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 awhile, 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 will write, launch and market a quality book that sells. Although Mark Dawson is mainly a fiction author, the course can be customized for nonfiction writer’s. 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?
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is a 13-digit code used to uniquely identify your book amongst the millions out there.
What is an ISBN number used for?
Essentially, an ISBN number, or International Standard Book Number, is a regulated 10- or 13-digit identification number which allows libraries, publishers, and book dealers to locate and identify specific books.
But where did these ISBN numbers even start and why do we have them?
In the early days of World War 2, the Japanese military sent messages back and forth and the Allies needed to crack their intricate numbering system to get an edge in the war and turn the tables.
But how did they crack this complex system?
MI6 recruited a young mathematician named Gordon Foster to work as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, where he scanned millions of numbers looking for patterns in the code.
Decades later, when the book industry needed a standardized tracking program in order to coordinate the increasing number of titles being published each year, Gordon Foster was approached by WH Smith, a British retailer, to write a report on how to create such a system.
This report led to the 9-digit standard book number which went live in the UK in 1967 and eventually led to the ISBN system used worldwide.
Several years later, this turned into a 10-digit numbering system when a policy was needed for new editions and variations. Then, in 2007, the ISBN switched to a 13-digit format and is now the standard used everywhere.
How much does an ISBN cost?
ISBNs cost about $125 for one number in the US. However, if you purchase more than one at a time, this cost could be lowered.
Let’s unweave the intricate web of how to get an ISBN and how they work in the publishing industry.
How To Read an ISBN number with an ISBN Example
As of 2007, the ISBN is a 13-digit number. This came about in part because of the large volume of eBooks now being published every year.
Knowing how to break down and interpret these 13 digits aren’t of much use and interest to most book readers, but for publishers and distributors, it’s a necessity.
If you want to publish lots of books under your own publishing name then it’s something you may want to pay attention to. You can tell a lot about a book and its author by reading the ISBN number.
The 13 digit ISBN number helps:
Identify the specific title
Identify the author
Identify the type of book they are buying
Identify the physical properties of that particular book
Identify the geographical location of the publisher
Let’s break it down and look at what all these numbers mean.
Here is the ISBN for a particular book:
You’ll notice this sequence is divided into 5 number combinations. But the first three digits “978” indicates that this string of numbers is for an ISBN. If we remove these digits we have:
First is the initial digit, in this case: 3
The 3 is the language group identifier which here indicates German. For English speaking countries a 0 or 1 is used. Numbers for language identification generally range from 1-5.
Here is a list of the most common Group identifiers:
0 or 1 for English
2 for French
3 for German
4 for Japan
5 for Russian
7 for People’s Republic of China
It’s worth mentioning that the rarer the language, the longer the number identifier will be. For example, Indonesia is 602 whereas Turkey is 9944. You can reference the complete list at the International ISBN Agency.
Next is “16”. This is the “publisher code,” and it identifies the publisher on any book that has this number. This number can be as long as 9 digits.
“148410” — This six-digit series represents the title of the book. The publisher assigns this to a specific book or edition of the book, such as a hardcover version or paperback. This could be a single digit or stretch to multiple digits.
“0” is the last digit and is known as the “check digit”. This number is mathematically calculated as a fixed digit. This is always a single digit.
This number indicates that the rest of the ISBN numbers have been scanned and is calculated based on the other digits in the code.
Where is the ISBN number on books?
The ISBN is usually found above the barcode on the back of the book. However, they’re not the same.
The barcode is much different than the ISBN number.
This is an important distinction because:
When you purchase an ISBN you don’t automatically get a barcode
The barcode of your book can change, while your ISBN can remain the same.
We’ve already discussed what data the ISBN carries, however, the barcode includes extra information such as the book’s fixed price and the currency it’s being sold in.
Barcodes are a necessary element of your book as they allow for most retailers and distributors to scan your ISBN for retail and inventory reasons.
The Book Designer also has a great resource for learning how to reconstruct an ISBN if you finally decided to write and self-publish the book you’ve been thinking about since you bought the ISBN.
ISBN Search: How to Find Your Book’s ISBN
If you want to look up the ISBN of any book out there, you can do so easily by visiting the website ISBNSearch.org.
You’ll be greeted with a screen like the one above where you will be prompted to type in the ISBN, author name, or book title.
After hitting “search,” you will have a list of books matching your searched items with the both the 13-digit ISBN and the 10-digit, like in the example below.
How to Read a Barcode
If you look at the picture of a standard barcode, you’ll notice two barcodes side by side. The barcode that appears on the left is the EAN generated from the ISBN number.
The other number appearing on the right is a 5-digit add-on, called an EAN-5, that contains the price of the book. The first digit is a 5 and is a must for scanners to read. The 4-digits after the five indicates the price of the book.
For example, if the number reads 52995, this means the price of the book is set at $29.95. If the price of the book changes, a new barcode must be used, though the ISBN wouldn’t change.
This would only be replaced by a new ISBN number if the book is published as a new edition or as a new version.
To buy a barcode you must first purchase an ISBN. You can buy your barcodes at Bowker and they even offer a barcode-ISBN combo:
1 barcode + 1 ISBN is $150.
1 barcode + 10 ISBNs is $320.
The Difference Between ASIN and ISBN
If you’ve used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program you’ve probably come across an ASIN. ASIN numbers are used by Amazon to manage and identify the products they are selling on their site. It’s a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier that’s assigned by Amazon.com and its partners.
You can find this on your book page. In your browser, the Amazon ASIN will be after the product’s name and “dp”. The next place to find this is in your book or product details area of your book page.
However, an ASIN is not the same as an ISBN. You can only use it with Amazon. If you want to sell through other platforms or in brick and mortar stores, you’re going to need an ISBN.
Reasons Self-Published Authors Need an ISBN
If you want to publish and sell your eBook on Amazon, then the quick answer is no, it isn’t necessary. Amazon will assign your eBook an ASIN number which will be used to identify and track your title.
However, that’s only with Amazon, and only with eBooks.
This might be important if you have a brick and mortar marketing strategy, or if you want your book to be accessible through libraries (more on this later), or if you’re looking to deal with wholesalers or other online retailers.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you want to sell your book by means other than as an ebook on Amazon, then you’ll need an ISBN.
How do I buy an ISBN Number?
You might not even have to buy your ISBN number because of services offered to self-published authors. You can get assigned a free ISBN by Createspace, the On-Demand publishing company that has now merged with Amazon.
If you can get a free or cheap ISBN with them, then what’s the use in paying for your own one?
Here’s the problem: most of the time, you can only use those free ISBNs with the channels those companies distribute through.
Let’s say you get a free ISBN with Draft2Digital, but then you notice that there are some retail channels you can access through Smashwords that you can’t with Draft2Digital.
You can’t use the Draft2Digital ISBN with Smashwords.
Smashwords will only let you use your own ISBN or an ISBN they assign to you. So what do you do?
You get a free ISBN with Smashwords.
And now you have two ISBNs for the same book. Same book title, same book format, but two ISBNs.
You then hear of some exclusive channels you can get through eBookPartnership. The only wrinkle? You need an ISBN and they won’t take your Smashwords’ or Draft2Digital’s ISBN. So you sign up for their free ISBN instead.
Now you have three ISBNs for the same book.
The Problem with Multiple ISBNs
This problem can repeat itself again and again as you discover more ways to distribute your book. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for the ISBN, sometimes you won’t. But it leads to you having several ISBNs, all from different publishers, for the same book.
Can you picture how unprofessional that looks to a bookstore?
Wouldn’t it have been easier to start off by buying your own ISBN? Wouldn’t that make you look more professional?
All of these issues can be sidestepped by simply purchasing your own ISBN through Bowker.
Libraries and ISBN Numbers
We briefly mentioned that if you want to stock your book in libraries, you’ll need an ISBN. However, that might be the furthest thing from your mind. You might have decided to focus purely on eBook publishing and what part do libraries play in eBooks?
A big one.
Libraries are becoming more important to the distribution of eBooks. Overdrive is the largest supplier to schools and libraries in the world (serving more than 30,000), and they circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014, a 33% increase from their previous year. They also supply to retail stores globally, making $100 million in sales in 2013.
And guess what you need to be able to partner with Overdrive? Yup. An ISBN.
How to get an ISBN
ISBNs are free in many countries, provided either by the government or a publicly administered branch. However, in the US and the UK, ISBN numbers are administered by Bowker and Nielsen respectively and require you to pay.
If you’re located outside the USA you can find out your local ISBN Agency here. While ISBNs are assigned locally, you can use them internationally.
If you live in the USA, you have to get an ISBN through myidentifiers.com, run by Bowker, the only company that is authorized to administer the ISBN program in the United States. You can purchase ISBNs as a single unit or in bulk of 10, 100 or 1000.
How to Register Your Book and ISBN Number
As soon as you purchase your ISBN through Bowker or the International equivalent in your local area, and you publish your book, you should register here at Bowkerlink.
This is an automated tool that will add your book to Bowker’s Books In Print and Global Books In Print.
You can only use an ISBN once. The ISBN is a unique number for that particular book, and can be assigned once, and only once, to that title. It can’t be used with any other book in the future, even second versions of the same book.
You don’t need an ISBN to sell in each individual country. ISBNs are international, they are just assigned locally. A US-based publisher can purchase their ISBN through Bowker, but can stock their book worldwide using that ISBN.
You need an ISBN for every specific format of the book and any new versions. Want to sell your book in print, as an eBook, and also as an audiobook? That’s great, however, you need a different ISBN for each one. If you want to publish a revised and updated version you’ll also need a new ISBN. (This doesn’t cover fixing some typos and errors).
