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?
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.
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.
The success of my books has been directly responsible for the strong performance of my business, which has grown to over 7 figures in less than 2 years.
Self-publishing a book is done with these steps:
Write a book you’re proud of
Decide which self-publishing platform to use
Get your book edited, a cover designed, and it formatted
Upload your manuscript and accompanying assets
Hit “Publish” when you’re read
Your book is self-published!
It’s really that easy.
Five years ago, in order to achieve this level of publishing success, you would have needed to be extremely lucky to even land an agent who would attempt to find you a deal at one of the “Big 5” publishing houses.
I’ve created a step-by-step comprehensive self-publishing guide that will walk you through the beginning steps of how to write your book all the way to how to self-publish it on Amazon’s Kindle (KDP) Network.
Let’s get started so you can get started!
#1 – Decide Why You Want to Learn How to Publish a Book
Come up with at least 10 valid reasons why you want to write a book. Use the questions above as a starting guide to brainstorm.
#2 – Write Your Book
If you’ve ever tried to start writing a book, you might have had moments where you’ve stared at a blank page for hours with nothing to show for it. Feeling frustrated, you resort to procrastinating and get nothing done!
This is normal, writing a book is hard work.
In fact, coming up with a book ideain general can be very tricky. But in order to start writing your book, you must develop a writing process.
Here’s are some effective ways to write a book worth self-publishing:
Buy a calendar. The best way to have your book complete is to have a calendar that schedules your goals per day/week.
Create an outline. An outline is like a map of your book that provides direction to your story. It keeps you on track and ensures that your ideas are organized.
Develop a writing habit. Condition yourself to write at the same time every day. With this practice, it will soon become a habit that will make writing a book automatic.
Get an accountability partner. You can hold each other accountable to write and finish your by your “draft done” date.
Build your writing environment. Yes, this can be a blanket for if you choose to use “build” literally or you can simply find an area where your head is clear, there are no distractions, and where you can write in peace.
To learn more tips on how to write faster, here’s a tutorial video of the simple process I use to write over 1500 words per hour:
#3 – Get Feedback on Your Book Before Publishing
When writing your book, it’s important to get as much feedback as early in the process as possible.
It’s essential to get this feedback in order to improve your writing.
Everything from creative writing to factual, non-fiction works needs feedback in order to produce a polished publication.
As writers, it’s all too easy to retreat into your cave for a long period of time, spend countless hours writing what you think is the perfect first draft, only to find that a) your draft doesn’t make sense to anyone else or b) no one else is as interested in the topic as you originally thought.
Writing tips can come from anywhere and the best usually come from those reading your book for the first time.
Not only can a fresh set of eyes on your book help you catch typos and grammatical errors, but a new perspective can give you ideas for tightening up your story and making the theme more clear, like in the example below.
Giving your book to one (or more) “beta readers” before giving it to an editor and self-publishing can also cut down on the time and cost of paying a professional editor.
Reach out to a few friends who could provide good (preferably unbiased) feedback, and ask them if they’ll be willing to read a chapter or two (or the whole book!) as you finish writing
#4 – Choose a Book Title
Contrary to popular belief, you should never decide on a book title until after you are done writing your first draft.
This is because choosing a book title first often results in you “writing yourself into a corner” because you’re trying so hard to align your story to the title of the book instead of writing what needs to be written.
Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be.
As you’re brainstorming ideas, always remember to keep it simple.
Your title should also be clear on what your readers will receive by reading your book. This is because experts state that a clear promise or a guarantee of results will further intrigue your readers.
It’s certainly what’s made our Become a Bestseller students so successful during their launches.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your memorable book title:
Is your title going to teach a high demand skill?
Can your title impact someone’s life?
Can your book solve a very difficult problem?
Is it short enough to read in a thumbnail image on Amazon?
Does it elicit an emotional response?
Once you’ve narrowed down your book titles, send out an email to your friends and family or put a poll up to your audience asking what title they’d prefer. You could also ask a community of other authors what they think.
Start there. If you don’t, then do you know someone who knows an editor? If you don’t have any luck finding an editor within your personal network, don’t worry!
Depending on your budget, you can either hire a professional book editor or hire a more budget-friendly editor from Upwork. But be careful and always check references and portfolios of work.
As a Self-Publishing School student, we will also provide you with a Rolodex of approved and vetted book editors who all do a great job, as you can see in the example below.
No matter how you find your editor, make sure you’re a good fit before committing to the full book by paying them a small sum ($25 or so) to edit a few pages or a chapter of your book.
Make sure the editor is interested in the subject matter, that they can get your whole book edited in 3.5 weeks or less including back-and-forth revisions, and that their edits are both accurate and make sense to you.
If you don’t feel you’re a good fit following a sample edit, then let that $25 go and find an editor who’s going to work out rather than sinking more money into a relationship that might be a mistake.
Whatever you do, don’t give up during the editorial process! If one editor isn’t working out for you or meeting your needs, find another.
Find a friend or professional editor who can make sure your book is error-free, and start working with them sooner rather than later!
#6 – Design a Book Cover that Converts
When it comes to self-publishing, a high-quality book cover is one of the most important elements that will get your book to convert into sales!
The reason is that yourbook cover design is what readers see first and will immediately determine whether they want to read your book or not.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” simply doesn’t apply to actual book covers, as much as we wish it did.
The hard truth is that everyone judges a book by its cover whether they realize it or not.
So you must make sure that it is created professionally and that it will stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category.
What makes a good book cover?
Simplistic styling. Too much going on will make readers unable to figure out what your book is about. Keep the cover minimalistic and it will convert more readers.
Professionally designed. Book cover designers know how to create book covers that convert. They have industry knowledge and have studied what works and what doesn’t.
Clear title and subtitle. The title on your cover does matter. The easier it is to read, the better. This allows your readers to clearly see what your book is about as they scroll through Amazon or other book retailers.
A design style that fits your intended audience. If you’re writing a faith-based book intended for an audience of faith, having an overly dark, devilish cover doesn’t make sense.
You can find amazing book cover designers on freelancing sites such as:
You can also use KDP’s free resources to help format your book. Formatting can be a frustrating experience for the uninitiated though, so if you have a few bucks to spare, you might consider paying someone to help you.
Also keep in mind that formatting will look different for fiction versus nonfiction books.
Typically, nonfiction books don’t have an indent between paragraphs but instead, they have spaces whereas fiction books are indented with each new paragraph.
If you want to pay for formatting, Liber Writeris a low-cost, effective option for converting a Microsoft Word file to Amazon’s Kindle format. If $60 is too much, you can also find people on Fiverr to format your book for Kindle.
Just be sure you hire someone who knows how to format your specific book genre.
Make sure your book is formatted properly by using the free online resource above or hiring someone who can handle the formatting process for you.
#9 – Self-Publish Your Book
When you feel confident your book is ready for the public, you can create a KDP account and upload your book.
This is how to upload your book on KDP:
On the KDP mainpage, locate and click on “Your Bookshelf”.
Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions”.
Then, locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
Finally, click on “Upload eBook Manuscript”, and upload your manuscript file from your computer.
It’s highly recommended you also select two different categories on Amazon your book might fit into so you can reach a broader audience.
To select keywords and categories, look at other best-selling books in your niche and notice what keywords and categories those authors chose.
Once Amazon finishes uploading your file, a confirmation message will be sent and you can preview the uploaded file to check for any errors. Create your Amazon author central account after uploading your book.
Include a bio, photo, and link to your website or blog to help you stand out among authors. After a few more steps, you’ll be ready to publish your book, at which time you’ll click “save & publish” in your KDP book dashboard.
Afterward, you should be ready to publish your book! Just click “save & publish” in the book editing screen!
Follow these steps to upload your book. You are allowed to upload your manuscript as many times as you want with each upload overriding the previous.
#10 – Price Your Book
One of the most important decisions when it comes to self-publishing a book is how to price it. The most common question I get from new writers is, “How much should my book cost?”
To answer this, my general rule of thumb is to have your book priced is between $2.99 to $5.99. To be more specific, when beginning a launch, I would begin by pricing the book at $0.99 for the launch period.
Then I would set the price to 2.99, and I would moderately increase the price by $1 every week and measure how well the new price performs. Once you see a sales dip, that will determine the exact price of your book that will guarantee book sales.
Find the perfect price by using this strategy that will attract your readers and best drive long-term success.
#11 – Form a Launch Team
Your launch team is the group of people who are dedicated to helping make your book successful.
They should be a passionate group of individuals who are eager to make your book launch successful. Remember, one highly skilled team member is better than a group of mediocre ones!
Here’s a video detailing how to use a launch team effectively:
To find quality candidates, here’s a questionnaire you can use to assess applicants and see if they’re qualified to market your book:
Why do you want to support my book?
What goals are you trying to reach with this project?
How would you market this book?
Which influencers would you reach out to and why?
Do you have a genuine interest in my book and its genre?
Create an application with questions that align with your thought process. Try to be open-minded with those who think outside the box – they may be the perfect candidates that can get your book to become a bestseller.
#12 – Maximize Book Launch Exposure with Reviews
It’s not enough to learn how to publish a book and be done with it. You still have to take action even after your official launch.
As soon as your book goes live on Amazon, be sure to leverage your launch team and your audience to help you market your book! It may be odd to ask your fans for help, but your fans are there to support your project and want to see you succeed.
You might be surprised how willing they’ll be to help you if you just ask!
Here are some marketing initiatives you can assign your team and audience to do:
Share content from your book as blog posts across social media
Reach out to influencers for a future guest post or podcast feature
Share a book review on their YouTube channel
Buy extra copies to gift their friends
The additional exposure generated from your launch team and audience will help push your book up Amazon’s rankings, which will drive more sales! There are even websites that help you with rankings, such as Kindle Ranker. Make sure to have a look at that!
Create your book marketing launch plan using these methods. Measure each of these methods to see which will best get your book in the hands of new readers and convert into sales.
#13 – Celebrate Learning How to Self-Publish a Book!
Publishing after writing a book is just the beginning. Depending on your goals for your book, self-publishing can get you more customers, free publicity, and establish you as an expert in your niche.
This can help you land speaking gigs and build a business within your area of expertise.
Your book sales can also help fund your lifestyle with passive income.
Dream big about what you want your book to do for you. When you have a vision for where you want your book to take you, it will be easier to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Getting clear on what you want will also help you to be more effective when expanding your network along on your journey.
What to do Now
Now that you’ve learned how to publish a book, it’s time to take action and bring yourself one step closer to your goals and dreams.
If self-publishing a bestseller is something you want to do, and you’re serious about changing your life and your business for the better by getting your book out there in the world, then you need a step-by-step system to follow to take action.
A self-publishing company is a business dedicated to helping you achieve your desired level of success within your self-publishing journey.
They detail the process and streamline otherwise difficult avenues you might not be able to maneuver yourself.
But every self-publishing company is different.
Here at Self-Publishing School, our mission is to make the process as easy as possible for you while ensuring you do everything you can to succeed the right way.
Sure, you can throw your book online with a cover you created in Canva and call yourself a self-published author. But will that yield book sales? Will that give you the authority, recognition, and fulfillment you’re looking for?
How is a Self-Publishing Company Different than a Traditional Publishing House?
Traditional publishing houses are where you first land an agent, and then they submit your manuscript, and they take care of the printing/editing/publishing – at the expense of your hard earned royalties, of course.
Here’s a table detailing the differences between self-publishing companies and traditional 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
Why Use a Self-Publishing Company?
After all, you want to do this yourself, right? Self-publish. But like I mentioned before, you don’t know everything about self-publishing.
Do you know the best book launch process for getting your book with the coveted orange “Bestseller” banner (that also increases your book’s ranking, and sales!)?
There is far more to self-publishing than simply hitting “publish” on Amazon, and without the right process, your book might end up as one of those stereotypical self-published books that sells 3 copies – to family members.
And that’s why you use a self-publishing company. Someone else has already done the research, the work, and has the experience to guide you through the process.
If you’re someone who wants to see real book sales and achieve other goals, like growing a business or becoming a full-time author, then a self-publishing company will help.
What You Can Expect with a Self-Publishing Company
What does working with a self-publishing company look like?
While not all self-publishing companies are the same or provide the same type of information and training for you, it’s important to understand what you’ll take away from working with one.
This is what you can expect when working with a company that helps you self-publish.
#1 – You keep all rights to your book
Unlike traditional publishing houses, you actually get to keep all the rights to your books.
What does this mean?
It mean that, when you publish, you are the sole owner of the book and all of its contents. It’s copyrighted under your name and the self-publishing companies will not have any of their information inside of the book (unless you want to thank them for everything they’ve helped you with).
This is a major benefit because with self-publishing companies, you can keep the book in print for however long you want.
On the flip side, traditional publishing houses can choose when to pull your book from shelves and simply no longer print or sell it. And since you no longer own the rights, you can’t self-publish that book unless you buy the rights back (which some publishing houses don’t even offer you the option of).
