Articles for Aspiring Authors
If you’re about to write a book, and you want a book idea that sells, there are three things you absolutely must check before you spend a minute writing your book.
Once you have your book idea, and before you begin writing, you need to check that there’s:
- People looking for your book idea
- People willing to pay for your book idea
- Competition you can beat
There are two ways to complete each of the following steps: an easy, low-cost way and a time-consuming, free way. I’ll explain both. No matter which method you choose, just choose one of them so you can embark on your book writing journey with confidence.
1. Are there people looking for your book idea?
Before you spend weeks, months, or years laboring to create your book, smart authors validate that there are people searching for your book idea on the internet first.
The free method is to type in www.KWFinder.com and use their free tool that currently allows you 3 searches per day, and type in your book idea. One piece of information this site gives you is the average times per month people type and search for your term. The higher the number, the more people actively are looking for the information you’re thinking of writing about.
This tool does not tell you how many people are searching for your idea on Amazon, however, which can make your results a little dicey. Sometimes people are just looking to learn free or quick information, and not actually looking to read an entire book.
When people search for a topic on Amazon, however, they are there to buy something. That’s why doing this research using a software that specifically gives you Amazon data is the best option.
Enter KDP Rocket. When you search for a book idea using KDP Rocket, it gives you the estimated number of times people search for your idea on Google and on Amazon each month. And there’s no limit to how many ideas you can search per day.
Here’s the results for my fictitious book idea about ‘habits’:
Once you’ve verified people are searching for your book idea, the next step is to make sure they’re willing to pay for the information.
2. Are there people willing to pay for your book idea?
Unless you’re planning to give your book away for free, this step is crucial.
If you don’t have KDP Rocket, you’ll want to head over to Amazon.com and search in the Kindle Store for your writing idea. Look at the search results that appear on the first page. For each book, scroll down to find the Amazon Best Seller Rank. You’ll probably want to create a spreadsheet now if you haven’t already to keep track of the numbers.
Once you have the Best Seller Rank for each, you should put each number into the Amazon Best Seller Rank Calculator. The calculator will tell you how many books are sell each day. If you multiply this number by 30, you’ll get the estimated money per month that book makes.
If you do this for all 14 of the books that show up on the first page of your search, you can find the average your book idea makes per month. This will give you an idea if it’s profitable enough for you to pursue.
If you’re looking for the fast and easy way, you’d already have this information right at your fingertips from doing step 1 (verifying people are looking for your book). By clicking ‘Analyze’ on KDP Rocket, you can immediately learn the average earnings per month.
Wow, ‘habits’ is a money-maker! Look at that second column!
So people are looking for your idea and they are willing to pay for your idea, but can you compete with the big dogs?
3. Can you beat the competition for your book idea?
Terms like ‘habits’ are popular and profitable, but the competition is intense. You may have noticed the column called “Competitive Score.” This gives you a score between 1-100 on how hard it would be to get your book to appear when people search for your term. A 1 is easy-peasy and 100 is near-impossible.
I’m guessing like me, you’re not a famous author, so you’ll want to find book ideas that have lower competition. Scores in the 20s or below are my usual target.
This doesn’t mean you can’t write a book about habits. This just means you might have to keep searching to refine your idea to be more specific so you can better compete.
When you search in the Kindle Store for your idea, you’ll want to take note of the number of results that appear.
This tells us there are 8,055 other books that rank for the term “habits” on Amazon.
Next, click on the top 3 results and write down their Amazon Best Seller Rank. Find the average of these 3 numbers to find the average Best Seller Rank of the top 3 books. You should aim to get your book to rank #1 since it gets the most clicks, and definitely be able to compete with the top 3.
Then, look at the book covers, book descriptions, and reviews. Give each book a score 1-100 based on your opinion of its professionalism, design, clarity, and happiness of reviewers. If it looks like a book you could easily beat, it’s a 1. If it’s perfect and virtually unbeatable, give it 100.
Having all these numbers in an excel spreadsheet will help you analyze the competition of your book idea.
If that seems like a lot of work, or you don’t know how to score the competition, you’ll love what KDP Rocket can do for you.
When you click on the ‘Analyze’ button to discover how much money the book idea makes, a Competitive Score was also automatically generated.
For ‘habits,’ the competition is 73…pretty tough.
Rocket will also give you a bunch of other recommended terms to consider, so by simply scrolling down, I found ‘healthy eating habits.’
Lower competition…but people aren’t paying for that idea.
How about ‘how to break bad habits’:
See how you can still write about what you’re interested in, but simply checking the popularity, profitability, and competition can help you refine your idea from an “I hope this works idea” to “Let’s write this book already idea!”
Book Idea Validated
Once your book idea passes these three checkpoints, then you’re on your way to confidently writing your book. Now you have reason to believe it won’t be a waste of your time and you can proceed with more assurance that you’re writing a book that will sell.
Taylor Pearson is an entrepreneur and the author of “The End of Jobs.” Inc Magazine rated his book, “The End of Jobs,” a Top 25 Business Book of 2015. In addition to this, it was rated as one of the top three Start Your Own Business Books of 2015. Needless to say, Taylor’s book was a great success! Sometimes having a really bad first draft for your book can make a major turn for the better. We interviewed Taylor during our 2016 Self-Publishing Success Summit and he had some incredible insight to give to those working towards writing their first books.
These are the top takeaways and words of wisdom from Taylor Pearson:
Everyone’s First Draft is Bad
He began by explaining everyone’s first draft is not polished or professional. We should not be discouraged by this, but simply realize we have to start small in order to go big. Bestselling authors do not usually sit down and decide to write a bestseller. Instead, an aspiring author sits down and thinks through an idea, struggles through finding the words to explain it, and eventually creates a book. That first rough draft is where it all begins, and you read that correctly – it’s called a “rough draft” for a reason. Don’t be discouraged by the roughness of your draft, be encouraged you have a draft to show for all your hard work!
Where to Start
Have emotional insecurity about writing your first book? Don’t let this keep you from success! Taylor himself experienced the same insecurity. A good way to start writing that first draft is by listing off ideas, then writing about those ideas one at a time, organizing the ideas into sections, and lastly, editing the sections.
Don’t Read Your First Draft!
Not reading your first draft until you’ve finished writing it is an important tip from Taylor. Using Scrivener’s word count feature will help you stay on track and get the required number of words completed prior to your read through. First drafts are always “rough,” and reading it early in the writing stage may discourage you from wanting to write further…and we don’t want that!
The Importance of the Book Proposal
Writing a book proposal after every draft is helpful as it enables you to better understand your own writing as well as the target audience. Spending time writing a proposal after each revised draft is a good practice to get into, and a practice Taylor made for his first book. It is a great habit to form early in the writing journey! He says: “The act of writing a proposal is really good for forcing you to clarify what makes the book marketable.”
People Will Remember Book Three
You may be slaving over your first book, and rightly so, as excellence is an important factor to include in writing, but don’t worry too much about the first two books. According to Taylor, “Everyone’s first two books suck, just get them out the door and get to the third one as soon as possible.” After all, “If you want to be good at something, you have to be willing to suck at it.”
Trust Equals Marketing
Even if you are a genius at marketing, if you haven’t earned people’s trust all the marketing in the world will do little to help you. Getting an interview slot on a podcast is a great way to put your name out there and build trust with your target market. Podcasts are great for exposure but can take a lot of work if not setup properly. A lot of pre-planning is needed if you truly want to get on a podcast. Personally writing out the podcast, including five main points and any other necessary details, will heighten your chances of being interviewed. Getting your name out on the Internet multiple times a week will help build trust as well. Blogging the book before its release will draw people in to the excitement and as the blogs are released their trust in the product and in its author will grow. Taylor blogged 70% of his book prior to its publication and this did not lessen his sales at all!
At the end of his interview Taylor reminded us all of two important takeaways: He loves in person meet-ups. This one-on-one advantage is possible when you are not “at scale” like the other big businesses or successful authors. Take advantage of personally getting to know your readers!
Lastly he says, “Just do it.” Just write your book, and start building trust now. Whether it is through a blog, a podcast, going to conferences, or having lunch with someone who is interested in similar things, trust will be made and the writing journey continued.
After all, that is the point, right? We do not simply “aspire” to be writers who go far down the writing journey. Anyone can dream. Rather, through time and hard work, we become writers!
For more information on the Self-Publishing Success Summit, you can check out our All-Access Pass to receive LIFETIME access to all the Success Summit master classes, a private Q&A session and community, and $1,141 in bonuses.
Danny Iny is the Founder of Mirasee, host of the “Business Reimagined” podcast, and best selling author of multiple books. These books include, Engagement from Scratch, The Audience Revolution, and Teach and Grow Rich. In addition, he is the creator of the acclaimed audience business master class and course: Builders Laboratory Training programs. These programs have helped over 5000 value-driven entrepreneurs, making them graduates of the program.
In his recent interview with Chandler during the 2016 Self-Publishing Success Summit, Danny spoke about the the value of genuinity and content in marketing your product. Here’s what he said were the most important key elements:
People Over Product
Danny talks a lot about the value there is in helping people over selling product. He says, “People look at things differently when they’re looking at you to learn from you and when they’re looking at you as someone who’s trying to sell something.” Mutual trust is built when helping someone is viewed as greater than simply selling a product. Relationships are an important aspect of any business, and very often they prove more beneficial than simply pushing product at a customer.
Pay it Forward
Along with elevating people over product, Danny talks about the importance of paying it forward. Giving value to those who help you is important to remember (in business or even outside of business). Being genuine and presenting what is realistically in it for another person is vital to positive relationships. We shouldn’t exaggerate or belittle what one can/cannot get out of something. In terms of helping them, being that realistic and genuine person is a must!
We Won’t Make Money from Books
Most people do not make a living from their writing. Unless you are a big name author, meaningful money will not be made from simply selling books. For every person who wants your book enough to buy it, there are 10-20 people who would download it for free. Finding other ways to market through the sales, or even free downloads, of your books is a big step in the right direction.
A book in and of itself will likely not bring in meaningful money, but using it as a piece in a larger puzzle can be extremely helpful to your business.
Content, Content, Content
Being able to produce content is a must as a writer, but being able to produce good, quality, high-value content is another story entirely. Danny stresses the importance of delivering content with a high level of value. If the value is high, your audience and other people will genuinely promote your book for you in return. This is not only good for your customers, as they are receiving good content, but it is also a way to get free marketing. Both of these factors are important. A happy customer equals free marketing. Delivering valuable content, then following up by subtly reminding people where and how they can access your book, is a smart marketing choice.
Craft that Email List!
People are all about connections, and in the world of writing this is no different. Creating an email list is a great opportunity to nurture your relationship with your customers. Keeping them up to date on your latest writing, your new book that is coming out, or even some of your own, unique writing habits, helps nourish the relationship. More than just giving “fun facts” about your writing journey, well-crafted emails can provide more value and content that may interest customers. Valuable content doesn’t need to be restricted to only books or blogs, strong content can even be woven into a simple email. Doing so will make your customers love you all the more!
Helping people understand the value of a product and exactly why they would benefit from it can build customer relationships. Honesty is an important factor to have in this type of conversation. People will be surprised when they find there is actually a unique benefit to your specific product. Many people follow the format of providing three free videos, then working the videos into a sales pitch format. But again, surprise people by being unexpected. Get people engaged in understanding the value of paying attention to the content itself, not simply because a sales pitch will come at the end. This will in open their minds to the following product you intend to promote.
And as Danny says, always remember, “The book becomes the first big piece of marketing in the launch of a product.”
Writing a book is truly just the beginning!
For more information on the Self-Publishing Success Summit, you can check out our All-Access Pass to receive LIFETIME access to all the Success Summit master classes, a private Q&A session and community, and $1,141 in bonuses.
Last updated December 2016: At the time of writing this post, I’ve published 6 bestselling 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 success of my business, which I’ve grown to over 7 figures in revenue in less than 2 years.
Less than five years ago, this level of authorship success would have been reserved only for those select few authors who were lucky enough to catch the eye of an editor at one of the “Big 5” publishing companies (a process that relied just as much on luck and “who you knew,” as it did on the quality of your book).
Today, however, all that is changed. Not only do you no longer need one of the “Big 5” companies to publish your book to have a successful book launch, but many successful authors are turning publishing companies down.
Why are more and more authors turning to self-publishing (and forgetting about “traditional” publishing)? Simple:
- You have complete control over your book
- It is significantly more profitable (unless you are a household name like James Patterson or Nora Roberts, most authors earn mere pennies for each book sold)
- Traditional publishers won’t market your book for you at all (but they’ll still take a cut from each purchase)
- “Vanity” publishers are expensive, and no longer necessary.
Frankly, unless your name is Stephen King or J.K. Rowling…there are very few reasons why anyone would want to be traditionally published in 2017.
Which is why, whether you are trying to grow your authority and your business by writing a book, or are trying to leave your mark on the world, self publishing is the best option for you. Read on for the exact steps you need to take to write, publish, and launch your first best-selling book.
1. Decide What To Write Your Book About
The very first thing you need to decide when self-publishing a book, is what you want your book to be about.
What’s your why?
Are you trying to build an asset that’s going to earn you passive income month over month?
Are you an entrepreneur or freelancer with a new business, trying to accelerate your growth and authority in your market by publishing a book?
Do you have an existing, well-established business, and you want to write a book to diversify your income streams and land speaking engagements?
Or have you already had a successful career, and want to build an asset that will share the knowledge and skills you’ve gained over decades of experience with those who come after you?
All of these are perfectly valid reasons to write a book, and we’ve had students at Self-Publishing School publish books that went on to be best sellers for each of those reasons.
2. Choose Your Book Topic
Once you’ve decided on your why, it’s time for you to decide on the topic of your book, not your title (that comes last). When choosing your book topic, there is only 1 rule to follow:
Use the rifle approach, not the shotgun approach.
When deciding what you want your book to cover, it’s tempting to try and make your book about anything and everything you know. This is a mistake I see many first time authors make, and it negatively impacts their book sales as a result. If you can’t summarize what your entire book is about in a few words, then it’s probably too broad of a topic (and sales will suffer as a result).
3. Write Your Book
You’ve decided what you’re going to write your book about, now it’s time to write it. Writing a book is a process that deserves its own blog post, so check out this post on how to write your book in 30 days.
After you read that, watch this video where I discuss the simple process I use to write over 1500 words per hour!
4. Market Your Book & Form a Launch Team
It might seem backwards, but you should start your book marketing process before your book is even edited (it’s that important).
The most effective way to market your book is to create a launch page where you can collect email addresses for those who might be interested in reading your book, and build your launch team.
Then, send people over to that page using social media (we have an action plan in our Mastermind Community that provides a step-by-step template for this). Post about your upcoming book, post about the process you’re going through to write your book. Ask friends and family if they’d be interested in helping you promote. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help make your book a success!
Tell people to visit your page and enter their email address to learn how to get your book for free or at a steep discount. Try MailChimp or Aweber for collecting email addresses.
Then, a few weeks before your launch, start reaching out to influential bloggers and podcasters in your market (there’s an Action Plan for this, as well!). If you think their audience would be interested in the topic, offer a free copy of your book, and ask them if they’d like to review your book or interview you.
For a more in-depth look at all the steps that go into successfully marketing your book, check out our post on the step by step guide to marketing your book
5. Get 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.
6. Choose a 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 into the title of the book, rather than writing the book that needs to be written.
Therefore, it’s not until after your first draft is written that you need to worry about a title for your book. Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be.
It’s incredibly easy to get caught in “Book Title Land” when trying to come up with a title. Don’t fall into this trap. Don’t try to be too clever, or try to be “punny.” The truth is…the simpler the title, the better. As you’re brainstorming ideas, always remember to Keep It Stupidly Simple. As catchy or clever as you might think your title idea is…it will probably go straight over your audience’s head (and they won’t buy it as a result).
For example – if you’re writing a book about Home Renovation, the title “7 Steps to Flipping Profitable Homes” is much better than “Zen and the Art of Restorative Architectonics.” The former is simple and to the point (and most importantly, people will know exactly what the book is about). The latter is fancier, but most people have no idea what that means.
Once you’ve narrowed down your book title to a few possible options, send out an email to your friends, family, and audience (if you have one), or put a poll up on Facebook and ask for an opinion. You might be surprised what your audience’s favorite is.
Tim Ferriss took polling his audience to another level when writing his first book which went on to become a bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek. Tim set up a split test in Google Adwords and spent $200 testing 3 titles for his book:
- The 4-Hour Work Week
- Broadband and White Sand
- Millionaire Chameleon
Companies like Pickfu.com also offer very simple and affordable polling services…you can even define your audience demographics and have your poll answered by people who match those demographics!
6. Hire a Great 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 lat 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.
7. Design a Book Cover that Converts
Despite the saying (and contrary to many writers’ beliefs) people absolutely do judge books by their covers…especially books on Amazon.
You don’t have to like it, but the truth is if your book doesn’t have a cover that looks 100% professional, people are simply going to skip it and look for something else. Which is why taking the time to purchase a professionally designed cover that converts is so important.
Unless you’re a graphic designer, you need to hire a professional to put the cover design together. However, before you approach a cover designer, you should have at least a rough idea of what you want your book cover to look like so you can give your designer a brief. This helps prevent wasted time and money on covers that don’t fit your vision.
One easy method to spark some ideas when creating your design brief is to take a look at other books in your market (especially other bestselling books). You’ll notice that in most genres, book covers tend to follow a design theme, and these themes are what your audience expects. While you certainly don’t want your cover to be an exact clone of another design, you also don’t want it to look completely out of place. A good designer will help you to find this balance.
To find a designer, check out Fiverr.com or Upwork.com. Make sure your designer has experience meeting the specs for an Amazon book cover and plenty of positive reviews. You may wish to pay more than one designer, and choose the best design from all of them. The choice is up to you, just make sure the end result is something you’re proud of. It will be your reader’s first impression of you!
7. Format 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.
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. No matter what option you choose, preview your book using the Kindle previewer to make sure there are no formatting errors.
8. Complete the Self Publishing Process
When you feel confident your book is ready for the public, you can create a KDP account and upload your book. You should be just about ready to transform into a published author, but you aren’t quite ready to publish yet, so hit “save as draft.”
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.
Amazon 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.
9. Decide on a Price
You’re almost ready to hit publish, but there’s just one more step before you can do that: price your book. This is not a “set it and forget it” process. You’re going to select a list price, but then you’re going to choose a discounted launch price by clicking “Promote and advertise” within your KDP dashboard.
Amazon crosses out that higher list price and shows how many dollars buyers will save. This lets users know they are getting more bang for their buck during your discounted launch, which will tempt more readers to buy. Now you can hit publish! (Doesn’t that feel good?!)
10. Reach out to readers and influencers
Now it’s time to really leverage the launch team you created in step 4. As soon as your book goes live on Amazon, the time is right to reach out and let your email subscribers know that your book is available.
Sending as sales email can be scary, but you’ve got to do it for two reasons: first, these people signed up to your list because they want to know about your book! And if you’re launching it for free or a discount, then they’re going to be very happy to hear about your deal. Furthermore, these people have been with you and have been following your success since early on in your book launch process. They want to help you!
The initial sales generated from your launch team will help push your book up Amazon’s rankings, and will increase the chances of Amazon’s algorithm recommending it to shoppers, which will drive even more sales.
During this time, it’s also a great idea to follow up with any influencers you’ve made contact with and firm up plans to promote your book. You might offer to give away a free copy of your book to a winning audience member, or make some other offer to sweeten the deal.
11. 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.
If 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, 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 over 200 students do the same).
David McKay was one of our speakers during the Self-Publishing Success Summit, where he spoke about the importance of using social networking to help grow your brand and business. He and his wife Ally are partners and owners of McKay Photography Academy. David’s company is very successful, helping to teach photographers worldwide. He leads photography tour groups in countries such as Iceland and Africa, and he is currently planning one for Vietnam.
Recognized internationally, David has been awarded some of the most prestigious accolades in his profession. More than “just” a nationally recognized photographer, David is also a published author. He has written the Photography Demystified book series and is a best-selling author of two books. When interviewed for the Self-Publishing Success Summit on what he deems important in writing, David gave us several vital takeaways.
1. Mind Map Like Your Book Depends on It (because it does!)
David stresses the importance of mind mapping when beginning to write. He says it has a lot of value for us as we try to get started with ideas. All that’s needed is a sheet of blank paper, a pen, and a mind ready to write down nearly anything. Mind mapping can be done in a few different ways, but the purpose of mind mapping remains the same. Writing down the topic or subject of your book, then writing down any information related to this topic allows a certain freedom to writing. Who knows? We may get countless ideas, or one great idea we want to run with. Either way, mind mapping frees us to pursue our topic by looking at it from all different angles.
2. SPS Coaching Program
David is not just a teacher. He understands the importance of learning and growing as an individual as well. He stresses the value in SPS’s coaching program and states how integral it was to his writing. Having someone weave him in and out of the process was invaluable to him. This is spoken from a photographer turned best-selling author and is a takeaway we should all pay attention to. Anyone can put words on paper, but sometimes coaching is all it takes to turn good writing into great writing. David himself is proof of this!
3. Don’t Worry about Unsubscribers
We work so hard to put out good content, properly format our content, and organize it in an engaging way… We hit PUBLISH with hopeful expectancy…only to find one of our subscribers has unsubscribed. Did we do something wrong? Was the content too in-depth, too shallow? David is quick to say this is not the case. When someone unsubscribes it simply means they are not our right client. Having the right subscribers is as important as, or even more important than, having a large number of subscribers. Engaged subscribers make all the difference, so we shouldn’t feel badly when someone occasionally unsubscribes. It simply means our audience is weeding themselves out and we will be left with engaged subscribers who are all in. For a writer, what could be better?
4. Keep Them in the Loop!
Now that we have our engaged subscribers, we shouldn’t be afraid to keep them in the loop on what we are doing and where we are headed. As David said, people want to be part of something. An engaged audience wants to be on the inside, that is why they subscribed, after all! They want to know what is going on, what book we are writing, what the good days of writing look like, and how we work through the hard ones. David says we shouldn’t hesitate to keep them informed. This will affirm how important they are to us, as well as make them feel special we would take time to keep them informed. This is a win-win for both parties included!
5. Never Stop Changing, Never Stop Evolving
The writing market is always changing, as is social media, and as writers it is important to be aware of these changes and evolve as the market does.
Changing with the market helped David keep his home. Five years ago he had to make big changes in order to stay on top of the recession, and by making connections and changing with the market, he kept his home. Changing and evolving with the market will not only keep us in the loop, but also provide us with more connections, contacts, and a bigger audience.
These three factors are important for us writers as we write not just for ourselves, but also for an audience of readers who are also changing and evolving.
6. Dive Into a Social Network:
We all have our bad writing days. It’s part of being a successful writer. However, it’s helpful to have a social network of other writers ready to give us support when we need it. Social media is a great way to network and form connections that will later provide encouragement and helpful feedback. David emphasizes this repeatedly. Every writer can benefit from support at some point in the writing stage, and social networks can fulfill this need. As David stresses this fact, so should we. Dive in to a social network, engage with other writers, and give and receive support. It is greatly beneficial, because as David says, strength is in numbers and partnership is huge.
At times it’s easy to feel as if we have a book inside us that needs written, but we don’t know where to start or how to write it. It’s important for us to remember the tips David has proven truly work. Mind mapping, getting in a coaching program, not worrying about those who unsubscribe, keeping the engaged subscribers in the loop, evolving with the market, and getting into a social network support group are all areas David himself has not only incorporated into his own life, but also reaped the benefits from.
It’s not that we can’t do this, it’s that we need to take the step. As David reminds us, “If you do this stuff you can be successful.”
So we have tips from David, proven tips that if acted on are sure to help us succeed. But what’s the one main takeaway David wants us to remember? He believes with all his heart that everybody has a story within them and everyone has something others need to hear.
What’s our next step? We simply need to look inside ourselves and find the unique story we have to tell. Then we need to sit down and start mind mapping, getting into a coaching program, building a support network…because our individual stories have immense power to benefit others. What are we waiting for?
For more information on the Self-Publishing Success Summit, you can check out our All-Access Pass to receive LIFETIME access to all the Success Summit master classes, a private Q&A session and community, and $1,141 in bonuses!
It’s officially launch day of my new book, Published.! This has been a long time coming and I’m so excited the day is finally here. Haven’t heard about it yet? Let me tell you a bit about this new book…
Are you tired of just “thinking about” writing a book (even planning on making it a New Year’s Resolution), but never actually doing it?
Are you looking for a map that will take you from blank page to published author as fast as possible…without the frustration, the heartache, and the dreaded “staring at a blank page” syndrome?
Are you curious what the “secret sauce” is that’s responsible for over 264 bestselling book launches (and millions of dollars in revenue and business growth)?
Then on behalf of myself and the entire Self-Publishing School team, it is with great excitement and anticipation that I’m announcing the release of my 6th and most recent book: Published. The Proven Path from Blank Page to Published Author.
And if you answered “yes,” to any of the above questions…I wrote this book specifically for you.
What is Published.?
Published. The Proven Path from Blank Page to Published Author is my most valuable book yet, and is a complete compilation of everything I’ve learned writing, publishing, and launching 5 bestsellers (and teaching over 1,000 students at Self-Publishing School to do the same).
Published. is not just another boring “how to” book on how to write & publish your first book…
Inside this book, I’m giving you the exact systems, tactics, and blueprints to become a successful bestselling author, even if you’ve never written a book in your life.
In this book, you’ll learn…
My 3-step method that takes you from blank page to complete rough draft in less than one week (or how to write a better book than you thought possible in 1/10th the time!)
How to save $1,000’s of dollars in your book editing and production process (or how to publish a book as good as or better than most “traditionally-published” books…on a budget)
My proven “Pre-Launch Buzz Blueprint” that will guarantee your book launches with a bang
How to leverage your book to maximize your product and service offering sales
In Published., you don’t just get a 204 page book packed with tips, tricks, and hacks…you get a SHORTCUT to becoming a best selling author.
I’ve Never Done This Before…
Whether you are a beginning entrepreneur trying to grow authority in your market and build your business…
Or an accomplished pro, looking to create something that will leave your mark on the world…
I know from first hand experience that writing a book is the best way to accomplish your goals.
But I also know that writing a book can be a frustrating, painful process…even if it’s your sixth book (and especially if it’s your first!)
I’ve watched from afar, feeling bad for the people who struggle through this process. They take months – even years – just to finish their first book….and then ultimately launch to the sound of crickets.
I’ve also seen firsthand the success, ease, and joy my students at Self-Publishing School experience…and how each book they publish changes their lives.
Which is why I’m doing something with this book that I’ve never done before.
I’m giving it away for free.
That’s right – no strings attached. This book retails for $14.95, but I’m buying it for you. We simply ask that you help us with the shipping/handling costs in order to receive it.
How To Get Your FREE Copy
To claim your free copy of Published., simply click here to fill in your shipping information, and we’ll have your book sent straight to the address you provide – free of charge and no strings attached.
I hope that by giving you this book, you’re inspired and empowered to finish your own.
Here’s the link to claim it: http://self-publishingschool.com/s/published
The theme today is productivity: how you can take control of it and make the most of it as a new writer or even as someone who has been writing for a long time.
Our interviewee from the Self-Publishing Success Summit, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, is an accomplished author, speaker and Silicon Valley innovator who was an early employee at Twitter. She holds a MBA among other degrees she has received from Stanford and Oxford Universities. She has been named one of the top 100 most creative people in business today by Fast Company and has been featured widely in print and broadcast media. On top of that, Claire also produces valuable content at her in demand business blog: www.clairediazortiz.com.
Being a journalist and best-selling author himself, Claire’s father was her biggest influence growing up. Naturally, writing has always been second nature to her. Had she been asked what she wanted to be as a grownup at the age of four her response would automatically have been writer.
It was a few years after finishing grad school that Claire seriously considered writing her first book. The first action she took was Googling “How to write a book.” That yielded her some information but she hit the jackpot of her search when she refined her wording to “How to write a book proposal.”
The internet is an invaluable tool that can lead you to discover various resources that will help you get started and guide you on your book writing journey.
You should banish any attempts at perfectionism unless you don’t want to make any real headway. Claire says, “It’s much better to have 10 terrible chapters than three great ones and seven that you haven’t even started.”
It was during grad school that Claire was assigned a book called “The Clockwork Muse” while writing her thesis which greatly impacted her own writing productivity. In it the author proposes a methodology which assists prospective writers develop a workable time framework to complete all their projects. You can time your muse by setting up your writing schedule to conspire for your success. By understanding how you write, when you write best, and scheduling accordingly you can own your writing process instead of allowing it to overwhelm you.
For your brain, the act of researching is very different from the actual writing process therefore it is crucial to separate the two tasks. If research is required for the type of writing you are doing it is better to complete this separately since you will want to call upon this information during your writing process. Otherwise, you will constantly be distracted from writing if you have to keep browsing the internet for supporting articles and other forms of research to back your claims. You have to keep trying to just write. When you focus your energy on one task it generates the best results. When you intentionally give yourself less time to work with through Parkinson’s Law your work will expand to fit into the time allotted for its completion. Editing down your time on tasks is another great tool because it forces you to focus.
Here are some helpful tips Claire gives on controlling your productivity:
Seek help from others: It is valuable to consider what others think about your writing because they could provide you with some great insight on how to make it even better. Regardless of how “right” you think you are due to the sheer amount of time and effort you’re putting in, it is wise to hear people out. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring someone’s input, criticism can turn into one of your best teachers.
Write when you’re most productive: Figuring out what time of day you have the most energy is vital. You may even discover what specific days of the week you’re more productive as well. This process is easy to do. You take two weeks out of your schedule and intentionally omit caffeine out of your diet. Then you proceed to monitor how your energy is feeling on a scale of 1 to 10 at every half hour or hour mark. You will soon see consistency with energy levels during certain times of the day versus others. By tapping into your “Magic Hour” you’re really unlocking a new level of productivity.
Plan a writing retreat for yourself: One final golden nugget that Claire relayed to you is to go on a writing retreat. The best way you can make some real progress is by literally disconnecting from the world around you and only focusing on your writing for a concentrated period of time. Even spending one full day will leave you with a lot of valuable thinking and work done to get your writing process moving forward. Ideally three or more days work best to get your first rough draft completed. Figuring out spaces where you can be creative and focused is critical to your success no matter if you’re in your usual daily rhythm or on a retreat.
Increasing productivity as writers is becoming more challenging in a world where the number of distractions and demands upon our time and attention is growing. Given these circumstances it’s not surprising why so many people want to write but very few follow through. In spite of this, the advice you have been given can alleviate this struggle if you choose to apply them and adjust them accordingly to meet your personal lifestyle needs. Claire Diaz-Ortiz is just one shining example of an individual who took action on these tips and turned on the ignition to her successful career. Knowing what you now know, will you be next?
How To Write A Timeless Book That Sells 500,000 Copies And Grows Your Business (Josh Shipp Interview)
A former at risk foster kid, Josh Shipp is now known for his renowned TV series, breakthrough work with teens, for being listed on Ink Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list, and for being the bestselling author of “The Teen’s Guide to World Domination.” In his interview with Chandler Bolt during the 2016 Self-Publishing Success Summit, Josh discusses many of the lessons he learned, as well as some advice that could dramatically impact the life of a writer. Some of his advice provides insight on how to write a timeless book that sells 500,000 copies and how you can use that book to grow your business.
It’s easy to feel incompetent as a beginning author (or even as a well-known author!), but Josh’s story goes to show anyone can become an author. After countless hours of counseling, as well as being kicked out of multiple foster homes, Josh began speaking as a teenager. Wanting to find a healthy medium between doing work that matters and having a good business he began writing.
Check out this short video clip from the Self-Publishing Success Summit:
How can a speaker turn into a writer? And how can that writer write a timeless book that sells more than 500,000 copies? The answer is simpler than you think. It might be difficult to change someone’s life through a one-hour speech, but it is possible to impact him or her through a phrase or few sentences that spark an epiphany. This strategy is one Josh uses when writing his books. Creating tidbits that stick in readers’ minds is a big part of the writing process, and a tactic that can be borrowed from speaking.
Also part of Josh’s writing career is his desire to elicit feedback from his readers. Creating a focus group using three groups of people (Twitter followers, personal friends, and random people), Josh then sends a portion of his book out to the group via a Google doc and asks for their feedback on how the book could be 10% better.
How Did He Do It?
There is one catch to his focus group: the group must consist of those who make up his target audience. Using outside friends or strangers who do not make up his audience would defeat the point of feedback. Josh desires to receive feedback on how to make his book better for his target audience, not random people. Getting advice from those who do not make up your target audience is counterintuitive as making the book more applicable to target readers is the goal.
In addition, it is important to get advice from as many points of view as possible to ensure clear and understandable content. As the author, Josh understands what he is trying to say. After all, he is the one who spends hours crafting his sentences, writing, and editing. His readers do not have his background with the content. Getting his reader’s feedback on what could be explained more efficiently is a big part of Josh’s writing process and ensures quality material.
Josh did not start as a bestselling author. He did not start as a man renowned for a documentary TV series. He started as an at-risk foster kid. But look what he has achieved with a few simple tips. With Josh’s story in mind, take encouragement. You, too, can become an author and write content that matters. You don’t need to shoot for changing a life but simply work to spark an epiphany in a reader’s life. You, too, can ask for feedback from your target audience. You, too, can become an author.
In the difficult times remember what Josh says: “Don’t think there’s something broken in you and that it’s only difficult for you.” Anyone who has accomplished something significant has at some point viewed himself as incompetent. This is natural because failure is part of the process. Yes, there is prestige in writing a book, and yes, there is a sense of accomplishment. As there should be! But in hard times, when the words don’t seem to be coming and the epiphanies seem lost, remember Josh’s words. “The icky period is the price tag.” Success is born of failure, and writers realize failure is always the precursor to success. Embrace the icky so that in the end you can embrace the success.
Earlier this year, I published my very first book on Amazon. The physical copies arrived at my house a couple of weeks ago. When I flew home for my dad’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, my grandmother showed up with 10 copies and insisted that I autograph each of them for her.
That was probably the highlight of my year: my grandmother asking me to autograph books that had my name on the cover.
If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be a published author right now, I would have laughed at you. I didn’t think it was possible to write and publish a book as quickly as I did. But it turns out that I had a book in me, and all it took was a crisis halfway across the planet to get me started writing it.
The story of how I wrote my first book started last year when I was in the middle of Eastern Europe, alone and crying in a brand new Airbnb in Bulgaria, stranded and breaking up with my girlfriend.
