. An affirmation could be a quote from a writer, a motivational speech from a public figure, or an inspirational video.
- Free Flow for 10 Minutes. Julia Cameron, the bestselling author of The Artist’s Way, called these morning pages, and its purpose is to clear your mind of all the anxiety and junk rolling around in your head onto a piece of paper. Write anything. You don’t have to edit, publish, or have a word count, it’s simply a 10 minute exercise to clear out heavy thoughts and prepare you for a more productive day. This is best done with pen and paper vs. typing into a document on your digital device.
- Exercise. Exercising is not only good for your health, but will help keep you mentally sharp. Working out will increase the blood flow to the brain which will sharpen your awareness and give you the energy you need to tackle your book.
Action Plan: Create a resistance plan! Figure out which methods best filter out negative noise and get you to prepared to write.
If you want to become a published author, you must take ownership of your writing habits. By following these seven strategies, you can have a completed book within months and be on your way to becoming a successful writer.
Your next bestseller is closer than you think.
Do you have dreams of becoming a best-selling author, but feel like you know way too little about promoting a book? We get that it is not an easy task to form a promotion plan; in fact, it can be as much work as writing a book!
But as a writer, once you’ve finished writing your book, you must have a promotion plan. Without one, it will be hard to sell many copies because no one will know about your book!
Even if you have a publisher, you should still develop a promotion plan because you might find out that they barely help market your book until you’ve already sold a certain number of copies.
Today, we’re going to show you how to get your book into the hands of more people using these strategies.
This guide will cover:
- TV interviews
- Local bookstores
- Press interviews (digital and printed)
- Social media
Let’s get started!
Promoting Your Book Through TV Interviews
Scoring a TV spot is an absolute dream come true, think of all the free promotion! But as you can imagine, it is not easy to land a TV interview because many others are competing for the same thing.
Here’s our strategy to help you land an interview on TV.
To truly stand out from the masses, start by building relationships with hosts and producers of the shows you’re interested in. Fostering relationships first is an essential part of the pitch because it will help them better understand you and develop chemistry between you. This is a crucial element for a TV interview.
Keep it Short
Everyone’s busy in the media world! Producers aren’t going to wade through pages of pitches so you must make your pitch short and sweet. Try to hook them in the first ten sentences.
Know Their Audience
Make your book relevant to their fans, —don’t force them to connect the dots.
If the TV program leans towards entertainment, share a funny story to show that you will be fun to interview. It’s okay to be silly and comedic – let your sense of humor shine through.
If it’s a serious program, show that you’re there to discuss an important issue and that the conversation will be held in high regard. Be serious with your tone of voice, and also cite quotations and statistics to further expand the depth of the topic.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you should have a very convincing pitch that will get producers to book you on their next available time slot.
How to Shine During Your TV Interview
Hooray! You’ve landed a TV interview! Now it’s time for the real prep to begin.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Write down and practice your talking points ahead of time so that you don’t freeze when the cameras are on. Remember, your goal is to have a natural dialogue with the host and not sound robotic. Rehearse your talking points to reflect a natural back-and-forth conversation.
Do Your Research
Your goal is to understand your audience so you can connect with them. The show will have detailed demographic information available so it’s up to you to tailor your content with this knowledge.
To get to know your audience, here are a few starting points to consider:
- What’s their age range?
- What are their interests?
- What’s popular or trending with them right now?
With this information, you can forge a natural connection that’s most suitable for the viewers.
During the interview, expect to be full of nerves, but don’t let it lose your focus! Stop thinking about the next line, and remain present in the moment. Be a good listener and remember that you’re having a conversation.
For example, if the host asks a question that’s unexpected, don’t panic! Instead, go with the flow and enjoy the conversation. Try to link the conversation back to your book with short anecdotes relating to the topic. This will keep audience members engaged and create more interest in your book.
If you take your time and pay attention to the host, the conversation will flow smoother and everyone will benefit. You’ll seem more confident and upbeat, rather than full of nerves.
2. Radio and Podcast Interviews
Radio shows and podcasts are a terrific way to share your voice to your potential readers. With over 90% of Americans listening to the radio as well as the exploding popularity of podcasts, it’s well worth the effort to appear on these platforms.
To get started, local radio and podcast shows are always looking for new content to share with their audience. They also love their community and will favor locals more so than anyone else. Mentioning that you’re a local will be an advantage to your pitch especially if you include the locations of your future book signings at local bookstores.
If you can’t find a local show, finding one with a very specific topic relevant to your books audience will be easier to get on initially then a huge, massively popular show. If you start small you’ll have an easier time getting booked, and then you can use that initial show to get booked on bigger shows in the future.
How to Shine on the Air
Here are some tips for giving a killer on-air performance once you’ve booked your first interviews.
Even though the audience can’t see you on the radio, they can hear and feel your energy.
Pique your listeners’ interest by doing the following:
- Always smile so you speak in a happier tone
- Sit up straight
- Walk around when talking (if possible with your mic setup)
- Aim to add 10% more energy to your conversation than normal
By acting energized and engaged, the listeners will feed off your vibrant energy and will further enjoy your guest appearance.
Make the Host’s Job Easy
Don’t be discouraged if your host hasn’t read your book. With busy schedules, it happens more often than you might think.
Your job is to make your host look smart. Tell them about your book, don’t quiz them.
Make their jobs easy by educating them about your material. You’ll connect better with the audience by sharing your knowledge.
Prepare a List of Questions
It’s perfectly acceptable to provide your own list of questions for the host.
Here are some simple questions to offer:
- What made you write this book?
- How’d you come up with the book title?
- What kind of person would love to get their hands on this book? (this is an EXCELLENT question, especially if you know their audience well)
Busy radio hosts and producers will appreciate the extra effort and may even work from your list of questions.
3. Local Bookstores
Avid book buyers love their local bookstores. And since they are your target audience, you should grow your fanbase by making an appearance!
Here’s how you can make an appearance at the local bookstore.
Schedule an Appearance
Book clubs love to meet new authors, and local bookstores are more than willing to feature guests that will get their readers to the store. It’s a win-win combination and all it takes is for you to book an appearance.
Here’s how you can pitch to local bookstores:
- Google several bookstores around your area
- Find their contact email
- Craft your pitch by including what your book is and why it will benefit the local bookstore
Pitch to as many local bookstores as you can handle. Again, you can start as local as a library and work your way up. This will surely attract bigger bookstores to book you as soon as possible.
Cater to your Audience
You’ve booked an appearance! Now you must plan your act and deliver what your readers want.
Here’s what book clubs want in a live appearance :
- An entertaining or thought provoking presentation of your book
- Live reading or a few short stories
- Live Q&As about you and your book
- Book signings
- Free books (or codes for free ebooks!)
Booking several live appearance will guarantee a boost to your fanbase, and will get fans to organically market your book by word of mouth! This is one of the most effective forms of book marketing (and it’s also free).
4. Print Interviews and Guest Posts
Publications are alive and well. Many also have huge digital presences, so don’t look over this form of media when creating your promotion strategy.
Instead, find publications and blogs that your target audience reads frequently and reach out to them.
Here are some tips to land a guest post or print interview:
- Browse publication websites to see if they allow guest submissions or interview pitches.
- Search for a contact page and find a way to send a cold pitch
- Pitch to journalists through LinkedIn
- Use HARO (Help A Reporter Out), where you can contribute to exclusive stories that reporters and journalists are in need of
Even if you’ve never had a print interview before, following these steps will get local publications and blogs excited to share your new book.
How to Shine in a Print Interview
You scored a press interview! Now practice how to sound like a pro author with these steps (even if your voice is cracking from nerves)
Print interviews are a little more relaxed than TV or radio spots, but you still have a finite amount of time to get your message across. In this platform, it’s okay to be more direct and sell yourself. Hit on the best selling points of your book to get readers interested.