If you create a series of books you can’t use the same ISBN for them. You can use the same ISSN, however. Many fiction and nonfiction authors have an ISSN number assigned to their book series. ISSN stands for International Standard Series Number and can be purchased from the Library of Congress. However, each book in the series will need its own ISBN.
We mentioned that in the USA you can buy ISBNs as a single unit, a bulk of 10, 100 or 1000. Here are the prices:
Number of ISBNs
First off, it rarely makes sense to purchase a single ISBN. A single ISBN would cost you $125, but a bulk of 10 only costs $295. Meaning if you purchased 10, each ISBN would cost you $29.50, a 76% discount.
Buying a single ISBN might seem feasible if you only want to publish one title, but remember that you need an ISBN for each format. So if you want to publish your book as an audiobook, you’d need a brand new ISBN for that. As well as needing different ISBN numbers for your eBook and print versions.
Not to mention that you’ll need an ISBN number for any future books you publish, perhaps as sequels to your book.
We recommend that if you’re serious about making book sales, you should purchase at least a bulk of 10 ISBNs. That gives you 3 ISBN numbers to use for publishing as an eBook, in print, and as an audiobook. You can keep the remainder for any future books you might publish.
How to Get an ISBN final steps
Now that you have a very good idea how to buy and use ISBNs for your own books, all the best on setting this up. If you want to be recognized as a publisher and have your books available to a larger global audience by registering through Bowker, consider investing in your own ISBN numbers.
Think of it as buying a piece of property: You own it and it is registered in your name.
If you publish your paperback through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can fill in your number in the “Paperback Content” section of your book when you log into your bookshelf. If you choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN, KDP will ask for your 13-digit number if you are transferring your physical version over to KDP.
Book Marketing for Authors During the Covid-19 Pandemic
We wanted to add this section at the top in light of everything happening with the Coronavirus sweeping the world.
With so many shut-downs and quarantines, Amazon has decided to cut down production considerably—and this includes paperback books.
For self-published authors, this is a huge problem. After all, some of you make a living from your book. So we wanted to offer you a few pieces of advice that we’re also sharing with our paying students at this time.
Here are some tips for book marketing during the Covid-19 Pandemic:
Switch to an ebook-first marketing plan (switch marketing images to ebooks, talk about the ebooks, make ebooks top-of-mind so more buy those versus physical copies)
Promote that your paperbacks are on other websites (Barnes and Noble, etc.) instead of sending them right to Amazon
Have any collaborators or those who sell your book via an affiliate link with Amazon switch to a different distributor or an ebook link for the time being
Reduce your ebook price or run a special to get the word out
Connect the current events to your story or message (it’s a GREAT time for dystopian authors and those with work-from-home material)
Offer a free PDF for anyone who buys a paperback (so they can start reading right away, waiting until their physical copy arrives)
Run a special that donates a % of the profits toward families in need during this time
Make sure that while still promoting, you’re aware of others’ struggles and hardships during this time. Be sensitive with your messaging.
This is a crazy situation for all of us and all we can hope to do is tweak our lives to fit the current times, and this includes self-published authors impacted by Amazon’s change.
Book Marketing for Self-Published Authors
Marketing takes planning, organization, and consistent action; it’s hard work. But the good news is that marketing is also about fostering connections and relationships, which can be rewarding to you and your fan base.
And since you’re the one who knows your book from cover to cover, your backstory, your reasons for writing it, and who your ideal reader is, it’s your duty to put a plan in place to best connect with your intended audience and share your story.
We know, we know…you’ve put a ton of effort into writing, editing, and getting your book ready for publication that the thought of adding another layer of “work” is not the most appealing idea.
But realize that if you launch your book without a marketing plan, FAR fewer people will read it.
It will hamper the success of the book you’re working on now, as well as others you plan on publishing in the future. So if you dream of becoming a New York Times bestselling author, or if you want your book to help you reach other lifestyle goals, a book marketing strategy is your essential key to success.
Book Profit Calculator for a Marketing Plan
If you want to know why you have to market your book, the profits will explain it.
If you want to make a living writing your books, it’s important to understand exactly what that means.
In order to earn a living writing your books, understanding how many books you need to sell and what you’ll bring home for each is vital.
Having a quick overview of exactly what you can do and how much time and effort each will take can help you better plan for your book marketing plan.
Here are our recommended book marketing strategies and what you need for each.
Book Marketing Platform
What to do
- use appropriate hashtags - post relatable tweets to increase shares - engage by liking and replying to others - search common hashtags to find your audience
- use appropriate hashtags - post photos related to the content of your book - engage by liking and replying to others - ask questions in photos to increase engagement - search common hashtags to find your audience
- create a page for yourself or your book - post video content - go Live to answer questions or discuss your book - post blog posts supporting your topic/ideas/book
- create pins linking back to your website - repin content related to your genre - create appropriate boards for your content - optimize pins with keywords - join group boards - connect with others who pin similar ideas
- great for business-related topics - share insights/stats - share blog posts supporting your ideas/topics - connect with leaders in your industry
- create a website - maintain a blog with posts about your main topic - use this to create an email list - keep this updated regularly
Free Book Marketing Plan
Having seen and been involved in so many book launches ourselves, we know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to book marketing.
We’ll walk you through a play-by-play of exactly what you need to do so that your readers can find your book and buy it.
We’ve broken this guide down into three main sections for learning book marketing:
Pre-Launch: Building Your Book Marketing Launch Team
Pricing Your Book for Maximum Sales
Post-Launch: 8 Strategies for Selling More Books
Let’s get started!
Pre-Launch: Build Your Book Marketing Launch Team
The first step of preparing for your book launch, and the marketing behind it, is to build your launch team or street team, as it’s also commonly referred to.
What is a launch team?
The ideal launch team, also known as a “street team,” is a dedicated, hand-selected group eager to make your launch successful. If you use your team’s talent and communicate well, there’s nothing your launch team can’t accomplish!
This video does a great job of detailing what a launch team is and exactly what they do:
#1 – Launch Team Size
The first step is to determine the projected size of your book marketing launch team based on the size of your audience.
Your audience is anyone interested in you, your book, and your product.
They could be five of your lifelong friends, members of your community, big organizations you’re connected to, social media followers, email subscribers, anyone who might be interested in what you’re sharing.
If you have a smaller following, we suggest you aim for a launch team of 10-50. Those with hundreds in their network can aim for 100-250 team members.
How to Find a Launch Team
If you don’t have much of a following right now, start by looking at your personal inner circle— your family, your close friends—then branch out to their connections, families, and colleagues.
You can reach out to peers from college, your volunteer work, or even your first job. You may even consider parents at your child’s school, fellow dog owners, or members of your yoga class.
Even though you may not know these people well, they are a part of your network, and you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that they’re inspired by your book and would be eager to share it.
Once you’ve completed this exercise, you should have an initial list of potential launch team members!
#2 – Recruit Quality People for Your Launch Team
Now that you’ve determined your potential recruitment pool, the second step is to initiate contact and gauge their interest level.
The most important lesson to consider about your book marketing launch team is thatQUALITY trumps QUANTITY.
One top-quality, dedicated team member trumps a handful of mediocre ones.
To begin recruitment for your launch team, create a simple questionnaire process that describes your book, your expectations of the team, and questions asking:
Why are you interested in supporting my book?
What part of my book speaks to you?
What specialized skills can you contribute?
What’s your available time commitment?
Who are influential people you can reach out to?
Why would these influential people be interested?
To sweeten the recruitment deal, feel free to offer a free signed copy of your book or an inclusion in the “acknowledgments” section. You can easily do this through email, or through online forms like Typeform.
#3 – Record a Welcome Video
Take the time to record a warm welcome video for your new supporters! In your video, first, congratulate your team for being selected and express gratitude for their help.
This welcome video will help you create a more personal connection with your book launch team, and show them a bit more about why you’re creating it and what message you’re trying to convey.
Be sure to send it to everyone who completes your questionnaire!
#4 – Establish a Communication Style
Here’s the secret to a successful book marketing launch team: Effective communication.
Communicate with your team regularly to keep them focused on weekly tasks, progress, and innovative ideas by doing the following:
Strive to send one email per week preceding launch then increase it to three or more during launch week.
Use a Facebook group to engage, share ideas, and post feedback. Set the tone by posting “Dos and Don’ts” to keep conversations focused and positive.
Boost morale and build rapport by sharing inspiring quotes, gifts, and goofy photos to keep energy high and build vital connections.
No matter which mode of communication you’re using, remember people like to be treated well.
Always make sure your team knows how grateful you are to them and their dedication!
#5 – Book Marketing Launch Team Assignments
You can’t just build up a catalog of supporters and not use them, though. You have to give them small assignments to help you with launching and the book marketing process in general.
It might feel weird telling people to help you, but don’t worry about it!
They’re here because they want to support your project, and as long as you’re gracious and ask nicely, they’ll be happy to support your work.
Facebook Groups will be the most effective way to dole out weekly team assignments.
Here are some book marketing initiatives you can assign your team to do:
Share snippets of content from your book across social media
Submit reviews on Amazon
Add their reviews to Goodreads
Share a book review on their YouTube channel
Record a testimonial for your book
Buy extra copies to give to their friends
Give you more marketing ideas!
#6 – Utilize Talents
Your team members will have a different variety of skills and talents, and it’s your job to effectively manage your team by assigning work based on their strengths.
To identify your team’s talents, write a post during the introductory week and say the following:
“If you have any special talents or connections you’d like to lend towards my book launch, please comment on this post and let me know. I’m looking for ways to help spread my book’s message to a wider audience.”
#7 – Have Fun and Say “Thank You!”
Your launch team will commit weeks of their time, energy, and talent, so make sure you thank each and every person for their contribution!
Ensure that each person on your team feels valued and appreciated for their efforts.
And most importantly, let them know how to get your book for free (or at least at a deep discount)!