Two hours earlier, I was packing my suitcase and walking away from the apartment we had been sharing and moving to a foreign city where I couldn’t even read a menu. I hit the pavement totally alone, and wandered around the city till I could check into the Airbnb.
You don’t know what alone is until you’re sitting on the floor of an Airbnb in Bulgaria wondering how you ended up across the planet breaking up with someone you thought you were going to spend your life with.
I wanted to reach out and feel a bit of my home, so I got on Google Hangouts and called my little sister. I explained what was going on, but honestly wanted to talk about anything else, so she started talking about the startups where she was applying for jobs.
I’ve spent my entire career in startup companies, so if there’s something I can talk about, it’s what it takes to get a job in one.
But my sister was still trying to figure this world out. She was a brand new college graduate, and wanted the downlow about how to interview at tech startups, what they were looking for in new hires, and how she could maximize her ability to get hired and get paid.
I was happy for the distraction, so I ended up talking to her for a while about it. After we got off the Hangout, I started writing her an email with a bunch of other advice that started rolling out of my head. Before I knew it, I had fired off a 1500-word email that was basically a start-to-finish blueprint for getting hired at a startup.
I went to bed and woke up the next morning thinking about the email, so I opened my laptop and re-read it.
As I read, I realized that I had spent a lot of time the past year helping people improve their resumes and land jobs at tech companies.. I realized that I had accumulated a lot of “insider” knowledge about getting highly sought-after jobs that most people, frankly, didn’t have. The skills I’d learned about getting hired and working at tech companies was valuable information that wasn’t being taught in college, or passed onto students by their parents.
So I started expanding the 1500 word email into a outline, figuring I could at least get a handful of really good blog posts out of the exercise. I was basically trying to fill my free time in Bulgaria with something productive and semi-therapeutic.
As I expanded the outline, and its word count grew, I realized that if I wanted to be a bit more ambitious, I could probably turn this outline into a complete ebook. Something I could sell on Amazon.
By the time I finally got home, I had a bunch of ideas about getting hired at companies in the outline that I wanted to test out on people who were actually in the job market. So I posted a big status on Facebook explaining that I had been helping my friends write resumes and ace interviews at tech companies, and asked anyone who wanted help to reach out to me.
I got a few dozen replies, and started working with a handful of my friends who were looking to upgrade their careers a bit.
The ideas that I’d sketched out in the book worked really well. People were getting hired, and by working with them I was effectively doing more research on what was starting to look and feel like a book.
I kept testing the ideas, publishing a couple of blog posts with material from or inspired by the outline. Those posts got a lot of traffic – another encouraging sign.
At this point, I felt like I actually had a book on my hands, so I focused in to flesh out the outline into something coherent that I could send out for feedback. Those initial feedback rounds were incredibly valuable to point out information gaps, gave me additional sections that I could add to the book, as well as sections that weren’t adding any value that I could remove.
My iterative process was working. Something was finally starting to take shape.
Finally around March of the next year, I had over 10,000 words written, but I had stalled a bit. I wasn’t working on it every week, and I hadn’t set myself a goal to get the book finished.
I had a conversation with a buddy of mine who is an entrepreneur to ask him what he thought and to get some motivation from him. He delivered.
He told me, “Look, Austin. You can talk about being a writer all you want, but unless you actually do the work of writing, you really should question whether or not you can call yourself a writer.”
Those words stuck with me.
I knew that I was a writer, but if I wasn’t writing and if all I had was this unfinished book, how credible could I really be?
I knew that I had to finish the book.
The outline was as good as it needed to get. It was time to start doing the damn work. So every week, I’d set aside a few hours over a couple of evenings to write. I’d come home from work, have a quick dinner, put my headphones on, and sit in my living room while my roommate watched TV and I’d write.
The book started to take shape and grow. I had this massive Google Doc that I’d crack open and attack a few times a week, for 3-4 hours at a time. I rearranged my life to do this. Went out less. Stayed up later than normal. But overall, nobody noticed that anything was different unless I told them what I was working on.
As I would write, people continued to reach out to me about their resumes, and I’d send them the Google Doc to read to see if what I was writing was useful.
My training has been in startup companies, where getting user feedback on what you’re building as often as possible is crucial to making sure you’re building the right things. So every chance I got to get someone to read what I was writing, I took it. I learned something every time, even if it was only that I was saying useful things that helped them think through their careers differently.
After a month or two of writing, I knew that I needed to set an artificial deadline for myself that would force me to finish the book. An undertaking as big as writing a book requires you to force your hand with a deadline to get the work done. Without that deadline, I might still be tinkering around with a big Google Doc rather than with a couple hundred printed copies of my book sitting in a box in my bedroom.
To set a deadline, I reached out to a podcast owner that I knew to see if I could appear on his show to announce my book. That was May. He said, “Sure, let’s do it on July 18.”
I didn’t really do any math in my head about whether that was feasible, I just said “let’s do it,” hung up the phone, said “oh shit” to myself, and realized I had to start cranking.
I budgeted 3 weeks of review time, which meant I had to get my final draft ready before July.
That deadline set a fire under my butt, and I went to work. And when I was happy, I sent 10 copies off to 10 friends and mentors whose opinions I trusted, and gradually began integrating all their feedback into the book.
Meanwhile, I found a designer to create a cover for me.
I did the research about how to self-publish on Amazon, and created a plan to pimp the book. This was the least thought out part of the process. And had I talked to Chandler beforehand, I would have done a lot of things differently. But at this point, I had a deadline, and I knew that I was going to make it live.
It was real. My first book.
So where do you come in?
How does my story relate to you?
Well, I figure that if an average guy like me can find the ability to start a book in one of the darkest moments of his life, then there are a lot of other people who have books just waiting to be written.
And I believe if I can write one that you can write one as well.
The point of this blog post is to give you the following takeaways
- You’ve got an idea for a book inside of you that you are probably overlooking. It’s that thing that you know that nobody else does. Or it’s the thing that everyone is asking for your advice on. Or any number of things. If you start paying attention, you’ll discover what it is.
- Writing a book doesn’t really look like writing a book at first. It looks like you spending some time fleshing out an idea on paper. Maybe it’s going to look like a bunch of blog posts. Maybe it’s going to look like something else. All that matters is that you have an idea that you start turning into an outline.
- Writing a book is an iterative process. Keep chipping away at the outline, and you’ll see things begin to take shape. The first drafts I sent off to people were SO much worse than the later drafts, and astronomically worse than the final copy.
- When you’re courageous about getting feedback on what you’re writing, you learn faster and the book gets good faster. Getting early feedback on the book was essential to how good it got. If I had been afraid of sharing unfinished drafts, I wouldn’t have moved as fast.
- Writing a book doesn’t have to consume your life. Set aside time every day to write, and you’ll get it done. You can watch less TV or spend less time on Facebook. I’m sure you’d be blown away by how much time you actually have.
- You have to set an artificial deadline, otherwise you’ll never finish. Go make a promise to someone that you’ll have a book they can buy on a certain date, and then go figure out how to make that real.
– A transatlantic breakup sucks, but it sure frees your time up to do something more useful.
I hope this helps.
Austin W. Gunter
Self publishing at any age is a major accomplishment, but when you have to balance your responsibilities as an author with homework from your 3rd grade teacher, you deserve special recognition. Which is why Emma Sumner is gaining tons of media attention for “The Fairies of Waterfall Island,” a 10,000-word, 120-page book now available on Amazon.
Because of her young age and big dreams, Emma has been booked for on-air interviews with local media including NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, and PBS to talk about her book, and more offers for interviews are coming in daily.
How did this young girl go from idea to published, without an agent or publishing company? As her father, I was right there with her throughout the process and in this post I am going to show you how she did it, including pictures, links to recordings, and the precise breakdown of costs.
The nine steps an 8-year-old took to go from blank page to self published book:
The tips and tricks that I share below come straight from Self-Publishing School, where Emma and I learned from the best in the business. Click here to find out more about Self-Publishing School.
#1 Start with a Challenge
When Emma first came to me and said she wanted to write and publish a book, I wasn’t sure if this was just a passing idea in the mind of a bored grade-schooler, or if it was really going to something she would be passionate about and continue with. I was happy to help her if it was a real goal and not just a whim, so I gave her a challenge.
Emma’s challenge was:
- Complete 1 chapter to her story
- Write at least 150 words
- Create 3 different characters with backgrounds
- Have a plan ready for the rest of the book
What did Emma do? She came back that same night with:
- A handwritten story in her spiral bound notebook that had 172 words (she made sure I counted),
- Four distinct characters
- A plan for a total of 10 chapters and four other characters that she would introduce later in the book.
It was clear from her effort that she was serious — so I was, too!
Here’s a look at the first draft of what she wrote:
At that time, the 170-word story was the longest thing she had ever written. It gave her a taste of what was possible if she put forth the effort.
YOUR TURN: How can you challenge yourself? Be creative and find ways to create achievable goals and then turn them into a challenge. You can write them down as a contract with yourself, or even bring on a friend as an accountability partner to encourage and motivate you.
#2 Build a Rewards System
Emma’s first reward was a simple one. We decided that the next morning after she finished her first 150 words I would wake up early and before I went to work I would sit down and give her story my full attention as I read it from start to finish.
The next morning I read her story and instead of giving constructive criticism, I just gave encouragement. I told her how much I loved it and left a small sticky note for her to read when she woke up.
It is vitally important in the beginning to forget about the little things like grammar or spelling and just be proud of the fact they (or you!) completed the challenge. Most children (and adults for that matter) are most vulnerable in the writing process the first time someone reads their words.
Whether you’re reading your child’s, friend’s, or your own work, focus on the good. There will be plenty of time for the rest later when it comes time to edit.
Here are some examples of the rewards we used to motivate and encourage Emma during the writing process:
Challenge: Complete detailed descriptions of your top 4 characters
Reward: We will go onto Fiverr.com and get someone to do a pencil drawing of the character based off you description
Challenge: Finish Chapter 2
Reward: I will copy your handwritten notes to the computer and teach you how to use Microsoft Word
Challenge: Finish Chapter 10
Reward: We will sit down and write an email to a cover designer
YOUR TURN: What is your reward? Find something that you can get excited about that will also lead to more progress with the book.
#3 Make a Plan
After Emma completed her first challenge of 150 words, we decided that we needed to have a plan for moving forward. Instead of just writing everything out and hoping it would all make sense, we sat down to plan out what we wanted to do.
Each week we met on Saturday morning, waking up before the rest of the family. During our “strategy sessions,” we would have breakfast together and plan out the week. Oftentimes these planning sessions would happen at a local Panera Bread or Starbucks.
These sessions became about much more than just the book, as we enjoyed the father-daughter bonding time without distractions. To this day, these Saturday morning meetings have been my favorite part of the entire process.
After the first couple weeks we started to bring my laptop along with us so she could sit down and write for 20-30 minutes after we finished our “business,” before we went home.
Here are some of the things that we would do each week:
- Decide on goals
- Pick out rewards
- Talk about the story line
- Talk about any struggles
In order to allow Emma to refer back to what we talked about each week we would record the session with the audio recording feature on Evernote on my phone. With the recordings available to her on our iPad at home she could just tap on the button for this week’s strategy session and review it whenever she wanted, even if I was still at work.
To hear a small clip of one of the first “Strategy Session” recordings click here Audio for Strategy Session
YOUR TURN: Do you have a plan? If not, it is time to start getting back to basics like mind mapping or outlining.
#4 Create Accountability
For Emma we found a great way to keep her accountable while also promoting her book and making it fun for her. Inspired by Pat Flynn and the group he created to help launch his first eBook, we created a private Facebook group filled with friends and family called “Emma’s First Book.” Each week she would record a short video to the group and report back on her progress.
The group quickly grew from 20 people to over 200 people within a week as friends and family started to message me asking to add one of their friends or coworkers who was interested in watching Emma’s progress.
As people began to comment on her videos and post encouragement for her, we began to incorporate this as one of her rewards. If she finished the weeks goals she could spend 20 min. commenting back to the people in her group.
Here is a picture of Emma’s group taken the first week she started it.
YOUR TURN: Who is going to keep you accountable? Find someone in your life, in person or online, that you can meet with for 10 minutes each week and check in on your goals. They may not be writers, but maybe they have another goal in mind for weight loss or exercise, and you can work together to keep each other on track.
#5 Celebrate Big Wins
As I mentioned earlier, Emma and I would create weekly challenges and rewards to make the week-to-week process more fun and exciting, but beyond that we also celebrated each time she achieved a big milestone.
More important that just the celebration was the fact that we were doing it together. She was able to share her victories and be proud of her accomplishments, and I was there to cheer her on. During these celebrations we did not talk about strategy and details but we just reflected on how far she had come and what more she could still do.
For example when the book was half way done we celebrated with dinner out on the town.
YOUR TURN: Who can you celebrate with? Find a friend, family member, pet, stuffed animal… anyone who can help you enjoy the wins.
#6 Hire The Pros
Based on my experiences with publishing my own books, I knew there were four things we needed to hire professional help to accomplish: illustration, editing, cover design, and formatting.
There’s a wide range of costs for each of these items, so as a family we worked out a budget and made a decision on what we could afford. Then we contacted outsourcers that fit our needs, based on a list of preferred contractors from Self-Publishing School.
This was a time-saver since we didn’t have to waste time or money dealing with an untested resource. Before starting with each we discussed our project, described the book and Emma’s personality, and asked some questions about their style via email to make sure they were a good fit.
We worked with people from Boston, Michigan, Mexico and even Sweden. Emma was involved in communicating with each of them by both email and video chat.
What did it all cost?
Cover Design: $450
Total Invested in the book: $790*
*Unless you want to count all the hot chocolates and breakfast sandwiches during our Saturday meetings, in that case I should probably add another $150 🙂
Depending on your budget you can choose to go much lower or even much higher. The range is huge for each category. You can pay well into four thousands for each category, depending on what you decide to outsource and who you use. Don’t let that scare you, though, as you can even choose to do it on your own for little to no money at all.
That being said, we are extremely happy with the choice that we made. Check out the cover below:
To get access to the Preferred Outsourcers that we used along with many others check out Self-Publishing School.
#7 Try New Things
While working on this project, Emma learned much more than just how to write a book. At each stage we took any opportunity we could to introduce a skill or technology that would expand her knowledge and comfort level.
For example, when she was ready to transition away from writing in her spiral-bound book to computer, she learned how to use a laptop, start Microsoft Word and type her story.
Here are just some of the programs or skills Emma has learned during the last year:
- Typing with Microsoft Word
- Using a thesaurus
- Typing and sharing documents with Google Docs
- Using Skype to do video chats
- Posting, commenting and doing live videos in Facebook
YOUR TURN: What new skills are you looking forward to learning? Make a list of things that you want to try and incorporate them as you go.
#8 Remove Barriers
Often, small points of resistance can keep you from moving the entire book forward. These little things can cause you to stop your progress, lose your inspiration or even cast doubt that you should be writing at all. If you can identify those small roadblocks and find a way to remove them early on, then you will be more successful
For Emma, one of her points of resistance was that she often worried so much about her spelling and grammar that she would not make any progress. She would see the red line under the word show up in Microsoft Word and get completely distracted, and then end up feeling discouraged. Then her progress or creative momentum would be ruined.
Our solution was simple: If spell check was the issue, let’s get rid of it! We disabled spell check completely and chose to forget about spelling until the entire first draft was done. Then instead of having her worry about it, we let the editor handle it. 🙂
YOUR TURN: If you find something that is blocking you from moving forward, take the time to identify it and find a solution. When you think about writing (or completing) your book now, what barriers do you predict? Make a plan to get rid of it!
#9 Build a Launch Team
A launch team is a group of people chosen to help you market the book and spread the word about your launch to the rest of the world.
By the time Emma was done with her book, she had a large group of people who had been following her progress and were ready to help her by being part of her launch team.
To make it easier to get information out to the group we created a small landing page and invited her Facebook group, and other other groups including the Self-Publishing School Mastermind Program, to sign up.
Starting about 2 weeks prior to launch, we began sending emails to everyone who had signed up, letting them know what to expect. Then a week before our official launch, we put the book up on Amazon and only notified those on the launch team. Many people on the team had never purchased a book on Amazon before, much less read a book on Kindle or left a review, so we had to be very detailed on our instructions.
She had a total of 95 people sign up to be on her launch team, and in just one day after we hit the publish button on Amazon she had 87 books purchased and 16 reviews up.
YOUR TURN: Start thinking about who will be on your launch team and how you will manage it. I strongly suggest signing up for an email service like ClickFunnels, Aweber, or MailChimp so you can collect email addresses and contact your launch team directly.
#10 Give Back
As part of this journey we wanted to make sure that Emma learned more than just how to write a book, and one of the biggest lessons we were able to incorporate was the idea of giving back to charity.
Here are just some of the benefits of giving back with your book:
- Inspiration: Inspire others around you to be a part of your journey.
- Motivation: When the book will help others either directly or indirectly, then you will have even more motivation to continue.
- Satisfaction: Giving back to a charity to which we feel personally connected has given both Emma and me a great feeling of pride and satisfaction that would not have been possible without that participation.
In order to maximize what you can do for a cause, pick a charity that can work with you to help get the word out about the book.
Here are some things to look for:
Does the money stay locally or go to a national or international fund?
You may want to find a charity where the money stays to help the local community.
Do they have a local chapter or contact?
It helps to have one person that knows the local area to help you set up speaking engagements
What kind of social media presence or email list do they have?
Part of raising money to donate means getting the book in front of those who will be willing to buy it. If the charity has a large contact list, they can help send that information out to more people — which will help them AND help you!
Does the charity have a marketing team?
Many large charities already have a marketing and PR team in place that can help create engaging posts or advertisements, as well as using their already established network to get your book into the media.
Don’t be afraid to ask these questions when you get in contact with the charity. After all, you want to make sure you are donating your time to the right cause.
Emma and I talked with several charities before finally deciding on Autism Speaks, a wonderful group with both national and local ties.
You can find out more about this great charity at AutismSpeaks.org
YOUR TURN: What charities or causes do you feel passionate about or connected to? Start now by using the resources above to evaluate your options.
A Dream Come True
“The Fairies of Waterfall Island” has already exceeded our wildest dreams. Every time we talk about it Emma says “I am just so excited, I never thought it would actually get this far.”
Each new step from writing to editing and now to publishing has been challenging, but the rewards have been incredible — in our relationship, in the growth I’ve seen in Emma, and in the inspiration she’s been to other children and adults.
To support Emma and her book go EmmaLovesBooks.com where you can find a link to purchase the book and more information on Emma and her journey. Remember that all proceeds for the first 3 months go to Autism Speaks.
I hope that with this post you can see that anyone can turn their dream into a published book. You just need to follow the steps, and you will be there with Emma before you know it.
When it comes to selling ebooks, Amazon is by far the market leader. According to Publishers Weekly, “Apple and Barnes & Noble remain Amazon’s two largest competitors, although they trail Amazon by a wide margin.” However, millions of readers across the world still turn to other sellers like Apple’s iBooks and Barnes & Noble to buy books.
For an author trying to figure out this business—especially for the first time—it can be confusing and overwhelming to find out how and why to sell your book on different platforms. Sometimes it seems easier sticking to what you know. But, by eliminating all the other players and exclusively publishing on Amazon, you are essentially closing the door to many potential readers. What does this mean for the self-published author? It means that Amazon isn’t the only game in town when it comes to considering who can sell books for you.
In order to demystify these options, we decided to let you hear directly from book distributors Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Kobo so you can decide what’s best for you and your next book. You may be surprised to hear that none of these distributors think you should say goodbye to Amazon publishing. Instead, they advocate broadening your horizons.
In this Q&A, we explore what Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Kobo have to say about what makes each platform unique and how you can see more success using their platform in addition to Amazon. Also, take note of their best insider tips and tricks to navigating the world of indie publishing.
Here is just a little snippet from each of these distributors.
“Authors should spend more time writing and less time tinkering with administrative tasks or tinkering with the upload requirements at multiple retailers.” – Smashwords
“Here’s the painful reality of ‘going wide’—it’s a long game. The advantage of being exclusive to Amazon comes largely in immediate gains…. But it’s a short-term strategy, and the most successful authors recognize that they should be planning for long-term.” – Draft2Digital
“The three ‘secrets’ to self-publishing success are: Practice, Patience and Persistence. Don’t drop in and out. Keep your titles available while continuing to write new material. Keep writing, keep practicing your craft, be patient because it takes time for people to grow a following on any platform.” – Kobo
Read on to get detailed answers to your pressing questions.
Question: What Makes Your Platform Unique? Why Should Authors Sign Up With You?
Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks. Since 2008, we’ve helped over 120,000 authors and small, independent presses release over 415,000 titles. Dozens and dozens of our authors have become international bestsellers and have hit the bestseller lists of traditional media like the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal.
Smashwords’ global retailer distribution network also includes distribution to public libraries through our partnerships with OverDrive, Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Odilo and Askews & Holts.
We make it fast, free and easy to publish and distribute your ebook, and we provide free resources to help guide you along the way to becoming a more professional author. These resources include the Smashwords Style Guide (how to format your original manuscript to prepare it for ebook conversion); Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (41 tips to help authors reach more readers); and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (reveals 30 best practices of the bestselling indie ebook authors). We also provide free video tutorials.
Books sold at the Smashwords store earn the author about 80 percent of the list price as their royalty. Books sold at one of our retail partner stores will earn the author 60 percent of list as their royalty.
Although Smashwords does operate a retail store at Smashwords.com—where readers can download books in all of the most popular formats so that our authors’ books can be enjoyed on any device—95 percent or more of your sales will come from our global retail partners. Our biggest value to authors is through our distribution, though I believe some authors think Smashwords is only a retailer.
‘Going wide’ is a topic Draft2Digital is addressing a lot recently, especially with the introduction of their new Universal Book Links (UBLs). A lot of authors are struggling with the question of should they or shouldn’t they, when it comes to branching out from Amazon. The biggest reason Draft2Digital created UBLs as part of their offering through Books2Read.com: authors can use a single URL to promote their work, and Books2Read finds every store where their book appears online. Meaning readers only have to click on one link, and they’ll be taken to the store of their choice. Even if the author is exclusive to Amazon, the link uses globalization to direct readers to the regional Amazon store of their choice.
Draft2Digital’s uniqueness comes largely from their relationships. One of the first things most authors notice when comparing them to the competition is that they aren’t necessarily in all of the same sales channels. There’s some crossover, but there are also some missing faces. They are constantly expanding vendor relationships to include new sales channels. However, they are selective when choosing distribution partners because they are a company founded by authors, and they know exactly how much authors can struggle in all of this.
A founding principle of the company boils down to this: Find the biggest pain points for authors, and eliminate them. And if it’s at all possible (and it usually is), do it for free.
That’s what makes us different than any other distributor. We have authors on staff who know the struggle to find good resources and tools, without busting our budgets. So we want to provide those resources and tools. We generate our revenue entirely from a percentage of royalties, and we avoid charging authors directly for services, unless there’s just no alternative. That means we only succeed if the author succeeds—and that’s the right business philosophy for everyone.
Kobo Writing Life was built for writers by writers. We have the world’s best dashboard for easy and simple analytics in understanding two things: 1) where in the world your books are selling and 2) approximately how much you’ve earned. (Compare that to the dozens of ways you have to re-filter your info on the Kindle dashboard just to see what’s selling and in what territory. It’s truly a feat of mathemagic to try to determine what your royalties are actually going to be. Lots of confusion and hidden costs too (such as the hidden processing costs for payment which means you’re NOT really making 70% even though you think you are.
KWL offers authors 70 percent for items prices $2.99 USD and higher. WITH NO CAP. IE, you don’t have to limit your price to $9.99 USD. We still pay 70 percent no matter how high you price. This allows authors to create larger box sets that provide value for readers without the author losing too much money in the process. Also, Kobo customers care more about QUALITY than bargain basement 99 cent novels. That’s a huge thing that makes for a longer term sustainable opportunity for writers.
Also, at the lower end, we pay 45 percent (between 99 cents and $2.99) rather than 35 percent
Authors should understand that Kobo sells into 190 countries and also partners with different retailers. In Canada, our ebooks sell directly on Kobo.com but also on www.chapters.indigo.ca – our Canadian retail partner (think of them like a “Barnes and Noble” in Canada. In the US we’ve partnered with the ABA so Kobo ebooks are also available through hundreds of indie bookstores across the US. In the UK we’re partnered with WHSmith and Waterstones. In France it’s FNAC. In Italy it’s Mondadori. In the Netherlands it’s BOL.
Most KWL authors sell about 75 percent of their titles through Canada and Australia. The breakdown is different for different authors, but Canada and Australia are two of the larger markets – and they’re markets that Amazon doesn’t have nearly the same foothold in. Compare Kobo sales in Canada to Kindle and you’ll see that Kobo (born in Canada and that’s our largest territory) has as much of the Canadian market as Kindle has of the US – I mentioned that Canada is our largest territory – but of note — Japan is now becoming a larger market than Canada – not hard to imagine given the population there and the fact our mother company Rakuten is headquartered there). Authors’ global sales through Kobo Writing Life are where they find new customers in new territories outside of the ones that Amazon is large in.
Question: How Can Authors Find More Success Using Your Platform?
Authors should spend more time writing and less time tinkering with administrative tasks or tinkering with the upload requirements at multiple retailers.
Smashwords’ biggest value to authors is through our distribution network. This is a HUGE time saver for authors. Imagine if you wanted to update the metadata on five of your books. You would have to go to each retailer, one by one, to update that information for each book. With a distributor, you update the metadata once and you’re done. The distributor does the heavy lifting for you. The same is true if you need to upload a revised edition of your book. If you work with a distributor, you upload the revision once and you’re done. If you decide to work directly with the retailers, you have to upload the revision one by one at every store and contend with every retailer’s unique formatting and upload requirements.
Authors who are enjoying the most success with us are distributing broadly and not opting out of any retail channels. As a distributor, we have a unique vantage point which enables us to see how each of your books are performing at each of the retailers. By contrast, the merchandising managers at the retailers can only see how books are performing at their specific store. When the merchandising managers at the retailers ask us to recommend titles for them to consider for upcoming promotions, we can quickly see how authors’ books are performing. If an author has opted out of some of our retail channels, we can’t see how her books are performing and therefore can’t make a recomendation. On the other hand, for an author who’s opted in to every channel, if we see that the title is selling well across multiple channels, then we can recommend that author’s book with confidence. We just responded to a request for romance titles from the mercandising managers at iBooks and were pleased to see that dozens of titles were accepted to run in the promotion.
Here’s the painful reality of ‘going wide’—it’s a long game.
The advantage of being exclusive to Amazon comes largely in immediate gains. For zero overhead, you can participate in the KU fund, and get paid just for the normalized page reads that come through. We’ll never argue that this isn’t a boon for authors. It is. But it’s a short-term strategy, and the most successful authors recognize that they should be planning for long-term.
Most of the authors I know want to be read by more than just a thousand or so folks who happen to own Kindles or read on Kindle apps. They want to have their work read and loved by people all over the planet. And sad to say, but Amazon only has 11 or so regional marketplaces at the moment. That covers a lot of countries worldwide, but not all of them.
There are huge emerging markets in regions such as Africa and Indonesia, where technological evolution jumped from stone age to smartphones almost overnight. Now we have English-speaking people in underdeveloped nations ravenous for information and stories. They’re consuming everything they can get onto their devices. And that means that those of us who are getting to those markets first will have first-mover advantage. There are entire nations who have never head of Stephen King or John Grisham or J.K. Rowling. To them, any given indie author could be the biggest megastar they can imagine.
So for success—what authors need to do more of is think strategically and globally. They could go dig up tons of research about these emerging markets—that would help. But the shortcut to that is to use Draft2Digital to go find those markets for you, which we do.
Authors should stop thinking in terms of “How do I funnel more people to my Amazon book page?” and start thinking in terms of “How to introduce my work to a few million brand new readers in emerging markets around the world?”
The three “secrets” to self-publishing success are: Practice, Patience and Persistence. Don’t drop in and out. Keep your titles available while continuing to write new material. Keep writing, keep practicing your craft, be patience because it takes time for people to grow a following on any platform. And keep at it; even when times are tough and things are slow. The industry and sales go through different waves, different highs and lows. Being patient and being in for the long haul and continuing to write and produce top notch professional material are the keys to success.
One of the most common complaints from authors is that they only sell on Kindle and no where else. Interestingly when you check their websites and social media and newsletters you see them directly all of their links to Amazon. Then they wonder why Amazon is always the largest platform for them. Little bit of self-fulfilling prophecy happening there. Authors should include links to all the platforms and let customers decide where they want to buy.
What’s Your Top Advice for Authors Seeking to Make More Sales?
First, realize there is no single magic bullet to help you suddenly become a bestseller. Everything that you do right, every incremental improvement that you make can have an impact on your sales over time. The top three pieces of advice I’d give are:
- Have your books professionally edited. Books break out and become bestsellers based on reader word-of-mouth more than anything else. Don’t thwart your chances of success by not having your book professionally edited.
- Hire a professional book cover designer. As a reader, whether you realize it or not, every time you enter an online or offline bookstore, you’re rejecting dozens of books until that one cover catches your eye and pulls you in. Your cover image is both marketing and content, and must provide a promise to the reader you’re attempting to reach. Put yourself in the shoes of your reader. Ask yourself what it is they’re looking for, and deliver the message through your cover image that this is THE book for them.
- Write more books. Every book you write provides the opportunity for you to hone your craft. The more you write, the better you will become. Just as important, every book you release affords you the opportunity to cross promote your other existing titles. Once a reader finishes one of your books, they’re probably delighted they just finished a fantastic story, but they also may be wondering what they’ll read next. Don’t squander that opportunity. Ensure that backmatter of all your existing titles includes a list of all your available books and links back to your Smashwords author page and/or personal website.
Every year I have the privilege of attending publishing conferences around the country (and occasionally outside the country). As such, I also have the opportunity to listen to bestselling indie authors tell their audiences how they became successful. I’ve never heard of a bestselling indie author doing absolutely everything on her own. The two tasks that all bestselling indie authors tend to agree upon, in terms of who you’ll need to hire, include a professional editor and a professional cover designer. Big NY publishers are adept at finding good books and turning them into great books. If you self-publish, you’re taking on that responsibility.
There are two pieces of advice every author gets for improving sales: Build a mailing list and write more books. People groan hearing these, because they hear them all the time, and also because they are a lot more complicated than they appear. But that’s the start. That’s the general advice.
The specific advice, at least for Draft2Digital, is to start using our new (and free) Universal Book Links as part of your marketing push, and get yourself into as many markets as possible. Then start focusing your marketing on hitting those hot new emerging markets. Take out targeted Facebook ads, Goodreads ads, and Twitter ads, and aim them at these regions. Do your research and find out how regional tastes run, and write some books specifically to target those markets, if you can. And if you can’t, then craft your book descriptions and ad materials so that your book will appeal to those markets. Writing to market will make it much easier for you to appeal to these emerging readers.
These are all long-term strategies, by the way. It’s likely you wouldn’t see mega sales within days of releasing a book in Africa or Indonesia or anywhere else. It will take some time, and some work—mostly in terms of promotion and marketing. But if you’re continuing to produce new books as you do this, eventually all you’ll need is a tiny spark to get a big flame.
Think about it this way: If you have one or two books, and suddenly German readers discover you, they will really enjoy reading your stuff, but then have nowhere else to go. But you have ten, twenty, thirty books (or more, go nuts!), suddenly your revenue is increasing exponentially. There’s more of you to be discovered, and more of you to explore. Your discoverability goes up by bounds.
And if you’re using UBLs, you don’t have to spend extra time making different sets of marketing materials to target different regions. You can use one link, and that will let readers worldwide find your work in the store they prefer. If they don’t happen to have access to the Kindle store, then they’ll still be able to find you in hundreds of other places online.
To be successful outside of the US, authors need to think about their global pricing. Don’t just set a USD price and walk away. Optimize your pricing in the other currencies. KWL allows you to price in 8 currencies, and very soon you’ll be able to opt in pricing in 14 currencies; meaning you can make your price look good to localized customers.
Example: $3.99 USD auto converts to something ugly like $5.24. Authors who manually over-ride that to $5.99 aren’t just making the title look more appealing (a normal .99 price point) – but customers also round UP in their head to the next dollar anyway – it’s a pricing psychology thing – so a customer willing to spend $5.24 CAD on a book is just as likely to buy it at CAD – so you get an extra 70 cents in your pocket rounding UP to the nearest .99 Do the same in AUS and NZD.
Visit the KWL Blog for various different bits of advice from our team and from the global merchandising team.
Question: What Else Do You Want Authors to Know About You and Your Platform?
We think Amazon is the smartest in the business and would never encourage you to not have your books there. For the long-term success of your author career, however, I would encourage you not to go exclusive with any one retailer. Diversify. Make sure your books are everywhere readers go to find books. Use a distributor–even if it’s not Smashwords–to help you save time reaching a wider, global market.
Take advantage of ebook preorders. Even if your second book doesn’t yet have a finished cover image or a completed manuscript, at Smashwords you can set the book today as an “assetless” preorder and we’ll ship it for you to iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. You’ll need to upload the finished manuscript and cover art no later than 10 business days prior to your release date. At iBooks they’ll let you accumulate preorders for up to 12 months. Your readers reserve a copy of your book but their credit cards aren’t charged until release day. When it comes to bestseller lists at the retailers, they look at sales volume of course, yet the most recent sales are weighed more heavily than older sales. So, for example, sales in the last 12-24 hours are weighted more heavily in the bestseller algorithms than books that sold in the last two days or two weeks. Since iBooks allows you to accumulate up to 12 months worth of preorders, and each of those orders counts as a full sale, it’s like having a concentration of sales all hitting on day one which can cause a spike in your sales ranking.
Kobo and Barnes & Noble allow up to 8 months of preorder accumulation, I believe, and your book receives partial credit for your accumulated orders. Amazon does not grant credit for accumulated preorders, and as such your Amazon preorders can cannibalize your first day’s sales rank. Some authors choose to upload new releases to Amazon on release day so they can concentrate more sales on day one. Still, having an preorder listed at Amazon still provides the author the benefit of better advanced marketing leading up to release day.
The thing you most need to know about Draft2Digital, honestly, is that we’re right here in the trenches with you. Aaron Pogue, our President and one of our founders, is an indie published author. I (Kevin Tumlinson, Director of Marketing) am an indie published author. Most of our team is comprised of people who study self-publishing and the whole publishing industry day and night. We’re out there identifying exactly what pain points plague authors most, so that we can beat them up and give you back your lunch money.