Plan Your Hooks
You need to have some print-friendly “sound bites” to intrigue your audience.
Here are some questions to think about when planning your hooks:
- What makes your book special?
- Who is this book perfect for?
- Will be this be useful?
Get to the heart of why your audience needs your book before you do the interview. Then, make sure you talk about it.
Don’t Let Hard questions Throw You Off
Don’t let unanticipated or sticky questions throw you off. You can never be 100% prepared. All you can do is listen to the question and answer as positively as you can.
Remember, unlike an on-air or audio-recorded interview, you can take as much time as you need before you answer. Use it to your advantage.
Write a Great Guest Post
If they want you to write a blog post for their site instead of interviewing you, be sure that you make the post the best it can be. It might be tempting to skimp on the article since you’re giving it away, but the better you make your guest article, the more book sales it will drive for you.
5. Social Media
Social media needs no introduction, and you’re missing out on sales if it’s not included in your book promotion. Optimizing your social media platform can be challenging, but we’ve figured out the best methods to promoting your book using social media.
Here’s how you can incorporate it into your promotion strategy to maximize your book sales.
Create a Facebook Page
To get more recognition for your upcoming book, you must have a Facebook page. It’s a great way to show social proof, and it makes it easier for new potential fans to find your book.
Here’s what to include in your Facebook Page:
- Include a great photo of yourself
- Show a high quality image of your book cover
- Add a short bio that describes you and your book
- Show a book trailer that visually highlights the selling points of your book
We find Facebook to be one of the best platforms to reach your audience. But if you’re serious, we also recommend building a website with email capture for sending promotions and updates. That way fans from Facebook can be directed to your page, and see your latest updates.
Get Your Fans Involved
Social media is a great tool for featuring your book, but it’s also a great way to interact with your fans. Fans are more than willing to post about books that they love, so don’t be afraid to ask them for assistance!
Here’s how to get them involved:
- Ask them to submit book reviews through Amazon.
- Ask them to share your book across all social media platforms
- Ask them to spread the book in their universities or organizations
Dedicated fans want to see more of you, and love it when you interact through social media. If you also include rewards to sweeten the deal, you may potentially have yourself a full operating social media team that may get you on the front pages of any social media platform!
If you ever want to become a bestselling author, you have to take ownership of your promotion efforts. Use this advice to get your book into your audience’s hands, sell more books, and becoming a bestselling author in no time.
Steve Scott is a well-known author, blogger, and podcaster who has published over 50 books in 3 niches. Steve has written books about habits, productivity, and entrepreneurship. Steve has a lot of experience and is really good at building a platform to market his books and products. Steve is the perfect guest for today’s topic because we are going to focus on the platform side and building a platform and leveraging it into a massive portfolio like steve has created.
Steve shares how he originally got into Kindle publishing to build a platform for his blog. He began in February of 2012, but it didn’t take long for Steve to realize that his books were taking off and making money. He then decided to pick what was at the time an untapped niche that he was interested in and put his head down and write. He also used his Internet marketing knowledge to give away free content and build an email list. This was invaluable for building the amazing platform that he now has and his amazing Kindle publishing success.
[01:55] Steve got into Kindle publishing in February 2012. His original intent was to drive traffic to his blog. By summer, he realized that these books could generate income.
[02:44] He was creating Internet business books and realized he needed free content to build an email list. He started his habits books in May of 2013.
[03:23] He shifted to the habits books to build a business model on the Amazon platform. He didn’t anticipate how successful his books would be.
[04:15] His success revolved around his habits, so the books were a natural progression.
[04:43] He was fortunate to find what at the time was an untapped market and drill down into the topic. He wrote everything he knew about these topics. In depth micro-topics.
[06:06] How in the beginning, the writing of the books was the first challenge. He knew the basics of email lists and writing on the Kindle platform.
[07:04] Steve had been doing affiliate marketing since 2006. He knew how valuable an email list would be.
[00:07:46] Blogging taught Steve to create micro topics.
[08:57] How giving away free content isn’t bad.
[09:19] Steve created Develop Good Habits to help build a platform for his books and list building. When people read content and then get into Steve’s email funnel and he will promote his book bundle through his list. He is using a content platform, an email list, and Amazon.
[11:42] Steve is testing content upgrades and checklists for his Mastering Evernote book. Create something special for your top selling books.
[13:06] Steve likes to have a blog because it is great for Facebook retargeting ads.
[14:28] Steve has a VA create slideshare presentations from his books.
[16:14] Steve feels that social media isn’t the best use of his time, but driving people back to content or email lists.
[16:46] Steve launches his books for .99 and he does a solid push for 5-7 days. Then he has a regular sales event every 2-3 months. Selling books for .99 hooks people into the idea of buying .99 books.
[18:24] Steady sales over days are better for the Amazon algorithm.
[18:52] Solid email sequence with a lead magnet have a four to five email sequence. Put an email subscriber call to action in the front and back of the book and have a free promotion. Write three to four books and continuously roll them out. Then find a content platform to promote your book.
[20:37] As books age and have .99 sales and price some as a massive event. Continuously improving on the assets you have.
[22:42] Steve also emails and establishing relationships with some people and gives them free books and tries to get them to leave a review. He uses surveys to see who is interested in free books and the promotion. He also uses other campaigns.
[23:48] He also sends a last chance offer scarcity play.
[24:55] He is literal with his subject lines, but he will copy past subject lines that were successful.
[25:57] Steve is looking to create a lead magnet which signs people up for the main list. Then he sends links and offers to other books. Then it is a mix of content and different promotions.
[29:01] At the back of his books he used to have an excerpt to another book. He just has an offer in the back now. He tries to give people as many opportunities as possible to find his books.
[30:45] What Steve did well last year was being very consistent with his writing and word count. Habit Stacking is also a unique concept when Steve created the book.
[32:47] Steve is planning on going back and doing what worked so well for him in the past, and he is testing headlines.
[34:15] Polling people is a great way to find compelling titles and the same for covers. He is trying to find the right hook and get the best feedback about what will work.
[35:29] Having an email list is really the thing that can make a difference in a business.
Grant Baldwin is a nationally known keynote speaker, podcaster, author, entrepreneur, and the creator of the Booked and Paid to Speak training program. He hosts The Speaker Lab Podcast and training site which provides weekly training to speakers at all levels. As a speaker, Grant has given hundreds of presentations and has spoken to over 400,000 people in 45 different states. His book and curriculum for students Reality Check is taught in over 400 schools around the country.
Grant and I met in San Diego, and he is a good friend of mine. I think Grant is a genuinely good hearted guy and one of the good guys in this space. Today, we talk about how Grant discovered his career as a speaker, why he wrote his book, how he self-published it, and more. Grant has sold a lot of books and has given a lot of speeches, and he shares a lot of wisdom and tips with us.
[01:17] Grant has enjoyed speaking since high school. He started learning about and marketing himself in the speaking business.
[02:45] High school students would ask a lot about how to prepare for life after high school. How does real life work.
[03:22] He created his book around these questions and it was also a great speaking tool and it has gotten Grant speaking gigs and it has been an additional revenue source.
[04:12] Grant self-published. It’s nice to combine a book with speaking because when you speak you have a built-in audience.
[04:43] Grant speaks and then people buy the book afterward.
[04:57] Grant wrote the book at his mom’s house and created a timeline. Having a deadline helped him finish the book. Set a deadline and reverse engineer from there.
[05:35] His sister and an old English teacher helped him edit it. Since this was 2008, he actually sent the book to a book printing company called Books Just Books.
[06:59] The biggest challenge is staying on task and getting the book done.
[09:14] Why do you want to speak? Who do you want to speak to? What do I want to talk to them about? Get clear on the answers to these three questions before you begin.