#2 – You’ll save time
Time is our most valuable asset. It’s the one thing in our lives we can never get back no matter what.
Unless you’re a secret time traveler and have uncovered the secrets of bending and warping time (and if you are, PLEASE SHARE), you have to treat time like it’s precious.
One of the biggest perks of using self-publishing companies to help you get your book published is the simple fact thatthey tell you what needs to be done, when, and how.
Not only will you save time actually writing the book (assuming the company gives you instructions on how to write faster, like we do here at Self-Publishing School), but you won’t have to go through the hours upon hours of research in order to get it right.
And, you don’t have to waste time making mistakes and adjusting them.
#3 – You keep 100% of royalties
Everything you earn, you keep. Now, there may be self-publishing companies out there who require a percentage of your royalties, since they helped you, but here at Self-Publishing School don’t’ believe in that.
After all, you did the work. You put forth the time and effort. This is your book. Therefore, you keep what you actually earn.
Aside from what Amazon takes for allowing you to use their platform, 100% of your profit is yours to keep.
This is much different than traditional publishing houses in the sense that through them, you’re only pocketing about 10% of royalties (and sometimes even less).
#4 – You’re kept accountable
The hardship is in the name itself: self-publishing.
It’s a very lonely process if you don’t have anyone else going through it with you. And we all know how much easier it is to stay on track when we have someone else rooting for (or hollering at) us.
Many self-publishing companies have some sort of progress tracking, coaching, or community to help keep you motivated and working to achieve your dream.
How we do that here at Self-Publishing School is through all three of those methods, including a Facebook Mastermind Community with hundreds of dedicated current and past students ready to help.
#5 – You get coached by experts
At least here at Self-Publishing School, you do. Not all programs have this perk, and boy is it a perk.
Our coaches are all experts in their field. You get one-on-one coaching that allows you to take personalized tips and put them to use in your own publishing journey.
Since coaches have been exactly where you are and have come out on top, and maintained book sales themselves, you get a leg up on anyone else doing this without that help.
Take a look at one of our amazing coaches, Lise Cartwright, and how she still manages to bring in $4,000 on her self-published books, all while helping our students learn to do the same.
Again, not all self-publishing companies offer this service to their students, but if they do, it can help you understand a side of the industry you likely wouldn’t get to see otherwise.
#6 – You make connections
This is particularly true for programs that include access to a community of somesort.
You never know who you’ll get to know, like, and befriend. These are all like-minded people who are after the same things as you.
You can make dear friends, get even more advice when needed, and maintain a sense of purpose when you’re constantly fed motivation from them.
#7 – You create a bigger impact with your book
What’s the reason you’re self-publishing. Why do you really want to get your book out into the world?
I’m willing to bet it has something meaningful to you. You want to help others, share information, or show the world a theme or message that’s important to you.
By using one of the self-publishing companies out there, you’re able to create a bigger impact with your book.
Because you will write it better, market it smarter, and sell more. And after all, that’s the point. Right? You want to get as many eyes on it as you possibly can.
#8 – You gain more opportunities
Because your book will do better than it would if you didn’t have that outside help, you gain many more opportunities.
Becoming a published author places you as an authority in any field you’re writing in. Not only does this help your business grow, if that’s your goal, but it also helps you sell more books through new and better opportunities than you’d have otherwise.
Take these students of ours for example:
After publishing their books, they have been either contacted or pursued speaking engagements on their own along with other opportunities to grow their book and platform.
Chandler Bolt, you know him—the guy who built this 8 figure business from his first bestselling book—swears by it.
But he’s not the only expert out there who agrees.
Ryan Deiss, CEO of DigitalMarketer, also uses a book to grow his business. You can check out how he does so in the video above, but the point remains: self-publishing is a perfect way to grow your business.
And if that’s your goal, then you want to make sure you’re self-publishing for success. Otherwise, your book won’t make nearly as big of an impact on your business, which is why working with a self-publishing company can help.
#10 – You have a repeatable, successful process
Many of our students write multiple books with our program – not just one.
As one of our favorite author says, if you write one book and you enjoy it, you will write another book.
The most successful self-published authors out there are those who write more than one book. Not only do they maintain a steady stream of passive income this way, but since they have a reliable, repeatable process, it makes it easy for them to publish multiple.
So long as the self-publishing company you’re working with has lifetime access (like we do), you can hop on and go through the system every time you want to.
Plus, imagine how nice it would feel to say, “Yes, I’m a published author of multiple books.” Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
PublishDrive. If you’re looking for an alternative book distribution channel, PublishDrive offers you the option of paying a monthly subscription fee that allows you to keep 100% of your sales revenue.
Draft2Digital. A convenient option for self-publishers looking to use Draft2Digital’s powerful book formatting capabilities as well as International Book Links.
SmashWords. One of the earliest book aggregators. SmashWords grants your book access to some of the biggest retailers out there, and also provides powerful reporting capabilities.
StreetLib. A wide-reaching international distributor with dashboard options supporting multiple languages.
Luminare Press. Offers professional, personal, and affordable services to ensure authors get a book that they can be proud of.
Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid
Not all self-publishing companies are created equal. Unfortunately, there are some self-publishing companies who only want your money and don’t want to see you succeed.
These are some red flags to keep a lookout for when researching self-publishing companies to help you get your book out there.
#1 – They take a cut of your royalties
Why even self-publish if you don’t actually get to keep your hard earned money?
This won’t necessarily mean that self-publishing company is a scam or fraudulent in any way. However, it is something to think about and be wary of.
You want to make sure you’re actually benefiting fairly for your book’s success. So working with a company that allows you to keep every cent is essential.
As mentioned earlier, traditional publishing houses technically “purchase” your book from you. It’s why you get that nice big (usually not big, though) advance.
However, self-publishing companies should not require this. Since you are self-publishing, all of the rights should remains 100% yours.
#3 – They maintain creative control
Obviously, self-publishing companies are meant to help you.
That being said, they can certainly offer advice on your book title, subtitle, cover, and even contents, but they should never demand something of your book in order for you to continue with their program.
#4 – Unrealistic expectations
Self-publishing is a varied game. No two authors can expect the exact same outcome and your results largely vary on how much you’re willing to work and how well you’re following their program.
However, self-publishing companies also shouldn’t guarantee crazy expectations—especially without having the proof to back it up.
Guarantees of making $10,000 in the first month are often unfounded. Look for company promises that you feel good about actually being able to achieve them.
#5 – There are a large number of complaints online
Not every self-publishing company can meet everyone’s expectations. Not every single review will be positive – and that’s understandable.
What you do want to lookout for is a large number of negative reviews, complaints, or claims of fraud or scams. These are certainly something to be wary of, but make sure you research some positives as well.
You may have heard that most writers—Self-published and traditional—are starving artists who never make more than $1000 a year.
The stories are true. Many writers starve. But many sell a lot of books and do very well, if they stick with it and build multiple income streams.
I’ll just get this out of the way right now. Writing a book is hard work. Creating a sustainable platform with several income streams is harder. But, if this were easy, everybody would be doing it.
Making a living from your writing is definitely worth it and, as a writer who wants to earn cash online from their craft, it is one of the most rewarding achievements you will experience in the self-publishing business.
If you want to know what it would take for you to bring home a full-time income from your books, check out this book profit calculator. It’ll do the math and show you what you’d need to sell and how much you’d make in total:
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Do you know why most authors only earn a few thousand dollars a year or less from their writing?
Here are 4 reasons authors fail to make a living writing:
They only write one book. You need momentum with your book platform to generate enough monthly sales to support your lifestyle. This is possible with building out a library of books and maximizing on the earning power for each. We will look at this more later.
They don’t stay current with shifting publishing trends. The self-publishing industry is constantly changing. If you aren’t staying current with what is working (and what has stopped working) your book sales plummet and you don’t reach as wide an audience as you’d like.
They stick with one platform as the only source for earning income. Many authors stay with Amazon only. This makes sense considering they have 85% of the market for ebooks. And Amazon’s exclusivity program, KDP Select, makes it easy to sign over all power to the online digital giant. However, if you keep your eggs in one basket, what happens when that basket falls out of the tree? In other words, Amazon decides to make a major change to their platform overnight and, within a week, your monthly royalties get cut in half. Yes, it happens as we see time and time again.
They don’t invest in the quality of their product. Poorly designed book covers, sloppy editing, a boring book description…equals a product nobody wants. If you want to make a living writing books, invest in your book (particularly getting a good book cover) so that it sells.
This is the formula most successful self-published authors are using to make a living as a writer.
Build Your Author Platform to Make Money Writing
You, as an author and creator, needs to form the mindset that this is your business—your book business. Regardless if you are a part-time author looking to get started making some extra income, or your goal is to be a full-time author, when you start making money from your “hobby”, you are turning it into a business.
When it comes to creating income from writing, it boils down to one word: Platform.
Your author platform is the structure of your writing career. It should consist of multiple income streams. This begins with your platform.
According to Michael Hyatt, bestselling author of Platform and Free to Focus, a platform is, “The means by which you connect with your existing and potential fans. It might include your company website, a blog, your Twitter and Facebook accounts, an online video show, or a podcast. It may also include your personal appearances as a public speaker, musician, or entertainer.”
As a writer, even if you are writing a book for the first time, think about what your platform means to you. This will become the structural foundation that your writing author business is built on.
If you want to make a living writing fiction or nonfiction, the approach to how you structure your income streams are similar, although the content is different.
What drives your platform, however, is the one thing that many overlook: Your author mindset. From now on, approach your craft with the mindset that this is your business.
Like every business, you have to be focused on the customer experience and products available to those customers. Delivering the right product, in this case the book they are looking for, is how to convert the curious customer into a paying one.
Components of an Author Platform
Your author platform is made up of:
A Catalog of Books: This consists of published books, and all variations of the book including paperback, hardcover, large print and audiobooks. Your books, aside from bringing in consistent revenue, act as funnels for building your subscribers list and promoting your other products. Your books could be stand-alone reads, as many nonfiction titles are, or a series of thrillers.
Email list: This is your list of raving fans that have given you permission to contact them by providing you with their email address. Your email list is at the heart of making a living, not just as an author but, anyone who is building an online platform.
Wide Distribution Model: As a self-published author, Amazon may be where you make 80% of your income. But if you have more than three books available, you want to consider opting out of Amazon’s KDP Select program and publishing wide with other platforms such as aggregators Draft2Digital, PublishDrive and Kobo. Set your print books up for sale through IngramSpark. You can tap into a huge international market that, not only will drive your book sales but, open up opportunity for international foreign rights.
Courses: As an author you could develop courses based on the content of your books. For example, take a look at what Lise Cartwright has built through her platform Hustle & Groove. Picture a multitude of courses available for when browsers or subscribers come to your site for the first time. Building online courses is a great way to expand this platform.
Website: A critical piece of your writing business is your author website. This where you stage all of your talent. You might have an author blog that brings in leads for your books and courses.
You could create content that you don’t publish on Amazon and make it exclusive to your website only. You can cross promote with other authors and set up an autoresponder email funnel to build a deeper relationship with your readers.
Your author website should include these basic features:
A free offer: This is free content a new subscriber downloads after opting in.
Featured blog posts: Your blog is an asset and potential income stream as it brings in leads through visitor traffic.
Course platform: Highly recommended. These are great assets to build out and easy to scale up.
About page: Make a dynamic introduction here.
Scalable Assets and Multiple Income Streams
Let’s get to my favorite topic: Creating multiple income streams to grow your business!
This is what I love about self-publishing. You are at the helm of your own ship and you, and only you, get to choose the direction to take.
We know that, if we write and publish lots of books, potentially our library of books grows and this generates strong passive income.
But relying on book sales only is a lot of work, and it is more work if you are selling on just one platform, Amazon.
Check out how our very own coach Lise Cartwright has built her passive income stream with books (and how she can teach you to do the same when you become a student):
As an authorpreneur, a self-publisher who writes and publishes their own books, you want to always be thinking creatively how to expand your income streams.
Let’s take a look at the list below for book assets.
We know that publishing consistently brings in more money and builds your platform over the long-term. But why does this model work?
Your readers love new material, and so does Amazon. When your platform is active with new book releases, sales and reviews coming in consistently, the algorithm is “switched on” to help you sell more by pushing your books into the higher-traffic channels.
As your platform continues to scale up, your platform grows.
It might be slow at first, and you feel like you’re doing a lot of writing without any gains, but…that is the way it is when you begin to build.
Most fiction authors start to see a return on investment after the 4th or 5th book in a series. For nonfiction, this could happen sooner but, I certainly experienced a big shift after launching my 5th book Relaunch Your Life.
Another reason multiple books work is, new readers discovering you are almost always going to buy your other books if they like what they read. If that same reader likes your books, maybe he or she wants the course you are offering as well at 20% off.
Expanding Book Formats to Make More Money from Your Books
Don’t just settle for publishing in a single format.
