When thinking about your publishing options, there are two main avenues to take into consideration: self-publishing and traditional publishing.
We’ll go into more detail in each individual section below, but just know this is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to decide on if you want to be an author.
The short overview is this:
Self-publishing gives you all creative control, is faster to publish, gives you full royalties, with more upfront investments
Traditional publishing takes a lot longer, no upfront investments, but you make a small fraction of royalties per book
We actually compiled a ton of data on self-publishing versus traditional publishing you can find in this free download here:
Publishing Options: Choosing the Best Type for YOU
Not everyone will be a good fit for all of these publishing options. You have to think about your goals as an author, what you want to make financially, and where you see yourself in the long-term—as well as how many books you want to publish and how frequently.
All of these are important to consider when making your decision, but we want to give you all the information so that decision is easier.
#1 – Self-Publishing
If self-publishing isn’t on your radar, you’re severely missing out on a huge opportunity. We truly believe this is the best publishing avenue for the large majority of people.
This is why Self-Publishing School started in the first place. Chandler Bolt (the founder and CEO) started this company because he had such a massive success with his first bestselling book.
Now, that being said, there are things to think about when it comes to self-publishing.
So what is self-publishing?
Self-publishing is when you have complete ownership and control of your book and its rights, and you can publish on any medium that allows for it (including Amazon publishing, Barnes & Noble, Nook, and more).
Difficulty to publish:
It’s very easy to self-publish a book. In fact, pretty much anyone with access to Amazon’s publishing platform can do it.
But that doesn’t mean everyone should, nor should you publish a book that’s not ready (or not of high quality), which is why we have our programs in the first place.
Timeframe to publish:
Our students publish in as little as 90 days with our process for going from blank page (yes, nothing written!) to a fully published book. You can take longer to publish, and many students in our Fundamentals of Fiction program often do take longer since fiction can be more extensive.
This is the best part! You have 100% of the creative control over everything from your book’s content to its title, cover, everything. Especially the rights to your book!
This is all on you—just like it is with traditional publishing, which you’ll learn more about down below. Thankfully, there are a ton of resources online to learn how to market a book, as well as our Sell More Books program to increase your book sales.
When publishing through Amazon, your royalty rate will be anywhere from 35% – 70% depending on your book’s retail price. SelfPublishing.com has a fantastic book royalties calculator right here that you can check out for a comparison as well.
Cost to publish:
Self-publishing has a higher upfront investment and cost to publish. These can range anywhere from $300 – $1200+ for high-quality editing, book cover design, and more.
But do keep in mind, you make a lot more in royalties back straight away.
Book production (cover design, editing, etc.):
This is all on you. From the cover design to the book editing (yes you have to get it edited if you want it to do well) all the way to the inside formatting is up to you.
Thankfully, there are resources to help you do all of this right, and we cover this entire process in our programs for our students, as we’ve seen this is one of the most difficult parts of self-publishing.
Questions to ask if you think self-publishing is right for you:
Do you need 100% creative control?
Do you have the ability to invest upfront for a higher royalty rate later?
Can you effectively market your book (even with help)?
Do you want to write and publish multiple books quickly?
If you answered yes to the above, self-publishing is likely your best option, and you can learn more about how to do that with our free training. Just click the image below!
#2 – Traditional Publishing
Traditional publishing is what we grew up learning was “publishing”: You get an agent through querying your book, that agent pitches your story to publishers, they choose to buy your book from you, and it gets published a while later!
Let’s look at some details about this traditional publishing option.
Difficulty to publish:
Very high. The traditional publishing industry is really hard to get into. It’s not impossible, but it often takes writers years just to land an agent. And then they have to wait until their manuscript is bought, which isn’t guaranteed.
Many will say traditional produces “better” books or you’re a “better” writer if you publish traditionally, but that’s not true. All this proves is that you have a book idea that’s “hot” and “trending” in the market: remember, publishing houses are after one thing and that’s book sales. If it’ll sell, they’ll purchase it, which means unless it’s a trending topic or book idea, you likely won’t get a book deal.
Timeframe to publish:
If we start the timeline to publish after your agent sells your manuscript, meaning a publishing house has purchased your book rights, it can still take up to 2 years for your book to actually publish.
And this doesn’t take into consideration the time spent trying to get an agent and the time it takes your agent to sell your book. You’re looking at a 2-4 year time period unless you get very lucky or have traditional publishing connections.
You don’t really have much creative control with this publishing option.
Ultimately, the publisher buys your book rights for the idea, but this is subject to change based on what your editor sees as selling the most.
Unfortunately, this can be everything from the main characters, the title, the ending, and even major plot points. The upside is that publishers do know what sells, so this could give your book a better chance of “taking off.”
Just know that you’ll have to make sacrifices with creative control through traditional publishing.
This is on you! Unless you’re a “big name,” (and even then) you do the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing your book.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the traditinoal publishing industry. Many want to go with this publishing option because they think the publishing house will market their book, and they do, but only to a certain extent.
The bulk of the marketing is up to you, and this is increasingly more evident as book agents continue to ask about your author platform size as a decision criterion for representing you or not.
Many traditionally published authors can expect to make 10% – 12% and (very rarely) up to 15% royalties on their books. As you can see, this is significantly lower than self-publishing due to the publisher taking a big cut to pay for the editing, cover design, and everything that goes into it, as well as your agent taking a cut.
You do get an “advance” if you sign a book deal. This is a large sum of money, usually under $15,000 for new authors, that you have to make back in book sales before you actually get a royalty check.
Many traditionally published authors never see a royalty check because their books never sell more than their advance’s worth after publication.
Cost to publish:
Time. This is the real true cost of the traditional publishing option. If anyone tries to get you to pay them, this is not traditional publishing and is likely a hybrid or a vanity publisher (for the latter, RUN!).
Book production (cover design, editing, etc.):
This is all done in-house at the publisher. They have a cover made, editing completed, formatting finished, as well as book distribution—meaning getting your book in bookstores across the nation.
You can learn more about the main differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing by watching the video below:
Here are some questions to ask if you want to go with this publishing option:
Will you be okay with altering your story, characters, and plot?
Do you want to publish less frequently, at a book every one or two years?
Do you want to relinquish ownership over the cover design and more?
Will you be okay with a smaller royalty rate for your book?
Are you willing to spend a year or more querying just to find an agent?
If you answered yes to all of those, this avenue might be for you!
#3 – Hybrid Publisher
If you’re not sold on either self-publishing or traditional publishing, there is another option called hybrid publishing.
Hybrid publishing is just as it sounds: a combination of both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Most often a hybrid publisher will have specific criteria for authors they work with and will have the distribution opportunities self-publishing doesn’t (like nation-wide bookstores).
One distinguishing factor here: the author usually has to make some sort of investment in order to publish through them.
Difficulty to publish:
This depends entirely on the publisher’s rules and regulations for new authors. Most don’t just take anyone in off the street, which means it is more difficult than self-publishing, though usually not as much so as traditional.
Timeframe to publish:
This is another differentiating factor. Hybrid publishers vary so greatly that most of these will depend on the specific publishing house. However, you can expect an elongated path to publishing here as well.
Since the publisher in this case usually deals with the book cover, title, and such, your creative control is at more risk here. However, most of these publishing houses are more likely to work with you to come to an agreement whereas traditional publishing houses don’t give you much of a choice.
Again, as with any publishing option, marketing responsibilities fall to you, the author. Though because this is a hybrid publisher, you’ll have more exposure due to their distribution capabilities (which is a note to make sure this is included if you choose this option).
Since this also varies, all we have is an approximation range: you can expect roughly 40% – 60% in royalty rates depending on the deal you make. This is definitely higher than traditionally published authors make, but you’ll make less than self-publishing simply because the publisher will still get a cut.
Cost to publish:
Guess what, this one depends as well! Different hybrid publishers work on different models, which means their revenue will be earned differently. That said, some authors pay a large sum to work with hybrid publishers, as well as give up a chunk of their royalties.
Book production (cover design, editing, etc.):
This usually goes through the hybrid publisher, and the process is much like that of traditional publishing. This means you don’t have to worry about any of this and that you also don’t get to change or alter any of this.
#4 – Vanity Publisher
We wanted to include this in the options because it is an option you’ll see out there. However, it is not an option to consider.
It’s here so you can know what to look for when a vanity publisher is involved in order to AVOID one. We do not recommend this option.
In other words: you may see people who look like hybrid publishers but are not. Do not work with them!
So what type of publisher is Self-Publishing School?
None! We’re not a publishing option, we’re an online education school that teaches you how to successfully self-publish a book so you can save time, money, (and tears), while earning a steady income from your books.
Chandler Bolt, six-time self-published bestselling author and creator of Self-Publishing School has hit new milestones with his business… including teaching 8-year-old Emma Sumner how to write and publish her first book.
Self-publishing at any age is a major accomplishment. Especially when you have to balance your responsibilities as an author with homework from your 3rd-grade teacher. This is why Emma Sumner is gaining media attention for The Fairies of Waterfall Island, a 10,000-word, 120-page book that is available on Amazon.
So how did this young girl go from no book idea to published without an agent or publishing company? She followed Chandler Bolt’s Self-Publishing School course and took action on these steps to ensure her book would be successful.
Here are the nine steps an 8-year-old took to publish a book as a kid:
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 be something she would be passionate. So I started by giving her a challenge.
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
She came back 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!
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.
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 characters based off your 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. These planning sessions would often happen at a local coffeeshop. 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.
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 of 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.
#4 Create Accountability [Or as Chandler Bolt calls it: Find an “Accountabilibuddy”]
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 week’s goals she could spend 20 minutes commenting back to the people in her group.
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 than 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.
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 Professional Outsourcers
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.
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.
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
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. 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 book.
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.
Starting about 2 weeks prior to launch, we began sending emails to everyone who had signed up, letting them know what to expect. One 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
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.
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.
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.
By following Chandler Bolt’s Self-Publishing School and taking action on the challenges I gave her each week, Emma was able to successful write and publish her first book with flying colors. If an 8-year-old can do it, you can too.
Learning how to create an online course is becoming more and more relevant as time goes on, and the coronavirus pandemic has proven just how valuable that is.
While we here at Self-Publishing School hopped on this trend much earlier than the pandemic by creating our Course Building for Authors program, we thought it would also be helpful to break down some tips for creating an online course for all of you.
While we obviously can’t give away all of the secrets for how our students of that program are launching their courses to $10,000+, we can give you a step-by-step rundown of how to create one for yourself.
How to Develop an Online Course With NO Content Yet
If you have nothing and are starting from scratch, you’ll likely be a little more behind than others.
This blog post will help you but most of the time, having some sort of blog or a published book will make creating an online course much easier, faster, and overall better.
Our Course Building for Authors students often either come to us with a book published or another asset they’d like to turn into a higher revenue-generating business.
This gives them a solid base of content to turn into a course outline, an email list generated through a lead magnet inside their book, or a popular blog or other content asset they’ve been making for a while.
That said, if you truly don’t have any content, you can still learn how to create an online course! You’ll just have to understand that it may take a little longer to generate a solid outline.
Online Course Platforms to Use
While we’ll get into more of this specific step later (and how our students save 50% off a high-rated online course platform’s annual pricing), I wanted to drop a few options for you when it comes to where your course will live.
It’s important to have a reliable, trustworthy, and customer-service centered course platform in order to ensure your customers’ needs are met.
Here are some of the top online course platforms to consider:
There are plenty of more out there, but those are the best from our research.
How to Create an Online Course Step-by-Step
So you have your idea, you know you want to use a course to create a passive income revenue source, and you’re ready to go!
Let’s get into how to create an online course that does well and sets you up for success when you launch in order to build your online business.
#1 – Make a plan
You could just put some content together and run with it, but we’ve found this is why most people fail with their online courses. They have the desire but don’t plan appropriately.
You should be aware of what you need, the expenses involved, and how you’ll make a return on that investment (ROI).
Do you have a platform with people asking for a course?
Do you have a platform to sell to? (We teach you how to do it without one in our program!)
These are just a few of the items you want to plan for while thinking about creating an online course.
From there, you should build an action-plan to tackle some of these prior to launching your course (though you can start developing the outline and content before).
#2 – Know what you want the course OUTCOME to be
Most people don’t think about what success looks like for their customers before they develop the course. This is a huge area of importance we cover in-depth in our Course Building for Authors program, mostly because it sets you up for the long-term.
The more of your customers who find success, the more likely they are to refer, give you a high rating, and ultimately grow your business.
After all, the course is about them. Not you or what you’ve made. It’s about their struggles and how you’re solving that problem for them.
So ask yourself: what will the outcome be? What will be changed from starting the course to finishing? What will they have when they’re done?
You can use our program promise as an example: Turn your book into an online course and get your first 10 sales.
The result of this program is that our students will walk away with a complete course based on their book, and a guaranteed first 10 sales (because we also cover how to SELL your course).
If they don’t receive that, then we have some serious making up to do.
This also gives us a clear line of sight into what success means, which allows us to track this in order to make sure our students are getting what they paid for.
#3 – Get feedback about your idea
This is most helpful if you have an actual platform to go to. One of our Course Building for Authors students had a bit of a large Facebook group, and she was able to use that to ask them exactly what they wanted.
While we don’t necessarily advise people to make a course only to give people what they want, you should absolutely make sure that what you are covering is needed.
If you create a course on how to create a solid morning routine when what your audience really needs is a method of getting their tasks done throughout the whole day, it won’t perform as well.
Ask your friends and family, search forums, take to social media and research the need for what you want to create. If there’s a great need and little help, that’s the idea to go for.
#4 – Decide if you want guidance creating your course
You’ve already read all about how we help people build online courses with our program. But this is where you should decide if you want that help, or if you want to risk the odds alone.
You can check out that program page linked all over this post, and you can also research other methods of creating an online course.
All I can really advise you on is this: if you want to succeed, to make money from your course, and create a course that truly makes a difference, getting guidance from someone experienced will make a difference.
Imagine yourself without any help, trying to navigate this by Google search…and then imagine if you had a program walk you through step-by-step how to make it, with 1-on-1 coaching for specific questions, as well as a large exclusive community to support you.
You can absoutely have success without going to a coach or program to teach you this. However, it’ll likely take a lot longer and you’ll have to put forth much more work.
As a company that’s gone from $0 – $16 Million in 5 years from online courses, we know a thing or two…or ten 🙂
And we’re teaching you our exact methods, our sales tactics, and more.
If you have a book, this step is likely a lot easier, though there are some major differences between a book’s content and a course’s content.
That being said, creating an outline is super important. Think of each line item in this outline as a module for your course.
Having a clear plan with your destination (what you’ve determined “success” to be for your course) will help you create a better course, faster.
And in the age of time being the most valuable resource, this is really important.
Here are the steps for outlining your course:
Create “modules” for each section that differentiates from the one before it
Then go through and list 2-5 topics for each module
Then go deeper and indicate the biggest “takeaway” for those unique topics as well as for each module
Don’t forget to make a section for proof, examples of someone or yourself accomplishing what you’re asking them to do
Review your outline to determine if it needs anything else in order for people to succeed in your course promise
#6 – Develop the entire course content
Now’s the time to dig deep and make your content!
There are a few options you can use to put the course together:
We here at Self-Publishing School recommend have all three available. But first, start with the written content (unless you’re more of a speaker, in which case record, then transcribe).
The reason for having several different types is because people learn in all sorts of ways.
By giving them choices, you create a better user experience and will be more likely to have people succeed and then leave positive reviews, boosting your course sales (not to mention the testimonials you can use for marketing).
Remember to be clear with your instructions, use metaphors to make it easier, and use examples from your own life. People love authenticity. Be real about what you did and how it worked in order to get them to take action.
#9 – Launch to a BETA group
Before you go live, you should always launch your course to a beta group at a lower offer price than you plan to go public with. This is super important for setting your course up for success later on.
It can be hard for those of you without a platform, but even offering a discounted price and letting people know it’s for a testing phase can help you get conversions through your website.
This stage is really vital for understanding what people are actually getting out of your course. Much like with writing a book, you can’t always tell what’s working and what’s not because you created it.
Have others go through, let them tell you what’s confusing, what didn’t work, and what was even hardest for them.
This gives you a list of “fixes” you can make before launching publicly that will give your new customers the most success.
#10 – Make any adjustments from the beta group
This is pretty self-explanatory, but make those changes! Don’t just ignore the feedback you get.
While you don’t need to change everything, especially if only one person had an issue and others didn’t, you do want to make sure you’re adjusting things that several people spoke up about.
Make your course the best it can be for your customers, and remember you can always make tweaks and updates later on as well.
#11 – Launch & Sell!
Now’s the time! We know these are a lot of steps, but they’re necessary to build a course that will perform well and bring you and your customers success.
That being said, selling it all on you. Whether you’re selling straight from a landing page or you’re getting on sales calls, the important thing is to focus on their need and how your course helps them solve it.
In our course building program, we actually have an entire section on selling and how to do it without feeling “salesy,” with our own blueprint for what we do here at Self-Publishing School.
If the Coronavirus pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that online course platforms and e-learning definitely has a bigger place in our future.
Panicked with what to do without school or work, a staggering amount of people have taken to the internet to educate themselves, their kids, as well as simply pass the time.
With that comes the need for online course platforms that performreliably.
Since Self-Publishing School is an online education company featuring several programs all hosted with an online course platform, we’ve got some tips for you!
And if you’re new to online course creation and are looking to get your foot in the door of this online learning growth, you’ll need a reliable course platform.
While we cover this process of choosing a course platform and even creating a course in its entirety in our Course Building for Authors program, we also wanted to provide you with a list of the best online course platforms for you to decide for yourself.
Online course platforms are softwares and other technical programs used to host an online course you’ve created, including videos, photos, quizzes, and more.
Instead of learning how to code or hiring someone to code on your website in order to encompass everything you want for your online course, you can use one of these course platforms.
They usually have features of hosting, brand customization, email integrations, and more convenient features you can easily hit a button and use.
Online course platforms take a lot of the technical work out of creating and launching your course.
Questions to Ask to Choose the Best Online Course Platform for You
Knowing your goals, your own technical capabilities, as well as what you need in terms of features will go a long way in helping you decide which online course platforms will work for you.
Here are some questions to help you understand what you need in a course platform:
What’s your budget for a course platform?
What’s your current tech use level?
What special features do you want your course platform to have (email integration, quizzes, etc.)?
How much do you want to be automated?
Do you need video, images, text, and other formatting features?
What email provider will you be using (needed for special integrations)?
Do you need an all-in-one payment and course platform?
What type of customer support do you need (quantity, do you employ someone already, etc.)?
Do you need your course platform to save user data and results?
For this blog post, you’ll see some boxes at the bottom of each course platform indicating the price, overall rating by users, as well as a “tech level” needed to use, on a scale of 1 – 5: five being “a lot of tech knowledge needed,” meaning coding, and extensive web development knowledge and one being so easy a chimp could do it.
So if you struggle with tech a little bit, look for a software with a lower score in that department.
How to Create an Online Course Platform
We have all of these steps covered, along with how to actually sell your course in our Course Building for Authors program, but we’ll give you the main steps here.
This is how to create an online course platform:
Decide on your course topic
Outline the content in full
Decide on what “success” looks like for your course
Choose a course platform that best fits your needs
Create the course content (quality is key!)
Upload materials to the course platform of your choosing
Make sure all integrations are set up and working flawlessly
Price your course to sell (& generate revenue)
Sell your course!
There are obviously many steps involved with creating a course, it’s why we have an entire program about it. However, the above steps can get you there if you know what you’re doing and what you want.
The Best Online Course Platforms
Let’s get to the good stuff!
Below you’ll find 11 of the best course platforms in 2020. These will have several categories covered along with a summary box at the end in order to help you choose with course software is best for you.
#1 – Teachable
This is the course platform we use here at Self-Publishing School, and have for years. We rate Teachable higher than others because it’s been really easy to use, is highly customizable, and you can even host it on your own website with certain plans.
Teachable, like other course platforms, has a few different plan options you can choose from based on your own needs, business size, and more.
Below you’ll find a screenshot of their pricing tiers.
Their tiers are based on different needs and sizes. If your business is just you, the Basic plan will likely fulfill the needs you have. But if you’re looking to grow your business or expect a large launch, the Professional plan is usually the way to go.
The Business plan is going to be best for larger buisnesses looking to switch to Teachable or those who have a very large platform launching a course.
Also note: there is a FREE plan with Teachable, but it’s very, very limited. For example, you can only. have 10 students with a free plan and an unlimited amount with all other plans.
So if you do want to try Teachable before paying, you can start with the free plan!
— Special Features
There are almost too many features to count with Teachable. You can check out a full list of features here, but we’ll touch on some of what we believe are the best ones.a
Here are some of Teachables best features:
Highly customizable, from landing pages to in-course branding
Coupons / promotions
Great integrations (we’ll cover below)
Web hosting capabilities for your own domain
— Tech level needed
You don’t have to know a whole lot about tech or we development to create and launch a course with Teachable. They make it super easy to upload and edit content.
We’ll say you’d need about a 2/5 tech level in order to use this course platform.
— User Rating / Reviews
We love Teachable here at Self-Publishing School, which we’ve already mentioned.
Overall, teachable has a relatively high rating with a couple issues regarding cancellation, but they do seem receptive to this feedback and even replied in once case above.
— Customer Support
We’ve personally found it really easy to work with Teachable’s customer support team. Tickets are usually handled with a couple of days, which is saying something for a company of their size.
However, others in some reviews state having difficulty with support, so this may be an area that’s not as consistent as some would like.
In addition to tickets and support from an actual person, they do have a large knowledge base with really easy-to-follow articles.
Our suggestion would be to first search Teachable’s knowledge base before sending a customized help ticket. This can cut down on your own time, as well as theirs, which only increases ticket response for more urgent matters.
— Ease of Starting
We love Teachable for how easy they make it to start. It’s why we recommend this platform to our students.
Here are the steps from sign-up to creation:
Visit their site and click “create a course”
Make your account with name, email, and password
Confirm. your course’s name
Answer a few questions about you and your business
Access your dashboard and start!
It’s really that simple, and that few steps. So long as you can create your course content, you’re good to upload in minutes.
Teachable has really great integrations! We’ve found the better the course platform, the more integrations they likely have due to their size, which makes it easier for them to create partnerships between companies.
Here are some of their featured integrations:
Teachable Course Platform Overalls
PRICE: Free – $249 per month
USER RATING: ★★★★☆
TECH LEVEL: ⬤⬤◯◯◯
#2 – Kajabi
If you’re familiar with Jenna Kutcher or other big name business owners, you’ve probably heard of Kajabi promoted by them. It’s one of the most popular course platforms, rivaling Teachable and even ThinkiFic.
In terms of overall pricing comparison, Kajabi does run more expensive than Teachable for their Basic, Growth, and Pro plans.
However, Kajabi also markets themselves as an “all in one business platform” and not just a platform for courses.
Below you can see the pricing breakdown with what’s included, with the Growth plan being the most popular at $159 per month (billed annually), which breaks down to $199 per month if you choose to submit monthly payments.
They do offer a free trial period so you can test it out!
— Special Features
While there isn’t a specific page dedicated to all Kajabi’s features, their home page does a good job of breaking some of them down. Remember, this has far more capabilities than just course building.
Here are the best features:
Course creation and hosting
Many integrations, including your website hosting (WordPress, Squarespace, etc.), Infusionsoft, WooCommerce, and more we’ll cover below
Because Kajabi is far more than just a course platform, the learning curve can be a bit steeper.
And that means you may benefit from being proficient in using tech and automations if you want to go with Kajabi. Remember, it does have its “Kajabi University,” which includes a ton of training for those of you who can learn quickly.
However, if you are rather tech challenged, this might not be the best option for you just yet.
Overall, we’d give this a 3.75 / 5 (rounded up to 4 in the overall score below) for tech knowledge needed to use and create.
— User Rating / Reviews
You can find a ton of great things said about Kajabi’s interface. However, we don’t just want the success stories posted on their homepage, so we did some digging for real user ratings and reviews, ranging from very happy to less than ecstatic.
Overall, ratings for Kajabi’s course platform do steer in the 4/5 star rating area, with a smaller number of users rating it less than 3-stars.
It seems that you really need to make sure you can handle the large interface and capabilities before going with Kajabi, like we said in the tech rating above.
— Customer Support
Some distaste for Kajabi comes from a lack of support, while others rave about how great their 24/7 support is.
One great thing to remember is the help center and articles and videos they already have that could answer your questions for you.
— Ease of Starting
The ease of starting for this course platform isn’t as seamless as it is for say, Teachable. But they do have more capabilities that you might want to set up before actually creating your course.
Getting signed up for an account is actually easy–all you need to enter is your name and email and you’ll have access to your account.
From there, you’ll have to choose integrations, get familiar with your portal, and watch some training videos to learn how it all works. It’s less straightforward than other course platforms.
This is really where Kajabi shines in terms of its integrations. It seems they can connect with most softwares your business may already be using.
Here are some of their integrations (you can also find listed here):
Kajabi Course Platform Overalls
PRICE: $119 – $319 per month
USER RATING: ★★★★☆
TECH LEVEL: ⬤⬤⬤⬤◯
#3 – LearnWorlds
LearnWorlds is a software specific to building online courses and monetizing them, specifically on your own website.
LearnWorlds offers very competitive pricing for what you get, plus an additional customized plan if your needs exceed their highest offering.
This is very convenient for those of you hoping to grow extensively and don’t want to have to switch to a larger platform (which can be a huge pain). You can see their overall pricing plans below.
They also have a free trial that’s 30-days long, which is double the time Kajabi gives you free, so you can really get a feel for the software before committing.
— Special Features
What I appreciated a ton about LearnWorld’s website is that they have a really thorough breakdown of each plan on their “Features” page, so you really understand what you get and which will work best for you.
Here’s a screenshot of what this looks like as well as another that’s what you get when you click “+ Expand All” button.
Overall, the pricing is very comprable with Teachable’s when it comes to what you get for the price. Having unlimited courses and students with their Starter tier is very convenient, with the loss of unlimited landing pages and you can’t use their hosting for a blog.
The Starter tier also only allows for 3 customizable pages (home, course cataglogue, and after login), which means if you want highly customizable options, you’ll want to go for their Pro Trainer or higher.
Another note: if you go with the Starter plan, you will have to pay a $5 fee per course sale. So doing some math to see if going with the Pro Trainer tier would end up saving you money is a good thing to consider.
— Tech level needed
Once you sign up, you’ll go to your dashboard, the typical view with the menu on the left of pages you can navigate to, as seen in the image below.
In full honestly, this looks more intimidating than it is. However, because it does look complicated and has a lot of moving parts, the tech level needed to create and navigate would be a bit higher.
If you can log in to something and figure out where stuff is, you’ll be just fine with LearnWorlds. Just know that is can be a little overwhelming at first.
— User Rating / Reviews
On this review site, LearnWorlds has an overall 4.9/5 star rating, which is really good for software like one for course building.