[11:07] Then decide where these people gather.
[11:52] Being a speaker first really helped Grant refine his message.
[12:32] Having a well done book is great. People judge books by its cover. Have a good website and demo video as a speaker. These are critically important because people want a sense of how you communicate and if you are a good speaker.
[15:11] Have a demo video that is like a movie trailer. The point is to make your audience want to see more.
[18:15] Use Google to find cold reach out opportunities. Find an event and try to find out information about when and where the conference is and who to contact. Send an email inquiring about when they are going to hire speakers. A simple email to get them to reply.
[22:32] If they answer the goal is to get them on the phone. The sale happens on the phone. Speaking is a relationship business.
[25:16] Ask what would I Google to find events. Build momentum and reach out to people.
[26:31] This is a numbers game. The more you reach out to the more likely you will be a good fit. You may hear from two or three people and book only one.
[27:40] Do the follow-up call especially if you say you will.
[28:20] Have a system for the follow-up either some type of calendar or CRM type software.
[29:38] Having a long-term perspective keeps you from being disappointed and time and effort builds momentum.
[30:42] Following up makes people’s lives easier. You aren’t annoying them. Stay top of mind.
[33:32] Deep psychological influence of getting a commitment of front.
[34:49] What you charge depends on the market and your marketing materials and your experience. Speakers get paid $1000 to $3000 on their first gig. It’s also good to build relationships with other speakers in their market.
[36:42] Paid versus free. Free can get you course sign-ups and other speaking clients. Speaking for lead generation for coaching businesses.
[38:01] Speaking can be leveraged in other ways.
[38:31] Get the book done and make sure it aligns with the intended audience.
Links and Resources:
Books Just Books
Influence: The Psychology of Influence
The Speaker Lab Podcast
@GrantBaldwin on Twitter
Free Speaker Lab Workshop
Grant Baldwin facebook
Reality Check by Grant Baldwin
Booked and Paid to Speak
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My guest today is John Corcoran. He is a fellow Californian and a good friend of mine. John is an attorney, writer, father, and former Clinton White House writer and former speechwriter for the Governor of California. Throughout his career, he has worked in Hollywood and the heart of Silicon Valley. He owns his own boutique law firm in the San Francisco Bay Area where he works with small business owners and entrepreneurs.
John is a renaissance man who has been in a lot of different careers on a lot of different sides. Today, he shares how he ended up landing a writer job at The White House after college. Along with a smart tip for positioning oneself for success. John also shares stories about working in the white house and the importance of having normal conversations with people to connect and build relationships. He shares all kinds of fun stories and great life and business advice from embracing whatever you are doing to the importance of surrounding yourself with people who energize you.
[01:50] John interned at The White House after college. Then he went back to school, but he kept in touch with people there and the other speechwriters. The day he was asked for a writing sample he happened to have a letter to the editor published in the New York Times.
[03:05] A great example of things we can do to position ourselves for success.
[04:56] Working at The White House was a great experience for a guy who was 23 years-old. He would run into Bill Clinton and other dignitaries in the hallway.
[06:07] He also saw the Easter Egg Toss, and met The President and introduced him to his family in the oval office.
[07:02] Be multifaceted and embrace whatever you do that is unique about you.
[07:34] A story about having a conversation with The President about old movies, and how it is important to have normal human conversations with people. That way you are more likely to have a connection and build a relationship.
[09:51] A couple chance meetings ended up landing John the speechwriter job for The Governor. Every topic would come across his desk and he would have to learn about it and then distill it down to something quotable.
[11:29] Writing has its own unique requirements. John studies and reads other writers, and for speech writing he listens to how they speak.
[13:15] Thinking about what is in the audience’s head and how you can move them to take an action or sell them an idea. You can do this by addressing all of the objections.
[14:18] How the language you use frames a topic. The importance of practicing over and over. Understanding the other side when making a persuasive argument.
[15:55] Understanding from a place of compassion to understand other people’s objections.
[16:22] John writes for Forbes, Psychology Today, Art of Manliness and many other major publications.
[16:57] How John reads about a topic and writes ideas then eventually creates a structure.
[18:39] Ironically, John is more structured now for his blog posts. He grabs attention with the headline and the first line that speaks to the pain. Then he works into why it matters or is relevant. Then maybe a story then 5 or 7 ways to solve the problem. Then wrap it up with a callback.
[21:55] Guest posting really helped John get his name out there. Now he is getting more results from webinars and other different forms.
[22:43] Entrepreneurs love to ask other entrepreneurs what’s new. Entrepreneurial ADD. Sometimes an idea in a conversation is inspiration for John’s writing.
[24:37] The importance of honing in on your area of focus and the core thing you want to write about. Define and master your niche.
[26:05] Ideas can come from other books or their table of contents. Having conversations is a great place to get ideas. By doing more research the topic will flesh itself out more.
[27:31] How first person pontificating is the least interesting type of writing. Weave in other’s perspectives. Interviewing people will give you ideas.
[28:54] John uses free planners and The Five Minute Journal to plan his day. He also goes to coffee shops to write, but after doing the research and having all of the content.
[31:01] Triage your emails and find the greatest impact you can have. You can’t answer all of the one-on-one emails.
[32:52] You have to be willing to give things up to write. You also have to accept you can’t do everything. Getting things done boils down to day-to-day habits.
[35:11] Constantly battling the decision of how you spend your time. Do whatever it takes to get things done.
[37:00] The importance of spending your time getting what is inside of you out and not wasting time. The benefits of creating content snowballs for life.
[39:57] The satisfaction of being a creator is so much more than the short term satisfaction of being a consumer.
[40:41] John used guest posting to increase his subscribers from 1000 to 6000.
[44:51] How a guest post creates email subscribers. If starting today, John would just use Leadpages and guest post before building a blog. Giveaway a resource with something relevant. Topic of guest post, topic of site, and topic of free resource.
[48:23] How John is one of the most well-connected people Chandler knows.
[48:57] Writing is a great tool for building relationships. Interviewing people will give them exposure and create a connection for you.
[50:05] How relationships create all kinds of opportunities.
[50:26] Mindset do the opposite of ask and help. Don’t let fear of rejection to stop you.
[51:34] Take the time to write down 50 people you would like to meet or interview in the next six months. It gets easier as you work your way up the ladder.
You might also enjoy:
- How I Built an E-Book Business of $3,000-$4,000/Month with Lise Cartwright
- Book Outline: 11 Ways to Outline Your Book
- 8 Steps to Start Writing a Book
Just because you wrote a new book doesn’t mean that your book is guaranteed to sell. Even if it’s the next Great American Novel, it won’t be a success if it doesn’t get into the collective conscious of the public. This is why your book needs good marketing tactics to back it up.
Marketing takes planning, organization, and consistent action; it’s hard work. But the good news is that marketing is also about fostering connections and relationships, which can be rewarding to you and your fan base. And since you’re the one who knows your book from cover to cover, your backstory, your reasons for writing it, and who your ideal reader is, it’s your duty to put a plan in place to best connect with your intended audience and share your story.
We know, we know…you’ve put a ton of effort into writing, editing, and getting your book ready for publication that the thought of adding another layer of “work” is not the most appealing idea.
But realize that if you launch your book without a marketing plan, FAR fewer people will read it. It will hamper the success of the book you’re working on now, as well as others you plan on publishing in the future. So if you dream of becoming a New York Times bestselling author, or if you want your book to help you reach other lifestyle goals, a book marketing strategy is your essential key to success.
Having seen and been involved in so many book launches ourselves, we know what works and what doesn’t for marketing your book. We’ll walk you through a play-by-play of exactly what you need to do so that your readers can find your book and buy it.
We’ve broken this guide down into three main sections:
- Pre-Launch: Building Your Book Marketing Launch Team
- Pricing Your Book for Maximum Sales
- Post-Launch: 8 Strategies for Selling More Books
Let’s get started!