Basically, we went and built the tools we need most to make it as authors, so we know other authors need them as well. And our focus is “make it easy.” Making things easy for authors is what we do, because we can’t stand how complicated things can get. We want to take care of all the garbage that weighs an author down, so they can focus on the one thing they really want to do: Write books.
We’re expanding into new sales channels all the time. We’re adding new cool feature all the time. We’re making new inroads and building new relationships within the industry, all the time. Everyone who is part of the D2D catalog today is seeing the growth of the company, and they’re going to benefit from all of it. There’s a reason why our authors are so loyal to us, once they come onboard—because we’re unfailing loyal to them.
I guess I could sum it up with one phrase then, aimed at every author, everywhere: You are not alone.
First thing that authors need to understand is that Amazon is, by far, the world’s largest online bookstore and has been in existence for about 20 years. They were (behind Sony) among the first to come to market with an ereader and in the market longer than anyone else, so it’s far easier to gain traction on the platform that everyone knows and goes to for “books” (even, though, of course, Amazon is an everything store and books were just one of the first items they started selling.) Gaining traction on other sites takes two important things that aren’t as common in a lot of indie authors (particularly those who give up easy and early and drop off the distributing wide path) – TIME and PATIENCE. It takes time to grow on different platforms.
Opting in and out of a platform doesn’t help, because you have to start from scratch each time you opt in – continually crippling your own development of an audience outside the one platform where you lay all your eggs.
The other thing that authors from the US are typically unaware of is what is happening in the publishing world outside our borders. One thing I would challenge authors to consider would be seeing WHERE their Kindle sales are coming from. IE, the .com Amazon site? Perhaps also the UK site. Nook, of course, is now just .com and US. But iBooks has a lot of reach outside the US (as well as inside), and Kobo has a lot of reach outside the US market as well.
So, consider, when looking at your sales, what platforms sell better in what countries. And if authors are fine to sell only within the US and perhaps the UK, then KDP Select might be an option. If they want more global exposure to other customers (and in markets that are growing now the way the US was 3 to 5 years ago), then go wide and include Kobo in your sales channels.
When most people think of a Kickstarter campaign, they think of a cool new gadget or an innovation seeking for backers to come to market. Well, one out-of-the-box thinker leveraged this platform in a different way. For John Lee Dumas, founder and host of EOFire, Kickstarter was much more than a crowdfunding platform. It served as a key component of an overall marketing strategy.
And wow, did it pay off! His Kickstarter campaign for The Freedom Journal—a gorgeous faux leather-bound journal that guides you in setting and accomplishing your goals in 100 days—was named the most-funded publishing campaign of all time (!!!).
Kickstarter was John’s crowdfunding platform of choice because he understood the value in using such a recognizable independent third party to help market and sell his books. John already had thousands upon thousands of subscribers. He also had the money needed to produce these journals. What he didn’t have—prior to his Kickstarter campaign—was validation that people would pay real money for The Freedom Journal.
During our recent Self-Publishing School Summit, John shared his biggest tips and strategies for using Kickstarter as an amazing tool to market and sell your next book.
Read on for John Lee Dumas’s tips on how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign to sell your own book.
Assemble Your Kickstarter Book-Launch Team
John credits so much of his success to the year-long behind-the-scenes work he put into The Freedom Journal before launching his Kickstarter campaign. John put together a Grade A team, which included a logistics person, a designer, a crowdfunding expert to set-up pages and keep the campaign running smoothly, an editor and a social media guru.
In advance of the launch he also took the time to stockpile content. He made sure to pre-write marketing emails and social media posts. His pre-planning helped him focus on the campaign while it was happening.
John’s overall goal was to bring people on this journey and make them feel part of The Freedom Journal from the very beginning. For nearly an entire year, he teased about the impending launch and directed people to join him in his project. From his homepage to his podcast, his followers were asked to opt-in to be kept in the loop.
His efforts were so successful that by the time he launched his Kickstarter, he has already amassed more than 12,000 emails of people wanting to be part of the project.
If the first days and weeks of a Kickstarter campaign are successful for you, it’s probably because you’ve planned, prepped, and assembled a top-notch team to stand with you.
Launch Your Kickstarter Campaign With A Bang
In a Kickstarter campaign, the traction you get from your launch is everything. John says your goal is to get that initial momentum going. In other words, you want to create a snowball effect and take advantage of the rankings you can get if your campaign trends. The goal is to create an organic momentum that encourages others to back your project.
Here is what John did to help get that snowball started.
Tap Into Your Existing Fan Base. John made direct calls-to-action at the beginning and ending of every podcast.
PRO TIP: Direct people to a domain-specific website that shares information about your Kickstarter. You always want to collect emails and point people to your site, instead of directly to your Kickstarter page.
Communicate Consistently and Frequently. During his campaign, John did daily podcasts AND sent daily emails. He also sent newsletters.
Keep Active on Social Media. John used Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Blab to keep supporters engaged and informed about the campaign’s progress.
Invest in Advertising. John purchased ads on Instagram and Facebook. Sometimes you have to invest hundreds of dollars per day to make thousands.
Utilize resources. This is when you have to call in some favors. John reached out to his influencer friends and asked people to share information about his Kickstarter with their communities. He offered to be a guest on other podcasts and guest post for publications.
PRO TIP: Be specific in your request and ask for the shares to happen right on or around your launch.
Keep The Kickstarter Momentum Moving
Your job isn’t done with the launch of your Kickstarter campaign. John says that thanks to the help of his Kickstarter pro, he was able to successfully keep the momentum going by releasing new offers and packages throughout.
Thanks to the amazing analytics available with Kickstarter, John could gauge what was moving the needle and adjust accordingly. He could also see which referrals were paying off with real conversions.
One of his biggest tips was to follow-up all sales of a physical product with a personal message and offer to upgrade. In his case, that simple step resulted in more than 500 people electing to upgrade from purchasing one book to a bundle pack of five.
PRO TIP: Keep your campaign going viral. John sent free Freedom Journal t-shirts to everyone who had appeared on his podcast as a thank you. The results were phenomenal as these influencers took to social media to show off their gift.
Whether you have a huge base of subscribers or not, with the right amount of planning and preparation, Kickstarter can be a critical part of your next book’s marketing strategy. Visit eofire.com/kickstarter to learn how you can crush your next Kickstarter campaign.
We’ve all been there. One minute we’re sitting at our desk (or shower or in our car) when we’re struck by a genius idea that HAS to get out. We start to write and create without any thought to things like marketing or list building.
Bryan Harris, serial entrepreneur and founder of Videofruit.com, calls this “writing in a cave.” He says writers/entrepreneurs need to avoid the “cycle of guaranteed failure” by really thinking about what needs to be done leading up to your book. If your book is something that only your mom and grandma know about, then your book launch is in trouble.
Bryan stumbled upon his professional passion when he discovered the world of video editing and fell in love with the industry. Since then, he says that he’s been going crazy growing his new business.
Through his business trials and tribulations, Bryan has gained valuable insight on how to grow an audience and launch your first book. Bryan learned that a lot of strategies don’t work, but he’s developed some time-tested list building tricks that do work.
Bryan says you should “Think of your list as a group of people eagerly waiting to buy from you. If you build it and nurture it right, you will have lifelong fans.”
Debunking 3 Popular Myths
Bryan debunks three popular myths about growing your list and number of subscribers.
Myth 1:You have to have the perfect idea.
There’s the myth of waiting until everything is perfect to take action. The problem with this is that perfection is unattainable. If you wait for everything to be perfect to start a project, you’ll never start anything.
You don’t find customers for your product, instead find products for your customers. Get people and an audience first, then the rest will follow.
Myth 2: You have to be an expert in something before you can build your list and launch your book.
A second common myth is that you need to establish yourself as an expert before you launch your book. Don’t fall prey to this myth. We caution you about attempting to play the part of guru.
It’s far more effective to take a learn out loud approach. Take a topic and ask, “Are you curious about the topic? Can you share what you learn? Are you able to be humble, kind, and giving?” You can then share this information by phrasing it as, “Here are lessons you learned …” and your audience will respond.
Myth 3: You don’t have to have a lot of extra time.
Extra time is an imaginary construct. There will never be enough of it. Don’t lose the chance to achieve your dreams by waiting for the elusive moment when you have plenty of time.
Rather than waiting for an excess of time (which will never happen!), make an effort to do what you can, when you can. Commit to doing the right things in the right order, and little by little, you’ll make headway.
4 Tricks to Grow Your List (Plus a Bonus!)
Trick 1: Upside Down Homepage
An upside down homepage is the first step to getting your first 100 subscribers. Allocate at least five hours for this update.
What is the single obvious thing you want people to do when they come to your page? It’s not what you may think. It’s not the sidebar, not the social media buttons, not the menu — it’s the above-the-fold call to action!
Use this space to encourage people to subscribe, not to go to other pages. With this tactic, you can boost your subscriber rate from 1% (with a traditional homepage) to 13-15% (with an upside down homepage).
Trick 2: Pick Your List Goal
The single most important strategy to boost your list is to select your list goal. This will take you just two minutes to do, but it’s crucial. You have to focus on this to be successful!
Here’s what you do: Pick your number goal, then write this goal down on paper. Next, tape this on your wall to keep you accountable. Visual reminders help keep you on track.
Even if you’re a writer, ultimately you’re still an entrepreneur. Don’t forget what you are working toward! Don’t get distracted and you’ll later reap the rewards of your efforts.
Trick 3: Launch Team Strategy
Another key component to your success is your launch team strategy. You have 24 hours to implement this strategy.
Here’s how you tackle building a launch team. First, start with a group of people. You should make a list of five people you know. Then, personally invite these five people to join your list.
Next, you’ll then reach out to everyone you know. You want to make this process personal, so people will feel as though they are invited to something special. Personally invite each and every person who’s on your list.
Continue to write names and email addresses down on paper. Start simple and repeat until you run out of people to ask. Your goal is to get to 100 invitees.
Trick 4: Poster Boy Formula
The Poster Boy Formula should take just 30 minutes per week, but can yield huge results toward boosting your list.
Step one is to make a list of five products you purchase, blogs you read, or podcasts you follow. Write down one big win you’ve experienced from using their product. Let them know about your results and thank them. Also, share testimonials and link back to your shares.
The Poster Boy Formula can get you shout outs, inclusion on emails, social media sites, and guest posts. Ultimately, all of this goodwill can earn you subscribers.
Bonus Trick: Create a Smartbribe
A final trick to consider is to offer a “Smartbribe.” This tactic is simple to implement. Just install smartbribe.com as an enhancement to your current opt-in service. This easy to use feature asks people to share on social media in exchange for a bonus offer you create and “bribe” them with. This simple step can help grow your list even faster.
Bryan Harris offers his best list building tips and tactics to help you grow your list and earn subscribers. Before you know it, you’ll on your way to earning 10,000 subscribers FAST!
Are you a writer that obsesses over every word you write? Is your desire for perfectionism and literary genius holding you back from actually writing anything at all? Well this is exactly how Ray Edwards, best-selling author, speaker, and host of a top-ranked iTunes business podcast felt until he realized it’s okay to break your English teacher’s rules. In fact, he says, all you need to write at your top potential is an idea and a path to get there. Finesse will only get you so far. You need to write the words that sell books!
Ray Edwards dons a plethora of professional hats. His impressive resume includes Communications Strategist and Copywriter. He also has an extensive media following with features on high-profile business sites, such as Forbes.com, SocialMediaExaminer.com , and Entrepreneur.com.
Ray Edward’s Epiphany
After years as a copy editor, Ray had a critical epiphany which changed the way he wrote. Ray realized that everything one writes is about the act of persuasion.
The proverbial light bulb went off and Ray realized that he could simultaneously write and sell. Figuring out that writing and selling weren’t mutually exclusive changed Ray’s perspective on how to write, as well as how he coached others to do the same. Using his new philosophy, Ray wrote his first book using the same framework he used as a copywriter.
Ray further extrapolated that the process and framework used for sales copy can be applied across the board — to blog posts, book chapters, even draft outlines of books.
Ray found that writing was an uphill slog when he tried to wear just “his literary hat.” Instead, Ray achieved writing success when he wrote the words that sell books. Ray surmises, “If you don’t put your message out there, your readers will never get the message.”
Embrace the PASTOR Framework
Ray created the PASTOR Framework for writers. In other words, you should strive to be “a shepherd with your customer.” It’s impossible to be pushy or sleazy when you have the best interests of the customers at heart.
To explore this concept in more detail, PASTOR stands for:
P – Person. How does it solve a problem? What pain you will help relieve?
A – Amplify (the pain) and Aspire. You must explain and amplify the pain (problems) you will resolve. Replace the pain with something to aspire to. Ask readers, what do they really want?
S – Story, Struggle, and Solution. What’s the story? What’s the struggle? How have you turned a solution into a system?
T – Testimony and Transformation. Tell other people’s stories of how they used your system to show transformation.
O – Offer. This is what you have to sell and how much it costs. Don’t focus 100% of your time talking about deliverables, spend just 20% of the time talking about deliverables.
R – Request for Response. You must ask for the sale to close the deal. This is where you should employ a direct call to action.
Ray found that the PASTOR framework works not only for sales copy, but across the board for all writing. This universal framework for writing persuasively can be applied to blog posts, chapters, and even outlines of books.
Write, Write, Write
Ray says he doesn’t wait for inspiration to hit before he starts writing. Sometimes it’s coming through you so you can’t stop, but sometimes you just have to write and get it done.
Ray reports that he’s at his best when he’s dictating. Ray uses REV.com to dictate his words, which are then typed up for him. Ray’s rapid writing method allows him to dictate faster than he types.
Ray embraces the method which works best for him to get the words on paper. He encourages other writers to work with the method which gets the words out quickly, and then keep going. Before you know it, you’ll have a complete book.
Write Down 10 Questions
Ray has found success in writing quickly with his Top 10 Question format. He tells writers to write down their own Top 10 questions.
The first step is to write the full introduction. Following the introduction, each of the ten questions will become a chapter. Finally, you’ll wrap up with a conclusion and a direct call to action.
Use the PASTOR method to outline this. Then dictate as fast as you can. Send it off and get the transcript back. The draft will be a mess, but you will be shocked to find that you wrote 100 pages in a day. Ray shares that when he first started using this method, he knocked out two entire books in a weekend (!!!).
Sometimes it takes a shift in paradigm to see what is possible. You have plenty of material in the “treasure chest” in your brain. You just need to get it out, no matter the process. Ask yourself: “Do you actually want to write, or do you merely want to want to write?”
With Ray’s tips, you have the tools to succeed and finish your book. What are you waiting for? Write the words that sell!
There are many untapped powers and hidden benefits of using Scrivener. This tool is a magic wand for writers! Whether you’re a novelist, blogger, or author, there are various tasks which Scrivener can streamline to make your professional life that much easier. Joseph Michael is a Ninja Master at using Scrivener who recently shared a one-hour condensed primer on how to learn Scrivener fast at the Self-Publishing School Summit.
Joseph’s passions are his faith, his family, and helping others achieve their entrepreneurial goals. Recently, Joseph realized a lifelong dream when he left his nine-to-five gig to make the leap to his own company. Heading up his own start-up allows Joseph to work remotely from any location, so he can spend quality time with his wife and children. Joseph teaches the subjects he’s most excited about; entrepreneurship, marketing, and business. Joseph’s easy-to-follow instructive style and down-to-earth demeanor have earned him fans and teaching accolades.
5 Reasons Why You Need Scrivener Now
In this video, Joseph tells us why we should take the time to learn Scrivener:
- No More feelings of inadequacy
- Helps You Finish
- Lifetime Access
- Nothing to Lose
- Time is money
Tips and Tricks to Learn Scrivener Quickly
Here are Joseph’s four ninja tips and tricks to help all writers learn Scrivener fast.
1. The Basics of Scrivener
No matter where you are in your writing journey, Scrivener can simplify the process. It’s easy to import what you’ve already written and take it from there.
You can import Word files and break your drafts into smaller chunks, or chapters. You can pin sections to an online “corkboard.” With quick clicks and dragging content, it’s easy to manipulate, segment and outline your work. Basically, whatever you need to do to organize your outlines, research, and drafts, Scrivener can assist you.
2. Use Scrivener to Organize
Scrivener’s tools make organization automatic and fool-proof. Helpful features allow writers to color code text for each character, scene, or point of view.
Scrivener also makes pre-writing prep a breeze. The tool allows writers to sort in outline mode or add comments and annotations to their outlines and drafts.
Many writers find the chore of organizing research challenging. The tool allows writers to compile all the burdensome, bulky research in one place. Reference folders organize saved images and websites with external referencesresources for easy access.
3. Use Scrivener to Boost Productivity
Scrivener helps writers shut down procrastination and focus on the task at hand — writing.
Scrivener allows writers to set custom targets for themselves. You can opt to set a target number of words for each scene, so you know what you need to complete before you call it a day.
If you’re someone who works better with deadlines than word counts, Scrivener’s got you covered there, too. You can elect to set and display project deadlines or specify days of the week to write. You can even use Scrivener to show stats about word frequency, to help boost your creativity.
Since distraction is the death knell of any writing goal, the program allows you to save your work, and block out online distractions such as Facebook and Twitter.
4. Use Scrivener to Compile and Format
One of the most expensive and time-consuming aspects of publishing a book is the process of compiling and formatting. Scrivener can make this process easier, more efficient, and less costly.
Scrivener allows you to create and utilize various templates. You may also export to any format you need, and your draft will be ready to go. You can even get your draft ready to upload to Kindle.
Editing may be the bane of any new writer’s existence, but Scrivener can make the sometimes daunting process of editing more streamlined and friendly. Simply amend what you need to, and use your saved settings to compile as many times as you want.
Many new writers need help with organization, staying on track, formatting and editing. Scrivener’s tools make it simple to streamline each of these tasks to complete the goal — a finished book! Take advantage of how Scrivener can help you, and you’ll be that much closer to seeing your name on the bestseller list.
Visit LearnScrivenerfast.com/bolt to learn more.
Authors don’t just make money from books. Often, the majority of their income comes from what is behind the books. Recently my friend Gregory was four weeks out from publishing his first book. He had spent the better part of a year writing and preparing to launch his book. Just a few weeks out from the launch he realized he had neglected to think about something important: how was he going to monetize the back end?
The journey of self-publishing hits a major milestone with the launch of a first book, but it does not end there. While a well-launched book can certainly earn a good income, if you do not monetize the back-end of the book by consulting, speaking, or creating online courses then you are not realizing the full potential of self-publishing.
As they say, a book is the new business card. But, you can’t just have a business card – you need the business behind the business card as well.
There are several ways to monetize the back end of a book:
- Consulting / Coaching
- Speaking / Workshops
- Create Online Course (fastest and most scalable)
While I am biased, my absolute favorite method is to create an online course. It doesn’t take 6-12 months to develop like a software product would, and it doesn’t rely on your personal time like offering services, consulting, and speaking.
Knowing that I specialize in online courses, Gregory reached out to me for help with producing a course for the new book he was about to publish. I’ll be sharing 3 steps to create online courses from your books. With these tips you too can maximize the results of your next (or a previous) book. Imagine if you take every book you have published, which people are buying for $5-$10, and quickly transform the same content into a parallel product for which you can charge 10 to 100 times that amount.
3 Steps to Create an Online Course From Your Book
As the owner of a course production company, people often have the same question when it comes to turning a book into an online course:
What’s the difference? Why would people pay more for the same material?
Great question. There are a couple key differences between a course and a book (aside from the obvious differences in format).
Step 1 – Understand the differences between a book and a course
- Tone – If you were to read your book out loud, verbatim, that would be an audiobook which has a very different feeling to an online course.
- Focus – Again, using the audiobook example, your audiobook might be 15 hours long, while you course is 5 hours long. A large part of the value of a book is exploring the “why” of a topic or possibly the history, while a course is designed to be extremely actionable. That means the content requires great focus.
- Specificity – Books are filled with great stories and great ideas. They plant important seeds in your mind, and might even have some simple exercises at the end of the chapters. That being said, it takes a lot of effort to apply what you learn from a book. A significant part of the value of an online course is how easy it is to take action. If it’s a course about networking, you can provide email templates, step-by-step guides to follow, software tools you can use. It’s designed to be immediately actionable, while a book on networking might discuss more general concepts on networking such as why it’s a good idea to go to a conference, to make good eye contact, to introduce people to each other, etc.
If you want to see some real life examples of the differences, check out the audiobook and the online course version of Gregory’s book to compare (you can do a free preview of each to see what I mean). Both are based on the same content, but the tone, structure, focus, and specificity is quite different.
Step 2 – Build an online course from a book or a manuscript
Here is the exact process we used to build courses in dozens of different industries, following our Course In A Box Method:
1.) Decide the Format – There are many ways to build a course. You can build a text-based course, a video-based course that focused on live filming, or on recording your screen while you teach someone to program, or by recording slides as you teach. Usually it’s a mix. You can also have courses two hours long, or 20 hours long. With or without PDF handouts. With or without bonus content (such as expert interviews).
Here is what we decided on for Gregory’s course:
- Ultimately 3 modules, with 3-5 lessons each
- The lesson length would average about 10 minutes (although it ranges from 5-15)
- The content style would primarily be a mix of recording well-designed slides, mixed with bonus content like expert interviews, follow-along PDF guides, etc.
Pro tip: How do you decide the course length/structure? One module should bring people through a major milestone. For example, setting up a website before beginning to write content and market the site in later modules. One video should have one clear, stand-alone step in the process. For example, video 3 of module 1 for Building Your New Website might entail setting up the site hosting, video 4 might be configuring wordpress, etc.
2.)Turn the manuscript into a course script – This means cutting the fat and changing the tone as discussed above. Your course should clearly get people from point A (where they are now) to point B (where they want to go) and this should be clearly reflected by the course script. Even if your book is quite long, you can do this in about a week if you maintain focus
3.) Turn the script into a slide plan – This is a document which matches up the main ideas in the script with slides that you will be recording. Most people jump straight from script to slide design, but this (quick) intermediary step ensures that your course has a good flow to it and stays organized
4.) Turn the slide plan into slides – Create a slide template that you like, then customize slides to match your slide plan. Or better yet, outsource this process to a professional.
5.) Record the scripts as an audio file – Sit down and read your script as enthusiastically as possible.
- Don’t try to record your screen with the slides at the same time, the quality will be lower. Record the audio separately then match the slides in post production.
- Leave a pause and say “SLIDE X” between slides. This will help with the next step, editing.
6.) Combine the slides and audio file into a video file – Self-explanatory. It is not recommended that you do this yourself, as a professional likely would do it better/faster. Invest a few hundred bucks to get it done right the first time.
7.) Find useful places to add extra materials – PDFs, expert interviews, new examples, templates, etc. Just ask yourself every time you say do this, “how can I help them do that?”
8.) Clean up, edit and structure everything into a finalized course – Did everything stay organized? We recommend using a google drive folder structure that we link to below to keep things organized.
9.) Upload the course to your website – If you want the simplest option possible, go with Teachable. This is what we used for Gregory’s course as well. If you want something more sophisticated, go with MemberMouse (another popular option we use with clients).
Step 3 – Connect the book and the course
Now that you’ve completed the course, how do you get people from your book to find your course, and vice versa? The simplest way is to directly link from your book to your course website. However, sometimes people will complain about that approach “they are just trying to sell their other products!!!”
Another way is to direct people to a companion website which offers additional resources and downloads for free — in exchange for their email address. Then you will want to set-up an email autoresponder which offers additional value and guides them through the process from having read the book to wanting to delve deeper and buy the course.
Pro tip: Add this download link to the beginning AND the end of the book, and preferably a few times in the middle. Not everyone finishes every book they buy, so you want to make sure they see the link even if they stop after the first chapter. In fact, you can even include the page with the link in the “free preview” of the book on the kindle store to get even more people to see it.
What kind of results would this really get?
- Let’s say you get 5,000 downloads as part of your book launch, then 1,000 purchases per month after that
- 20% of those people who grab the book also check out the link
- Then 50% of the people who visit the page submit their email address
- Finally, 10% of those people who join your list also purchase your course
- You now instantly have 500 more people on your email list, and 100 more people per month ad infinitum
- 50 people buy your course during your book launch, and 10 more people buy every month
- If your course is priced at $500, then that is $25,000 in additional revenue during your book launch, and $5,000 every month after that
…and that, my friends, is the power of combining a book with an online course.
I know writing a book is hard (I’ve written several myself) and by the time it’s done and published you may feel done yourself. But, don’t forget that offering a course is your chance to either kick start or rapidly grow your business. The best way to maximize the value of your book is to lead people from your book to discover other parts of your brand.
Give the people who love your book the opportunity to work with you further, either through an online course or through one of the other methods discussed above.
Leave a comment with questions about this process, or share your results creating an online course from your book. I look forward to hearing about your success.
Ruth Soukup, blogger, author, entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author of Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, sat down with Chandler during the 2016 Self-Publishing School Summit to share advice and strategies for boosting sales.
Through her popular blog, LivingWellSpendingLess.com, Ruth encourages more than a million monthly readers to follow their dreams and reach their goals, sharing easy-to-implement tips and strategies for saving time and money while focusing on the things that matter most. Her Elite Blog Academy is another way she helps others monetize, grow and build their blogs. Sign-up at Eliteblogacademy.com to be included on her waiting list.
Here’s Ruth’s top 5 tactics for increasing sales and promoting your own books.
1. Promote Store Sales and Coupons to Your List
Ruth knows how to harness the power of an email list to make sales. When bookstores carry your book, often the store will simultaneously offer a sale or a coupon. Ruth learned to take advantage of those opportunities by sharing the promotions to her email list.
Ruth shares the coupons offered by retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon to maximize sales on her own email list. She says that she sends her readers these money-saving promotions whenever they pop up. According to Ruth, “They [readers] could save 15% off any book they wanted, but we encouraged them to buy my book.”
Ruth has found that these discount coupons are often offered around the holidays. As a result of the holiday specials, Ruth received a ton of pre-orders in December for her book coming out in April. Even though it was months before launch, readers were able to use holiday promos to make Ruth’s spring launch successful.
2. Give a Book Bonus with Purchase
Ruth also had excellent results providing free digital products to readers. Ruth sold her book along with a free home planning workbook, and received great feedback on this on-brand digital promo. Ruth found that providing a useful digital tool was appealing to her readers.
Knowing how and when to maximize freebies isn’t rocket science. You shouldn’t feel pressure to offer over-the-top freebies along with your book. People like free stuff, in general — simply because it’s free. Any product you give away which make readers feel as though they’re scoring a deal works well.
Don’t get overwhelmed by a complex freebie campaign. You shouldn’t feel as though you have to offer a ton of different freebies or bonuses. Running different campaigns requires you to juggle lots of balls in the air. In fact, you may do better focusing on one impactful freebie instead of diluting your offer with a bunch of lesser freebies.
3. Maximize Facebook
Facebook’s platform is made for shilling free promotions to your mass audience. Ruth ran Facebook ads highlighting her freebies, alongside instructions on how to buy her book and redeem the freebie. She said the more detailed her instructions were for redeeming, the more successful the campaign.
Facebook’s advantage is that it can reach thousands of people in just minutes, but the downside is that it may not appeal to all audiences. Know your audience. If your audience is not generally those who use Facebook, then clearly, your Facebook ads won’t perform well and you’ll need to explore other avenues.
4. Create 31-Day Challenge
Ruth wrote two books where the content was published on her blog ahead of time. One of the blog challenges was actually content she repurposed from her book “Living Well, Spending Less.”
Here’s how it worked: Ruth ran a soft launch of the book and her team announced her blog challenge; basically, actions readers could take to play along at home via email. Ruth’s team announced the challenge one month ahead of time to allow ample time to get signups for the challenge.
As a result of Ruth’s blog challenge, 90,000 people signed up for her email list. Then Ruth’s team offered the opportunity for people to buy the blog content in book format, rather than viewing in blog post format. That tactic provided a huge sales boost!
5. Offer an In-Book Freebie
Ruth also suggests offering an in-book freebie. Your goal here is to collect email addresses and provide printables or another digital product for signing up. This way you can stay in touch with readers and build your audience over time. Your book leads readers to your site and the list you build helps you keep in touch with readers and ultimately sell more books. A win-win proposition!
Boosting book sales takes creative thinking and sometimes a little out-of-the-box thinking. With Ruth’s tips in your marketing arsenal, you’ll be on the way to being your own best seller.
Like this post? Sign up below for our FREE video course, and go from blank page to bestseller in 90 days!
If you’re an author, marketing books to sell more copies is probably one of your top goals. Learning how to position your book to stand out among the competition takes time, discipline, and planning.
That’s why we spoke with Crystal Paine to learn how you can sell more copies of your own books, even if you think you don’t have time. She knows how to move books—even with an over-packed schedule.
Crystal Paine is a wife, busy mom of three, New York Times best-selling author, speaker, and founder of the popular blog MoneySavingMom.com.
Over the course of her career as an author, Crystal has written many best-selling books about discipline and budgeting, including Money Saving Mom, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life and Money Making Mom (sign-up for her free 5-day course).
Crystal was one of the highlighted pros at our 2016 Self-Publishing School Summit. During her presentation Crystal shared invaluable ideas for creating value and excitement for the launch of a book instead of only focusing on selling.
Crystal shares her clutch ideas for marketing your book so it will be a hit. Read on for her insider pro tips on taking your first book from just-published to best seller …
1. Keep Marketing in Mind as You Write
It’s a mistake to think that marketing is this magical thing that happens once you have completed your first draft. This is a fallacy; successful authors will share that it’s vital to keep marketing ideas in mind as you write your book.
One of the best ways to keep marketing at the forefront of your writing is by writing to your avatar. Before you write a single word, you should identify your unique avatar. By identifying your specific avatar, you know who you’re writing to, and it becomes that much easier to write to your target market.
Once you determine your specific audience, you should find out where your target market congregates online. This information will help you tailor your marketing plan to those specific topics and platforms.
Your social media platform and blog play a vital role in reaching your target market. Leverage your social media the right way to reach your intended audience and you can exponentially grow your fan base.
An effective social media campaign doesn’t happen overnight. A social media strategy for self-published authors requires forethought. What does this mean? In plain English, it means you need to plan. While writing your book make note of “hot topics” to blog about. Set aside sentences you can use as tweets or turn into Instagram quotes as you promote your book.
Plan out your marketing efforts by the day, week, and month. If you lay out your social media strategy a few months in advance, then you won’t have to scramble to come up with new posts daily or weekly. Strive to generate these posts when you are at your most creative, and you’ll have a roster of social media posts to share with your fans.
2. Create Awareness
Any marketing pro will tell you that drumming up audience anticipation is a savvy marketing ploy. Just look at the film industry, they use movie trailers to peak audience interest before the release of the film. The same concepts apply to drumming up interest about your book.
Your blog is a fabulous way to peak interest without giving too much away. As you blog about other topics, pepper your blog with phrases such as, “As I write my book …” to generate curiosity. By intriguing your audience about the project you’re working on, you create an awareness without overtly asking fans to buy your product.
Another smart way to peak interest is by sharing glimpses of your pending book cover. Remember, many people respond to visual images, so maximize a gorgeous cover to show your audience what is to come. Again, the goal here is not to ask people to buy, but to create awareness and excitement about your soon-to-be-published (going to be fabulous!) book.
Generate buzz by focusing on sharing how much your readers will benefit from your book. Again, the game plan here is not a hard sell. Don’t ask your audience to buy your book, but do tell them how much it will change their lives. Tell them exactly how much they will learn and how their lives will be better after they read your book. By making your book powerfully attractive to your followers, your audience will clamor to make their purchase by the time your publication date rolls around.
3. Your Launch Team is Vital
Your launch team is vital to a successful sales and marketing plan. Your launch team can help you plan and execute an out-of-this-world launch, so your book will sell like hot cakes.
People love to feel as though they are in on something hot and exclusive. Use your launch team to help create a feeling of exclusivity by offering pre-release copies to your loyal blog readers. In exchange for the pre-release copy, ask your blog readers for a few commitments.
Briefly, in exchange for a free copy, you should request that fans interested in being part of your “launch team”:
- Review your book on Amazon.
- Read your book and give input.
- Be active in your book’s Facebook group.
- Help get the word out about publication and upcoming events.
- Share marketing ideas and tips to reach others.
Crystal’s launch team boosted her marketing with their enthusiasm and stellar marketing ideas. Her team created compelling social media graphics, as well as shared stories and excitement on social media. During the launch and promotion of the book, Crystal’s marketing message focused on how people would benefit from the book.
4. Use a Freebie to Get Pre-orders
People love free stuff! Across the board, all of us like to feel as though we are getting a deal.
Use the “free stuff” ploy so that readers pre-order your book in return for a free gift. Tell them that in exchange for a receipt of the pre-order of your book, you’ll send a free digital product via email. In order to make this offer as attractive as you can, make sure the freebie resonates with your brand and audience.
The temptation may be to give away a ton of different freebies, but that becomes confusing. It’s a far better marketing move to focus your time and energy on offering your audience one high-quality, high-value freebie.
5. Grow Your Email List
Your book is an amazing tool to grow your email list! Use your book as a tool to increase the number of people on your email list. Once you have your email list, you can use it to sell other products, such as audiobooks, courses, etc.
If you want to generate a substantial income while building your business, you should view your book as a small segment of your income stream among many profitable assets.
Here’s your “Grow Your Income Plan” in a quick 4-step nutshell:
- Grow your e-email list.
- Create digital products (audiobooks, courses, etc).
- Promote affiliate products.
- Push all products to sell on your email list (judiciously*—see #6 below.)
Voila—you’ve just created several streams of passive income using one published book and one email list! How cool is that?
6. Be YOU
Who else would you be? This tip may seem intuitive, but it can be a tricky thing for a new author. Finding your unique voice, tone, and style of communication will take some practice.
Write or communicate like you’re talking to a friend. When you are authentic and real with your audience, they’ll recognize that. Share with them the things that you’re learning because you’re growing as a person. People will appreciate your authenticity. When you find that people start to follow you, you can then take them wherever you want to go.
For example, Crystal started out showing people how to clip coupons. From there, her writing took her on a different path. Her branding and her message evolved as she became more intentional with her life. As Crystal’s business grew and changed, her audience willingly came along with her on that transformative journey.
In order to show your true, authentic self, you need to show that you’re human. Show what mistakes you’ve made, what you’re learning, what you’re trying, and what articles and books you’re reading. All of these tactics build trust and rapport with your audience.
*Once you’ve earned trust, don’t squander it. Only rarely should you ask your audience to buy something from you. But when you do make the “ask,” hopefully they will respond in kind because of your on-going relationship.