You can find more detailed user reviews as well, covering the most helpful features along with some pros and cons as well.
One thing of importance to note: I’m trying to find some lower rated reviews to share some of the other end of experiences, but am having a hard time finding them. This is good!
Most people rate LearnWorlds 4-5 stars.
— Customer Support
All but the Starter plan come with 24/7 support, the starter plan with 24 hour support 5 days a week.
However, the only tier that has phone support is the Corporate High Volumne, which is their customized plan for larger entities.
All the tiers do have a Help Center you can access, but the Starter plan does not have any onboardng help, whereas the other plans do, along with increased time as you move up the tiers.
— Ease of Starting
It’s pretty simple to create your course and get started on your free trial. All you really have to do is hit a button and you’ll enter your email, school name, as well as answer a few questions to help set a few things up.
From there, you can hit “finish” or “OK, take me to my school now” and be greeted with your dashboard, which you can hit “Courses” and “Create Course” to begin.
When you do the above, it’ll lead you to a pop-up questionairre to set your course up, which is really easy to navigate and it “plugs in” your answers where needed.
LearnWorlds is another larger course platform, meaning it has more integrations than the average, which you can see a full list of details for here.
Here are some of the listed integrations for LearnWorlds:
Google Tag Manager
They also have an area for businesses to connect with them to set up integrations, which may be why they have so many.
There’s also an option for getting an API for further integrations, which would require a bit more tech knowlege to get going.
LearnWorlds Course Platform Overalls
PRICE: $24 – $249+ per month
USER RATING: ★★★★☆
TECH LEVEL: ⬤⬤⬤◯◯
#4 – ThinkiFic
ThinkiFic is another top runner when it comes to the original course building platforms out there. You’ll find this one on most lists you end up researching due to its longer reputation.
Not only does ThinkiFic have a money-back guarantee, they also have a free version that allows up to 3 courses with quizzes and surveys, content hosting, as well as ulimited students.
Of the course platforms we’ve covered so far, this is the best unpaid offer for small creators.
They also have a 30 day money back guarantee if you do decide a paid version isn’t quite right for you.
The paid versions of ThinkiFic are a tad bit higher than other course platforms, but overall very good for what they offer, particularly getting Drip content and emails included in their Basic tier for $49 per month.
— Special Features
A feature many tech-challenged will love about ThinkiFic is their drag-and-drop building feature. It’s easier to design and edit than other types of course platforms.
What’s less great is that you can’t really view all of their features in a list format or comparatively very easily. Their “Features” page leads you to a landing-page style that goes through all the features without indicating which pricing tier it would be in.
However, if you navigate beneath the pricing table, you’ll see an option to view more comparisons, which is where they give you a thorough breakdown of what’s in each plan.
Overall, here are some of ThinkiFics key features:
Website builder (Basic plan and up only)
Drag-and-drop course creation
Video, PDF, and other content storage
Student progress tracking
Course packaging and payment options
Ability to host course on your own domain
— Tech level needed
ThinkiFic is a relateively user friendly course platforms, offering the ease of a drag-and-drop builder.
That said, we’d rate the tech level needed as a 2 out of 5. It’s easy to navigate, it’s clean and uncluttered, and most people with a working knowledge of the internet can likely maneauver it.
Below you can find a couple reviews from this site, one good and one with a couple issues highlighted you might want to think about.
— Customer Support
It’s a bit difficult to find how to gain support through ThinkiFic. If you go to the footer, you’ll find a “Support” column with a Help Center and other links, but nothing to contact them directly.
I had to search through their Help Center for “support ticket” in order to find this page that teaches you how to get help and how to contact the support team.
Overall, this could be improved with a button on your account dashboard to bring you directly to this page or others, as I can see this being difficult for some people who aren’t as tech knowledgable when it comes to searching for help and information.
— Ease of Starting
Getting started is just as easy as other course platforms, including a great questionairre to help tailor it a bit more.
Thankfully, the dashboard for ThinkiFic is far less overwhelming than that of LearnWorlds. It’s clean, clearly labeled, and also gives you a checklist for “onboarding” to learn the material better.
Thinkific Course Platform Overalls
PRICE: $0 – $499 per month
USER RATING: ★★★★☆
TECH LEVEL: ⬤⬤◯◯◯
#5 – LearnDash
LearnDash is probably the most unique of the 5 best course platforms we’ll cover. Instead of logging into an account on thier site, it’s a paid plugin you can use to add to your WordPress website and manage in the backend.
This gives you high customization and complete ownership of the hosting, meaning if another course platform’s servers go down, it will be down for your students whereas with LearnDash, the plugin is more likely to avoid server problems, so long as your own domain and hosting provider are in good shape.
However, this also comes with a steeper learning curve, meaning the more tech and web development knowledge you have, the better for this program.
Since LeardDash isn’t a subscription model, you pay full price for the plugin to use this software. This also means you pay for this yearly, it’s a recurring annual purchase, not just a one-time purchase.
If you want to break down these packages to monthly rates, they’d be:
Basic – $13.25 / month
Plus – $15.75 / month
Pro – $27.41 / month
Comparing these prices with the monthly rates of other course platforms, LearnDash is actually very affordable for what it offers.
Plus, they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’ll be able to purchase, download, upload to your site, and try it out within 30 days before choosing to keep it for good.
NOTE:Because this is a plugin, all course content will need to be hosted on your own domain, meaning you will likely pay more for storage through your hosting provider than you would with a course software that allows for free content hosting, like Thinkific. So while these price breakdowns are really affordable, there may be other expenses elsewhere to think about.
— Special Features
Because LearnDash is a WordPress plugin, it does have certain features that are unique to it.
This includes the fact that you can host it directly on your website or multisite (yes, it has multisite capabilities!).
There are so many great features with LearnDash, especially the forums, where students can congregate, discuss, and learn even more.
Most of the reviews listed boast about it’s customization and customer service. Others with lower ratings usually feel that way due to their tech challenges, which is just confirming that you should have more tech knowledge if you want to use this course platform seamlessly.
— Customer Support
LearnDash’s support isn’t quite up to the level of other online course platforms. However, it does have standard support, with their support conditions stating:
“Support is available from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays of the United States.”
Many reviews, however, praise the support and thoroughness of replies and feedback, which is good news! So while they don’t have 24/7 support, it sounds like their support thoroughly solves your problem quickly.
— Ease of Starting
This is where LearnDash does have some drawbacks, simply because it’s a WordPress plugin and requires a few steps to install and begin.
For a seasoned WordPress-er, they’re really simple steps:
Purchase the plugin
Download the plugin
Log in to your WordPress site (or create one if you don’t have one)
Go to your dashboard
Go to “Plugins” on the left sidebar
Click the “Add New” button at the top left
Click the “Upload Button” at the top left
Click “Choose File” and select the zip file of LearnDash OR just draft the zip file over the “Choose File” button
Click “Install Now”
Wait until it’s done and then click “Activate”
Your LearnDash section will be at the top left of your dashboard in those menu items
Navigate to “Overview”
Open the email you got when signing up, it should have your LearnDash license number
Copy and paste that where indicated on the “Overview” section of LearnDash
Your course platform should be goo to use now!
If you’re using a multisite through WordPress, make sure to first navigate to the site you want to use’s dashboard before uploading the plugin.
From there, it’s as easy as navigating to your specific area and adding course content. They also have helpful videos on how to use each section and how to proceed.
Because this is a WordPress plugin, that integration is the most important. However, there are other integrations for payments, emails, and more.
Here are some of LearnDash’s integrations:
Visual Composer (WordPress plugin for display/theme layout)
PRICE: $13.25 – $27.41 per month (annual payment options only)
USER RATING: ★★★★☆
TECH LEVEL: ⬤⬤⬤⬤◯
Which online course platform do you think you’re going with? If you want to save up to 50% off of a Teachable annual subscription, you can do so by becoming a student of our Course Building for Authors program.
When it comes to your career, your business, and even your author goals, learning how to become a speaker at events might be on your mind.
After all, thousands of people go to events to hear from authorities on topics they’re interested in learning more about. In order to place yourself as that authority, speaking at these events is important.
Over the past couple years, I’ve spoken at over 40 events on the topic of writing and publishing a book successfully.
This had brought in over 7-figures for my business, not to mention all the people who are now aware of me, what I do, and Self-Publishing School as a whole.
We recently launched a new product here called PR & Speaking for Authors on this very topic, with even more information. But in this post, I’m going to unveil our own process for becoming a speaker at events.
This might be a hard pill to swallow but the truth is that if you want to get paid to speak at events, you have to have experience, a message worth the price tag, and authority.
Usually, people pay to speak at events when they first start. Sometimes you pay to “sponsor” the event, which you then get to speak at.
Until you become someone who has a platform and can bring more people to the event. In most cases, being able to show extreme authority in your field can also benefit getting paid to speak at events.
And for authority, we always recommend at a minimum, publishing a book. Being a published author is like having an immediate “authority” stamp on your forehead.
Here are other ways you can get paid to speak at events:
Publish that book 😉
Grow your platform
Build a resumé of high-quality events you’ve spoken at
Network with people who can vouche for you
How to Become a Speaker at Events: Our Foolproof Methods
I’m basically handing you our playbook for booking stages and becoming a speaker at events. Most of this was formulated by my Head of Business Development, Pedro Mattos.
He’s been largely responsible for this process and booking speaking events that have generated over $1.5 Million in sales for our business.
You’ll see a couple different types of steps for becoming a speaker at stages. These are separated by “networked” steps as well as “cold”.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, networked steps involve getting speaking gigs from people you’ve met and connected you to the right people whereas cold research and outreach are the opposite, where you find the information and reach out without having any prior connection to the event or coordinator.
Both are really important, though networking will usually get you the most bang for your buck down the road. When you’re starting out, cold outreach will be your most lucrative, since you likely don’t know many people in the event business…yet 🙂
#1 – Finding events to speak at through networking
Say you’re in a position where you’ve been able to connect with people who are in the event business. By that, I mean they either work at events, throw them, or speak at them regularly.
These people can also be a past or current client, colleague, or strategic partner or someone’s event you’ve already spoken at.
Here are some people you can get in touch with in the “event business”:
associations you’re a part of
online groups or forums
experts you know
We recommend listing some names you can think of and putting those all in one place where you can track the progress of this before actually reaching out.
Organization is KEY for becoming a speaker at events. You’d be surprised how many opportunities can fall by the wayside without organized outreach and follow up, which we’ll cover.
For Self-Publishing School, we use Asana’s “Board” structure, as you can see below:
This way, it’s super organized. You know exactly who is in what stage so you know which steps you need to take next to become a speaker at their event.
You can also create something similar in a spreadsheet if you don’t want to use other software. Either way, make your list, label each step, and keep track!
#2 – Finding events via cold research
This is where the majority of you will likely fall if you’re just getting into the speaking world. You’ll do “cold” work when you don’t have any prior connections to people who work at the event, the event itself, or speakers.
Most of this requires good, old-fashioned online research, and we have a few tips for that.
This will take some work. It’s not an instant result. That said, it’s worth it and you’ll likely make some connections within your niche that allows for other opportunities as well.
Keep track of these events and contact information in a spreadsheet or task organization software like Asana.
#3 – Outreach for networked events
You should have two lists at this point, one for people you know/of and another for cold outreaches. Once you’ve got that research down, start with the people know you, since these are usually the best chances of becoming a speaker at events.
When getting in touch with these people, there are certain methods that work better than others.
Reach out via channels in this particular order until you get a response:
Text (ideally voice memo)
Direct mail via a hand-written letter
Here’s an example of a message Pedro sent out about an event.
We like to follow a specific formula for outreaches that we’ve figured out gets the most responses.
Here are a few things to remember for this:
Mention how you know them
Don’t ask for a referral, instead ask where they are going (and give a reason for your ask)!
BONUS: End by asking for their address and sending a gift
#4 – Cold outreach to speak at events
Your cold outreach will be a little different than messaging those you already know. While a little more of an uphill battle, there are a few ways you can put yourself ahead of others.
Knowing event planners main problems can help you craft your outreach to get attention.
Here are their 3 main problems:
They need to fill their event (aka sell tickets)
They need to provide amazing content that solves a problem for their audience
They need to cover their overhead / make revenue from the event through means other than ticket sales (sponsorship revenue, back-end sales revenue, etc)
With that stuff in mind, you need to at least mention and cover one of those needs in your first outreach, specifically how you can solve that problem.
Remember that with an initial outreach, you are not selling the event planner on having you on their stage. You’re selling them on getting on the phone with you for a 15-minute call.
Here are all of the components I would cover in the initial email:
Direct subject line that talks about the opportunity of you and them working together. Ex: Partnership Opportunity
In the first line two lines, explain who you are and why they should care (hit on one of the 3 pain points above)
In the next line, explain why you believe that would be a good fit for their stage, and what your ideal scenario would look like.
End with a CTA to book a short 15-minute call or an opened ended question asking if they have completely filled their speaking slots (this really works)
Add a PS. with a link to something that proves your credibility (if you have a book, this should always be linked in your signature to begin with)
#5 Following up with initial outreaches
Follow-ups are arguably even more important than anything else. If you don’t bake this into your system, you’ll lose out on a lot of opportunity.
Our philosophy is “the money is in the follow up”.
If you are not getting a response, it’s probably one of three reasons:
Your message is not relevant for them right now
You are not talking to the right person
You are not using the right medium (Facebook vs. email vs. text)
With that said, it is important to address all three of those points in your follow up – which means:
Reach out to different people in the organization and ask to be directed to the correct person
Change your ask, subject line, etc
Try multiple mediums until someone replies (but don’t annoy them, spread out your contacts over some time to give them a chance to look at your messages)
#6 – Navigating your first call with event coordinators
We’ll cover two things in this point: how to schedule your first call and how to execute it to book the event.
How to Schedule Your First Call
If and when someone replies to your initial outreach positively, you’ll want to get on an actual phone (or video chat) call with them as soon as you can to close the deal while you’re fresh in their mind.
Your initial outreach should have included something about hopping on a quick call to chat details (since that was the purpose of it). Now when they respond, try to make that call happen in the next 48 hours to increase your chances of booking the event.
From here, you’ll include a link to a calendar where they can book, or you’ll confirm the time and send out a detailed calendar invite.
You’ll see an example of a Google invite below:
What to do While on Your First Call
The goal of this call is to familiarize yourself with the meeting planners and get a better understanding of their goals, challenges, and really anything you could help solve.
The second purpose is to get some logistics around stages and offer a solution that includes you speaking at or “sponsoring” their event.
Here’s an “outline” of what you should be shooting for during this conversion:
Step 1 – Introduction and rapport
Ask where they’re from
Introduce everyone on the call and provide:
Context for who you are and what you’re doing
How what you do relates to them and their event
Step 2 – Give context and figure out their goals
“It’s so great to connect, and I really appreciate you taking the time to hop on this call. I know we don’t have a ton of time scheduled and I want to be respectful of yours, so to give you some context…”[give context around the call, sample below]
Provide them with some more details about your mission, passion, and overall purpose, as well as why you want to grow our event connections and speaking resumé
End this bit with: “So with that said, I’d love it if you could give a quick overview of the top projects / goals you’re working towards over the next few months, and we can see if there’s a way we can help.”
Step 3 – Let them know what you’re working on and why you’re building partnerships
Give an overview of a few projects we have in the works that lend themselves to partnership opportunities
Start off with a content sponsorship pitch “I think one easy win to start this relationship off is to start with a sponsorship. I’m sure you’re always looking for new sponsors, we’d love to see what would make sense”
Go with an assumptive / “this-is-a-no-brainer-and-the-obvious-next-step” tone and you’ll pretty much get a 100% conversion on this
Then ask them what it would look like to have you do a 45-60 minute presentation on your speech topic
Finally, if it’s a fit and they have a decent-sized list (10k+ for bigger platforms, smaller if you’re just starting out), pitch an affiliate webinar:
“Last thing that I think could be really cool for your audience and this relationship, is I’d love to do a live training around [your niche topic/speech]. We’ll set it all up, your audience gets access to some great content, and the best part to you is you get $x for any person you send to the training who becomes a student. Is that something we could get on the calendar in the next couple of months?”
The idea with these steps is to move through the conversation seamlessly and in a way that makes sense to them.
As with any professional call, don’t interrupt or ignore questions, etc. You want to have a cordial conversation that’s upbeat, fun, and makes them want to be around you, which will help with their decision to include you in their speaker lineup.
#7 – First call recap email
Yes, even your call needs a recap email. This helps to clear up any confusion and have a physical reference for both of you for what needs to happen next.
Ideally, this recap email should be sent to ALL relevant parties less than 3 hours after the call takes place.
It should recap EVERYTHING that was discussed, and specifically note dates, percentages (for discounts), specific next steps, and the names of people responsible for those steps.
If additional intros need to be made (content teams, for example), include everyone on the recap email, and indicate that the introductions will be made in a separate thread.
Be hyper-specific here. It might feel unnecessary or OCD. It almost certainly won’t come across that way.
Here’s an example of a solid recap email:
#8 – Confirming the event!
Now, don’t just go taking any event you can. It’s tempting but remember, you’re also vetting the event owners, their mission, and ensuring it aligns with what you’re doing.
BUT, if the event checks all of your boxes and meets all the requirements you set up for yourself, here’s what you’ll do next:
Email the meeting planner confirming that you will be attending the stage
Send an email to connecting anyone within your business (if there’s more than you) to the event planner
Add the event to your personal calendar so you don’t forget
Move this event over in your planning / tracking software or spreadsheet
Transfer all known information, contracts, etc into the task you have in order to have all the info in a single place.
That’s how you become a speaker at events! It seems complicated, but this process isn’t as simple as sending one email.
We’ve nailed down this process and our Head of Business Development swears by it. Let us know how it works for you!
When you make the decision to write and publish a book, for whatever your unique reason is, like growing your business, establishing authority, or just wanting to make an impact, having the right program to assist you makes all the difference.
You can do it all by yourself. But the level of success you have will mostly depend on the strategies you implement.
And if you’ve never done this before, you’d want to work with someone who has to get it right.
We’ll cover some of the best publishing educational programs over a few different fields and certain publishing software programs, along with what you should look for in one to make it worth your time, investment, and effort.
What’s the difference between a book publishing program and a publisher?
A book publisher will basically do everything but write the book for you…including taking the majority of your royalty earnings.
On the other hand, a book publishing program that’s education-based, meant to teach you how to do it, shows you the process and allows you to keep all of your royalties.
If you’re looking for a publishing program like a software that helps you take your book from a document to a published piece of work, that’s a whole other set of needs you can learn about below.
What’s the difference between a publishing course and a publishing program?
Some people use the term “course” and “program” interchangeably but they’re actually very different.
A book publishing course is often pre-made or pre-recorded that you can go through in your own time without the assistance of its creators or support.
A book publishing program, on the other hand, often has the course plus other materials or assistance, like our Become a Bestseller program that has 1-on-1 coaching along with group coaching calls, a community, and more.
So the main difference is the level of content and assistance you get with each. A book publishing program will likely be more interactive with support and interaction whereas a course will likely only be online content with nothing else, unless it’s an in-person course like at a college.
Book publishing program for education or a book publishing software program?
You may be in both camps or you may just be in one. Are you looking for a computer software to help you publish? We’ll cover that here!
But we’ll also go into some book publishing programs that are actually education-based where you’ll learn the entire process, start to finish.
Obviously you want to make sure you get what you need in order to publish a book successfully. But what we’ve learned through working with thousands of students is that most don’t exactly know what they should be looking for.
It’s one of those “you don’t know what you don’t know” situations, and we want to clear up a few things.
Here’s what you should look for in a book publishing program for education:
A community of some sort
Thorough, up-to-date content
Lifetime access to the information
NO royalties taken (if you self-publish, you should never sign over royalties to a company with a publishing program–those are YOURS)
Here’s what to look for in a book publishing program software:
Ease of use
Outlining capabilities (for the writing–a “nice to have”)
Up to 4 additional free coaching calls within the community weekly–including 1 per week with Chandler himself
Expert interviews by industry experts in the Mastermind Community
From blank page to published author, and everything in between
Over $1000 in exclusive Self-Publishing School author discounts for services like editing, cover design, and more!
While we may be biased since this is our program, we truly believe it’s the best, and we continuously upgrade and improve our programs in order to ensure this by keeping track of industry trends, Amazon’s updates, and listening to the needs of our authors.
Check out the image below for a sneak peek of a portion of our program (we don’t share these often!):
Our specialty here is 1-on-1 coaching as well as a Bestseller status guarantee on Amazon (in as little as 90 days if you follow the program!), which increases exposure, boosts your book in Amazon’s rankings, and helps you sell more!
If you’re searching for publishing options and programs, you’ll likely come across Balboa Press at some point.
This publishing program has several options, including “done for you” services that allow you to sit back and let someone else take care of the majority of the work, aside from the actual book topic and contents.
Below is a chart for their services along with price points.
This publishing program has services from hardcover publishing to copyright information, social media setup guides, and more depending on the package you choose to go with.
Outskirts Press has been around for a long time, another publishing company taking advantage of the self-publishing boom since 2002.
They offer a variety of services, including publishing, marketing, and book production assistance.
I had a hard time finding any prices for Outskirts Press and their website was a little hard to navigate, making me think I’d likely have to go through channels to get prices for what they offer, and even find everything they offer.
Below you’ll see a screenshot from their “All Publishing Packages” menu item in the “Publishing” dropdown menu item.
If you do some digging, you’ll be able to find the pricing for specific packages, ranging from marketing information to genre-specific “done for you” services, as you can see in the images below.
As you can see, it looks like pricing for their services ranges widely, from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on what you’re looking for.
On the other side of book publishing programs that are full of educational materials and “how-tos” are the software programs you can use to write, edit, format, and even upload to Amazon.
Let’s take a look at some of the best publishing programs out there.
#1 – Scrivener
If you’re starting to write a book but haven’t heard of Scrivener, I’d be surprised! This is one of the most popular writing softwares out there right now.
If you want to keep your writing highly organized, outline it effectively, and write directly inside the software, this is a great one for you.
We’ve got a video detailing a few of their features below:
#2 – Blurb
If you’re looking for more of a book formatting software, and not necessarily a writing one, BookWright by Blurb.
This publishing program boasts features like customizable templates, really high quality, and that it’s free! You can upload the content you need, add images, and formulate a layout that works for what you want.
If you head to their “Sell & Self-Publish” menu item, it’ll show you the various things you can do with this platform.
Check out the image below for a few ideas:
From what I could conjure, this service really does look free. Blurb doesn’t charge fees for using its platform for distribution. However, if you sell through the Blurb Bookstore, they’ll obviously take a cut of your royalties there, similarly to Amazon and other retailers.
Here’s another handy comparison chart on Blurb’s website that compares its services to other book publishing programs.
#3 – KDP Wizard
KDP Wizard is a publishing program that keeps all your KDP data, books, and information in a single place for you to keep track of it.
It saves data ranging from descriptions to reviews to categories, and more, all in one place.
You can see the pricing and plan options below:
While these are monthly subscriptions, you can actually get the entire thing for a lifetime for $699. So if you’re looking to be a career author, this might be an option worth considering.
#4 – Press Books
If you’re looking for a quick publishing program that allows you to upload, “click a few buttons,” and have a great looking book, Press Books allows for just that.
Here’s an image of their prices if you want the paid options:
As you can see, they’re pretty affordable and according to them, super easy to work with.
College Book Publishing Programs
There are more and more courses being developed at colleges for learning how to publish a book successfully. While you’re probably already aware of creative writing or journalism majors, book publishing programs are newer in terms of their content.
More and more, universities are including content surrounding self-publishing and the know-how surrounding this.
If you’re going to college or you want to and publishing is your focus, know that you can get the information you need with online programs, unless you want to end up at a traditional publishing house. In which case, it helps to have a degree in publishing.
Ultimately, the publishing program that’s best for you will meet your unique needs as an author or author-to-be.
The only reason you’d need to learn how to get a book deal is if you’re pursuing traditional publishing, which means not self-publishing.
Book deals are when a traditional publishing company offers you a contract selling your book to them under certain conditions, like an advance, a specific royalty rate, and other requirements and specifications.
Ultimately, it means you’re going to be a traditionally published author!
But it typically takes a long time to land a book deal and if you’re writing a nonfiction book, it’s even longer with fewer chances you’ll be able to publish. Either way, our hopes are to detail the process for you so you really understand everything that goes into traditional publishing…
Everything that you could avoid if you were to self-publish a book (but that’s a topic for this blog post).
Self-Publishing VS Traditional When it Comes to Book Deals
You only need a book deal if you’re traditionally publishing, so that’s what this blog post will follow. And while we self-publish books here at Self-Publishing School, we ensure to know and understand traditional publishing in order to better help our students (many of whom come to us after waiting years with no word on a book deal).
Here are the main differences between traditional and self-publishing:
What You Get
Sole control of your book's outcome
Sole control of your book's rights
Control over the story
Control over the cover
100% of royalties
How do book deals work?
A book deal works by a writer querying an agent for representation, that agent pitching the project to traditional publishers, and publishers buying the rights to that book from the author.
There are a few main components of getting a book deal we’ll go over in this post:
Creating a book worth buying
Querying an agent for representation
Your agent pitching your book to publishing companies
The publishers either accepting or denying the proposal
This is a very simplified explanation, which we’ll explain in much further detail below.
How long does it take to get a book deal?
It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to get a book deal, so it varies greatly. Because of the long process and subjectivity within the traditional publishing industry, there are many hands your proposal must “pass through” before you can get a book deal.
While you should not query a book that’s self-published, you can pitch a brand new book to an agent and provide details about your book sales, email list, and overall platform size, which can increase your chances of an agent taking interest in you.
More than ever, both agents and publishing companies are looking to your online platform/presence in order to determine if you’ll be a good “bet” to publish.
How much do you get for a book deal?
Most first-time authors with a traditional publishing company will get between $5,000 to $10,000 as an advance. While outliers do make much more, those cases are very far and very few between and their advance is often the result of a “bidding war” between publishers.
The more offers you get for your book, the bigger your advance. This only really happens if you have the next big book idea or series and your agent is very well connected.
But ultimately, your first advance likely won’t be enough to quit your job. You’ll usually have to keep a full-time job while finishing your book and waiting for publication.
How to Get a Book Deal: Step by Step
The time has come! Let’s get into the details about how to get a book deal, broken down step by step so you can ensure the best chance of getting published.
Remember, some of these steps may vary per agent, but the overall structure of the process is the same.
#1 – Be 100% sure of your publishing decision
Nowadays, the biggest publishing decision you’ll make is choosing self-publishing or traditional publishing.
The self-publishing industry is soaring, it’s growing, and it’s very lucrative for people now. It’s nothing like it was when it first started, where books were of poor quality and anyone with Microsoft Word uploaded ramblings they called a book.