Pre-Launch: Build Your Book Marketing Launch Team
The first step of preparing for your book launch, and the marketing behind it, is to build your launch team. The ideal launch team is a dedicated, hand-selected group eager to make your launch successful. If you use your team’s talent and communicate well, there’s nothing your launch team can’t accomplish! Here are the 7 steps to get started:
Step 1: Size
The first step is to determine the projected size of your book marketing launch team based on the size of your audience.
Your audience is anyone interested in you, your book, and your product. They could be five of your lifelong friends, members of your community, big organizations you’re connected to, social media followers, email subscribers, anyone who might be interested in what you’re sharing.
If you have a smaller following, we suggest you aim for a launch team of 10-50. Those with hundreds in their network can aim for 100-250 team members.
How to Find Followers
If you don’t have much of a following right now, start by looking at your personal inner circle— your family, your close friends—then branch out to their connections, families, and colleagues.
You can reach out to peers from college, your volunteer work, or even your first job. You may even consider parents at your child’s school, fellow dog owners, or members in your yoga class.
Even though you may not know these people well, they are a part of your network, and you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that they’re inspired by your book and would be eager to share it.
Once you’ve completed this exercise, you should have an initial list of potential launch team members!
Step 2: Recruit
Now that you’ve determined your potential recruitment pool, the second step is to initiate contact and gauge their interest level. The most important lesson to consider about your book marketing launch team is that QUALITY trumps QUANTITY. One top-quality, dedicated team member trumps a handful of mediocre ones.
To begin recruitment, create a simple questionnaire process that describes your book, your expectations of the team, and questions asking:
- Why are you interested in supporting my book?
- What part of my book speaks to you?
- What specialized skills can you contribute?
- What’s your available time commitment?
- Who are influential people you can reach out to?
- Why would these influential people be interested?
To sweeten the recruitment deal, feel free to offer a free signed copy of your book or an inclusion in the “acknowledgments” section.
You can easily do this through email, or through online forms like Typeform.
Step 3: Record a Welcome Video
Take the time to record a warm welcome video for your new supporters! In your video, first, congratulate your team for being selected and express gratitude for their help. Then, detail your expectations, your unique mission for writing your book, and why you want to share it with as many people as you can!
This welcome video will help you create a more personal connection with your book launch team, and show them a bit more about why you’re creating it and what message you’re trying to convey. Be sure to send it to everyone who completes your questionnaire
Step 4: Establish a Communication Style
Here’s the secret to a successful book marketing launch team: Effective communication.
Communicate with your team regularly to keep them focused on weekly tasks, progress, and innovative ideas by doing the following:
- Strive to send one email per week preceding launch then increase it to three or more during launch week.
- Use a Facebook group to engage, share ideas, and post feedback. Set the tone by posting “Dos and Don’ts” to keep conversations focused and positive.
- Boost morale and build rapport by sharing inspiring quotes, gifts, and goofy photos to keep energy high and build vital connections.
No matter which mode of communication you’re using, remember people like to be treated well. Always make sure your team knows how grateful you are to them and their dedication!
Step 5: Book Marketing Launch Team Assignments
You can’t just build up a catalog of supporters and not use them, though. You have to give them small assignments to help you with launching your book.
It might feel weird telling people to help you, but don’t worry about it! They’re here because they want to support your project, and as long as you’re gracious and ask nicely, they’ll be happy to support your work.
Facebook Groups will be the most effective way to dole out weekly team assignments. Here are some marketing initiatives you can assign your team to do:
- Share snippets of content from your book across social media
- Submit reviews on Amazon
- Add their reviews to Goodreads
- Share a book review on their YouTube channel
- Record a testimonial for your book
- Buy extra copies to give to their friends
- Give you more marketing ideas!
Step 6: Utilize Talents
Your team members will have a different variety of skills and talents, and it’s your job to effectively manage your team by assigning work based on their strengths.
To identify your team’s talents, write a post during the introductory week and say the following:
“If you have any special talents or connections you’d like to lend towards my book launch, please comment on this post and let me know. I’m looking for ways to help spread my book’s message to a wider audience.”
Step 7: Have Fun and Say “Thank You!”
Your launch team will commit weeks of their time, energy, and talent, so make sure you thank each and every person for their contribution! Ensure that each person on your team feels valued and appreciated for their efforts.
And most importantly, let them know how to get your book for free (or at least at a deep discount)! Which brings us to…
Pricing Your Book
One of the most important factors in how successful your book launch is will be how you price it.
To find out how to price your book for success, we recommend reading Book Launch. But for the sake of this article, here are some of Self-Publishing School’s biggest secrets that will get your book to soar up the Amazon’s charts:
- If you have a sizable audience, we recommend launching your book for $0.99, and then increasing the price to $2.99 or higher after about a week.
- For first-time authors, we recommend Amazon’s Free Book Promotions for your book launch.
Although you won’t get paid by putting your book out for free, realize that it will be featured on another author’s page which instantaneously increases your exposure and recognition.
Once the free promotion has ended, switch your book’s price to $0.99 for the following week, then slowly increase the price up $1 per week until sales stagnate.
Post-Launch: 8 Strategies for Selling More Books
All marketing—no matter which market or industry—is fundamentally about people and making connections. Part of pitching your book will be figuring out how your book relates to your readers and how they will benefit from it.
Now that your book is out in the wild, you want to get as many people to it as possible. Here are the eight best strategies for doing just that.
Build Your Book Website
Can you imagine if you came home one day and your house was…missing? Well, that is what an author’s life can be like without a website to post fresh content. You’ll always be missing a home where you can park your books. Many authors think they don’t need a website because they can promote their books through social media or the author platform on Amazon.
Sorry, not exactly.
There is a huge difference. Having an author website is the difference between renting or buying a piece of property. When you rent, you are living in someone else’s space. It doesn’t belong to you and they can cancel your lease at any time.
Maintaining your own website on a hosted server with your domain name is the same as having that piece of real estate. You can customize your site your way, publish your own content, and you are always in complete control of how it looks and what gets published. When it comes to marketing your book, the sky’s the limit. You can:
- Publish your book’s landing page on your site.
- Post blogs about your upcoming book
- Create a countdown timer for the book’s release date.
- Set up an affiliate link to your Amazon page so you get commissions on book sales
- Include sample chapters from your book
- Link to video clips about the book on your website
- Communicate directly with your email subscribers about new releases or your current blog post
And you can also set up a Google Alert so you can be notified about where your name and your book show up online. If someone gives you good feedback or a stellar review, reach out and thank them and ask them to link back to your book’s website.
Action Step: If your book doesn’t already have a website, get one started! To setup your website and personal blog on a paid server, you can try Bluehost or Godaddy and use WordPress for building your site.
Build Your Email List
There is a saying going around that says: “the money is in the list.” Why? It’s simple. A list of followers who are in love with your writing will be the first to line up when you have a new product to sell. These people are essentially your customers.
Your email list is yours. It doesn’t belong to Amazon or social media. You control what you want to say, how you say it, and when. Imagine if every time you had a new book ready to launch, hundreds or thousands of people were waiting for it so they could get it first.
If you are serious about promoting and marketing your current and all future books, building your list should be top priority. Nothing else comes close. Although building a list takes time, in the long run it is the easiest way to market. These are the true fans that will get the word out and be the first to leave verified reviews after buying your new release at the special price of 0.99. But that is just the beginning.
You can continue to build your list by including a reader magnet at the front and back of your book. Get people hooked on your brand and then keep them there by writing your next book, and then, including them in your next launch. As your book reaches more people, and you get more signups, your marketing capacity grows…exponentially.
Action Step: If you haven’t started on your list building, go to an email management system such as Mailchimp or AWeber and sign up for an account. Then get building and start to funnel your fans into your books today.