Which brings us to…
How to Price Your Book
One of the most important factors in how successful your book launch is will be how you price it.
To find out how to price your book for success, we recommend reading Book Launch.
But for the sake of this article, here are some of Self-Publishing School’s biggest secrets that will get your book to soar up the Amazon’s charts:
If you have a sizable audience, we recommend launching your book for $0.99, and then increasing the price to $2.99 or higher after about a week.
Although you won’t get paid by putting your book out for free, realize that it will be featured on another author’s page which instantaneously increases your exposure and recognition.
Once the free promotion has ended, switch your book’s price to $0.99 for the following week, then slowly increase the price by $1 per week until sales stagnate.
Post-Launch: 8 Book Marketing Strategies for Selling More Books
All marketing—no matter which market or industry—is fundamentally about people and making connections.
Part of pitching your book will be figuring out how your book relates to your readers and how they will benefit from it.
Now that your book is out in the wild, you want to get as many people to it as possible. Here are the eight best strategies for doing just that.
#1 – Build Your Book Website
Can you imagine if you came home one day and your house was…missing?
Well, that is what an author’s life can be like without a website to post fresh content.
You’ll always be missing a home where you can park your books. Many authors think they don’t need a website because they can promote their books through social media or the author platform on Amazon.
Sorry, not exactly.
There is a huge difference. Having an author website is the difference between renting or buying a piece of property. When you rent, you are living in someone else’s space.
It doesn’t belong to you and they can cancel your lease at any time. Maintaining your own website on a hosted server with your domain name is the same as having that piece of real estate.
You can customize your site your way, publish your own content, and you are always in complete control of how it looks and what gets published.
When it comes to book marketing with your own website, the sky’s the limit. You can:
– Publish your book’s landing page on your site. – Post blogs about your upcoming book – Create a countdown timer for the book’s release date. – Set up an affiliate link to your Amazon page so you get commissions on book sales Include sample chapters from your book – Link to video clips about the book on your website – Communicate directly with your email subscribers about new releases or your current blog post
And you can also set up a Google Alert so you can be notified about where your name and your book show up online.
If someone gives you good feedback or a stellar review, reach out and thank them and ask them to link back to your book’s website.
If your book doesn’t already have a website, get one started! To set up your website and personal blog on a paid server, you can try Bluehost or Godaddy and use WordPress for building your site.
#2 – Build Your Email List
There is a saying going around that says: “the money is in the list.” Why? It’s simple. A list of followers who are in love with your writing will be the first to line up when you have a new product to sell.
These people are essentially your customers.
Your email list is yours. It doesn’t belong to Amazon or social media. You control what you want to say, how you say it, and when. Imagine if every time you had a new book ready to launch, hundreds or thousands of people were waiting for it so they could get it first.
If you are serious about your book marketing your current project and all future ones as well, building your list should be a top priority. Nothing else comes close.
Although building a list takes time, in the long run it is the easiest way to market.
These are the true fans that will get the word out and be the first to leave verified reviews after buying your new release at the special price of 0.99. But that is just the beginning.
You can continue to build your list by including a reader magnet at the front and back of your book. Get people hooked on your brand and then keep them there by writing your next book, and then, including them in your next launch.
As your book reaches more people, and you get more signups, your marketing capacity grows…exponentially.
If you haven’t started on your list building, go to an email management system such as Mailchimp or AWeber and sign up for an account. Then get building and start to funnel your fans into your books today.
#3 – Reach Out to Influencers
When it comes to book promoting, nothing can have a bigger impact on your book than influencers through book endorsements.
Even Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most influential and knowledgable people in the marketing game, thinks so.
What is an influencer?
Influencers can be podcasters, bloggers, or authors with strong email lists. It’s someone with an established platform that can get you noticed if they notice you.
An influencer is someone who has a lot of promotional weight and can spread the word about your book to thousands of people with just a brief mention to their email list, on their blog, or by sharing on social media, for example.
Influencers have a long reach. What you can do is identify the influencers in your niche and reach out to them. Tell them who you are and ask if they can help to promote your latest book.
A lot of the time, they’ll want a free copy to read and review. You can also offer to support their future endeavors as a way of giving back.
Influencers can have a major impact on your exposure as an author, so try to set up interviews in your hometown or reach out tosomeone online and offer to do an interview so you can deliver value to their target audience.
Guest post blogging on an influencer’s blog or website is another way to market your book.
For example, if you wrote a book on recipes for Italian food, you could try connecting with people in the Italian cooking niche.
They may have a blog, podcast, or a webinar on which you want to appear.
Identify at least one influencer in your market and reach out to that person. Tell them who you are and what you do. Get on their podcast or get interviewed. Exposure to fans in your niche will have a big influence on book sales.
#4 – Leverage Two Social Media Platforms
Social media is a powerful way to promote your book to potential readers. We can engage with thousands of people just by hitting a few buttons.
But with social media sites, the big scare is the amount of time we can get sucked into trying to do everything. If you try to connect with everyone, you’ll match up with nobody.
When promoting and marketing your book, you can’t be everywhere doing all things at once.
That is why we recommend you choose two social media sites to work with and post your content regularly on these two sites.
For example, you can have a YouTube channel and post weekly videos covering a wide range of topics centering around your book. After a few months, you could build up a library of content that will bring in the right audience, engage with new subscribers, and even create a course out of your videos.
Here’s an example of Youtube content from a writer currently working on her first fiction novel. She created a Youtube channel to engage fellow writers, who are also readers:
By creating a Youtube channel and giving advice about writing, she’s appealing to writers while also advertising that she is also a writer and has a book in progress.
Switching gears to Facebook, you can promote your book or blog using Facebook ads that drive new readers to your Facebook page or your book’s website.
You could also post popular quotes or snippets of material from your upcoming book. With Twitter, you can post multiple times a day with brief quotes or messages under 280 characters. Twitter has proven to be a powerful platform for authors when it comes time to promote and market a book.
And if your book is more business-focused, you may find that LinkedIn works best for you, since it allows you to connect with new readers on a more professional platform.
We recommend choosing two social media platforms and focusing on consistent engagement. This will keep your book’s appearance fresh and invite new people in to check out your work.
Using Specific Hashtags to Grow on Social Media
In the writing community, there are a number of very popular hashtags authors and writers use to connect with each other.
Why make connections with other authors? Because almost every other is also a reader!
Here are some of the top hashtags you can use on each platform:
#amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
#fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
#amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
#fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
#fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
Choose two social media platforms and commit to publishing content regularly. If you only want to focus on one, master it, and then move to another that is perfectly fine! It is better to do one thing and get it right then do two things poorly.
#5 – Get on Bookbub
Bookbub is the cream of the crop when it comes to promoting and marketing your book. In fact, you should submit your book for promotion as either free or for 99 cents right after your book launch.
Bookbub has a massive following and can get your book delivered to thousands of readers. It really is the “Big One” when it comes to book marketing.
The cost isn’t cheap and can run you anywhere from $200 to $2,000 for a promo, depending on the genre, category, and the price of your book.
But is it worth it?Yes. Definitely.
For example, if you are running a promo for 99 cents in general nonfiction, you could potentially sell, on average, 2,000 copies of your book. Not only will you make a profit, but this could bring in hundreds of subscribers and leads to your email list.
From there you can upsell readers on your other books or even a course if you have one.
Go here for Bookbub submission requirements. You can also check out the pricing here and submit your book here.
#6 – Interviews and Podcasts
A local radio or podcast interview can introduce you to new readers. While this may sound intimidating, you can pull this off like a pro with a little preparation.
Look to local colleges, podcast hosts, or local radio stations for interview opportunities
(Pro Tip: Hosts love to interview up-and-coming authors, so you may be surprised at the many offers that come your way when you reach out).
Reach out, let them know a little bit about your book and why it might be interesting to their audience, and include a free sample of it so they can see if you’d be a good fit.
If you have a press release describing what your book is about, feel free to include that as well to give them more context.
Then be sure that when you go on, you present a great story about your book and get their listeners excited to read it!
What are three podcasts or radio shows you could go on to talk about your book? Find their contact info and reach out with a pitch about having you on.
#7 – Book Clubs
Local book clubs are another goldmine of new readers; you already know they like books! Find and connect with these groups.
You can offer to attend a meet-and-greet and hand out copies of your free signed book. You can also get your book listed in Facebook Groups and other groups dedicated to readers.
There are also paid lists, such as Buck Books, that can reach tens to hundreds of thousands of readers. Book Launch also teaches what lists are out there, and which ones are the best to use.
Are there any book clubs you could join? Look on Facebook for groups that would be a good fit for your book.
#8 – Write Another Book
Publishing another book is great for brand building. In fact, it’s much harder to market just one book unless it is a ground-breaking phenomenal masterpiece.
Your book may be great, but you can compound that greatness by writing more books, preferably in a series.
With every new book you put out there, you increase the chances of your work getting recognized by influencers and people online who are hanging out in all the places you can target for promotion and sharing.
It’s easy to think an introduction isn’t important because so many people skip them, but did you know your book’s introduction is actually a vital sales tool if you’re a non-fiction author?
That’s why we’re here to teach you how to write a book introduction that will actually boost book sales.
But first, let’s talk about why it’s so important.
How to Write a Book Introduction
You’re about to learn about the most wonderful page in your book to boost sales. It’s going to be your secret weapon to stand out from the competition.
Amazon offers customers a chance to give your book a sneak peek before purchase. It’s called the Look Inside feature, and when shoppers click on it, they’re treated to a free preview of your book introduction.
This means you’ve been given the opportunity to grab their attention and make them reach for their wallets.
This is why your book introduction is crucial to your book’s ultimate success. Readers will pick up your story and make a decision about you as an author and your book based on those first few paragraphs.