So why would anyone want to traditionally publish then?
Well, there’s the lure of the NYT Bestsellers list, for one. As well as the “prestige” still connected to traditional publishing because of the fact that your book has to pass through several hands, making people think your book is “better” than others.
The above is the main reason people still want to traditionally publish.
But if you’re a business owner looking to grow your business with a book or a nonfiction writer in general, self-publishing is almost always the better route unless you’re famous, very highly known, or have a massive platform.
So before going through the work and time to traditionally publish, make sure it will really work for you.
#2 – Write a killer book proposal
You want your book to sell, right?
Then you need to have something that will sell it. In this case, it’s a book proposal. This is what will convince the people with decision-making power to give your book a chance, to prove that it will sell.
You want a combination of your personality, writing skill, and a strong book description in this letter.
This is a really long, arduous path to traditional publishing that does take some luck and situational advantages into account.
The truth is that a lot of the time, knowing someone who knows someone who can get you in touch with an agent is the quickest way to find out. Otherwise, you’ll be left with the old fashioned method, which is somehow finding agents online, getting their contact info, and sending a query letter.
What’s a query letter?
A query letter is something a writer sends to literary magazines, literary agents, or other publications in order for them to request their full work. This query letter is essentially “selling” both you and your work so they’ll want to know more.
There’s a specific structure that works best for query letters in order to better sell your idea.
Here’s a basic structure of a query letter:
Opening: Start with any credentials, awards, and more that would basically “qualify” you as someone worth taking a chance on.
Describe your book, but the main hook! What will set your book apart from something else? Make this concise and yes, you can include some spoilers here. Overall, you should communicate who the main character is, why we care about them, and what the overall plot is.
Write a short bio with details like other published works, self-published books, what you do, maybe even a fun fact about you.
Conclude the letter with some more details about if you have a series in mind, and any other requirements listed if there are guidelines for that specific agent available.
Follow. The. Guidelines. You should do enough research about the agent to know if they have certain guidelines. Follow these. It only increases your chances.
If you want to increase your “luck” in terms of landing an agent, network. Figure out where these agents and editors are hanging out and make yourself available to connect with them.
Tips for networking to find an agent:
Go to writing conferences where editors frequent
Ask great questions at panels
Get on Twitter! So. Many. Agents.
Participate in writing-related hashtag games on Twitter
Embed yourself in the publishing world
Guest post on authority websites around writing and publishing (to increase credentials)
Ultimately, querying can be difficult and it’s all up to whether or not the agent is interested in your idea…or how well connected you are to people in the publishing world.
#4 – Wait…and wait…and wait some more
It’s a torturous part of the book deal process, but you do have to wait a while.
For the agent to check their email and get back to you.
For any agent to show interest.
And even for the agent to read your full manuscript if they requested it, which is something that may happen and is a great sign! It means they liked your query and book idea and want to see your overall writing abilities and how the story you told them about plays out.
If you get an agent, congratulations!!! That is a very difficult step some writers never, ever get to. Many give up before this happens.
Having an agent means that you will most likely sell a book, but not necessarily the one you pitched to them. After you land the agent, the ball is in their court and now they get to do what they do best: their job, selling your book.
#6 – Push your proposal out via your agent
You do nothing right now, except maybe work on the second book (if this is a series) or move on to your next project.
Let your agent do their job, check in with them to see if they need anything, and keep doing what you have been and keep writing!
#7 – Wait and wait for a publisher to pick up your book
It’s a waiting game, like I said earlier. I’m not an agent and have not worked with an agent, so I don’t have all the details about how they go about selling your book, how long this takes, and what that process looks like.
The overall process is this: the book agent typically knows editors at publishing houses that specialize in the books they usually represent (which is also your book). They send these manuscripts off to them in order to gauge interest in the project based on market trends, current events, and what’s simply “hot” right now.
#8 – A deal has been offered!
If your book has interest from a publishing company, your literary agent will do the negotiating. This is another thing that comes in handy with an agent: they have the sales skills to get you the best deal.
And they will, because their pay comes as a result of your overall deal. The more you get, the more they get.
If your book has interest from more than one publishing house, a bidding war could commence! And this is great, because that’s how you get those massive, 7-figure advances.
#9 – Book deal acquired
Once you and your agent are good with the contract, you sign and BOOM, you now have a book deal!
After this, you’ll likely work with an editor, meet deadlines, and then wait until your book is up next in the publishing queue. This can take up to two or three years at times, depending on how much work the book will take to get publish-ready.
Usually, you’ll have to wait over one year minimum after you have a book deal in order for it to launch.
That’s how you get a book deal. Remember, it can take years to get a book deal for a single piece of work. Oftentimes, writers query a project while working on another project so if they don’t hear back, they can query another project.
This is one the longest processes for publishing a book and usually, publishers don’t take nonfiction books unless you have serious clout or backing.
So good luck, and let us know if you have any tips below in the comments!
Writing a Nonfiction Book During COVID-19 Social Distancing / Quarantine
A quick word before we get into the good stuff.
My team and I have noticed an increase in people wanting to finally write the book they’ve been talking about for years while they’re being forced to stay home. While not everyone has this luxury, since some of you have kids and I can imagine that’s a hassle during a time like this, we did want to provide some resources for those of you looking for something to do during this crazy and tragic time.
We actually have a book outline template generator created by one of our coaches who has written and published 30 books.
That’s right, she has a ton of experience and knows what she’s doing.
You can fill out the generator below and the template will be emailed to you right away. You will have to go do File > Make a copy in order to save this template for yourself, otherwise you can’t edit it since this is used for everyone needing a template.
Book Outline Template Generator
Choose your book type to receive a "fill-in-the-blank" book outline template you can use to plan your book.
Enter your information below to receive your free outline template!
Book Outline Template Generator
Thanks for submitting! Check your email for your book outline template.
In the meantime, check out our Book Outline Challenge.
Sit down with a sheet of paper and jot down subjects you consider yourself an authority on (you know a ton of accurate information)
Write down a few things people often ask you questions about (I originally wrote The Productive Person because many people wanted to know how I got so much done)
Think about the topics that make you talk a bunch during get-togethers/gatherings
What are you crazy passionate about?
This is a great start and you’ll likely even have a few ideas pop up as you read this. Make sure to write them down and choose the one that falls into the above two criteria I mentioned.
#2 – Do market research
One thing we do a little differently here at Self-Publishing School is teach our students how to ensure your book is hot in the market. While this isn’t necessarily “writing to market,” it does ensure you’ll bring in some income from it.
If you’re not worried about that, then this isn’t necessarily something you need to do, but we still recommend it to understand what books in your genre are doing as far as the cover, title, etc.
Here’s my process for market research for the book idea/s I’m planning to write:
Go on Amazon
Choose “Books” from the search dropdown departments
Search for something in the range of what you want to write, keywords help (publishing, paleo recipes, mental health self-help, etc.)
Take note and even save some titles/topics that are close to what you want to do
To go deeper, click on a book that is close to what you want to write about
Scroll down to”Product Details” section view the categories they’re ranking in under “Amazon Best Sellers Rank”
Repeat that exercise with various categories related to your idea.
The reason we do this is to see what’s working so you can build off of an already stable foundation.
#3 – Nail down your target audience
This is one of the most crucial steps for your book’s longevity. The more you can create a clear picture of who your avatar is, the better your book will perform and the better Amazon reviews you’ll get.
This is something that’s really special about our programs. Every one of them has 1-on-1 coaching with a highly experienced bestseller, and they go through a big deep dive on your target audience, before you even start your outline with us.
Ultimately, you want to get to the point where, when you’re writing your book, you’re speaking to one person: your ideal audience member.
This helps the book be concise, highly targetted so it will be received better by people who need it, and those who do read it will review it highly because it’s made for them.
But how do you nail down your target audience details when writing a nonfiction book?
Check out these steps:
How old are they?
What do they do for fun?
What’s their financial status?
Are they aware of their problem?
What have they done already to try to solve the problem that didn’t work?
Where have they been looking for help with this problem?
What type of style do they have?
What’s their vocabulary like?
What will their name be for your own reference?
These questions can help you get started so you know exactly who you’re writing for, what type of writing/style they respond to, and what problems and objections you’ll have to face when writing your nonfiction book.
#4 – Mindmap and outline your nonfiction book
Mindmap first, then outline.
That’s the system we follow and it’s by far the best because when your mindmap is complete, you can just pull over each topic into an orderly outline like one you (hopefully) downloaded earlier.
When it comes to this tactic, you have to sit down with no distractions and jot down everything and anything you can think of in your mindmap. Go nuts! This is not the time for thoughts like, “is this necessary here?” No.
The idea is to get out every piece of knowledge you have on the main topic that’s in the middle of your mindmap.
Then when that’s done, move on to filling out your outline in order of what topics you think should go in what order. Once your book outline is done, it’s (mostly) smooth sailing from there.
#5 – Schedule time to write your book
If you don’t put it on the calendar somewhere, it probably won’t get done.
Writing a nonfiction book isn’t something you can just shrug at and say, “I’ll get to it when I get to it,” because you and I both know there are a million things that could get in the way of that—like watching Tiger Kind on Netflix.
But if you give it space in your calendar, you’re announcing to you and everyone else that it’s a priority, it’s something you’re committed to.
Check out this great video about building a writing habit if you want to get this down better:
But we’ll also go over the main details here as well, so you can get started right away. You can also download our book outline template if you haven’t already, which has an introduction detailed and outlined (developed by one of our coaches who has 30 self-published books).
Really what you’re doing with a book introduction is selling your book. It’s more in line with copywriting than anything else. Copywriting meaning salesmanship in writing.
Which is what you need your introduction to be. Otherwise, why would they buy the book? Why else would they read the whole thing?
Now onto your introduction…
Identify the problem you’re going to solve
Present the solution you have to that problem
Reassert your credibility and why you can solve this
Show them the benefits of solving this issue
Give your reader proof as to how and why this works
Give them a huge promise, a major, bold promise
Warn them against waiting to start/reading
Prompt them to start the first chapter (if someone’s only peeking at the Amazon “Look Inside” this can prompt them to buy!)
Check out this video I filmed for y’all for more details:
#7 – Write your nonfiction book in order
Once you know the order you’ll keep your book in from the outline, write it exactly in that order. This is really important because there needs to be a sense of progression and cohesiveness overall.
If your book reads like it skips around, people will be put off by the lack of consistency in the style.
That’s why we always recommend writing it in order and not just writing whatever you want first. Trust us on this one.
It seems simple but being able to mention previous parts of the book for reference is super important for refreshing a reader’s memory and pulling them back into that same frame of mind.
#8 – Write the first draft straight through
This means no stopping to research or edit. Nope. We write our drafts completely through because this is the fastest way to make sure your draft gets done.
What we’ve found that the biggest obstacle between someone who has a book idea and someone who becomes an author is finishing that first draft.
Too many writers get caught up in making the first draft perfect and when it’s not (because it’s a first draft) they throw in the towel. Don’t be that person.
If you have places where you need to do some factual research, put the letters TK in place of data you need, and move on. You can later do a Command/Ctrl+F in order to search each of these places and provide the right information.
#9 – Do nonfiction book research
After you completed your draft and put that TK in place of research, do a Command/Ctrl+F and search those letters.
You’ll find all the areas of research you need to complete and you can go through in order, same as you did when writing. This is the best way to do research because you’ll only spend time finding exactly what you need to find instead of spending hours digging through information for stuff to “pull” into your book.
Research should be used to confirm and validate your own experiences, not as a starting point for you to start writing. It comes off as much more authentic and authoritative this way.
#10 – Self-edit your book
You’ll both love and have this part. Going back over your first draft can be a little emotionally troubling because you’ll want it to be perfect the first time.
It can feel like a setback but this is why we self-edit!
First, you got out what you needed to. Now, you chisel away the excess, sharpen the message, and drill your solution home. This is the part where you make everything merge together.
We have a full blog post on how to self-edit your book you can read to learn more about the process and what specifically you should be looking for.
#11 – Choose a nonfiction book title
You might be wondering why this is so far down on the list. Most people come up with the title before they even write…don’t they?
If they do, it’s likely not a fitting title. When students go through our Become a Bestseller program, they’re most shocked by this because our coaches instruct them to not title their book until they’re finished and have edited it.
The main reason for this is because so much can change from your idea to your outline to the finished product itself. So instead of trying to fit your book to a title that just might not work, write the book and then craft a compelling title that will actually encompass and sell the book’s content.
The time has never been better to write and publish a book. If you are thinking of writing a book but you are stressing out over all the steps to write, publish and launch to market, you should seriously consider enrolling in one of the best self-publishing courses available today.
Although all the best online courses here come highly recommended, the course content and purpose of each course varies depending on:
What you need as an author.Are you writing your first book? Scaling up your author platform to 6 figures a year?
Your budget.How much cash are you willing to invest in your self-publishing business?
Your expectations. What are you expecting by taking an online publishing program? A strong return on ROI? Can the course deliver on its promise?
If you’re a business owner looking to make a solid ROI and see how a book can help grow you business, just fill out the ROI calculator below.
Book Launch ROI Business Calculator
Just input your core offer product or service average order value to see just how much you can scale your business in the next 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years by writing and self-publishing a high quality book with Self-Publishing School!
*These results are calculated based on Self-Publishing School's Become a Bestseller and Sell More Books program costs in the ROI calculations and with our students' average books sold per day at a 5% book to appointment (or landing page) conversion rate and a 20% closing rate—book sales profit not included in final numbers. Individual results may vary.*
Want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox?
But, before we dive into the best self-publishing courses on the market today, let me ask you this:
Thousands of authors—just like you—have a dream to see their books in print, on a bookshelf, or for sale online in the Amazon store, the largest ebook retailer in the world.
To get your book to the publishing stage takes a lot of work. If you are not familiar with everything needed to self publish a book, you could end up spending more money than planned or, unknowingly fall into the hands of a deceiving vanity press publisher that waits for new authors desperate to publish.
Don’t let haste or desperation lead you to a bad decision. Check out the best courses here and any questions, contact support through the course so you can be confident you’re making the right decision.
Why Self-Publish Instead of Traditional Publishing?
So yes, self-publishing can be a great path to launch your writing career. You can work from home, set up a writer’s temporary workstation at your local Starbucks, or hunker down in a library hammering away at perennial bestseller after bestseller.
Now, you might be thinking to just do it yourself without any help from a self-publishing course. I did this too, and I made a lot of mistakes that could have been avoided had I invested in a course with a built-in blueprint.
This is why I have put together a solid list of the best self-publishing courses on the market today. Only the best made this list because I know what it is like to waste money on courses that went nowhere.
I have personally been inside each of these courses so I can share with you first hand the pros and cons of each.
Why take a self-publishing course?
Good question. Take into account the marketing, networking, and getting the book ready for print. The steps are many and it is a big investment of your time and effort.
Do I need a course to write a book? Can’t I do this myself?
Yes, you can. But…
Publishing can be difficult with lots of moving parts. You start to feel like a juggler with too many balls in the air! And if you’re already spending the time to get it done, why not do it right.
The good point of joining a course is, you are not alone. And, without support, a launch teamto help launch your book, it is easy to make a lot mistakes could otherwise be avoided.
So, this is why we bring you this list of professional experts, each with years of book writing experience and marketing confidence, sharing with you the best strategies for writing, launching and selling more books. And yes, despite the flood of material out there these days, you can make money from self-publishing…if you do it right and learn from the best.
Making the Cut: The 7-Point Criteria for Choosing the Best Self Publishing Course
The instructors for each course are multi-bestselling authors with the sales and platform to show it. They are trusted by the industry with solid reputations for being honest and driving their business with integrity.
The course content is current and up to date. In an industry that is constantly changing, publishing courses can become outdated within a year. The courses here are updated regularly with additions and updates every few months.
Based on industry reviews and student satisfaction, the courses are praised and recommended by authors who have been through the programs.
The strategies and business practices of the owners do not break any rules pertaining to Amazon’s rules and are morally sound.
I have personally taken these courses and recommend each one.
The material, content and overall course is professionally packaged and high quality.
Support: When you run into trouble, you want to know that you can talk to someone and get everything sorted quickly and efficiently. No-fuss.
Take note: Several courses are open for a limited time only at certain times of the year. The enrollment period is usually every three months, but this varies.
Self Publishing School with Chandler Bolt
Self-published entrepreneur and bestselling author Chandler Bolt quit college back in 2014 and set out to write a book called The Productive Person. The book was hugely successful and Chandler soon set up an online course to help authors self publish their books…in just 90 days!
With this comprehensive go-at-your-own-pace blueprint, the school has created an easy-to-follow system to take you from first time author to course creator with three pillar courses available.
Breakdown of Course Content
When self-publishing school first started out they had a basic course for writing and publishing a book. There are now four premium courses to choose from on the platform, including a full fiction course piloted by successful self-published fiction author RE Vance.
Become a Bestseller—Blank Page to Published Author and Everything Inbetween: From blank page to published author, write your book in 90 days with this course. There are 3 modules to walk you through the program with over 4 hours of video, bonus content and an outsourcer rolodex to assist with hiring professionals for all phases of the book production along with over $1,000 in exclusive Self-Publishing School student discounts and specials.
Mindmap / Outlining
Target Audience Deep-Dive
Book Production Instructions/Guides
Marketing and Publishing
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Fundamentals of Fiction & Story: For all the fiction writers looking to learn everything you need to in order to write a high-quality fiction book that actually sells! Fiction is a different game than non-fiction, and Self-Publishing School knows that, employing a bestselling fiction coach to work through plot, the craft of writing, and selling.
Writing, editing, and mindset
Launching your book
The business of writing
Children’s book module
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Sell More Books: For authors that have already published a book and are focusing on book marketing and promotion to achieve sales results. Most often, these are business builders using their book to grow their business or those looking to make being an author their full-time job.
Email Marketing Strategies
Author Brand Strategies
Advanced Marketing Strategies
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Course Building for Authors: Building a course from your book? This premium course is made specially for those authors ready to take their platform to the next level.
Plan & Develop Your Course
Create and Upload Your Course
Market and Sell Your Course
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Each course comes with its own customized, professional workbook. The best part of these courses is that you will be assigned a personal coach after being accepted into the program.
Cost to Enroll: Speak to an SPS representative to discuss best course options and pricing, as each program price varies.
Availability: If you meet the course requirements you can start right away
Target Author: Writing your first book, advanced or pro authors, business owners or future business owners. SPS has courses to cover any level.
Enrollment Availability: If you qualify for access to the course, you will speak to a self-publishing representative who will set you up with the best course to meet your publishing goals.
The one-on-one personal coaching that comes with each course. You will get the best results by working with a professional student success coach.
One hour clarity call with your coach to drill down into your book idea.
Up to 4 weekly live online mastermind group trainings & Q&A, one with Chandler Bolt himself
Customized workbook comes with each course
Mastermind Facebook Community of 2500+ active participants.
4 premium courses to meet your publishing goals
Self Publishing School has a long track record of successful students that have written, launched and turned their dreams of being published into a reality. The course is fast-paced and doesn’t waste time on details.
Authority Pub Academy With Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport
Steve Scott [also known as S.J. Scott] is one of the biggest names when it comes to self-publishing. He has been marketing online for a long time and when the eBook craze started back in 2011, Steve was one of the first authors that as in there doing it.
With the combined talents of two bestselling authors, Authority Pub is everything you would expect it to be: A self publishing course that is focused on teaching authors to write and publish, not just a book, but focuses on building out an author platform.
In today’s overwhelming jungle of books, with thousands being published daily, Steve Scott recognised the importance of turning your book platform into a brand and a book business.
This is the strength and focus of this course, and there is loads of videos, downloads and information taught from two authors that have been engaged in the self-publishing business from the beginning.
Module 6: Advanced marketing and Scaling Up Your Author Library
Authority Pub is a plethora of knowledge and both Steve and Barrie have learned everything through years of trial and error. Authority pub is a “one-stop resource to help writers streamline the whole process.”
Cost to Enroll: $597 or 2 payments of $348
Target Author: If you are just writing your first book, or already published and looking to scale up your author platform with more content and strategies that increase long term growth, Authority Pub is for you.
6 Reasons to Enroll with Authority Pub Academy:
Advanced supplementary materials includes WordPress blog setup mastery, Canva tutorial, email walkthrough using Aweber and Evernote tips for productive writing
Course content professionally delivered via high definition videos supported by quality downloads
Solid case studies and examples of writers who have made it work
Effective advanced marketing strategies to scale up your books
The course removes any guesswork and provides students with a clear roadmap
30 day “try it, test it, apply it” money-back guarantee
As a traditionally published author who used to write for a big firm, Mark Dawson started self-publishing his action and thrillers and, to date, has sold over a million copies. Mark has published 25+ books, has three series in the works, and is constantly launching bestseller after bestseller. His monthly earnings in 2015, according to an interview in Forbes.com, Mark Dawson was being paid $450,000 a year for his works.
So, who better to learn the craft of self-publishing than an established author with both a library of successful bestsellers and the income to show it. This brings us to Self Publishing 101, Mark Dawson’s course for authors.
If you are new at self-publishing or have been publishing for a while, this course has something for everyone. You will learn the basics as well as advanced marketing strategies to scale up your author platform.
With Self Publishing 101, you’ll write, launch and market a quality book that sells. Although Mark Dawson is mainly a fiction author, the course can be customized for nonfiction writers. The same marketing strategies apply to both.
Breakdown of Course Content
Inside Self Publishing 101, the course is broken up into 8 modules that includes:
As additional bonuses, there is also a tech module that walks through how to build a website, lead magnets, email service providers, and formatting your book.
The best part of this course is the system Mark teaches for email list building through an author website. Building an email list is critical to the success of any author, and Mark and his team have these bases covered.
Cost to Enroll: $497 or 12 monthly payments of $49.00. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Availability: Closed after enrollment begins. Cycle is every 3-4 months.
Target Author: Beginner, intermediate and advanced authors looking to build a rock-solid fan base through email list building and advertising.
6 Reasons to Enroll with Self Publishing 101
Deep dive into the Amazon algorithm
Focuses on subscriber communication and building an email list
Bonus tech library with an introduction to using advanced apps and tools
Active Facebook group with high response time
Additional “Writing Copy for Facebook Ads” module
Reasonably priced course for the value it delivers
Your First 10k Readers with Nick Stephenson
If you are looking for a comprehensive, in-depth, no-holds-barred course on marketing tactics, Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10,000 Readers is that course.
The course assumes you already have a book, or a library of books, and now you want to take what you’ve got and line it all up in order to grow your list to a 10k readership…and beyond.
Your First 10k Readers is really better suited for the more seasoned author. It gets into the nitty-gritty of the Amazon algorithm, merchandising, keywords and niche marketing, email marketing, landing pages, giveaways, and what Nick calls “You’re secret sauce.”
So yeah, there’s a lot going on here.
Let’s take a look inside.
Breakdown of the Course Content
The course consists of 6 modules that you can work on at your own pace. The modules are:
Module 1: Rule the Retainers.
This includes Amazon Algorithms, Merchandising, Broad Reach VS KDP Select, and Pricing.
Module 2: Generate Endless Traffic.
This includes Keywords & Niches, Using Free Books, Smart Promotions, and The Author Dream Team
Module 3: Convert Traffic Into Fans
This includes Traffic Funnels, Optimize Your Website, Giveaways, and Events Marketing
Module 4: Build Engagement and Sell—Without Being “Salesy”
This module includes Why Readers Don’t Buy, Priming the sale, Scarcity, the Secret Sauce, Social Media Mastery, Getting Reviews, and Auto-Responders
Module 5: Launch Strategies
This module includes Launch Teams, Building Buzz, and Launch Day
Module 6: Facebook Advertising
This module includes Intro to Power Editor, How to Track Results With Pixels, and Ninja Tricks.
In addition to the 6 core modules, there is also a wide range of bonus content that includes rock star author interviews, email swipe files, and tools of the trade bonus section.
Cost to Enroll: $597 or 12 monthly payments of $59.00. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Availability: Enrollment anytime.
Target Author: Intermediate and advanced authors needing advanced tactics to scale up author platform and build your publishing business into an empire
With a successful blog and five bestselling books, it isn’t any surprise that Jeff has a writing course to market to his raving fans of authors: Tribe Writers.
Jeff’s course is packed with material. With the formula presented in Tribe Writers, you as the author can create your own path to creativity. There are twelve steps of a tribe writer that allows you to tailor fit the best plan while keeping your unique voice.
Tribe Writers is broken up into four individual modules:
Module 1: Honing Your Voice
Module 2: Establishing a Platform
Module 3: Expanding Your Reach
Module 4: Getting Published
In addition to the four modules, you also get:
Exclusive interviews with over a dozen authors, bloggers, and publishing experts
Access to the Tribe Writers community of 6000+ members
Live conference calls to ask questions and get help
Downloadable PDF workbook that summarizes every lesson
Admission to a private Facebook group only for students
The modules take about 2 weeks to get through but you can move at your pace.
This course comes with five additional bonuses to support you including You Are a Writer eBook + Audiobook and The Perfect Book Launch.
Where Jeff’s Tribe Writers is different from the other courses is, a strong emphasis on honing your ideas and creativity as a writer to create a unique brand. There is a strong foundation for support and networking with hundreds of other authors.
Best 6 Reasons to Enroll with Tribe Writers
Loaded with tools to help get you started
Community of writers to help you when you get stuck
Lots of valuable content and expert interviews included
Designed to show you how to find your voice and audience
Monthly conference calls to keep you on track
“12 steps of a Tribe Writer” that clearly outlines the expectations of the course.
Ready to Write and Publish Your Bestseller?
All of these courses are excellent in their own way. Depending on your budget and writing goals, you might choose one over the other.
Now that we have taken an in- depth look at the best self publishing courses for you to write your bestseller, you have a solid idea of what to expect from each course. The question is: Are you ready to write your book?
The best writing course you decide depends largely on your goals as a writer.
Do you want to build a solid library of books and focus on your author platform? Authority Pub Academy could be your best match. Let Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport guide you towards your success of being a multiple bestselling author.
Do you want to learn the essence of email list building, creating an author website and setting up landing pages that convert readers into subscribers? Self Publishing 101 could be the best choice to make.
Need more advanced marketing tools from one of the best in the business? Your First 10k Readers is the path you might consider, and…
Interested in a course that focuses on honing your creative writing talent while showing you how to connect with your unique voice? Tribe Writers with Jeff could be the best option.
Or, you might decide you need two courses and combine together for maximum impact. Self Publishing School can show you how to go from blank page to published author in 90 days. But Nick Stephenson’s course can teach you the more advanced analytics and how to really build out an online book business.
So now, make a choice. You have been sitting on this long enough. Your book won’t write itself and if you have written it already, take it to the next level.
Life is short.
Take action now.
It’s your time to write that next perennial bestseller!
An author bio is a paragraph or so about you, your credentials, your hobbies, and other information you wish to share with readers.