Reach Out to Influencers
When it comes to book promoting, nothing can have a bigger impact on your book than influencers. What is an influencer? Influencers can be podcasters, bloggers, or authors with strong email lists. It’s someone with an established platform that can get you noticed if they notice you.
An influencer is someone who has a lot of promotional weight and can spread the word about your book to thousands of people with just a brief mention to their email list, on their blog, or by sharing on social media, for example. Influencers have a long reach. What you can do is identify the influencers in your niche and reach out to them. Tell them who you are and ask if they can help to promote your latest book.
Influencers can have a major impact on your exposure as an author, so try to set up interviews in your hometown or reach out to someone online and offer to do an interview so you can deliver value to their target audience.
Guest post blogging on an influencer’s is another way to market your book. For example, if you wrote a book on recipes for Italian food, you could try connecting with people in the Italian cooking niche. They may have a blog, podcast, or a webinar on which you want to appear.
Action Step: Identify at least one influencer in your market and reach out to that person. Tell them who you are and what you do. Get on their podcast or get interviewed. Exposure to fans in your niche will have a big influence on book sales.
Leverage Two Social Media Platforms
Social media is a powerful way to promote your book to potential readers. We can engage with thousands of people just by hitting a few buttons. But with social media sites, the big scare is the amount of time we can get sucked into trying to do everything. If you try to connect with everyone, you’ll match up with nobody.
When promoting and marketing your book, you can’t be everywhere doing all things at once. That is why we recommend you choose two social media sites to work with, and post your content regularly to these two sites.
For example, you can have a YouTube channel and post weekly videos. After a few months you could build up a library of content, engage with new subscribers and even create a course out of your videos.
With Facebook, you can promote your book or blog using Facebook ads that drive new readers to your Facebook page or your book’s website. You could also post popular quotes or snippets of material from your upcoming book.
With Twitter you can post multiple times a day with brief quotes or messages under 280 characters. Twitter has proven to be a powerful platform for authors when it comes time to promote and market a book.
And if your book is more business-focused, you may find that LinkedIn works best for you, since it allows you to connect with new readers on a more professional platform.
We recommend choosing two social media platforms and focusing on consistent engagement. This will keep your book’s appearance fresh and invite new people in to check out your work.
Action Step: Choose two social media platforms and commit to publishing content regularly. If you only want to focus on one, master it, and then move to another that is perfectly fine! It is better to do one thing and get it right then do two things poorly.
Get on Bookbub
Bookbub is the cream of the crop when it comes to promoting and marketing your book. In fact, you should submit your book for promotion as either free or for 99 cents right after your book launch.
Bookbub has a massive following and can get your book delivered to thousands of readers. It really is the “Big One” when it comes to book promotion. The cost isn’t cheap and can run you anywhere from $200 to $2,000 for a promo, depending on the genre, category, and the price of your book.
But is it worth it?
For example, if you are running a promo for 99 cents in general nonfiction, you could potentially sell, on average, 2,000 copies of your book. Not only will you make a profit, but this could bring in hundreds of subscribers and leads to your email list. From there you can upsell readers on your other books or even a course if you have one.
Action Step: Go here for Bookbub submission requirements. You can also check out the pricing here and submit your book here.
Interviews and Podcasts
A local radio or podcast interview can introduce you to new readers. While this may sound intimidating, you can pull this off like a pro with a little preparation.
Look to local colleges, podcast hosts, or local radio stations for interview opportunities (Pro Tip: Hosts love to interview up-and-coming authors, so you may be surprised at the many offers that come your way when you reach out).
Reach out, let them know a little bit about your book and why it might be interesting to their audience, and include a free sample of it so they can see if you’d be a good fit. If you have a press release describing what your book is about, feel free to include that as well to give them more context.
Then be sure that when you go on, you present a great story about your book and get their listeners excited to read it!
Action Step: What are three podcasts or radio shows you could go on to talk about your book? Find their contact info and reach out with a pitch about having you on.
Local book clubs are another goldmine of new readers; you already know they like books! Find and connect with these groups. You can offer to attend a meet-and-greet and hand out copies of your free signed book.
You can also get your book listed in Facebook Groups and other groups dedicated to readers. There are also paid lists, such as Buck Books, that can reach tens to hundreds of thousands of readers. Book Launch also teach what lists are out there, and which ones are the best to use.
Action Step: Are there any book clubs you could join? Look on Facebook for groups that would be a good fit for your book.
Write Another Book
Publishing another book is great for brand building. In fact, it’s much harder to market just one book unless it is a ground-breaking phenomenal masterpiece. Your book may be great, but you can compound that greatness by writing more books, preferably in a series.
With every new book you put out there you increase the chances of your work getting recognized by influencers and people online who are hanging out in all the places you can target for promotion and sharing.
Launching your book is only the beginning. The real work begins after the initial “bang” is over and you have to dig in deep to promote, engage, and provide solutions to readers’ problems. Remember: Marketing is about delivering a product [your book] to the right people [your audience] who need desperately what you have to offer [your solution].
Create this product for your readers, ship it to them and communicate in a way they understand—and you’ll become a great marketing guru as well as an amazing author.
No matter which marketing tactics sound best for you, remember that choosing a few key strategies and executing on them regularly is crucial to increasing book sales.
Let these strategies be your secret weapon to a successful book launch, and you’ll be on your way to being a bestseller in no time!
When it comes to launching a bestselling book on Amazon, the biggest leverage an author can invest in is building a stellar book launch team. Your team will receive an early bird copy of the book, read through it, and write an honest review to be posted when the book is live. But a launch team can be much more effective in other ways too that we will look at in this post.
In this post I will walk you through the steps for building, guiding and managing your book street team. If you follow this system, you will be investing in the most critical part of your book launch, setting your book up for the long term success it deserves.
What is a Book Launch Team?
Your launch team is a group of people who are going to set you up for success when your book launches. They could be fans of your previous work, readers of your blog, friends who want to support you, or the members in your mastermind group. And, ideally, a combination of all of the above.
The launch team has a massive impact on, not only the success of your launch but, the long term success of the book. They are a group of people who are passionate about your book, your brand, and they want you to succeed as much as you do.
Your job, as the author of the book, is to guide your team to take action both before the book is launched and then during the launch window.
Why do you need a book launch team?
Launch team members will help you to get reviews during the launch and, help you to share the book launch as well as get downloads for your book. If you have a weak launch, you have weak book sales and you’ll be forever struggling to drive traffic towards your book.
Your launch team will read the book before anyone else and prepare an honest review of the work to be posted during launch week. Amazon favors books with review activity. The more reviews you can get posted, your book moves up the rankings faster and gets promoted by Amazon under the “books you also might like” section.
Reviews also sell books. If you manage to get 20-30 reviews in the first week, this would create serious momentum for your book rankings. It is the best social proof that your book is getting read and people are taking an interest in the content. The bottom line: Reviews convince browsers to buy. Amazon will rank your book higher as well if there is activity taking place.
Building Your Team: Where do I recruit?
The question that I often get is, “Where do I find people to join my team?” This is a challenge if you don’t have much of a following and have never launched a book before. Let’s assume that this is your first book launch and you are looking for people to join your launch team. Where do we begin to build? Who can we ask?
Here are a few suggestions:
Make a list of 20-30 people you can contact directly.
These can be business contacts, online relationships, or subscribers to your email list. This list functions as your core team, what I call your level 1 launch team. They are the most committed to your launch. Perhaps they joined a previous launch you had and now they want to sign up for this one as well.
Post to your Facebook/Social Media Platforms/Mastermind Groups
This is where you can gather a lot of your level 2 launch team members. If you are going for a large launch team, this would be the next phase. If you want to keep it more personal and limit the number of people, just follow through with the first step and leave it at that.