We’re covering the several different types of book formats you can publish in that will increase your income from writing over time.
#1 – Boxsets
A boxset is a series of books bundled together allowing readers to purchase the series at a reduced cost per book. This is a great product to create as soon as you have 3 or more books in a series.
We live in the digital age but, paperbacks are still massively popular. In fact, 30% of my author revenue still comes through paperback sales.
With the power of Print-on-Demand, readers can buy our books through Amazon or IngramSpark, and these sites do all the heavy lifting. No inventory.
#4 – Hardcover Books
You can use IngramSparks’ powerful distribution network to create stunning hardcover versions of your book. Why not? It’s another income stream that, once set up, sells itself. You have to pay a fee of $49.00 per title and you’ll need an ISBN for each version of the book.
Ideally, you are not just selling a book. You are converting a browser into a lifelong customer. That is the real power of building a brand and an author platform.
Right now, take a few minutes to map out a rough plan for your book platform. How many books will you write this year? Is this a series of books or stand-alones? How far apart will you publish your books? Could you compliment your book by introducing a course to go with it?
Creating Scalable Income Streams
Successful 6-figure authorpreneur Joanna Penn accounts for her success to multiple income streams she calls “scalable assets” that bring in thousands of dollars every month.
Check out how she does it in the video below:
In essence, a scalable asset can be anything you create once and continue to sell over and over again.
For example, you put in over a hundred hours to write a book. Now, if you were being paid $30 an hour to write, that would be $3000 to you after the work is done. But let’s say your book sells at $4.99 as an ebook, and $12.99 for the paperback.
You consistently sell 30 eBooks a day at a 70% royalty rate, because your book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99.
The paperback priced at $12.99 earns a fixed 60% royalty rate through KDP. That is roughly 182.00 per day for ebook and paperback sales. Making money with ebooksis doable and sometimes the most lucrative way to get paid.
Now, this continues for 30 days and that is: 185.00×30=$5,550. Now, I calculated this just for one book if it does really well. Imagine where you could be with five, ten or twenty books each generating their own passive income streams?
How about if you had audiobooks as well? What about foreign rights sales? A course that goes with the book?
Get the idea now.
Yes, the dream is very real. It is right in front of you, if you want it!
How can you scale up your author business right now?
How many assets can you create over the next six months?
Build an email list of raving fans
If you haven’t started building an email list yet, you need one. Without a fan base to market your books to in the initial book launch phase, you are left to the mercy of the Amazon algorithm. Your list is the horde of fans waiting for your book release.
A successful book launch is critical. When you Sell More Books, this is a trigger to Amazon that your book is popular and in demand. Amazon steps in to push your book into the also-bought section, the area that recommends popular items to customers when browsing.
How do you create an email list?
You can get started by offering a free gift inside your book.
This is a lead magnet that could be a:
Your readers give you their email by signing up (what Seth Godin calls “Permission marketing) and they get added to your newsletter list. This is one of the most effective ways to sell books and continue to add to your subscribers list.
Your list is happy because they get to join you on the journey as you keep them in the loop on every writing project. Then, when close to launching, you can invite them to your launch team and offer the book for free to a segment of your list.
This helps to secure book reviews during launch week. In turn, your book sales flow in and your book has a stronger chance of sticking in the marketplace after the initial 30-days is over.
Remember: From the day your book is published, Amazon puts all books in “new releases” category. It is critical you maximize paid downloads and reviews during this 30-day period for the long-term success of the book.
Ready to Become a Full-Time Author?
Okay, you don’t have to be full time to still make money selling your books. But to make money at this, there are three things you should do consistently.
Here is a list of three action items that you, as a real author, can take to scale up your platform, sell more books, and earn good money while you sleep.
#1 – Form a writing habit
I write every morning from 5:30—7:00. This is a consistent schedule I have kept for the past 3 years and during this time I wrote and launched 12+ books.
Developing a writing habit is crucial if you want to make a living writing.
If you still have a day job (and most people do) you’ll need to find the time of day works best for you, establish your most productive writing time and make this a habit of creating content during this peak time.
Once you’ve established your best time for writing, write consistently for five days a week.
#2 – Publish consistently
If you follow the steps above and write with consistency, you can publish frequently, too.
Imagine where your (fiction or nonfiction) platform would be if you put out a book every 3-4 months. This is how you create scalable income.
Do the work now and reap the rewards later.
#3 – Communicate with your fanbase
We looked at the importance of an email list and why you need one. When you are getting ready to launch, you want to be able to shout it out to someone who is listening.
Your team of dedicated email subscribers are ready to help you launch bestseller after bestseller. But, communicating with your list is critical in between book launches.
At the very least, send out an email once every two weeks, and if you can, once a week. Provide tips, strategies, or an update on what you are working on.
Keep your tribe in the loop!
#4 – Determine Your Level of Success
You have to work out the details of what your success means to you.
How many income streams can you build, and what are they? Will you focus on the wide distribution model, or stay exclusive with Amazon?
This is different for every writer and depends on what you are comfortable with in terms of time and financial investment.
Stay focused on the big picture and scale up gradually. With every new book, you are generating potential to earn more and gain wider recognition as an author.
If you write one book and focus all your efforts on this, think of other income streams to tie in with your book and the kind of fan base you want to build. Will you offer coaching? Courses? Outsource your tech skills to help other authors?
You are an author, and now is the best time to make a living as a writer.
The awful news for authors out there today is that there are plenty of vanity press scams and self-publishing companies to avoid… Unless you want your money stolen, that is…
If you are a self-published author, publishing your book today has never been easier. With a quick Google search, you’ll come across dozens of self-publishing companies offering publishing services for authors.
Before making any decisions, you want to check out all your options carefully. If not, you could find yourself the victim of a self-publishing scam, forking thousands of bucks over to a shady publishing company with nothing to show for it.
In this post, you’ll learn how to recognize the self-publishing scams when they cold call you…and the companies you can really trust to get your book published!
Here’s what we’ll cover in this post on self-publishing scams:
As with any lucrative industry, there are a wide range of self-publishing scams in business for one reason: To take your money.
A Vanity press publisher charges sky-high prices for author services that includes editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing.
But, all of this is outsourced to the lowest bidder and in the end, the author is left with a poor quality book and no way to market it.
“You get what you pay for” doesn’t equate when it comes to vanity press and the publishing scams they represent. You do pay top dollar, often tens of thousands, and what you get back for your investment lacks anything of value.
So, how can you avoid these self-publishing scams?
Let’s take a look.
Why Authors Fall for Vanity Press Scams
There could be many reasons why someone would sign up with a scammy publishing company that wants you to pay big money upfront.
There is no shortage of scams out there when it comes to self-publishing. The biggest reason authors fall into these scams is because… Well, they don’t know what they should know to avoid being scammed in the first place.
The fact that you have to pay a publisher to get your book published is warning sign enough: The lies are on the wall. Most authors who fall into this trap are not published authors yet.
You are either thinking of writing a book, you’ve started writing it, or you’re done and can’t wait to get it out there.
So, when a publisher comes along offering to get their “just finished” manuscript into the hands of thousands of readers and sell millions of books worldwide, I would grab at it, too. Who wouldn’t want that?
As a first time author, you are most likely not going to write a book that sells thousands of copies. And if you do, it will not be through a company that you just paid $5,000-$10 to for this to happen.
Most soon-to-be-published self-publishers fall into the lap of predatory publishers because they need help.
For someone who wants to become a successful author, your passion to publish is so strong that it overrides the sudden impulse to take the first offer on the table.
Here are several reasons why you might fall for the vanity press trap:
You are scared of “not publishing” and want it done right now.
You are not tech-savvy and would rather pay someone to overcome the hurdles.
Your friends keep asking you “When is your book coming out?”
You know nothing about book marketing and need to hire the experts. Guess what: Vanity publishers don’t know much about it either and you’ll have to market no matter the avenue of publishing you choose.
You watched a video of a self-published author who just signed a 6-figure deal with a large publisher…and you think that is what usually happens.
Before you make any hasty decisions, stop and breathe. If you need help with publishing your book [and everyone does] there is a right way and…
The other way that steals all your hard-earned dollars.
My hope is that you read this post before signing anything. If you can know the danger signs to watch for, you’ll pull yourself back from making a decision that costs you thousands of dollars, not to mention the heavy burden of regret later.
Early Warning Signs: The Lies of Vanity Press
Vanity presses are generally a bad idea all around, but we’ll cover some specific ways they can scam you and why they’re often on the list of self-publishing companies to avoid.
How Vanity Press Publishers Scam You
It is actually easy to spot a predatory publisher. I only hope you get to this post before they get to you. Here are the 5 big signs you are at risk of being scammed.
#1 — The company asks for publishing fees. This should be enough right here. Although Hybrid Publishers require authors to pay for all the publishing services upfront, they usually split the fees later.
A vanity press publisher will charge thousands for a publishing package. You are told that the book sales will be recouped later through book sales…which almost never happen. Don’t listen to the so-called “reviews and testimonials” on the websites. These are rigged, of course.
#2 — “We will publish your book for you on Amazon.” Let me be clear about this: Publishing on Amazon is super easy, even if you have limited tech skills. Not to mention Amazon has an excellent support system in place. The response time to inquiries is less than 24 hours and they are very detailed when it comes to responses.
A vanity publisher will make this sound more complicated than it really is. They will “take care of everything” and upload the book for you. What this also means is you lose control over making any future changes to the book. The only person that should be uploading the book to Amazon is YOU under your own account.
#3 — Charges for A Reading Fee. Never. This just isn’t done. A traditional publishing house never asks for this. If you are told by the sales rep they will read your book for a certain fee, red flag this. The “reading fee” scam is less common today, but just in case you do run up against a company that tries this old scam.
With a real publisher, nobody makes money until the book is selling. Actually, this practice has fallen the wayside these days and it would be rare to come across. But there is always someone willing to try…
#4 — The publisher will buy you an ISBN [because they are so hard to get]. You can buy an ISBN through Bowker.com if you reside within the USA. The cost is $125.00. In the U.K. you go through Nielson. In Canada ISBNs are free through ISBN Canada. If you buy this through IngramSpark they offer a slight discount. Again, this is just another ploy to make you think it is a difficult process that is better off left to the “professionals.”
#5 — “We will take care of all the marketing, because we know how difficult it is.” Yes, marketing is difficult, especially for authors. But a vanity press company won’t market the book to sell, they will do the bare minimum required so it appears as if the book is being placed in the proper channels.
My advice: Grab a book on marketing for authors or enroll in a course. Learn it. You can even outsource it out so that you doSell More Books. But in the end nobody is better at marketing their own book than the author.
#6 — Excessive use of flattery. The first time I spoke to a vanity press sales rep I remember the praise she gave me for my book. I felt as if I had written a book that was going to sell thousands of copies in the first week.
The rep was quoting passages from the book and referencing everything from the first page. Mind you, I later realized, everything she was quoting was from the first few pages. So did she read it? Of course not.
#7— A sales rep calls you several hours after you sign up to their newsletter with a sales pitch. I tested one of these sites by enquiring about their services, and I downloaded a freebie. The next day I received a call from my “Publishing consultant” ready to help me fulfill my dreams as an author. Wow. The sales pitch was impressive, but if you already knew the situation, it was a total scam. You can smell it.
But, for a new author excited to be part of the publishing journey, listening to someone else tell you how excited they are to publish your boom is a very tempting catch. In the end, they don’t care about your book or you. Whether it is Author Solutions or another of the dozens of publishing scammers out there, they get your money and keep milking it with constant upsells.
#8 — Make “over the mountain promises” to get you endorsed by Hollywood. It is not unusual for these companies to tell you that your book has a shot of being featured in Oprah’s book club, or that they will send your manuscript to one of their agents in Hollywood for review.
I can promise you one thing—Your book will never see the inside of a movie studio. Not unless you are a well-established author who has already proven themselves, and even then, it will not be through a vanity press company that you get there.
#9 — Promises to get your book into barnes and noble and other bookstores. In this case what happens is, they put your book into a large catalogue where bookstores and libraries can order it. But realistically, you’ll be hard pressed to sell a single book in any bookstore if you publish through a vanity press company. Libraries and bookstores won’t even consider it in most cases.
#10 — Insists you sign a contract handing over exclusivity. If this final dose doesn’t make you run the other way, I don’t know what will. By any and all means, as a self-published author, you do not sign over your material rights to anyone. This gives the vanity publisher the right to further exploit your work and profit from all sales. The author, in this case, gets a lower end percentage.
Now that you’ve seen the red flags, you are well-informed to make a decision if you come across what appears to be a shady publisher. You don’t need to sign anything or pay huge amounts of money for the publisher to “publish you to Amazon” or set you up with a movie deal.