It’s how readers get to know you beyond the pages of your book. While your books are a great way to introduce yourself, an author bio can set you apart, bring in more fans, and even sell more books if you know how to write it correctly.
That’s what we’ll teach you here today.
How to Write an Author Bio That’s Impactful
So you’ve finished your draft and are ready to tackle the next steps of putting it out there in the world. (Promise me that you’re not procrastinating by reading this blog! If you are, get back to writing right now!)
The first step is to figure how who you want to be perceived, how you want to brand yourself, is in your author bio.
This is the blurb that will go on your Amazon author page, your Book Bub author profile, your Goodreads page, your author web page, on the back of your book and so forth. It’s a really important little piece of work that you want to get right!
While your book cover design is the most important tool when marketing a book, your author bio is easily number two. This is where you convince your audience why you are the best person to tell them about the matter at hand.
It’s a place to connect with your readers and build your legitimacy.
You’ll want to stay factual while interesting. You want to make yourself approachable and toot your own horn, just a little bit.
Here are some tips to master these.
#1 – Author Bio Formatting
Although you are writing the author bio, it still needs to be written in the third person no matter how quirky it is. In other words, avoid using “I” as your sentence subject but utilize your name or last name instead.
Additionally, you’ll have many drafts and varieties of this author bio. You’ll want to change it up depending on the application.
You may have a punchier version on your website while your bio for that speaking engagement session at a writing conference that you’re leading (and we’re confident that will happen for you!) will be more serious.
Today, we’re working on the basic draft that you can tweak as needed.
Remember to keep the bio short, less than 300 words. It seems that three sentences is a well-tested length (more on this later). Your author bio is not an entire list of every single award you’ve won or your life story.
Even if you did win the “Young Writer’s” award in middle school, unless you’re still in middle school, this little known fact probably doesn’t deserve to be on the back of your book.
Feel free to have a “full accolades” section on your author website where you can list every single thing you’ve ever done, won or written.
Your mom will be super proud of this list but readers browsing Amazon don’t need to get into the major details.
Here’s how to format an author bio wrapped up:
Use third-person POV when writing it
Keep it under 300 words
Add relevant/recent achievements
Minimize the number of sentences within those 300 words.
And remember: an author bio longer than 300 words or so will take up too much space and become an oversell.
#2 – Know Your Readers
Your bio is an extension of your book.
Write it for your audience. Keep the same writing style and connect this text to your subject matter.
If you wrote a book on productivity, a lengthy sentence about your lazy vacations doing nothing is not relevant and in fact, can persuade readers to avoid your books because they’ll think you to be uncredible.
Here are a few tips for getting to know your audience:
Interact with your readers on social platforms
Listen intently to the feedback during the beta reading process
Run your author bio by a group for feedback and adjustments
Ask people close to you if the bio embodies your personality and is accurate
#3 – Include Your Background
In order to sell yourself to new readers, you will want to include your pertinent background. If you happen to have other books, do include their titles and how many languages they have have been translated into or how many countries they’ve been sold in.
List your related education and memberships. Any higher education beyond college is usually noteworthy too.
Keep your lists short though. Only list three books, for instance, and a couple of memberships. A list of ten books, three degrees, and five memberships will only be skimmed by potential book buyers at the very best.
A huge list like this will become white noise so only include the most important and interesting stuff.
Your fanboys and girls (and your mom’s friends) will look to your aforementioned author website for more info and you can keep the tidy, complete list there.
#4 – Stay Factual
Statements like, “has always dreamed of writing a book,” while certainly may be true, are hard to back up and aren’t going to help sell your book.
Stick to the facts and to what you can prove.
Another reason for this is if you claim achievements that aren’t true or invalid, there will always be someone there to point it out in an attempt to cut you down.
This can reduce your credibility, and therefore, readers’ trust in you.
#5 – Use your personality
One of the best things about being an author is that you get to put your personality, views of the world, values, and more into your writing.
What some don’t understand about authors is: if a reader likes you, they’re very likely to enjoy what you write, because your essence bleeds into the pages.
Being able to showcase this with your personality can do worlds for your readers connecting with you and wanting to read your book out of curiosity if nothing else.
Here are a few tips to add personality to your author bio:
Exaggerate your tone just a little in order for it to be more evident
Be goofy and creative with how you describe yourself (See Jenna Moreci’s example in #11)
Have fun with it!
Throw a joke in your bio
#6 – Include an achievement or award
In addition to your backlist of books, your awards, and education, you’ll want your readers to know any higher-profile stuff you have going on.
Be sure to cover your awards, your following, and any big deal author interviews or features.
Again, if any of these this happened decades ago, it may not be relevant. But if you have a quarter-million followers on Twitter or on your blog, this will sell your authority (and yeah, a quarter-million sounds better than 250,000 but are the same number!).
If your writing has been nominated for awards but didn’t make the cut, that is often fitting for an author bio too. “Award-nominated” anything is pretty cool!
#7 – Get personal in your author bio
Provide a bit of personal information to connect with your audience. The reason for this is if a reader sees something they have in common with you, it’s an automatic bond and gives them more of a reason to buy.
It’s standard for authors to share where they live and what their family make-up is.
A few non-divisive hobbies and interests are also often included. If you have experiences that are related, such as extensive travel or extreme situations, they may relevant to share as well.
Again, know your audience and choose wisely. Maybe (terribly) you were part of a cult as a child?
That’s really interesting but unless you’re sharing this story in the book or proves your authority on the subject at hand, skip including it in your author bio!
Bonus Author Bio Tip: Keep these bits broad enough to include a larger number of people. For example, if you play the flute, simply mention that you’ve been playing an instrument for however many years as this is more inclusive, and there’s a higher chance of others connecting with you.
#8 – Author Bio Example – Chandler Bolt
We all known and love Chandler Bolt, Self Publishing School Founder. We wouldn’t be here learning about writing without his hard work and book writing methods. Chandler’s author bio on the back of his book Published is only three sentences long but packs in a lot of authority building, states facts plus toots his horn a bit.
These three sentences along with the killer book cover art work well to sell Chandler’s mastery of book publishing.
Chandler’s Amazon Author Page is another version of his author bio. Here, Chandler gets really personal stating that his birth was almost miscarried!
He also gives some background about his entrepreneurial experience and awards.
#9 – Author Bio Example – Joanna Penn
Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller and nonfiction author who also writes under the pen names of JF Penn and Penny Appleton.
She’s written and self-published nearly 30 books so she really knows what she’s doing. On her Book Bub author page, Joanna’s short bio is only (surprise!) three sentences.
It concisely tells potential readers a short version of her accolades and narrows down her writing style quickly. Then it tells us where she lives and one of her favorite drinks.
On her own website, The Creative Penn, Joanna provides a different three-sentence version of her short bio and then gets into the details about all her books, the many awards and best-selling experience she’s had plus where she lives and her favorite wine (a different drink mentioned here!)! Joanna’s short bio on her page is three sentences and shoves in a ton of accolades into a small space.
Here she tells about her family, her gymnastic prowess as well as her authority and love of athletic mental training. T
his all builds strong authority for her book and brand.
On her Goodreads page about the same book, she sells the book by telling prospective readers that she’s been where they are and know “what it feels like to try your best and to fail.
I also know how it feels to work hard to achieve your goals.” She sells her wisdom and experience. Note that it is the norm to write in the first person on Goodreads but this is a big rule breaker everywhere else.
All of these examples have variations of author bios written in just a slightly different way for different applications. They all say very similar things about the same person.
Not only does Moreci have ample experience when it comes to self-publishing, but she’s also among one of the best examples of how to market your book effectively, including how she’s written her author bio.
Here’s an example of her Amazon author page with her bio:
Notice how Moreci keeps it short, brief, but very clear with who she is, what she writes, and even has enough personal information to let readers into her life at an appropriate level.
If we take a look at her personal author website’s “about” page, we’ll see she has something similar, but with a few more additions, including her books and more.
In this example, Jenna has also doused us with her personality, giving us insight into how she operates and therefore, the tone of some of her books.
More Ideas for Writing an Author Bio
Know the very essence of your book and find keywords that your readers may search for to find your book. When crafting your author bio, use these keywords that search engines can catch.
Although it may be irrelative in some bio spaces, add links to any free giveaways (we’ve got some ideas on that here..) on your website, your newsletter, social media or whatever web presence you have.
Also, feel free to add a call to action where applicable.
Final Author Bio Thoughts
Remember that there is no perfect bio, and there are no two alike. Although these are all good ideas, it’s not an exact formula. Your author bio will be unique and will change as you write more books and gain more accolades (because we know you will!).
Now tell me the truth. Is your book really done? We can help you finish your manuscript and really make use of this carefully crafted author bio! Schedule a webinar with Chandler today to get started!
Do you have more author bio tips to share with our writing community? Do you think bios should be longer than three sentences or do you like this standard size?
Book Marketing for Authors During the Covid-19 Pandemic
We wanted to add this section at the top in light of everything happening with the Coronavirus sweeping the world.
With so many shut-downs and quarantines, Amazon has decided to cut down production considerably—and this includes paperback books.
For self-published authors, this is a huge problem. After all, some of you make a living from your book. So we wanted to offer you a few pieces of advice that we’re also sharing with our paying students at this time.
Here are some tips for book marketing during the Covid-19 Pandemic:
Switch to an ebook-first marketing plan (switch marketing images to ebooks, talk about the ebooks, make ebooks top-of-mind so more buy those versus physical copies)
Promote that your paperbacks are on other websites (Barnes and Noble, etc.) instead of sending them right to Amazon
Have any collaborators or those who sell your book via an affiliate link with Amazon switch to a different distributor or an ebook link for the time being
Reduce your ebook price or run a special to get the word out
Connect the current events to your story or message (it’s a GREAT time for dystopian authors and those with work-from-home material)
Offer a free PDF for anyone who buys a paperback (so they can start reading right away, waiting until their physical copy arrives)
Run a special that donates a % of the profits toward families in need during this time
Make sure that while still promoting, you’re aware of others’ struggles and hardships during this time. Be sensitive with your messaging.
This is a crazy situation for all of us and all we can hope to do is tweak our lives to fit the current times, and this includes self-published authors impacted by Amazon’s change.
Book Marketing for Self-Published Authors
Marketing takes planning, organization, and consistent action; it’s hard work. But the good news is that marketing is also about fostering connections and relationships, which can be rewarding to you and your fan base.
And since you’re the one who knows your book from cover to cover, your backstory, your reasons for writing it, and who your ideal reader is, it’s your duty to put a plan in place to best connect with your intended audience and share your story.
We know, we know…you’ve put a ton of effort into writing, editing, and getting your book ready for publication that the thought of adding another layer of “work” is not the most appealing idea.
But realize that if you launch your book without a marketing plan, FAR fewer people will read it.
It will hamper the success of the book you’re working on now, as well as others you plan on publishing in the future. So if you dream of becoming a New York Times bestselling author, or if you want your book to help you reach other lifestyle goals, a book marketing strategy is your essential key to success.
Book Profit Calculator for a Marketing Plan
If you want to know why you have to market your book, the profits will explain it.
If you want to make a living writing your books, it’s important to understand exactly what that means.
In order to earn a living writing your books, understanding how many books you need to sell and what you’ll bring home for each is vital.
Having a quick overview of exactly what you can do and how much time and effort each will take can help you better plan for your book marketing plan.
Here are our recommended book marketing strategies and what you need for each.
Book Marketing Platform
What to do
- use appropriate hashtags - post relatable tweets to increase shares - engage by liking and replying to others - search common hashtags to find your audience
- use appropriate hashtags - post photos related to the content of your book - engage by liking and replying to others - ask questions in photos to increase engagement - search common hashtags to find your audience
- create a page for yourself or your book - post video content - go Live to answer questions or discuss your book - post blog posts supporting your topic/ideas/book
- create pins linking back to your website - repin content related to your genre - create appropriate boards for your content - optimize pins with keywords - join group boards - connect with others who pin similar ideas
- great for business-related topics - share insights/stats - share blog posts supporting your ideas/topics - connect with leaders in your industry
- create a website - maintain a blog with posts about your main topic - use this to create an email list - keep this updated regularly
Free Book Marketing Plan
Having seen and been involved in so many book launches ourselves, we know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to book marketing.
We’ll walk you through a play-by-play of exactly what you need to do so that your readers can find your book and buy it.
We’ve broken this guide down into three main sections for learning book marketing:
Pre-Launch: Building Your Book Marketing Launch Team
Pricing Your Book for Maximum Sales
Post-Launch: 8 Strategies for Selling More Books
Let’s get started!
Pre-Launch: Build Your Book Marketing Launch Team
The first step of preparing for your book launch, and the marketing behind it, is to build your launch team or street team, as it’s also commonly referred to.
What is a launch team?
The ideal launch team, also known as a “street team,” is a dedicated, hand-selected group eager to make your launch successful. If you use your team’s talent and communicate well, there’s nothing your launch team can’t accomplish!
This video does a great job of detailing what a launch team is and exactly what they do:
#1 – Launch Team Size
The first step is to determine the projected size of your book marketing launch team based on the size of your audience.
Your audience is anyone interested in you, your book, and your product.
They could be five of your lifelong friends, members of your community, big organizations you’re connected to, social media followers, email subscribers, anyone who might be interested in what you’re sharing.
If you have a smaller following, we suggest you aim for a launch team of 10-50. Those with hundreds in their network can aim for 100-250 team members.
How to Find a Launch Team
If you don’t have much of a following right now, start by looking at your personal inner circle— your family, your close friends—then branch out to their connections, families, and colleagues.
You can reach out to peers from college, your volunteer work, or even your first job. You may even consider parents at your child’s school, fellow dog owners, or members of your yoga class.
Even though you may not know these people well, they are a part of your network, and you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that they’re inspired by your book and would be eager to share it.
Once you’ve completed this exercise, you should have an initial list of potential launch team members!
#2 – Recruit Quality People for Your Launch Team
Now that you’ve determined your potential recruitment pool, the second step is to initiate contact and gauge their interest level.
The most important lesson to consider about your book marketing launch team is thatQUALITY trumps QUANTITY.
One top-quality, dedicated team member trumps a handful of mediocre ones.
To begin recruitment for your launch team, create a simple questionnaire process that describes your book, your expectations of the team, and questions asking:
Why are you interested in supporting my book?
What part of my book speaks to you?
What specialized skills can you contribute?
What’s your available time commitment?
Who are influential people you can reach out to?
Why would these influential people be interested?
To sweeten the recruitment deal, feel free to offer a free signed copy of your book or an inclusion in the “acknowledgments” section. You can easily do this through email, or through online forms like Typeform.
#3 – Record a Welcome Video
Take the time to record a warm welcome video for your new supporters! In your video, first, congratulate your team for being selected and express gratitude for their help.
This welcome video will help you create a more personal connection with your book launch team, and show them a bit more about why you’re creating it and what message you’re trying to convey.
Be sure to send it to everyone who completes your questionnaire!
#4 – Establish a Communication Style
Here’s the secret to a successful book marketing launch team: Effective communication.
Communicate with your team regularly to keep them focused on weekly tasks, progress, and innovative ideas by doing the following:
Strive to send one email per week preceding launch then increase it to three or more during launch week.
Use a Facebook group to engage, share ideas, and post feedback. Set the tone by posting “Dos and Don’ts” to keep conversations focused and positive.
Boost morale and build rapport by sharing inspiring quotes, gifts, and goofy photos to keep energy high and build vital connections.
No matter which mode of communication you’re using, remember people like to be treated well.
Always make sure your team knows how grateful you are to them and their dedication!
#5 – Book Marketing Launch Team Assignments
You can’t just build up a catalog of supporters and not use them, though. You have to give them small assignments to help you with launching and the book marketing process in general.
It might feel weird telling people to help you, but don’t worry about it!
They’re here because they want to support your project, and as long as you’re gracious and ask nicely, they’ll be happy to support your work.
Facebook Groups will be the most effective way to dole out weekly team assignments.
Here are some book marketing initiatives you can assign your team to do:
Share snippets of content from your book across social media
Submit reviews on Amazon
Add their reviews to Goodreads
Share a book review on their YouTube channel
Record a testimonial for your book
Buy extra copies to give to their friends
Give you more marketing ideas!
#6 – Utilize Talents
Your team members will have a different variety of skills and talents, and it’s your job to effectively manage your team by assigning work based on their strengths.
To identify your team’s talents, write a post during the introductory week and say the following:
“If you have any special talents or connections you’d like to lend towards my book launch, please comment on this post and let me know. I’m looking for ways to help spread my book’s message to a wider audience.”
#7 – Have Fun and Say “Thank You!”
Your launch team will commit weeks of their time, energy, and talent, so make sure you thank each and every person for their contribution!
Ensure that each person on your team feels valued and appreciated for their efforts.
And most importantly, let them know how to get your book for free (or at least at a deep discount)!
Which brings us to…
How to Price Your Book
One of the most important factors in how successful your book launch is will be how you price it.
To find out how to price your book for success, we recommend reading Book Launch.
But for the sake of this article, here are some of Self-Publishing School’s biggest secrets that will get your book to soar up the Amazon’s charts:
If you have a sizable audience, we recommend launching your book for $0.99, and then increasing the price to $2.99 or higher after about a week.
Although you won’t get paid by putting your book out for free, realize that it will be featured on another author’s page which instantaneously increases your exposure and recognition.
Once the free promotion has ended, switch your book’s price to $0.99 for the following week, then slowly increase the price by $1 per week until sales stagnate.
Post-Launch: 8 Book Marketing Strategies for Selling More Books
All marketing—no matter which market or industry—is fundamentally about people and making connections.
Part of pitching your book will be figuring out how your book relates to your readers and how they will benefit from it.
Now that your book is out in the wild, you want to get as many people to it as possible. Here are the eight best strategies for doing just that.
#1 – Build Your Book Website
Can you imagine if you came home one day and your house was…missing?
Well, that is what an author’s life can be like without a website to post fresh content.
You’ll always be missing a home where you can park your books. Many authors think they don’t need a website because they can promote their books through social media or the author platform on Amazon.
Sorry, not exactly.
There is a huge difference. Having an author website is the difference between renting or buying a piece of property. When you rent, you are living in someone else’s space.
It doesn’t belong to you and they can cancel your lease at any time. Maintaining your own website on a hosted server with your domain name is the same as having that piece of real estate.
You can customize your site your way, publish your own content, and you are always in complete control of how it looks and what gets published.
When it comes to book marketing with your own website, the sky’s the limit. You can:
– Publish your book’s landing page on your site. – Post blogs about your upcoming book – Create a countdown timer for the book’s release date. – Set up an affiliate link to your Amazon page so you get commissions on book sales Include sample chapters from your book – Link to video clips about the book on your website – Communicate directly with your email subscribers about new releases or your current blog post
And you can also set up a Google Alert so you can be notified about where your name and your book show up online.
If someone gives you good feedback or a stellar review, reach out and thank them and ask them to link back to your book’s website.
If your book doesn’t already have a website, get one started! To set up your website and personal blog on a paid server, you can try Bluehost or Godaddy and use WordPress for building your site.
#2 – 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 your book marketing your current project and all future ones as well, building your list should be a 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.
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.
#3 – Reach Out to Influencers
When it comes to book promoting, nothing can have a bigger impact on your book than influencers through book endorsements.
Even Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most influential and knowledgable people in the marketing game, thinks so.
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.
A lot of the time, they’ll want a free copy to read and review. You can also offer to support their future endeavors as a way of giving back.
Influencers can have a major impact on your exposure as an author, so try to set up interviews in your hometown or reach out tosomeone online and offer to do an interview so you can deliver value to their target audience.
Guest post blogging on an influencer’s blog or website 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.
And if you want to make sure you sound professional during the interview, you can check out some of the best podcast microphones to use.
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.
#4 – Leverage Two Social Media Platforms
Social media is a powerful way to promote your book to potential readers. We can engage with thousands of people just by hitting a few buttons.
But with social media sites, the big scare is the amount of time we can get sucked into trying to do everything. If you try to connect with everyone, you’ll match up with nobody.
When promoting and marketing your book, you can’t be everywhere doing all things at once.
That is why we recommend you choose two social media sites to work with and post your content regularly on these two sites.
For example, you can have a YouTube channel and post weekly videos covering a wide range of topics centering around your book. After a few months, you could build up a library of content that will bring in the right audience, engage with new subscribers, and even create a course out of your videos.
Here’s an example of Youtube content from a writer currently working on her first fiction novel. She created a Youtube channel to engage fellow writers, who are also readers:
By creating a Youtube channel and giving advice about writing, she’s appealing to writers while also advertising that she is also a writer and has a book in progress.
Switching gears to Facebook, you can promote your book or blog using Facebook ads that drive new readers to your Facebook page or your book’s website.
You could also post popular quotes or snippets of material from your upcoming book. With Twitter, you can post multiple times a day with brief quotes or messages under 280 characters. Twitter has proven to be a powerful platform for authors when it comes time to promote and market a book.
And if your book is more business-focused, you may find that LinkedIn works best for you, since it allows you to connect with new readers on a more professional platform.
We recommend choosing two social media platforms and focusing on consistent engagement. This will keep your book’s appearance fresh and invite new people in to check out your work.
Using Specific Hashtags to Grow on Social Media
In the writing community, there are a number of very popular hashtags authors and writers use to connect with each other.
Why make connections with other authors? Because almost every other is also a reader!
Here are some of the top hashtags you can use on each platform:
#amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
#fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
#amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
#fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
#fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
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.
#5 – 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 marketing.
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?Yes. Definitely.
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.
Go here for Bookbub submission requirements. You can also check out the pricing here and submit your book here.
#6 – Interviews and Podcasts
A local radio or podcast interview can introduce you to new readers. While this may sound intimidating, you can pull this off like a pro with a little preparation.
Look to local colleges, podcast hosts, or local radio stations for interview opportunities
(Pro Tip: Hosts love to interview up-and-coming authors, so you may be surprised at the many offers that come your way when you reach out).
Reach out, let them know a little bit about your book and why it might be interesting to their audience, and include a free sample of it so they can see if you’d be a good fit.
If you have a press release describing what your book is about, feel free to include that as well to give them more context.
Then be sure that when you go on, you present a great story about your book and get their listeners excited to read it!
What are three podcasts or radio shows you could go on to talk about your book? Find their contact info and reach out with a pitch about having you on.
#7 – Book Clubs
Local book clubs are another goldmine of new readers; you already know they like books! Find and connect with these groups.
You can offer to attend a meet-and-greet and hand out copies of your free signed book. You can also get your book listed in Facebook Groups and other groups dedicated to readers.
There are also paid lists, such as Buck Books, that can reach tens to hundreds of thousands of readers. Book Launch also teaches what lists are out there, and which ones are the best to use.
Are there any book clubs you could join? Look on Facebook for groups that would be a good fit for your book.
#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.
The authors who are willing to put themselves out there—whether in the form of speaking gigs, media, or other in-person appearances—have the best chance of standing out from the crowd and grabbing the attention of book buyers.
What area speaking engagements?
Speaking engagements are when you speak in front of a group of people on a specific topic you’re knowledgable about in order to inform or inspire.
Most people think of TEDx Talks when they hear the term “speaking engagement.”
However, not all speaking gigs have to be at the Ted Talk level in order to be considered a speaking engagement. Any scheduled speech you give (even unpaid) in front of a group of people is considered a speaking gig.
How do I book paid speaking engagements?
Not everyone can get paid to be a speaker upfront. If you want to be a paid speaker, you have to first hone the craft of speaking and then gain experience in the field.
Some may get lucky enough to be booked as a paid speaker upfront but usually, it can take time, experience, and a resume of speaking engagements in order to take home money for it.
An easy way to expedite the process of becoming a paid speaker is to increase your authority by writing a book.
Before you can reach the days of paying someone else to book your speaking gigs, you have to put in the work for yourself first.
This means doing research and performing a lot of outreach in order to connect with those responsible for booking speakers at different events.
Keep in mind that you may have to start small (and we’ll touch on this below) before you can expect to book yourself at larger, paid speaking engagements.
How to get speaking engagements at churches?
One major way to not only make an impact but reach new levels with your faith is to book speaking engagements at churches.
While not everyone will need this bit, it’s super important for those of you seeking to share your story and message. And like some other methods listed here, one powerful way to reach more churches is to write a book about your faith and message.
This allows you to present the church with some concrete information about you as a person of faith and the specific message you’d like to share. Not only that, but it can also be a great way to sell more books.
Here are a few ideas to help you land speaking engagements at churches:
Be present in that church community
Share your message and ideas with others
Develop a strong speaking ability
Live your faith and message outwardly
Allow someone else to nominate you (due to #2)
Attend local church activities
Ultimately, you’ll have to pitch your idea and message in order to land this speaking gig. However, the steps above can help others see you as a source of information, inspiration, and faith.
How to Land Your First Speaking Engagements as an Author
We’re not saying it can’t be nerve-wracking to stand up in front of a crowd. That’s why we recommend starting small, saying “yes” to multiple opportunities, and getting lots of practice.
This isn’t a one-and-done proposition if you truly want speaking to become an effective piece of your “professional author” repertoire.
So, how exactly should you land that first speaking engagement?
Read on for our ten tips, and you’ll soon be writing your notecards for your debut talk.
#1 – Start Local
Conferences are a natural place for speakers of all levels to take the stage. However, don’t feel as though you have to limit yourself to formal settings to find speaking engagements.
Any group where your desired audience gathers can provide a chance for you to speak.
You could speak to students, to religious organizations, women’s groups, at your library, local business associations…the list is endless! Look around your own community and make a mental list of all the places where you might ask to speak.
#2 – Speak to Your Niche
If your book is geared toward a specific niche, explore related groups. For example, if your book is a memoir about overcoming an obstacle—such as domestic violence or cancer or another illness—you could speak to a support group.
If your book is about productivity, then seek out entrepreneur groups or the chamber of commerce.
If you’re a nurse, and you’ve written a book about health care, then hospitals are a natural place for you to speak. If your story relates to a specific sport, then hit up the closest sport teams.
No audience or venue is too small or informal for your first “official” speech.
#3 – Find a Natural Connection
While we do recommend starting small and local, look even closer: make sure the group you choose will actually be well-served by hearing your message.
Look, there’s nothing worse than standing in front of a crowd that’s bored, or worse—hostile—because you’re wasting their time.
There’s an easy way to warm up any crowd, and that’s to have something in common with them. You want your first speaking engagement to be closely related to your book and your book’s message.
If your book is all about the stressful life of a lawyer, then you’re not going to want to speak to a group of airline pilots.
For your first speaking gig, your goal is to find an audience that will benefit from your book’s message. Ideally, you want to find an audience you naturally connect with, because that connection will make you more relaxed and authentic, which will result in a better speech.
#4 – Build Excitement
If you’re not quite ready to beat the bushes in order to grab your first speaking engagement immediately, then consider building up some excitement first.
We authors share a common goal: to get our target readers excited about our book’s message!