If you aren’t careful it might be a preface or a foreword instead, and these are different than an introduction.
While this difference might not seem like much to you, mislabeling this section will signal your book as an amateur piece of work to your reader, harming your brand and sales in the long run.
Who would want to read a book (or many) from someone who can’t get even the introduction right?
So, what are the differences between an introduction, preface, and a foreword? Where do you use them? Can you use several of them? We’ll go through these questions in detail.
What is a preface?
A preface discusses how the book came about, the scope of the book, why the book was written, its limitations, and any acknowledgments the author or editor has.
Though they may initially seem the same, and serve the same purpose, a preface is different from an introduction. The author and/or editor of a book can write a preface, but no-one else can.
What it doesn’t do is talk about the meat of the book. It doesn’t go into the subject matter, the point of view, or arguments that the book presents.
The purpose of a preface is to let the reader know how you came to write the book.
Without delving into the book matter, it gives the author a chance to talk to the reader and let them know your story, why you decided to write this book, why the world needs this book right now (helpful if you’re writing about something that’s been written about several times before, such as the hundredth biography of a famous figure,) where you got your information from, and why you are the best author to write this book.
If you have several editions of your book, your preface is also where you discuss why there is a new edition, and what’s different from the old edition.
You have to address your selling points indirectly. This is why it’s best to have an editor’s preface or to have someone else write a foreword.
What is a foreword?
According to the Chicago Manual of Style, a foreword is written by someone other than the author or editor and is usually someone with authority to lend credibility to your book, with their name appearing at the end.
Think of a foreword as a letter of recommendation that someone with credibility writes for your book.
It’s usually by someone the reader will respect, and the foreword will contain reasons for why the reader should read the book. There are fewer rules for a foreword than a preface.
For instance, it can talk about the subject matter if desired. However, forewords tend to be short – usually one or two pages.
Many non-fiction book deals wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the foreword. Publishers are less likely to offer a major advance to first-time authors as they are untested. However, this becomes a different story if they can secure a foreword from someone of influence, (known as foreword deals in the industry.)
John Romaniello (with his co-author Adam Bornstein) was able to get an advance of more than $1,000,000 for his first book, Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha, a practically unheard of amount for a first-time author.
An introduction differs from a preface and a foreword because it’s written by the author and does talk about the subject matter.
A book introduction can include everything that would be in a preface: how the book came about, the scope of the book, why the book was written etc.
However, an introduction also supplements the subject matter of the book.
Whether by presenting a point of view the reader should take, outlining to the reader what is to come, or by teasing the writer’s conclusions.
What’s the purpose of a preface, foreword, and introduction?
Each one of these exists to sell your book in the opening pages. They exist to hook a reader who flips to the beginning of the book and gives clear reasons as to why they should read on to the end.
A potential reader or buyer will judge whether your main argument, point of view, or tone of voice is worth reading on your introduction, preface, or foreword.
If someone they admire recommends your book in the foreword, they’ll sit up and listen.
If your preface reveals some main sources that have never told their story before, they’ll be curious to read more. If your introduction shows that you’re a great writer and you know what you’re talking about, they’ll give you a chance by reading more.
Since we’re dealing with non-fiction, we haven’t discussed prologues or epilogues, though they have the same purpose; to hook the reader and sell them on why to read on.
Where do they go?
So, do you only have to choose one for your book? No.
Your book can have all three if you want, though you don’t want to go too overboard, as your reader might end up skipping it anyway, or might feel like you’re trying too hard.
Getting a foreword can be a lot of hard work if you don’t have the network or credibility to get an influencer to write one for you. And if your reader ends up skipping it, it’ll be a waste of your time.
But if you want to have all three, this is the correct formatting of where they appear in your book, (relevant sections are highlighted in bold. We provided a comprehensive overview of a book’s matter for reference:)
(Each point gets at least its own page.)
Half title page (Sometimes called the bastard title, it’s a page that has nothing but the title. No subtitle or author name.)
Blank page (Or “Also by the author…”)
Epigraph (Quote, or poem that highlights the theme of the book. Can be before main text. Optional.)
Table of contents
Book quote (optional: A quote chosen by the author based on the subject matter of the book.)
List of illustrations, tables or maps (Optional.)
Preface(Optional. Editor’s preface comes before author’s preface if you have both. If you have a separate preface for a new edition of the book it comes before the old preface.)
Abbreviations (Optional. Or in back matter.)
Chronology (Optional. Or in back matter.)
Prologue (Optional. Not applicable to non-fiction.)
Epigraph (or after the dedication and before the table of contents. Optional.)
Another half-title (Optional.)
Epilogue (Optional. Not applicable to non-fiction.)
(These are all optional.)
Chronology (Or in the front matter.)
Abbreviations (Or in the front matter.)
List of contributors
Colophon (Optional brief statement by the publishers on the book’s production, where it was printed etc.)
Authors or Editor’s bio
Invitation to review the book [Usually found in eBook formats asking readers to consider a review if they liked the book]
Don’t panic if your book doesn’t have up to half of these sections. Many of them are not necessary unless you are writing for a higher education audience.
What matters is knowing where your foreword, preface, and/or your introduction needs to go in your book.
How Your Book Introduction Will Help You Sell Books
Your book introduction serves two goals. Think of your first 1,000 words as the foundation for the rest of your book’s chapters.
Writing your introduction is going to be a useful exercise to help you distill down your ideas and to succinctly encapsulate the message of your great work into a few, short paragraphs.
The second goal of your introduction is to act as a sales pitch to intrigue readers so they’ll buy your book.
It’s intimidating, yes, and a lot of pressure is riding on just a few paragraphs. This is why writing your book introduction can be one of your first major stumbling blocks as an author.
That’s why we’re here to help you overcome this significant hurdle so you can continue merrily on the path toward your finished manuscript, and ultimately higher sales of your book once it is published.
How to an Introduction for a Book in 8 Clear Steps
Self-Publishing School created a roadmap, much like we did for mind mapping and outlining, to nail down that book introduction—and also to jumpstart your writing process for the rest of your chapters.
As we go through these 8 steps to writing your book introduction, we’re going to use the example of a book called How to Get College Scholarships.
As you read, take notes, and insert your own book’s topic into your thinking and note-taking process.
#1 – Identify the Problem
Don’t dance around the problem. What’s the problem your book promises to solve? State the problem clearly for your readers from the outset. Be straight-forward, unambiguous, and concise when you identify the issue that readers hope you can solve for them.
Don’t try to be all things to all people—you want readers to know the specific problem your book will solve for them.
Using our example of How to Get College Scholarships, the problem is simple: college is expensive, and scholarships seem out of reach for most high school students.
If you’re not quote sure of the problem you’re solving, it’s likely your target audience is unclear and that means the rest of your book will be unclear.
In our Become a Bestseller program (and all of them, really), you get 1-on-1 tailored coaching with a bestselling author about how to nail your target audience and craft an introduction meant to hook them.
#2 – Present the Solution
Now that you’ve identified the problem readers are struggling with, you’re going to make their day by telling them you’re going to share the solution in your book.
You’ve helped them with a problem AND you’ve revealed that your book holds the solution on the first page. Your book’s going to be a winner!
Directional phrases such as, “In this book, I am going to show you …” or “This book is going to solve your problem by …”
Thinking back to our example, some solutions we’d present in our book would be teaching readers how to write a good essay so you can stand out from the competition, and how to find and apply for the top scholarships.
#3 – Assert Your Credibility
Now that you’ve presented a problem and posted a solution, your next step is to convince your readers that you, the author, are qualified to help solve their problem.
What unique experience have you had with this topic?
Why are you passionate about writing this book?
Sharing your own struggles and how you overcame them is the first step to building rapport with your readers
#4 – Show Them the Benefits
How will your book improve your readers’ current circumstances? Now’s the time to really sell them on how reading your book is going to change their life for the better.
Sold! Who doesn’t want a better life? (It’s rhetorical: We all do!)
You’ve briefly touched on the solution—in our case, how to write a great essay and how to apply for scholarships. In this part of your introduction, you’re going to go a little deeper and explain what good things will happen if your readers take advantage of the information you present in your book.
In short, tell your readers what they’ll get—what knowledge or skill they will gain from reading your book and how that’s going to impact their future for the better.
In our example, the benefit of our book is that readers will go to school for free and live a life without the financial burden of student loans. Readers can achieve their dream of getting an education, without breaking the bank.
#5 – Give Them Proof
Show your readers the proof of why your book is the answer to their prayers. Give the most tangible and relatable proof you can provide.
This might require you to divulge some more private information. If you can, talk about finances, mindset, relationship, or other specific gains that are a soft spot for many people.
Here are some forms of proof to add in your book introduction:
Real stories about gains or losses
Financials–hard numbers TALK
Changes in a relationship
Any charts or graphs can also speak really loudly
Testimonials/stories from others who found success
In our example, we might share how we put ourselves or our children through school on scholarship. We might also include testimonials from other people we know who followed our advice and got a free education.
#6 – Make a Promise (The Bigger the Better)
Don’t make a promise you can’t keep, but make the biggest promise that you CAN keep. Aim high.
To come up with your promise, circle back to your books’ purpose—what is the problem your book is solving? Now promise that this book will solve their problem! It’s that easy.
You need to be able to deliver on your promises, but don’t be shy in stating what they will get in return for reading your book.
While we can’t promise someone they’ll be awarded a scholarship (after all, their grades will have a big impact there,) we can promise that we will increase their chances of getting a scholarship by showing them where to find them and the steps to take to apply.
#7 – Warn Them Against Waiting
You need to create a sense of urgency to buy so your readers know that if they pass on your book, they will regret it because readers will miss out on something really good.
A sense of urgency is created by two magic words, “RIGHT NOW!”