Keep in mind, with your level 2 launch team, you could get anywhere from 20-200 people sign up. The reason we call it a level 2 group is, many of the people joining may not know you personally, but they have an interest in your book. But the question is, how committed are they to following through? It is just a fact that not everyone on your team is going to follow through. Maybe they didn’t like the book, they had no time to read it, or, they were uncertain what to do during the launch. There is the possibility that they won’t leave a review for whatever reasons.
This is why we have to be clear with our team as to:
- What actions to take
- When to take it, and;
- How to implement the action plan
The best you can do is encourage people throughout the launch and keep the pressure momentum turned on. This is where team incentives and providing value will deliver in the end. When people feel as if they are a part of something important, they are more likely to follow through.
Team Incentives: What to offer?
This is the part of the process in launch building that you can really make a difference to the strength of your team. By adding incentives to what you can give your team, you will increase the commitment of your team.
Decide what you will give to your team to offer quality incentives that makes them feel a part of the team.
What can we offer?
Check out Kevin Kruse’s post “Sample invitation to build a launch team.” In this invitation to join his street team, Kevin offered up a bundle of incentives to the launch team when he published 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management. Some of these perks included membership into a Mastermind Group on Facebook and an exclusive “ask me anything” webinar before the launch.
Likewise Michael Hyatt, when he launched Living Forward, offered launch members an exclusive look into how the book launch was structured as well as access to a special 30-minute group phone session with him prior to launching the book.
So, what you can offer your team is:
- The digital version of the book way before anyone else sees it. This can be in PDF or Mobi file. For creating a PDF or mobi file of the book, check out the free calibre software.
- A free hardcopy of the book delivered right to your door.
- A free webinar or a facebook Live Q&A session: you can get close and personal with your team by hosting a live webinar where you talk about the book, get into behind-the-scenes strategies of the launch, and share inside tactics that nobody else can get.
- Exclusive access to a private Facebook group. Here you can post videos, share posts, and converse with your team in real time as they get excited about the launch
- Free training videos based on the content of your book
- Additional freebies that you want to share with your team.
- An advance copy of a workbook that you will be offering to subscribers
- Early access to course material that won’t be available until the book is launched.
The goal is to provide your team with a lot of value so that they know they are part of something important. This will increase the level of commitment you will get from members reading and promoting the book during launch week.
Building a Quality Team
When it comes to launch team members joining your team, it isn’t about the numbers. It is the quality of the team. It is much better to have 40 people who are committed than 200 that just sign up and don’t do anything. You want your team to be involved and take action. So, how do you build a quality street team fully committed to launching your book to bestseller status?
Here are four strategies:
- Reach out to people personally. By contacting people you know on a personal basis you can get a solid commitment from that person with a personal email.
- Create an application form process. This creates a barrier to entry. The people who are serious players will fill out and commit. You can check out an application form template right here. In the application process you let the potential member know what is expected and what they will be responsible for. The application process creates accountability and exclusive access to the launch team material.
- Invite people who you have worked with and trust, such as podcasters, bloggers and influencers, to help you with the launch.
- Create a team of committed reviewers and promoters to set the launch on fire when it takes off.
Setting Expectations for Your Team: Your Big Ask
This is when you are up front with the launch team about what is to be expected during the launch. What actions are you asking them to do? On what days will they take these actions? What is at stake as far as the success of the book is concerned.
Remember: The success of your launch plan is critical, and the launch team is the all-important component to making it happen.
Expectations should be made clear from the beginning. When you put up a post for early bird readers, let them know that taking action is a must. This is the big ask and what you will expect from the team if they are selected to join your launch.
Here is what you could ask of your launch team:
The ‘Call to Action’ Plan
- Read the book before the launch day. Provide feedback if they pick up on such as formatting problems, misspellings, etc…
- Write up an honest review of the book and post it during launch week.
- Share word of the launch through your social platforms, mentioning the book in a weekly blog post, and starting a discussion about the book in chat forums. This could also include tweets, Facebook posts, or post the cover to Pinterest and Instagram.
- Share promotional ideas within the launch group. This is where a Facebook Group would come in. Members can easily post ideas and swap strategies for promoting the book.
- Take a photo of you holding up a copy of the paperback. This would require that the paperback be ready in advance to send to select team members so they have time to take the photo before launch.
Provide your team with a list of action strategies they can take during launch week. Let them choose what strategies they like and fits into their schedule. You can encourage the team by adding a points system.
The members who take action and complete each promotional strategy earn a number of points. This could lead to receiving even more freebies.
Organizing Your Team Communication Portal
Now that you have your team together with emails, you have set the expectations, and outlined the launch plan, you have to decide how you will communicate with your team. People need to feel connected to you during the launch or else they lose interest and you lose the trust of your team. Set up your method of communication and invite everyone into the launch.
Set up at least 6-10 emails to be delivered throughout the launch. You can add your team emails to a campaign in your email service provider such as Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convert Kit. You can set up email autoresponders to go out on certain dates, or customize your emails as you go.
Launch Team Emails: How often and how many?
One question that comes up often is, “how many emails do I send out, how often and what should the content look like? Once again, if you are running a Facebook Group and using that as your main source of communication, I still recommend you have a set of emails set up to be delivered throughout the launch.
I send out an email every second day. Here is a breakdown of what these emails would look like:
Email #1: Welcome Email: Includes Intro to the team and the PDF of the book.
Email #2: How is the book reading? General overview of the launch plan.
Email #3: 5 Days Before Launch. Include a video of how to leave a review on Amazon
Email #4: The day before launch—Are you ready?
Email #5: LAUNCH DAY! It is time to take action.
Email #6: Review reminder, update on book status and current ranking.
Email #7: Final reminder. Leave a review and FREE paperback giveaway reminder.
Email #8: Final email. Thank you for joining the launch team.
What you want to do is take time to customize your own emails. You can space the emails out accordingly. I like to keep them balanced so that the team is getting the support they need without feeling too overwhelmed.
A group you can add your members to for easy access and communication. You can post regularly and easily add video and communicate with regular updates. Members can, as we mentioned, share ideas for promoting the book during the launch day.
Even if you do a Facebook Group, I recommend sending out regular emails regardless. Not everyone is going to be into joining a Facebook Group, so communicating with regular emails set up to be delivered on select dates will cover all the bases.
Sending Out Your Book
There are three ways you can get the advance copy to your team.
PDF Form. Attach the PDF to the welcome email if you are delivering it this way. For larger files, you can drop the book in Dropbox and share the link with your team. Dropbox allows people to download the book without having to sign up for an account.
Bookfunnel.com This is a great way to deliver your book. BookFunnel has a yearly subscription fee but it’s worth it if you launch regularly. The basic price is $20 a month for 1 pen name and 500 downloads per month. You can check out the features of bookfunnel right here.
the pigeonhole. I’ve used the pigeonhole before and I really liked it. How it works is like this. You upload your book in PDF form to the team at Pigeonhole. You provide them with your launch team emails and then, Pigeonhole posts a chapter a day of your book on their site. Members read right on line and can comment on the book as they work through it.
This is a great platform for improving the quality of the book as well. Early readers catch the small mistakes that were missed and you can fix everything up before launching.
4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your Team
Sending out email with long gaps in between.
You want to be consistent in communicating with your launch team. Long gaps in between emails will result in people losing interest and not following through when they should. I average an email every 2-3 days. For a Facebook group, you could post something everyday, even if it is just a short blurb.
Failing to set expectations.
Remember the list of expectations we looked at in the beginning? By not setting your expectations you are leaving the launch wide open to chaos. Be sure people know what they need to do and when they need to do it. Don’t just assume people will take action. They need you, the author, to lead them. Be upfront and let them know they are with you until the end to take action.
Setting your initial price point too high.