How do you do that? The good news is the Internet makes building a virtual audience fairly easy these days with consistent effort. You can establish a following of readers through your website, through online forums, via social media, and by writing blog posts, both your own and by writing guest posts for others.
Use all of these types of content to build your audience with the goals of increasing book sales and finding your first speaking gig.
#5 – Hone Your Skills
Think of informal ways to practice your speaking abilities with the goal of scoring a “real” gig.
You can produce videos on your book’s subject, join podcasts, and seek out online interviews to share your voice with the world, gain exposure, and get comfortable with your talking points.
By showcasing your speaking talents, you open the door to an invitation to speak in a more structured setting—that even pays more.
Plus, you get great practice speaking about your book’s message before you have to stand on a stage in person.
#6 – Attend a Writer’s Workshop
A great way to get the inside scoop is to meet other authors and pick their brains about their speaking process.
How did they find speaking engagements? What are their best speaking tips? What fees do they charge?
Meeting other writers gives you a broader network to use as resources on all topics that impact authors—not just the nitty-gritty of drafting books.
#7 – Speak at an Industry Event
These fact-based speaking engagements are perfect for non-fiction authors. Whether your industry is blogging, healthcare, law, plumbing, or real estate, it’s likely you can find a conference about it.
The exact nature of the industry doesn’t have to mirror the topic of your book.
Instead, you can focus your talk on skills that can help people in that industry.
For example, if your book is about productivity, you can create a talk that’s focused on how your audience can adapt the productivity lessons found in your book to suit their particular industry.
#8 – Aim Low (at First)
The first of your speaking engagements probably won’t be a Ted Talk, and that’s okay!
The first time, in fact, you may have to volunteer your time to speak at a pretty tiny event.
But as the saying goes, you have to walk before you can run. Just keep taking steps toward bigger and better events. With each new speaking gig, your resume will grow—along with your confidence!
#9 – Practice Makes Perfect
Write a speech today, and read it to yourself daily—before you even have speaking engagements lined up. You want to be able to handle a speaking engagement that’s the very next day if someone called you out of the blue.
What way when the times comes, you’ll be ready to shine.
#10 – Say YES!
When you’re offered your first speaking engagements—take it!
Even if it gives you butterflies or if it’s not the “perfect” fit for your brand, you need to be open to invitations when you’re just starting out. You’ll gain valuable experience, polish your skills, and get your book’s message out there to the public.
All good things!
Get started now on finding your first speaking gig. No matter the size of your audience, you’ll gain exposure for your message, while achieving the unparalleled life experience of speaking about your passion.
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is a 13-digit code used to uniquely identify your book amongst the millions out there.
What is an ISBN number used for?
Essentially, an ISBN number, or International Standard Book Number, is a regulated 10- or 13-digit identification number which allows libraries, publishers, and book dealers to locate and identify specific books.
But where did these ISBN numbers even start and why do we have them?
In the early days of World War 2, the Japanese military sent messages back and forth and the Allies needed to crack their intricate numbering system to get an edge in the war and turn the tables.
But how did they crack this complex system?
MI6 recruited a young mathematician named Gordon Foster to work as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, where he scanned millions of numbers looking for patterns in the code.
Decades later, when the book industry needed a standardized tracking program in order to coordinate the increasing number of titles being published each year, Gordon Foster was approached by WH Smith, a British retailer, to write a report on how to create such a system.
This report led to the 9-digit standard book number which went live in the UK in 1967 and eventually led to the ISBN system used worldwide.
Several years later, this turned into a 10-digit numbering system when a policy was needed for new editions and variations. Then, in 2007, the ISBN switched to a 13-digit format and is now the standard used everywhere.
How much does an ISBN cost?
ISBNs cost about $125 for one number in the US. However, if you purchase more than one at a time, this cost could be lowered.
Let’s unweave the intricate web of how to get an ISBN and how they work in the publishing industry.
How To Read an ISBN number with an ISBN Example
As of 2007, the ISBN is a 13-digit number. This came about in part because of the large volume of eBooks now being published every year.
Knowing how to break down and interpret these 13 digits aren’t of much use and interest to most book readers, but for publishers and distributors, it’s a necessity.
If you want to publish lots of books under your own publishing name then it’s something you may want to pay attention to. You can tell a lot about a book and its author by reading the ISBN number.
The 13 digit ISBN number helps:
Identify the specific title
Identify the author
Identify the type of book they are buying
Identify the physical properties of that particular book
Identify the geographical location of the publisher
Let’s break it down and look at what all these numbers mean.
Here is the ISBN for a particular book:
You’ll notice this sequence is divided into 5 number combinations. But the first three digits “978” indicates that this string of numbers is for an ISBN. If we remove these digits we have:
First is the initial digit, in this case: 3
The 3 is the language group identifier which here indicates German. For English speaking countries a 0 or 1 is used. Numbers for language identification generally range from 1-5.
Here is a list of the most common Group identifiers:
0 or 1 for English
2 for French
3 for German
4 for Japan
5 for Russian
7 for People’s Republic of China
It’s worth mentioning that the rarer the language, the longer the number identifier will be. For example, Indonesia is 602 whereas Turkey is 9944. You can reference the complete list at the International ISBN Agency.
Next is “16”. This is the “publisher code,” and it identifies the publisher on any book that has this number. This number can be as long as 9 digits.
“148410” — This six-digit series represents the title of the book. The publisher assigns this to a specific book or edition of the book, such as a hardcover version or paperback. This could be a single digit or stretch to multiple digits.
“0” is the last digit and is known as the “check digit”. This number is mathematically calculated as a fixed digit. This is always a single digit.
This number indicates that the rest of the ISBN numbers have been scanned and is calculated based on the other digits in the code.
Where is the ISBN number on books?
The ISBN is usually found above the barcode on the back of the book. However, they’re not the same.
The barcode is much different than the ISBN number.
This is an important distinction because:
When you purchase an ISBN you don’t automatically get a barcode
The barcode of your book can change, while your ISBN can remain the same.
We’ve already discussed what data the ISBN carries, however, the barcode includes extra information such as the book’s fixed price and the currency it’s being sold in.
Barcodes are a necessary element of your book as they allow for most retailers and distributors to scan your ISBN for retail and inventory reasons.
The Book Designer also has a great resource for learning how to reconstruct an ISBN if you finally decided to write and self-publish the book you’ve been thinking about since you bought the ISBN.
ISBN Search: How to Find Your Book’s ISBN
If you want to look up the ISBN of any book out there, you can do so easily by visiting the website ISBNSearch.org.
You’ll be greeted with a screen like the one above where you will be prompted to type in the ISBN, author name, or book title.
After hitting “search,” you will have a list of books matching your searched items with the both the 13-digit ISBN and the 10-digit, like in the example below.
How to Read a Barcode
If you look at the picture of a standard barcode, you’ll notice two barcodes side by side. The barcode that appears on the left is the EAN generated from the ISBN number.
The other number appearing on the right is a 5-digit add-on, called an EAN-5, that contains the price of the book. The first digit is a 5 and is a must for scanners to read. The 4-digits after the five indicates the price of the book.
For example, if the number reads 52995, this means the price of the book is set at $29.95. If the price of the book changes, a new barcode must be used, though the ISBN wouldn’t change.
This would only be replaced by a new ISBN number if the book is published as a new edition or as a new version.
To buy a barcode you must first purchase an ISBN. You can buy your barcodes at Bowker and they even offer a barcode-ISBN combo:
1 barcode + 1 ISBN is $150.
1 barcode + 10 ISBNs is $320.
The Difference Between ASIN and ISBN
If you’ve used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program you’ve probably come across an ASIN. ASIN numbers are used by Amazon to manage and identify the products they are selling on their site. It’s a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier that’s assigned by Amazon.com and its partners.
You can find this on your book page. In your browser, the Amazon ASIN will be after the product’s name and “dp”. The next place to find this is in your book or product details area of your book page.
However, an ASIN is not the same as an ISBN. You can only use it with Amazon. If you want to sell through other platforms or in brick and mortar stores, you’re going to need an ISBN.
Reasons Self-Published Authors Need an ISBN
If you want to publish and sell your eBook on Amazon, then the quick answer is no, it isn’t necessary. Amazon will assign your eBook an ASIN number which will be used to identify and track your title.
However, that’s only with Amazon, and only with eBooks.
This might be important if you have a brick and mortar marketing strategy, or if you want your book to be accessible through libraries (more on this later), or if you’re looking to deal with wholesalers or other online retailers.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you want to sell your book by means other than as an ebook on Amazon, then you’ll need an ISBN.
How do I buy an ISBN Number?
You might not even have to buy your ISBN number because of services offered to self-published authors. You can get assigned a free ISBN by Createspace, the On-Demand publishing company that has now merged with Amazon.
If you can get a free or cheap ISBN with them, then what’s the use in paying for your own one?
Here’s the problem: most of the time, you can only use those free ISBNs with the channels those companies distribute through.
Let’s say you get a free ISBN with Draft2Digital, but then you notice that there are some retail channels you can access through Smashwords that you can’t with Draft2Digital.
You can’t use the Draft2Digital ISBN with Smashwords.
Smashwords will only let you use your own ISBN or an ISBN they assign to you. So what do you do?
You get a free ISBN with Smashwords.
And now you have two ISBNs for the same book. Same book title, same book format, but two ISBNs.
You then hear of some exclusive channels you can get through eBookPartnership. The only wrinkle? You need an ISBN and they won’t take your Smashwords’ or Draft2Digital’s ISBN. So you sign up for their free ISBN instead.
Now you have three ISBNs for the same book.
The Problem with Multiple ISBNs
This problem can repeat itself again and again as you discover more ways to distribute your book. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for the ISBN, sometimes you won’t. But it leads to you having several ISBNs, all from different publishers, for the same book.
Can you picture how unprofessional that looks to a bookstore?
Wouldn’t it have been easier to start off by buying your own ISBN? Wouldn’t that make you look more professional?
All of these issues can be sidestepped by simply purchasing your own ISBN through Bowker.
Libraries and ISBN Numbers
We briefly mentioned that if you want to stock your book in libraries, you’ll need an ISBN. However, that might be the furthest thing from your mind. You might have decided to focus purely on eBook publishing and what part do libraries play in eBooks?
A big one.
Libraries are becoming more important to the distribution of eBooks. Overdrive is the largest supplier to schools and libraries in the world (serving more than 30,000), and they circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014, a 33% increase from their previous year. They also supply to retail stores globally, making $100 million in sales in 2013.
And guess what you need to be able to partner with Overdrive? Yup. An ISBN.
How to get an ISBN
ISBNs are free in many countries, provided either by the government or a publicly administered branch. However, in the US and the UK, ISBN numbers are administered by Bowker and Nielsen respectively and require you to pay.
If you’re located outside the USA you can find out your local ISBN Agency here. While ISBNs are assigned locally, you can use them internationally.
If you live in the USA, you have to get an ISBN through myidentifiers.com, run by Bowker, the only company that is authorized to administer the ISBN program in the United States. You can purchase ISBNs as a single unit or in bulk of 10, 100 or 1000.
How to Register Your Book and ISBN Number
As soon as you purchase your ISBN through Bowker or the International equivalent in your local area, and you publish your book, you should register here at Bowkerlink.
This is an automated tool that will add your book to Bowker’s Books In Print and Global Books In Print.
You can only use an ISBN once. The ISBN is a unique number for that particular book, and can be assigned once, and only once, to that title. It can’t be used with any other book in the future, even second versions of the same book.
You don’t need an ISBN to sell in each individual country. ISBNs are international, they are just assigned locally. A US-based publisher can purchase their ISBN through Bowker, but can stock their book worldwide using that ISBN.
You need an ISBN for every specific format of the book and any new versions. Want to sell your book in print, as an eBook, and also as an audiobook? That’s great, however, you need a different ISBN for each one. If you want to publish a revised and updated version you’ll also need a new ISBN. (This doesn’t cover fixing some typos and errors).
If you create a series of books you can’t use the same ISBN for them. You can use the same ISSN, however. Many fiction and nonfiction authors have an ISSN number assigned to their book series. ISSN stands for International Standard Series Number and can be purchased from the Library of Congress. However, each book in the series will need its own ISBN.
We mentioned that in the USA you can buy ISBNs as a single unit, a bulk of 10, 100 or 1000. Here are the prices:
Number of ISBNs
First off, it rarely makes sense to purchase a single ISBN. A single ISBN would cost you $125, but a bulk of 10 only costs $295. Meaning if you purchased 10, each ISBN would cost you $29.50, a 76% discount.
Buying a single ISBN might seem feasible if you only want to publish one title, but remember that you need an ISBN for each format. So if you want to publish your book as an audiobook, you’d need a brand new ISBN for that. As well as needing different ISBN numbers for your eBook and print versions.
Not to mention that you’ll need an ISBN number for any future books you publish, perhaps as sequels to your book.
We recommend that if you’re serious about making book sales, you should purchase at least a bulk of 10 ISBNs. That gives you 3 ISBN numbers to use for publishing as an eBook, in print, and as an audiobook. You can keep the remainder for any future books you might publish.
How to Get an ISBN final steps
Now that you have a very good idea how to buy and use ISBNs for your own books, all the best on setting this up. If you want to be recognized as a publisher and have your books available to a larger global audience by registering through Bowker, consider investing in your own ISBN numbers.
Think of it as buying a piece of property: You own it and it is registered in your name.
If you publish your paperback through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can fill in your number in the “Paperback Content” section of your book when you log into your bookshelf. If you choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN, KDP will ask for your 13-digit number if you are transferring your physical version over to KDP.
What’s the difference between a book blurb and a synopsis?
A blurb serves you on the consumer marketing front, giving a glimpse into your story with just enough information to entice, holding back enough to avoid spoilers. It’s a teaser of your book, not a summary.
A synopsis will be part of your press kit and applications for things like reviews, interviews, literary agents, editors, and publishers. A synopsis summarizing the twists, turns, and conclusion of your story.
It’s essentially a condensed version of your book.
Book Blurb and Book Synopsis Examples
This is often easier seen than taught. Below are a couple of screenshots of the Amazon page for both a fiction and nonfiction book.
As you can see, the content readers use to decide whether or not they want to purchase the book is actually a blurb.
Oftentimes, synopsis (where there are spoilers and deeper detail) is usually used more to sell the book to a traditional publisher than for selling your book to readers (or for a homework assignment from school!).
What is a book synopsis?
A synopsis is a one to four page summary of your novel. The synopsis should explain the plot, main character arc, and conclusion of the book.
A common method of writing a synopsis is in a three-paragraph format.
First paragraph: introduction of character, setting, and conflict/inciting incident.
Second paragraph: major plot points, conflicts, and characters that are required for the conclusion to make sense.
Third paragraph: how the conflict is resolved, how the character changes from the start of the book.
Tips for writing a novel synopsis:
Use active voice instead of passive voice. This makes the synopsis more interesting and engaging.
Use third person point of view. This is standard.
Consider your synopsis as a representation of your writing skills. Don’t just summarize the book–summarize it in a way that portrays your writing style.
Write clear and concise copy. If your synopsis is too long or rambly, you’ll lose the reader’s interest and they might assume your novel is also too long and rambly.
Don’t try to cover too many things or include too many details. Your main plot points and character arc are all you need in a synopsis. Don’t try to include every beat and character in the book.
Don’t try to write an intriguing or mysterious hook–simply give the information required. Don’t hold something back to be mysterious. That’s something for your book blurb, which we’ll tackle below.
What is a blurb?
Often referred to as a “book description,” a blurb is a short piece, around 150 words, to promote your novel. You find blurbs on the back cover of paperbacks, the inside back cover of a hardback, and on book description pages in online stores.
Think of this as the elevator pitch of your book.
Unlike a synopsis, a blurb does not outline every major plot point of your story, and it doesn’t give spoilers.
Blurbs are extremely important to market your book. They’re for “selling” the book to the consumer.
How to write a book blurb
Let’s go over the structure, formula, and some tips for writing a good book blurb.
Here’s the structure of a book blurb:
Snappy opener. You usually have to catch the reader’s interest within the first sentence for them to continue reading the blurb.
Character introduction. All you need is your main character! Don’t worry about introducing every named character in your book. Don’t include more than two characters.
Presentation of stakes. What’s at risk in your story? What questions can you present that will make people want to read your book to find the answer?
Keywords. Especially if you’re selling online, keywords do a lot to help potential readers find your book. Make sure you’re using accurate and effective keywords for your book and genre.
A hook–why should readers buy this book? What’s the cliffhanger?
Book Blurb Formula
Most fiction blurbs you’ll see follow this kind of format:
Situation–introduce your character. Who are they, where are they, what are they up to?
Problem–what pressing issue does your character have to face? This is often the inciting incident.
Obstacles–what’s stopping them from solving the problem?
Stakes–what does the character have to lose? The last bit should also set the mood for your book.
Here are some more tips for writing a book blurb:
Read a ton of blurbs, especially blurbs from successful books in your book genre.
Work on a great first sentence. Like I said earlier, if you can’t catch interest with the opener, your reader likely won’t finish reading the blurb.
Use audience-catered language. This includes keywords, but also the way your blurb can relate to your audience. Age demographic is a great thing to consider when you’re crafting language for your particular target audience.
Offer setting. With description, word choice, and tone, let the reader know when and where the story is set.
Keep it concise. 200 words max!
Get others to read and critique your blurb. Feedback on any piece of writing is important, especially something that can make or break book sales like a blurb. Get several sets of eyes on it, and listen to the notes people give you.
Write a few different versions and experiment. You might surprise yourself with how creative you can make it.
Don’t give spoilers! That’s synopsis content.
Avoid comparing your work to a famous author’s work or a famous piece of literature. If you welcome a comparison, people will take you up on it…potentially in the reviews, and you don’t want that.
Good Book Blurb Examples
Let’s look at a few examples of blurbs from popular novels.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
The first paragraph introduces the situation. The character, her current state, the premise, and the setting.
The second paragraph gives us the problem (she sees something shocking), the obstacles (she only gets a glimpse, she might be unreliable), and the stakes (has she harmed something?).
Some genre keywords we get are: police, investigation, shocking
And what mood are we left with from this blurb? Intrigue, mystery, and the promise of a possibly unreliable narrator make this an exciting blurb.
Sometimes a quote from the novel works as a blurb itself. Let’s look at this example.
Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be—that thirsted for my blood.
Third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
The situation is that our character lives in a world where vampires exist, and they’re in close proximity to one. The problem is that the vampire wants to eat them. The obstacle and stakes (ha ha) is a wrap-up in the fact that they’re in love with the vampire that wants to eat them.
Some genre keywords we get are: vampire, blood, and love.
The mood this blurb gives us is, “Oooh, dangerous. But like, in a sexy way?”
Tobias Kaya doesn’t care about The Savior. He doesn’t care that She’s the ruler of the realm or that She purified the land, and he certainly doesn’t care that She’s of age to be married. But when competing for Her hand proves to be his last chance to save his family, he’s forced to make The Savior his priority.
Now Tobias is thrown into the Sovereign’s Tournament with nineteen other men, and each of them is fighting – and killing – for the chance to rule at The Savior’s side. Instantly, his world is plagued with violence, treachery, and manipulation, revealing the hidden ugliness of his proud realm. And when his circumstances seem especially dire, he stumbles into an unexpected romance, one that opens him up to unimaginable dangers and darkness.
Situation: Tobias is to compete for The Savior’s hand in marriage, and he absolutely doesn’t care.
Problem: Tobias has to fight for his life in a tournament.
Obstacles: Everyone’s trying to kill, manipulate, and betray him.
Mood: This blurb leaves us with a sense of urgency and danger.
If you plan to sell a book, you’ll become intimately familiar with the process of writing a compelling synopsis and blurb. They’re essential elements in a book marketing plan, and they are cornerstone elements of presenting your book to multiple levels of the book publishing industry.
Learning how to start a small business is an exciting stage in your entrepreneurial journey.
You’ve reached the point where you’re ready to stop dreaming and start doing. You’re ready to make your idea happen.
But how exactly is it done? On the one hand, you can’t afford to rush into starting your business blindly. The stakes are too high to risk making a mistake. On the other, you can’t take too long researching and planning. It’s better to get just enough information to act on, then start making it happen.
We’ve gathered together everything you need to know about making your small business a reality. By following this guide, you can start your business safe in the knowledge that you’re following a proven process.
But first, I’d like to share a little secret with you…
Your Secret Competitive Advantage for Starting a Successful Small Business
It might sound strange, but publishing a book is one of the best ways to go about preparing to start a small business.
Having a book related to my business has been massively successful for the growth of Self-Publishing School, taking it from $0 – $16 million in only 5 years.
You can either do this before following the main steps in this article or in conjunction with them.
Why exactly should you invest your time in book creation?
Deep consideration. By writing a book around your business idea, you think it over carefully and thoroughly. This can unearth hidden gems or eureka moments you might have otherwise missed.
Authority. Having your name on the cover of a book establishes authority and credibility. This can give your business idea a much better chance of taking off in its early stages.
Book leverage loop. I’ve seen the book leverage loop work time and time again. It refers to the concept of releasing a book that brings you leads, sales, and referrals.
Let me leave you with one last thing to think about before we get to the main process of starting your small business.
If your business idea is a solid one, plenty of other people are probably thinking about starting something similar.
Of those people, how many are also thinking about writing a book? Probably not many, right?
While a successful small business requires a lot more than a good idea, without one, you have no chance of success.
The business idea you end up pursuing might have been something you’ve had in the back of your mind for years, or it might come to you in a flash of inspiration.
Whether you have an idea in mind at the moment, or you need to come up with one from scratch, there are a few particular areas that are useful to focus on:
Skills. Considering that you want to start a small business, you’ll probably be fairly involved in its early stages. This means that you should ideally seek out a business idea relating to the skills you already have. This allows you to either carry out the work yourself or credibly train others on how it’s done.
Growth areas. Your idea should ideally relate to a growth area. Of course, you can’t fully know the future, but you should at least have a gut feeling that your idea has longevity. Ideally, this should stem from a mix of your personal experience mixed with some kind of external reinforcement, such as market research data.
Your passions. It’s a simple fact that your small business will consume a massive amount of your time and cognitive energy. Accordingly, it should be something you care about. Money and success are only so motivational, so ideally your business should be aligned with your values or passions in some way.
Personal problems and pain points. Some of the best small business ideas stem from personal pain points. For example, you might notice there isn’t a certain style of clothes available for people who happen to share your body type, or no books of a certain style are aimed at your particular demographic. Chances are, if you would be served by the creation of a business like this, others would be too.
Proven models. You might recognize that a certain idea or model is working for a particular industry, but hasn’t been applied to another. Let’s consider an example. If you thought the subscription box business model was a winner but hadn’t seen it applied to a certain type of product, you might want to see if you could make it succeed in that area.
Local need. The internet means your small business doesn’t need to be restricted to your local area, but it still might be a valuable place to find customers. You might want to bring an idea you’ve seen work elsewhere, but isn’t currently available in your community, to your local area.
Improvements. Sometimes, great business ideas simply stem from seeing something out there and envisioning the ways it could be improved. Think of this in terms of evolution rather than revolution. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, you’re just trying to make it a little more durable or attractive.
Of course, you can never guarantee an idea will work. But, by focusing on the above points of inspiration, you help shift the odds in your favor.
#Step 2 – Carry out research
The idea stage of starting your small business is perhaps the most fun part. You have free reign to let your imagination run wild, unrestrained by the mundanities of real life.
However, after coming up with one or more ideas you think have potential, it’s time to validate them through research.
Market research is something people dedicate entire careers to, but you don’t need to have a high level of experience for it to be useful.
Instead, focusing your initial research on two key areas can help you refine your initial small business idea and have some concrete data on how to proceed.
Failing to consider the competition you will face is one of the key mistakes made by aspiring small-business creators.
Even the best idea is doomed to fail if you don’t have an accurate idea of the competition. Seeking competitive advantage is a complex area of market research, but as a starting point, consider the following ideas.
Unique Selling Point/Proposition
It’s highly unlikely your business idea is something brand new or completely different to anything else out there.
Instead, it’s likely to be something that already works, but with a point of differentiation.
At its heart, USP is about figuring out why someone would choose your offering over something similar.
It’s important to note that it’s not enough to be unique, it’s also essential your intended customer values the uniqueness of what you are bringing to the table.
For example, Death Wish Coffee has the USP of being the world’s strongest coffee.
This is something that is not only unique, as by definition only one coffee can be the strongest, but also valued, as many coffee drinkers are reliant on its stimulant properties.
By thinking about what will be both unique and valued about your small business, you give it a better chance of succeeding.
Without revenue, your business will die. Finding the right price point for your products and services is crucial to making your idea work.
Although you’ll need to consider your costs, it’s worth researching what your competitors are charging.
Will you be able to realistically charge a comparable price and still be profitable? Will you aim to compete by offering a lower price? Or offering a better product at a higher price
Different approaches to pricing can work, but failing to take the time to consider pricing from a competitive standpoint is a quick route to failure.
How long have your competitors been in business?
Of course, the longevity of your own business won’t exactly match that of your competitors.
But, by finding out if businesses in your area tend to experience longevity or not, you can make your expectations realistic.
For example, about 60% of restaurants tend to fail within their first 3 years. Seek out this information for your intended area of business. By knowing it, you are accepting risk consciously and deliberately, rather than taking a leap of faith.
As well as considering your competitors, you need to think about your customers.
Trying to be all things to all people is not a smart approach.
Instead, it’s better to think about a specific group of people, the problems they have, how you will be able to solve them, and how you will reach these people.
As a starting point, consider the following.
– Demographics and Psychographics
You can think of demographics as the ‘what’ of a group of people, and psychographics as the ‘why’.
For example, knowing age and gender is an example of demographics. Knowing people’s attitudes and hopes is an example of psychographics.
Demographics can form a good starting point for your research, but going beyond this basic information, and seeking out not only who people are, but why they do what they do, is a lot more effective.
Considering whether you will be focusing on local people, people reached through the internet, or a mixture of both is worthwhile.
Of course, you’re not setting anything in stone. You can adjust your ideal customers as time goes on. But having an idea when you start out can help you make better subsequent decisions.
– How To Reach
How will you reach your intended audience?
For example, if you are intending to serve local people who read their regional paper, print advertising might be effective.
If you want to reach international millennials, targeted advertising on a social media platform might be a better choice.
#Step 3 – Get the right feedback
At this point in the process, you should have not only an idea of the small business you want to start but also the businesses you will compete against and the people you want to serve.
Next, it’s time to get some feedback on these initial points. This can be as informal as asking people you trust, or as complex as carrying out strict research.
Here are some possible ideas on how to proceed.
Surveys. It’s fairly straightforward to conduct surveys either online or offline. The key is to design survey questions in the right way and to issue the survey to the right mix of people.
Focus groups. It’s well-known that people are more likely to answer survey questions in a way that might not reflect their true opinion. Conducting a focus group is often a way to get a richer set of qualitative data than a simple survey can provide.