In our example, we would urge people to start well ahead of the scholarship application deadlines so they can submit the best applications they can. Don’t delay, or others who are in the know will snatch up those scholarships! So, let’s get started on getting you a free education RIGHT NOW!
#8 – Prompt Them to Read (Call to Action)
You want readers to continue reading your book the second they finish the introduction. To do that, you have to hint at the juicy secrets your book will reveal to them that will change their lives.
You want to intrigue them and hint at the exciting revelations you’re going to make inside the book. They will have to buy it in order to find out.
Here’s how to craft a compelling Call to Action to prompt them to read your book right away:
The scholarship tips and tricks you’re about to read have proven results. Each chapter provides new secrets that will help you stay in control of your financial future AND get a leg up on the competition for scholarships. If you follow the formula we reveal in this book, it’s highly possible you can enjoy the rest of your life unburdened by debt.
A memoir is unique in the fact that it covers your life’s events in a more story-like structure with an overarching theme or messaged written in.
This means that “how tos,” “motivational books,” and other topics don’t qualify as a memoir. Memoirs are very specific in the sense that it accounts for the entirety of your life with an emphasis on stories and impactful moments that lead to a great purpose.
Yes, anyone has the ability and experience to write a memoir. The biggest misconception is that you have to be famous or have to have experienced something major in order to write a memoir. But that’s not needed.
In fact, some of the most powerful memoirs can come from the “average” person detailing the biggest lessons in their life.
You have a story. Everyone has a story, and what we do here at Self-Publishing School is get that story out and into a book you can pass down for generations.
Now that you know the overall theme and message of your memoir and what will set it apart, you have to connect the dots of your life to that core focus.
Here are a few areas to think about specifically to help jog some of those memories in order to help you know how to write a memoir worth reading:
College/post high school
Hopes and dreams
There are so many areas that have a direct influence over how you perceive life as a whole. You just have to do a little digging to spark some specific memories that can circle back to the overarching theme of your memoir.
I know this is a book about yourlife but it never hurts to back up your own experiences with someone else’s – or many other people’s.
Knowing how to write a memoir involves knowing when your message will be loudest. And that’s often with additional stories from others.
Sometimes you can’t always get the message across if only you have experienced it. To get readers to relate, you might have to show them that many people experience the same thing.
One of the most powerful connections you can make to benefit from the message of your memoir is to show your readers that it’s not just you.
Others have gone through the same situations you have and came out with the same perspective.
This one requires some extensive research (and maybe even an interview or two), but possessing the ability to be credible in your readers’ eyes is crucial. And obviously, you’ll want to make sure you’re using their experiences legally in your memoir.
You can even interview family or friends who might see an experience you share differently than you.
Adding those details will strengthen your core message.
Here’s a checklist of what your memoir should include in order to “complete” and at its best:
Elements of a Memoir
A snippet of what your life is like now and why you're writing this memoir
Each memoir should have an overall theme or message that one can take away when they've finished reading.
Writing a memoir without honesty will come across on the pages. Readers will be able to tell and will be pulled out of the book because of this.
Nobody wants to read a memoir that's written like a textbook. Create entertainment value through the stories you tell.
Because you have an overall theme, it needs supporting stories from your life to back it up.
Once again, a memoir is still a book and therefore, it cannot read like a textbook. Great writing is necessary for a great book.
Your life has an arc and your memoir's purpose is to show this through lessons learned from start to end.
#4 – Write truthfully
One of the hardest parts about writing a memoir is the fact that we tend to be a wee bit biased with ourselves.>
*Gasp* You don’t say!
It’s true. Nobody really likes to admit their faults.
It’s one thing to recognize when you were wrong in life, it’s another to actually write it down for the world to see.
It’s hard. We want everyone to see the best version of ourselves and therefore, we leave out details or flat out lie to seem “better” in their eyes.
But that’s not what makes a good memoir.
In order to learn how to write a memoir that really touches people in deep, emotional ways, you have to learn to be honest.
#5 – Show, don’t tell in your memoir writing
No, this doesn’t mean you have to write a picture book. That’s not what “show” means in this case.
When it comes to creating intrigue with your writing – and trust me, you want to do this, especially for a memoir – you have to write by showing, not telling.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll just give you an overview of this writing technique, but if you’re interested in mastering the ability to pull readers in, you can check out this detailed explanation.
Essentially, showing versus telling is the way in which you describe your experiences with an emphasis on emotion.
But that doesn’t mean you should write down every feeling you had during a specific time. In fact, that’s what you want to avoid.
We’ll cover this in more detail below, but here’s a great video outlining this method ↓
#6 – Get vulnerable
Memoirs are not a time to distance yourself from your inner feelings.
You want your readers to gain a sense of who you are not only through your stories but through the voice in your writing as well.
#10 Write a memoir you’d want to read
How do you ensure others will like our memoir? Write it in a way that makes it an entertaining read for yourself!
This has a lot to do with putting your own personality into it but it’s also about crafting the structure of your novel in an entertaining manner, too.
Even though this is a memoir, there should still be a climax to keep readers intrigued. This would be when your life came to a head; where you struggled but was able to pull yourself out of the trenches and forge your own path.
That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you learn how to start a memoir that’s captivating and intriguing.
Let’s draw those readers in!
#1 – Be relatable
Nobody wants to read a book that’s preachy or condescending.
One major mistake many make when writing a memoir is not starting it off in a way that makes the readers connect with them.
This is one of the most important aspects of your memoir.
Do you really think people will want to read about a person’s life if they can’t relate to them?
Think about when you were most invested in a book (or even a TV show or movie). What did you like most? Could you relate to the author or the characters?
Did you understand their pain and triumph and hardships?
This is typically the best way to not only create invested readers but to gain fans. When others relate to you and see themselves in your journey, they’ll want to stick around to see how it plays out.
And that means they’ll read your whole book and any others you write.
#2 – Use emotion by showing, not telling
If you want to give a play-by-play of your life with nothing more than a list of experiences you’ve gone through, that’s fine.
Just know that doing it that way won’t hook your readers and it certainly won’t keep them.
A memoir can be a powerful tool for educating others through your life journeys, but if they’re not intrigued enough to keep reading, it’ll render your memoir pointless.
And we don’t want that.
showing and not telling, you’ll put more emotion into your writing. This technique might sound confusing but it’s actually quite easy once you learn how to do it.
Here are the basics for showing versus telling:
Use fewer tell words like “I heard,” “I felt,” “I smelled,” “I saw,” to bring readers closer
Stop explaining emotions and instead explain physical reactionsof those emotions (If you want to say “I was scared,” describe your heart hammering against your chest or the sweat beading your forehead instead)
Describe body language in more detail
Use strong verbs that coincide with the emotions you’re trying to convey (writing “crashed to the floor” instead of “fell to the floor” creates more impact)
This writing method can be tricky to master but thankfully, there are countless resources to help you figure it out.
Everybody has an interesting life if you look deep enough. What you have to determine is how your life experiences can aid and shape the lives of others.
Think about how that will manifest from what you’ve lived through before and make sure your readers know what it is from the start (which can also be done through a powerful book title).
How to Write a Memoir Tips from Experts
The best advice you can receive is from someone who’s done it before. These Self-Publishing School students (and graduates!) have first-hand knowledge when it comes to the difficulties of writing your life down on paper.
Here’s what these memoir writers want you to know.
#1 – Write from the heart
Christopher Moss, author of Hope Over Anxiety, says the best way to write your memoir is to be open about your experiences.
“Write from the heart. Show people your experience. Be as vulnerable and honest as you can. If it scares you a little, what you are writing that’s good. The reader has to feel what you are going through.”
#2 – Don’t be afraid to go with the flow
Lou A. Vendetti, who’s in the thick of writing and working toward publication of his memoir, has a few pieces of advice for you.
“Do not be afraid to deviate. If your book doesn’t follow your outline one hundred percent, then that’s okay! Don’t feel like you have to only talk about what’s in your outline. You are the author; you are the publisher, so you are the one making all of the decisions (sounds scary, huh?). In the beginning, I thought it was.”
“Don’t think that the memoir is supposed to be ‘formal.’ As an example, I use contractions in mine, which would not necessarily be used in a nonfiction book. Yes, I wanted my book to be professional, but I didn’t want to make it sound like I’m not ‘on my audience’s level.’ I wanted to keep my voice and make it as if I’m talking to my audience; as if I’m having a conversation with them.”
#3 – Review old photos and videos
Toni Crowe, author of Never a $7 Whore, says it’s best to relive your memories the best you can through photos and videos.
“My advice to new memoir writers is to take the time to review any old documents or photos that exist and to pull those memories out to examine. Doing this during the map mapping process helped me immensely.”
Famous Memoir Examples to Emulate
Sometimes it’s easier to learn by example. That way, you can fully comprehend what a memoir is in order to write your own.
These are famous memoir examples:
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant by Ulysses Grant
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Memoir examples by our own students:
Mile-High Missionary: A Jungle Pilot’s Memoir by Jim Manley
Walking My Momma Home: Finding Love, Grace, and Acceptance Through the Labyrinth of Dementia by Kathy Flora
Prayers, Punk Rock and Pastry by Chris Stewart
Bare Naked Bravery: How to Be Creatively Courageous by Emily Ann Peterson
Shift Happens: Turning Your Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones by Jill Rogers
Hope Dealers: The Calling, The Struggles, The Breakthroughs and The Community of Believers by Nadine Blase Psareas
Many people think they need to do something massive or be famous in order to write about their lives…
That’s not true at all.
In fact, more people can relate to regular, non-famous people and their struggles than they can those who have been in the limelight.
The reason writing about your life is important is because you have a story. You have something worth sharing that can actually change the lives of others through your trials and tribulations.