Okay, you might think this is common sense but, you want to launch your book right away at the lowest price point possible. That would be 0.99, and then possibly free after you’ve set set your promo up in the KDP dashboard.
If your price is upwards of $5-10, people may not download it. You want your price to be low so the launch team especially can download it to leave a verified purchase.
When it comes to Amazon rankings, a book that has the verified purchase tag weighs more than a non verified review. Make it easy for people to download. Set your price low and get the rankings moving. You can increase your price point after the launch.
Directions that are unclear.
You want everything to be so easy for your team that it can literally run itself. What this means is, setting up all the steps so that people know exactly what to so. Some of the questions I have had from team members were:
Where do I leave review?
How do I leave a review?
Where is the link for the book?
What is this Goodreads website?
You can eliminate confusion and wasting time answering basic questions by setting up the steps so it is like paint-by-numbers. For example, shoot a short video of how to set up a review. Walk people through the process. Video is a fantastic way to visually teach the steps and can be done easily. You can then post it in the Facebook feed or embed the link in an email to be downloaded from Dropbox or Vimeo.
It all comes down to planning ahead. By foreseeing possible problems that can slow down your launch, prepare ahead of time and set your team up for success.
The Power of Sharing
Swipe Copy for Your Team is a set of pre-formatted/written emails and/or posts that the launch team can use to share either via email or online. You want this to be as simple as possible so people can just copy and paste to their social media platforms or deliver by email without it taking too much of their time. The easier it is for your team to deliver, the better.
Create swipe copy for your book launch and make this available to your team via dropbox or upload to your Facebook Group. The swipe copy should be easy to use and provide material for sharing online or via email.
You should include specific instructions as to how to use the swipe copy. Not everyone has used this before and you will get questions from people if they have difficulty. I would recommend shooting a short video explaining how to set this up on launch day. Show people how easy it is. Encourage them to share where they can and as often as possible.
If each of the people on you team threw up a post on their Facebook page, and they had an average of 500 friends each, that would exponentially share your book with a large community that you otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.
Street Team Team: Setting up a permanent funnel for future books
Once the launch is over, your facebook group will most likely be disbanded. You could try to keep it going but after the launch is over, but without a specific purpose for the group that extends beyond the launch, it is a lot of work to keep the interest going. This is where a long term strategy for your books could be put into play.
Are you planning to launch another book? Do you want to use some of your core launch members for another book launch? In that case, you could set up a street team of reviewers that are ready to support you on, not only this launch, but all future launches.
Remember: a launch team is more than just getting someone to review your book. You could take the relationship to the next level. Consider setting up a private facebook group for people who want to stay in touch and support your work in future launches. And, if they agree to this, it will be far easier to tap into a group that is already in place then recruiting new members.
Build Your Launch Team [Master Checklist]
Here is a review of the steps to build your launch team.
- Reach out to at least 20-30 people directly to begin the recruitment process. Ask for permission to put them on your launch team.
- Expand to social media circles like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
- Put together an incentive package: free digital copy, paperback, question and answer group call, or a sneak peak at the launch behind-the-scenes.
- Choose your method of communication: email, a Facebook group, or both. [Both methods are recommended together]
- Be clear about your expectations for the launch [launch goals for reviews, ranking, and book sales]
- Create a series of emails to send to your group. You can set these up beforehand or create as you go for a more ‘on-the-spot customized feel.
- Decide the method to deliver emails: gmail template or email server campaign template [recommended]. You can use Mailchimp, free up to 2000 subscribers.
- Prepare a “Welcome to my launch team” Video or Post.
- Send out your Welcome Email. This includes the digital copy of the book. In your email outline the expectations for being on the launch team.
- Create a “Swipe File” for the team to share. Deliver this to your team the day before launch.
- Keep track of your team emails using an excel sheet.
- Send out a “review reminder” a week after the launch.
- Final email/posting: Thank your team for their support during the launch. Follow up on any final incentives promised.
- Stay in touch with members of your team. Continue to build relationships with people so that your book launch can get bigger with every new book release.
Now that you have a roadmap for setting up your launch team, it is time to get to work. Remember that the best time to start building your team is right now. Work on you relationships with people interested in your material. Connect with other authors and begin to get the word out about your upcoming book launch. It is never too early to start.
SPS 033: How I Used My Book “Podcast Launch” to Help Create Podcasters’ Paradise with John Lee Dumas
I am joined by the one and only John Lee Dumas. John is the man behind the Entrepreneurs on Fire website and the super popular EOFire podcast. This podcast is an award winning podcast that reveals the journey of inspiring entrepreneurs seven days a week. John has interviewed a list of who’s who in the business and entrepreneurship world including Barbara Corcoran, Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin and even me.
John is also an amazing example of a successful entrepreneur in the podcast industry. I don’t have to tell you this because his numbers and income reports speak for themselves. Today, we are going to talk about his first book Podcast Launch and why and how he wrote it. We also talk about how the book was the inspiration for JLDs successful podcasting course and community called Podcaster’s Paradise.
We also talk about how John built a list and used his book and podcast as a lead generation tool. He created a free podcast course and didn’t hold anything back. Some people said he was crazy for doing this, but the lead generation results of the course also speak for themselves. This is fun episode where my friend John shares how his book, course, and funnel led to his biggest earner at the time which was Podcaster’s Paradise.
You can find JLD here:
Entrepreneurs on Fire
Entrepreneurs on Fire Podcast
Books and Course by JLD including Podcast Launch and Free Podcast Course
John Lee Dumas facebook
[01:41] In hindsight, writing a book seemed liked the most obvious step. Entrepreneur on Fire was meant to be about entrepreneurship, but listeners wanted to know John’s method for podcasting, so he decided it was time to tell his story.
[03:34] John and Kate wrote the book from start to finish, and he has rewritten and revised it several times. The day it launched it was the number one ranked book in Amazon for podcast and podcasting. He wrote the book in a weekend.
[04:29] The book launched in February of 2013 and Podcaster’s Paradise launched in October of 2013. Writing the book helped John realize that he did have a process.
[05:14] How starting is hard, but once things are started they flow. It took about 70 hours for John to write the book.
[06:29] The book helped John realize that there was an audience for people wanting to podcast. This sparked the idea for Podcaster’s Paradise.
[08:51] Podcast Launch was the MVP for Podcaster’s Paradise. John also had more to share and knew that people wanted a community.
[09:54] How John created a wire frame of what his course would look like, then he told his book readers that he was creating a live podcasting workshop. He also gave his early readers early access at a discounted price. He also said it would open in 45 days at a higher price.
[11:25] The webinar proved that it was a viable product and he created everything and opened the doors at $397 and he still has his lifetime founding members that got in at $197 early adopter discount price. Now the product costs much more.
[13:09] John was able to bounce ideas off of his 35 founding members as he built out the course. The feedback helped in the creation process.
[14:18] John put an offer for the free audio version of the book on the second page of the book. This was a great optin for his webinar. Even people browsing the book would find the optin link. This method combined with others helped build a nice targeted email list.
[17:39] Podcast Launch has been a great lead generation tool for Podcaster’s Paradise and the book continues to make sales.
[18:26] All of the funnels lead to Podcaster’s Paradise because at the time this was his biggest source of revenue.
[19:33] The best thing he did was create the FreePodcastCourse.com It teaches everything without being a cliffhanger. This allowed him to build a 12,000+ person email list that he can use to market.
[22:01] There is an image leading to the free course right at the beginning of the book, and it drives leads every single day. He also uses the Entrepreneur on Fire intros and Leaddigits.
[24:44] John has several intros that he uses to present his calls-to-action in his podcast.
[25:14] John shares how Chandler helped him increase his lead generation sign ups into the free podcast course.
[31:54] How John has found some great podcast mentors who he can recommend to his readers and listeners. The referral system generated revenue for John.