Targeted advertising for feedback. Through Google and Facebook targeting, it’s easier than ever before to directly reach the specific people you want to hear from. Seeing how your intended customers respond to targeted ads can give you a real world view of how your idea will be received.
A/B testing services like PickFu. Split testing helps you get tangible feedback on whether to pursue one route or another. For example, Tim Ferriss used this method to help choose the titles and covers of his bestselling books.
Often, the ideas that seem excellent in our minds end up failing in the real world. Give your business idea the invaluable benefit of scrutiny before you invest too much time or money into it.
#Step 4 – Formalize your business
After finding and testing an idea you’re happy with, it’s time to take the next step and formalize your business, allowing you to legally operate.
It’s important to note that this isn’t legal advice or financial advice. Seek out professional guidance for any questions you may have.
So what do you need to consider?
Structure. Depending on your location, the type of business you want to run, and the relative level of bureaucracy you want to deal with, different business structures are available to you. It’s worth starting with a long list of every possible option, such as sole proprietor and limited liability, and breaking them down in terms of tax rates, legal requirements, and overall pros and cons. This will help you find the best fit for your small business.
Location. Which country or state do you want to register in? Is offshore an option for you? Be open-minded about this at an early stage to avoid the costly process of changing course further down the line.
Name. What will your business be called? Is it unique? Does it comply with local business naming laws? Is your intended brand name available? Ask these questions before getting too attached to any particular name you have in mind.
Taxes. What are the recording and reporting requirements for your particular business? Will you need to enlist the services of an accountant? Is this something you’re capable of handling yourself with a software or app solution?
Trademarks/Patents/Other Formalities. Are there any licenses or other formalities you will need to do business? Ensuring compliance at an early stage will avoid costly penalties down the line.
Renewal. Once you’re in the day to day reality of running your business, it’s easy to overlook or not budget for renewing essential services. Plan ahead and make sure you have set aside the time and money for everything you need at least a year in advance.
Although the formalities of business are a lot less fun than the idea stage, you can’t afford to overlook them. Don’t let your dream die by ignoring a technicality.
#Step 5 – Finalize your product or service
Now that you have a formal business that’s ready to operate, it’s time to translate your idea into a concrete product, service, or mixture of both.
Consider these points to find the right option for you:
Product or Service. Following your ideation and research process, you might have a good idea of whether you want to pursue a product, service, or mixture of both, but it’s time to solidify this choice ahead of launch.
Physical or information product. If you’re offering a product as part of your small business, will it be a physical or information product? Think about the logistics and practicalities of each option before making your final choice.
Scale. How easy will it be to scale up your offering should demand increase? For example, in the case of a physical product, can you make/buy/store greater amounts if needed? For information products or services, can you produce more or train others to do so should demand increase?
SOPs. Standard operating procedures, or SOPs, are the best way to ensure things are consistently done the right way in your business. Creating them from the get-go is one of the best ways to ensure your customers enjoy a consistent experience.
4 Ps. One of the oldest concepts in marketing is the 4 Ps, or ‘marketing mix’. They are price, product, promotion, and place. If you’ve carried out the earlier steps in this article, you probably have some initial ideas about these aspects. Now is the time to drill down and formalize them.
By getting clear on the initial mix of products and services you will offer, you enable your business to be at the point where it’s ready to launch.
#Step 6 – Determine initial finances
What’s the initial financial requirement of your business, and how will you meet it?
Every business has a unique financial picture, but there are some common things to consider when you’re approaching the time of your initial launch.
Fixed costs. What are the fixed costs you will need to establish before launching your initial product or service? At the start, it’s important to keep these as low as possible.
Launch costs. What will you need to spend to be in a position to launch? Factor in initial marketing, customer support, and related costs.
Finance sources. Where will you source this money from? Options include your own money, a bank loan, investment from family and friends, and crowdfunding.
The longer-term financial planning for your business comes next. However, you have to ensure everything is in order before getting your first offering out into the world.
#Step 7 – Plan your small business
After making sure a solid plan is in place for your initial launch, you might want to take the time to look further ahead.
Having a vision for how your business will progress can help you stay focused on a day to day basis. Some things to consider planning for include:
Quarterly goals. How much revenue do you need to generate each quarter? In which areas are you looking to grow, and by how much?
Break-even point. When do you expect your business to break even? How will you monitor progress toward this point to ensure it’s on track?
Cash flow. Failing to consider cash flow is one of the quickest ways to sink a new business, even if everything else seems to be running well. Having a cash flow plan is something you can’t afford to overlook.
Threats. Which threats do you anticipate for your new small business, and how will you protect against them? Using a framework such as SWOT can help achieve this.
You can, of course, adjust your plan along the way. But as the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.
#Step 8 – Launch a minimum viable product
Now that you’ve planned both the initial and longer-term vision for your new small business, it’s time to launch your first product.
This essentially involves getting the smallest possible manifestation of your idea to market as quickly as possible to test its viability, get feedback, and put you in a position to pivot if needed.
Target. Having a realistic sales target in place will allow you to invest the right amount in marketing and have a benchmark for your success.
Feedback. A massive part of the purpose of your minimum viable product launch is to get feedback on your idea. Make sure you know the type of feedback you will seek in advance and how you will solicit it.
Future implications. Have an idea ahead of time of what type of feedback will lead you to change something about your offering as opposed to what level of feedback would cause you to go in a different direction entirely.
It’s really important to adopt a growth mindset around the time of your initial launch. Most businesses fail many times before they succeed, and you need to see this as part of the process, rather than something to get dispirited about.
#Step 9 – Find the right people
After learning lessons from your minimum viable product launch, you might decide to expand your small business by hiring others.
If you decide to take this step, keep the following points in mind.
Organizational core values. What are the values and principles your organization is based on? Having these clearly defined will allow you to find people with the right character and cultural fit for what you’re trying to build.
Employee type. Consider the pros and cons of hiring people on a contract VS permanent basis. There are pros and cons for each option in terms of the amount you will pay, what you can ask of them in return, and other practical factors.
Pay structure. How will you structure pay? Consider how much to pay as a base salary and how much as a bonus.
Hiring criteria. How will you evaluate the people you are considering hiring? Which traits will be desirable as opposed to essential? How will you make the final decision?
Like any other aspect of starting a small business, hiring people is something you will get better at as time goes on. But, by keeping the above points in mind, you stand a better chance of not making an initial error.
#Step 10 – Monitor and scale
The final step in starting your small business is monitoring its performance according to your business plan and making adjustments along the way as you scale up.
Here are some points to keep in mind as you monitor performance in the early days:
Revenue. Are you experiencing growth or decline? If you have multiple revenue sources, which are performing highly? Should you allocate more resources to one area or decrease them in another?
Marketing. Which marketing channels are performing well? Which represents the 80/20 for driving customers to your business? Where should you invest more time and money, and where should you be allocating fewer resources? New products and services. Don’t assume that your current revenue sources will always perform well. Listen to your customers’ needs, and keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Always be open to the possibility of pivoting or launching something entirely new.
Sustainability. Make sure that your growth is sustainable in terms of cash flow and other resources. Be wary of overly aggressive expansion. In the words of Aesop, slow and steady wins the race.
As the focus of today’s article is starting a small business, I won’t dwell on expansion too much.
However, it’s nice to keep your mind open to the infinite possibility for future business growth and success that exists with even the smallest of starts.
I hope you now feel more equipped with the information and ideas you need to make your small business a reality. I wish you every success as you learn and grow along the way.
Ghostwriting is writing material for someone else who becomes the named author. In other words, you write the content for someone else, but it’s published under their own name.
Often, there’s a contract specifying that the author will not have any legal right to the work after it’s published to guarantee the ghost writer’s anonymity.
What do ghostwriters write?
Ghost writers are hired for a huge array of projects in all different sorts of mediums and genres.
You may have heard of ghostwriters taking on books, political speeches, or seen job postings for technical manuals, academic essays, fictional novels, or even captions on a brand’s social media posts.
Ghostwriters often use freelancing sites like Upwork or Fiverr to find work. Sometimes, ghostwriters are contracted by a company to write fiction for a set period of time.
A ghostwriter might be hired to write political speeches for one particular person. Or, a ghostwriter might be hired for a single small assignment, like writing one technical manual or specific post on a website, as well as larger projects like writing a book.
The bottom line is that ghostwriting is writing someone does for you, and you get full credit as the author and people don’t even need to know a ghostwriter wrote it.
Why using a ghostwriter is NOT a good idea for a book
We’ll get into some pros and cons of ghostwriters a little bit later but I wanted to cover just why using a ghostwriter to write a book is a poor idea.
When it comes to memoirs or other nonfiction books (and even fiction!), using a ghostwriter can seem like a great idea.
But in reality, it usually causes far more problems than anything else.
For one, they’re very expensive. Good ones are, at least. Which means you’ll dump a bunch of money into a book that’s not really yours. They can write on the information you give them and that’s yours, but you’ll know deep down you didn’t do it. And the emotional impact of that alone is worth doing it yourself.
Another reason ghostwriters aren’t the best idea for a book is the fact that they won’t get it right. They don’t know the details of what you want to write about and that means they’ll get a lot of it wrong.
Only you can tell the story inside of you. Ghostwriters can’t bring your level of passion and knowledge into the pages no matter how much information you share with them.
Plus, you think it might save you time when the reality is that you’ll have to spend even moretime giving them information, reading over their work, providing feedback and changes, only to be left with something that still isn’t what you fully want. Because what you want is in your own mind.
Our recommendation is always to write it yourself. And that’s why we developed a system to write and publish a book in only 90 days.
Now, if you still decide a ghostwriter is what you want (despite the above information), we’ve got some information that can make the process easier.
Because ghostwriters are often hired for one project or a small set of projects, the most important thing to look for is experience. Potential clients will be looking for your ability to deliver work in whatever they’re looking for. When you use a freelance site like Upwork, this often means having lots of experience and positive reviews on the site itself.
As you do more jobs on the website, more clients will rate your performance, and your on-site portfolio will grow. The more experience you have, the more desirable you are to potential clients, and the better and more high-paying jobs you’ll be able to get. Often, these websites will offer a place for you to submit your resume and some writing samples, so that employers can get a sense for your job range.
Once you’ve got an account, the best way to get jobs is to apply for lots of different gigs! As with finding any other job, the key is to cast a wide net. The wider your skillset and the more experience you have, the wider a net you can cast.
Now that we’ve discussed what ghostwriting is, what ghostwriters do, and how ghostwriters get work, we’re ready to talk about some pros and cons.
How much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?
While prices vary, you can expect to pay a quality ghostwriter anywhere from $25 – $100+ an hour. Meaning a project the size of a book at a 250-page average can span upwards of $20,000 – $100,000 in some cases, depending on how many words are in your book and the scope of related services provided.
For example, if you were to use a ghostwriter from a service like ScribeWriting, you will pay $36,000 – $100,000+ for their ghostwriting packages (disclaimer: they include more than just ghostwriting services within each package which is why their prices are higher than what’s mentioned above, but you get the idea).
You can also see these prices from a company specializing in ghostwriting services called Kevin Anderson & Associates in the image below.
A high-quality ghost-written book is very expensive and often not worth the price when you can be taught how to write it yourself, and quickly.
Since the writer can’t actually take credit for their work, they charge a lot more than they would if their name was on the piece of content, whatever that may be.
What are the pros of using a ghostwriter?
You can find both pros and cons in everything, including using a ghostwriter. Here’s a breakdown of what you can gain and what you’ll lose if you go this route to finish your book.
#1 – You don’t have to spend the time to write it
Someone else takes care of that. So you don’t have to sit at a computer or notepad and write. But you still will have to take a ton of time to give the writer adequate notes, review their writing, make your own suggestions and feedback, then wait for changes.
So while you don’t have to spend the time actually writing, don’t mistake that for it saving you time (which I’ll cover below).
#2 – The writing quality might be higher
Note the “might” in this. Reason being is that even if you wrote it, it would go through a professional editor and the quality would increase significantly already.
However, many ghostwriters are “natural” writers; it comes easier to them. So if you’re worried about the quality, a ghostwriter can ensure a higher level of writing competence.
But keep in mind that a book isn’t good solely because of the writing.
#3 – Non-native speakers can benefit from native writers
Depending on the language you want to write your book in, a ghostwriter can be a great option. This is particularly true for non-native speakers looking to write a book in English.
You can hire a ghostwriter to take your writing that might be wrought with grammatical errors due to the language barrier and have them rewrite it to make sense.
#4 – Those unable to type or write can complete something written
There are a number of disabilities that can bar someone from writing a book, or writing at all. Hiring a ghostwriter can help you accomplish a huge goal or dream if you’re not able to physically perform the work necessary to write.
Now that we’ve covered the pros, let’s consider the downsides to hiring a ghostwriter to write your book.
Cons of Hiring a Ghostwriter
If you’re considering hiring a ghostwriter, you may want to consider some of these major cons first.
#1 – It won’t be your work
This is an especially bad con when it comes to writing a book. One of the biggest joys authors have when finishing a book is that they did it themselves.
It’s a major feat, one that a very small percentage of the population will ever accomplish and by hiring a ghostwriter, you’re taking that away from yourself. You’re robbing yourself of the experience of accomplishing something as major as writing a book!
#2 – It’s quite expensive for good work
Now, you can find ghostwriters online who are willing to work for cheap. But when it comes to writing…you get what you pay for.
If you’re looking to publish a book that you’ve paid a ghostwriter to write, you want it to be of the highest quality. Your name’s on it, after all.
But that also means you’ll have to pay a healthy sum for a book.
I listed some prices for services above, but just a reminder that a quality ghostwriter can go from $20,000 – $100,000 for your average book.
#3 – It takes a ton of time
Contrary to why most people go with a ghostwriter (to save time), it can actually take much longer. There’s a ton of communication involved in order for them to write the book even semi-close to what you’re imagining.
And that’s not to mention all the reviewing, feedback, and process of revisions.
One of the hardest parts about having someone else write for you is that you need to be really, really clear in your communication…or you suffer wasting even more time.
Imagine this: you send a thorough document listing what you’d like them to write about, cover, and include only to get the writing back full of misinterpretations of what you really mean.
You then have to spend the time explaining, they have to write it again…and just so you know, they’ll charge you for this time all the while.
Some ghostwriters do work over the phone and conduct interviews, which makes less room for error while they write for you. Overall, though, communication is a big issue when it comes to using a ghostwriter.
Now, some ghostwriting services have packages, which include this.
But if you choose to go with a freelance ghostwriter because they’re cheaper, you still have to pay for the cover, editing, and any other incurred expenses.
Unless you’re someone who has a significant amount of money to spend, it’s not easy to pay for a ghostwriter plus other expenses.
#6 – You can’t say “I wrote a book”
Let’s be real: sometimes the best part of writing a book is saying that you wrote a book. It directly relates back to the first con on this list.
And even though you might be able to tell people you’re an author because your name’s on the book…you can’t really tell them you wrote it. It’s still your content and your stories but you didn’t do the work of putting it together.
#7 – Nobody else will care about this as much as you
You can’t expect someone else, even someone who is being paid, to care about this book or project as much as you do.
There’s a level of passion in writing that you can’t fake. When you’re the one writing, the piece means more and comes across as far more authentic. This also means that nobody will put forth the care and effort you will to complete the writing project.
So… is hiring a ghostwriter worth it?
That depends! If you’re looking to spend a really big chunk of change and are okay with the cons listed above, it’s probably for you!
But if you want to take pride in writing something like a book yourself, with your own stories and voice and style, writing it yourself is the way to go.
Humph… That’s the sound you just made as you heaved another big sigh.
You’re frustrated. You’ve been trying to write your book for months.
You’ve got the best intentions. But every time you sit down to start writing, you get interrupted…
Someone needs YOU to review that important report before it goes out (it’s 6:30am, how is anyone else at work?!).
Your husband gets home early and suggests that you go out for dinner (you can’t say no, you haven’t spent much time with him this week.).
A friend calls you in distress. She has broken up with another guy and needs a shoulder to cry on (you rush out to meet her at your local cafe, which is packed because it’s Saturday.).
It feels like the Universe doesn’t want you to write this book!
But this book is important to you. You want to make an impact. Share your knowledge. Eventually transition into writing more books and serving more people.
If only there was a system that would keep you on track and allow you to see what was coming up so you could be proactive.
Enter the Author Success Journal.
It’s time to ditch the overwhelm and get focused on your goals.
Because once you know the steps you need to take to stay focused and what actions to take and when, the sooner you can finish your book and get it out into the world.
Ready to be a successful published author?
Let’s get started.
What is the Author Success Journal?
The 90-Day Author Success Journal was created to help you achieve your most important author goals over the next 90 days by providing you with space to record your goals, the action steps you need to take, with reflection and suggestions for adjustment along the way.
Why 90 days?
An entire quarter is a good amount of time for you to stay focused and get work done. It’s also a short amount of time that if you need to pivot, you haven’t lost much in the process.
Your success as an author largely depends on the actions you take.
The Author Success Journal brings focus and clarity so you can move forward in your author journey.
Let’s break down the entire Author Success Journal process so you can see how it helps you write and publish your book.
Mind Map Your Way to Clarity with the Author Success Journal
One of the first things you’ll do in your writing process is mind map your book idea.
Because this is such a successful way to get all your ideas down in one spot, it’s also the first thing you’ll do inside your Author Success Journal.
The mind mapping process isn’t just for your book.
I use it to get clarity on lots of things, like what book to write next, how my book fits into my overall business, and how to transition my book into a course.
I find that when I’m stuck, mind mapping is the key to unlocking and unsticking my mind.
This is why it’s the first part of the journal. You have three pages to do a complete brain dump before you start mapping out your author success journey.
Before you can get clear on your goals, you need to get everything out of your head.
Once you’ve created your mind map or brain dump (it’s up to you how you use those first few pages!) it’s time to move onto the next stage — setting S.M.A.R.T goals.
So for example, a S.M.A.R.T goal you might set would be Write 500 words per day, Monday to Friday for 4 weeks.
Choosing S.M.A.R.T goals like that gives you a very clear plan of what you’re trying to achieve and a way to keep track of it.
Ideally, you’ll choose 3-5 S.M.A.R.T goals for the next 90 days and outline these in your Author Success Journal.
I’d recommend taking it a step further and writing these down on a piece of paper and putting it above your computer (or wherever you are writing) so that you see them every day.
The key is to choose goals that make you stretch a little… that give you butterflies in your tummy when you think about them.
BUT… don’t set yourself up for failure either. Avoid choosing goals that make you start thinking that you can’t achieve them, that they’re impossible.
What’s next? Your 90 Day Goals.
Your 90-Day Plan
This next step in the Author Success Journal is about taking your S.M.A.R.T goals and deciding on what you want to achieve within the next 12 months (like write and publish your book!) and then breaking them down into 90 day achievable steps.
Here’s an example from the journal:
You’ll notice that in the example, there are dates attached to each goal.
This is so that you’ve got a deadline to work towards.
If you use a digital calendar like Google Calendar, go ahead and add those dates to your schedule. Set yourself a reminder each week to check your progress… or better yet, use the journal to track and map out where you’re at.
To ensure that you don’t miss your goals, let’s take it a step further and break it down into 30 day goals.
30-Day Plan & Overview
This is about taking those main goals and breaking them down into all the nitty gritty tasks that allow you to achieve your end goal.
This is about being intentional and getting clear on what you actually NEED to do to reach your goals.
This is where a lot of brand new authors fail.
They fail to set S.M.A.R.T goals and they fail to then break those down into the tasks that will get them there.
But that’s not you anymore! You’re going to work backwards from your goals and write down all the action steps needed to achieve them.
What would that look like?
Let’s take the example from above. Write 500 words per day, Monday to Friday, for the next 4 weeks.
The 90-Day goal for that would be to have a rough draft written in 30 days.
Our 30 day plan might look something like this:
The key is to also map out anything that might impact or stop you from completing those goals.
It’s about being schedule aware. It’s about being proactive with your time and problem-solving BEFORE overwhelm hits.
Before you dive into using the Author Success Journal system, let’s get even clearer on your top goals and the action steps you need to take for the month ahead.
List Your Top Goals & Associated Action Steps
This is all about outlining your top 3-5 goals for the next 30 days (if you have that many, you might only have one if you’re in the writing phase).
It’s about setting your intentions and making a plan to achieve them.
Once you’re clear on what those are, you’ll outline the action steps you need to take to meet your goals. This is where you’re going to write down specific, time-driven tasks based on what you’re trying to achieve over the next 30, 60 and 90 days.
All clear on what you’re doing?
Now we’re ready to dive into the heart of the journal… your weekly and daily pages.
Reflect on The Week Ahead
As you head into the week ahead, it’s time to bring clarity and awareness to what you’re trying to achieve.
Because we want to make sure that you’re set up for success. That there are going to be no surprises when you sit down to write, or when you map out your marketing plan.
You’ll see two pages that will ask you to write down what the week ahead looks like at a high level… what meetings do you have planned? Any work trips that will take you away? Social outings? School committments?
This is the area to record all of that information.
Then, you’ll have space to reflect on the last week. What wins did you have and what did you learn?
You’ll also look ahead and have space to record any thoughts or ideas that come to mind as you think about what you’ve got on your schedule.
Doing all of this allows you to do a mini brain dump. It frees your mind from having to remember #allthethings and allows you to get laser focused when you are writing.
Each week, you’ll have the opportunity to do this. It’s a great way to ensure that you always have clarity and awareness of what’s going on around you and how you can ensure you meet your author goals.
Next up — Daily pages.
Get Focused Daily
This is the magic of the Author Success Journal process.
The daily pages are designed to help you get extremely clear on what you’re doing and also provide insight into what you might want to STOP doing…
In the example below, you’ll notice that the day is spread across two pages. This is so that you have plenty of space to record your thoughts and map out your day.
You’ll choose a focus area. This is how you can set your intention for an individual day.
You’ll also list out the three main actions you’ll take towards ACHIEVING your goals. These are your most important items and must get done that day.
Then you can plan out the rest of your day.
You’ll then have space for reflection at the end of the day. This is a nice addition to your evening routine and allows you to get clear on your progress.
You’ll also set yourself up for success by stating your IMMEDIATE next step for the next day.
This entire layout is designed to bring clarity and intention to your author success journey.
You’re setting yourself up for success when you use this journal.
By now, you should be able to see why the Author Success Journal process will allow you to succeed where you might have been failing right now.
By writing down what you’re focusing on each day and mapping out your action steps, how can you not achieve writing and publishing your book?
The other key components of the Author Success Journal include:
Rewrite Top Goals & Action Steps. At the beginning of each new week, you’ll write down your top goals and action steps. This is to bring visibility to what you’re working on.
Monthly Reflections. This is where you’ll review the previous month and track your progress on your 90-day and 30-day goals. If you need to pivot, this will make it obvious where you need to make changes.
90-Day Review. Once you finish your first Author Success Journal, you’ll have the opportunity to reflect and review the last 90 days. This will provide you with clarity on what worked well and what didn’t. You’ll be able to see patterns, figure out where you need to make changes, and also see where you succeeded!
Your author success journey largely depends on the action steps you take, remember?
Using something like the Author Success Journal brings visibility and awareness to your goals in a way that allows you to track and measure your progress.
What isn’t tracked, doesn’t get measured.
Your Next Steps
If you’re here, it means you’re ready to take the leap and finally get the clarity and direction you need to finish writing and publishing your book
You may have an image of what an author does in your mind: He or she sits down at a computer, powers it on, and gets to work. The author does not leave his or her computer for days, shutting out all distractions and totally neglecting all social obligations.
In the end, the author has created a fantastic book that people fall in love with instantly.
Well, there are some authors out there who may fit this bill, but it doesn’t fit reality for the average author like you and me.
With each book that I write, I spend time before I begin with a set of writing goals to help me stay on task, and I’m here to help you discover how to set and stick to your own writing goals.
Here’s the thing–you may not have the luxury to go into reclusion and adopt an exhaustive practice, where you can finish a book in one sitting. You have work, family, and other commitments that may prevent you from shutting yourself in a room with a computer or typewriter for days on end.
This biggest hurdle you may have is believing you do not have time to get your writing done!
In my experience as a writing coach, this is the most common belief. Thinking and believing you don’t have time to write can be your worst enemy when it comes to achieving your dream.
Please don’t listen to your mind chatter. Instead please know you can….
Change this mind chatter by creating writing goals
Balance writing with other commitments with doable goals.
Be an author, so long as you set and follow your writing goals.
Let’s get started with ten of my surefire ways that go into developing writing goals…
#1 – Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Writing goals help you determine what you can realistically accomplish in a day. As you build your goals you will immediately make headway on your book, and finish it before you realize it!
Having clear and specific writing goals will set you up for success to get a little bit done each day.
Keep in mind…a writing goal is just a goal you set for each day. You determine a realistic time frame that fits your schedule. Then you figure out what you want to accomplish in that time frame.
You might want to write a certain number of words, or you might want to finish a chapter, or you might want to spend an hour brainstorming and formulating your book.
#2 – Writing Goals Vary From Person to Person
When you set your writing goals, you must think of what you want to accomplish. Your goals are personal and unique.
When thinking about your goals take into consideration the following:
Do you want to work on a certain part of your book each day?
How many words do you want to write each day?
What time of day are you going to write?
How can you publish within a certain time frame?
Think of what you want to accomplish. Then set basic writing goals that will help you get your ultimate task accomplished by your deadline.
For instance, if your book is due in two months, set aside a logical amount of words you can create each day over the next two months that will have your book finished by the deadline.
Be sure to set realistic goals. You can’t expect yourself to write your book in a day. Your creativity and quality will suffer if you rush it, and you’ll hate your project! You will be much happier if you work at a pace that is comfortable for you.
Also, be sure to cut yourself some slack. Not everyone wants to write every day. If you have other commitments, make time for them. But always set aside a bit of time for writing out of your week, preferably every other day.
A good writing goal is measurable. “I will finish ten pages by Friday” is an example of a measurable goal. You set a timeline and an amount, and then you see if you accomplish it.
Setting deadlines by which you finish certain blocks of writing or writing tasks helps you see if you are making good progress. When you see how much progress you have made, you will feel more accomplished and more encouraged to keep plugging on!
#3 – Break Big Goals into Bite-Sized Chunks
You want to write a book. OK, that’s a great goal, but it’s a huge goal. You are less likely to complete that goal because it is just too large and vague.
Rather, you should break that big goal into smaller goals. Your brain gets less overwhelmed. “I want to write a chapter a week” is a way that you can break this huge goal of writing a book down into smaller pieces.
Over time, all of your little accomplishments pile up into one huge one. Before you know it, your book is finished and ready for the editor!
#4 – Set Your Writing Goals Down on Paper
As you set writing goals, be sure to write them down.
I recommend using a daily planner. Set aside a block of time when you have nothing else going on. Then determine how much you will write.