Here’s an image that you can use as a reminder:
Now, let’s take a look at…
Your Self-Publishing Options
We are not living in the 1990s anymore. Back then, choices to self-publish were limited. You either paid a company—like a vanity press—a lot of money. Or, you went on your own and hired a printing company to run off tons of copies that were not cheap.
Today, you will see that you have many good choices these days that make it easier for you to get your book published.
#1 — Self-Publishing Courses
There are quite a few reputable self-publishing courses out there. You buy the course, and work through the modules to write and ultimately publish your own book.
There are costs to publish your book, including creating it, cover design, editing, and launching your book.You still have to pay for these services, but at least you get to choose who is working on your book.
It is up to each individual author to outsource his or her own book. Publishing courses provide the content you need to get it all done, but you do all the work and take on additional costs outside the cost of the course.
You have to pay for the basics that any author pays for: A good cover design, hiring an editor and formatting, and maybe a budget for marketing services such as book promo sites or a media package.
But many new authors are weary about self-publishing and think uploading to Amazon— or other publishing companies—is a complex ordeal. It isn’t. I have been coaching authors for years and, nowadays, the system is built in that all you have to do is plug your book info into the Kindle Direct Publishing Bookshelf and away you go. The cost for actually self-publishing your book is O.
The production cost for the average book is about $1500. If you pay $1000-3000 for a course + $1500 for the book production, you are still under $5,000. If you continue to write more books, you’ve already paid for the course that usually gives you access for a lifetime.
Taking a self-publishing course is the best option we think. You learn how to do so much of the process yourself, and can rinse and repeat for future books. You still pay for everything but, who you decide to hire is up to you and the creative decisions are all yours.
#2 — KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing]
The KDP platform is Amazon’s book publishing platform. Publishing a book is so much easier now than it ever used to be, especially with Amazon self-publishing.
You no longer need to go through painstaking efforts to land a book deal which locks you into unrealistic deadlines and cuts you out of most of the earnings. You don’t have to sign up and fork over thousands to a vanity press company.
You can now have complete control of your book – and its revenues – by publishing directly through Amazon self-publishing.
Setting up your KDP account is easy, and should be the first step you complete.
Here’s how to set up your Kindle Direct Publishing account:
Next, click “Update” in your account information and fill in your tax information. It’s important to note that you need to complete your tax information BEFORE you can publish your first book. So don’t skip this step!
Once your tax information is complete, click “Finished” and return to the main page.
To start printing your own books with IngramSpark, visit their website and set up an account. Do the same with Amazons’ Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Do it yourself. It’s not the difficult process many would have you believe, and there is lots of support on these sites ready to help you right away.
How much is the cost to print a book?
It depends on the book size but, for a book that is 30k in length with little to no photos or graphs and text only, expect to pay less than $4 per copy. The average scammy publisher will charge new authors $15-20 dollars per copy.
But for them, they print the books at the same cost as an author who sets this up through KDP or IngramSpark.
In fact, many vanity press publishers use IngramSpark for the print-on-demand service only just to sell the books back to the author at 5x the print cost.
#4 — Vanity Press Publisher
Vanity press publishing, also called subsidy publishing, differs from self–publishing in that the author assumes all the risk and pays the publisher for everything.
The editing, formatting, cover design, and even marketing the book are paid for by the author through the various packages offered when an author signs up.
But, there is a trap here: The costs are more than you initially pay for, and they don’t tell you this until later when you’re mired deeper into the project. Once invested, most authors are compelled to publish the book no matter the costs.
The emotional investment is what these companies prey on. Knowing how you feel about your book, they are ready to help you do anything to get it to market… And that means offering more expensive services.
By the time you are done and the book is published, potentially you have just spent $10k. With close to 0 book sales.
Vanity publishers make money, not from selling books for you, but from the author buying their own books back from the publisher. It is a scam where the author always loses.
#5 — Traditional Publishers
This is not a self-publishing route but, if you want to take the traditional path, you can begin by querying your manuscript with agents. Keep in mind, you may not see your book in print for a couple of years due to the lengthy process of first finding an agent, and then having them submit it to publishers to buy.
What is a traditional publisher?
“A traditional book publishing company buys the rights to an author’s manuscript. Buying rights from the author is how book publishers have traditionally acquired books. …The advance is deducted by the book publisher from any royalties the author receives from the sale of the book.”
That’s right, they pay you an advance for the book. You don’t pay them anything. It depends on the publisher’s contract but they will pay for [some] marketing.
The editing, cover design and formatting is taken care of by the publisher [in most cases].
There are a lot of nightmare stories of authors signing on with traditional publishers, but that usually equates to the publisher not trying hard enough to sell any books. In this case the author may end the contract and, after that, many authors take up with self-publishing and find better success. After all, why not be in charge of building your own book business?
#6 — Hybrid Publishers
A hybrid publisher is what you will find between a traditional publisher [pay nothing upfront but get paid an advance] or a vanity press publisher [pay for everything upfront and keep all royalties.
The hybrid publishers model is simple: An author pays for everything upfront but gets a bigger cut of the royalties after book sales, upwards of 50%. The initial cost means that the author assumes all the financial risk in order to get the book to market.
One other difference between traditional and hybrid publishing is, the hybrid has to pay the author a higher percentage of royalties than a traditional publishing house.
In order for a company to be called a hybrid publisher, there are 9 criteria set out by the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) that must be adhered to:
In order to not be classified as a vanity press, ALL book submissions must be reviewed. This means if your book does not meet the criteria, it should be rejected. A vanity press doesn’t care. Anything and anybody will do.
Hybrid publishers must clearly define a vision to follow for their company.
Must report reputable sales on all titles they publish.
Authors who sign with hybrid publishers must be paid a higher royalty than that of standard traditional publisher rates.
The quality of the production—cover design, editing and formatting—must meet industry standards.
The publisher must publish as its own defined imprint and request its own ISBNs.
Manage all distribution services for the works.
Hybrid publisher must manage the rights of the works they publish as well as any subsequent rights acquired.
Hybrid publishers must meet the standards and best practices set out by the publishing industry.
But…the vanity press publishers are bad seeds. Lately, they are disguising their services as “hybrid publishers” but still operate with the same scammy tactics.
Take caution here that, while a hybrid publisher might look legit on the surface, there is a possibility you could get ripped off if you are not 100% sure.
Taking Down the Scammers
As a coach and self-publishing authority, I have worked with at least a dozen authors who’ve come away from a vanity press publisher broke, not just financially, but emotionally as well.
Like most authors, they just wanted to fulfill a dream and publish a book. But as soon as you sign up with a self-publishing scam company, your dreams are ripped apart and so is your bank account. By the time the not-yet-published author realizes it, they are invested by thousands of dollars and bound by a contract.
Over the years several class-action suits have been launched against scammy publishers for bad business practice. The worst of these publishers is Author Solutions, a company with a bad rap and a long history of complaints targeted against it by authors who have been exploited.
This company boasts on its website “300,000 authors published.” I would be hard-pressed to believe this and to go a step further, the percentage of those authors who would use Author Solution service again?
Chances are if you have been down this road, you realized before you were halfway there that you’d taken a bad path.
Author Solutions is at the top of the chain of seedy publishing houses promising to get your book to market because the world needs to hear your story. And for a publishing package upwards of $5999 it could all be done for you. Well, initially you are led to believe.
Author Solutions is the parent company of several subsidiaries that operate, not only in the US but now have an International reach as they have set up in countries worldwide.
How do they make their money?
It isn’t from helping authors to sell books.
The authors usually end up selling nothing. Instead, they are made to buy the books they want from the publishers at a high cost just so they can have their own copies to sell or giveaway.
Fortunately, authors are better educated these days on the publishing options available. Vanity publishers are disappearing. But do return “wearing different clothing”, disguised as the next best company to get you that bestselling book.
Red Flag List: Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid
I have compiled a list of publishing companies you should avoid at all costs. This is not a complete list but includes names of the major companies flagged by Writer Beware and Alliance of Independent Authors.
For a very thorough listing, I would recommend you check with the Alliance of Independent Authors. ALLi stays up-to-date on the scammy reports, warnings and lawsuits taken against bad publishers.
Here are some self-publishing companies that have made the list of those to watch out for:
“Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news, and commentary. Writer Beware is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.”
A detailed breakdown of self-publishing companies and their ranking based on service and reliability.
Educate Yourself in Self-Publishing
Publishing scams will always be around as long as authors are paying for their services.
How do you, as an author, avoid falling into this trap?
The self-publishing arena is like a vast oasis of information and a never-ending learning process. Vanity press publishers are banking on you having no idea what to do, which is why you might consider turning to a publishing company in the first place.
You will learn how to write and market your book your way and all of it within your control. You won’t have to give up anything or sign your book rights over to a publisher that will exploit your creativity.
If you are uncertain as to whether you should spend money on a course or not, but you want to know the ins and outs of self-publishing, grab a $5 book and start here.
Meanwhile, the scammy publishers are on the phone right now with a future author that isn’t doing these things.
Read Books on “How to Write” and Self-Publishing
Reading is a cheap way to educate yourself on writing. Make it a habit to read for 30 minutes a day. Educate yourself on the publishing industry.
Top 10 Book Recommendations on Writing and Self-Publishing:
Learning how to become a better speaker is different for everyone.
If you’ve ever attended school, been employed, or participated as a member of a club or committee, you have almost definitely been subjected to some form of public speaking. 😨💀
Horrific, scarring, awful. We sweat, we cry, maybe we throw up.
Public speaking can be a terrible experience for the unprepared person, the anxious person, the just-spilled-coffee-down-the-front-of-my-white-dress person (maybe that one was just me?), but the benefits of public speaking FAR outweigh the negatives, AND (great news!) I’m here to help.
We’re going to learn how to be better at public speaking:
Like I said, participating in nearly anything presents the opportunity for public speaking. Can it be avoided most of the time? Probably. In fact–
When I was in college, seventeen-year-old Hannah’s presentation skills were weighed, measured, and found wanting. I spoke too fast, I used too many filler words (and filler sounds 😬), and I made inside jokes as a nervous tick (shoutout to my friends who sat in the back and laughed way louder than they needed to).
Opportunity after opportunity to speak in public presented themselves. I gave research presentations, I addressed committees, I taught classes for honors credit–it came up a LOT. And I was an expert at crawfishing my way out of it.
For example, in my required Speech class, I put HOURS of work into writing, practicing, and perfecting speeches–only to strategically fall ill, have a dentist appointment, or slouch so low in my desk I was halfway on the floor to avoid actually giving the speech.
I was supposed to give SIX presentations for that class–I gave ONE, and I only gave that one because someone ratted me out.
Shockingly, refusing to practice didn’t make me any better at speaking.
Go figure. I eventually decided I needed to face my fears and just rip it like a bandaid until I improved. Sophomore year, I started hopping at opportunities to speak. If we had a group project, I’d present. If we were hosting a fundraiser for an organization I chaired, I’d give the thank you address. I went to live readings for creative writing and read my own pieces out loud (awful, terrible, kill me).
It was awkward and uncomfortable! I’d walk up to podiums bright red and breathing heavy on my shaky little legs. But the more I threw myself out of my comfort zone, the better I got, and the more natural it came to me.
By my senior year, I was presenting something almost every week. I breathed evenly, my legs didn’t shake anymore, and my face stayed its natural, iridescent pale for the whole presentation.
Being a good public speaker often directly translates to being a better private speaker as well.
Here’s what I learned from public speaking:
I learned how to give cues better–I indicate with my hands to help people follow along with multiple or complex ideas
I can better read a room’s environment
I can code switch more precisely
I can translate ideas to coherent verbal communication much easier
I caught a lot of opportunities by putting myself out there. You never know who’s in an audience and what they’ll remember you for. I got job offers, scholarships, and friends just from using my voice and putting myself out there.
It is less often the things you say and more often how you say them that can influence people. A confident speaker instills confidence–people trust a well-presented thought more than that same thought when it’s expressed with stammering and uptalk.
If you believe what you’re saying, and you sound like you believe what you’re saying, other people will be inclined to believe it as well.
How Becoming a Better Speaker Can Grow Your Career
In almost any industry, being a strong speaker can help build your career. Taking on speaking roles can prove leadership capabilities, responsibility, confidence, and competence.
Volunteering to pitch a project to your boss, for example, can endear you to the coworkers who have been alleviated of the task, places you as the face of the project, and shows your boss that you have initiative. That’s something people remember.
If you’re self-employed, speaking at events can help promote your own work–like products, books, and courses. Public speaking events can be a great platform facet.
Pairing a book with a course with in-person seminars creates a full experience for your clients. And, just like in a traditional job, speaking well projects leadership, responsibility, confidence, and competence.
How to Become a Better Speaker
So we know why we want to be better speakers, but how do we get there?
Here are five easy ways you can practice public speaking without actually throwing yourself into the ring yet.
#1 – Study other people’s speeches
Watch talks from strong orators or presenters in your industry. See what you like about their presentation style, think about what you would do differently, and apply that insight to your own speeches. Take note of how they use the stage space, what they do with their hands, how they keep eye contact, and how they utilize pauses. All of these are practiced, intentional actions that experienced speakers master over time.