Even if you’re not ready to write a memoir, you still have something valuable to share—knowledge gained through the years or maybe you just experienced a short, influential event in your life that you believe can help other.
No matter what that story is, you can and you should tell it.
How do I write a book about myself?
One of the hardest things in life is looking inside ourselves. We spend so long looking outward, to everyone else, that when we finally decide to take a peek inside, it’s hard.
Not to mention writing a book about yourself.
The most important thing to write a book about yourself is to get really, really honest and dig into the raw and deep parts about yourself.
Nobody wants a book about you that’s all sunshine and rainbows because that’s not real life.
So here are a few steps to write a book about yourself:
Decide if you’re ready to write a book about yourself
Spend some time self-reflecting
Decide which specific experience of your life you want to focus on
Create a mindmap of the things that pop up after step #3
Take those ideas and start creating a book outline, then follow the rest of this blog post
How do you write a true story?
True stories can be tricky because you have to decide if you want people to know it’s a true story about your life. In that case, writing a memoir might be a better idea for you.
There are a few things to think about if you want to write a true story:
Do you want it to be nonfiction, more like a memoir?
Do you want it to be a chronological telling of your life, an autobiography?
Do you want to write a fiction book with certain elements of your life?
Can you truly be truthful without being biased?
It’s often not advised to write a fiction book about your life because your characters can often fall into the archetype of a “Mary Sue”. Meaning, a perfect character with no flaws.
This happens because it’s difficult for us to be unbiased about ourselves. But if you can write a true story while giving the character based on yourself real flaws, it can work.
How to Write a Book About Your Life in 10 Simple Steps
So you’ve discovered you have something to share with the world…but what you don’t know is how the heck to make it happen.
Here are our top tips for writing your life story.
Take a few minutes to free write or journal each day, focusing on one memory. A good writing prompt for this free-write session is to write about a significant 24 hours in your life. This is just to help you get started. The memories written down from this significant moment in your life will be use later to build upon to create your nonfiction narrative.
Even if you don’t ultimately use this particular memory in your overall narrative, getting into the habit of writing down memories will benefit you as a writer and help keep those memories fresh.
After you’ve written down a variety of memories—whether they’re a part of an overall narrative or a collection of essays—they now need to be organized into a coherent story in order to actually write it.
Since you’re writing your life story, technically the plotline is already there; it just has to be written down and organized in a manner that will speak to your audience.
However, if you are the more organized type and not a “pantster” like other writers, outlining what memories you want to include in your life story may help get the writing juices flowing.
Not only can an outline help you get clear on the message and order you’ll write your book, it can also help you form writing goals that will set up a writing habit. These are two keys to actually finishing your book.
Other writers struggle with writing unless they have an outline or book template, even if it’s a book outline of their own life. It all depends on you, the writer.
#3 – Pick your genre
“Creative nonﬁction has become the most popular genre in the literary and publishing communities.” – Lee Gutkind, What is Creative Nonfiction?
There are several book genres that fall under the nonfiction genre: memoirs, essay collections, autobiographies, motivational books, and more.
Since you are writing a book about your life, it might feel like you have to put it in the “memoir” genre, but that’s not always the case.
In fact, it might hurt your book sales to mislabel your book as a memoir when it’s actually more of a self-help in a specific category.
An example of this is While We Slept by our own coach here at Self-Publishing School, Marcy Pusey.
While this author does label this book as a memoir, it also fits in several other categories. These Amazon categories will help you 1) reach a wider audience and 2) help you tell the story in a way that will speak to those readers.
If you’re struggling to decide whether your book about your life is a memoir or autobiography, this can help:
The main difference between memoirs and autobiographies are their focus. Memoirs focus primarily on one specific time, or “memory” of one’s life, like a battle with a disease, traveling to a foreign country, or adopting a special pet.
Autobiographies, or “biographies of oneself,” focus primarily on your entire life from start to finish—from when you were born until you die, or at least until the current moment in your life with details about achievements or notable moments.
Autobiographies also tend to be a bit more factual than creative, though there have been some very well written autobiographies published.
What if neither of these makes sense for my book about my life?
Maybe you don’t have a specific period in you want to focus on, but don’t necessarily want to tell your entire life story from start to finish. This is where a collection of personal and/or lyrical essays may be more of your style.
Think Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Why Not Me? Kaling is still telling her life story, or at least memorable moments in her life story, without necessarily being one complete narrative. Collections of personal essays are like the nonfiction version of a collection of short stories.
If you are still uncertain about which nonfiction subgenre to write your life story in, this is a major topic covered in the Self-Publishing School VIP course. They take you through choosing your categories that will help your book sell the most.
#4 – Research
Regardless of how you begin writing your life story—with free-writing or outlining—research can help you build on memories to create a fuller story and establish you as a credible writer.
Memories are fickle, and we don’t always remember things correctly, especially if you are writing about something that happened many years ago.
Researching for a book can seem like a daunting task. In fact, out of all the research you’ll end up doing, only a very small percentage will end up in your story. In order to find that small percentage, however, you need to do your research.
Here are some tips for book research when writing a book about your life:
List memories or facts you’re not 100% certain about
Ask family members or others close to you for details
Get quotes from those people if necessary
When writing and you come across something you need to research, simply make a note to research and keep writing so you can write faster
#5 – Identify characters and perspective
The people you have met in your life influenced you in some way, and as such, they will influence how you write your life story as well.
Here are some tips to organize these characters for your story:
Make a list of people, also known as “characters” in this case, who you want to include in your story
Write down their description: physical appearance, age, background,
Write down their relationship to you (and if you’re close or distant to them)
This will assist you in describing them in your narrative through the rule of “show don’t tell“, that way readers can visualize them and understand how they affected your life personally.
The only thing you may have to alter is a character’s real name, or names.
Changing names can protect a person’s true identity in their story. Unless you have permission to use someone’s true name, change it and include a disclaimer at the beginning of your story. Make a note in your character list of names you change, that way you can keep track of who’s who.
Also, just because this is your life story—so technically, it’s told from your point-of-view—doesn’t mean you can’t explore the perspectives of the other characters in your story.
Keeping other character’s point-of-view in mind will give your story more dimension, and will help you to avoid a one-sided, train-of-thought narrative.
#6 – Add speculation
Use “speculation” to fill in gaps in your life story. Not sure if one of your character’s motivations? Is your memory of the event a bit foggy? Using what you already know, combined with the research you’ve conducted, speculate to the best of your ability.
Here is an example of writing speculation:
“I am not sure why my parents chose to end their marriage after 15 years together. They were always private people, and after their brief announcement to me about their separation, neither of them spoke a word to me about it ever again.
Perhaps they were trying to spare me the heartache of the ordeal. I often wonder if my father’s time in the service made him distant from mother; that was the case with me. Maybe my mother, like me, became lonely as a result of that.”
Words and phrases like “perhaps,” “maybe,” and “I wonder if” show your reader that you, the narrator, are speculating.
Try to find creative ways to speculate, as well. You are, in a sense, still telling a true story; you’re using what you know to create a hypothesis about something that is still a mystery to you.
If you were to claim this hypothesis were true without facts to back it up, you could get end up in trouble.
#7 – Determine the setting
Readers want to know where your life story took place, or the setting. Like fiction, you need to consider how the setting of this story affected you as a person.
Here are some questions to help you discover the setting of your book:
Where was this place?
What did it look like?
Did you enjoy living/visiting there?
Do you remember any smells from the area?
What was the culture like there?
Were you a spectator of that culture or immersed in it?
How did the setting contribute to your experience?
What mood did that setting elicit?
Details like these affected your life tremendously—maybe more than you realize—and therefore must be included in your narrative, just as they would be if this was a fictional story.
Not only that, but this helps paint a much clearer picture for your readers and creates a more entertaining experience.
When you forget to write dialogue…the book can end up reading like a very boring textbook.
Dialogue is what gives the writing—and the story itself—life.
But that leaves the challenge of writing accurate dialogue. Unless you used a tape recorder or video to record a conversation, chances are you’re not going to recall previous conversations word-for-word.
Just write down what you remember to the best of your ability, and paraphrase if you must. If you are still on good terms with the person you’re speaking within your memory, try contacting them to be sure that their memory of the conversation is similar to yours. You can even ask them to approve any written dialogue that’s in quotes if it’s not 100% accurate to what was really said.
Write dialogue the same way it would be used in a fiction book and remember to use correct dialogue formatting and tags.
#9 – Prepare for negative pushback
Not all of us have sweet stories with cute pets. Sometimes our memories and experiences are on the dark side—for example, The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison.
This memoir focuses on the time in the author’s life where she has a sexual (and incestuous) relationship with her father. She received a huge amount of negative reactions to her story.
If you are going to write and publish a personal and scandalous true story about your life, steel yourself for these kinds of negative reactions, particularly from those in your life unhappy with you telling the story to begin with.
What’s the difference between a book blurb and a synopsis?
A blurb serves you on the consumer marketing front, giving a glimpse into your story with just enough information to entice, holding back enough to avoid spoilers. It’s a teaser of your book, not a summary.
A synopsis will be part of your press kit and applications for things like reviews, interviews, literary agents, editors, and publishers. A synopsis summarizing the twists, turns, and conclusion of your story.
It’s essentially a condensed version of your book.
Book Blurb and Book Synopsis Examples
This is often easier seen than taught. Below are a couple of screenshots of the Amazon page for both a fiction and nonfiction book.
As you can see, the content readers use to decide whether or not they want to purchase the book is actually a blurb.
Oftentimes, synopsis (where there are spoilers and deeper detail) is usually used more to sell the book to a traditional publisher than for selling your book to readers (or for a homework assignment from school!).
What is a book synopsis?
A synopsis is a one to four page summary of your novel. The synopsis should explain the plot, main character arc, and conclusion of the book.