Also, schedule times to perform writing goal reviews. This is where you check your progress.
It can be helpful to write down little pep talk notes, too. A writing motivational quote or a nice mantra to recite when you feel like giving up can help you stay on track.
Add these motivational quips next to your written goals.
#5 – Self-Review: Don’t Be Your Own Worst Critic
There is no doubt that we writers can be hard on ourselves! But to keep goals, you must review your progress. Self-review is not a time to beat yourself up for not meeting a specific writing goal.
Instead, use your self-review time to reflect on all that you have accomplished. Reward yourself for a job well-done. Think, “I did it! I actually wrote something!” Follow it up with a little celebration that you will enjoy.
If you are constantly falling short on your writing goals, that is a sign that your goals are unrealistic. The only way to keep a writing goal is to set a realistic one. So if you keep setting a writing goal to write a thousand words a day, and you usually only write three hundred, that is OK.
Just change your writing goal to be three hundred a day!
If you are exceeding your writing goals, on the other hand, perhaps you should step up the challenge. Increase your daily word count, for example.
Have a review date. I like to review my progress every Friday. Your review date should be a day when you have little else going on and you have managed to make some progress. Make it consistent, such as a certain day of the week or month.
#6 – Trust Your Intuition
A good writing goal is to write intuitively for a while, at least at the start of your scheduled writing session.
Intuitive writing is where you just let your ideas flow. You start with a blank page and write whatever comes to mind. The results will surprise you!
Don’t block your stream of consciousness by writing about a specific topic, or by worrying about grammar. Just write!
After an intuitive writing session, you can start editing. Trim the fat of excess words. Correct spelling and grammar mistakes. See how you can logically organize your work into an outline.
#7 – Cut Out Distractions
When you sit down to meet a writing goal, don’t let distractions get in the way. This is a good time to turn your phone off and shut off the TV. Emails can wait.
Distractions derail your thoughts. They can also suck you into a vortex of paying attention to things other than your writing goals.
The time you set aside to write should be used solely for writing. Just focus on your writing goals and your creativity. Don’t let distractions take your mind away from the task at hand.
A routine is important when you want to get something done without distractions. Having one is the only way I am able to accomplish my goals and I can’t stress this enough.
#8 Psych Yourself Up
You just had a long day. The last thing you want to do is write. Being a couch potato in front of your favorite show seems far more alluring, right?
We have all been there. But you will ultimately feel guilty if you sacrifice writing time to vapidly watch TV.
To get motivated for a writing session, think about your writing goals and how badly you want to accomplish them. Think about how great you will feel when you finish your book or article.
Also, think about how badly you will feel if you don’t meet your writing goals. That sense of disappointment can be crushing. Avoid it altogether by just working on your writing goals!
You should give yourself a pep talk every day before your block of writing time. Tell yourself, “I can do this!”
A support network of some sort is also very helpful. Friends, family, and other writers can all cheer you on when you don’t want to write.
Finally, use a writing prompt to get inspiration if your mind feels dry. I find daily writing prompts or story writing challenges featuring prompts can really get me going.
After I write a bit on a prompt, I’m officially in writing mode and ready to tackle a writing goal.
#9 – Fill Your Life with Writing
One way I stay focused on my writing and gain motivation to complete my writing goals is by filling my life with writing.
I may not write every minute of every day. I spend time with my pets, talk to friends, take trips, and other hobbies I enjoy. I have a life outside of writing that keeps me from getting burned out.
But, I do make sure writing infuses my life.
I read a lot. Books inspire you and teach you how to be a better writer. Read within your book genre and watch your inspiration flourish. Read any enlightening new blogs and new books that catch your interest, too.
I also focus on writing a lot. When I’m not writing, I’m talking to people about writing. I am sharing my writing with my coach or in writing groups. I post in forums. Sometimes, I join contests or challenges and follow writing prompts.
My social media is full of writers and writing groups. That way, I’m always thinking about it at some level, always connecting with other writers for inspiration and advice, and always sharing my writing to gain insights into how I can improve.
#10 – Celebrate Each Victory
When you tick a writing goal off of your list or planner, you should not move on to thinking about the next goal. That’s how you get overwhelmed.
Instead, think about how great you are. Think about your success so far. Congratulate yourself.
Take a break and celebrate somehow. You have every right to reward yourself and strut your stuff!
Celebrations are not wastes of time. They are crucial to writing. If you celebrate each goal, then your brain will be more likely to want to complete more goals. Then you create an internal well of motivation to complete all of your writing goals.
Word of Wisdom to Live By
I leave you with this: Anyone can be an author, and you are more than capable of accomplishing your heart’s desire to write a book.
The whole key to writing is setting writing goals that you can easily accomplish and measure. Review yourself and congratulate yourself on progress made.
Writing goals build on top of each other. So, as you complete one goal, you slide closer to the overall goal: Finishing a piece.
With time, you start to build momentum. Writing goals turn into routine. You get bit by bit done, and before you know it you have finished!
Just set aside some time for your writing goals. Then throw yourself into them. Motivate yourself however you must, but don’t skip out on writing. The sense of accomplishment you earn in the end makes it all worth it!
What are your top five writing goals to get you to the finish line of writing your book?
Before we get into the specific action-items from this, I want to touch on the only three ways you can really grow a business in terms of the revenue-generating portion.
#1 – Get more customers
#2 – Increase the average order value
#3 – Increase purchase frequency
While these are the three main ways you will increase revenue to grow your business, I’m touching on the actionable steps you can take in order to accomplish these.
#1 – Know your promise & audience
This is a really basic business concept. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how can you possibly market to them effectively?
Before you can really start crafting messaging or even content to cater to your target market, you have to know a ton about them and even create an “avatar profile” for them.
Answer these questions about your target audience:
Who are they?
What’s their gender/age?
Where do they live?
What content do they consume and how do they consume it (mobile vs audiobooks vs Youtube videos)
What’s their biggest obstacle related to what you’re selling?
What is their best desired outcome?
What has been preventing them from solving the problem by themselves?
This is a great place to start and from there, you can craft your winning message to fit this exact avatar, which increases conversion down the road because you’re speaking “directly to them.”
#2 – Create a product or service that’s the best
We have a core value here at SPS of Best is the Standard and that should actually be the standard for every business owner.
And it’s not just creating the best product or service for your niche, it’s creating one that fulfills the deepest needs of your target audience.
But remember that you don’t have to have a perfect product in order to launch it.
Done is better than perfect.
Here at SPS, we actually do internal launches of new products to our list and existing students at a discounted rate. This allows them to act as beta testers so we can find areas of improvement before launching to the public.
#3 – Write a book
“I bet you say that to everyone,” is probably what you want to tell me.
As someone who makes a living from other people writing books, it makes sense for you to question this advice but let me tell you this:
Without publishing my books, I wouldn’t have been able to grow Self-Publishing School to what it is today.
And this is largely due to my books serving as yet another customer acquisition channel.
We actually use my bestselling book Published. as a lead generation tool in order to pull in leads—and those who have read this book are actually much better qualified to convert and become students.
Generating leads, specifically high-quality leads, is one of the hard parts of growing a business. You have to get people to opt-in to what you’re offering.
We do a really good job at lead generation here at SPS, bringing in a couple thousand really great leads each week.
Think about these things when crafting your lead gen tool:
What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?
How BIG of a problem is it (it should be huge for them)?
What’s the result they’ll receive?
Make it easy for them to opt-in to, 3 clicks max (click to opt-in, fill in email and click to submit, get it as an instant download or deliver in an email)
Make it really high quality—this is really the “first impression” for what you have to offer, even more so than free content on your site
#5 – Invest in learning
I can’t tell you how much I’ve spent on learning in order to grow my business.
The number of books I’ve consumed alone is astonishing to most people and they likely will never read/listen to that many books in their lifetime. This is one of the biggest advantages I’ve given my company.
And books aren’t all, either. I’ve invested in other’s systems and products in order to grow Self-Publishing School to where it is today and always recommend other people do the same.
One of the things we do best at SPS is our hiring process. I talk about that a bit in this video here, but overall, we work really hard to make sure the right people with the right skills are in the right places, doing the right things.
Say that 5 times fast!
Here’s a quick overview of the necessary steps for hiring the right people:
Job Scorecard: This is basically an overview of the role of the job, like what the mission or purpose of the role is, the job title, the core competencies, and the most important part: the outcomes and results of the first 90 days with which KPIs will be measured.
Source Candidates: This can be one of the hardest parts, but what I really try to focus on is getting as many high-quality candidates as possible by leveraging my team and contacts to refer people along with personal reach-outs on LinkedIn, Facebook, and really anywhere I can. As a minimum, I like to have 100 candidates per position.
Pick the best candidate: This is really subjective, obviously, but one thing to really look for are candidates who have a long history at certain organizations or look at whether or not they were pulled or pushed out, meaning were they headhunted and offered a new, better job or were they fired multiple times? I go into more detail about this in the video linked above you can check out.
Sell them on the position: Make sure it’s a step up from their current or past positions both in salary and work environment. What I’ve seen in hiring people where it would be considered a “step down” in salary is resentment later on, and a higher turnover rate. Really sell them on the benefits your company offers as well. At SPS, we’re completely remote, which saves a ton of money and time in commute and we offer twice-monthly house cleanings paid for by the company, among many other benefits.
It’s hard to cover a really great hiring process in order to effectively grow your business in a short section, so check out this more detailed video if you want to know more.
#7 – Charge what it’s worth
When I first got started with SPS, I had no idea what to charge. And because I was one of the first in my field, I didn’t have too many examples or competitors to base this off of.
In the video above, I talk a lot about pricing yourself effectively and fairly, but the bottom line is to charge what it’s worth, keeping things like time saved and other benefits at the forefront.
Don’t just hit up a competitor and price yourself accordingly but really think about the offer, your demographic, and how you can use those (along with a more detailed breakdown of what you can afford to charge to keep the business profitable) to determine a fair price point for your product or service.
#8 – Offer low-ticket products
One of the best things you can do to grow your business is increase the conversion of your core offer product/service and a solid way to do that is to offer a low-ticket product.
It might seem counterintuitive but what this does is moves the prospect from lead to customer, and this shift in relationships is crucial.
We do this at SPS by offering a free copy of Published. and all they have to do is pay shipping, along with our Book Outline Challenge, a low offer that helps prospects see how quickly we can help get them results.
#9 – Build partnerships
This is an area we’re really working to expand at Self-Publishing School for a number of reasons.
It helps us reach new audiences
We’re able to build connections for the future as well as the present
We can leverage these partnerships to help our students succeed more
Partnerships are another revenue-generating channel
We’ve worked out a ton of partnership deals that have won us revenue, stage slots (which we’ll get to below), and discounts/specials for our students.
All of that has aided in our business growth over the last two years, and it’s just the beginning.
#10 – Work on your referral game
Word of mouth is so powerful. People trust those close to them and by those people recommending you and your product, you’ll have customers closing at a much higher rate through referrals.
Here are a few ways you can build a referral system into your business:
Offer a discount for both the current customer and referral they help bring in
Ask your customers to refer someone via email or another form of communication (automate this shortly after they’ve had a “win” or success with your business)
Give your customers the very best and they’ll refer on their own
Develop a reward system for “top referrers”
Automate any and all of these processes the best you can
#11 – Speak at stages
It’s so surprising how many business owners don’t want to or don’t even think about speaking on stages to grow their business.
In 2018, stages were a million-dollar revenue channel for SPS.
By getting booked to speak on stages about the benefits of writing a book and why I believe everyone should write a book, we were able to close prospects at a much higher rate just by being in-person.
Not only that, but being on those stages places you as an authority, as well as allows you to develop new partnerships to grow your business in other ways as well.
#12 – Listen to your customers and the right KPIs
The information coming into your business is invaluable.
You need to know what people are saying, what issues they’re having, and you also have to be tracking the right KPIs if you really want your business to grow.
Your customers know what they want and they know when things aren’t working. Listening to them and what your KPIs are saying will give you exactly what you need to grow your business.
Check out the video above for which KPIs can drive real performance and growth in your company.
#13 – Bloom where you’re planted
I talk a lot about this often because really, it’s the best place to be, no matter what I’ve listed above.
The quick rundown of this idea is to do your very best no matter what! No matter where you are right now or where you want to go, doing your best no matter what the task at hand is the most important.
People always notice—people are always watching and you never know how that can impact you and your business in the future.
Another way of thinking about this is to remain humble. Never become spoiled or entitled no matter where you’re at.
Bloom where you’re planted and that can make the biggest difference in your business long-term.
We can’t deny that lead generation is only getting more difficult.
With so much exposure online, people are used to seeing these techniques to generate leads.
Which means we have to be more creative with the ways we generate leads moving in 2020 and beyond.
But what if I told you there were a few key methods that almost no one is using that have personally worked for me to grow from 0 to over $6 million over the past 4 years?
Interested? It’s a personal method I use daily to bring in only the most qualified leads and I’m finally sharing the details with you.
Lead Generation in a Nutshell
For those of you new to lead generation, it’s just a more complex way of saying “collecting potential customers.”
A “lead” is defined as, “someone or something that may be useful, especially a potential customer or business opportunity.”
These are people who usually choose to opt-in to something on your site, via social, or even Youtube. They’ve raised their hand to say, “I want more content from you!”
And that’s great, because you’ll eventually hope to close them on your product or service. But first, you have to acquire them, which is what this post is all about.
What makes a great lead magnet?
If you want to generate a lot of leads, you’ll need a couple high-quality lead magnets.
A lead magnet is just that: a way to attract new leads.
Usually, you’ll find these lead magnets as downloads, sign-ups, discount offers—anything where they must trade their name and email (and sometimes phone number) in exchange for something you’re providing.
Here at SPS, we’ve got several of these, all tailored for a specific avatar and located in areas that make sense for them.
And that’s one of the most important pieces of a great lead magnet: it’s placed strategically.
Here are a few more criteria for a great lead magnet:
Easily accessible, the fewer steps people have to go through, the more likely they’ll fully opt-in
It has to be something they need (and is relevant to their pains)
It has to solve a problem or make a huge promise
It has to add value
It should be as unique as it can be
How to Generate High Quality Leads in 2020
As I mentioned above, finding ways to get people to opt-in is getting harder the more technology advances. You’d think it’d be easier because of that, but people are getting smarter—they know what you’re doing.
That means we have to start pushing the envelope when it comes to lead generation.
Here are a few of my favorite methods of generating leads for Self-Publishing School.
#1 – Free + Shipping Funnel
This is by far the best lead gen tool we have here at SPS, and we’ve coined it as the “Book Leverage Loop”, as you can see below.
If you’ve visited this site before, you may have seen a slider to buy a free copy of my bestselling book Published.
Yes, I give these books away, and only ask that they pay for shipping at a $7.99 price point. The value prop here is the book itself, and the fact that it’s completely free.
Better yet, people who buy this book end up being some of our most qualified leads that come in, closing at a much higher rate, which brings down cost to acquire a customer significantly.
How to do it yourself:
Obviously, the first step is to write and publish a book—successfully, that is, which requires a proven system for a lucrative launch and a method for obtaining great book reviews.
#2 – Publish a book
Different than the method above because in this case, the people finding your book on Amazon are now a new lead gen channel for you to optimize.
We here at Self-Publishing School teach our students how to optimize their books effectively for lead generation, and this method has even brought in several thousand dollars of business work for our students.
There’s a reason I’m so passionate about this method of lead gen.
Firstly, not many people are doing it. They think it takes too long to write and publish a book, so they don’t even bother. When in reality, it can take less than 90 days to publish a quality book.
Secondly, it establishes your credibility and trust almost immediately. And we all know how hard this portion of converting leads really is. Usually this takes an entire follow-up sequences, texts, and value-adds just to get to this place. But a book does this almost instantly.
The fact that you’re a published author is enough for most people to trust you as an authority in your field.
And lastly, it’s the best damn business card you could ever have.
#3 – Optimize your content
Don’t make the same mistakes I did in Self-Publishing School’s website’s early days.
We got very good at ranking our content organically but our organic revenue numbers weren’t really budging.
The issue there? We didn’t optimize the blog posts themselves for conversion.
The content also has to be written in a way that’s informative, optimized for search engines, but also copywritten so new viewers opt-in.
This might seem like a no-brainer but I’ve seen it all too often: people want to bring in that traffic and so it’s their sole focus, forgetting that when the traffic does come (which it will if you’re at this game long enough), they have to be able to capitalize on it by bringing them further down your funnel.
#4 – Extremely time-sensitive offers
Currently, most people are over-exposed to “get this deal while it lasts” tactics because we see it too much and most of us know it’s not actually real in the sense that you can usually head back to that deal the next day and see the same “One Day Only!” offer.
But if you take it a step further and make it a genuine, time-sensitive offer (meaning you actually shut off the deal when you say you will), it can bring in leads rapidly.
Trying something like an hourly time-stamp can push people to make a choice to opt-in faster because FOMO (fear of missing out) is real.
#5 – Quizzes and Assessments
If there’s one thing that’s universally true, it’s that people want to learn more about themselves—specific to something that’s causing them a good deal of hardship.
Quizzes and assessments are fantastic tools to pull in leads you can further qualify at the backend.
People like Michael Hyatt and Jenna Kutcher use these methods to grow their email list and scale their businesses. Jenna Kutcher is even featured on Interact’s Homepage with the quiz she created through them.
The key with these times of lead generation techniques is to be intentional about making them valuable. So don’t just create a quiz with random questions and answers—they should actually work and do what you advertise.
Here at Self-Publishing School, our Author DNA Assessment brings in about 3,000 leads per month from this website.
You can check that assessment out here:
#6 – Find manual leads on social
Most people will ignore this one because it’s “too time consuming.” Which I get. Personally, it’s not too realistic for me to hop on Instagram or Twitter and manually message people.
But if you can get someone on your team responsible for this, you can find really hot leads lurking on your pages.
The best people to message are those who have interacted (comments, liked, etc.) on your content repeatedly and continuously. Even people who have already messaged you.
These people are even desperate for contact with you. Not only that, but they’re showing up and adding to your online presence, which only bodes well for your company when they do convert.
#7 – Chatbots
There are so many things you can do with chatbots nowadays.
It really adds a personal touch and those who end up “chatting” with you are typically a warmer sale than those who opted in for a gated piece of content because of that personal touch.
And the best part? You can automate it so it does the work for you.
Michael Hyatt over at BusinessAccelerator.com even uses one as a sort of assessment (for segmenting) and as a lead capture.
They use this in a few, really smart steps.
Step 1: Collapsed chatbot – Here all they do to get you to open the bot is have a “…” present, but the fact that it’s a chatbot will make those interested open it in the first place.
Step 2: Ask a segmenting question – This is a really great opportunity for his team to collect leads in a distributed method, segmenting people based on what their interest is, which allows them to better craft follow-ups and email sequences that convert at a higher rate.
Step 3: Collect contact information – Before giving anyone further help, they collect the contact information in order to convert down the line, making this a solid lead capture.
Most chatbot software is super easy to use and integrates with your email marketing software—and your email software might actually already have a chatbot in its features (like Hubspot does).
#8 – Spinning wheel
If you sell or offer low-ticket products, a spinning wheel with different “prizes” can be a fun way to pull viewers into the products you offers.
It’s kind of a 3-for-1 in the sense that the wheel is animated and colorful (usually), which catches their eye. Secondly, it displays several offers so prospects can see just what you give in value. And lastly, they get something of value from it!
Here’s an example of what a spinning wheel to generate leads looks like:
#9 – Giveaways
I think we can all agree that people love free stuff.
Giveaways are an amazing way to bring in new contacts while segmenting as well. If they sign up, they’re clearly interested in receiving whatever it is you’re giving away.
We’ve done a couple Kindle giveaways for people who opt-in (as well as subscribe to our Youtube channel and comment), but you can make the giveaway criteria whatever you want, really.
We not only used it as a means of generating leads, but also to grow our Youtube account.
#10 – Ebook downloads
When blogs were just coming up and the kindle (and publishing ebooks) were all the rage, you’d be surprised not to see an ebook giveaway on a website as a gated offer.
You still see this today!
People love free content, especially something described as a “book” because it means there’s a good deal of content and therefore, value.
#11 – Cheatsheets
We all want shortcuts. We’re busy and we want to save time, so positioning something as a “cheatsheet” to cut down on the time it takes to do or complete something is a hot lead gen offer.
Here’s an example of what that could look like:
Something to note: sometimes these can just be a sheet with information. When it comes to this lead magnet, a lengthy download isn’t expected.
#12 – Checklists
We use this lead magnet in order to capture leads coming in when they’re ready to launch. It’s our “Book Launch Checklist” and it’s literally just that: a checklist of what should be done before hitting “publish.”
These are really quick and easy to make, since people aren’t expecting much more than a simple sheet with boxes they can check off.
You can get creative with this
#13 – Templates / Blueprints
The word “blueprint” is actually really popular right now. Everyone wants the exact “blueprint” for doing something correctly.
A great way to make this offer irresistible is to tie money to it. Something that says, “How a Busy Mom Made $43,000 in One Month” is far more alluring than “How a Busy Mom Published Her Book”.
And, as always, make sure these are quality. Provide screenshots, hard numbers, and a real testimonial (videos are even better).
#16 – Toolkits
Here’s another example of a lead generation method that solves two major pains: the time and the know-how.
Most people can probably end up searching for a bunch of tools they need for whatever they’re doing, but if you have an easy download with all the tools they could need, it’s a no-brainer to opt-in.
Bonus points if you’re a powerhouse around what the toolkit offers.
An example of this is Jenna Kutcher. One of her best performing lead magnet is a list of resources she uses on Instagram. Since she grew her business from nothing to over a million by securing her platform on Instagram, it’s really illogical for those looking to do the same to not opt-in.
While it’s not positioned as a “toolkit”, it’s essentially the same thing.
#17 – Resources lists
Google is really convenient. But one thing that it lacks is a time-saving feature. They try to do this with ranking certain posts at the top, but it’s not always that simple.
Which means if someone is looking for a bunch of information, like a list of where to find writing jobs, spending hours scouring Google is a waste.
Those people would probably opt-in to a list of resources to find writing jobs instead of trying to find them themselves, giving you their contact information with ease.
Creating a resources list is also a great brainstorming tool by itself. You’ll get to better understand the needs of your target audience by finding and building a list of resources they would need.
For us, this list might look like something that includes editors, cover designers, where to find beta readers, and all of those other book production resources (which we actually include in our Rolodex for our students).
#18 – Workbooks
We use this method here at SPS too. It’s by far our biggest lead gen tool aside from our webinar, but they’re actually supposed to be used together. We offer the webinar workbook as an opt-in after people have registered for our webinar.
Our workbook brings in about 400+ leads every week.
If you don’t have a workbook available on your website (especially if you use webinars as a lead generation tool), you’re missing out!
#19 – Printables
Anything someone can print ends up becoming valuable.
People can opt-in and receive a download, which they can then print out and use for themselves.
The bonus here is that they’ll have a physical copy of something with your company’s information on it right in front of them. Keeping you and your business top of mind for them is super important for conversion down the line.
Plus, then they’ll associate your company with their success or wins in the area they’re working on.
#20 – Email courses
Email marketing is still super important, no matter what anyone else says. It’s not a dead conversion channel and in fact, it’s the best one.
And that’s probably why you see so many people offering “5-Day Courses” that take place in daily emails. It’s perfect to get people on your list, create a habit for them of opening your emails, and gauge their interest in a course-type setup to begin with.
Reedsy does a great job of this, offering their courses like they’d be hosted on their website.
But if you click to take the course, you’re prompted to fill in a form, which triggers the course via daily emails.
#21 – Prompts
Sometimes people really need help developing ideas, and that’s where prompts come into play.
We have both fiction and nonfiction writing prompts to help some people get started. Most of these are super easy to make and provide a ton of value, particularly if someone uses one of your prompts.
#22 – Tools or Calculators
Just like we’ve got our Book Profit Calculator, you should have some sort of measuring tool like this too, especially if you’re in the business of making people more money.
Being able to showcase comparisons is super important for people to see the value you can provide.
And the lead gen factor? Just ask for their email in exchange for the results.
We have several tools we’ve created (with more on the way), that work to bring in a combined 450+ leads per week.
#23 – Pre-made spreadsheets
People hate making their own highly functional spreadsheet. If it’s just numbers in a column, no biggie, but most people want something more advanced and lack the skills (or time) to make it.
So doing it for them is a surefire way to get an opt-in.
Remember, you can even use all of these methods within your book when you write and publish it, but using these on your website and in your other marketing efforts can increase your lead generation significantly.
Take it from someone who figured out how to make a living writing after only a few months…you can do it the same way I did (which I’ll explain in this post).
Do you want to work from home?
Do you want to work for yourself?
Do you want to make a living doing something meaningful and fulfilling?
The answer is obvious and the only question is…
Whether you want to be your own boss, spend your day doing something you love and are good at, or even if you’re just looking for a new career opportunity, learning how to make money writing and which writing jobs are even available to you is worth it.
How to Make Money Writing
So you’ve already determined you want to write. You love it, it’s fulfilling, and you don’t despise it nearly as much as you do that 9-5 you’ve got now (or are still avoiding like the plague).
Firstly, that’s fantastic (we love writing here at Self-Publishing School, if you haven’t noticed)!
Secondly, now the work begins because writing jobs won’t just start falling from the sky and landing in your lap.
And that’s why you’ll have to learn how to make money writing, since there are far more opportunities than you think exist out there…
The more you work and market and push for more book sales, the better you’ll do. And therefore, this has the highest earning potential.
#2 – Screenwriter $$$$$
If you’re someone who would rather write movies or TV shows than books or novels, this could be the path for you.
Screenwriters—especially if you work hard and make it to the “big leagues”—have extremely high earning potential.
A screenwriter writes TV shows and movies. Contrary to what many believe, there are typically several writers who work on one show and movie, but it’s not necessarily easy to become a Hollywood screenwriter.
That means if you work hard, play your cards right, and focus on committing to this path, you can potentially make a lot of money writing.
If you’ve decided what you want to write about, it’s your job to do research so you can find the best job that fits what you’re looking to do.
There are two methods for finding writing jobs online:
Outreach – you personally find websites and platforms you want to work for and reach out via email cold pitching your writing services.
Respond to job postings – this is the more traditional method in which you visit job boards (like the ones listed above) and respond to job postings with your resume.
Outreach for Writing Jobs:
This method often takes the most finesse in order to get right. After my stint with Upwork and Fiverr ended, personally used outreach to land some of my most consistent and highest paying clients.
Here’s how you can do outreach to land writing jobs:
Determine your niche and the type of content you want to write. This can be beauty, fashion, education, parenting, movies, television, fitness, lifestyle, and any category you’re interested in. We recommend choosing one you both enjoy and know a lot about (less research means you can do more and therefore get paid more).