[33:07] How we have to pay our dues and have our seasons of work before we can learn and scale in a massive way.
[33:54] John also has people he recommends for intro, outros, and logos. He is also one of nine affiliates for LibSyn. Use promo code FIRE for two free months.
[35:18] When he has a guest recommend a book he mentions his Audible.com affiliate link.
[37:47] John recommends coming from a place from within to provide genuine value when writing a book. Then take a step back and add on marketing tactics and tools. Focus on email capture and bonus content that will grow your list.
Links and Resources:
1755: Growing your business past 7 figures using a book (how I did it) with Chandler Bolt
Entrepreneurs on Fire
Entrepreneurs on Fire Podcast
Books and Course by JLD including Podcast Launch and Free Podcast Course
John Lee Dumas facebook
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- Publishing a Book: Traditional vs. Self-Publishing
We’re in the age of podcasts, radio apps, and audiobooks, and now couldn’t be a better time to convert your eBook into an audiobook.
But many writers get scared off by the thought of creating an audiobook. “Isn’t it expensive?” “Won’t it take a ton of time?” “How do I even do it?!?”
Thankfully, self-publishing an audiobook now is as easy as self-publishing your book. It has become cost effective and approachable for self-published authors, and there are a range of options depending on the budget you want to spend on it.
Here are the exact steps you need to follow, and our suggestions for turning your book into the next big audiobook.
1. Prep Your eBook Content for Audiobook Recording
If you’re starting from the beginning, you may have no idea how to convert your manuscript from writing to audio. Your first step will be to prep your eBook content for audiobook recording.
This creates a script you can read as you record the audio version of your book. You don’t want to get tripped up while you (or someone else) is reading through the manuscript, so you need to remove everything that won’t make sense in the audio version.
These are the pieces you should go through and look for to cut out:
- Delete hyperlinks
- Delete captions
- Delete visuals
- Remove any calls to actions or click here prompts
Once you’ve created your new script, read through it one last time to make sure it all makes sense in audio form.
2. Record Your Audiobook
The next step in the creation of your audiobook is actually recording the book. You have a few choices for this step:
- Hire someone to record it for you.
- Record the book yourself in a studio.
- Work with an audiobook producer.
- Do it yourself at home.
- Hire an ACX narrator.
Option 1: Hire a Freelancer to Narrate Your Audiobook
Most authors find that hiring a professional to record their audiobook is the most expeditious and least painful route.
You may be concerned about the cost of hiring a pro for voice work, but you may be surprised to learn that the cost for this service can be quite reasonable. In fact, converting your self-published book into an audiobook using a pro can cost less than half the price of doing the work yourself. Many freelancers will quote a price of under $500 for a full eBook to audio conversion; so don’t let the perceived high cost deter you.
If you’ve never worked with a freelancer before, you might not be familiar with the steps necessary to find the right talent.
First, you’ll need a proposal. The purpose of your proposal is to help delineate the work that’s needed. You’ll want to make sure to include the scope of the work and terms of your offer in your proposal.
Your second step is to create sample audio content to share with potential freelance narrators.
This is your “retail audio sample.” The purpose of your retail audio sample is two-fold:
- It can be shared with potential narrators during the freelance-hiring phase, and
- It can later be shared with your future audience on Amazon to peak their interest in your book.
Have some fun creating your retail audio clip—it can be anything you want it to be! You may opt to read a full chapter, or simply condense a summary of plot highlights. The ultimate goal of your retail audio sample is to intrigue both potential narrators and your potential audience. If you can capture their collective attention and peak their interest about your book, they’ll want to hear more.
Option 2: Self-Recording in a Studio
Your second option for creating an audiobook is self-recording in a studio. Realize that self-recording may be more costly in terms of effort, time, and money, especially from the paid time to use a pro recording studio.
We recommend that you block out a significant amount of time to complete your self-recorded audiobook. Here’s a good timeline for self-recorded audiobook production:
- Book your recording studio three weeks ahead of time.
- Record your book in-studio. Plan for up to sixteen hours of recording studio time.
- Plan for at least two weeks of post-recording editing.
Of course, these times are just guides; the time-frame may change once you start your project. Obviously, a longer book will take longer to record and edit. Plan accordingly, and give yourself plenty of time to polish, edit, and finalize a professional product.
Option 3: Work with a Producer
The third path to creating an audiobook is to hire a professional producer. If you have never recorded an audiobook before, working with a producer would help you through the technical difficulties.
For example, when Joanna Penn did the recording for her own book Business For Authors, she hired professional producer Andy Marlow. A producer for your audiobook can ensure the quality of the audio tracks as well as mastering the file for the final production load.
You can find audiobook producers [audiobook engineers] on freelancing sites such as Fiverr or Upwork. Go to Fiverr.com, type in audiobooks, and select the “mixing and mastering” option on the left side. This will give you plenty of choices for finding audio engineers, editors and producers.
Option 4: Do it at Home
Many authors feel very close their work and would rather the content be told in their own voice. This is particularly true if the book is focused around personal stories or a family memoir. There are many books that do sound better when told from the voice of the author.
Do you have the confidence and the voice to create your own audiobook at home? If yes, then here is what you need to know to get started in doing that.
If you are a podcaster or music recording talent, you may already have access to the necessary equipment for recording your audiobook. If not, what you will to get the job done is:
- A good USB mic. The Blue Snowball condenser mic or the Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone are recommended.
- A pop filter. The Earamble Studio Microphone Pop Filter is recommended.
- Audacity. Audacity is a free, open source cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. You can download Audacity here.
You could go fancier and get higher-end equipment, but these tools should be more than enough to get the job done.
Location and Space
You want to find an isolated, padded room or recording box. “Room Tone, or “Noise Floor” can bring in all sorts of sounds from around the environment. Recording in your room is an option but make sure your space is set up for recording and that it is “silent.” If this is difficult, hiring a producer in this case would be a recommended option.
Next you need to make sure you avoid any random noises that might pop up, and any variances in the recording quality. Here are some tips to help make sure you do that:
- Turn off all fans and machines.
- Read in a small, carpeted area
- Stay a consistent distance away from the microphone.
- Be prepared to make mistakes and record sentences over when necessary.
- Read the chapter through from start to end.
- Keep your voice at a similar level and tone across recording sessions.
- Modulate your breathing and don’t hold your breath.
- Read from a Kindle or device. No page turning sounds.
- Schedule sessions several days apart. Avoid sounding exhausted.
With the Audacity software and your mic, you should be able to get a decent quality recording of your book.
But keep in mind that, recording you own audiobook is an exhausting process and it isn’t for everyone. You have to set yourself up with the proper environment, and set aside the time for recording. If you have never used Audacity or any type of recording equipment before, there is a learning curve that add weeks to the audiobook production.
For these reasons you may decide to hire someone for the first audiobook, learn what you can, and then try it for your next book.
Option 5: Hire an ACX Narrator
The final option that may be the simplest is to hire a narrator and producer directly from ACX.
They have that option built into their service for writers, where producers submit auditions for reading your audiobook and then you can choose who you want to work with. Then once the book is published, you share some of the royalties with them, depending on the agreement you come to.
If you don’t want to do the recording yourself or pay for everything up front, this could be your best option. You can learn more about it directly on the ACX help for authors page.
3. Upload Your Audiobook to Audiobook Creation Exchange
Now that you’ve recorded your book, either by yourself or with the help of a freelancer, you’ll need to upload your book to Audiobook Creation Exchange (“ACX”).
When you publish on the ACX, your audiobook will be made available on Amazon, Audible, and the Apple audiobook store. It’s the only place you need to go to make sure your audiobook gets heard by as many people as possible. You retain all of the audio rights, while ACX handles all of the distribution for you, similar to how the Kindle Direct Publish