Writing your book is just the first step to becoming a successful self-published author. Once you’ve hit publish, you’re going to need to sell books, or else you’re not going to make any money. Our pro tips can help you develop your own savvy marketing tactics to sell more copies and make more money from your book.
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Everyone wants to avoid being sued. Litigation is expensive, time-consuming, and incredibly stressful. Most writers don’t have much to worry about. The odds that they’ll end up in a courtroom for something they wrote are fairly low. Our First Amendment right to free speech offers significant protection to write freely. One exception to this rule is the world of memoir.
The reason the memoir genre is compelling is because it’s fascinating to read the dirty details of others’ lives. Memoir authors usually don’t write about rainbows and sunshine, they write about the salacious. Abuse, sex, addiction, and family drama—it’s the Sturm und Drang that people want to read about. This is the primary reason why memoirs open the door for lawsuits.
There’s a fine balance when you’re writing your memoir. Of course, it’s your story, and as such, you want it to be told without barriers. Yet, you need to consider those you’re writing about. They may not want to be part of your story. And, in some cases, if you violate the law, they may have the right to retaliate with a lawsuit.
We can all agree that there are better things to spend your book royalties on than exorbitant legal fees. Read on for tips to avoid going from published author to professional despondent. (Note: Our first disclaimer—this article does not constitute professional legal advice. For real legal advice, consult your real live counsel, rather than looking things up on the Internet.)
1. Case Study: Running with Scissors
Since we’re discussing legal issues, it seems fitting to start with a case study on the issues of memoir, defamation, and invasion of privacy.
Critically acclaimed author Augusten Burroughs published the best-selling memoir, Running with Scissors in 2003. In his book, he recalled his time living with the fictional “Finches.” His book recounted abuse, drug use, dysfunctional family behavior, living in squalor, and other unsavory details any family wouldn’t want blasted all over printed pages.
Burroughs claimed that while he did change the name of the family (in real life, the Turcottes), the harrowing details of his time spent in their care were true. The Turcottes filed a defamation and invasion of privacy torts suit against Burroughs and his publisher. The family asserted that Burroughs fabricated facts and violated their privacy.
Burroughs’ defense hinged on his assertion that the facts, as he wrote them, were true; therefore he had not broken any laws. The parties settled out of court. As part of the settlement, Burroughs changed his acknowledgments to say the Turcottes had “conflicting memories” of the described events. Burroughs was legally obligated to amend his book acknowledgments to read as follows:
I would like to thank the real-life members of the family portrayed in this book for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own. I recognize that their memories of the events described in this book are different than my own. They are each fine, decent and hard-working people. The book was not intended to hurt the family. Both my publisher and I regret any unintentional harm resulting from the publishing and marketing of Running With Scissors.
2. Understand the Concepts
The best defense is a good offense. In litigation that means don’t do anything that will get you sued. Before you publish your memoir, it’s important that you understand your rights to free speech, as well as defamation and invasion of privacy issues.
First Amendment Protection
The First Amendment protects your right to free speech. This protection applies to both the spoken and written word.
In short, defamation is when you ruin a person’s reputation. Black’s Law Dictionary defines defamation as, “The taking from one’s reputation. The offense of injuring a person’s character, fame, or reputation by false and malicious statements.” The term covers both libel (written) and slander (spoken).
Only living people can sue for defamation, so someone can’t file a lawsuit against you for defamation through an estate or relatives.
Invasion of Privacy
Invasion of privacy lawsuits hinge on public disclosure of private facts. Private facts are sensitive information that the average person would not want to share with the general public; for example, medical records, adoption records, abuse, alcoholism, etc. Just as with defamation, an invasion of privacy suit can’t be brought by an estate or relatives. Even if what you write is 100% true, someone can still bring an invasion of privacy suit based on public disclosure of private facts.
3. Preventing a Defamation Cause of Action
The best defense against defamation is the truth. Suppose you write that your neighbor was convicted of axe murder. He can’t bring a defamation suit against you if he was, in fact, convicted of axe murder. But if you write, “my neighbor could be capable of axe murder because he’s crazy,” then you’ve got some defamation issues.
Practical Tips to Stay Out of Courtroom:
If your facts will not hold up as 100% true in a court of law, you can open yourself up to defamation. Before you write, make sure to check your facts. You want to know that if you’re writing about something controversial, that you’re not fabricating the truth.
The second tip to avoid defaming your memoir characters is to frame controversial statements as your opinion. Opinions are (*usually) legally considered “protected expression.” That said, there are parameters. You can’t simply state that blatantly false statements are opinions and get away it. Writing, “In my opinion, Sara Smith is a prostitute”—when Sara Smith is an upstanding mom and doctor—will get you in trouble. Your opinion needs to be balanced by evidence and supported by actual fact.
The third tip to avoid defamation issues is to change any identifying information about your book characters. In order to prevail in a defamation case, the defamed must prove others are able to identify him from your writing. A caveat: This doesn’t mean by name alone! People can claim defamation if one could reasonably identify them through their actions, clothing, quotes, physical appearance, address, or any number of identifying points.
The fourth tip is that defamation rests upon subjective principles. When in doubt, err on the side of caution about disclosing details that may or may not be true. If you can’t defend the truth in a court of law, don’t publish it.
The final tip is to print a disclaimer in your preface, intro, or acknowledgements. Simply by stating your memories are imperfect but you’re sharing to the best of knowledge and that you’ve changed identifies can stave off legal woes.
4. Avoiding an Invasion of Privacy Cause of Action
Just as with a defamation lawsuit, an invasion of privacy lawsuit turns on subjective opinions to be decided on a case-by-case basis. This means that the individual facts of each case will decide the outcome.
Common sense dictates that there are certain private facts, which a person would not want shared with the public. If a good friend had given up a child for adoption, and you were the only person she told, then disclosing that in your memoir would open the doors to an invasion of privacy lawsuit. The same would apply to sensitive information such as private health matters, abuse, addiction, or any information would not be readily accessible to the public.
Certain public or high profile individuals may have less protection against invasion of privacy. The legal theory is that because they have opened their lives to public scrutiny, then the bar is lower for privacy protection. If unsavory facts can be classified as public interest, then you may be able to disclose certain things about public individuals. The crux of this issue would turn on whether your facts are related to a matter of “public concern.”
Practical Tips to Stay Out of the Courtroom:
There are several ways to avoid invasion of privacy lawsuits. Our first tip is to get written permission from your characters. If you obtain written consent, they can’t later file a suit stating you’ve breached their privacy.
Our second tip is the same as with defamation: Change all identifying characteristics. Give your characters a different name, different job, different wardrobes—anything you can change to prevent them from being recognized by your words affords you a degree of protection. Some writers like to create an amalgam of characters to mix up identifying facts.
Our third tip is tell the truth. Don’t lie (or even embellish). It’s unethical at best; at worst, it can get you in legal hot water.
Our fourth tip is carefully weigh the impact of disclosing inflammatory, sensitive, or embarrassing information. Are such disclosures essential to your story? If so, tread carefully and use our rules for how to proceed with caution. If you’re on the fence, it’s always wise to run your concerns by a lawyer to head off any issues before you publish. Paying for an hour or two of legal time is far better than being a defendant in a court case.
The best memoirs are brazen, open, and honest about life, even when the facts are tough to write about. Your obligation as a memoirist is to tell your story and honor the truth. By considering the impact of those in your real life and making efforts to protect them, you’ll avoid legal troubles down the line.
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Writing your book is just the beginning of your journey as an author. The next step you need to take is learning how to promote yourself and your book. We’re talking about Public Relations (PR) for authors. From TV to radio to print interviews, PR can help you build exposure and increase book sales. You may not see overnight results, but if you keep at it—getting as many people to hear about your book as possible—book sales will rise!
Here are our actionable tips on how to promote yourself, earn publicity, and drive books sales through TV, radio, and press interviews.
1. TV Interviews
Scoring a TV spot can boost your reputation, enhance your credibility, and increase your book sales. The best part is that the PR machine can stay moving even after your interview. Post a link to the interview and add the TV station logo on your website to pump up your credibility and continue the exposure.
Tips for How to Get a TV Interview
As you can imagine, it’s not easy to score a TV spot. TV stations are often overwhelmed with PR and interview requests. Here are some tips on how to stand out from the masses.
A successful pitch shows your hosts that you’ll add value to their show. Everyone has something to sell. So stand out by connecting with the host(s) and producer(s) by showing them why your book will add value to their show.
Know your facts
Draft your pitch to acknowledge their audience. If your book is about elder care and their demographics are retirees, then pitch that connection. If the topic of your book is of relevance to their fans, then make that point for them—don’t force them to connect the dots.
Keep it short
Everyone’s busy in the media world. Producers aren’t going to wade through pages of pitch. Make your pitch short and sweet. Try to hook them in the first ten sentences.
Tips for How to Shine During Your TV Interview
Congrats, you got a TV spot! Now the prep begins. Here are some tips for giving a stellar on-air performance.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Write down and practice your talking points ahead of time, so that you don’t freeze when the cameras are on. Don’t worry about answering verbatim; your goal is a natural dialogue with the host. Rehearsing talking points gives you a jumping off spot for a give-and-take conversation.
Do your research
Your goal is to understand your audience. Your show will have detailed demographic information available. Ask the producers to provide you a summary of that information. Also, ask the producers ahead of time if there’s anything you need to know about their particular audience. By understanding who’s watching, you’ll be able to forge a natural connection with viewers.
Respond to the questions
Sometimes when we’re nervous, our natural inclination is to interrupt. Avoid hijacking the conservation. Wait your turn, and then respond to what the host is asking you. Taking your time will make you seem confident and put together, rather than full of nerves (even if you are!).
2. Radio Interviews
Radio interviews, much like TV spots, can be challenging to get, especially if you’re promoting your first book. However, radio is a rich PR resource, so you should make the effort to lock down interviews. Don’t get discouraged if you have to make several pitches before you’re offered a spot. The effort will pay off.
How to Get a Radio Interview
Radio is a terrific way to share your voice (literally) with your potential readers. And with over 90% of Americans regularly listening to radio, it’s well worth the effort you’re going to invest in pitching. Here are some tips on how to pitch radio stations.
Radio shows are always looking for new content to share with their audience. Start out with your local radio stations, letting them know not only about your book, but also that you live in the community. If you can tie your book to the community, even better!
Tailor Your Pitch
When you’re pitching your book, don’t use a blanket pitch for each TV or radio station you go after. Customize each pitch to reflect why your book and your personal story will be of interest to their fans. Showing how your interview can add value to their program will result in more replies and a better chance of scoring an interview.
Tips for How to Shine on the Radio
Congrats, you got a radio spot! Here are some tips on how to give a killer on-air performance.
Be authentic and enthusiastic
Even though you’re on the radio and obviously listeners can’t see you, they’ll hear your energy. Smile, sit up straight, and walk around if you need to. By acting energized and engaged, you’ll peak listeners’ interest.
Help the host
Don’t get discouraged if your host hasn’t read your book. With busy PR schedules, it happens more than you might assume. Your job is to make your host look smart. Tell them about your book and don’t quiz them. If you make their job easy for them, the odds are good they’ll ask you back again.
Prepare a list of questions
It’s perfectly acceptable to provide your own list of questions for the host. Some busy radio hosts and producers will appreciate your extra effort and may even work from that list of questions.
3. Print Interviews or Guest Posts
Print interviews and guest blog posts are terrific for search engine optimization (SEO) of your website. Improving your SEO means you’ll rank higher in search, so more people are likely to find your website and read about you and your book. Print is a great SEO strategy for any new author; so cast your net far and wide to score an interview or a guest post.
How to Get a Print Interview
Publications are still alive and well, and many of them have super successful digital platforms; so make sure you don’t skip over this form of media when creating your PR strategy.
Find publications and blogs that are frequent reads for your target audience and reach out (for example, if women are your primary target audience, you’re not going to want to pitch GQ). Even if you’ve never had a print interview before, local publications and blogs will often be happy to share the great news of your new book.
Tips for How to Shine in Your Print Interview
Congrats on scoring a press interview. Here are tips to make you sound like a pro author (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. You’re your own PR machine, so get ready to sing your own praises.
Plan your hooks
You need to have some print-friendly “sound bites” to intrigue your audience. What makes your book special? Important? Entertaining? Useful? Get to the heart of why your audience needs your book, and talk about it.
Don’t get thrown
Don’t let unanticipated or sticky questions throw you. The nature of interviews is that there’s always going be something which you’re not 100% prepped for. Roll with the question, answer as positively as you can, then get back to your talking points. Remember, unlike an on-air or audio-recorded interview, you can take as much time as you need to think before you answer. Don’t be afraid to do so.
Now that you know some PR tricks and tips, it’s time to tackle the job of becoming your own PR machine. Driving publicity through TV, radio, and print media means increased exposure for both you and your book, which will eventually translate into greater sales. Remember, PR is a slow burn—you may get a lot of no’s and no responses before you get a yes, but patience and perseverance in this game pays off! Stay confident and don’t give up!
Deciding to write a book is analogous to the decision to become a parent. You can weigh the pros and cons and read all the expert books on parenting. You’ll try to decide whether you’re emotionally, financially, and physically ready to take the plunge. But until you become a parent, you’ll never know how amazing, enriching, and challenging your life could be. Once you become a parent, you know that your life will never be the same.
These same concepts apply to becoming an author. Until you’ve ushered new creative life into the world you have no idea the incredible, myriad of ways writing a book can better your life. You’ll ask yourself why you waited so long to make it happen.
We’re here to tell you that you should write a book, and you should do it this year. If not now, then when?
Here are 12 reasons why this is the year you’ll write your book.
1. You are a writer (you just need to write).
Listen, everyone can be a writer. Each one of us has a story to share. In fact, most of us have more than one story to share.
The simple truth is that in order to be a writer, you just need to write. And to become an author, you just need to publish. At Self-Publishing School, we’re here to tell you that both of these worthy goals are within your reach. You just need to start—today.
2. You’ll discover who you are.
By it’s very nature, writing is an introspective, thoughtful activity. The process of writing a book will force you to turn your thoughts inward. Through writing, you’ll gain perspective about what really matters to you.
Writing a book will also teach you about the unique value of your own willpower. The simple act of committing to a writing project, and seeing it through, will measure the depths of your discipline.
Writing a book can be a powerful way to get in touch with your thoughts, values, and motivations. Plus, writing is cheaper than therapy!
3. You’ll have created a professional-quality, ready-to-sell book.
It used to be that only writers with a publishing deal or those who paid for vanity publication ever got to see their books in print. Those days have changed. Thanks to the rise of self-publishing, any person with a story to tell can become a published author and sell their book.
Self-publishing is now affordable, easy to implement, and requires only basic computer skills. If you can type your book on your keyboard, you can figure out how to self-publish. As your own publisher, you call the shots. You’re the CEO of your own destiny. Even better, you get to retain more of the royalties if you self-publish. What’s not to like?
4. You’ll pocket a healthy chunk of change.
The brilliant ideas you have kicking around in your head aren’t earning you any money. Only once you commit those ideas to paper and hit publish will you earn income from your thoughts.
Your book can earn you a stream of passive income simply by existing. And then there’s the future—audiobooks, courses based on your book, and speaking gigs! And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can make money off your self-published book—but you need to write it first.
5. You’ll let Amazon do the heavy lifting.
Amazon is the King of the self-publication market. Amazon makes it intuitive and straightforward for authors to upload and sell their books. They’ve also made it easy for readers to find and buy your book. It’s a win-win.
That’s not to say that you can set up an Amazon page and let it flap in the breeze untended. In order to sell your book, you’ll need to do some marketing and PR. The good news is that Amazon gives you the tools and resources you need to succeed.
6. You’ll embrace the mantra, “nobody lives forever.”
Nobody’s getting out of this life alive. Our time here is finite. It’s our choice how we want to spend our time.
If you’ve ever wanted to write a book, don’t wait for a life crisis to force your hand. The time is now. You have a chance to share your words, thoughts, and passions with the world. Don’t let that chance slip through your fingers.
7. You’ll reignite a passion.
Each one of us has a passion for something—whether that’s rock-climbing, organic cooking, or comedic storytelling. What’s your passion? You already know the answer to that question.
Here’s our next question: When’s the last time you stoked that passion? If that answer is, “you can’t remember” or, “it’s been years,” then you’ve got some work to do. You owe it to yourself to explore your passion and write a book. We promise that when you’re writing about something you love, it won’t feel like work.
8. You’ll be a pro author.
Only 1% of the world’s population ever publishes a book. That’s a heady statistic. By writing a book, you set yourself apart from the masses.
Even if your book is fiction or a memoir, the fact that you’re now an author lends an air of authority to your professional endeavors. You can now add “author” to your CV, LinkedIn, and professional website.
In short: No matter what you write a book about, becoming a published author boosts your professional authority. You’ll have accomplished something few other people have. Our preemptive greeting: Welcome to the Author Club! We guarantee you’ll like the rarified air up here.
9. You’ll tackle a new challenge.
Life has so many obligations—taxes, school pick-up, miles on the treadmill—it can be easy to fall into a daily rut.
Writing a book is leaving your comfort zone. Trying something unfamiliar can be scary—we get it. But, that’s precisely why it’s exciting. The only way you grow as a person is by forcing yourself to leave your comfort zone.
Time to jump off the cliff—write a book and become an author this year. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll gain by pushing the limits of your own self-imposed boundaries.
10. You’ll become smarter.
Writing a book requires research. No matter what topic you’re writing about, you’re going to have to research new concepts and topics. By opening the door to new ideas, you’ll educate yourself on a broad array of ideas. You’ll be invigorated by how much you learn while you’re writing, and emerge much brighter for having done so. And when you’re done, you can assert yourself as an expert in your field.
Your book can then open the door for speaking engagements, conference presentations, and other professional networking opportunities.
11. You’ll stop making excuses and just do it.
We know, we know, you’ve been mulling over the idea of writing a book for months (years?) now. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article. How long are you going to give yourself permission to keep quashing your dreams? It’s time to commit and just do it.
12. Because you can!
And you will! No more excuses. You can’t afford to put off writing a book any longer. All that counts is that you get your first word on paper, and then a word after that. Before you know it, you’ll have a completed first draft. Think about how amazing you’ll feel?
Don’t put it off another day. Write your book today. This is the year for you to finally become an author.
If you’ve authored an eBook, you may be interested in printing paperback books—either to keep for yourself or to sell. Luckily, we’ve got great news: the process of making a book isn’t as challenging as you might think. And, we’re here to walk you through the process.
1. Ask Yourself Why You Want to Make a Book
The first step to making a book is to ask yourself why? There are several valid reasons for turning your eBook into a paperback.
First and foremost, because you want to! You put the blood, sweat, and tears into authoring a book. Now you want tangible proof that you can see, carry around, and display on your bookshelf. That’s a good enough reason!
Some authors, especially those who identify as non-fiction experts, find that paperbacks serve as glorified business cards. These copies are especially useful for speaking engagements or professional development events, such as conferences or continuing education courses.
Passing out free books to interested readers is a terrific way to build a solid fan base as well as spread the word that you’re an author. If you elect to sell your books at events, you can recoup some of your costs and potentially even turn a profit.
Using your printed book to generate leads and make network connections is never a bad idea. If your book genre lends itself to this type of network development, then definitely go for it.
2. Important Factors to Consider Before You Print Your Book
The Cost of Making a Book
If you’re basing your decision strictly on revenue, then you’ll want to think about it before heading down the printing path. Paperback can be costly to produce. Luckily with Amazon’s CreateSpace, they take care of the cost upfront, but they will take a higher percentage of your revenue to make up for the printing cost. This means you won’t make as much money off the sales of a paperback as you would with an e-book.
We’ve often seen that the most lucrative path for e-authors is the combination of a Kindle eBook and an audiobook. If your goal is to make as much money as you can, and you have to choose between the two, then consider pursuing an audiobook over a paperback. (Although funding an audiobook can be pricey, and you are responsible for that upfront cost, so do the math!)
The Length of Your Book
Before printing your book, make sure that your book length allows for the optimal outcome. We usually recommend printing books that are over 15,000 words. That’s not to say that a lighter word count should preclude you from printing—for instance, children’s stories, photography books, and travel books are all examples of shorter genres that are easily and commonly converted from eBook to paperback.
Should you decide to create a paperback version of your eBook, it might be easier to wait until after your book has been published digitally.
3. The Pre-Printing Checklist
You’ve given it some thought and considered the factors above, and you’ve decided that you do want to print paperback copies of your book. Before you take the next step, it’s important to dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s.” Run through our pro-developed, pre-printing checklist to make sure you’ve checked all the appropriate boxes.
- Choose the size of your book.
- Decide on black & white or color (Note: The prices may vary).
- Price your book properly.
- Create a rough concept for your covers.
- Decide whether to outsource your cover graphics and design.
- Write your author bio for the back or inside cover.
- Pick your author headshot for the back or inside cover.
- Pick the reviews you want to include.
- Pick your spine design and layout.
- Decide whether to outsource the interior formatting.
- Work out an interior layout—from fonts to chapters to margins.
4. Your Cover Design
The next step on the road to printing your masterpiece is to design a Louvre-worthy cover. Ok, that’s a lot of pressure, but you should aim for at least a Barnes & Noble-worthy design.
Meeting with a designer can help you verbalize and align on your creative aesthetic and vision, resulting in actionable suggestions. If you decide that you’d rather design your book’s exterior on your own, there are online programs that can help. CreateSpace allows the non-professional artist to render pro-quality graphic designs with relative ease.
Some design elements you’ll need to consider are: whether or not you’ll want a matte or glossy cover, which fonts you’d like, and the design of your book’s spine. Typically, books with less than 101 pages should have a completely blank spine, due to space restrictions. Books with more than 101 pages have room for a title on the spine.
You know that, of course, your book will need a front cover, but you shouldn’t neglect your book’s rear. In addition to the cover art and fonts, you’ll need to create a back cover design. Most back covers provide a brief description of the book, an author headshot alongside a quick bio, and an optional barcode and ISBN.
5. Your Book’s Interior Formatting
Formatting your printed book pages is a finicky, technical process. For this reason, many authors say that outsourcing this chore to a professional book formatter is well worth the cost. Page margins, titles and subheading, and fonts are all tough to layout properly. Handing this over to a pro can save you a big headache. Moreover, at the end of the process, a good formatter will give you an archival quality product.
If you do decide to tackle the interior formatting yourself, then there are programs that can make the process simpler. Word has downloadable templates to make the work easier. These formats vary, depending on how many pages your book has. Make sure to experiment with multiple formats to help you decide which works best for your specific layout needs.
6. Upload to Amazon’s CreateSpace
Once you’ve created your printed book, the next step is to find your fulfillment house. There are many options available. Fulfillment houses pack and ship, and provide customer service for your books. We tend to overwhelmingly recommend CreateSpace. Their services are user-friendly and simple to follow. And CreateSpace works with Amazon to sell your books on demand, so you can curb the costs of printing more than the number of copies you need.
There are multitudes of resources out there to help you turn your eBook into printed paperbacks. Whether you want to sell your printed books, use them as pro marketing tools, or simply admire how lovely they look gracing your bookcase, realize that with a few easy steps, you can create your own beautiful paperback version of your eBook.
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. You don’t need to feel intimidated by the process or cost, creating an audiobook today is just as accessible to the self-publishing community as anyone else. Here are the steps and our suggestions to creating an 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. Here are a few tips to move the process along:
- Delete hyperlinks
- Delete captions
- Delete visuals
- Remove any calls to actions or click here prompts
- Add opening and closing credits
- Create a table of contents
- List chapter numbers and chapter titles
- Read through and make sure it all makes sense in audio form
2. Recording Your Audiobook
The next step in the creation of your audiobook is actually recording the book. You have two choices for this step: You can hire someone to record it for you or you can record the book yourself in a studio.
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 a sample audio clip to share with potential freelance narrators. This clip is called your “retail audio sample.” The purpose of your retail audio sample is two-fold: 1) it can be shared with potential narrators during the freelance-hiring phase and 2) 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
The second path to creating an audiobook is self-recording. Realize that self-recording may be more costly in terms of effort, time, and financial output. The largest cost for self-recording will be 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 our general production timeframe for a self-recorded audiobook:
- 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.
3. Upload Your Audiobook to Amazon Creative 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 Amazon Creative Exchange (“ACX”). While there are a lot of steps, uploading is a user-friendly and self-explanatory process.
Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to upload your audiobook:
- Go to the ACX website.
- Log in to your Amazon account.
- Click “Add Your Title.”
- Search and find your book then click on “This is My Book” prompt.
- Click on the “I have this book in audio and I want to sell it” prompt.
- Choose your territory and distribution.
(Note: We recommend the “World” rights options with 40% royalties for the best results.)
- Choose the language(s) you’d like to sell the book in.
- Agree to the “Audiobook License and Distribution Agreement” terms
- Complete the “About My Book” section.
(Note: You can duplicate the content from your Amazon page or create original content.)
- Complete the proper copyright information.
- Complete the info about the narrator, audiobook publisher, and any reviews.
- Click the “add audio file” prompt.
- Go to browse for the first section of your audiobook to ensure it was added.
- Continue this process until your entire book is uploaded.
- Don’t forget to change the chapters and section titles as you go.
- Finally, upload your book cover.
Make sure all info from your printed book matches that of your audiobook. Your author name should be the same and the book cover should the same as appears on your eBook. ACX will not allow you to continue if there are discrepancies in identifying information.
Also, a quick heads up: Your audiobook will not post immediately. ACX will hold your submission to confirm that all is in order before it posts you audiobook. Don’t be alarmed if you see an ACX note telling you “This title is: Pending audio review.” That’s a normal part of the process and not something wrong on your end. When ACX approves your book, you’ll then have the green light to sell the audio copies online.
For a detailed, step-by-step explanation of the entire process—from production to distribution—check out ACX Author’s page.
Even if you’ve never done it before, technology makes the process of creating your audiobook easier than you can imagine. A well-produced audiobook can help you expand your fan base and earn you new readers. Don’t be deterred by the idea that creating an audiobook is outside of your wheelhouse—we promise it’s not! With pro help (or even a little elbow grease on your part), you can have a completed audiobook within weeks, and be on your way to boosting those book sale numbers!
No matter what topic you’re writing about, creating a book from scratch requires a unique fortitude and strength of character. In the words of Dorothy Parker, “I hate writing, I love having written.”
The harsh truth is that writing can be hard, lonely, and can quash your confidence. The good news is that if you try to develop certain personality characteristics, then writing can be joyful, productive, and fulfilling. It’s all a matter of attitude and perspective. Here are 8 personality characteristics that we recommend for all aspiring authors.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruits are sweet.” —Jean Jacques Rousseau.
Writing a book is not an overnight process. It takes time!
When you decided to become a pro author, you decided that you wanted to write forever. Part of learning how to be an author means you have to cultivate discipline and focus, and display patience. Without those characteristics, you’ll certainly throw in the towel before any of your books see a publication date.
The good news is that patience, like any skill worth having, is something that can be learned with practice. Suzannah Windsor Freeman, author of The Busy Mom’s Guide to Writing found that infinite patience was the key to her eventual success. Freeman says, “When I talk about writers and impatience, I’m talking from a long history of personal experience. 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?”
The basic takeaway for authors is that the best way to cultivate patience is to work every day, practice your craft, and learn over time. With those strategies, you’ll get your book written and published before you know it.
Becoming an author means that you need to be consistent with your schedule and honor the writing process. Writing is now your job, and you’ll need to treat it as such. This can be a hard thing, especially if you’re not yet earning a paycheck for your work.
Consider the following strategies to make yourself more consistent as you start the writing process:
When up-and-coming comic Brad Isaac met superstar Jerry Seinfeld, he asked if Seinfeld had “any tips for a young comic.” Isaac recalls, “He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”
If you have a dog, you know they’ll do anything for a savory treat. Guess what? Us humans like our treats, too. Scheduling rewards for each milestone in your writing process is an amazing way to motivate yourself. You’ll look forward to celebrating your small steps, and you’ll look forward to your next well-deserved treat.
Have a Place of Your Own
Having your own place to write puts you in the right frame of mind for creativity. Find and create your own space where you’re most comfortable and happy—an office, a coffee shop, even a nook in your kitchen. Then use that space as your writing space. Your brain will start to make the creative connection for you.
Whatever flavor your current work takes, you need to show up, stick to a plan, and stay consistent. Treating authorship like your job means that you’re making the commitment and doing the work.
3. Outgoing Nature
Writing is a solitary endeavor, but becoming an author is a team effort. You’ll need to network, market, and make speeches and appearances. You’ll need a village behind you to cheer you on.
Your village will take many forms. You’ll need friends and family supporting you. You’ll need pros to help you make your books the best they can be. And you’ll need social media promoters and influencers to help spread the word about your work. Your village will ultimately be the key to your success.
Make an effort to expand your social circle. Force yourself outside your comfort zone—attend a party or event you would not typically go to. Try something new—eat at a restaurant alone and make conversation with those around you. Over time, as you practice, the more comfortable it’ll feel.
4. Optimistic Outlook
To be an author you’ll need to believe in yourself. A sunny, positive attitude will help you move past the roadblocks and keep you focused on your next goal. Optimism can also help you finish your book and weather any inevitable bumps—such as writer’s block—along the way.
How do you keep looking for the silver lining when it’s raining? Psychologists say that optimism can be learned. By developing “explanatory flexibility,” you can become more optimistic. What does this mean? It means that you should avoid the pessimistic, self-explanatory style, “This is all my fault” or “This isn’t fixable.” Instead, adopt a realistic optimistic self-explanatory style. This forces one to “evaluate the causes of negative life events without surrendering our sense of power and control over them.”
Which is to say, the stories we concoct about our own failures and deficits can impact how we think of them. So, learn to train your brain to reframe the way you think about bad things. You may be surprised at the outcome.
5. Thick Skin
Developing a thick skin is an important personality characteristic if you want to become an author. Knowing how to use criticism to better yourself is key. You’ll want to develop a way to view constructive criticism as feedback that will make you a better author.
Feedback from editors—or even readers—can elevate your book, as well as your writing style. At the same time, you’ll want to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff and let the flippant, unkind remarks roll off your back. There’s a fine balance between allowing criticism to fuel better work and letting it torpedo your effort, tanking your self-confidence.
Building a thick skin is no easy task and, like many of the other personality characteristics, takes time to build. Experience Life has a list of 5 great strategies to build resiliency. Make your best effort to integrate them in everyday life and you’ll find yourself better able to roll with the punches.
No matter what you write about and how amazing it is, there’s going to be somebody who objects or takes offense. Whether that’s family, friends, critics, or the general public—you can’t please everybody all of the time. Don’t waste time trying to make everyone happy. Focus on what you want your message to be for your unique audience.
All writers worry about what will happen if they expose shameful secrets. Guess what—many famous authors have launched successful careers by exposing their own vulnerabilities! Readers respond to real, human voices, so don’t be afraid to share yours.
Brace yourself for the inevitable—some people might hate your book. So-called “experts” might disagree with you and make you question your writing and your professional knowledge. But if you want to be an author, you must be impervious to haters and objectors and publish your book anyway.
Janette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, worried about exposing her raw childhood memories. But Walls found it was one of the best things she’d ever done. “One of the lessons I’ve learned from writing this memoir is how much we all have in common,” says Walls. “So many of us think that certain things only happened to us and somehow they make us less of a person. I’m constantly urging people, especially older folks, to write about their lives. It gives you new perspective. It was hugely eye-opening for me and very cathartic. Even if the book hadn’t sold a single copy, it would still have been worth it.”
Writing a book is an innately generous task. Those who share their words and their experiences with the world tend to possess a certain generosity of spirit.
Know that by sharing your words and your story, you’re helping someone else. Your unique experiences will connect with readers. People draw strength from those who’ve walked in their shoes, and lived to tell about it.
Professor and father Randy Pausch was faced with a terminal illness at a young age. Rather than wallow and fade away, he used his last days to create a legacy. His book, The Last Lecture, resonated with readers as a tale of courage and inspiration. His generosity to share his life with his readers was a gift to anyone facing a similar diagnosis.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat, Pray, Love while going through a devastating divorce. Her memoir about food, travel, and love made her a household name. She connected with readers by sharing her painful story of loss and regrowth. Her amazing story was even made into a movie!
Writing can be akin to running a marathon. The first few miles are fun. Then your legs cramp up, there’s a gross port-a-potty to use, and you still have 13 miles to go. But, at the end you get a shiny medal and applause, and it all seems worth it! Just as you need to stay determined to make it past mile 26 in a race, you’ll need to stay determined to finish your book and promote it.
There are a couple of strategies you can leverage to build determination. First, consider beginning with an outline. Outlining before writing gives your story structure and helps keep you stay on target. And second, build your mental strength. Just as one would strengthen their muscles in the gym, one can also strengthen their willpower.
Find ways to intensify your determination and become your own warrior of your message. You will hit roadblocks. But you need to keep going and learn your way around them.
Nurturing certain personality characteristics can mean the difference between seeing your name on the best-seller list and giving up completely. Actively striving to build these characteristics will help you not only become a better author, but also a better person.
Strong self-confidence is vital to successful writing. Nevertheless, confidence building is by no means an easy task. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building confidence that we can offer up. However, there are several simple strategies that can help! If you’re finding that you’re questioning yourself as a writer, try these six tips to quench those self-confidence killers.
1. Silence Your Inner Critic
Here’s the thing about writing: It’s personal. No matter whether you’re writing about fall fashion trends or your story about overcoming a personal hardship, each piece of writing shares a piece of you with the world. After all, it’s your words, thoughts and personality on that page. Putting all of that out there can be scary.
In an ideal world, everybody would love your writing. You’d get phenomenal reviews, a place on the bestseller list, and a bidding war over the movie rights. Well, reality check, our world is not ideal. Your words will be criticized. Someone out there is not going to like what you’ve created.
Criticism of your work can trigger feelings of deep insecurity and self-doubt. Suddenly, you’re that middle schooler looking for acceptance from your peer group. If you’ve opened a literary vein on generally private subject matters, such as family struggles or health challenges, than any criticism of your words on the page can feel like a rejection of you.
Even the best writers have faced bad reviews, editorial redlines and a serious case of the side-eye from friends and family. If you’re going to write, that’s all part of the playing field. You need to wade through the criticism—learning from the well-meaning, constructive feedback and ignoring the blatantly negative haters.
There’s not a single human alive who will say that they enjoy this part of the job. But, if you’re going to be an author—or any type of creative, for that matter—than you’re going to have to mentally silence the critics (internal and external) so you can keep creating.