Visit websites you know have content in this niche. For example: if you want to write about food and travel, Thrillist.com might be your best bet. Choosing a niche like wellness might land you on sites like TheGreatist.com. If you’re not sure which sites cover your niche, just do a quick google search for, “[your niche] websites”.
Scroll down to the very bottom of the site’s homepage and look for “write for us” link. Not all websites will have this but many that are primarily content usually have a means for you to write for them, as seen in the example below from IntrovertDear.com.
Click on the “write for us” or equivalent page. Read over their guidelines to see if this is a good fit for you. If you want to know about compensation and they don’t list any, simply location a contact email or fill out a contact form and ask!
Cold pitch your idea. Technically, since they are accepting writers, it’s not considered a “cold” pitch, but you do still have to sell them on your ideas. Focus on what they can gain from working with you and less on you. This becomes easier with experience and proven results.
Responding to Job Postings for Writing Jobs:
This one is just like any other job you apply for online.
After searching for writing jobs via the job boards listed above, simply send in your resume and CV if applicable.
If you are an author and you want to sell lots of books on Amazon (I know, who doesn’t right), you need to get a few things right with your book: Keywords, categories, the competition, and what about that book data everyone keeps talking about? How do I figure that out?
Well fortunately, Dave Chesson and his team have developed a state-of-the-art software Publisher Rocket that is doing the work for you.
But, as far as measuring analytics or drilling down into the hard nitty-gritty of what passed as a “good keyword”, unless you could afford the time to do the research, and you were comfortable with the tech involved, grabbing those 7 master keywords for your book was like shooting in the dark and hoping to hit the target.
In most cases, unless you really know what you are doing, authors were missing the mark altogether.
I remember spending up to 2-3 hours trolling through Amazon, comparing book rankings, searching for those magic eBook categories that held the low hanging fruit we strive to snatch so our books can survive in the big ocean of countless books.
I won’t lie to you…it was exhausting. And if Amazon changed something [and they often do] they wouldn’t announce it until much later. Authors would then find out ambiguously, when sales dropped suddenly, and have to go through the whole process again of checking keywords, switching out categories…and on it went.
But back in July of 2016, that all changed.
Dave Chesson—founder of Kindlepreneur.com—launched a software called KDP Rocket that would change the way authors search for keywords. With the introduction of this software, authors could use analytics in a way that was presented so that they didn’t have to have a degree in digital engineering just to understand what data they were looking at. With easy to follow tutorials and a system that worked, KDP Rocket was an “island in the middle of a big ocean.”
And this, as many now know, was just the beginning…
Later, Dave and his team added more features to the program that included category research and setting up AMS ads. Authors were no longer “guessing” on the best keywords and just shooting dice to the wind hoping to land a good play for their books.
The game had changed, and Publisher Rocket is setting the stage for the future of the self-publishing arena.
The publishing field is not the same as it was three years ago, or even last year. This is where the Rocket comes in. Imagine a system that gives you the hard data Amazon won’t share with you. You can go there right now and find the best categories for your book within a matter of minutes without even having to troll through endless pages of books.
Publisher Rocket has now given authors a massive advantage when it comes to:
In other words, we now have a fighting chance to navigate through all the data, analytics, and helps authors thrive and not just survive in the self-publishing arena.
Now, let’s dive Into the core features of Publisher Rocket. Then, I’m going to give you a brief glimpse into what new features Rocket has planned for future upgrades. And believe me, if you think it’s good now…just wait.
Publisher Rocket and Amazon Terminology
Before we dive into this post, let’s go over the common terminology used with both Publisher Rocket and Amazon. This will help you to better understand the features of the software.
KDP: KIndle Direct Publishing. This refers to Amazon’s online publishing tool. KDP allows authors to publish their books for free in both eBook and book format.
ABSR: Amazon Bestseller Ranking. This is the ranking of the books as they are ranked according to Amazon. So for example, ABSR #1 is the top selling book in that category.
Age: in the competition analyzer refers to the age of the book, or how long it has been in publication.
ASIN Number: This stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number
KWT: Targeted Keyword in the book’s title. This tells you if the keyword being searched is in the title.
KWST: Targeted keyword in the book’s subtitle. This tells you if the keyword appears in the subtitle.
DY Sales: estimated daily sales for the book based on the ABSR.
MO Sales: Monthly estimated sales for the book based on projection of sales based on ABSR
AMS Ads: Amazon Marketing Services. This is Amazon’s paid marketing ads platform. Setting up ads for your book has big potential for bringing in organic traffic.
KDP Rocket 1.0 to Publisher Rocket 2.0
A few words on the progression of KDP Rocket to Publisher. When you buy Publisher Rocket, there is a guarantee that you won’t have to pay for upgrades every time Rocket makes an improvement.
And, over the past three years, a lot of progress has been made. According to Dave Chesson, from his very own Publisher Rocket Review, here is a timeline that shows all the upgrades made to date.
August 2019: Search bar is added to the main category page so users just type in the keyword and it pulls up the categories to best fit your search.
Very slick. Now users can just type in a keyword and this eliminates clicking into the categories first and then doing a search within that category.
At the end of this post, I will cover the new features and updates coming soon with with Amazon and Publisher Rocket.
So, let’s continue…
5 Ways Publisher Rocket Excels Above the Rest
#1. All Future Upgrades…Free?
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I just bought this new software 2 weeks ago and they already want more money for the new version!”
Yes, it sucks when you have to keep forking over cash for something you already paid for. But Publisher Rocket is where users pay once. Only once.
That’s right. So if you bought KDP Rocket 3 years ago when it launched at $69, you haven’t paid anything extra for the number of upgrades made since then. It’s a one time fee.
And how often does Publisher Rocket upgrade? There is a new version at least every two months, if not sooner.
Dave Chesson and his team are in the publishing field everyday, monitoring current changes in the marketplace, and integrating these changes into the Publisher Rocket software for an overall amazing user experience.
#2. Up-To-Date Current Statistics While You Write
As a writer, it is important you stay fixed on what you do best…writing a book. Let someone else do the market research and keep you updated on shifts in market data, analytics and updates as they happen in real time.
Publisher Rocket is constantly monitoring the market and providing updates on current statistics. PR keeps you informed so you don’t have to be out there testing unknown waters. I feel like someone has got my back and they are 100% reliable, and this protects my author business.
#3. Reliable and Fast Tech Support
Running into some tech issues with Rocket, or you have a question about something? Send the team at publisher Rocket a message at Publisher Rocket Support.
The response time is generally super-quick. In a few instances they responded back within 3 hours. This is crucial if you are in the middle of a book launch, or preparing for one, and you need help right away.
Nothing worse than sending in a ticket you have to wait days for a reply. Not the case here. As a matter of fact, you can check out the Publisher Rocket user testimonials that were not requested but discovered organically by Dave and his team.
#4. The Price is…$97.00?
How much does Publisher Rocket cost? Yes, it is $97.00. This is a one-time only fee and never pay again. Gotta love it.
#5. User Friendly Software that Anyone Can Use
I work with hundreds of authors a week. One of the biggest hurdles is dealing with tech issues around keywords, categories, or the basics of understanding algorithm data. But to use the Publisher Rocket, the software is laid out so that, even if tech is not your thing, it doesn’t need to be.
With easy-to-follow tutorials and everything explained on the page, the tech side of marketing is made so much easier. You don’t have to know everything about keyword research to find the best keywords for your book.
The Rocket does the work for you based on what you ask it to look for. It spits out the data, and you decide to use that in your book.
Publisher Rocket 2.0 Features: What Does the Publishing Software Do?
If you have been using KDP Rocket for some time, you have a good idea what the software can do. If this is your first introduction to what is available, let’s break it down so we know exactly what we have.
Publisher Rocket can be broken down into 4 features that focus on:
Let’s take a look at each of these:
As an author that has been using the Rocket from its early release back in July 2016, I can honestly say that it is the best software out there for several reasons.
First of all, Amazon doesn’t share the data that the Rocket does. Have you ever tried searching for categories for your book using just Amazon? If so, you better block off a holiday to get it done. The categories that are listed in the KDP Bookshelf provide no direction as to book rankings or competition. In fact, most of the actual categories are not even there.
When it comes to breaking down all the metadata and figuring out the best keywords, best categories, and how the competition is comparing, this is where Publisher Rocket steps in to provide authors with an experience that nothing else compares to.
Publisher Rocket can do for you what Amazon, and most other software, won’t [or can’t].
So, what are the current features of Publisher Rocket 2.0 that makes it stand tall above anything else?
Over 16,000 Book and eBook Categories Listed
Imagine if all you had to do was type in a keyword in the search bar and Publisher Rocket throws out your results for your potential categories in just seconds. That is exactly what it does as you can see here:
To make it even better, you can select Book, eBook or both and Publisher Rocket will put up the categories from both book platforms.
Includes Book Data, Not Just Kindle
When KDP came out it was focused on Kindle data only. But hard copies (aka paperbacks) still sell and are just as relevant. So now Rockets’ search includes data for books and is presented to Rocket users in an easy-to-interpret layout.
Competition Analyzer: How is the competition performing?
This is one of our favorite features of the Rocket software. You can check out the daily and monthly sales of books in the market in relation to your own books.
Check out who your competition is and based on data, look for the areas you could improve your own books’ performance.
The competition analyzer provides users with all relevant data that gives an inside look at who your competition is, how well they are doing, and how your book compares to their performance.
The competition analyzer provides up-to-date information for each book based on:
Age of the book
ABSR of each book
If the keyword appears in the book title and/or subtitle.
Daily and monthly sales of the book based on data from the current ABSR.
Sales page link. You can click on ‘check it out’ and be taken to the book’s sales page.
Having this information is critical because, if your book is underperforming in sales or rankings, you can compare to the competition and make changes to your book that influences metadata. Now you are armed with the statistics to beat the competition.
Can Publisher Rocket help you to become a bestseller?
Keyword Search Feature
Publisher Rocket helps authors identify the most profitable keywords for your book. How does it do this? First, you type in a keyword into the keyword search bar, and then hit ‘Go Get Em Rocket.’
Rocket analyzes the top 5 books that use that keyword based on the following criteria:
Fame and strength of the authors
Age of the books
# of reviews and review grades
Whether or not the keyword is in the title/subtitle
Enrolled in Kindle Unlimited or not
This is a key feature of the Rocket software.
It tells authors:
how many people are typing in that keyword/phrase
Competition score of that keyword from 1-100.
How much money the top 5 books are earning on average
# of competitors using that keyword
Without this data, you wouldn’t be able to figure out how many people are using this keyword, or if it is being searched for at all. The keyword feature eliminates the guesswork are provides accurate data.
Several years ago, when AMS ads were introduced to authors, I can remember spending hours upon hours just doing keyword research, copying and pasting. But now…
Publisher Rocket has the most amazing feature available that eliminates all of that. If you are familiar with Amazon Ads, then you know your book needs hundreds of keywords to be effective.
In addition, the authors have to stay on top of their ads and monitor them carefully. Setting up a successful ad campaign takes work, time and yes, money. The ads can get expensive if you just set it up and let it go.
This feature is by far my favorites and, to add, even without all of the other features talked about here, if this was the only one available it would be worth the price of Rocket alone. Yes, it is very cool.
The feature comes with a filter as well. You can eliminate any keywords that are not relevant to your book simply by filtering these out. Before this, authors had to manually take out keywords.
But if you are interested in setting up AMS ads, I would highly recommend learning as much about ads as you can. Fortunately Dave Chesson has a free course on AMS ads right here. Check it out so you have the overview of what it takes to set these up.
Can Publisher Rocket help me with Amazon book ads?
Is Publisher Rocket Worth It?
You’ll have to decide. Let’s break it down this way. You already know everything Publisher Rocket can help you with, so we will just assume you decided to already use it if you aren’t already.
Publisher Rocket pays for itself: There are three ways that you users will earn back the initial investment spent on PR.
The cost of Rocket is $97.00. If the Rocket saves you 5 hours of your time, you just earned back your money. How much is your time worth per hour?
When you sell about 47 books priced at $2.99 (at 70% royalty) because you could find profitable keywords and better categories, the software just paid for itself.
If Rocket helps you to filter out a bad book idea because nobody is searching for it, and gets you to change your marketing efforts based on proven data, it definitely just paid for itself. This will save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of working hours you would have spent on a book that won’t sell.
Sneak Peek: New Upgrades Coming Soon for Publisher Rocket
As this post is being written , there are several amazing new features coming soon, according to Dave Chesson. These upgrades will, of course be free and, if you think the software is good now, wait till you see what is coming next.
Audible Information Analyzed.
Yes, we know Publisher Rocket can pull data for eBooks and books now. But how about a feature that includes audiobooks? This is coming soon.
Just Launched: New “Search-All” Feature for categories. Added to the Publisher Rocket search categories is a search bar on the main category page. Now you type in the keyword and Rocket pulls up relevant categories.
Opening up categories to international markets.
Yes, you heard it right. Amazon will be opening up AMS to the UK. And what this means is, Publisher Rocket will be there to provide category data to give authors in the US (and everywhere else where applicable) to join the UK market. This is huge in terms of growing your author business and expanding into global markets.
New Amazon Category System launching. Soon, Rocket will launch a new feature that updates with the latest in ABSR (Amazon Best Seller Rankings) three times a day. But that’s not all. Publisher Rocket has plans to bring in a bunch of new data for categories that will help authors to really find the best categories to rank in. This will include volatility, average ABSRs for the month, and the sales popularity of these categories. Why hang around a category that isn’t bringing in traffic?
Remember, all upgrades are free and installed automatically on your Publisher Rocket software.
Is Publisher Rocket Worth It?
You be the judge. We’ve shown you what the Rocket software can do. Here is a breakdown of the best advantages to using Rocket, and why it matters to the success of your books as an author.
Sell More Books: We know that Publisher Rocket will help you to sell more books. Actually, you can sell a lot more books and start earning more than your day job once you use the tool. Countless authors claim they started earning 3x more with Rocket.
Keep Your Sanity: If Rocket prevents you from losing your mind, because you just spent ten hours on Amazon trying to figure out categories and relevant keywords, you made your money back and get to keep your sanity. So yeah, it’s worth it. Win-win.
Free upgrades for a lifetime: Don’t you just hate it when you buy software and then 6 months later you have to pay more money for their upgrade. And then again six months after that. Over a lifetime, you could end up spending thousands of bucks on a piece of software you initially paid $150 for.
Of course, they don’t tell you this when you sign up. But Publisher Rocket, while it upgrades frequently, doesn’t ask you for additional funds…ever. You pay once, you keep upgrading, and there is nothing more to do. Gotta love it.
Continuous Market Research. That’s right, as we mentioned, while you are sleeping and dreaming of writing that next novel, somebody else is out there on the cutting edge gathering data and figuring out better systems to help you scale up your author business. The Rocket software will soon update three times a day, staying current with complex data shifts and doing the work for you while you focus on your book business.
Gives authors a competitive edge. You can access the most up-to-date data on categories, keywords and AMS ads. You can also figure out the best kind of books to write before you write them so you don’t publish something nobody wants to buy. This is a big win for an author who has the goal to write for a living and wants to make real money in self-publishing. And, you can analyze the competition as we have seen, to stay ahead of the game and get your books out in front of readers first.
The Ongoing Changes in Self-Publishing
The self publishing industry is in a state of constant change, growth and expansion. Nothing stays the same from one month to the next, or for that matter, day to day the data is in constant flux.
Amazon algorithms change, metadata for books shift, and how readers search for and discover their favorite books has become very streamlined.
For these reasons, as authors, we need to be on the cutting edge of this growth or else…we start losing books sales, customers, and get lost in the bloody waters.
Publisher Rocket provides a huge advantage to authors because Dave Chesson and his team are on top of this 24/7. In fact, PR is now working to update data three times a day. This data is relevant to book categories, as well as expanding international markets
While we are busy writing and creating content to publish to market, someone else is doing the heavy lifting in terms of ongoing market research and providing you as an author with the most current, up-to-date data so you can stay on top of your game.
Sell more books, build greater authority, and keep on living the dream as an author.
If you have an experience or any strategies that worked best for you using Publisher Rocket, drop your story in the comments section below.
Many people believe they can simply start writing and will eventually have a completed book, ready to publish, but Brianna knew that just wasn’t the case.
After all, this was something she’d never done before. And without even having an idea, she sought out someone more experienced in the field for answers.
This was the catalyst that allowed her to pursue her dreams, and earn $4,000 per month in client work from her book.
A Coach’s Guidance Helped Her Uncover The Big Idea
There are some people who have the ability to push you, forcing out what’s necessary in order for you to succeed in what you’re trying to accomplish.
It’s no surprise professional athletes have several coaches at their fingertips, instructing them on how to best work out, what diet will help them succeed, and how best to approach their position to win on the field.
So why shouldn’t people looking to become professional writers (AKA: authors), not have the same support?
“I had no idea what my book was gonna be about, I just knew that I was supposed to write one.”
Brianna only knew she wanted to write a book. She felt called to publish, to share her experience, but wasn’t quite sure how to approach this arduous task.
“I was writing the wrong book—a different book for 10 days before my writing coach kind of called me out and said, ‘Well wait, you should be writing this book’, and he was right.”
What we find often with our students is that they come in with this amazing idea, sometimes even part of their book already written, only to realize that it’s not the book they should be writing.
It’s not the book they can sell or it’s not a book their target audience wants or needs.
With a coach, who has published many books before, you get the direction you need to avoid wasting months (and sometimes even years!) writing a book that won’t sell and therefore, won’t share your story or message.
Writing a book gives you credibility, yes, and it also gives you impact.
Being able to have a professional piece of work that you spent hours crafting to support your passions and values can do wonders in launching or growing a business that you love.
“I really was connected to the fact that if I were to write a book, it would be a launching pad for a business—a creative business for myself.”
Brianna used her book to launch her own consulting business. Talk about an effective business card!
From her book (aside from royalties!), Brianna is able to bring home an extra $4,000 per month from consulting clients she wouldn’t have if it weren’t for her taking action to write and publish her book.
Not only did she go from leaving her 9-5 to stay with her kids to publishing a book, she’s now her own boss, making her own rules, her own hours, and contributing to her family financially and emotionally by showing her children what it looks like to go after your dreams.
And she didn’t do all of that alone, either…
Being an Author Isn’t Always Isolating, Not With the Self-Publishing School Community
When you take on a journey like writing and publishing a book, it can seem isolating, like you’re the only person who can make this thing happen. After all, you spend a lot of time inside our own head when writing…
But you’re not alone with Self-Publishing School.
“My favorite part about going through the Self-Publishing School program was the accountability, the structure, the Mastermind Community, and the wonderful comradery between the authors.”
We don’t think the process of writing a book even should be isolating. If so many people are out there writing and publishing books, why not give them a space to collaborate, get feedback on titles and covers, as well as share knowledge to help each other succeed?
That’s what the Self-Publishing School Mastermind community is all about.
Over 2,500 uthors from around the world congregate in an exclusive Facebook group to support each other, hold one another accountable, and even join each other’s launch teams to boost the success of their books.
“People were very kind and available to answer questions, and I’ve been in the Mastermind Community for two years now and I still feel connected, although I published my book two years ago.”
It was this support that led Brianna Ruelas to her next big accomplishment.
Using Her Book as a Springboard
Authors no longer have to be “just” authors. In fact, Brianna Ruelas can now add “professional speaker” to her resume with the tools her book has given her and the doors it has opened.
Because she’s placed herself as an authority from being a published author, she’s able to more easily book speaking gigs.
This only furthers her credibility, establishes herself as an authority, and ultimately can help her bring in even more clients. All of this built on the back of her book.
If she hadn’t taken action and joined Self-Publishing School, the past two years could have looked very different. It could have look much like yours may have:
Spending days wishing her book was published. Jotting down a few sentences here and there, never quite being able to finish the book.
Heck, she may not have even started the book, and it would have remained this distant idea that pops up to nag on the edges of her mind each time she went on a road trip.
And she would have the clients she’s had.
She wouldn’t have the experience of launching and growing a business.
She would have “speaker” listed on her resume.
Because Brianna Ruelas allowed Self-Publishing School to support her, she was able to use this high-quality book that was published effectively to bring in new prospects, new clients, and a new life.
And It’s Not Over…
Brianna published her book two years ago, is still bringing in royalties, and that’s not to mention her consulting business income from her book or the speaking gigs she’s acquired because of it.
And she’s not even done…
Next on Brianna’s list is launching her very own course to coincide with her book in order to scale her business further and continue to build a career she’s passionate about.
All because she wrote and published a book with Self-Publishing School.
Let’s face it, different people define an author platform in many different ways but according to Jane Friedman, an author platform can be defined as the ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach.
An author platform can be described as everything you’re doing online and offline, to create awareness about who you are and what you do, so you can boost your brand visibility and make it easier and faster for your target audience and even the general public, to discover and connect with your brand and books.
At the end of the day, your author platform makes it possible for you to build relationships with a diverse group of people online and offline so you and your books can get noticed quickly.
How to Build An Author Platform With 8 Steps
Now that you know what an author platform is and why you need one, let’s look at the steps you can take to build your own:
#1 – Know your target readers
To build an author platform that will help you succeed, it’s important for you to know everything about your target audience and be able to answer the following questions:
Who are they?
What do they do for a living?
What’s their age, sex, marital status, and location?
What are their hobbies, interests, and motivation?
What challenges and problems do they struggle with?
What makes them happy and unhappy?
Where do they spend their time online and offline?
When you know who your target audience is, it helps you learn where to focus your time and energy and on who.
And here are some tips to help you identify your target readers:
Use Google to search for blogs, forums, and communities where your audience may be active e.g. blogs within your niche, websites of authors with similar books, etc.
Look for books similar to yours and take note of the kind of people reading them because they might be your target readers also
Use key details about your book to identify the specific type of people that usually buy such books, e.g. book format, book genre, price, number of pages, etc.
Do research on social media for groups interested in books similar to yours
When you know your target readers, you can apply that knowledge to everything you’re doing and build an author platform that draws and engages the right audience successfully.
#2 – Identify and define your brand
Your brand helps people to recognize you and form an opinion about you and your books, through your personality, your values, your voice, your promise to your readers and even the feelings you stir up in them, every time they read your books or come across your website and social media profiles.
Your brand is what makes you unique so you can stand out among others.
One of the best tools you need to build your author platform is a website.
And it should be a website with a modern and attractive look plus a functional design so that everyone that visits the website can have a great user experience at all times.
Here are a few ways your website can help build your author platform:
Your website is one place where you can showcase your brand as much as you want, using your brand colors, tagline, headshot and so on
A website makes you appear more professional and credible and boosts your chances of gaining the trust of your target audience
Because your website is your business headquarters, you can remain open for business 24 hours a day seven days a week
With a website, you and your books can be found easily by your target audience and the general public
On your website, your target readers can learn about your books at their convenience, irrespective of their time zone or location, all over the world
You have 100% control over your website so it cannot be taken away from you without notice, unlike your social media accounts
You can use your author website to sell your books directly to anyone who is ready to buy
To be able to enjoy all these benefits from your website, it’s important to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly, contains content that’s easy to read and scan, loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and is also accessible from any browser.
Bottomline, avoid website mistakes that can drive people away from your website.
#4 – Start blogging consistently
Blogging is a way for you to share pieces of your writing with the public, in the form of blog posts and articles published on your blog.
Even though it’s not compulsory to have a blog on your website, it can help build your author platform in the following ways:
Blogging consistently compels you to write on a regular basis which helps to improve your writing
When you publish content regularly on your blog, you’ll attract more people to your site
As long as you produce quality and valuable content, blogging can position you as an authority and expert on your subject, which increases your credibility
Blogging makes it possible for you to have a two-way conversation with your readers because they can respond by commenting. This can help you build a community or a tribe of loyal fans (that can leave you those 5-star reviews!)
Blogging can help you connect and build strong relationships with other bloggers, influencers, authors, the media and so on
To build your platform through blogging, it’s important to write for your audience and always provide value.
Also, don’t forget to observe blogging best practices like adding images and graphics, optimizing your posts, writing magnetic headlines, and publishing consistently, maybe once or twice a week or every two weeks or monthly and so on.
#5 – Build an email list
Your email list is a list of people who gave you permission to send emails to them regularly when they signed up on your website and gave you their email address.
One key advantage of having an email list is that no one can take it away from you.
Here’s how to build your email list:
Choose an email service provider like Convertkit, Aweber, Mailchimp, etc.
Create a sign-up form on your website
Make available a thank you gift, also known as a lead magnet or reader magnet, for people that sign up
Decide how often you’re going to send emails to your list and be consistent about it. This could be weekly, biweekly, monthly and so on
Ensure you always send personalized emails that provide value
Avoid buying a list or putting people on your list manually
Remember to provide a way for people to unsubscribe easily from your emails
With an email list, you now have people that are interested in your brand and can be reached directly through emails, one on one.
You can use this unique opportunity to share relevant information about you or your new releases, when you’re ready for a launch team, to sell your books or provide information about your book launch or events, or to even sell directly to them, from time to time.
Check out this interview video with Chandler Bolt and Nick Stephenson that goes over how to build your audience as an author:
Remember, it’s okay to start with nobody on your list because that’s where most people start from but with time, persistence and best practices, you can grow your email list which helps to build your writer platform
#6 – Write guest posts
A guest post is a blog post or an article that you write and publish on another person’s site.
Research and confirm that the blog you’re interested in accept guest posts, allows an author bio with links back to your site and have an audience that matches the type of audience you want to attract
Read their guidelines and follow them
Pitch an original post title that has not been written before on their site or anywhere else
Respond to comments once your post is published
#7 – Connect offline
While it’s true that a lot of your author platform building activities will be done online, there are some steps you can also take offline, to connect with your target audience and build your author platform.
Here are some ways to connect offline:
Inform family, friends, neighbors, and other groups in your community about what you do
Create business cards that has your website information, using your brand color, font, logo, etc and share them everywhere you go
Join author groups and associations in your local community and beyond
Attend writers conferences and events
Accept speaking engagements
Support your local libraries and bookstores and participate in some of their activities
Become a guest on a podcast or on radio or television
Having a presence and being active on social media can put your brand in front of a large number of people that you may not have the opportunity to connect with anywhere else, which goes a long way to increase your brand visibility and build your author platform.
Examples of such social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and many others.
Here are some simple tips for using social media as an author:
Identify all the social media platforms where your target readers can be found
Choose one or two that you like and are comfortable with and learn everything about them
Come up with a strategy on how you will use each social media platform to achieve your goal
Decide in advance how much time you can afford to spend on social media daily and keep to it
Create a profile and start posting, using the strategy you came up with
Even though social media can be used effectively to build your author platform, almost everyone agrees that it can take up a lot of your time if you’re not careful, so remember to take preventive steps to avoid that.
Now that you know all the steps you can take to build your author platform, come up with your own plan of action by identifying the step you want to start with and those you can even do at the same time.
Remember, building an author platform takes time and cannot be done overnight so the earlier you start, the better.