A common method of writing a synopsis is in a three-paragraph format.
First paragraph: introduction of character, setting, and conflict/inciting incident.
Second paragraph: major plot points, conflicts, and characters that are required for the conclusion to make sense.
Third paragraph: how the conflict is resolved, how the character changes from the start of the book.
Tips for writing a novel synopsis:
Use active voice instead of passive voice. This makes the synopsis more interesting and engaging.
Use third person point of view. This is standard.
Consider your synopsis as a representation of your writing skills. Don’t just summarize the book–summarize it in a way that portrays your writing style.
Write clear and concise copy. If your synopsis is too long or rambly, you’ll lose the reader’s interest and they might assume your novel is also too long and rambly.
Don’t try to cover too many things or include too many details. Your main plot points and character arc are all you need in a synopsis. Don’t try to include every beat and character in the book.
Don’t try to write an intriguing or mysterious hook–simply give the information required. Don’t hold something back to be mysterious. That’s something for your book blurb, which we’ll tackle below.
What is a blurb?
Often referred to as a “book description,” a blurb is a short piece, around 150 words, to promote your novel. You find blurbs on the back cover of paperbacks, the inside back cover of a hardback, and on book description pages in online stores.
Think of this as the elevator pitch of your book.
Unlike a synopsis, a blurb does not outline every major plot point of your story, and it doesn’t give spoilers.
Blurbs are extremely important to market your book. They’re for “selling” the book to the consumer.
How to write a book blurb
Let’s go over the structure, formula, and some tips for writing a good book blurb.
Here’s the structure of a book blurb:
Snappy opener. You usually have to catch the reader’s interest within the first sentence for them to continue reading the blurb.
Character introduction. All you need is your main character! Don’t worry about introducing every named character in your book. Don’t include more than two characters.
Presentation of stakes. What’s at risk in your story? What questions can you present that will make people want to read your book to find the answer?
Keywords. Especially if you’re selling online, keywords do a lot to help potential readers find your book. Make sure you’re using accurate and effective keywords for your book and genre.
A hook–why should readers buy this book? What’s the cliffhanger?
Book Blurb Formula
Most fiction blurbs you’ll see follow this kind of format:
Situation–introduce your character. Who are they, where are they, what are they up to?
Problem–what pressing issue does your character have to face? This is often the inciting incident.
Obstacles–what’s stopping them from solving the problem?
Stakes–what does the character have to lose? The last bit should also set the mood for your book.
Here are some more tips for writing a book blurb:
Read a ton of blurbs, especially blurbs from successful books in your book genre.
Work on a great first sentence. Like I said earlier, if you can’t catch interest with the opener, your reader likely won’t finish reading the blurb.
Use audience-catered language. This includes keywords, but also the way your blurb can relate to your audience. Age demographic is a great thing to consider when you’re crafting language for your particular target audience.
Offer setting. With description, word choice, and tone, let the reader know when and where the story is set.
Keep it concise. 200 words max!
Get others to read and critique your blurb. Feedback on any piece of writing is important, especially something that can make or break book sales like a blurb. Get several sets of eyes on it, and listen to the notes people give you.
Write a few different versions and experiment. You might surprise yourself with how creative you can make it.
Don’t give spoilers! That’s synopsis content.
Avoid comparing your work to a famous author’s work or a famous piece of literature. If you welcome a comparison, people will take you up on it…potentially in the reviews, and you don’t want that.
Good Book Blurb Examples
Let’s look at a few examples of blurbs from popular novels.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
The first paragraph introduces the situation. The character, her current state, the premise, and the setting.
The second paragraph gives us the problem (she sees something shocking), the obstacles (she only gets a glimpse, she might be unreliable), and the stakes (has she harmed something?).
Some genre keywords we get are: police, investigation, shocking
And what mood are we left with from this blurb? Intrigue, mystery, and the promise of a possibly unreliable narrator make this an exciting blurb.
Sometimes a quote from the novel works as a blurb itself. Let’s look at this example.
Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be—that thirsted for my blood.
Third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
The situation is that our character lives in a world where vampires exist, and they’re in close proximity to one. The problem is that the vampire wants to eat them. The obstacle and stakes (ha ha) is a wrap-up in the fact that they’re in love with the vampire that wants to eat them.
Some genre keywords we get are: vampire, blood, and love.
The mood this blurb gives us is, “Oooh, dangerous. But like, in a sexy way?”
Tobias Kaya doesn’t care about The Savior. He doesn’t care that She’s the ruler of the realm or that She purified the land, and he certainly doesn’t care that She’s of age to be married. But when competing for Her hand proves to be his last chance to save his family, he’s forced to make The Savior his priority.
Now Tobias is thrown into the Sovereign’s Tournament with nineteen other men, and each of them is fighting – and killing – for the chance to rule at The Savior’s side. Instantly, his world is plagued with violence, treachery, and manipulation, revealing the hidden ugliness of his proud realm. And when his circumstances seem especially dire, he stumbles into an unexpected romance, one that opens him up to unimaginable dangers and darkness.
Situation: Tobias is to compete for The Savior’s hand in marriage, and he absolutely doesn’t care.
Problem: Tobias has to fight for his life in a tournament.
Obstacles: Everyone’s trying to kill, manipulate, and betray him.
Mood: This blurb leaves us with a sense of urgency and danger.
If you plan to sell a book, you’ll become intimately familiar with the process of writing a compelling synopsis and blurb. They’re essential elements in a book marketing plan, and they are cornerstone elements of presenting your book to multiple levels of the book publishing industry.
Believe it or not, writing a book isn’t as difficult as it’s made to seem. At least, getting started isn’t.
We have a complete guide that will cover best practices to start writing a book asap – even today if you sit down and put your pen to paper, so to speak.
How do you begin to write a book if you never have before?
This might be hard at first but really, you can write a book even if you’re not the best writer. Chandler Bolt (the man who started Self-Publishing School) was a C- English student and still wrote and published 6 bestselling books.
The truth is that if you’re brand new to this, guidance will be the most important thing. Having someone tell you what to do and what works best will help you be the most successful and learn the most during this process.
Learning as much as you can will give you most of the knowledge you need to get it done.
But you can also get started right here with these steps for starting to write a book.
#1 – Start by setting Up Your Book Writing Environment
One of the most important things to remember if you want to start writing a book is designing a writing space that allows your creativity to flourish unhindered.
Create an environment that is designed to help you stay focused.
Whether you prefer noisy environments or absolute solitude, it’s up to you to determine which will get you into the writer’s flow.
What you want to avoid is a super messy environment, even if you think you work well in those types of spaces (like the one featured below).
If anything can distract you from writing, it’s not worth it.
Here are a few ideas to create your ideal space for writing:
Have collections of inspiration. Decorate your work area with inspiring quotes or pictures that house references to deep work.
Unclutter your space. Create an uncluttered open space to help organize not only what you need, but also your thoughts.
Be Flexible. Your creative space doesn’t need to be one spot, it can be anywhere. Even your favorite authors have discovered their best ideas in the most unexpected places.
Buy a calendar: Your book will get written faster if you have set goals for the week/day. The best way to manage this is by scheduling your time on a calendar. Schedule every hour that you commit to your author business. What gets scheduled, gets done.
Create a music playlist for inspiration: Many authors can write to the sound of their favorite tunes. Is there anything that gets you working faster? Do you write better with deeper focus when listening to rock music or classical? Set up several playlists that you can use to get into the flow of writing.
Try Multiple Locations. You won’t know how creative you can be if you don’t try different spots to write. Maybe writing from your bed is your ideal creative space. What about working in a noisy cafe? Change up your location frequently particularly if you feel creatively spent.
Here are some more tips for starting your book and putting together your writing environment:
How to Start Writing Tip
- isolate yourself from family/friends/even the family dog - remind everyone it's YOUR time - Turn your phone off - Close ALL web browsers - Close your email
- invest in a GOOD chair - or resort to using a stand-up desk for more energy - fill the area with motivational quotes - make sure you're physically comfortable for the next 30 minutes or an hour
Choose Beneficial Background Noise
- turn off all sounds if it distracts you - turn on lyric-less music to help you concentrate - choose energizing music to help you focus
#2 – Start Writing by Developing a Writing Habit
The number one reason authors fail to publish a book is because they never finish the book they intend to publish. Why?
Because they didn’t form a good writing habit.
Feeling overwhelmed when writing a book is natural, but you must remember that this journey always begins with the first page. And in order to write your first page, you must take action.
For example, schedule your writing time daily so that you can stick to a solid writing routine that will allow you to make real progress.
This is why having a writing habit will develop your writer’s flow.
But before you can start your habit, you’ll want to know how much you need to write during each session in order to stay on track for your writing goals.
Here’s a word and page count calculator to help you figure out how many words you should be planning for in your book:
Choose your book type, genre, and audience for a word count and page number total.
Your book will have
*These results are based on industry standards. The total word and page count will vary from book to book and is dependent on your writing and overall book formatting*
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Your writing habit can start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking that you must write your every thought on the page. You can start with a few paragraphs, a sentence, or even just a word.
The purpose of this exercise is to commit to your writing session every day until it has become second nature.
#3 – Create an Outline Before You Start Writing
A clear book outline provides clarity and direction to your story. It is also the roadmap for your book that keeps you on track and ensures you have all your ideas organized in a natural flow. And that’s not even to mention that it helps you write a lot faster, too.
There are many types of outlines you can use here.
We highly recommend starting with the mindmap outline and then moving to the sticky note method, as our students find it the most helpful.
When you get stuck or suffer writer’s block, you can always go back to your outline to find what comes next regardless of whether the book is 100 pages or 300 pages long. It will help you see the overall picture.
Learn to say “NO” to any additional projects no matter how intriguing they appear.