2. Keep Writing
The best thing about writing is that you can always move on to the next page or the next project. One of the universal truths of writing is the only way to get better at what you’re doing is to keep moving forward. The adage “practice makes perfect” certainly applies here.
Keep writing, keep moving forward and keep putting words on a page. With each day and each page, you’ll see that the writing process becomes easier and feels more natural. One of the best ways to make the process feel natural for you is to find your own unique writing voice. Another way to make your writing flow is by committing to daily writing exercises.
Even if you’re not enamored with what you’ve created in this moment, keep moving forward. Know that you can always go back to make edits, corrections or deletions. But you can’t polish what you haven’t written. A cumulative stack of words on the page will help you build confidence by making you feel accomplished and prolific.
3. Become an Avid Reader
In order to write well, you need to be familiar with the written word. Each time you read, you expose yourself to new ideas, characters, and patterns of writing. The more creative connections you can foster while you write, the more confidant you’ll feel.
Another bonus of reading is that you get to see that not everything published is the next great American novel. In fact, there are some not-so-well-written pieces out there that have been wildly successful. Just look at the self-publishing juggernaut that is EL James. James’ Grey series was panned by critics for being poorly written schlock, but the public loved her series.
The point is you don’t need to be Hemingway to have a story to share. Your words are meaningful to you, and they will be meaningful to someone else out there, too. Prolific reading helps build your own confidence because it exposes you to different thoughts and voices. The more you read, the more value you’ll see in your own words.
4. Set Goals and Meet Them
Writing gets easier each time you do it. The same principle applies to going to the gym, eating broccoli, or getting up at 6 am. The first few times may feel painful, but once these behaviors become habit and you start to see the benefits, you’ll appreciate your effort.
You need to set goals to keep yourself motivated and hold yourself accountable. Calendar your goals and create a schedule so you know it’s time to write. Once you have forward momentum on your writing projects, you’ll want to keep that going.
If your book publication deadline is “someday,” eventually that’s going to turn into “never.” You have a story to share with the world. Make the commitment to get that out there.
5. Share Your Work
Guess what? If you want to be a self-published author, you’re going need to share your work. We know, this is the toughest part for many writers, especially if you’ve never written a book before. This first reveal can feel about as comfortable as strolling through Times Square in your underwear.
We get it. You know who else gets it? Other writers!
In order to bolster your writing confidence, you need to find your writing tribe. One way to do this is with a local writing group where you can meet with other writers and share your work. The beauty of this is that these peers are going through the same process, and thus are able to empathize and appreciate your writing efforts.
Don’t have a local writing group? Think about which of your social circles can be leveraged. Some aspiring authors have shared their work with their book club. Others have posted snippets of their book on their blog for reactions and thoughts. And some authors have hosted informal reading nights to share sections of their book aloud as a preview.
No matter which audience you chose to read your work, know that sharing serves a dual purpose: 1) it earns you feedback and 2) it makes you more comfortable with the idea that others will actually read your book.
6. Revive Your Passion
Sometimes writing can feel like a joyless slog. If you’ve hit the wall where you’re just not feeling the process, it’s time to revive your intrinsic motivation.
Think back to why you decided to become a writer. Was it to make money, to forge connections, to share your story of courage and power, to heal and move on from a past hurt? Each one of these reasons is powerful. Identifying what launched you down this path in the first place provides a strong intrinsic motivation that will build your confidence.
Consider the example of self-published author Mark Dawson. A failed experience with his first published book almost turned him off writing forever. Rather than quitting the business he loves, Dawson dug deep and found motivation to continue writing. Now he’s wildly successful and earns a great living following his passion. He connects with his fan base to remind himself of why he’s writing.
By revisiting your motivation and refusing to allow speed bumps derail you, you, too, can find the inner confidence to continue your writing journey.
No author is 100% confident ever. And guess what, you won’t be either—and that’s ok! As with any skill, the more you practice, the more confidence you’ll have in your abilities. The bottom line: Keep writing, keep reading and keep sharing, and slowly you’ll see your writing confidence begin to soar.
“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
I’ll share a secret with you. I’m not a natural typist. In fact, I can’t type very well at all. I use two fingers to pound out my stories and create content in the form of blogs and books. My writing speed is slow, about 30 wpm. But writing is important to me, as I’m sure it is for you—so, there are a few things I do to boost my writing speed so I can get more done in the same amount of time. Here are five tips on how to write a book faster:
Write Every Day
I know, I know, this is the obvious choice. But seriously, not only will you become a master writer if you pound out words every day, your writing speed will also naturally improve. The more you practice now, the less you have to practice later. And as you get better at your craft, you’ll be creating better quality content in less time. You could blog every day or work on a chapter for your next novel.
- Make writing a daily habit.
- Set your word count goal for each day.
- Track how many words you are writing per hour/day.
Schedule Brief Typing Practice Sessions
For ten minutes a day I practice typing. This is a separate activity from actually writing content. I’ll use a free typing software program that tests writing speed and provides feedback on how efficient I am as a typist. This is a great way to master the skill of getting your word count up. Check out FASTFINGERS or Keyhero.com.
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 our health. But that’s not all! It also boosts productivity and, you guessed it, makes us more efficient at typing. Primarily, we feel great if we are standing—higher energy levels and better blood flow.
Create a Book Outline
The secret is out: outlines really do work! Being able to crank out three thousand words an hour won’t matter much if your content lacks direction. And a solid outline gives you that direction.
We all know that 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 routine. Here’s how an outline can double or even triple your writing speed:
1. Outlines Eliminate Writer’s Block
Writers experience writer’s block for several reasons—one of which is either 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 we fall into confusion, frustration and then default to research mode. “I know I can get through this if I just 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. 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. Your outline needs to not only flow but, similar to a race, you should know where you’re starting and where you’ll end up.
Now that you know how important it is to have an awesome outline, spend some time today to go back and revise yours. Look at the areas that could be better researched. Review the chapters with ideas that require deeper development. Make your outline the best it can be and revise it as you go, ensuring those words keep hitting the paper.
We encourage you to challenge your writing speed and try to get a little faster each time. Follow the five tips above and see how many words/pages you can crank out in an hour. Time yourself using the Pomodoro Technique. You’ll be amazed at the difference. You never know, you might start pounding out full-length novels on just the weekends!
An author who publishes their work under a pen name writes under an alias—a fake name—rather than using their real name. Commonly this alter ego is known as a pen name, but if you prefer flowery language, then you may elect to use the far more elegant nom de plume.
Some writers say that their pen name is essentially a creative witness protection program, allowing them full freedom of expression without fear of consequences in real life.
Just as each author has different reasons for writing their own books, each writer that uses a pen name will claim a unique reason. How do you know if you should consider donning an alter ego via a pen name? Let’s talk about some reasons why publishing your book under a pen name might be the way to go.
The Luxury of Anonymity
Any preschooler who has donned a superhero cape and jumped from the couch can attest to the power of trying on a different persona.
There’s something enticing and exciting about using a separate identity to explore your creativity. Shedding your own identity may be the best thing to happen to you as a writer. Some find that the value of anonymity allows them explore topics they may never have had the courage to write about under their real name.
A pen name may provide you with the freedom to shed boundaries regarding what you “should” write about, and allow you to write about whatever you want. We all have self-imposed expectations based on our roles and titles: mom, surgeon, PTA President, college student. A pen name allows us to shed these titles and write freely, without worries of what the published material will do to our name and titles.
Say you’re a stay-at-home mom by day who wants write racy romance novels. Maybe 50 Shades of Grey rings a bell? Author Erika Mitchell started as a self-published author and has since shot to literary fame and fortune writing under her pen name, E.L. James.
Let’s consider the real-world application of using a pen name in the case of this spicy book. Many of us have mothers-in-law. And it’s a safe assumption that very few of us would relish discussing our book with the in-laws over the Thanksgiving stuffing. “Blindfolds? Whips? Yep! They’re all in there … pass the turkey, please!”
Obviously this is an over-the-top example, but many people who want to write about illness or addiction, or other topics they feel could be an invasion of privacy could benefit from hiding their true identity by using a pen name.
If you feel that your intended material is too racy, too controversial, or too off-the-beaten path to neatly fit in with your public persona, then it may be worthwhile to consider writing under the power of a pen name.
The last thing you want is for your creative work to die before it takes its first breathe because you’re worried about what others will say. Don your proverbial cape, and write on!
A Fresh Start: Reincarnation
One word: Reinvention. One more: Reincarnation. Ok, that’s two…
Perhaps you’ve dabbled in the publishing world before without much success. You had hoped your first book would be a runaway success, which would allow you to buy that beach house in Boca.
But instead of financial power and success, your book debut was met with crickets. Or worse, a bunch of terrible reviews. You might even be afraid those single star insults could drive a nail into the coffin of your writing career.
Take heart, it happens. The beauty of a pen name is that you can shake off that failure and start fresh. With a pen name, you can literally rewrite the next chapter. How exciting!
While we’re talking about fresh starts, there’s no rule which says you are limited to just one pen name. You might be surprised to learn that several prominent authors wrote under multiple pen names—consider Stephen King (Richard Bachman), J.K. Rowling (Robert Galbraith), Laurence Block (Jill Emerson, Chip Harrison, Paul Kavanagh, and Sheldon Lord).
Don’t let prior missteps deter you. Simply pick out a new alter ego and reincarnate your writing career. There’s no reason that the death of one book means the death of you as an author. Reinvent, then move on.
Dabble in a New Genre
You would think that if you were the best-selling author of all time, you’d want to keep cashing in on that magical name. Not so, says J.K. Rowling, author of the blockbuster Harry Potter series.
Her fantastical youth series—and its subsequent movie deals, product endorsements, and theme park royalties—have earned Rowling billions. Her avid fans would read anything she wrote next (even if it was just a grocery list).
Yet, Rowling confided that while she was writing her next book after the Harry Potter series, she felt confined by the clamoring expectations of her fan base. And hence, her second pen name was born.
J.K. Rowling published her thriller, The Cuckoo’s Calling, under the pen name Robert Galbraith. Press unearthed Rowling’s new alter ego and leaked the news. Even so, it was an experience that Rowling whole-heartedly endorsed.
According to Rowling, “It has been pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name,” said Rowling. “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation.”
You can do worse than to follow in the footsteps of the world’s top-selling author. If you want to switch genres, or if you want to write from scratch—with no expectations from your audience, friends, or family, give a new pen name a shot. You and your new alter ego have nothing to lose by trying it out.
There’s a saying in the legal field that there are three sides to every story: His, Hers, and the Truth. It’s often the case, especially in memoir, that writers may be concerned about how their recollections will impact those close to them. Each person might have their own unique memories of the past, their relationships, and what may or may not be their own version of the truth.
Consider George Orwell. He was born into poverty as Eric Arthur Blair. He changed his author name to the now-famous Orwell to protect his family from the hard truths about growing up poor in his book Down and Out in Paris and London. The moniker was inspired by his English heritage; thus he combined George (an English saint) and Orwell (a river where loved to visit).
If there’s concern about hurt feelings or potential harm to the family name, then using a pen name may be the way to get your story told without residual strife. A pen name offers protection to tell your story, your way, without apology.
Authors throughout history have used pen names to tell their stories without limits to their creative expression. Maybe it’s time to embrace your own alter ego and write under a pen name.
While we can’t promise that you’ll eventually have a theme park named after your title character, we can tell you that you may find yourself emboldened by the creative luxury a pen name provides.
Many years ago, an aspiring author had only two options when it came to getting their book published. The first choice was to be selected as one of the chosen few by a traditional publishing house. The second choice was to pay for publication in a way that was termed “vanity publishing.” Not a flattering bucket to find yourself in.
What is vanity publishing? In the past, for a large fee, aspiring writers who were rejected by traditional publishers could self-publish. The catch was that a writer would have to shell out up to $10,000 for a fully edited and published manuscript, often with the stipulation that he or she buy back most of the copies themselves. Hence the term: Vanity publishing.
The phrase came about because, back in the day, these “vanity” projects were often used to stroke one’s ego—either through distribution to family or friends, or simply by being able to tout that they were now a “published author” to others in their business or personal world.
The idea that one could pay for their own book deal meant that these “vanity” publications were looked down upon by traditional, well-connected publishing houses. The common thinking was that if you couldn’t get a traditional publisher to pick up your book, then it must not be any good.
Why “Vanity Publishing” Is an Obsolete Term
Vanity publishing is an outdated term that the publishing industry tosses around to protect its interests. The current landscape of the self-publishing world offers exciting options for authors who want to control their own destiny, create name recognition, and boost business prospects—without being beholden to the demands and constraints of a publishing house.
The reality is that working with a traditional publishing house means that you relinquish a certain amount of creative control over your work to a team, a team whose interest doesn’t lie in your creative realization in a lifelong dream, brand development, or bank account…but in their own bottom line and corporate interests.
When you self-publish, you do not have to wait for anyone to give you the green light: You control your work and creative vision, you control your marketing, and you control your bottom line. Your book is yours, and yours alone, to share with whomever you please.
Technology to the Rescue
Digital technology has revolutionized many things—including, lucky for you!—the publishing field. Aspiring authors now have the viable option of self-publication and creation of their own books.
Moreover, services which were once the exclusive realm of the traditional publishing field, from editing to cover design to formatting to printing can all be web-based and achieved remotely. The end result is a beautiful, fully edited, well-formatted, professional book at the touch of a few buttons.
The advent of Amazon, and other online marketplaces, means that you can get your books into everyone’s hands (EVERYONE’S! That’s a lot of hands)! You can spread your words and your message to the world, with the click of your mouse. That’s powerful stuff!
Traditional publishing takes years. You’ve heard the term “starving artist”? Well, they starved because were waiting on their tiny book royalties! With self-publishing, the only time constraint is how fast you can finish your draft—it’s quicker, easier, and more direct, and you take home more of the royalties.
The bottom line is that writers who opt to self-publish are in control from beginning to end. They are in control of their creative vision. They are in control of their book rights. They are in control of the books’ sale price. Controlling all of these variables can earn more creative satisfaction AND more money.
Thinking of Self Publishing? You’re in Good Company
A stigma no longer exists regarding the self-publication route. In fact, self-publication appears to be the wave of the future for savvy authors. Big names and independent authors are finding the self-publication field appealing.
Not convinced? Check out these titles of self-published books who have hit pay dirt on the top 30 New York Times bestsellers lists:
- “On the Island,” by Tracey Garvis Graves
- “Bared to You,” by Silvia Day
- “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James
- “Fifty Shades Freed,” by E.L. James
- “Point of Retreat,” by Colleen Hoover
- “Slammed,” by Colleen Hoover
- “Beautiful Disaster,” by Jamie MaGuire
- “Playing for Keeps,” by R.L. Mathewson
- “Training Tessa,” by Lyla Sinclair
- “If You Were Mine,” by Bella Andre
Who Should Consider Self-Publishing?
Anyone who wants to be an author! Self-publication can open doors that you didn’t even know existed. There are no longer roadblocks on the path to becoming a published author…if you want it, it can be yours.
Professional autonomy, control, community, and financial gains await. You just need to pick up that pen and get started on your soon-to-be amazing book. Today’s the day—what are you waiting for?
Sign up below for our FREE video course, and go from blank page to bestseller in 90 days!
Our 2016 Self-Publishing Summit brought together over 40 of the world’s best-selling authors and wildly successful entrepreneurs. These world-class industry pros speak about how to write, publish, market, and monetize your book.
Our participants had front-row virtual seats to these unique success strategies. Early reports are that participants learned a ton about how to make their own books into a success, a life-changing experience.
The bad news is that our live Summit event has ended, and you’ve missed out on watching all of this material as the summit unfolded. The good news is that you can still get all the information and education through an All Access Pass.
Because we want all members of our self-publishing community to benefit from this event, you’ve still got time to pick up your All-Access Pass, so don’t miss out on this opportunity. Click here for access!
Our All Access Pass gives you exclusive access to our world-class speakers and their educational speeches about how to write, market, and monetize your self-published book. We promise that you’ll find the speakers, education, and resources invaluable to your author journey.
The best part of the All Access Pass is that you have these videos for a lifetime. The All Access Pass allows immediate access to resources, so you can peruse them at your own pace. You’ll be able to add these world-class educational tools to your online library to use for years, whenever you need it. You get the full educational rosters of materials and speakers, forever, so there are no time limits or constraints. Don’t miss out on the chance to learn from the pros! Get your All Access Pass here today!
Get All of the Sessions With an All-Access Pass
When you buy an All Access Pass to our Summit, you gain access to these videos right away—AND you have them for life. All of this world-class info is yours to reference over and over, whenever you want to access it.
To learn how to best use your all-access pass, watch this video (press the ‘play’ button located in the lower left):
The All Access Pass entitles you to the full library of resources and content, always. After the Summit starts, watch each video at your leisure, and in the order you see fit. They’re yours to enjoy and peruse forever. No time constraints or pressure!
Avoid regrets, and get your free ticket now.
Social media is the perfect way for authors to promote their books. It’s free, easy to use, and a dynamic way to grow your audience. In fact, with the right posts, if you go viral, you can explode your audience overnight.
Before your book is even finished, you can start a social media campaign to promote your book. That’s a mouthful, and if you’re new to social media or to book promotions, you may find that phrase alarming. “CAMPAIGN” implies a lot of work.
Don’t be mentally derailed by the notion of a “social media campaign.” Using social media is not rocket science nor brain surgery (in fact, if you need a quick and dirty course on Instagram, just shoulder tap the nearest 12-year-old). In basic terms, it means interacting with people who like you, like your work, and want to read your book.
There are thousands of articles on the dos and dont’s of social media, but here’s what we’re here to tell you: You’re going to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t and go from there. Social media is a fluid, evolving forum, so don’t feel like you’re locking yourself into a strategy or road map.
In fact the more flexible you are to changes along the way, the better social media may work for your promotions, since you’ll be keeping pace with what’s trending and your finger on the pulse of your audience’s needs and wants.
Without further ado, here’s what you need to do to get social media working for you and your book sales:
1. Start Last Week
Or right now. Building a strong social media presence can take months, so don’t wait until you’re done with your book to move the marketing along. Ideally, you want to start developing a social media following before you even start drafting.
One of the mistakes rookie authors make is to wait to finish their piece de literary resistance before trying to build a social media following. No matter what phase of life your book draft currently is in—even if it’s just a wicked gleam in your author eye—NOW is the right time to build your social media presence.
Think about it: when you’re building anticipation as you work, it serves multiple purposes.
1) You can share with your audience how your book is moving along, and build steam so you have a bigger fan base when it launches.
2) You can interact with your audience and ask for ideas…for your book cover, your title, and even your character development. Who better to inform your book choices than your chosen audience?
3) You can keep motivation high to finish your book during the drafting and editing process. If you have a team cheering you on, you’ll be more likely to finish that project you’ve been talking about for weeks (or months, but hopefully not years).
If you’ve already started drafting, or even if you’ve finished your book, all is not lost. It’s not too late, but don’t waste another minute putting off delving into the world of social media. You don’t want to lose another day of free promos and audience excitement!
2. Pull Out the Big Guns
Social media is saturated with many different platforms. If you’ve never embarked on a focused social media campaign, then your head may be spinning trying to winnow down the choices and determine the right ones for you.
Here’s the good news: There’s no right way to do social media, and it’s a constantly evolving thing—so if it’s not working for you, then there’s no risk in mixing it up. If you are looking for a short list on what to focus on right out of the gate, you can’t go wrong with the duo of Facebook and Twitter.
Twitter and Facebook boast the most users and highest engagement numbers, so they’re a no-brainer to interact with readers, share your progress, and spread the news about any book events, signing, or the big launch.
According to Susan Orlean, New Yorker journalist and author of The Orchid Thief, “Twitter is a noisy cocktail party, with lots of chatting and quick interactions, a kind of casual free-for-all…while Facebook is a combination high school and college reunion and therapy group.”
Join those two parties and then branch out to the other social media platforms which support your book’s unique goals and purpose.
Do you have beautiful elements in your book, or along your book writing journey? Travel photos beg for the sun-dappled touch only an Instagram account can provide. Pinterest is the mecca for recipes and photos of food. (Do you hear us cookbook authors?) Are you a business type writing a how-to? Then hello, LinkedIn!
Explore what’s out there to add depth to your words.
3. Stay Positive
We all have that one person on our personal social media accounts who is an Eeyore. The sun is shining for the first time in three weeks and she’ll be the one to post a PSA about skin cancer, complete with close-up mole photos. Don’t be that person (unless you’re a dermatologist writing a book about skin care, then moles are fair game. Everyone else, steer clear).
Today’s world is heavy enough, so think twice before you contribute to the doom-and-gloom online. One of the toughest things about social media is the urge to purge. It’s tantalizingly easy to formulate a fist-shaking rant or negative thought and then disseminate it into the web without much thought for the fallout. That’s fine when your only followers are Aunt Sally and your dog-sitter, but when your goal is building your brand and your author name, then it’s best to tread lightly.
That’s not to say you need to shy away entirely from controversial topics, especially if your book focuses on the non-fiction genre (e.g. mole doctors). You may have valuable input to add on any number of non-light and fluffy topics.
We’re not telling you that there’s no place for serious information on social media, if that’s what your book is about. Just keep in mind that there’s a way to spin things online that leaves followers wanting more, and a way to spin things that leaves followers leaving your page in tears.
No matter the topic, try to post with positivity. You don’t have to be Ms. (or Mr.) Mary Sunshine 24/7, but your followers will notice and appreciate when you try to keep your posts away from the shady side of the street.
4. Don’t Feed the Trolls
The beauty of the Internet is that you can spread your word to thousands at the touch of a button. The dark side of the Internet is that strangers have cultivated a sense of anonymity and can consider any posts fair game for engaging in a war of words. It’s easy to feel baited by trolls online; some people enjoy pushing others’ buttons and they are darn good at it. It can be hard to turn the other cheek, but you need to consciously stay above the fray.
What happens if someone bashes you on your page? Nothing. That’s right, nothing! You’re better than this; ignore them. If that troll continues to flood your accounts with aggressive or angry comments, there’s always the block function. Use it. Don’t worry about alienating the “good” followers; by deleting the trouble-makers, you’ll create a more cohesive sense of community for those who add value to the party.
Remember: You’re in control. These are your business (or personal) accounts. There’s no reason to get weighed down by those eager to jeer and jab. Life is short and ain’t nobody got time for that nonsense. And if someone gets upset that you’re “censoring” (what amounts to abuse) and starts giving you a hard time for deleting negativity, well then…Delete, block, done!
5. Share Something Real
While you certainly want to share the news about your book, any upcoming promotions, and speaking events, you don’t need to make your social media ALL writing, ALL the time. Followers who like your work and your writing want to know about you…the real you. It will help you grow your audience if you show sides of yourself, other than the one serious side of Author-in-Training, LLC.
Social media was designed to build connections. Share what’s going on in your life, your likes, dislikes, personal insights. Have dinner at a fab new bistro and love the scallops? Post it! Traveling to Bali to surf? Post it!
Fans want to know the person behind the words, and allowing them tiny glimpses into what makes you tick as a person naturally builds a sense of rapport and connection.
Obviously, this is your business, so do try and walk a fine line. You don’t have to get overly personal on your author page and reveal so much that you’re uncomfortable. But a little insightful sharing about the man or woman behind the genius can go a long way. So much of the creative process is ultimately about connecting with others, so use social media to create and cultivate those connections.
Your audience has come to your social media accounts because they want to know more about you, your work, and your upcoming projects. Make them know that you appreciate their interest and attention by interacting with them.
It’s simple — like their posts, respond to questions, and let your audience know that their opinions and support matter to you. When show them attention online, they’ll do the same for you, by sharing your posts and your work with their friends and followers. This will help grow your audience exponentially.
Finding your unique voice in writing can be so tricky. Have you ever thought, “Why do I seem to become more boring the longer I write?” Or, maybe you’re thinking, “Why do I struggle to write when I can talk to people so easily about the same subject?”
Sometimes, there’s a disconnect between how we want to say something and how it actually sounds. Our voice as a writer can get lost, tainted, or may just be inconsistent. The way to combat this is found in a two-part solution:
- Create an avatar.
- Write to that avatar.
What Is An Avatar?
To a writer, an avatar is a composite of characteristics of people that you want as your ideal readers. This person should have a name, a picture, a specific demographic, and other detailed qualities. Once you can easily hold a picture of who this person is in your mind’s eye, you can develop your writer’s voice by writing to your avatar.
When you hold your avatar in mind, you’re able to write as if you’re having a conversation. This allows you to be more authentic, more helpful, and it enables you to connect with your reader – which will in turn help you to sell more books.
If your readers are the right readers (the people that your avatar represented), they will think as they read your book, “Oh my goodness, this book was written exactly for me!”
How Do I Create An Avatar?
A good first step is to think, “Who is one person in my life that this book would help the most?”
If there is someone that you think fits the bill exactly, then voila! Write the book for that person.
Chandler Bolt, founder of Self-Publishing School, even suggests starting each chapter off by addressing your avatar.
For example, if your avatar’s name is Sharon, you could start each chapter by saying, “Dear Sharon.” Later, in your editing process, you can delete that initial greeting.
Chandler says, “What you’ll find is that when you’re struggling with your voice and you’re not sure what to say, you’ll just come back to, ‘What would [name of avatar] want to hear right now? What story would most resonate with them? How could I write the next portion of my book in a language that would resonate the most to [name of avatar]?'”
You will write faster, you will write easier, and you will write books that your readers crave.
Is an Avatar Necessary?
Some people may opt for a slew of statistics that represent the general demographic of their reader instead of an avatar. But basing your writing voice off of a generic understanding of your ideal reader will result in a generic portrayal of your message.
And, with a generic message, your audience will be too broad. As it’s been said, “When your audience is ‘everyone,’ your audience is no one.”
“But I Don’t Have An Avatar!”
If you don’t know someone that perfectly embodies your avatar, don’t stress!
Here are 77 questions that you can answer to flesh out your avatar, and in turn, solidify your voice as a writer.
Determine Your Avatar’s Demographics
- What is your avatar’s name?
- What is your avatar’s age?
- What is your avatar’s gender?
- What is the marital status of your avatar?
- How many children does your avatar have?
- What are the ages of your avatar’s children?
- What is your avatar’s occupation?
- What is their job title?
- How many years have they been in their current position?
- What is your avatar’s annual income?
- How many jobs have they held throughout their career?
- What is your avatar’s level of education?
- Where did they attend school?
- What type of experience did they have at school?
- Who were their friends at school?
- What are your avatar’s political views?
- What are your avatar’s religious views?
It is even important that you define your avatar’s physical characteristics. This means that you should even have a picture of your avatar!
You can easily find a picture on the internet to find an image that captures the look of your created avatar.
- What is your avatar’s hair color?
- What is your avatar’s eye color?
- What is your avatar’s weight?
- What is your avatar’s height?
- What does their facial expressions look like when they’re frustrated? Tired? Confused? Happy? Surprised? Taken off-guard?
Determine Your Avatar’s Personality
- Describe your avatar’s personality at home, at work, and in other social situations. (If you’re stuck, consider the questions, “What makes your avatar anxious?” “Does your avatar feel secure in social situations?” “Does your avatar crave attention or try to avoid it?” “Does your avatar feel accepted in their relationships?”)
- If you could tell your avatar anything, and you knew that they would not only hear you, but apply what you’ve said, how would you instruct them?
- What are exact quotes that your avatar would say? (If you are unsure of this, simply watch people—whether personal friends or other online presences—and observe how they speak. What do their Facebook comments look like, their Amazon book reviews, etc.?)
- What thoughts keep your avatar awake at night?
- What does your avatar’s typical social environment look like?
- How does their culture influence their personality and decisions?
- What things does your avatar feel like they have control over?
- What things does your avatar feel like are out of their reach?
- What does your avatar worry about?
- Who does your avatar celebrate?
- Has your avatar’s life lived up to their expectations?
Determine Your Avatar’s Hobbies and Interests
- What type of music does your avatar listen to?
- How often does your avatar listen to music?
- Does he or she like sports? Do they enjoy watching? Playing?
- Is your avatar interested in art?
- Where does your avatar want to travel?
- Where has your avatar already traveled?
- What does your avatar stay up-to-date on?
- What are your avatar’s favorite clothing brands?
Determine Your Avatar’s Goals and Values
- What does your avatar want to accomplish this week? This year? Before they die?
- What is your avatar’s process for working towards those goals?
- What is your avatar committed to (values)?
- In what ways does your avatar wish to improve their family situation?
- What would your avatar pay almost anything for?
Determine Your Avatar’s Challenges and Pain Points
- What challenges is your avatar currently facing?
- What causes your avatar pain?
- What is the worst thing that could happen to your avatar if their problem (that you are solving in your book) wasn’t solved?
- How would this make them feel?
- What is your avatar afraid of?
- What does your avatar dislike about their current situation?
Determine Where Your Avatar Spends Time
- Where does your avatar hang out (physical locations)?
- Where does your avatar spend time on the internet?
- What books does your avatar read? Digital Marketer, an online business that specializes in internet marketing, suggests that you answer the question, “My ideal [reader] would read [book name], but no one else would.” By determining a book that your avatar would read, but no one else would, you are able to understand the personality and buying traits of your avatar even more.
- What magazines does your avatar read?
- What blogs and websites does your avatar read and spend time on?
- Does your avatar use Twitter? Why?
- Does your avatar use Facebook? Why?
- Does your avatar use LinkedIn? Why?
- What other social media platforms does your avatar use? Why?
- How much time does your avatar spend online?
- What conferences does your avatar attend?
- Who does your avatar consider gurus or experts?
- What types of technology does your avatar use (what type of phone, computer, television, etc.)?
- What does your avatar think of themselves?
- What does your avatar’s friends think about them?
- What does your avatar’s family think about them?
Determine Objections Your Avatar Might Have To Your Book/Message
- What possible objections might your avatar have to your book/message?
- Why would your avatar choose not to buy your book?
- What is your avatar’s ability to purchase products from you?
- How does your avatar perceive products similar to yours?
Determine What Your Avatar’s Experience With Your Book Should Be
- What did your avatar do before reading your book?
- What will your avatar think while reading your book?
- What is your avatar trying to accomplish by reading your book?
- What will your avatar do after reading your book?
- What will make your avatar come back to your book?
Steps to Find Your Voice in Writing
To create your avatar, something that will greatly enhance your voice as a writer and your all-around ability to sell to and connect with your readers, do the following:
- Answer the questions above.
- Based on the information you gather, write a story about your avatar. Transform the facts into a short narrative about this person’s life.
- Write your book to this person and watch your writing voice become more consistent and powerful.
Knowing who you are writing for not only influences future blog posts, sales copy, email marketing, and paid traffic advertising, it also helps you write your book.
Like this post? Sign up below for our free video course, and go from blank page to bestseller in 90 days!
The big day has finally come. You’ve worked hard on your book for months, and maybe even years. Now it’s finally ready for the world to see. You hit publish and follow through with everything you know about how to market a book step by step. With any luck, hard work and a lot of support gets your book to bestseller status.
Then a few weeks goes by. Rankings drop considerably. Despite your best efforts, your book plummets down the lists like a stone.
How to Market a Book to Sell Copies
We’ve all been there—that point as a writer when we realize we have to do the other stuff—stuff that keeps us away from writing and creating. In fact, writing and crafting a book is only about half of the process. If you don’t spend 40-50% of your ongoing efforts on marketing, you reach a limited number of people. Your message will get lost in the massive swirl of information available out there.
You want to sell more books right? Marketing a book isn’t always a “natural” step for most authors. We are writers and creatives, not marketers and salespeople. But if you can combine writing and marketing, you’ll not only be able to write, but also to sell books. And marketing yourself is where it’s at.
8 Ways to Market Your Book Like a Pro
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a marketing guru or have a degree in digital marketing and social media mastery to get the word out about your brand. By following some basic steps, you’ll be marketing your books in no time.
1. Identify Your Audience
This is critical when it comes to marketing your book. If you don’t know who your audience is, you’ll end up marketing to anyone. In other words, you’ll be shouting out about your book in a noisy room and nobody will hear you. Write for a specific audience. To market your book effectively you have to know:
Who they are: Who is your ideal customer? What kind of information are they looking for? How do these people spend their time? Create a basic profile of what your reader looks like.
Where they are: Your audience is hanging out somewhere. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn, they are communicating about the topic and niche your book is about. Find those people and you will be able to market your book.
What problems are they facing: It is really important to nail this one. Come up with 20-30 problems your target market is trying to solve. By providing a solution to these problems, you’ll zero in on the readers who are waiting for your bestseller to change their lives. Remember: somebody out there wants what you are offering; they just don’t know it yet!
Action Step: Create a reader’s avatar. This is a profile of what your average reader is like. Include things like gender, occupation, and problems and they are facing. Figure out what solutions you could deliver to help them. Then market specifically to those people.
2. Build Your Author 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
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Leverage Two Social Media Platforms
Social media is a powerful way to promote your book. 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. 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 140 characters. Twitter has proven to be a powerful platform for authors when it comes time to promote and market a book.
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.
6. Plan Your Marketing Ahead
The best time to start marketing your book was six months ago. If you haven’t done that, the next best time for marketing your book is right now.
Many authors make the mistake of getting their book out there, doing a promo with their launch team and then start to work on a plan for marketing. The best thing you can do is have your marketing tools defined and ready to roll into action when they are needed.
Your marketing plan can include such things as:
- Having a series of blog posts scheduled to publish at regular intervals
- Interviews set up with influencers to talk about your book, either on the day of launch or just after
- A course based on the book set to launch at the same time as the book or soon after
- Giveaways through Goodreads that attract buyers to download your book by the thousands
- Daily blurbs posted on Facebook or Twitter. Remember: Engage where your fans are hanging out.
- Schedule a Bookbub promo (see next step)
Marketing takes planning, and you have to be strategic about it. This means building buzz early and keeping that buzz going for months up to and even after the launch. Continued marketing requires deeper tactics such as course building and consistently promoting through social media or Facebook ads, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
7. 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.
But on a side note, most authors get rejected the first time from Bookbub. If you do, just keep trying. Go here for Bookbub submission requirements. You can also check out the pricing here and submit your book here.
8. 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.
Let’s take a look at a topic that scares the jeepers out of most authors: how to copyright a book. 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]. But it is best to know what you can and cannot do when self-publishing your own book.
It’s Not Only About How to Copyright a Book…
With the explosion of self-publishing, indie authors must be aware of what they can and can’t do when it comes to quoting, borrowing and publishing works from other authors. This post isn’t to “scare” you but give some insight into how you can protect yourself and your own work from being misused or stolen.