#2 – Practice at home
Rehearse your speeches in front of a mirror, or even record yourself presenting. Watch the video back to see how your body language is helping or hurting, if you keep good eye contact (or lens contact), and spot any filler language you might need to cut back on. This low-pressure rehearsal time will help you focus on honing specific skills.
Until I was sixteen, I barely spoke to people outside of my immediate family. I never expressed when I was uncomfortable, I never argued. Then I started my first YouTube channel. My old videos are awkward and cringey to watch now, but they literally taught me how to verbally express myself. I developed an online voice, and it translated over to how I spoke with others in person, which eventually led me to become a stronger public speaker.
#3 – Practice through the internet.
With COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing, now’s as good a time as ever to practice speaking through online live events. Maybe start even smaller by gathering a few friends in a groupcall to discuss something specific. Then you can transition to something like a livestream, where it’s only you talking. Try to interact with viewers’ messages to get practice generating live responses and engaging with an audience.
#4 – Start with small audiences.
If you have housemates or in-person coworkers right now, practice speaking in front of them. Having a friendlier audience you’re close with is often a more comfortable stepping stone as you work your way up to bigger crowds. You can even expand that audience a little at a time by adding one or two friends to the group each time.
#5 – Have your practice audience question you.
When I presented research in college, I’d present in front of friends first and have them grill me about the material. This helped me make sure I actually comprehended the material well enough to present it competently, and it also gave me practice answering questions the audience might really have. Having a more challenging practice round will help you feel more prepared and more confident when it’s time for the real thing.
Best Tips for Improving Public Speaking
Here are seven extra hacks and tips you can use to strengthen your public speaking skills.
Outline instead of planning word-for-word. Oftentimes, it’s better to have a bulleted list of topics to cover rather than memorizing a speech script. With a script, forgetting a word or a line can throw off the entire rhythm and you might forget what you were saying. If you practice speaking with your main points, you can make it up as you go, speaking from a place of studied authority instead of spouting a memorized speech phonetically. Even if you don’t stumble over a line, a memorized speech can also sound mechanical and less engaging to listen to.
Use audience-first language and present information with the mindset that the presentation is about THEM. It’s not a performance about you–you’re educating or sharing tools to help the people listening. Make sure you don’t turn a speech into one-sided speed dating. If you make the presentation about you, it’s less interesting to listen to and easier to get into your own head. It might make you feel more open to judgment if it’s about YOU, so keep in the headspace that it’s about your AUDIENCE and remember that you’re there to help them.
Make eye contact with your audience. Picking a spot on the wall or ceiling or floor to watch during a speech probably feels more comfortable, but if you can make eye contact with a different audience member every few seconds, you’ll keep the crowd much more engaged and help keep yourself on track of the conversation. Remember that you’re talking to people by looking at the people you’re talking to.
Talk to your audience before the presentation. If you can, mingle with audience members before your speech. If it’s an event, this is a great networking exercise, but it will also help to humanize the audience to you, and you to the audience. It’ll be more like a continued conversation by the time you’re ready to speak if you’ve already made a few introductions.
Be interactive during your speech. Ask questions to the audience, react to their reactions, call out to specific people you know in the audience and share related anecdotes involving them. If you make it an interaction instead of a one-sided information dump, you’ll be more relaxed and the audience will be more engaged to receive your message.
Gain confidence and authority on your subject matter through a book. Publishing a nonfiction book in your area of expertise will instantly increase your credibility with an audience, as well as help to relax your nerves because you know that you know your stuff. You literally wrote the book on it. Like I said earlier, layering multiple elements like a book, a course, and live seminars gives you a strong, authoritative position for your platform.
Remember that no one wants you to fail. This tip was absolutely pivotal for me as I was building my foundation in public speaking. The audience wants you to do well. They don’t want to see someone crash and burn–they’re there to hear a compelling, interesting, entertaining speech. Everyone is supporting your success, so don’t feel intimidated!
And here’s an image to help memorize that:
These tips and exercises helped me ENORMOUSLY. If I can public speak with ease today after growing up crushingly shy and borderline nonverbal, so can you!
Don’t be afraid to volunteer to speak if the opportunity presents itself, let yourself be nervous, and know that practice will make it better.
If you need to, use the at-home tips to gain a little confidence before you try out an audience, but don’t be afraid to take chances and mess up a little! All speaking experiences, even the ones that don’t go so well, will help you grow as a presenter.
A very basic tool in book marketing that all writers need is the book mockup. A book mockup turns your cover into a 3D rendering or a full advertisement.
A 3D rendering catches eyes and lets your readers picture themselves holding your book far more effectively than a standard 2D cover image would.
I could show you this plain depiction of my book cover next to a 3D book mockup rendering so you can see the difference:
Which one helps you imagine my book in your house? Which one makes you want it?
“Wow, Hannah,” you say, “that looks great! I wish I could do that with my covers, but…I don’t know how.”
What if I told you creating eye-catching marketing imagery is actually incredibly easy? That mockup of Little Birds took me literally less than four seconds to make.
Types of Book Mockups
If you’re not a super wiz in Photoshop, there are easier and faster alternatives called book mockup generators that we’ll cover in more detail below.
Book mockup generators help you create essential marketing imagery to promote your books.
Most of these give you several options for types of book mockups, including paperback, ebook, and even audiobook.
Audiobook Cover Mockups:
Here’s an example I made with a mockup generator for my audiobook:
3D renders bring your book to life. I added headphones to emphasize that it’s available in audiobook. You can add elements to your mockups that help your reader imagine a situation in which they’re likelier to enjoy your book–get creative!
Is it a romance? Generate a mockup with someone holding your book next to a fire with a glass of wine. Is it a horror? Make the backdrop a spooky abandoned building.
You don’t need photography skills, a fancy camera, a hand model, or editing prowess to create book mockups. All you need is your cover and a book mockup generator!
Banner Book Cover Mockups:
Banners are useful for almost every social media cover image, as well as any in-text advertisements for your website’s blog posts.
The banner above also only took me four seconds to make. It’s attractive, attention-grabbing, and did I mention it only took four seconds to make?
Even if you don’t want to make a full scene image like that, simply turning your cover into a 3D mockup will up your marketing game tenfold.
Full 3D Book Cover Mockup:
As mentioned above, you can use a plain flat image of your cover, but a 3D rendering makes it feel more real, and is far more eye-catching.
Isn’t a 3D render just a tastier experience? Let your reader see your book for what it is–a book!
The great thing about these 3D mockups is that you can also place them within other marketing images, which allows you to pick and choose which types of mockups to promote on specific platforms.
This leads us into the next point of what book mockups are used for…
What are book mockups used for?
Book mockups can (and should) be used in most of your promotional materials, branding, and platform elements.
If you have an author platform of any kind, your book mockups should be easily available to see when someone clicks on your profile.
A fun marketing statistic I often reference is that a consumer has to be exposed to a message, on average, seven times before they’ll act on it.
With that in mind, you could say you need to put your book cover in front of your readers at least seven times to make a sale. If you’re not showing them your book, how will they know it’s there?
Get those mockups generated and in front of your readers!
Having consistent elements, like book mockups, that you use on most or all of your materials can help to establish your brand. Let’s look at places you will likely put those elements.
Social media posts:
No matter the social media you use, algorithms favor images. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat posts are all heavily based on visuals.
Incorporate mockups to give your audience a tangible experience of your books.
For example, this is an image I used on Instagram to promote my book tour stream. Including a 3D render of the book on all of my promotional materials helps to instill the book and brand in my audience’s mind.
Anytime I mention my book, a sale, or an event, I make sure to include a 3D mockup of the cover.
This is an ad I made when I released my audiobook, so obviously I wanted to include a cover mockup on it. Imagine a book advertisement that didn’t include a cover.
There’s nothing to catch the reader’s eye, so they’ll scroll right past it. Any advertisements you create should absolutely include the book cover.
There’s no point in having an author website if you don’t spotlight your books on it. You might use your mockups on a front page banner, a gallery, or a project page.
This is an example of the Starlight page on my website. Some elements you might include on a book or project page are reviews, buy buttons, descriptions, excerpts, and a 3D mockup!
Banners, endscreens, platform material:
I use 3D renders of my book covers on all of my social media platforms. Like we mentioned earlier, a consistent brand and repetition are important elements in book marketing.
Here’s an example of my Twitch background, and you’ll see an endscreen I use in my YouTube videos later on. This is a small, subtle use of a 3D render that I don’t even call particular attention to–it’s just in eyesight during every Twitch stream I host.
Remember: seven exposures = one sale.
Double-dip into your book income by expanding your product offering. Get yourself a 3D render to slap on T-shirts, mugs, and other swag for a bonus income stream.
Having products out there with your name and books on them is also great for marketing and building your brand.
Now that we see the various ways book mockups can help with marketing, let’s look at some options for generators to create those book mockups.
Five Free Book Mockup Generators
All of the following mockup generators allow you to create imagery for free, but premium versions will most often give you access to things like extra features, more downloads, or watermark removal.
Some book mockup services will mass produce hundreds of images at once, while some only let you produce one piece at a time.
Some services are completely free, while some will cost a premium to access their full suite offering–if you decide to invest in marketing software, it’s likely worth your money. Like any business research, just do a little research to make sure it’s a good move and will show a return on your investment.
Adazing is a free, quick, and easy service to produce book mockups. The drawbacks I see with Adazing are that you can only produce one at a time, and that they aren’t the most realistic-looking renders out there.
Along with mockups, Media Modifier lets you design logos, apparel, and products. Media Modifier allows more precise customization with their mockup generator, like the ability to edit backgrounds and drop shadows.
They do require sign-up to remove the watermark on downloads, but here’s an example of a mockup I made with Media Modifier, again using Gloria’s collections:
While Media Modifier does offer more customization than Adazing, I still don’t find they look particularly realistic.
This one provides a very limited selection of free options, but you can access many more formats and customizations with a premium account. Smart Mockups provided the most realistic-looking mockups of all of the generators I’ve tried.
Here’s an example I made of my own book with the free features on Smart Mockups:
Book Brush is a service I use regularly for creating covers, mockups, videos, and more. They’re constantly expanding their service offerings and templates, so I like to check up to see what’s new.
I love that you can make a bulk amount of hundreds of mockups at once with their Instant Mockup tool. Here’s a brief rundown of how to use Book Brush’s tools and platform.
And these are a few mockups I made instantly with Book Brush’s mockup tool:
Book Brush has a ton of tools available with their free version, and I’m always happy with the quality, so I definitely recommend checking them out!
These are only five of the book mockup generators I found with free options, but there are LOTS more if you dig around. My favorites of the ones listed are Book Brush (for the Instant Mockup tool) and Smart Markups (for the amazing quality).
But maybe you’re not interested in an easy breezy mockup experience. Maybe you’re the kind of pal who wants to roll up your sleeves and get in there with 100% customization.
Let’s talk about how you can do it yourself.
DIY Options for Book Mockups
You can skip the immediate results and manually make your book mockups with a program like Photoshop (or a free alternative, like Canva).
For example, this is my YouTube endscreen I made with Photoshop:
I used the Starlight mockup from Book Brush, but I inserted the Little Birds cover directly into my PSD file. This allowed me to customize the dimensions to fit the YouTube endscreen elements on top (like putting my subscribe button in the coffee cup).
You can also make great marketing imagery with free services like Canva, PicMonkey, or Gimp.
For example, this is an Instagram post I made using a 3D mockup from Book Brush in Canva:
But here I’ve done the same thing without the 3D mockup, and it still looks pretty nice:
You can make marketing imagery with 2D book cover images, but it just lacks the spice of a 3D render.
I’ll manually make my marketing imagery for specific items, like livestream promotional pieces, but I love using mockup generators for base imagery (like those adorable coffee table pieces from Book Brush) and 3D cover renders.
Whether you go manual or use a book generator, a book mockup is one of the most important marketing tools a writer has for selling copies. Take advantage of the tools I listed above and get started on creating your own book mockups for social media, advertisements, websites, merch, and branding!
Do you have a favorite tool or method for building book mockups? Let us know in a comment or tweet us @Self_Pub_School!
Nowadays, if you want to be successful with your book, you have to know how to use social media for writers.
Marketing is one thing all authors will need to know how to do, no matter if you want to self-publish a book or traditionally publish. That’s right! Even traditional publishers are now looking to your SOCIAL PLATFORM as a decision-maker for buying your book or not.
And no matter your goals as an author, whether you want to write fiction full-time or want to use your book to grow your business, social media is important.
We’ll not only cover which social platforms are most important for authors right now, but also where to find your audience, and what content actually performs the best on each app.
Do you want to sell books? Do you want to make a career out of selling books?
Then yes, writers need social media. It’s for book marketing, and one of the most powerful types of marketing in this day and age.
This isn’t to say that you can’t sell books without social media. There are certainly people who do so, but unless you really know how to use ads or you get a lucky break and hit some charts in the rankings, (or are a student of our Sell More Books program where we teach those methods), your best bet for long-term success in writing is by building your author platform.
So while you don’t need social media, it increases your chances of long-term success exponentially.
The difference with social media marketing (especially for authors)
Social media is so different from “traditional” marketing methods. It’s not an email, it’s not a flyer in the mail or a commercial on TV, and it’s certainly not a radio ad.
What makes social media marketing different from other forms of marketing is that it’s personal.
It’s a person doing the marketing, very rarely a full brand speaking from behind a logo (though this does happen). With social media for writers, it’s certainly personal.
And this means that traditional methods of marketing a book are a bit different.
In fact, we’d say social media marketing is less about actually promoting your book and more about promoting your thoughts, ideas, and interests while keeping your book easily available.
This concept is a little confusing at first, but we’ll get into what this looks like with each social platform. But the main idea behind this principle is this:
If someone likes you and enjoys what you put out into the world, they’ll likely enjoy your books because of how much we place ourselves into them.
Yes, we even do this when writing a fiction novel. Our themes and messages come from within us, and when someone gets to know who you really are and likes that, they’ll probably like what you write about.
What’s the best social media for writers?
By and far, Twitter is extremely useful for anyone trying to have success as an author, especially as a self-published fiction author.
Does this mean it’s the best platform for you and your specific book? Not always.
While we recommend every writer be on Twitter, there may be other social platforms better suited for your audience. Meaning, certain people of varying ages and interests use different social platforms.
You’ll have to understand where your audience is if you want to operate on the best social media platform for you.
Thankfully, we cover those details below by going over the demographic of each platform (info by HootSuite) in detail so you can decide which will house your target audience, along with how you can connect with them.
Twitter for authors
As stated above, we believe all writers should be on Twitter. There is an extremely large fiction reading and writing community on Twitter, but it’s also really useful for nonfiction.
The struggle with a platform the size of Twitter (and really all of the ones we’ll cover below), is that they’re too big. It’s hard to find where your audience is. But that’s why we’ll also cover some useful hashtags to pay attention to.
HOW TO USE TWITTER FOR AUTHORS:
Each social platform is different. Depending on the people and its interface, different content will perform well.
For Twitter, it’s all about relateability. The posts that do the best are the one that speak to people directly, in a way they can relate to really well. It’s not really about you on Twitter, it’s about others.
So when you take to Twitter, remember that while it’s a social platform where you can divulge your own information, making all of your posts solely about you isn’t the right game here. We can save that for Instagram in a minute.
Type of content that performs best: short relateable questions and statemetns
Hashtags to note: #amwriting, #writingcommunity, #WIP, #writerlife
Other hashtags for genre-specific depend on what you write and the niche (particularly for nonfiction, the examples above leave heavy for fiction users).
Want to see a few author profiles on Twitter who are doing it really well? Here are some examples of social media for writers you can follow and emulate:
The reason this bio is really successful is because this author’s book is available, but it’s not spammy or pushing people to buy. Another reason, is because her main bio is short, sweet, to the point, and also showcases her personality.
When it comes to sharing posts on social media, especially when “promoting” your book, it works best when the words come from others. We tend to not believe authors who say their book is great, because of COURSE they think that!
Retweeting praise for your book is one of the best ways to share proof and get others interested.
Instagram for writers
Instagram is one of those social media platforms you really have to mess with to get right. Meaning, some people can find great success with one strategy, and that same strategy won’t work for you—even if you do everything the same!
Part of this is because of the story feature, and that you have to actually put yourself out there on Instagram. While it does have a somewhat negative reputation for being “fake,” people do congregate here for connection and to follow people’s lives closely.
HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM FOR AUTHORS:
As mentioned, Instagram has more to do with daily life/lifestyle than it does only branded content. That, and memes. Yes! The meme culture has shifted somewhat away from Facebook and is everpresent on Instagram’s platform.
So what works here then? Relatable memes, intimate stories where you show up with energy, and “pretty” images on your main feed.
Remember that you’ll have to find out what works for YOU here. Does your audience wants to see more of you? Of what you’re reading? Of your book-writing process?
Demographic: 52% female, 48% male — 67% ages 18-29
Posting frequency: at least once per day on your main feed, several times on your story
Type of content that performs best: Stories! Getting on your story and showing you, your real face, your real life. On your main feed, aestheticlaly appealing images of your book, you, and your life will do best.
Hashtags to note: #amwriting, #writerlife, #writersofIG, #writersofinstagram, #bookrelease
Facebook for writers
Facebook’s seemingly everchanging interface has increasingly frustrated people. In truth, Facebook is dying as a means of self-promotion unless you pay for ads on their platform.
Determine if you want to use a personal profile (not recommended), a page, or a group.
The main differences here are that a profile allows friends, a page allows for likes (and your stuff shows up on their feed like a profile’s would), and a group allows for a specific place for members to post and collaborate.
For writers, we usually recommend a page. But, if you are looking to build a brand, or maybe even an exclusive “club” for your readers, a group will get far better engagement than anything else. Facebook has continued to deprioritized page’s content, while boosting group posts.
It all depends on what your goals are as an author, and if your audience is even hanging out on Facebook.
Demographic: 79% ages 18-29
*Note on this: while this number reflects those who have Facebook, personal insights tell us the most active group of users is above 40-years-old.*
Posting frequency: 3 times per day max
Type of content that performs best: Images, videos
Hashtags to note: While Facebook has hashtag capabilities, they’re not really used to nearly the same extent as Twitter and Instagram
BONUS: Youtube for authors
Youtube isn’t for everyone. We’ll go ahead and say that right now. Not everyone has the presence for it, and not everyone will even like this style of platform building.
However, if it is something you’ve considered and need a push to start, it can be very lucrative as a secondary form of income, as long as a massive means of marketing your book—especially if you start “making it big” and gaining a lot of subscribers.
Our Youtube channel has over 40,000 subscribers and has grown immensely over the last year. We’ve seen this success first-hand, but we’re not the only ones.
There are several self-published authors who have used Youtube to quit their full-time jobs and pursue writing and creating videos.
HOW TO USE YOUTUBE FOR AUTHORS:
The first thing to think about here is what type of content you can post about, and what audience that will bring in. Many writers post videos with advice for writing books and publishing.
Others take the route of being on “Booktube,” where they read and post book reviews for other readers.
Each has their own pros and cons, but the bottom line with Youtube is that you have to be authentic, be something different (which can even simply come out in your own personality), and be consistent. One of the biggest common factors of success on Youtube is that people didn’t give up—they kept doing it through even a couple years of very slow growth.
If you are someone who’s not writing fiction and you’re looking to create awareness for a nonficion or a book to grow your business, the topics you talk about should be related to your book.
Demographic: 81% ages 15-25
Posting frequency: two times per week, 1 time per week at a minimum if you want sustained growth and engagement
Type of content that performs best: videos, helpful tips, how-tos, relevant updates, reviews, etc.
Author platform growth on social media
By far the best tip we can give you is to be consistent. With social media, it really is all about showing up regularly with content your audience wants to see, whatever that may be.
And secondly, don’t be afriad to iterate and try new things. If memes aren’t working for you, try being more real and personal. If your Twitter one-liners just aren’t working, try asking more questions and creating polls.
The people who gravitate to your social platform will respond differently to content that might “work” elsewhere. Find what works for you, be generous in how you give content, and make your book easily available. If people like you, they’ll search for how to consume more of your goodies—you don’t really have to push to promote your book on social media.
Don’t you agree that there’s almost too much information online about how to self-publish a book? So much that it can be really hard to actually determine what’ll be helpful to YOU?
We get it. We’re in the space every day, and we have to say…not all the advice you read will work.
Much of it is outdated in this everchanging space and doesn’t help you self-publish on Amazon in a way that actually brings you SUCCESS.
There’s far more to self-publishing a book than simply uploading it on Amazon and hitting “publish.” You can absolutely do that.
But don’t you actually want to sell books?
No matter what your goals are, to grow your business with a book, become a full-time fiction author, or simply to publish a memoir or self-help book to create an impact, we here at Self-Publishing School know what works.
We’re in the weeds with hundreds of students every week, learning, growing, and even expanding our program’s content to ensure it’s up-to-date.
And you know what? We want to give you a full, complete guide right here…for FREE. Nothing. Because we believe in you and the story you want to tell, no matter what it is.
WARNING: This blog post will be lengthy, and will cover topics not JUST related to uploading your book and self-publishing it on Amazon. Because again, there is MORE TO IT than just that. So focus, even bookmark this page, prepare to take some notes, and know that it’s possible for you to do 🙂
If you want to skip over some important points and JUST get down to the how-to list, click here.
Self-publishing is when you publish a book without a publishing house first buying your book’s rights and producing the book for you. With self-publishing, you maintain 100% creative control as well as 100% of the royalties.
While traditional publishing requires writing a manuscript, querying, landing an agent, agent selling to the publishing house, and ultimately, you only writing and editing based on what your editor wants, only to receive 8-10% royalties AFTER printing costs and AFTER your advance gets earned-out.
There’s really no wonder we believe, in today’s world, self-publishing is the superior option.
But hey, you can decide for yourself after reading through this post 😉
Is it a good idea to self-publish a book?
The best way to publish a book is dependent on what your own unique goals are. Some people will find great success in self-publishing while others are better suited for traditional publishing.
Ultimately, unless you have a good amount of experience as well as connections in the traditional publishing world, this route will be difficult, and you may not ever get published.
With self-publishing, anyone can do it. Anyone can get on Amazon and upload a book. HOWEVER, not everyone can do it well in order to succeed.
There are thousands and thousands of authors making full-time income and MORE from self-publishing. Those people have figured it out. Some of these people are our very own coaches here at Self-Publishing School, teaching our students what it truly takes.
Others, have done the work and have spent years honing their craft and series’ in order to see success.
So ultimately, you have to ask a couple of questions in order to determine if self-publishing is a good idea for you:
Do you want to maintain creative control and tell the story the way YOU want, with a cover that YOU want, and keep 100% of the royalties?
Do you want to simply write and let others dictate the rest?
Do you want to market your own books? SPOILER: this is required for BOTH publishing avenues.
Are you serious about this?
No matter which way you choose to publish, you have to do the work. You have to do the book marketing. You have to commit, set writing goals, and work toward it.
You have retailers to publish, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and more. You also have aggregators like IngramSpark, Lulu, Bookbaby, and more that print your book and distribute it TO the retailers.
And then you also have self-publishing education companies, who teach you the ropes about how to self-publish the right way, with resources to help you get there.
The latter is what Self-Publishing School is. So of COURSE we’ll put ourselves at the top of this list, because we truly believe it’s the smartest and best way to self-publish.
Why not take the guidance from those most experienced? But because we want you to make the best choice for your needs, we’ll cover the other types as well.
Here are some of the best self-publishing companies you can work with:
Self-Publishing School (That’s us!): An education company with 1-on-1 coaching, a private and exclusive Mastermind Community, and an entire digital course you keep access to for LIFE, all dedicated to helping you not only write a high-quality book, but also publish it for increased visibility and that coveted “Bestseller” banner. Learn more about our various programs for various types of authors-to-be here!
Amazon, Kobo, B&N, iBooks: These are retailers, places readers can go to purchase your book and have it shipped to them. Amazon is by far the largest of them, however, you should aim to self-publish across all mediums to increase buyers.
IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, Smashworlds, Lulu: Through these companies, you can have your book printed and distributed to the retailers listed above (and more). Amazon also prints its own books. So you could go exclusively with Amazon. But Amzon doesn’t publish hardback covers, like IngramSpark does. Do some research, and check out some reviews to choose where to print yours from.
When you self-publish a book, you’ll use a variety of these types. You can go it alone and simply upload with Amazon, using KDP Print (their book printers), or you can learn what it REALLY takes to do this successfully, and potentially work with us.
Cost of Self-Publishing A Book
Since you don’t have a massive publishing company backing you, there are expenses you’ll incur on your journey to self-publish a book.
Most are very mild, but they may seem like a large chunk of change to invest in your book (really, your success).
Thankfully, there are ways to cut costs. Our students have discounts through book designers, formatters, editors, and other book production services they’d have to pay full price elsewhere.
It’s likely that you can cut self-publishing costs by opting for freelancers or even checking out Reedsy’s resources to find someone to work with.
Editing: $200 – $2,000+ (this depends on word count)
Cover Design: $300 – $500 average (this is IMPORTANT!)
ISBN & Copyright: $100 – $400 (depending on country and number of ISBNs you choose to purchase)
Interior Formatting: $150 – $300 (depends on internal design)
Proof Copies: $50
Launch Team Goodies *Optional*: $100+ (signed copies, posters, etc.)