In this post we will also look at the 9 most common questions authors ask when it comes to copyright concerns, for both their own works and when borrowing from other sources.
But first, it all begins with creating the copyright page in your 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: ©2016 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 want them to find you, right?]
- Credits to the book [cover designer, editor]
A Note on Disclaimers
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.
Here are some examples of disclaimers.
The characters in this book are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
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.
The 9 Most Common Questions
Nowadays, with the massive expansion of self-publishing, it is more important than ever for authors, artists and creatives putting their work out there to ensure that it is fully protected.
When we borrow work from other authors, living or dead, we have to consider: 1. What can I actually use; and 2. When is permission needed? Here is the golden rule when it comes to copyright laws: Never assume that anything is free! Everything out there, including on the internet, has been created by someone.
Here are common questions authors have about protecting themselves, their works, and others they may have quoted in their books:
1. Do I have to register my book before it is copyrighted?
Your book is legally copyrighted as soon as it is written. But, to scale up your legal rights and protect your material to the fullest extent, register your book with the Federal Copyright Office. On the chance someone does attempt to pirate your book or portions of it, registering with the US Copyright Office will give you greater leverage if it comes to action being taken.
2. How many words can I quote from another book or source?
Generally speaking there are no set rules on how much you can actually “borrow” from existing works. But, it’s best to exercise common sense here and keep it short, as a general rule under 300 words.
Paul Rapp, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property rights, says that “if the quote drives your narrative, if you are using an author’s quote in your argument, or if you are giving an opinion on an author’s quote, then it is considered fair use.”
What is fair use?
A legal concept that allows the reproduction of copyrighted material for certain purposes without obtaining permission and without paying a fee or royalty. Purposes permitting the application of fair use generally include review, news reporting, teaching, or scholarly research.
If you use something published by someone else with the sole purpose of monetary gain, this doesn’t constitute fair use.
3. Can I write about real people?
Especially in works of nonfiction, real people are often mentioned to express an opinion or as an example to clarify the writer’s fact or opinion. Generally you can use the names of real people as long as the material isn’t damaging to their reputation or libelous. Stick to the facts and write about what is true based on your research.
4. Can I borrow lyrics from songs?
Stephen King often used song lyrics for his books including Christine and The Stand. He obtained permission for these works. King says, “Lyrics quotes in this book [Christine] are assigned to the singer most commonly associated with them. This may offend the purist who feels that a song lyric belongs more to the writer than the singer.”
Basically, song lyrics fall under strict copyright even if it is just a single line used. Try to get permission if you use a song. You can contact the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) or Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). Once you find the rights owner, you have to ask for permission through writing.
5. Do I need permission to borrow material from a book that is over 100 years old?
Once the copyright on a book or material has expired, or the author has been dead for seventy years, the work enters into the public domain and you can use it without permission or licensing. BUT this does vary country to country. You can check the copyright office in the US here.
6. Are authors liable for content used in a book?
Yup. Even with traditional publishing houses, the author is still responsible for the content written and used in the book. In fact, traditionally published authors usually have to sign a waiver that removes the publisher from any liability pertaining to the material the author used if the writer included that material without proper permission. And you already know, as a self-published author, you’re on your own.
7. If I use an inspirational quote from another writer or famous person, do I need permission?
You don’t need permission to use quotes in a book provided that you credit the person who created it and/or spoke the quote.
“Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream” –Edgar Allan Poe
8. What is the best way to protect my work from being stolen?
Your work is copyrighted as soon as it is written. But you can register your work with the US copyright office. If you have a blog where you also post content, you need to have a Terms & Privacy disclaimer on your page. This would preferably be at the top where it is easy to see, although many writers and bloggers include this at the bottom of every page. You should also include your Copyright on your blog that protects your content from being “copied and pasted” into another site without permission or recognition.
9. A royalty free stock photo means that I can use it for free and don’t have to get permission, right?
Wrong. Most stock photos are copyrighted, even if they appear in search engines and we can easily download or copy them. If you grab a photo off the net and think you can slap it on a book cover or use it for free in your book, think again. It’s recommended you purchase photos through sites such as Shutterstock or Depositphotos.
Boring Cool Legal Terms You Should Know
I know, I know…we would rather write books, rake in the cash, and sign autographs than worry about technical legal jargon. But the more you know, the more time you can spend writing without wondering, “Is this legal?” Here are some legal terms to keep you informed on your rights as a self-publisher and protect your works:
- Copyright infringement
- Intellectual property rights
- Public domain work
- First Amendment
- Indemnification clause
- Fair use
- Libelous writing
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 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.
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Mark your calendar: our Self-Publishing Success Summit 2016 begins streaming live at 4PM EST Sunday June 12 and runs through Wednesday, June 22.
If you haven’t already reserved your free ticket, don’t wait another minute.
Click here to get your FREE PASS to this amazing event.
Have you ever thought of writing a book or becoming an author? If so, then you do not want to miss the biggest online publishing event of the year. You’ll learn the ins-and-outs of writing, marketing, monetization, and building your business.
All lectures are given by our exclusive roster of bestselling authors and entrepreneurs.
Gretchen Rubin, author of New York Times bestsellers Better Than Before, Happier at Home, and The Happiness Project. Rubin’s books have sold over a million copies.
Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on your Passion.
David Allen, author of The Getting Things Done Approach To Writing Your First Book.
Plus, many more stars. Click here to see the full roster, plus more info on each session.
If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s not much time left to get in on this event. Read on for more details on how to sign up and why you need to be a part of it!
Why Attend The Self-Publishing Success Summit?
Famous writers are lending their time, experience, and professional tips to help you.
Because all of these now-famous authors were once in your place. They want to help you transform from pie-in-the-sky aspirational dreamer to renowned successful author.
Self-publishing is an open-access opportunity. Anyone with a dream and an idea can become an author. The downside is that the field of self-publishing takes some specific know-how and business acumen to become a successful author.
With the Summit, you can get there. It’s a FREE one stop shop to realize your dreams and achieve your goals!
Our 2016 agenda showcases 40+ bestselling, ultra-successful entrepreneurs who are now enjoying the status, wealth, and industry recognition that comes with success as an established author.
Our celebrated line-up of pros will teach you what they had to do as rookies to get noticed. There’s no reason that you don’t have the same potential for recognition, wealth, and accolades. You just need some pro tips on how to play the game. By this time next year, your life may have changed completely!
What Your Free Pass Gets You
Simply sign up for FREE with your email address, and you’ll get instant access to our LIVE event. Here’s how you’ll use your free ticket (press the ‘play’ button located in the lower left):
Take action now and claim your free ticket for access to our experts’ success principles and strategies. These experts have charged thousands of dollars in speaking fees to share the advice they’re offering you for FREE…so we don’t want you to miss out on the chance to pick their collective brains.
Can’t Make all the LIVE Sessions? Save Big on an All-Access Pass
When you buy an All Access Pass to our Summit, you gain access to these videos right away—AND you have them for life. All of this world-class info is yours to reference over and over, whenever you want to access it.
To learn how to best use your all-access pass, watch this video (press the ‘play’ button located in the lower left):
The All Access Pass entitles you to the full library of resources and content, always. After the Summit starts, watch each video at your leisure, and in the order you see fit. They’re yours to enjoy and peruse forever. No time constraints or pressure!
Avoid regrets, and get your free ticket now. JOIN THE SUMMIT
We’ll let you in on a secret: There’s a vast difference between simply being a writer and becoming a professional author. One of the most important distinctions between being a writer and becoming a pro author is that an author approaches their book like it’s his or her job!
Professional authors know they’re creating and running a business—the business of branding themselves and carving out a space in the publishing world for their name and their work.
Why Audience Development?
The backbone of growing your author brand is nurturing a loyal, active audience. Without an audience for your book, you won’t make sales and your book will fade into oblivion. But with an audience who is eager to generate buzz, your book will flourish and make a name for you (and hopefully, a healthy deposit to your bank account, as well).
But, you may be wondering, “How do I develop an audience? I don’t know where to start!” Well Friend, we have the answers. It’s deceptively simple, so read on.
1. Create Valuable Content for YOUR Unique Audience
Writing is a funny animal—you can be an amazing writer, yet still manage to write a book no one wants to read. A pro author knows the power lies in the presentation: You need to tell a good story (for the fiction crowd) or solve a problem (for the non-fiction crowd). If you can do one of those two things, then you’re on your way to finding your audience.
One of the most important things you can do as a pro author is know your audience. It’s Psych 101: If you know your audience, you can write with them in mind. In kind, they’ll respond to what you’ve written because your work was crafted to entertain, intrigue, captivate, or help them.
Valuable content will naturally attract an ever-growing readership. Before long, you’ll have a core group of fans who are doing your press for you, because they think so highly of your work! How great is that?
How do you know if you’re creating valuable content? Ask yourself these questions:
- Who is my audience?
- Does my content solve a problem for my audience or provide value (for example, entertain or educate them)?
If you answer “YES” to those queries, then you’re on the right track to creating valuable content for your audience.
2. Create Buzz Through Word-of-Mouth
Publishing is the end of one road for the self-published author, and the beginning of another. Time to switch from your writer hat to that of PR promoter and marketing guru. It’s time to drive traffic to your book and make some sales!
You need to become your own marketing machine. Every author has to learn the ropes of quality self-promotion. This isn’t intuitive, and you may not know where to start, but with trial-and-error you’ll soon get a sense of what works and what flops.
We’ll touch on these points more in-depth in a moment, but for now, know that there are three main ways to create buzz and develop your audience for your books:
- Your Author Website
- Your Personal Blog
- Social Media Platforms
3. Build a Valuable Fan Base
Focusing on a particular branding concept or niche is important in writing. It’s easier to write for and market to a core group of loyal fans than it is to appeal to everybody.
Writing for your fans takes the guesswork out of what to write—you know already what they respond to and connect with! By knowing who you’re writing for, you’re creating content they want and need. It’s a win-win: This makes your job as an author easier, and it makes your fans happy.
Part of developing your audience means reaching out and communicating with your fan base. Successful authors recognize the value of email lists and communication; both are vital to business development.
Using your email list doesn’t need to be a daunting endeavor. In fact it’s 2016, and there’s an app (or site!) for that. Look to popular email marketing services such as MailChimp or AWeber to automate and take the guesswork out of email correspondence with a large and growing fan base.
4. Invest in an Author Website
Your author website allows your audience to put a face to a name. When fans like your work, they’ll want to learn more about the creative genius behind their favorite new read. Enter: Your Author Website.
Whether you create this on your own or go with a web developer is up to you, but in either case, you’re going to need a clean, streamlined, accessible, professional website for your self-publishing marketing toolbox.
A basic author website doesn’t need to be technically complex. In fact, readers respond better to clean, focused sites without a lot of distractions. Don’t overthink your layout and design.
Keep your website focused on the details and include the basics:
- “About the Author” bio
- Events and press
- Contact information (email address and social media handles)
- Blog link and posts
- Buttons for social media sharing
- A stand-alone page with information about your books
You want to direct your blog traffic to your main event: Your book! The best way to do that is with a stand-alone page about your book. Include sales information on that page, including the link to your Amazon Associates account. Each time a reader buys your book though this direct link, you’re paid a commission from Amazon.
Once your book starts to gain momentum, update your audience on your next steps—whether that’s working on your next book, leveraging your book into an online course, or speaking engagements. You’ll grow your audience by inviting them to your events and by keeping them in the loop about your next professional moves.
5. Blogging Keeps Things Fresh
Blogging and your author website go hand-in-hand. Your blog posts create fresh, ongoing content for your website, while the enjoyable content of your blog posts can encourage your audience to buy your books so they can read more. If they like what they’re reading on your blog, your readers will be more inclined to pay for the privilege of reading more of what you have to say.
What’s the downside of blogging? The challenge is that the Internet is now saturated with blogs, so you have to do something to stand out. You need to mentally formulate a game plan of what your blog can bring to your audience. What unique stories or advice is your blog going to offer to keep readers coming back?
Focusing on your message and branding allows you to cultivate your audience. When you blog about subjects that are in line with your branding and with your readers’ interests, then you’re developing your audience by creating targeted posts just for them.
6. Social Media
The advent of social media has changed the way the world does business. It’s no longer enough to try and attract an audience, now you have to interact with them in real time as well. This is especially important in the very personal world of book authorship and publishing. When readers immerse themselves in your words, they then feel as if they know you; therefore, they want to connect with you in a virtual forum.
Social media allows you to build relationships with your audience in a way that authors decade ago never experienced. Your fans will want to hear what you have to say, and they’ll be honored to interact with you and share your stories, posts, and news about your book—if you’re willing to listen and respond to them.
One of the most powerful ways to build an audience is through positive word-of -mouth. If your audience likes you, and by extension, your work, then you’ve got a huge marketing team right in front of you. One way to cultivate an engaged and positive social media experience for your loyal fans is through a dedicated Facebook group. Setting up a forum for a one-on-one connection creates a core community of highly-involved fans.
Cultivating and developing an audience is something that each self-published author must learn to do. The good news is that the core of audience development is something you’ve been doing your entire life: Making connections and building relationships. Develop relationships with your audience, and they’ll reward you by making your book a success.
Whether you’ve already written and published a book, or you’re an aspiring author, you may be thinking, “How can I expand my book idea to create an actual business?” Or, you may have already started a business and are thinking, “How can I grow this business to become even more profitable?” We’ve got a four-step process to show you how to either create a new business, or how to grow your business by introducing new products.
How to Grow Your Business in 4 Steps
Now it’s a little bit unconventional, and it might seem like a strange order in which to do things, but we think if you think it through, and act carefully each step of the way, you will see how these steps — in the particular order that we lay them out here — make perfect sense.
1. Solve a problem.
When you run a business, you’re not simply selling products. Instead, you are solving problems for your customers. As you think about what type of business you want to create, or how to expand the business you already have, it’s essential that you can clearly and confidently define the problem you want to solve via your products or services.
Clayton Christensen, a bestselling author, Harvard Business Professor, and highly-sought-after business consultant calls this “Job-To-Be-Done” marketing:
“We realized that the causal mechanism behind a purchase is, ‘Oh, I’ve got a job to be done.’ And it turns out that it’s really effective in allowing a company to build products that people want to buy.”
To explain his theory, Christensen gives the example of a fast food chain that was struggling to sell milkshakes. After many failed attempts to increase their sales, they contacted Christensen. They did some research and discovered that 40% of the milkshakes were purchased first thing in the morning.
A further examination of this behavior, with the intent to answer the question, “Why are customers buying milkshakes?” revealed some amazing things:
“Most of them, it turned out, bought [the milkshake] to do a similar job,” Christensen said. “They faced a long, boring commute and needed something to keep that extra hand busy and to make the commute more interesting. They weren’t yet hungry, but knew that they’d be hungry by 10 a.m.; they wanted to consume something now that would stave off hunger until noon. And they faced constraints: They were in a hurry, they were wearing work clothes, and they had (at most) one free hand.”
So, what did this fast food company do?
After understanding the job to be done, the company responded by creating a morning milkshake that was even thicker (to last through the long commute) and more interesting (with chunks of fruit).
For the other milkshake purchases that happened later in the day, they found that the milkshake was bought as a treat for young children. To help fulfill this job, they created a thinner milkshake that could be consumed more easily by young children.
So, you must answer the question, “What problem is your business/product/service solving? What job is it being hired to do?”
To start, look at the reviews of your book (and/or reviews of similar books) to help you understand why people “hired” your book.
The more refined your understanding of the problem being solved, the better products and services you can provide—which will grow your business and increase sales.
2. Determine how to deliver the solution.
You may have determined what problem your customer wants solved, but if you don’t deliver it in the correct way, it won’t be received well.
For example, if you ordered a bowl of soup for dinner at a restaurant and it was delivered to you frozen, would you be happy? No!
How you deliver the solution to your customers’ problems is essential. If you’re selling an information product, think about potential methods of delivery. Do your customers prefer their solution delivered in the form of a:
- Online course?
- Consulting call?
- Virtual summit?
- Audio, Video, Text or all of the above?
What do they want? What is the most convenient way for them to consume the information (or physical product, if yours isn’t information-based)?
If you’re not sure, look at popular companies that are similar to your business. What are they doing? Which of their products are you inclined to buy?
If you’re still unsure of what’s popular, no problem! Simply type in the problem you identified in Step One into Amazon and Google. Whether that’s “stay awake at work,” “lose 10 pounds,” or “bored driving to work” (like the example above), the top results from both Amazon and Google will give you a good idea of what’s selling.
As an example, let’s say that you wanted to help teen girls learn different techniques to apply makeup. If you tried to deliver that information in an online course, you’d probably be unsuccessful. But if you type “learn to do makeup” into Google, you’ll see a slew of YouTube videos come up. This is the medium that your customers want their information delivered—free, and via YouTube, which is easily accessible on their computers and phones.
Dig just a little deeper, and you would know that your way of monetizing would be other companies endorsing you, advertising on your YouTube channel, and selling products to your viewers.
On the other hand, if you wanted to teach people about how to sell high-end real estate, an online course or a high-ticket consulting package would be prove to be more successful than YouTube videos. With such valuable products (houses, hotels, business buildings, etc.), people are going to trust information that they paid a lot of money for more than things that they found online for free.
After you’ve identified the problem you’re solving, you must figure out how to deliver the solution in a way that’s going to impress you customer and keep it easy for them to consume.
3. Launch before you build.
The advice “build it and they will come” rarely works. So many people launch a book or a product and it completely flops. No one buys it. And often it’s because people don’t even know that you’ve released a product!
To run a successful business, you do not have time for a failed launch. To combat this, you must build of an audience of people that want to buy your product, even before you build it.
Yes – that means that you can run Facebook ads for a product that doesn’t exist yet.
Yes – that means that you can create a website to sell a product that doesn’t exist yet.
Yes – that even means that you can collect money for a product that doesn’t exist yet.
You are definitely going to create the product, but only if people want it. (And if they don’t, then refunds are in order.) If your efforts to create a pool of people that want to buy your product or service only results in two people interested, you have some pretty solid social proof that you’ve either:
- Misdiagnosed the problem that your customers want solved
- Or, you’re delivering the correct solution in a wrong way.
Then it’s back to the drawing board. Make adjustments to your campaign and relaunch.
Once you have a solid number of people who have opted-in to your product or service, you know you can move ahead with product creation and sales.
Be forewarned: there’s a difference between people who say, “Yeah, I totally want your product” and people who say, “Yes, I want your product. Here’s my money.” If people are willing to pay, you know you’re on the right track!
Once you’ve gathered a paying audience, you can look forward to a successful launch.
4. Build and deliver the product.
Once you’ve gathered a solid customer base that’s waiting for your product, then go ahead and start creating your product or service. You’ll know it’s a good use of your time and that it will propel your business. Then deliver the goods, continue to collect money, and rinse and repeat the process while you watch your business grow to be more successful with every product that you launch.
PRO TIP: Launching a product can take a lot of work. But, if you automate the process, it can generate income for you indefinitely. Using a software tool like Deadline Funnel, or advertising your product in an automated email series will help generate continual sales.
If you’ve written a book, or you’re thinking about writing a book, you can create and grow a thriving business.
- Define what problem you are solving.
- Determine the best way to deliver the solution.
- Launch before you build.
- Build and deliver the product.
Following this process will improve your chances of success, and will allow you to continue being successful with every product or service that you launch.
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When it comes to choosing the best book writing software, authors have several choices. You may be asking yourself: Do I stick with Microsoft Word? Is Scrivener the best investment with its robust features and user-friendly tools? How about Google Docs for so I can easily share and co-edit my book with an editor?
We could try and tell you which one to pick, but everyone has different tastes and needs. Let’s take a look and compare the three writing “giants” to make the choice of book writing software clearer.
The Best Book Writing Software for YOU
The purpose of this post isn’t to sell you on any particular book writing software. We’ll share with you the Good, the Bad and the Average so you can weigh the options. Who knows—you might switch to a different writing tool that works better than anything you’ve tried before.
There are nine things to consider when deciding which program to use to write your book (some of these might be more or less important to you):
- Ease and style preference of formatting
- Template choices
- Simplicity (if that’s important to you)
- Bells & whistles and tons of features (if that’s important to you)
- A distraction-free feature for writing [we are writers, after all]
- A user friendly Platform with the right powerful tools for you
- Easy access to the files no matter where you are
- Collaboration with team members
Why Microsoft Word Works
Before Scrivener came along, and other various platforms, we had Microsoft Word—and today it’s still the most widely used software enjoyed by millions of users in homes and offices worldwide. Personally I started out writing with Word years ago as did many people, so it has been my personal choice when there were not that many choices available.
If you have a Mac computer, then Word might cause you a lot of frustration with crashes and formatting. However, PC users tend to enjoy Word a lot more.
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. Word is trusty and reliable. You’re relatively distraction-free while you’re working in it. (Compare that to working on Google Docs in your browser, where you only an errant mouse-click away from the entire internet!)
You can create your own free book writing template using Word. And if you start writing your book in Word and don’t begin with the correct formatting, it’s pretty easy to clean up your formatting to make it “book ready” with a few simple steps.
Word is great for waking up in the morning and meeting your word-count goals by keeping your head down and getting those words pounded out onto the page. No fuss, no muss. It’s as simple as it gets.
But for many authors, those times have changed with the emergence of programs such as Scrivener and Google Docs that have shaped the way we create online and offline content and how we organize our ideas.
There are many types of authors out there and each of them has a preference as to what software works best for them. If you have been using Word for years, you’re probably attached to it. Transitioning from MS Word to Scrivener has proven challenging for some writers, in part because of the learning curve to master a new program. The Scrivener Manual itself is around 550 pages. There are also plenty of Scrivener YouTube tutorials you can learn from as well.
When’s the last time you had to call Microsoft for technical help with Word? (I never have.) If you need to know how to do something in Word, you can Google it. Scrivener, on the other hand, actually has support emails and bug reporting and a customer forum…because it’s really that complicated!
Why Some Authors Love Scrivener
That said…Scrivener was created with writers as the primary customer. And a lot of writers swear by it (once they get over that very steep learning curve.)
For those authors who have put in the work to understand how the program works, it’s the favored choice for ease of writing, formatting, and organizing your content for publishing. If you invest the time up front to learn Scrivener, then you will get that time back—and then some—once you see what the program can do.
Blogger and author Jeff Goins swears by Scrivener after giving up Word. He says: “I wasted years of my life doing all my writing on Microsoft Word. But that’s all over now. I have finally seen the light.”
Entrepreneur Michael Hyatt says about Scrivener: “I now begin every piece of content—no matter what it is—with this tool. It has simplified my life and enabled me to focus on the most important aspect of my job—creating new content. I am more productive than ever.”
Scrivener has a ton of benefits for authors that we could fill up dozens of pages discussing. I’ll keep it simple and give you the top benefits here:
- For fiction authors, Scrivener helps with plotting
- 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 move sections around with drag and drop
- A collection of robust templates
- Supports MultiMarkdown for bullets and numbers
Scrivener was designed for writers because you can lay out scenes, move content around and outline stories or manuscripts. In Scrivener, you don’t have to become distracted by formatting; you can stay focused on the writing as it separates the content from the presentation.
Scrivener works best as a tool for plotting out storylines. It’s also a handy book formatter. Scrivener has hundreds of features beneficial for writers and enables them to focus on the writing process without getting sidetracked.
The one huge downside is that the steep learning curve in getting to know this program isn’t going to happen overnight. But the investment in learning this tool could save you time in the long run if you plan on putting out lots of books.
Google Docs for Writing Books
We’ve looked at the appealing simplicity of Word and the power of Scrivener, but another writing software loved by many is Google Docs. These are all great writing tools; what it comes down to in most cases is the process you use for writing.
Google Docs and Google Drive are best used for team-sharing your content, files, and docs. It doesn’t require any installation and can be accessed anywhere via your browser (or an app on your phone). One of the best features is: everything is saved on the server frequently, 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.
Alternative Writing Software + Pricing
If you are not sold on Word, Scrivener or Google Docs, there are other software programs and apps that authors and bloggers are using to get their work done.
One of these is Evernote, which functions much better as a productivity tool than a word processor, with only limited functionality when it comes to writing a book. Some of its functions are: uploading pics, docs and voice recorder. I have written many blogs and sections of books using the Evernote platform.
Pages is a great alternative to Word if you use a Mac computer. It has a variety of beautiful templates to choose from, has a simple design and syncs with all devices from within iCloud. I personally love the ease of Pages and it works great for creating ebooks or manuscripts with a variety of tools you can get creative with.
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.
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?
Pricing: How Much Does Book Writing Software Cost?
- Scrivener costs about $45.00
- Word costs $79.99 US.
- Google Docs is totally 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 $28.00 for Mac.
Take some time to check out each of these tools if you aren’t already using them. Stray 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!
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Finding your purpose in life can seem impossible, but we can tell you how writing a book can help. Now, you may already have dreams of writing your own book, as so many people do. The reality is that—while many of us have big dreams, only 1% of us dreamers actually take the plunge and become published authors.
There are many reasons why it’s easier to dream of authorship than it is to make it happen. Lack of time, life commitments, perfectionism…so many diversions and excuses along the way can put an end to our dreams of becoming an author before the writing process has begun.
Finding Your Purpose: How Writing a Book Can Help
When your book is written and published, certain doors may open for the first time: You can make new connections, grow your business, and earn new sources of income. These are the tangible benefits of writing a book, but what about the deeper meaning?
Writing your book and becoming an author can instill your life with something beyond a better job, more money, or more networked connections: Writing a book can create a new meaning in your life. For some lucky authors, writing a book can be the gateway to finding their unique life purpose.
Here are some of the purposes in life you can explore as a newly minted author:
Purpose #1: A Job and Life You Love
Life is fleeting. Many of us are so entrenched in the daily routine of work, work, and more work that we have to force ourselves to stop and take a look around. When you lift your nose from the grindstone, you may find yourself wondering, “Is this ALL there is?”
Have you ever wondered if you could take a step off the corporate carousel? What if you can engage your own personal notion of success, rather than what the commercials on TV are selling you? Becoming a self-published author may pave the way.
Once you’re a published author, you can leverage that success into new products—from a book series, to courses, lectures, and keynote speaking engagements.
The sky is truly the limit. If you can imagine it, it can happen. You can finally step off the hamster wheel and create a job and life you love. Don’t you owe it to yourself to take that chance?
Purpose #2: To Help People
One of the great privileges of the human experience is our ability to empathize with others. Simply by sharing an experience that you’ve had in your own life or a challenge that you’ve overcome can help lift someone up and inspire them to face the same challenges. You can literally change your readers’ lives for the better with your words.
Moreover, by sharing your experiences with the world, you become the narrator of your own life. You’re the one in control of your story, your destiny and your narrative.
Ultimately, by controlling the story, you take control over your past, and by extension, your future. By helping others, you may ultimately be helping yourself. How incredible is that?
Purpose #3: Fuel Your Passion
Each and every one of us has something in our life that we’re passionate about. The beauty of it is that we all have different passions, based on our unique life experiences, personalities, and circumstances.
Your passion project may be fueled by a life-long love of something—be it dance, or cooking, or animals. For others, their passion project is fueled by the need to educate others about a cause close to their hearts.
If you’ve recently overcome cancer, your passion might be educating others about the steps you took to overcome this major health crisis. No matter what challenges you’ve faced in life, you have a story to tell that can help others.
Your own unique voice will shape your passion project into something that will inherently connect with others that share similar circumstances. Simply by writing, you can help someone learn, cope, or find another voice to share their own life challenges—or to celebrate shared victories.
Your passions and experiences can impart a deeper meaning into your own life, as well as the lives of others. You just have to commit those experiences to print in order to make that connection.
Purpose #4: Make Yourself Immortal
Artists have known for thousands of years that the creation of art lives on beyond the grave. In fact, some of the most famous painters didn’t become widespread names until after they died.
You don’t have to be staring at a dire diagnosis to have the urge to create a lasting legacy. The power of the written word is that it’s indelible and enduring.
By writing your book, you create something that can be shared with future generations. Your children, your grandchildren, and their grandchildren will have a lasting testament of your story.
Knowing your words and thoughts will survive you is a powerful feeling. Writing a book affords you a sliver of immortally, and who doesn’t want that?
Purpose #5: Build a Financial Future
It’s true that money doesn’t give our lives meaning. However, the way you choose to spend your hard-earned cash can create meaning for yourself and others. A well-crafted financial plan can build a future for you and make a lasting impact toward causes you care deeply about.
Earnings from your book can go toward creating a non-profit, investing in a charity, or simply paying off your debt so your life has less stress and so you can enjoy your time while you’re here.
Money can’t buy happiness, or meaning, but you can use your book sales earnings to build something bigger than yourself.
When you look back at your life, you want it to be something you’re proud of. Writing a book can impart your life with a meaning that you didn’t even know was possible. Take the chance to make your own life a story that you don’t want to put down.
Sign up below for our FREE course to learn how to go from blank page to bestseller in 90 days!
Stop what you’re doing right now and read on, or else you might be left out. We’ve reserved a free ticket for you to attend THE biggest online publishing event of 2016!
We’re thrilled to announce our 2016 Self-Publishing Success Summit. Mark your calendars for the dates June 12- 22, 2016 because you literally cannot afford to miss what we’re sharing with you.
What Is the Self-Publishing Success Summit?
Our Self-Publishing Success Summit was created in order to give all writers the complete skill sets to create massive opportunities for themselves. The Summit teaches aspiring and seasoned authors alike how to navigate the pitfalls of the publishing landscape.
During this virtual summit, some of the top self-published and traditionally published authors impart their knowledge and business secrets to writers at all levels. Why do they want to do this and help with this passion project? Because they’ve once walked in your shoes.
Writing can be very intimidating. Even those who love to write worry about taking the leap into publishing. Many never actually publish their finished work. Why is this?
Traditional publishing is a tough nut to crack, there’s no guarantee that even the most well-written, fascinating book will break through and score a publishing deal. There’s always self-publishing, right? This is true. Self-publishing is available to everyone, but requires a fair amount of skill and knowledge to hit that elusive best seller list.
So, what’s a budding writer to do? Find support, my friend, and we give it to you. For free (have we mentioned it’s free?)!
Sold yet? You should be, here’s why …
Tell Me About the Summit Speakers…Are They Famous?
Last year, over 30,000 people attended the Self-Publishing Success Summit and the line-up of speakers was nothing short of incredible. 2016 promises to be bigger and better, featuring more than 40 bestselling authors and uber-successful entrepreneurs who bootstrapped their way to elite status, wealth, and industry accolades.
Self-Publishing Success Summit speakers include Gretchen Rubin, author of blockbuster New York Times bestsellers Better Than Before, Happier at Home, and The Happiness Project. Rubin’s books have sold more than a million print and online copies worldwide, in more than thirty languages.
Gary Vaynerchuk signed a 10-book deal with HarperStudio for over $1,000,000. His first book, Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on your Passion, reached #1 on the Amazon Best Seller list for Web Marketing books, opened at #2 on the New York Times Hardcover Advice bestseller list and #7 on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller List.
James Altucher is the author of 17 books, including WSJ best-sellers The Power of No and Choose Yourself; Altucher’s I Was Blind But Now I See reached #1 in Amazon.com’s motivational books.
ABC’s Shark Tank star and New York Times best-selling author Barbara Corcoran’s latest book, Shark Tales, is a national bestseller.
Aside from the high-wattage stars, we’re also featuring hot up-and-comers who have landed #1 book spots. These people broke the rules and are creating the lives they want, and they can tell you how to follow in their well-paid footsteps.
Take note that this is revolutionary, since it’s the very first time these authors have spoken together at one event! Some of these renowned speakers charge thousands for appearance fees. Now, you get a chance to see them all in one place for FREE—without leaving your home (because who loves long lines at airport security and mediocre hotel food)?
Sounds Great…What Will I Learn?
Our guest speakers have experienced life with a capital “L.” We’re talking self-doubt, heartbreaking divorces, financial hurdles and poverty, the weight of depression, soul-crushing jobs, but they’ve overcome and came out the other side. Now they are happy, successful, and fulfilled.
Prepare yourself to learn their secrets to becoming a best-selling author and how to turn your book into a business. The Summit will reveal to you proven tactics to become a best-selling author; some speakers will even to teach you how to grow your own business. It’s also about the mental game YOU need to play to earn your own success.
Get ready to learn the success tactics gleaned from years of real-world pro experience including:
- The fast and easy 3-step approach to become an author
- Marketing and publishing secrets of international bestsellers
- How to land high-paid speaking and coaching gigs
- Exactly how you can use your first book to get to six figures…on your terms
- What it takes to start an information product empire
- Hard-won blueprints, systems, and success shortcuts
I Don’t Want to Miss Out! How do I Get my FREE Ticket?
I know you’ll love the Self-Publishing Success Summit because it’s the only way to get 100+ years’ experience on becoming an author and growing a business in one place—uncut, unfiltered, and absolutely free.
The Self-Publishing Success Summit 2016 will take place on June 12-22, 2016. Writers can sign up to view the event live for free.
It’s all streaming online, so you can watch from home, meaning no plane tickets or days off work. You can watch every presentation for 72 hours (then they’ll be locked away in the private vault).
Attendees can pay for an All-Access Self-Publishing Success Summit Pass ($97 for the early-bird rate up to June 16). The All-Access Pass includes unlimited lifetime access to the master class video library so writers can delve into the writing, publishing, and book marketing process in a no-pressure environment.
There’s just one catch: I only want you to claim your free ticket if you’re ready to take action on what you learn. These experts spent decades and millions of dollars discovering these success principles, strategies, and mental frameworks. Some of these experts have charged over $1,000 per hour for their advice and counsel. Others aren’t available for 1-on-1 help at any price. But they’re happy to pay it forward and gift you their best ideas gratis. We only ask that you take their advice so you can start living the life of your dreams.
If you’ve ever wished you could sit across the table from your favorite author or entrepreneur and pick their brain about how they got to where they are now … you do not want to miss this.
Just click here to get your free ticket now. You won’t regret it!
When you’re an author, it can be hard enough to carve out time for writing books—but blogging, too?
With our tips, you’ll learn how to get your blog noticed. Add in some sweat equity, and you can create a standout blog that your readers will love to share.
1. Speak to One Person
It may seem as though it would make sense to try and attract as many readers as possible, but there’s a reason that focused, niche blogs tend to do so well.
To connect to your audience, it helps to think of one person you’re writing to who would love to read your blog. This person might be a good friend of yours, a favorite aunt—or better yet, a mishmash of people that represents the brand you speak to—otherwise known as a customer avatar.
Choosing this imaginary person you’re blogging for will help you keep your posts personal and conversational, and it will also aid in refining your niche. If your ideal blog reader avatar loves walking in fields and picking wildflowers, but you suddenly start writing about tailgating in parking lots before sports games, you might think twice.
If you can create a niche blog which appeals to a very specific audience, then the readers that find you will be passionate about the topic and your posts. A niche can forge a real connection with a specific audience.
2. Refine Your Blog’s Voice
Now that you know who you’re talking to (step 1) you need to think about who is doing the talking. I know it’s you—but which you? The one who shows up at church on Sunday with your hair combed and wearing a nice suit? The one who chats confessionally with her girlfriends over glasses of wine? Or are you a trusted advisor, doling out advice?
To find your voice, it helps to determine what exactly you want your blog to accomplish. As with all your other writing endeavors, you want your blog posts to have a purpose and a vision. Figure out the tone, flavor, and purpose for your blog, and the voice will become clearer.
3. Be Consistent
Any professional who uses blogging as a key revenue driver for their business understands that consistency is THE key to audience building.
Figure out your schedule for blogging, whether it’s twice a week or once a month, and STICK TO IT. When you blog consistently, your audience knows they can come to you for timely, relevant content on their favorite topics.
And new visitors to your site will tend to stick around—they’ll see that you update regularly and they’ll know your site isn’t a graveyard.
The most important decision you can make is choosing a doable schedule. Twice a week might sound easy, but you risk falling behind if you go on vacation. Make sure that no matter what, you can fulfill this obligation to yourself and your audience. This might mean posting less often than you think is “ideal.”
Blogging superstar Marie Forleo only posts once per week. Why? Because she says that promoting your posts and your blog is the most important thing you can do.
If you’re bogged down by blogging, it’s too hard to get the word out about your writing. And now let’s talk about getting the word out…
4. Guest Blog for Other Sites
Guest blogging is a win for all involved. When you write a blog post for another web site, not only are you helping them fill up their editorial calendar, you’ll gain new exposure from the web site’s audience.
How do you find web sites to write guest posts for? Check out this fantastic list of web sites you could guest post for, conveniently arranged by topic. Be sure to take note of any specific contributor’s guidelines. Not following the submission guidelines will probably result in not being chosen.
When you get chosen to write a guest post, be sure to include a short bio with a link to your blog, if allowed. Ideally, that link will be to a page on your blog that offers up a free, valuable piece of content in exchange for the reader’s email address. That way you can send your growing email list updates when you post on your blog.
5. Inform Facebook Friends and Followers
One of the best, easiest ways to get your blog noticed is through savvy use of social media. If you don’t want to use your personal profile to promote your blog posts, then set up a page on Facebook. This should include a title and description of your blog.
Use your Facebook blog page to share new posts and relevant news with your community. When the time gets closer to write and promote your book, use Facebook posts to countdown your writing timeline, celebrate the completion of your draft, and later, to share dates regarding book release parties and signing events.
Remember that when promoting your blog on Facebook, interaction is key to building a following and a community. Ask and answer questions, respond to comments, and invest in your followers’ interests. That way you’ll create a loyal audience who will look forward to sharing your posts.
6. Consider Instagram
Instagram is a visual paradise for those who love the creative aesthetic. If your blog’s focus can be boosted with images or videos, then consider posting on Instagram, just as you would on Facebook.
Promoting some types of blog content are a no-brainer on Instagram. For example, if you’re blogging about (and later authoring a book on) interior design or personal style, then Instagram is a social media platform match made in heaven.
7. Create YouTube Videos
For the brave among us, a great way to draw visitors to your blog is by posting a video about each post on YouTube. Not only will you get on-camera practice, which can help draw speaking gigs and media, you’ll also tap into a completely different audience than you’d be able to reach just by writing.
If this sounds “not you” or too scary, then spend some time making practice videos before pushing them live. Ask a trusted friend to give you constructive criticism.
Practice makes perfect! Just don’t expect to be perfect on your first try. It’s okay to stink up the place while you’re learning.
8. Share the Wealth with Buttons
Configure your blog’s settings to display “Share” buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other social media platforms which appeal to you and your audience. If your blog content is shareable with just the click of a virtual button, then your audience will be more likely to share with their own friends.
When you’re creating your blog set-up and drafting posts, do everything you can to make ease of shareability a priority. It may take more legwork up front, but it will be worth it in the end. Add a call-to-action at the end of each post, whether that’s to sign up for your email newsletter, or to share a post you’re particularly proud of on social media.
Knowing how to get your blog noticed is a matter of confidence—you have to put yourself out there to build an audience. With our easy steps, you’re on your way to making sure your blog becomes a must-share.
Like this post? Sign up for our FREE course below, and become a bestselling author in 90 days!
Have you ever seen an Amazon Book description that looked absolutely stellar? Nice big words, perfect layout, well structured?
Well, there’s a secret to how self-publishers are making it look that way. They’re using Amazon’s approved HTML. That’s right…they’re coding it to look that way, and you could too.
By adding a little code to your book description, your sentences can now be bold, underlined, or even bigger in size.
As you can see, there is a clear difference between a well-structured book description using Amazon’s HTML and a book description that doesn’t use HTML.
And it isn’t as simple as writing it in Word Document and copying and pasting…nope. That well-formatted beauty requires a little HTML love.
So, in this article, I’m going to show you exactly how you can tap into this even if you know nothing about HTML or CSS—and I’ll also introduce you to a free book description tool that will help you build beautiful, eye-catching descriptions so that your book will stand out and get even more customers.
Amazon Book Description Tips
Lucky for us, Amazon allows us to use special snippets of code to access their font styles…all you need to do is type the right things around your book description sentences to make your book description words stand out and look great.
To do this, let’s first look at what you’re allowed to do:
Don’t worry if you don’t know what all that means because 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/>. (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 each tag around a sentence and which HTML tag you can use, let’s go through each, how it’s applied, and how it will look on the US 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 with H6 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 make a word in italics, 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, 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 are bullet point lists.
Unordered are denoted at the beginning using <ul> and their structure looks like this:
<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>
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 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, highlight a section, and click the button to make it look the way you want it.
Once you’ve gotten it the way you like, then just click the button “Get My Code” and it will automatically create the HTML code you need to make your description look like you designed it.
Then take that code, go to the KDP bookshelf and update your book’s description.
Examples of Well Formatted Book Descriptions
So as to help you get your creative juices flowing, here are some examples of other books who have used book description formatting and taken it to the next level:
Chandler Bolt’s Book Launch: Clean, and effectively uses the bold feature to highlight the most important words. That way, those that skim the description will immediately see the parts that Chandler wants you to see.
Patrick King’s Conversion Tactics: One of the most effectively uses of underline as well as neatly organized information with bullet points. One thing I really think that Patrick has rocked with this is his final sentence, the Call to Action (CTA). It leaves a strong lasting impression and how can you NOT see it?
Steve Scott’s Learn Email Marketing Blueprint: Again, a well laid out description that highlights the right spots and makes it easy on the eyes. But my favorite part about his book description is the first paragraph. That paragraph shows up even before the person clicks “read more.” Basically, Steve has made it so that his most catching hook is highlighted, and featured right smack dab at the top of his sales page. Nice move.
So, now that you know what is allowed by Amazon, how to code HTML for book descriptions and a cool tool that is completely free that will do it for you, it’s time you get started in creating your book descriptions.
Once you’ve created a savvy looking book description, comment below with your book’s link, and I’ll check it out and respond.
Any new writer wonders the same question: How long will it take to finish my book? The definitive answer is: It depends.
According to a panelist survey of famous authors, when asked how long it took for them to produce their novels, the answers ranged from between four years to a decade. In other words, “Writing a novel takes as long as you want or need it to take.”
Here at Self-Publishing School, we beg to differ. Our students routinely crank out bestsellers in 90 days, with the first-draft writing process taking as little as 30 days. (No, we’re not making that up!)
While the temptation can be to spend years, even decades, honing and polishing your book, a rough draft sitting on your hard drive isn’t working for you. It’s not building your author name, furthering your cause, or growing your audience. Moreover, it’s not earning you a single cent.
How long does it take to write a book?
We have amazing news: Writing YOUR book can take far less time than you think. You just need to know the tricks to get moving and stay moving.
The faster you get your book finished, the sooner you can realize your goals. And once the publication ball starts rolling, the positive energy will continue.
Your readership will grow with each book, so that with each new publication, you’re building your fan base. If a fan finds and loves your fourth book, they’ll go back and read books one through three, earning you even more accolades and more financial gain.
The bottom line is this: You need to prioritize getting your first draft finished as quickly as your life, time, and circumstances allow. It may not be easy, but it’s not impossible.
Read on for tips to supercharge your own writing process so you’ll hit “publish” before you know it.
1. Choose a Deadline
“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” – Philip Roth
It’s no secret that knowing when to stop writing can be the hardest part of actually writing. You can write forever, and never have a clear end in sight. Part of becoming a published author is knowing when to wrap it up.
Setting a final deadline means that you’ll have a finish line in mind, and that can put the pressure on to keep the forward momentum going and finish what you started.
Here’s what to do: Set a deadline, right now, for your book-writing project. Set it somewhere between 30 and 90 days…that’s right, before you get started, you want to have a clear deadline set out for the completion of your draft.
Mark it somewhere you can see it every day. Your end date will help you stay on track.
Another recommendation is to hire your editor and schedule them for your deadline. That way, you have one more motivating factor to keep the writing ball rolling.
2. Set Concrete Goals
One of the best ways to keep your writing moving is to set word count goals for yourself. The idea behind word count goals is that if you set up parameters for your own success, you’ll be more likely to achieve those goals.
If you don’t have concrete, defined goals, then it’s that much easier to procrastinate, and then your pages might get done…someday. Or not.
Word count goals also serve the purpose of setting up a visual aid and reward system. It feels amazing to cross things off your list. So, document your achievements. Write down your daily, weekly, and monthly word count goals, then take a red marker and draw a big red line through each accomplishment when you’re finished.
What should your daily word count be? We suggest aiming for 500-1,000 words per day; that’s about one hour per day. If you stick with a word count goal of 1,000 words per day, at the end of 30 days, you’ll be looking at your completed 30,000 word first draft!
3. Find Your People
A supportive community can be a sounding 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 know you have a team backing you up, it’s that much harder to drag your feet. They expect great things from you—don’t disappoint them!
4. Work at Warp Speed
Here’s the idea: Drafting at lightning speed will prevent you from taking decades to finish your book. As we already talked about, you CAN write a book in 30 to 90 days!
The faster you write, the easier it will be meet your goals. Here are some simple tricks to boost your writing speed:
- Write every day.
- Adhere to your set writing routine.
- Don’t get stuck, move on to another section if you’re floundering.
- Limit research so you move forward with your pages.
- Plan weekly meetings with a partner to cheer you on.
5. Prioritize Yourself
One of the hardest things to do is to put ourselves first. There are so many competing thing pulling at our time and energy. It can seem as though once we’ve met work, family, life, volunteer, and friend obligations, there’s little left over for ourselves.
We’re here to tell you that in order to write your book, you need to make the effort to be selfish, at least for a short block of time every day. Put yourself first. Make you your first priority. Get your book done—it will pay off. Not just monetarily, but in terms of life satisfaction and intrinsic rewards.
You can wake up half an hour earlier each morning, you can skip the social lunch at work and spend twenty minutes at your desk writing, you can use your subway ride to scribble pages—you get the idea. There’s time to be found, just make an effort to put yourself first and find it. You’ll be happy you did.
Don’t lose out on your dream of becoming a published author because you short-changed yourself. If you can carve out just a short window of time each day, you can make it happen. And it will feel fabulous when it does.
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So you’re thinking about writing and publishing a book, but approaching a traditional publisher can be daunting. In fact, you’ve probably thought, “Why would a traditional publisher ever look at me—a first-time author?”
Before the age of the internet, the only way to get your book in front of millions was to send off a book proposal to a traditional publisher and hope that whoever the gatekeeper was that day
- Had drank their morning coffee,
- Had woken up on the right side of the bed,
- And, had actually given your book proposal more than a 10-second glance.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening was fairly low.
This resulted in brilliant people—like yourself—being denied the opportunity to share their experiences, their stories, and their knowledge.
The publishing industry is shifting.
Thankfully, this is no longer the case.
With the development of online marketplaces, like Amazon, you can distribute your book to everyone, regardless of what some traditional publishing house may think about your idea.
You have a book inside of you, and the world needs to read it!
Here are 7 reasons why self-publishing is the best route to take—and why you’ll never bother with traditional publishing again.
1. You don’t have to wait for permission.
When you self-publish, 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.
You don’t have to convince any gatekeepers to allow your book to reach the world.
“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 Four-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 twenty-six publishers that it was presented to.
Now, just imagine all the other authors out there that stopped after the first ten or twenty 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. And self-publishing gives you the avenue to do that! You and your readers decide the worth of your words, rather than a single person at a traditional publishing firm.
2. You can publish your work quickly.
If you were to take your book to a traditional publisher, it would take years to publish your book.
For example, it may take up to six months for you to even hear back about the book proposal. And assuming they accepted your proposal, it would take at least another year before the book was 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.
With a traditional publishing deal, an author will typically be paid an amount of money upfront. But once the sales come rolling in, you only get a small cut of the earnings.
Why? Because you have to pay the publishing house, the editor, the marketers, the designers, etc.
When you self-publish, you take in most of the earnings (save for the money you actually choose to spend on marketing and book production and publishing.)
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 connect with people throughout your whole writing experience.
Self-published authors also gather on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, etc.
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.
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?
- Or, is it simply something to cross off your bucket list?
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 do or become someone that you’re not comfortable with.
You write as you, and for you. And that is invaluably liberating.
6. You control your creative concept.
There are horror stories about authors whose ideas and voice became unrecognizable after their manuscript was finished with a traditional publisher.
When you work with a traditional publisher, you don’t just sell them your manuscript, you sell them your idea.
So, 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, when you self-publish, you can create what you want to create!
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. Because you determine your marketing efforts, you—if selling via the Amazon Kindle store—can choose (and then tweak) your categories and keywords.
And, with 45% of eBook sales going to Indie (or self-published) 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, ideas, and career when you self-publish.
Even “Big Names” Self-Publish
Though there are some benefits to traditional publishing, even some well-established authors admit that the joys of self-publishing 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.
These people include Pat Flynn, Jeff Goins, Joshua Miburn & Ryan Nicodemus, Johnny B Truant, and James Altucher.
Self-publishing will change your life.
Self-publishing allows you the freedom, money, community, and control to shape your life to become one you adore.
So, start writing your own bestseller today.
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Writer’s block. Just two simple words that mean so much. Stuck, stagnant, immobile, locked, frozen. Any writer worth their salt has about 1,000 more descriptive turns of phrase for this particular affliction, many of which can’t be published in polite company.
The cruel paradox of writer’s block is when it’s most likely to strike. Writer’s block never rears its ugly head when it doesn’t matter. Writer’s block crops up when the pressure’s on: when we want to quit our day jobs and we want writing to support us financially; when we’re three weeks past deadline; when your Keurig has just sputtered its last sad little breath; or when your editor is emailing, texting, AND Facebook messaging you, simultaneously, “DRAFT?!?!”
We’ve been there. We wish we could sugarcoat this for you, but we’re not in the business of selling fairy tales. Writer’s block is going to happen to you. We know it. Why? Because it happens to ALL writers at some time. It just does.
No matter how many novels you’ve written, how many times your name has been printed in bylines, or how many times your Mom has bragged to her Bunco group about your writing genius: writer’s block doesn’t discriminate.
10 Tips to Overcome Writer’s Block
Writing a book is an exercise in endurance. Any endurance athlete will tell you that the Charlie horse hits midway through a long race, and that the only thing you can do is try to work out the kink and push on. After a certain point, your muscles seize up. Your choice is to quit or figure out a way to finish. Well, guess what? Your brain is similar to a muscle in that it gets kinks, too, after it’s been working hard.
When you’re mentally prepared to power through, it’s amazing what the human body (*and mind!) can achieve. We promise your bout with the block will be easier than an Everest summit. See, don’t you feel better? Good, now here’s what to do to tackle the block beast and get back to pounding out pages.
1. Hit Some Herbal Refreshment.
Let us clarify, we don’t know what type of refreshment you enjoy and we’re not here to judge. That said, we’re talking about actual herbs. Science has shown that certain herbs promote creativity, mental acuity, and focus.
Peppermint can improve focus while lavender can promote calm and reduce anxiety. The scent of rosemary can improve mental acuity. Burning a candle, sipping an herbal tea, or chewing some peppermint candy can help keep the words flowing freely.
2. Evaluate Your Blood Sugar.
Despite what various creative sorts would have you believe, black coffee and Splenda are not their own food group. Any parent will tell you that their 5-year-old will melt down if it’s been awhile since their last meal. The same applies to writers.
When was the last time you had a snack? Or something to drink? Indulge your inner kindergartener and make time for some graham crackers.
3. How Pale Is Your Skin?
While we’re evaluating physicality, take a look at your arm. Would you describe the color as something that could get you cast as a Twilight extra? It might be time for Vitamin D. Step outside, bask in the sun, look at the trees, and smell the flowers. Raining outside? No worries: walking around inside boosts creativity just as much as walking outdoors.
4. Find Another Human.
When was the last time you had a conversation with someone other than your laptop or your geriatric tabby Sir Milo Kittypants? If you’re not sure, make some plans. Humans aren’t meant to hibernate and locking yourself in your office to write may stifle your brain. The simple act of talking to someone else can inspire creative thoughts.
5. Paint Your Pages.
Or draw them. Or scribble them. If you’re sick of writing, simply accessing another creative part of your brain can be the push you need to grasp those elusive words.
6. What Are You Wearing?
No, we didn’t mean it that way. Look down at your outfit. When was the last time you changed it? It is past noon and do you have on slippers? If so, it’s time to put on some real clothes.
In the immortal words of Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” He may have been talking about working from home when he wrote that. Don’t slip too far down the “comfy” scale at the expense of feeling good about yourself. Studies show that your attire can impact your positive mood.
7. Time for a Shower.
Something about standing mindlessly under a steam of water lets your mind flow. Try it. If nothing else, it gives you an excuse to get out of those pajamas.
The longer you sit, the less oxygen gets to your brain. Really. Stand up, stretch, walk around the block, take a yoga class. Surgeons have been known to do jumping jacks during marathon surgeries (hopefully not while holding the scalpel!) to increase their alertness. Whatever you can do to get your heart pumping can get your brain energized, too.
9. (After All) Tomorrow is Another Day.
If it was good enough for Scarlett O’Hara, it’s good enough for you. Sometimes you need to throw in the mental towel and start fresh the next day. The plantation’s not going anywhere.
10. Then Get Back to It.
Don’t quit. Whatever you do, don’t let writer’s block paralyze you and undermine all the hard work you’ve done thus far. Think of it as a part of the writing process, and know that you’ll eventually move past it.
Think of it this way: You know those people who climb Everest for fun? Well, nobody sold them a bill of goods that it would be like a frolic in the park with puppies. No, they were told they needed to train to ready themselves for sub-zero temps and life-threatening conditions.
The more mentally prepared you are to know that it’s going to happen, the more prepared you will be to face the challenge. Now go take shower, go for a walk, and talk to another human on your way to the store to buy some herbal tea and graham crackers. I promise you’ll be full of ideas by the time you get back to writing.
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If you’re here, you might be wondering how to be a writer for a living. When I see bestselling authors who have turned writing books into a full-time career, I have to stop and ask myself: “How did they do it?”
Stephen King has written over seventy bestsellers since the publication of Carrie in 1974. To this day he continues to write consistently.
James Patterson has sold more than 300 million books worldwide. He has been quoted as saying: “It’s pretty much seven days a week for me. You’re lucky if you find something you like to do and then it’s a miracle somebody will pay you to do it. That’s my situation. It’s not work for me. These are all stories that I’m really dying to tell.”
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, once jobless and with a dependent child, has sold over 430 million copies of her books.
What magic formula do these authors have? What super-talent have they been blessed with? What am I NOT doing now that I could be doing to turn my passion for writing into a real career?
How to Be a Writer
Now you might be thinking, “Well, good for them. But I just want to make enough money on my writing to earn a living, not 100 million bucks!”
But it’s not about how much money you can make at your writing. That might come later, but what really matters is this: practicing the habits and actions professional authors implement as part of their work life that leads to this kind of success. You don’t have to earn a fortune to be a professional writer; you just need to model what the pros do and the outcome will take care of itself.
There are a set of definitive traits pro authors have that make them masters of the trade. Good writing that sells is the result of these essential traits. For both indie and traditionally published authors, these 10 traits of professional authors are universal and a must-have for launching your author career.
Here are the top 10 traits of pro authors, and how you can adopt these traits to become a professional writer that gets books published, earns you an income, and creates a sustainable business you can grow and love.
Pro Author Trait #1: Develop a Daily Writing Habit
Pro writers have developed the writing habit. They write almost every day and have a word count goal for the day. Pro writers stick to a consistent writing schedule and put in the time to put pen to paper [or words into a Word doc]. This is one of the most critical traits. Without putting in your writing time, your book becomes a “someday” thing instead of an “it’s-happening-right-now” thing.
By nurturing the writing habit, you are creating content people will love to read and pay money for. You will exercise that writing muscle and churn out a great story, a memoir, or a book that offers solutions.
- What is my daily word count goal?
- How many words would I have to write every day to finish my next book by a chosen deadline?
- How many books could I finish in a year if I stick to a writing habit of 1500 words per day? [You might be surprised!]
Pro Author Trait #2: Approach Writing as a Business
A hobby is something you do when you have time; the business of writing and becoming a pro author is what you make time for every work day. Authors who approach writing as a business are far more likely to succeed than hobby authors who show up occasionally with little direction and lofty ideas. A professional author is, essentially, a creative business person.
As with any business, your author business needs a schedule, deadlines, goals, and a plan. Authors spend time planning the material they are creating, how they will deliver it and, most important, they deliver when that deadline approaches.
As with any job, you have to show up every day at the time designated or else you don’t get paid. Writers who make a living at their craft go to work every day with the mindset that this IS their business and not just a dreamy project that they are going to pick away at. One of the fatal flaws many “hobby authors” make is in thinking that the writing success will just happen if they keep plugging away haphazardly. Maybe it will, but most likely, it’s your approach to the writing craft as a business that will determine your level of success.
Of course there is nothing wrong with writing as a hobby! However, if you want to turn this into a real thing, start to think and plan as a business leader. Pro authors make a living at writing because they are intentional with their business goals.
- Am I a writing hobbyist or is this my future business?
- Do I have a business plan for my author business?
Pro Author Trait #3: Write Valuable Content People Want to Read
A pro author does one of two things: either tells a good story [fiction] or provides solutions to a problem [nonfiction]. A great author can even combine both for a more compelling read!
It isn’t enough just to be a good writer, but you have to write with intentional purpose and provide valuable content people want to read. If you write fiction, you craft page-turners with crisp plots leading to a compelling climax.
For nonfiction authors, your readers have a problem and they need you to solve it. Knowing your audience and writing for them is the best way to make your content valuable and in demand. You can master your craft by giving people what they desire most: entertainment, information, inspiration, or a book that promises to change their lives forever.
- Who am I writing for?
- Does my content provide a specific solution?
- Am I engaging my readers?
Pro Author Trait #4: Delegate Business Work to Other Professionals
There are so many tasks that a writer can do that have nothing to do with writing: editing, cover design, formatting, book promotions, and social media engagement. The list is endless. For pro authors, the crux of your daily activities should focused around product creation. This could be writing a book, blogging, or creating a course.
But the fact is, time is limited. If you try to do it all, you’ll get burned out and start watching television to escape.
As with any business, you need a tribe of people assigned to different parts of the business so that you have more time to do the work that only you can do: writing books. This means creating content readers love should be at the forefront of your business. Delegating everything else to freelancers will save you precious time and eliminate the stress of feeling like “I have to do it all.”
- Is there anything I’m doing that falls outside of content creation?
- If so, could the extra work be done by someone else?
- Could I find someone on Upwork or Fiverr to take care of it, or do I need to look elsewhere?
Identify where you can save yourself both time and stress by delegating the little stuff so you can spend more time doing what pro authors do best…write books!
Pro Author Trait #5: Become a Habitual Note Taker
Both fiction and nonfiction writers craft their books around the ideas they have day and night. And we never know when or where these ideas are going to strike.
Ideas are like rainbows; one minute they’re here and the next minute…poof, they’re gone! You need to be ready at all times to catch ideas as they come. If not, you’ll struggle to remember hours later what that “golden idea” was that passed through your mind.
Get into the habit of carrying a small notebook with you. When you go to sleep, keep your notebook within reach for ideas that come in the night, or as you doze in the morning. You can install idea-capturing apps on your devices such as Evernote, Simplenote, and Apple Notes. Make your idea capturing system easily accessible at all times.
- Am I prepared at all times for capturing ideas?
- How can I set up my system for note taking when I’m on the run? When I’m sleeping? When I’m at a party conversing with important people and suddenly get that idea I’ve been waiting for all year?
Pro Author Trait #6: Read with Purposeful Intent
Writers read! Yes, we love reading. It stimulates your imagination and paves the way for more ideas. You can read books in your genre or read something totally unrelated. When you’re not writing, set aside time to read your favorite book. If you are writing a series of books on sales, you could read books on that topic. It could give you more insight into your area of expertise.
Reading just fifteen minutes before bed enhances sleep patterns, reduces cortisol levels, and improves cognitive functions. So don’t find the time to read; make a conscious choice to create that reading habit, even if it is only for a few minutes.
- How much time can I read a day?
- What book can I start reading now that would improve my business or contribute to personal development?
Pro Author Trait #7: Retain Readers and Build a Loyal Fan Base
If you notice, almost all professional authors got that way because they focused on a particular brand or niche. Then they built a strong following of raving fans in that niche. Readers become fans and fans become regular customers who buy your other books.
The best way to create a loyal following is to write for your fans. Keep giving them more of what they crave by constantly creating content that offers value. When you write, know who you are writing for and create content they need.
By using an email marketing service such as MailChimp or AWeber, you can gather email addresses of your loyal fans and communicate with them regularly. Pro authors understand the absolute must of having an email list, and they build their author business entirely around it.
- Am I writing for a specific niche, or do I change topics often?
- What do my readers like about my work? If you aren’t sure yet, find out why people are reading your stuff.
- What email marketing service am I using to collect email addresses?
Pro Author Trait #8: Recognize the Importance of Rewriting
Every great author knows that the real writing isn’t in the first draft—the real work towards greatness begins during the self-editing phase. The first draft offers a framework for the book and the rewrite is the guts of the machine; it’s here that all the sweating and crying pays off.
Writing is 10% talent and 90% hard work. The pros spend about 20% of their efforts on the first draft and the rest goes towards rewriting, revising, pulling their hair out, and refining the manuscript until they get it to the point that it’s good enough to ship to the editor.
Many authors, even the pros, can get bogged down in editing. This is especially true when the perfectionist monster is on your back. But real pros know that an unfinished book is an unpublished book, and nobody reads a book that isn’t published.
In a very tiny nutshell, here’s how to be a writer:
Be a pro.
Revise your work.
Let a professional editor polish it.
Ship your product.
- Do I spend enough time on rewriting?
- Do I get bogged down in the editing phase and need to ship it to the editor?
Pro Author Trait #9: Ship Product Consistently Despite Their Fears
“Ship often. Ship lousy stuff, but ship. Ship constantly. Skip meetings. Often. Skip them with impunity. Ship…The paradox of our time is that the instincts that kept us safe in the day of the saber tooth tiger and General Motors are precisely the instincts that will turn us into road kill in a faster than fast internet-fueled era. The resistance is waiting. Fight it. Ship.”
James Patterson published 15 titles last year. Indie author Patrick King publishes a book every 4-5 weeks.
Pro authors are always putting out content and creating. But shipping raises fear in many people. Let’s face it, it’s scary to put stuff out there for everyone to judge and criticize. But if you want to become the professional you know you can be, you have to ship your product as often as you can.
- Am I stuck because I’m afraid of shipping my book?
- How can I get over the fear of putting my content out there?
Pro Author Trait #10: Become a Master of Rejection
If there is any one trait that a professional writer has it is this: the ability to keep pushing forward despite the critics, naysayers, and abundant forms of rejection. You’ve no doubt heard the stories of power authors like Rowling and Grisham, King and Margaret Mitchell. Getting rejected or having your draft torn apart by critics and reviewers can crush your confidence, but only if you let it.
The one trait that turns an average person into extraordinary is the ability of taking rejection and crushing through the barrier of being told “No.” The authors who make it develop grit. In psychology, grit is based on your passion for a particular long-term goal, alongside motivation to achieve your objective. In other words, you get what you want when you want it badly enough.
- How badly do I want to write this book?
- Am I passionate about the story or content I am crafting?
How Bad Do You Want It?
Success as an author rarely happens by accident. It’s a combination of strategic planning, your mental attitude, and perseverance. Whether you are struggling to write your first book, or you already have a thriving business based on writing, by sticking to the 10 traits of successful authors, you can take your writing career to an all new level.
Now you know how to be a writer. But are you going to do it? Imagine where you could be in six months from now once you implement these traits and make it happen.
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Coming up with book title ideas can be a tough exercise. Your book’s title is, after all, the first thing your readers will see when they discover you on Amazon. If all goes well, the name of your book is going to follow you around your whole life (and even after you’re gone!) So we totally get why you might agonize over it.
In your heart, you want your book’s title to be poetic, informative, memorable, and pleasing to the eye and ear. Plus, you have to be able to tell your grandma about it without blushing. That’s a tall order.
To spur the creative process, we’ve got some rules of thumb to consider. Since there are different title considerations for fiction versus non-fiction, we break these two topics down separately. Let’s get started.
How to Choose a Fiction Book Title
Rule of Thumb #1: You have more creative latitude when naming a fiction book.
The general school of thought with fiction titles is that you have more creative wiggle room than your non-fiction counterparts. While it’s true that you can title your fiction book literally anything, there are a few key guidelines to keep in mind.
A great fiction title evokes your story and genre. You hint at what’s in store for the reader in just a few choice words. Think along the lines of what your book is about when crafting the title to stay true to the content.
Ask Yourself: What’s your genre—romance, thriller, legal drama? What’s your story about—young love or solving a murder?
Real World Concrete Example: A romantic novel may warrant a lyrical title. Look at the modern hit The Fault in our Stars by John Greene. Even if you don’t know that the central plot of this tear-jerker revolves around young lovers stricken with cancer, the well-crafted title evokes longing and romance.
While a romantic book calls for dreamy language, an action book’s title warrants strong and powerful words. The Hunger Games is a prime example of this. In only three words, author Suzanne Collins conveys “BIG ACTION INSIDE!” to prospective readers.
Rule of Thumb #2: Pique your readers’ interest with the title.
A great fiction title teases and leaves your audience wanting more. Novel titles should intrigue the audience about what’s beyond the cover and capture their imagination so they must read your story. You want your audience to read your title and think, “I must read what’s behind that cover!”
Ask Yourself: What are the key components of your story? What do you want your audience to take away after reading your book? What’s the central theme?
Real World Concrete Example: A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball explores grief and trauma. You know what’s coming by the title, but at the same time, you don’t.
Rule of Thumb # 3: Look to your characters for title inspiration.
A great book title captures the spirit of the protagonist. Some authors simply use the hero’s name for the title. Others have combined the name of their hero with other special qualities to inform their audience about their protagonist’s accomplishments.
On the flip-side, a formidable antagonist is prime fodder for a choice book title. A sinister name can convey a sense of dread and expectation for what’s to come.
Ask Yourself: Who are your book’s heroes? Who are the villains? What traits define these characters? What journey do they embark on in your story?
Real World Concrete Example: Master of horror Stephen King uses his favorite villains in titles. Look at a few of his classic hits, all with scary C names: Carrie (scary child), Cujo (scary dog), or Christine (scary car).
Helen Fielding named her wildly popular chick-lit series Bridget Jones’ Diary after the title character, the lovably-bumbling Bridget Jones.
Rule of Thumb #4: Look to pop culture for inspiration.
Many writers have based parts of their books on the culture of the times. If this proves true for you, you may use this influence to help craft your title. Great book titles have been inspired by modern culture, including songs, movies, and other literature.
Ask Yourself: Were any parts of your book inspired by song or other modern influences?
Real World Concrete Example: Mystery author Mary Higgins Clark commonly titles her books using inspiration from popular singers, as in I’ve Got You Under My Skin (Frank Sinatra).
How to Choose a Non-Fiction Book Title
When choosing a title for your non-fiction book, it helps to keep in mind that non-fictions readers frequently need help with something—whether that’s help losing weight, becoming more effective in the business world, or connecting with someone else going through the same health crisis.
They want an answer to their question or a solution to their problem. A well-crafted non-fiction title shows that they’ve come to the right place. (Book title ideas for nonfiction authors below…)
Rule of Thumb #1: Tell non-fiction readers what the book can do for them in the title.
Make it clear what your reader will get out of reading your book. Some pros recommend making a clear promise directly in the title to lure readers in.
Ask Yourself: Am I teaching a skill (how to)? Am I sharing an experience (memoir)? What will my readers get out of this book?
Real World Concrete Example: The following titles clearly explain what help, skill, or knowledge readers will get from each book:
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 and Gene Stone
Super Shred: The Big Results Diet: 4 Weeks, 20 Pounds, Lose It Faster! by Ian K. Smith
Rule of Thumb #2: Use a subtitle for clarity.
A great non-fiction title often employs a subtitle to clarify what readers are going to get out of the book. A clear subtitle is like a directional sign pointing the reader to the desired outcome of reading their book.
Ask Yourself: What’s my goal in writing this book for my readers? What am I helping them with? What am I educating them about?
Real World Concrete Example: Each of these authors spell out what their readers can expect from reading their books right in the subtitle:
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
Rule of Thumb #3: Describe what’s going to happen.
If your book is more about a story, a transformational journey, a narrative, or a memoir, then your title can reflect what happens in your book.
Ask Yourself: What’s going to happen? What journey do I hope to take the reader on while they read?
Real World Concrete Example: Consider Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love. You know from the title that you’re going to go on a culinary, spiritual, and romantic journey along with the author.
Rule of Thumb #4: Non-fiction titles shouldn’t be dry.
It’s OK to have some fun with your titles. This is especially true in the non-fiction category of personal essay or memoir.
Ask Yourself: How can I have some fun with my material?