Self-Publishing Resources to Succeed *Optional*: $500 – $5,000+ (education companies)
TOTAL COSTS: $850 – $3000+
DON’T LET THESE NUMBERS DISSUADE YOU! You can save up while writing your book (which takes a good chunk of time). Just be prepared to invest in this if you want to be successful.
Also keep in mind, this is to produce a HIGH quality book. Which is the entire purpose of finding success in self-publishing a book. You have to be able to compete with traditionally published books, which are backed by massive budgets.
You can stick to the low-end of these costs and NOT opt for a developmental edit, which is one of the most expensive components.
But ultimately: do NOT skip at least a copy edit and do NOT skimp on the book cover. The book cover design…is the most important in today’s world of visually stimulating content.
What is the best way to self-publish a book successfully?
As the leading experts in this industry, we here at Self-Publishing School know we have the best way to self-publish.
It’s about more than just how to upload your book onto Amazon. And most people forget this. Most people who want to succeed in self-publishing a book, at least.
So we’re breaking down the best way to self-publish a book for maximum SUCCESS, from start-to-finish.
#1 – Create a self-publishing plan
You want to do this the right way, yes? And skip over the crap that’s not useful or the stuff that won’t really make a difference?
Good. Then you need a plan so you understand what it really takes to succeed. We don’t mess around here at Self-Publishing School.
So this includes putting together a timeline—or at the very least, a to-do list—of all the steps you’ll need to accomplish in order to self-publish your book.
You can even just jot down notes from this blog post in the order they’re here, since we’re handing you the ultimate blueprint for self-publishing in this blog post.
If nonfiction: what do you know the most about? What do people often tell you you should write about? What do you find yourself explaining over and over (for example: I often get asked “how’d you turn out successful?” from those who know my upbringing–this would be a great topic for nonfiction).
If fiction: start with some writing prompts. Try the “what if” strategy: what if a character in a certain town comes across a certain oddity?
Let your mind wander, come up with a book idea you think is GREAT, and dive into the rest of the self-publishing process.
#3 – Mindmap your idea
Have you heard of a mindmap? This is a powerful tool we use here at Self-Publishing School to help our students when they “don’t know where to even start” when they have an idea.
It allows you to get ALL your ideas out so you can better organize in the next step.
A mindmap is what you create when you start with a blank sheet of paper, and in the middle you draw a circle with the main topic of your book, or the main plot.
Then, you draw branches from this for other main elements, where you create more branches to fill out those ideas. It’s hard to describe in words, so here are some examples:
A mindmap is the space to dump ALL of your ideas, no matter if they’ll make the final book outline or not. Anything you can think of, the more, the merrier.
Then move on to the next step.
#4 – Create an outline for your book
Outlining a book can be really fun, and really difficult at the same time. It’s when you’ll finally put your ideas in the order you want them to appear in the book itself.
You trim the fat. You add the details. You have a clear blueprint for writing your book.
This step is also completely up to you. Different people outline in different ways.
Here’s a brief overview of only a few of the various methods to choose from (we suggest watching this video for more tangible examples):
Sticky Note Method: This is when you find a blank wall or large poster and use small sticky notes to write your main plot point or book elements and then arrange them in the order you want to write them.
Skeletal Method: This one is like what you may have written in school. You start with the main point as a title (chapter title maybe), then the next bullet can be the overarching idea, and then beneath that, you’ll have the supporting details or events you want to write about.
Basic Bullet Points: For this method, it is as it’s named. You start at the top and create bullet points for all the events you want to happen and write about. After this is complete from start to finish, draw lines to separate chapters.
Snowflake Method: This method involves starting small and broadening the outline. You start with one sentence of what will happen, expand this into a full paragraph, and then multiple for each chapter of your book.
#5 – Complete the book you’ll self-publish
This includes the entire writing-to-finished-product process, and we’ll outline this in just a moment below. But just know that this is the longest and most difficult part of self-publishing.
Yes, the actual self-publishing part isn’t as difficult as creating and maintaining the discipline to finish your first draft, self-edit, revise, hire an editor (YES, you need one), format the book, have the cover designed…I think you get the point.
Getting the first draft done is the most difficult part for most of our students. So let’s break down what this looks like, along with the other steps mentioned above to complete book production.
Here’s how to actually complete a book:
Start writing, and follow our outline IN ORDER
Maintain a writing schedule to finish your book
Once the first draft is complete, let it “rest” for a week or so
Book an editor (do this now, they usually have waitlists and you can do the next step while you wait. Plus, it’ll give you a deadline 🙂)
Self-edit the book chapter by chapter, rewrite, and make any changes
OPTIONALBUT SUGGESTED: After you have it the best it can be, send it to beta readers or critique partners for feedback (DO THIS BEFORE SENDING IT TO AN EDITOR)
Book a formatter and cover designer (some services have packages that include both)
Perform book edits from the editor (really take their feedback to heart. It’s easy to be offended or not want to listen, but if they’re qualified they DO know best) and set up launch team and marketing goals while you wait to get it back
Send to the formatter when it’s 100% edited
Get your ISBN and copyright your book
Work with the cover designer on tweaks (they’ll also need the barcode, ISBN, etc.)
Order proof copies and review, adjust if needed
This process is extensive and what our students truly get a lot out of our programs, since each of these steps is thoroughly outlined with video tutorials. But, we’ll still cover a few more points below.
We do have blog posts and/or videos for many of the steps above if you want more details. Just do a quick search in the bar at the top (or click the three bars to see search if you’re on mobile), or head to our Youtube channel and check them out.
#6 – Get an ISBN & Copyright your book
Amazon provides a free ISBN if you choose to use this. However, keep in mind that with an Amazon ISBN, you cannot sell your book on other retailers (like B&N, Kobo, iBooks, etc.) with that same ISBN.
For this reason, we always recommend our students buy their own (and get a package of them if you plan to publish more than one book).
First, make an account (you need this to check out)
At the top right, under “Register and copyright your book” hit “CopyrightsNow!”
On the right, select which package option you’d like and add it to your cart–we suggest the 1 ISBN and Copyright, but if you plan to publish more than one book soon, choose another
Click “go to cart” from the pop-up screen
Follow the process to check out
This process is pretty painless, but it does cost $184 USD for 1 copyright and 1 ISBN. These are essential costs.
If you want to add a copyright paragraph into your book, we have an actual book outline template you can use for those opening pages. Just choose fiction or nonfiction, fill out your details, and check your inbox for DIRECTIONS for how to use and access.
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.
There are a growing number of options for where to get your book printed and distributed from. For self-publishing a book, Amazon is a typical go-to, but KDP print has some limitations that can move your attention elsewhere.
Why do you want to go with someone besides Amazon to self-publish a book? Because you can get your book into other online retailers, like B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and many more.
Amazon keeps everything on Amazon.
Here are the main print/distributors and their differences in self-publishing:
— Amazon’s KDP Print —
This is Amazon’s own printing press, which used to be CreateSpace. It was acquired by Amazon so they could serve self-publishers on their platform all in one place.
Ease of use: 5/5
Cost to publish: $.85 flat fee per book over 108 pages + $.12 per page (for a 300-page book, Amazon would take $4.45 in printing costs out of your retail price)
IngramSpark is one of the most popular book aggregators out there because they include hardcover in their printing options, where Amazon’s KDP Print does not. Many find this to be more appealing and a higher benefit.
Ease of use: 3.5/5
Cost to publish: $25 – $49, with a $25 per book edit fee, plus handling fees per book. You can see a breakdown of the costs here in the review linked below.
This is another distributor that’s been around for a little while. They have a flat fee for using their service, plus a royalty rate for you. Their services range from book printing to distribution to even ad management serivces. However, in all honesty, you can get the same level of service with a higher royalty rate elsewhere, but you may find they work best for you!
Ease of use: 4/5
Cost to publish: You pay $99 – $399 depending on distribution choices, but only KEEP between 11% – 20% of your royalties. PLUS, there are fees for editing your books.
It’s time to start building your launch team! This is such an exciting time, because self-publishing your book is getting REAL!
If you’re not sure what a launch team (or street team) is, it’s a group of people who are dedicated to reading your book, writing a review on the platforms you want, and helping your self-publishing journey become a success.
Overall a launch team helps you build hype and market your book before and during your launch.
When you build your launch team, you’ll want to find people who are actually interested in your book. Yes, friends and family can certainly help, but tapping into the market you WANT to sell to can be more effective.
Here are a few steps for building your launch team:
Create a social post, email, or announce it anywhere else you see fit
Offer a FREE version of your book (a PDF copy is usually fine) to get people to sign up
If you have an email list or a website, use a form to capture their information for use later
Create a Facebook Group or a Discord or something equivalent where you can communicate with the launch team all at once in a singular location
Set up a list of tasks, challenges, or other initiatives to ensure your launch team is invested in helping you market the book
Set them up for success by clearly communicated and listing DATES you expect things completed by
HAVE FUN!! This team is here to help you succeed! Be kind and treat them well.
#10 – Create a launch plan
This highly coincides with the previous step on building a launch team and creating a plan for THEM. Ultimately, to self-publish a book successfully, you should also set up an effective launch plan.
Do you find yourself giving your friends golden, flawless advice? Are you the person your siblings call when they need a pep talk? Do you make more spreadsheets than are perhaps absolutely necessary?
You might be a life coach.
Or a little life coach seed! Being a life coach can be a highly rewarding (and high paying) job. If you’re a motivated, enthusiastic person with strong reasoning and empathy skills, it might be the career path for you!
Here’s how to become a life coach:
What a life coach is and what they do
How to become a life coach
Finding your niche
Learning to be a good coach
Living a life that gets you clients
Strengthening your brand by writing a book
Creating a reliable client base by building a platform
Creating a course to spread your reach
What is a life coach?
A life coach is an expert on setting and achieving goals. They help clients identify what they want to accomplish, set timely goals, plan actionable steps to help them reach those goals, and encourage them along the way.
Much like a sports coach, a life coach is there to strategize plays, give advice, and shout encouragement from the sidelines. They might tell you things you don’t want to hear, but they’re there with a glass of water and a thumbs up to help you get those hard-to-swallow pills down.
Motivation is tough! Setting goals is tough, and achieving them is even harder. When you want to do something new, you listen to the experts. If goal creating and achieving isn’t something a person has practice with–maybe it’s even something they’ve tried and failed to do–then it might be time to bring in those experts.
But maybe goals are easy peasy for you. Maybe you’re a natural at figuring out what you want, how to get it, and then taking those actionable steps to achieve them. If that sounds like you, maybe you have the potential to become a life coach yourself.
So how do you get started?
How do you become a life coach?
To establish yourself in a new career from scratch is a BIG undertaking. There are several things you might consider doing to begin or boost your life coaching career, like finding your niche in the market, living and portraying a life that proves your worth as a coach, continued learning, writing a book, building a platform, or launching your own course!
That’s a lot all at once, so let’s break those options down–
#1 – Find Your Niche
Building a clientele for life coaching is much easier if you can focus in on a particular niche. To widely market yourself as simply a Fix-All Life-Coach might seem like you’re scooping with a bigger net, but the reality of it is: the net holes are too big, and all your catches are slipping through.
It’s too vague to really mean anything, and your fish don’t even realize the net is for them.
To grab the attention of fish– *ahem* clients who actually need your specific expertise, try narrowing to a niche. What are you an expert in? Maybe you specialize in dating and romance, health and fitness, business or finance–maybe you can coach for something very specific, like writing a book.
Once you have a niche, you can strengthen your skills and qualifications to serve that specific need, then cater your marketing to catching customers who need help in that particular area.
If you don’t know your niche, ask yourself these questions:
What three things am I most interested in?
What three things am I best at?
What three things make me different from most people?
Take some time thinking these over, and hopefully one of those answers gives you an idea to pursue!
#2 – Live a life that reflects your coach skillsets
If you and your life don’t appear to be successful, no one will trust that you can make them successful.
What have you accomplished? Are you a published author? An expert in your field? A business owner? Think of things you can put front-and-center in your branding that help prove that your methods work–because they’ve worked on your own life!
If your life is–or seems to be–a wreck, we’ve got to backtrack a few steps and get your stuff in line before we offer services to help other people.
Check that your client-facing elements are as professional and attractive as you can make them. This can mean a well-made website, a professional and consistent social media presence across the relevant platforms, testimonials or reviews, a clean and stocked portfolio (if relevant).
For a client to trust you to guide their life, make sure your life looks as shiny as it should.
#3 – Learn how to be a life coach
If you’re interested in becoming a life coach, you likely already have some qualifications. Even if that’s the case, there’s always more to learn! If you have the extra time and resources, maybe you could invest some into further learning.
Good courses for a life coach might be topics like psychology, time management, budgeting, communication, and any skills relevant to your niche.
Not only will further learning brush up your education on important parts of life coaching, but they could ALSO give you something tangible to build credibility. Courses completed can be listed on portfolios, resumes, and websites. You could even get officially certified in life coaching for that extra push of veritability!