Real World Concrete Example: Essayist and memoir humor writer David Sedaris is the master of the entertaining non-fiction title. Consider both Me Talk Pretty One Day and Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. Both titles cause you to stop in your tracks, scratch your head, and pick up the books to satisfy your curiosity about the odd titles.
We hope our rules of thumb have sparked loads of book title ideas for you. Now you can stop agonizing about your book’s title, and start brainstorming!
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“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
If you’re thinking of publishing your first book, you might have some concerns about how much it really costs to get it published. So…how much does it cost to publish a book?
Since the explosion of digital books on Amazon and various other platforms like kobo, ibooks, and smashwords, wanna-be authors and pro authors alike can write, publish and promote their books for less than $1000. 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 breakdown the costs of the self-publishing process, and we’ll share some secrets to bring those costs down if you’re budget-conscious.
The Rise of Indie 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 so that we can all fly with our books.
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—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 Will it Cost to Self-Publish My 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:
- Cover: $5-$100.
- Editing: $200-$400 [depending on word count, and whether it’s a line edit or a developmental edit. This pricing is for a 25,000- to 30,000-word manuscript.]
- Formatting [ebook]: $20-$60
- Formatting [Print]: $35-$60
- Promo Sites [Book Launch]: $40-$500
- Audio Book [optional]: $300-$900
- Author Tools: Courses, blog, domain names
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.
How Much Does a Book Cover Design Cost?
Readers judge a book by its cover, so your cover will make or break your book right away. 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 good designer that’s going to deliver a cover that sells your book.
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 on it may hurt your sales in the long run.
How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?
A book should always be edited…by a real editor. Don’t try to cut corners here. Even if you’re a professional writer or editor yourself with thirty years of experience under your belt, you need to outsource it to someone else, and that means another professional editor.
Trust me: a book that contains typos will get bad reviews and sales will drop flat. Love your book. Spend 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 (15,000 words) edited for about $150-$250. This is for line editing. Ghost writing, developmental, or structural editing will run you much more than that, upwards of $2,000 or more depending on the length of your book (up to 100,000+ words) and the depth of edits you require.
When it comes to your book production costs, there can be no end to the costs you can rack up if you have the cash to invest.
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 ebook and print book for around $60-$200. Fiverr has some great formatters at reasonable prices.
How Much Does it Cost to Promote Your Book?
When it comes to spending cash on promo sites, you could empty your bank easily. It doesn’t have to come to this. Set a budget for yourself and go with the best of the best. I have recommendations below you can check out.
Budgets vary but I’ll spend $32 on the low end for Buckbooks and go as high as $1,000 if you add on a bundle of promo sites to launch your book.
Again, this is a major money suck if you’re not careful; you can throw thousands into it and get mediocre results. Choose your promo sites with caution and do your research.
For the best results on several paid launches I have used:
Robin Reads [$35]
ereader girl [$20]
Awesome Gang [$10]
Booksbutterfly [varied prices]
When it comes to paid promotions, you can spend as much as you want, but to get the best value for your dollar, do your research on the top sites that can generate a good return. Check out this detailed list of paid [and free] promo sites.
How Much Does it Cost to Record an Audio Book?
Creating an audio book can run you anywhere from $300 to $6,000 additional cost depending on the length of your book and who you hire to do it. Again, you’ll need to create a budget for this one to keep costs under control.
If you have a novel with multiple characters and want different people to read different roles, it can cost 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 audio book version yourself. Check out this blog post for setting up your recording studio and doing it yourself.
Additional Author Tools and Expenses
Author tools are a necessary part of your portfolio, and there are tools for every part of the publishing process. How many of these you decide to invest in is up to you.
Here are some of the basic tools of professional authors. This will add a price tag to your book, but many of these are just a one-time payment and then that’s it. Other tools will bill you monthly.
Book Publishing Courses
If you’re new to the game of self-publishing, take a course like Self-Publishing School or join our Mastermind community for everything you need to get started.
You could also look into taking multiple courses on Udemy. But again, you can spend a fortune on various courses. I would recommend sticking with one course until you complete it and then, after getting your first big win, look at branching out to learn other skills.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Web Site?
Building an author platform is a serious consideration if you’re looking to expand your business, write blogs, and promote your work.
You can sign up for hosting with servers such as bluehost or hostgator. The cost would be around $150 per year; 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. The cost will run you around $10-$15 a year.
Email Subscription Services
If you want to collect email addresses, you’ll need to sign up with 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: regarded by most as the premium site for email subscriptions. Cost per month: $19 up to 500 subscribers.
Convertkit.com: a new kid on the block, Convertkit has tons of value. Price is based on subscribers, but starts at $29 a month for your first 1000 subs.
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.
- After your book has been at regular price for a while, wait three months and then drop it to .99 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 catalogue 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.
3 Ways to Save Money on Your Book Costs
Self-publishing can be expensive if you let it. There is always something else to spend more money on and the more you spend, the less chance you have of making your money back. Here are a few hot tips to help you save on your book costs, both now and in the future.
Hot Tip #1: Save Money on Book Formatting [if you dare!]
Write your eBook with Scrivener. Not only is Scrivener the #1 author tool for writing and organizing your manuscript but, if used effectively, it can save you money in formatting costs.
Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer.com also offers a bundle of Book Design Templates for both fiction and nonfiction. These templates are at a cost 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.
Hot 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 shoots 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.
Hot Tip #3: 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 for 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.
We are in a great era of self-publishing. Anyone can turn their dream into a reality within just a few months, a bit of cash, and a great idea!
Are you ready to make a difference?
Sign up for our free video training for authors below!
Carving out the time to write a book requires planning, persistence, and at times, a lot of caffeine. Even with all the right elements in place, making time for writing is a major undertaking, especially when your days are filled with commitments to work, family, and social activities.
So, you have a dream to write that book, but you’re locked into a schedule that’s keeping you from pursuing your dream. I know the routine: Get up, work all day, come home and make dinner, and look after the kids (or unwind in front of the TV) and then you fall into bed, exhausted, before you have to do it all again the next day. When the weekend comes, you just want to kick back, take it easy, and put the week behind you. Then Monday comes around and the rat race starts all over again. Soon you can hear yourself making excuses for all the reasons why you didn’t write:
“I was so busy this week I just didn’t have time…”
“I’ll do it next week when I’m more organized…”
“I’ll start writing when I’m feeling more motivated…”
“I’ll get to it once I quit my day job and have more time…”
But as you know by now, there’s never a perfect time. We’re always busy with something. And if we don’t take action when we can, the excuses will keep coming until we run out of time forever. Don’t let your dream die. I’m going to help you get your book done.
Time for Writing: 8 Steps to Becoming a Weekend Writing Warrior
By becoming a weekend writing warrior, you can get it done. I know because I’ve done it. In this post I’ll share with you my 8 step strategy for writing a book on the weekends even if your week is crazy busy.
1. Start With Intentional Planning
When it comes to getting your writing done, strategy is everything. Without a plan, you drift; and when you drift, you end up back where you started, wasting more time while procrastinating. The key to writing a book on your weekends is to get plan out how you will use your writing time. If you know ahead of time what you’ll be focusing on, where you’ll be writing and for how long, when it comes time to start writing, you’ll show up ready for keyboard action.
Our intentional planning model should consist of:
- Researching topics, articles, and interviews
- Chapter mind mapping
- Crafting an outline
A good craftsman always shows up to create with his best tools. As writers, we need to spend time preparing to write before showing up at the keyboard. You want to do any necessary research outside of your writing time, not during it. Stopping just to check that “one thing” breaks your writing flow (and often sends you off into the wilds of the internet, never to return).
During my writing sessions, if I get stuck and need to check on something, I’ll make a note in the paragraph like CBL [Come Back Later].
You can set up your chapters as well by doing brief mind maps for each. If you have crafted your book’s outline already, this should be easy. Take a few minutes each day during the week to do a quick outline for each chapter. You don’t have to write anything until the weekend, but at the very least, make some notes about what you’re going to write when the weekend comes so you’re prepared.
2. Setting Up Your Writing Space
Your writing environment has a huge influence on how your writing sessions flow. Will you write in a coffee shop? A quiet room? Under the stairs? Locked in a closet with just your laptop and a light bulb? Wherever you choose to write, it should be at least comfortable and a place you can stay focused for long periods of time.
My environment consists of my computer, motivational quotes, and mind maps for my books. Decorating your writing space adds to inspiration, but also serves as a reminder: This is where you write. Make it a place that you can enjoy creating in. But does it have to be just the one place? Of course not.
You can change writing locations and have two or three designated spots. I would recommend having a primary spot you write in consistently, but have another place set up that you can get to just in case you need to change locations. Try out several places and see what works best. Take note of how you feel working in your creative element.
Is it comfortable? Are you comfortable? Is it an energetic spot or, do you feel irritated and restless? Do you work better in a place that’s quiet [private room] or super noisy [Starbucks]?
On days when I spend all day writing, I’ll break it up into two different locales: one is my writing room, and the other is a coffee shop. If the noise is a problem, I’ll wear headphones and tune out everything with some mellow writing music.
3. Show Up With Your Mind Map and Book Outline
I have shown up many times to write only to realize I had no plan for what I was writing. This leads to procrastination and then I look for something else to occupy my time. Know what you are going to write by planning beforehand. Developing your mind map or a book outline is the surest way to start cutting into the pages.
Before you become a weekend writer, you’ll need your mind map and outline. If you start writing without having done these important steps first, you’ll eventually end up stuck. Make sure you have your book fully mind mapped and a general working book outline.
Use your outline as a checklist to get your words down on paper with purpose. Each of your writing block sessions should have a clear purpose as to what you are going to write.
4. Eliminate Internet Distractions
One of the biggest obstacles writers face is being pulled out of their “writing zone” by message indicators, vibrations, and pop-ups. This includes notifications that “you’ve got email” or, better yet, someone that you don’t even know has just liked one of your comments on Facebook and you feel that need to check it out right away. My advice: unplug yourself from all things connected to the Internet.
Here is what you do:
Option 1: Unplug yourself completely from the internet. Turn off Wi-Fi or physically unplug your network cable. This is the best option to separate yourself from the internet during your writing time. This is the “zero tolerance” method that I use as my number one choice for getting things done.
Option 2: Use productivity apps to eliminate or cut down on time spent checking certain sites. Use an app such as RescueTime to block the sites that distract you by choosing the amount of time you need to focus.
RescueTime send you updates via email to let you know how much time was spent on certain websites. This is good to know, because the next time you catch yourself saying “I didn’t have time to write” but you spent three unproductive hours on a certain site, you can channel this time into your weekend writing schedule.
Two more apps I recommend are: Cold Turkey and SelfControl [for Mac]. Both apps are designed to reduce or eliminate wasted time, and this means higher focus and more time targeted for writing words fast.
In a nutshell: Sit Down. Unplug. Focus. Write.
5. Establishing a Writing Schedule & Time Slots
When time is limited, it’s important to be strategic in how you use it. In the previous step, we took action by cutting off our interaction with the Internet during our writing time. The next thing we want to do is decide:
- How long are your writing sessions going to be? 25 minutes? 40 minutes? One hour?
- How many writing sessions are you doing today?
For example, I’ll do three one-hour sessions in a day. I’ll write for one hour, take a ten minute break, repeat. During the break, get up and move around, stretch or grab some coffee.
How to Set Up Your Writing Session
One option is to use the Pomodoro Technique. Self-published author Steve Scott, who has written close to 70 books, utilized the Pomodoro Technique to structure his writing time. Set your timer for 25 minutes and write. Take a five minute break, and repeat. This system works really well and is great for getting focused and writing in short bursts.
If you want to go longer, set your timer for sixty minutes. I use the timer on my iPhone. Set it for the time you are committed to writing and GO. You should focus only on your writing during this period. No research, editing, or breaking the writing flow, unless there’s a house fire. Just write.
Set a goal for yourself to crank out one thousand words in an hour. These are longer stretches and can be tough for some people so if you are struggling, start with the Pomodoro System and ease your way into doing longer sessions.
6. Set Your Word Count Target
Many people get overwhelmed when they think about writing a book. But if you write 3000 words a day on the weekends, you can be done with the first draft of your book in a month. If you plan ahead and set your writing goal at a pace of 800-1200 words per hour, you’ll be done in thirty hours of writing time. This might seem like a lot but think about it:
How much time do you spend watching TV in a week? How much time do you spend at the office? How much time do you spend checking email or on social media?
It can be done, and you can do this!
Set a daily word count target for yourself. Be strategic about this and take a rough guess how long your book is going to be. If I know I’m planning to write a 25,000-word novella, if I crank out 6000 words per weekend, I can complete a draft in a month. If your book is shorter or longer, you can adjust to fit your target deadline.
You can easily track your word count in Scrivener. You can also use a Google spreadsheet or a simple Excel spreadsheet. By tracking your progress, you have a clear indication of how close you’re getting to your goal. It’s also highly motivating to know you’re making progress.
7. Reward Yourself
There’s a famous proverb that says: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I have no idea who Jack was, but I do know that if you spend your entire weekend writing, you’re going to need some R&R at the end of it.
This is a critical stage. If you spend week after week putting in time at work and then working more on the weekend, even if it is a passion project like writing your novel, you’ll get burned out and feel less inspired when the next weekend comes around.
You deserve a break. Do something for yourself. Go to a movie. Take your friends out to dinner. Get away from the manuscript. I usually end the weekend by engaging in some fun activities such as:
- Watching a movie
- Spending time with the kids
- Taking a long walk or running
- Taking a long drive and thinking about future goals and what I accomplished this weekend
- Meditating or working out
8. Plan Your Next Writing Weekend
There’s one more stage after you have wrapped things up at the end of your writing weekend. This is an important step. Before you pack it up, take ten minutes to draft a quick action plan for the week. This consists of the book research, chapter outlining, and anything else you need to do outside of the writing process.
I do this step Sunday night before bed. Then, when the week starts I know exactly what work on to set myself up for success the following weekend.
The alternative to this is to spend five minutes each night writing down what you’ll do the next day. Do you need to outline your next chapter? Tighten up your overall book outline? Reach out to any online influencers about your next book release?
This step is part of the intentional planning phase that will keep you focused. So even while you are busy in the week with your other commitments, having a short list to refer to makes your mission clear.
The weekend is nearly here again. Are you ready? Don’t make excuses—get your book written. You can do this. If you follow the 8-step plan, three months from now you can be celebrating the publication of your next book.
The next time someone asks you the question: “How do you find the time to write?” You can now tell them: “Oh, it’s easy. I write books on the weekends.”
Ready to become a bestselling author? Sign up for our free video course below!
“Pencils down.” It’s a phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of students. What if we didn’t write enough? What if all the answers are wrong? Too bad, you’re stuck with your final essay. It’s done and you can’t go back. There’s something about the finality of closing the door on any cerebral project that’s tough. We don’t want to miss anything—whether that’s a key piece of information or a witty quote. When it comes to writing books, we get it—ending your research and starting your draft is daunting.
It’s possible to go on researching forever, really. But then you’ll never publish your book! Virtually all non-fiction work and most fiction works will require at least some research to complete a final draft.
Writing a Book: How to Research
How do you research quickly and efficiently, yet thoroughly—so you have that sense of completeness so you can start writing your book? We’re going to give you nine killer research tips so you can publish your book and share your message with your readers.
1. When in Doubt, Stop!
Listen to your inner voice. If you think you might be done researching, you probably are.
Research is innately time-consuming. You waste precious time clicking away, looking for that one “perfect” piece of research. You have finite time, energy, and motivation. If you find yourself drained (rather than inspired) by the amount of research you’ve done, you’re probably done.
Done is better than perfect. Time to write.
If that sounds blasé, then please keep reading. We don’t want you to do a bad job—but we do want you to finish writing your book. Here’s how to research effectively—and fast:
2. “Backload” Research
This a concept which may strike you as controversial: Write first, research second. “That’s odd,” you may be thinking.
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 until after your rough draft is finished.
3. “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!
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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Hired Guns
There’s no shame in outsourcing your research needs. For the most cost-effective resource, consider an intern. 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.
8. 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.
9. Finish Your Draft
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. With our tips, you now know how to manage your research and get to work on writing.
If this is your first time writing and self-publishing a book, then working with a book editor may be novel ground. (Pun intended. Hardy-har-har.) Let’s get one thing out of the way: we encourage all self-published authors to hire a book editor. Nothing will tank a book faster than a whole bunch of reviews complaining about typos.
A good book editor can help turn your book from a ‘ho-hum’ draft into a polished manuscript. So give your book the best chance of success that you can, and get a pro to get your manuscript into tiptop shape before publication.
A lot of first-time authors make the mistake of editing their book to death, never progressing far enough to finish their book and getting to the publishing phase. Others think they can toss a messy draft at an editor and expect them to fix everything. There’s a happy medium between making your draft good enough for an editor—and trusting when it’s time for your editor to step in and take over.
With that in mind, in this article, we help you navigate the process of getting your book edited—both by you and your editor—so you can get published faster. Here are seven tips for getting your book through the editing phase:
1. Edit Quickly
If you make the mistake of editing extensively, especially while you’re still actively writing, you potentially set yourself up for a major headache, which can delay publishing your book.
Look at the example of Scott Allan. Before he joined Self-Publishing School, he spent two years working on a voluminous self-help tome. His first draft clocked in at an impressive 90,000 words. He spent months perfecting each word. In the blink of an eye, six more months had elapsed, and he had not only sucked himself into the drain of editing, he hadn’t written anything new since he became stuck in self-edit mode.
For one year, he wrote (and rewrote!) the book three times. Why, you might wonder? In his words, “I suppose I didn’t know any better, first of all. That was before I learned the expression ‘Done is better than perfect.’ I was under the impression that it wasn’t done until it was perfect.”
Months later, he found an expensive editor to take on his book, but the author couldn’t stop tweaking the material. Tweaking lead to rewriting…and the book which had been so carefully drafted, then rewritten, then tweaked, never saw the light of day. The book was never actually published.
Allan says, “Painful lesson learned: Unpublished books don’t make money!”
Eventually, the author went on to write Pathways to Mastery and publish it on Amazon. Using the lessons learned during his first failed self-publishing attempt, the author spent just eight months writing and only two months editing this time.
Since writing Pathways to Mastery, Allan has gone on to write and publish three more books, with a significant reduction in writing and editing time for each successive book. His latest book was in the editing phase for only three weeks.
Key Takeaway: An unpublished draft won’t earn any money or build your author name. Keep it simple: Draft first, then edit quickly.
2. Accept Imperfections
Letting go of perfectionism is one of the hardest things to do. It sounds doable in theory, but in practice? It’s a challenge.
Many writers strive for perfection—the perfect grammar, spelling, and choice of words. Especially when the story we’re putting out there is our first book, or about an intensely personal topic, it ups the ante significantly. We’ve been there, and we get it.
Here’s what you need to remember: Nothing in life is perfect. No person, book, nor writer. You can spend forever and your book still won’t be 100% “perfect.” The editing phase can be rough because of the personal investment and attachment we have to our books.
Key Takeaway: Instead of striving for the mythical unicorn of book perfection, strive for a reality-based “as good as this book can be.”
3. Do a Quick First Revision
Before you give your book to your editor, you want to do a read-through to catch any glaring errors. Say this with me: rip off the Band-Aid. Make your first revision fast.
Here’s the best way to make that change of phase from writing to editing: when you’re done with your first draft, circle back and do a quick-and-dirty first revision. This involves a rapid read of the book, just to get a feel of what you’ve written.
Brace yourself. This phase might just be the most painful part of the editorial process. This is because it’s the first time you’re looking at your book with a critical eye and reviewing the results of your first draft.
You need to make sure your book makes sense and that it doesn’t miss any words that would confuse a reader to the point that they don’t understand what you’re trying to say. This will reduce the back-and-forth hand-offs between you and your editor and will shorten to overall editing phase.
If you notice any major problems, like plot holes or missing information, make a note of them but save these bigger edits for the next round of revisions.
Your mental game needs to be strong here. You’re going to think, “I really suck. I hate writing, I hate my book, and I’d rather watch Netflix than ever look at this crap again.” The Buddha once said: “All things must pass.” Namaste, my friend. You’ll get through this phase and eventually love yourself (and your writing!) again.
Key Takeaway: Give your book the chance it deserves. Right now, it’s just you alone with your book. Make this first revision quick.
4. Read Your First Pass Out Loud
During your first pass, it’s necessary to read your book out loud to yourself. Your ear processes words in a way that your eyes may not so this gives you sense of pacing, chapter structure, and tone.
While you’re reading out loud, try to read through the eyes of a reader. Imagine what your ideal reader looks like and how they’d feel reading this. Visualize their experience with your book.
During this read-through, don’t stop to make large corrections. Just use a red pen or highlighter to take notes of the obvious mistakes. Simply mark or circle these errors to come back to later.
Put yourself on the clock when you do this. Time yourself for ten-twenty minutes per chapter and keep reading the whole draft through to completion.
Key Takeaway: Reading out loud during your first pass can help with tone and pacing. Do this quickly, with a timer.
5. Delve Deeper With a Second Pass
Your next step is to go back to the beginning of the book and do a second pass. Your second revision should delve deeper.
As you read, stay alert to passages that have “holes” or sections of the book which need to be filled out more. Think of the analogy of building a home: First the frame goes up, then you build the walls. Keep adding to your book until your story and message is clear.
Some of us have a tendency to change our voice from one paragraph to the next. Tone shift is something that a strong editor will pick up on, but to the extent you can make things consistent, you should.
As this point, your book should be more polished. Your book still isn’t perfect (remember we cautioned against perfect!) but at this stage, you should have a working manuscript which should be close to publishable.
Key Takeaway: Your second pass should fill in the gaps in your story or chapters, and keep tone consistent.
6. Hand Over the Reins to an Editor
One of the hardest parts of the editorial relationship is handing over your passion project to a complete stranger.
You may be thinking, “What? I’m giving it to a complete stranger who doesn’t know me—and doesn’t understand the blood, sweat, and tears that went into this—just so they can mark it up and tell me about all the things I did wrong?!” There’s a reason the editor-writer relationship can feel fraught. It’s because while your book is deeply personal to you, whereas for the editor, it’s just another day at the office.
Your editor’s job is to care about the flow of the book, the grammar, spelling, and in some cases, content. They will take your draft and elevate it to a readable manuscript. Try not to take it personally or push back at their criticism.
Your editor will shape your draft into a “good” book to publish. Notice the deliberate choice of words—we didn’t say perfect! A “good” book is enjoyable, useful, readable and publishable.
Key Takeaway: Don’t take your editor’s constructive criticism personally. You have the same end goal: a good book!
7. Impersonate a Certain Disney Princess
Time to just Let it Go.
Send your draft off to your editor and celebrate. Put up your feet and queue up your Netflix binge. You’ve certainly earned it!
By the time you’re done with your own revisions and have added and subtracted material, your editorial return time shouldn’t take more than a week—or two, max.
Key Takeaway: Just get your draft into the hands of your editor! Let them worry now. You’ve done the heavy lifting.
It’s easy to get bogged down in perfection, and it’s tempting to hold on tightly to your work. It can be a natural reaction to pouring your heart and soul into your dreams. But the quicker you can move your first draft through to the editing phase, the sooner you’ll achieve your dream of a published book.
The book writing process is like having a baby—exhilarating, draining, and life-changing…and exhausting and painful. But when a new author gazes upon their book cover with awe and wonder, we realize the marathon of “labor” that it took to write and publish a book was worth it.
And, then, defying all logic—many new moms AND authors—decide to have another baby or write another book! The joyful, miserable, uncertain process of creating your book will be arduous, but it will ultimately be worth it. The human race wouldn’t be thriving today if we couldn’t do things that seem impossible at the outset.
We’re here to tell you to power on, warrior. All authors have walked in your shoes. If you can fight through the peaks and valleys of writing your first book, you’ll emerge better, stronger…changed.
The 6 Stages of the Book Writing Process
Whether you’re at those first hopeful moments before the struggle gets real, whether you’re down there in the trenches of a book project, or if you’re standing high on “Mount Published Author” gazing down at the peons who are slipping in the mud beneath you on their way to the top, this post is for you.
If you’ve never written a book before or you’re deep into the slog of your first book, we’re going to walk you through the phases of what to expect so you’re better emotionally prepared for your book-writing journey—from the highs, lows, and plateaus. And if you’ve already written and published your book, well, then go ahead and chuckle along.
Read on for pro tips on how to emerge from the valleys and hit that summit.
Stage 1: Inspiration and Motivation
So, you’ve decided to write a book. This is a momentous occasion, and you want the world to know! You shoot off a pithy email to everyone you can think of—your mom, your best friend, your landscaper, etc. You update your Facebook “WRITING. WOO HOO!” and your LinkedIn “Future Pulitzer prize winner.”
Your inner monologue is telling you:
“I’m so inspired, I can’t wait to write this book and show the world my genius!”
You hop onto Amazon and order twenty printer cartridges, a new lumbar support pillow for your desk chair, and trendy yoga pants (for the ladies) or gym shorts (for the guys): they can go from home office to the gym—score! You contemplate a jacket with patches on the elbows, a pipe and a fresh bottle of whiskey, but decide you have enough vices already.
You take a look at your writer’s nook and decide to Feng Shui the heck out of it to ensure you’re channeling all the chi you can. You could probably paint an accent wall in a weekend, right? You Google whether “Palm Beach Platinum” or “Firehouse Red” is the best paint color to inspire creativity, then you go shopping for house plants and blocks of wood with clever sayings painted on them.
Home again. It’s getting dark. TIME! TO! WRITE!
You flip open your laptop or you uncap your pen, and so it begins. You’re going to CRUSH it. You were BORN to write a book! You wonder why it has taken you so long to decide to become a best-selling author.
Stage 2: From Inspiration to Perspiration
Your inspirational high has dipped into a low hum of fear. This is much harder than you anticipated. You had a million-and-one ideas before you started writing and now you can’t seem to come up with a single viable thought.
The first chapter seems impossible to finish. You know that your first sentence is vitally important. If your readers hate what you have to say, they won’t keep reading.
You’ve written thousands of sentences in your life. Thousands! In fact, you write sentences every day. Terrific sentences. Your 3rd grade teacher gave you a gold star based on your sentences. You rock at sentences. If “sentence creation” were an Olympic Event, you’d definitely medal.
Your inner monologue begins to taunt you:
“What have I done? I’m never going to finish this! Why is it so hard to come up with words that—when strung together to form a sentence—actually mean something?”
So why can’t you think of a single sentence now that it actually matters? You type some words. They look wrong and boring, and the grammar’s questionable—did you completely forget the English language overnight? You regret telling everyone about your upcoming book with such bravado.
You delete and type. Type and delete. Your brain is frozen but your fingers are starting to hurt from typing and deleting. You give up deleting and type frantically. This is a mess.
Here’s what to do now:
Start Small. One page a day, or just a paragraph—just get something down. Each day, every day, put some words on paper. The more words you add to your draft, the more momentum will keep you moving forward. Remind yourself that an entire book is just an aggregate of single words. You can do this, one word at a time.
Write as Fast as You Can. The quicker you write, the less time you spend questioning yourself and self-editing. At this point, your goal is high daily word counts.
Schedule Writing Time. Now that the initial rush of book writing has worn off, set up a schedule to hold yourself accountable. Calendar hard deadlines for yourself each week. Honor these deadlines. Have a set time to work on your book and stick to that. Set your writing time as a DO NOT RESCHEDULE appointment.
Set Yourself up for Success. If writing is your side gig rather than your full-time job, then it’s easier to push it low on your personal priority list. We all have competing demands pulling us in every direction. Let your family or roommates know that writing time is sacred: your door will be closed, and this is your time. No email, no calls, no interruptions—just writing.
A Space of Your Own. Set up a unique location to write. If you have your own office space, great! If not, carve out a nook at the kitchen table or pick out a soft chair at your favorite coffee house.
Stage 3: The Uphill Slog
Following our tips, you’ve finished your first chapter and you’re trying to slog through the next couple chapters. It’s hard to make progress because you keep reading what you wrote and editing them to death.
This is at least fifty times harder than you thought it would be. Why didn’t anyone stop you when you gloated about how you were planning to write a book? Your mom, your cousin, your landscaper? Does no one in your life care about your sanity and well-being?
Your inner monologue tells you:
“This is terrible. I’m in pain. Someone please save me from myself.”
But you keep going. Because you have to. You push on, and soon you’re knee-deep in your third chapter. Here’s what to do now:
Keep going. Do not put your draft in a drawer and ignore it. You’ve built up momentum and it would derail you to stop now.
Reach Out. Choose someone to call who you know will give you positive feedback and some uplifting words. Call your mom, best friend, or cousin for support. (Please leave your landscaper alone.) Share your struggle and ask for encouragement. As with completing a long race, your cheering section can help you push through.
Mix it up. There’s nobody checking boxes to make sure you’re writing in succession! If you’re stuck on a scene or chapter, move to the end and write the final chapter. Or move to the middle—pick any section that’s more appealing than the one you’re stuck on.
Research. When you’re writing, you can use “TK” as a placeholder to come back to fill in research later. When you simply can’t write anymore, go back in your draft and fill in those spots.
Make a Friend. Now that you’ve made some real progress, now may be the time to join a mastermind community so you can get all the information and support you need to finish your book.
Broadcast Your Success. You’ve written three chapters! That’s three more chapters than you’d written a few weeks ago—congrats! Broadcast this. Tweet or Facebook, “Three chapters down!” Your friends will cheer for you, and you’ll get fans excited to read your book.
Stage 4: You Hit the Wall (for real)
Finally, you’ve at the halfway point of your draft. You’re wondering why your inner sadist decided to persuade you to write a book. You wonder if there’s some childhood issue you’ve repressed which makes you court pain and suffering, because nobody would do this voluntarily.
Your inner monologue whines:
“I will never complete writing this book. The finish line is too far away. I don’t have what it takes. I’ll never make it. I’m out of juice…I want to give up.”
Your brain hurts. Your fingers hurt. Your back hurts because Amazon never showed with the darn lumbar support pillow. You want to throw in the towel. The end goal seems impossible.
Here’s what to do:
DON’T GIVE UP! Read that ten more times. You’ve made it halfway through. You’re wrapped up half a book—which is far more than most people have written. If you’ve done the first half, you can certainly tackle the second half.
Write Badly. Give yourself permission to write badly. Your goal now is a finished draft. Get it done, write badly—just write, period—and keep moving forward.
Visualize the Finish Line. Elite athletes are taught to visualize the finish line to power through. If it works for them, it should work for you. Visualize what you want out of your book and how good it will feel to finish. Think back to your WHY.
Change Your Scenery. Now’s the time when a change in scenery can provide a much-needed mental shift. Road-trip, even if it’s just for a day. Go write in the city, the beach or, if funds are limited, the food court at the mall. Somewhere new can spark new ideas and give you a creative boost.
Follow Your Outline. If you’re really struggling, there’s a good chance your outline isn’t quite right. Take some time to relook at it and make sure it’s helping your process, rather than hindering. Check to make sure your book is evolving correctly and either stick to your outline, or change it.
Or Completely Abandon it. You may be surprised that as you write, your book ideas have completely deviated from your original outline. That’s fine—you’re not wedded to your outline. Go with the (new) flow and embrace your changed trajectory.
Reward Yourself. Psych 101 teaches that all animals respond to rewards. Guess what, humans are just evolved animals! We love our treats as much as Fido does. Treat yourself to a meal with a friend, a new pair of shoes, or that movie in 3-D. You’ve earned something special.
Start Promoting Your Book. Today. Today? But I’m not finished! If you haven’t already started the self-promo ball rolling, now is the time to reach out and schedule talks, appearances, podcasts, guest blogging, and interviews. You’ll have external pressure to finish.
Stage 5: Finished First Draft: “Hey, Not so Bad!”
You’ve finished your first draft. Your rough draft is called a rough draft for a reason. It’s bumpy, craggy, and full of holes. It’s the dirty lump of coal you pull out of the mine, not quite the diamond-in-the-rough you were hoping for as you read through it for the first time.
Your inner monologue:
“This is garbage. No one’s gonna want to read this! Wait…this passage here is pretty cool. I like what I did with that. Hey, this chapter is working great! Hmm. Ok, maybe I can make something out of this. It’s not that bad.”
Here’s what to do now:
Celebrate. A finished draft is cause to pop the bubbly! Many people set out to write a book and NEVER complete a draft. You have, and you should be proud.
Take a break. A mental break. Get outside, reach out to friends, or plan a night out. You’re been working hard and a break can help you reset for the next phase.
Silence Your Inner Critic. It’s not garbage—it’s a draft! You’ll work to make it marketable. Silence the inner voices that tell you to hide this draft and never let it see the light of day.
Read Your Draft Aloud to Edit. Reading it to yourself can help you hear pacing, gaps, and words that sound off.
Find Another Critic. Be it an editor, beta readers, or your writing group. A second set of eyes can help give you a clearer perspective.
Start Editing ASAP. That’s right, once you’ve finished your draft, celebrated, and reset with a short break, immediately dive into the editing process. Letting it sit for too long can break your mindset and momentum.
Remind Yourself Again: “WHY?” What’s your original reason for writing this book? Was it a passion project? To make money? Remind yourself that the sooner you wrap up editing, the sooner you can accomplish your WHY. An unfinished draft isn’t raising awareness for brain cancer, or adding dollars to your bank account.
Stage 6: On Top of the World
You’ve reached your goal — a finished manuscript! The sun is shining, you hear angels singing, and all is right in your world.
You’re high on success. Your accomplishment feels amazing. You feel like a rock star in the concert of your life. You set a goal, you accomplished it, and you deserve accolades. Pat yourself on the back for setting this goal, and actually achieving it. You should revel in this moment and soak it in.
Your inner monologue: <cue Rocky theme song>
“I AM ON TOP THE WORLD! This is the MOST amazing feeling! I can’t imagine ever feeling this rush again. This is going to be a bestseller, and then they’ll turn it into a movie! I! Can! Accomplish! ANYTHING…DEAR GOD, NOW I HAVE TO MARKET THIS THING?”
Here’s what to do now:
Get Your Book Out There. Time to publish your book on Amazon. You need to get it front of your soon-to-be-loyal fans ASAP. Don’t drag your feet! Release your words out into the world.
Set Goals. What are your next steps? Appearances, speeches, a book release party? Time to make some concrete plans to promote your book.
Write Another Book. You’re a writer, aren’t you? So start your next book!
Now that you’re a pro author, you know the tricks. Hey, that wasn’t so bad, was it? There’s always more to learn, so check out our free video training for authors, below.