#4 – Write a book
Now calm down–it’s not as hard as it seems, and I haven’t lost my mind. Writing and publishing a book on a subject does a lot to show that you’re the expert on that subject.
Publishing books can also draw in clients. For example, if your content is strong and you successfully plant leads, you can drive hundreds or THOUSANDS of readers to your website, newsletter, or socials to eventually convert those readers into clients.
Writing and publishing a nonfiction book for your life coaching career–like a manual, memoir, instructional booklet, or self-help book–is a lot easier than you might think, and it can pay off BIG time. Need some help getting started?
#5 – Build a platform
Selling a product or service becomes much easier when you have the people to sell it to. Building a platform just means collecting followers who are interested in your brand and what you have to offer. There are TONS of ways to build platforms.
Here are a few examples:
Writing a blog
Collecting emails for a regular newsletter with strong content
Offering content, like downloadable worksheets and ebooks, through your website
Making YouTube videos
Offering classes or services
Having a strong, recognizable brand through social media
Whichever way you choose to build your platform, having a following means having potential customers who already know you and are interested in what you offer.
Recognition and familiarity breed trust, which is crucial for establishing a relationship with life coaching clients.
As a writer, I sell more books by maintaining an online platform. I sold my first short story collection in 2018, right as I was beginning to grow my platform on YouTube. After my platform grew ten times the size, my second short story collection outsold the first collection’s ENTIRE presale period in the first twenty-four hours. A platform is the difference between a successful launch, an okay launch, and an absolute flop–no matter what you’re selling.
As a life coach, having a platform allows you to make connections with people who can become potential coaching clients.
One-on-one coaching is probably what you think of when I say “life coach,” and that’s definitely an important aspect of being a life coach. Most coaches continue having one-on-one clients for their entire career, but it is possible to transition into a wider reach with less effort.
How can we transition from one-to-one coaching to one-to-many coaching? Make your work hours worth more by reaching more people with an online course!
#6 – Create an online course
With an established platform and a full schedule of life coaching clients, how do you grow from there? One way to swap from a one-to-one coach to a one-to-many coach (or to create a hybrid career of both) is through creating a course
Using my career as an example, I offer one-on-one services for writing and marketing. I also create courses that require much less effort on my part. My customers are still getting value and high quality knowledge, as they would with a one-on-one effort, but all I have to do is initially produce the course, upload it, and promote it.
I go from reaching one person with eight hours of effort on something like a manuscript critique, to producing an entire course that HUNDREDS of people can gain access to (much more affordably on their part) with the same eight hours of effort.
If you could turn one customer served into hundreds or thousands of customers served with nearly the same amount of effort, why wouldn’t you?
There are many formats and media you can utilize for building your own course, such as:
Launching your own website to host the courses
Distributing the materials yourself through newsletters, worksheets, and/or livestreams
Using a platform like Skillshare or Udemy to post materials for wider consumption
Each platform will have different start-up costs and payoffs, so consider your options carefully.
I personally use Skillshare. Skillshare makes it easy to plan, produce, and upload courses. Once you have a few good reviews on a class, Skillshare suggests your classes to more users, and you can sit back and earn those royalties. Skillshare also offers $10 per referral, so slap your link onto class promotional materials and grab a bag for the money pouring in.
What content do you put in a course?
An easy way to generate content for an online course is to pull the core ideas from your book (you wrote one, right?) and convert it into lectures, exercises, and/or homework assignments.
Course content to complement your books (and vice versa) can create a strong platform and brand, refer sales to each other, and give your customers a full educational experience.
Writing a book is great for your platform and career. Producing a course is great for your platform and career. HIT ‘EM WITH THAT COMBO MOVE!
Even though I write fiction, my Skillshare courses are ABOUT writing fiction–this allows me to use my own writing as examples in the courses, funneling customers to buy my books after they have finished the class.
A platform + books + courses = a full-figured career with multiple streams of income.
A cohesiveness among your platform, books, and courses = cross-reference sales to bounce off of each other and grow your business even more. Load your arsenal with the full deal!
Ready to jumpstart your life coaching career by producing a course?
Have you ever thought about establishing a source of passive income? Do you think your 9-5 job isn’t enough to cover your financial needs? Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid to do nothing? Maybe you can!
There are many ways to set up passive streams of income to fatten your pockets and keep you a little warmer this winter. Having a few extra income streams can be beneficial in preventing financial disaster when something like this inevitably happens again.
But here is the question: But where do you even start, and which passive income ideas are actually the most lucrative?
Here’s what we’ll cover for how to make passive income:
So we know what passive income is–why do you care? Is it something you can do yourself? Why spend the time and effort creating a passive stream of income when you already have a regular paycheck? WELL–
Because of COVID-19, passive income is more relevant than ever. A global pandemic is a great time to be secure: you’ve been laid off and need an alternate source of income until you find a new opportunity. You can simply take advantage of the extra time people have on their hands by providing entertainment or engagement with your product or service. If you’re busy taking care of family and others, a more passive stream of income would free up the time you’d be committed to a traditional form of income. It’s hard to imagine a situation right now that couldn’t be improved by a passive income stream.
Extra money! Who would say no to some extra, practically effortless cash? It can give you more financial independence, flexibility, and safety. Perhaps you stream your passive income directly into a retirement fund. Maybe you use it to fund a hobby. Maybe it goes to a savings account for vacations, or even adopt a dog. Or maybe it’ll just grease the wheels in your monthly expenses. No matter what you’re using it for, the extra money that doesn’t cost a ton of time and effort will never make your life harder.
More time to devote to things you actually care about. Maybe you don’t invest the money for extra things–maybe you just allow yourself to work less. Time is our most valuable commodity, so the more you can free up, the better. If setting up alternative income streams can cut the number of hours you work so you can use that to spend time with family and friends, fix up your house, or just have more fun, why wouldn’t you do it?
Security. Even with a regular job, nothing is permanent and nothing is guaranteed. If you lose your job today, where does that leave you? Do you have a savings buffer? What if you burn through it before you’re able to be employed again? Having passive streams of income expands your safety net between monetary stability and poverty. Even if you can’t completely live on passive income streams, they will give you more room to tread in a flood.
As you can see, passive income is never a bad idea. An initial investment of time and effort can pay off Big in the long run.
So how do we get started? What are the ways to generate those passive streams of income?
How to make passive income?
There are countless streams of passive income, but I’m going to talk about seven big ones you should jump on today if you want the freedom of making money while away in the future.
#1 – Build an online presence
Be it a blog, a YouTube channel, an Instagram dedicated to your skill or interest, or any other type of content, having a platform to sell things to can make a huge difference for any business endeavor you’re interested in trying. I use the platform I built through my YouTube channel to sell books, workshops, freelance services, and more.
Having an online audience in and of itself won’t generate passive income, but it will give you the means with which to find success doing several things, such as the other items on this list!
#2 – Write a book!
Self-publishing an ebook can have no start-up costs and still pay off BIG with a little work. This is one of the main ways our Become a Bestseller students bring home a few extra bucks (or even full-time equivalent incomes).
Not sure what to write about? Ask yourself these questions:
What are you good at?
What are you passionate about?
Do people often ask you about something that you have to explain over and over again?
Do you have an idea that has been lingering in your head for years?
When do people say, “you should write a book!”
Turn one of your interests or skills into a book and earn royalties for as long as it sells—and self-publish it, while you’re at it. So you keep 100% of the royalties.
Writing a book isn’t as intimidating as it sounds, especially if you’re writing about something you know and you have the right writing and publishing system in place to guide you to success.
#3 – Sell online
Again, what are you good at?
These days, starting and maintaining a website is easier than ever, so what’s stopping you from launching one to sell non-fiction books like:
Whatever informational packets you can produce in your field
Or maybe you use your website to sell products like:
Merchandise (websites like Teespring and Redbubble allow you to create and sell merchandise for no down cost)
Homemade items (you could also use sites like Ebay and Etsy, as opposed to creating your own)
Flipped items (furniture, clothes, and other items bought at a discount and revamped to sell at a markup)
The options are endless, but one of the most cost-effective materials to produce and sell are ebooks!
Platforms like Skillshare and Udemy allow you to produce, upload, and sell your own classes. If you’re up for a slightly bigger challenge, you can run a class from your own website with online lecture series, live streams, worksheets, ebooks, etc.
Hosting it yourself would provide more freedom, but also requires a larger time and money investment, so keep that in mind.
I teach on Skillshare. I produced classes with the equipment I already had from YouTube, so all I paid for was a Skillshare account (which I use a lot), and that runs for less than $10 a month.
So the startup costs to produce a class were very low for me. The payoff has been amazing.
Here’s how to get started on this passive income stream:
Figure out what you’re best at
write a script for your class
pick a platform
and let it roll!
Once your class is posted (on Skillshare, as an example), it requires no upkeep! I’ll occasionally promote my classes on social media, but once I had some good reviews posted, Skillshare started internally promoting my class.
Now it’s just free money.
#5 – Rental property
Maybe you have the money and time to invest in spare real estate, but not a lot of people do. But! Rental property can still be an option for you. Do you have a spare room? A couch? A truck you’re not using? A lawnmower? Consider renting out your space and equipment.
Websites like Airbnb and Vrbo make it easy to rent extra rooms and space to travelers, so if you have spare space, think about listing it!
You can post about equipment availability on a ton of free sites, like Facebook Marketplace and craigslist.
You might have free money laying around in the form of unused assets. Give it a think!
#6 – Investments
If you’re in a stable place right now, maybe you have some money lying around to invest in the stock market.
Sites like Robinhood and e-trade help you invest in stocks, ETFs, and options easily. Investing is a great way to make your money work for you instead of working for your money.
#7 – Affiliate marketing
There are tons of ways to cash up with affiliate marketing. If you have a platform of any kind, there will likely be a company willing to partner with you.
Especially if you’re already producing some sort of content, slipping affiliate marketing into the things you already make is a super easy and quick way to earn some extra cash.
Maybe you do one-on-one sponsorships with companies to plug their product or service, or maybe you do general affiliate links, like with the popular Amazon Affiliate Program.
You could even cash in on company-specific perks, like this link I use to get and give $10 of store credit on ThredUp. 🙂
I check with the companies for any service or product I use and love to see if they have affiliate opportunities. It costs me nothing to promote something I already like to an audience I already have, so there’s no reason not to utilize affiliate marketing opportunities.
Passive Income Tips to keep in mind
Now you understand what passive income is, and you probably have a few ideas bouncing around in your head about how you can make it happen for yourself, but here are a few things to think about:
Beware of anything that promises huge and effortless rewards. Passive income isn’t an overnight achievement. Everything worthwhile will require a little work, so look out for get-rich-quick schemes and multi-level marketing gigs. Look for long-term gains versus overnight magic.
Do your research! When you have an idea, read up on other people who have done it, look at their success, and see if you can figure out what they’re doing that makes it successful. Almost everything has been done before–it’s been done well, and it’s been done poorly. Knowing what a successful version and a failed version looks like before you begin can save you a lot of strife later on.
Be hesitant to drop large amounts of money right away. Think your ideas through before you invest more than you’re willing to lose. Do your research, and have a plan before you invest in anything. But remember, some investments make sense. It’s all about your end goal and how much you really want this.
Those are only a few of the many ways to generate passive income. Which one sounds the most achievable for you?
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):
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!
A Nonfiction book is a piece of written document that is focused on facts. It’s opposed to fictional stories such as Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia. It can be a memoir, a captivating biography, an instructional book on how to make a coffee table, or even a travel guide to Chile. As long as the content is real and none of it is made up, it can be considered a nonfiction book.
Writing a Nonfiction Book for Beginners: Quick Tips
The biggest reason most people don’t write a book is because they think they’re not a good writer. But as a C- English student who used to hate writing… Trust me, you can do it.
Even though I didn’t have the best English skills, I still wrote and published 6 bestselling books. That’s why I started Self-Publishing School and our Become a Bestseller program to begin with.
I figured out how to write a high quality book despite writing skills, and that’s what I want you to know: you don’t need to be a good writer to product a good book.
All you need is an idea…and we here at Self-Publishing School believe that everyone has a book in them. We just specialize in getting it out and published to its best form.
But in addition to that, I wanted to drop some other tips for beginners, those looking to start writing a book for the first time:
Don’t compare yourself
Don’t try to copy or recreate a popular book
Write about what you know, have experienced, and what people ask you about often
Be honest with yourself (and therefore, the readers)
Look to those with experience to go through this process correctly (think of: How vs Who…you always want to look for the Who to solve things)
Get some support from friends or family (our students usually make an accountability buddy in our exclusive Mastermind Community)
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 the “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.
Additionally, if you want to know more about Amazon Categories, check out Dave Chesson’s PublisherRocket service.
#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 King 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 hate 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, such as a book trailer to help build up excitement in your followers!
#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.
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