Create an action plan and commit to it. Learn to be selfish and practice saying “NO” often. It’s better to complete one book and get it right than to write two books with poor results.
#5 – Maintain Your Focus
Once you get into the flow of starting your book, you want to remain focused through the duration of your writing session. Any break to your concentration can set you back 20-30 minutes and disrupt your flow.
We become less efficient when we are distracted, and it can end up taking twice as long to complete our writing.
Thankfully, there are very effective techniques that can help you remain centered and in the moment.
Leave the distractions behind by doing the following:
Create a writing schedule. Schedule your writing for the same time each day. This conditioning will develop your writing habit until it becomes as natural as knowing when to brush your teeth.
Use the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management strategy that breaks down work into intervals separated by short breaks. With a clock ticking, you will less likely be distracted by email or social media.
Turn off your phone. Your phone is the most addicting device that steals your precious attention. Don’t let it take that from you, turn it off. If you don’t want to turn it off, then download a writing software or app that limits distractions.
Have a Task Management app. Task Manager apps, like Todoist, helps you organize your tasks by their time and priority, so you know exactly what to do in what order the next day.
Disconnect from the Internet. Want to ensure you don’t get distracted by email notifications, Facebook notifications, etc.? Disconnect your computer from the Internet and enjoy distraction-free writing time.
Experiment with each of these productivity techniques and optimize your writer’s flow. By becoming a productivity expert, you will easily double your output and complete your book in no time.
#6 – Schedule Your Writing Time
Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most popular comedians of all time, and he attributes his success to his unbelievably strong writing habits. In the early days of his career, Seinfeld was asked how he managed to have such great content.
He said, “The way to be a better comic is to create better jokes, and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.”
Seinfeld used the “Calendar Method”, otherwise known as the “Don’t Break the Chain” method, and it worked like this:
Get yourself a calendar, and hang it on the wall.
For each day you write, draw an X on the calendar for that day. By the end of the week, you should have a row of Xs at the end.
If you miss a day, start over and see how long you can go before breaking the chain.
Buy yourself a calendar and get started on the “Calendar Method!” Being held accountable will keep you motivated and not “Break the Chain.”
#7 – Start by Dealing With Writing Distractions First
Distractions can hinder you and your deisre to start writing a book.
Resistance is a common obstacle that has the ability to distract us for too long. It’s a form of fear that intimidates you from writing and can throw you off your writer’s flow.
Not only do you have the distractions of everyday life, but if someone in your life has qualms with you spending time to write, it can be extra difficult to concentrate and just write.
Everyone has encountered this awful feeling, but it doesn’t have to defeat you.
Here are a few ways to deal with resistance:
Read morning affirmations. Affirmations are powerful snippets of positive words that set the tone and atmosphere for writing. An affirmation could be a quote from a writer, a motivational speech from a public figure, or an inspirational video.
Free Flow for 10 Minutes. Julia Cameron, the bestselling author of The Artist’s Way, called these morning pages, and its purpose is to clear your mind of all the anxiety and junk rolling around in your head onto a piece of paper. Write anything. You don’t have to edit, publish, or have a word count, it’s simply a 10-minute exercise to clear out heavy thoughts and prepare you for a more productive day. This is best done with pen and paper instead of typing into a document with your digital device.
Exercise. Exercising is not only good for your health but will help keep you mentally sharp. Working out will increase the blood flow to the brain which will sharpen your awareness and give you the energy you need to tackle your book.
Create a resistance plan! Figure out which methods best filter out the negative noise and get you to prepared to write.
Start Writing a Book TODAY!
If you want to become a published author, you must take ownership of your writing habits.
By following these strategies, you can have a completed book within months and be on your way to becoming a successful writer.
It’s a tough, yet brave decision. Sitting down to get your message out in the world will be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you do.
But now that you’ve made this decision, you may be wondering:
Should I approach a publisher and go down the traditional route? Or should I self-publish and become an indie author? Which is better, traditional publishing versus self-publishing?
Before the age of the internet, the only way a writer could get their book in front of millions was to send a book proposal and a query letter to a traditional publisher or agent. The writer hoped that day’s gatekeeper had drank their morning coffee, woken up on the right side of the bed and actually given your letter and proposal more than a 10-second glance.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening was slim to none.
This resulted in brilliant people like yourself being denied the opportunity to share their experiences, stories, and knowledge with the world.
Thankfully, this industry is changing for the better – at least for those of us who are savvy in self-publishing.
With the development of online marketplaces like Amazon, the publishing process has changed. You can distribute your book to everyone, regardless of what some traditional publishing house thinks about your idea.
You have a book inside of you and the world needs to read it!
Is it better to self-publish or get a publisher?
Whether or not self-publishing or getting a publisher is better relies entirely upon your own goals and resources. For you as a person and a writer, one or the other will be better.
If you want to have far more creative control but pay a little more upfront (with the knowledge you also make a lot more in royalties), self-publishing is the best route.
But if you want to put in a year—sometimes two—more to find an agent, write a great book, and get a deal in exchange for that $5,000 – $10,000 first-time advance, it might be better for you.
The truth is that you have to inform yourself of each and make the decision for yourself, which is why we put this comprehensive blog post together for you.
Let us know which you’re going for in the comments too!
How much can you make from self-publishing?
The amount you make from self-publishing depends on your royalty rate, how much you sell the book for, and how much time you’re spending marketing the book.
But also keep in mind that you have to know how to self-publish the book correctly if you truly want to see high returns.
Thankfully, self-published books have a much, much higher royalty rate than traditional publishers because you get to keep anywhere from 50-70% of your book’s profits.
With a traditional publisher, they take much more and you only end up with 10% maybe 12% after years of proving yourself as an author.
Want to see how much you’d need to sell in order to make a specific amount? Fill out the calendar below so you know exactly that!
Enter Your Information Below To Calculate Your Potential Book Sales
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Does self-publishing hurt your chances with a traditional publisher?
Self-publishing does not hurt your chances with a traditional publisher at all. The opposite is true, actually. Self-publishing a book and having success can make it more likely you’ll publish with a traditional publishing house.
Major publishers like their authors to have an edge. The more successful you are on your own, and the bigger your author platform, the more likely it is a traditional publisher will publish your book.
So by having success and building your following as a self-published author, it makes landing an agent and a book deal that much easier. And it also saves you a ton of time searching for that agent too!
Some literary agents may actually approach you if your book does well enough. Does the book The Martian ring a bell?
It does happen. But first, your book has to sell and be successful much like The Martian was.
The publishing world has changed, and it’s time for you to reap the benefits. Here are seven reasons why self-publishing is the best route to take—and why you’ll think twice before dealing with a publishing company again.
#1 – You Don’t Have to Wait for Permission
With self-published books, you do not have to wait for anyone to give you the green light.
You decide when and how to publish a book.
You decide whose hands your book gets into.
You decide how successful you are.
In other words, you don’t have to convince any gatekeepers to allow your book to reach the global market.
“But, don’t traditional publishers have a good idea for what will sell or not? I mean, if they reject my book, they’re probably right that no one would want to buy it.”
Have you ever heard of Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4-Hour Workweek”? It has been a New York Timesand Wall Street Journal bestseller for over four years. It sold nearly 1.5 million copies and has been translated into 35 different languages.
Oh, and get this: It was rejected by the first 26 publishers it was presented to.
Maybe you’ve also heard of a certain children’s book, the one about a young boy with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead who discovers he is a wizard. The ”Harry Potter” franchise is a patent bestseller, with the last four books in the series being the fastest-selling books in history.
Yet it was rejected by 12 publishers in a row, and was only picked up because the eight-year-old daughter of an editor demanded to read the rest of the book. Even then, after the editor agreed to publish, they advised J.K. Rowling to get a day job as she had little chance of making money in children’s books.
Little did they realize the publishing success they had stumbled onto.
Now, just imagine all the other authors out there who stopped after the first 10 or 20 doors slammed in their faces, believing the lie that they didn’t have a profitable idea.
You cannot allow other people to determine your success.
Self-publishing gives you the avenue to do that. You and your readers decide the worth of your words, rather than one person at a publishing firm who may not realize the potential publishing success in their hands.
#2 – You Can Publish Your Work Quickly
If you were to take your book to a traditional publisher, it would take years to publish.
For example, it may take up to six months for you to even hear back about the book proposal. And assuming they accept your proposal, it will take at least another year before the book is actually published.
With self-publishing, you can produce your content as quickly as you want. And in the Amazon Kindle store, you can publish a new book whenever you want. That way, you can share your work as quickly as you create it!
#3 – Bring Home the (passive) Bacon
Traditionally-published authors are typically paid an amount of money up front. However, once the sales come rolling in, they only get a small cut of the earnings.
Why? Because they have to pay the publishing house, the editor, the marketers, the designers, etc.
But when you self-publish, you take in most of the earnings (save for the money you actually choose to spend on marketing, book production and publishing). On Amazon, for example, self-published authors receive 70% of the royalties for an eBook priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Now that isn’t bad!
#4 – You Form Invaluable Connections
Self-publishers around the world have gathered online and in person to provide a community that supports one another in publishing their work.
These connections become priceless as you meet other up-and-coming influencers like yourself.
“Wait—so where would I meet these people?”
Because self-publishing requires that you find your own editor, cover designer, formatter and launch team members, you end up connecting with people throughout your whole writing experience.
Self-published authors also gather on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit.
The camaraderie allows people to expand far beyond what they could have done on their own, or what they would have been limited to with a traditional publisher.
#5 – You Control Your Objective
So much of a book is influenced by the motive that fuels it.
Is your motive to make money?
It is to launch a new career?
Is it to share your story?
Is it to become a public speaker?
Or, is it simply something to cross off your bucket list?
Remember, writing a book is hard work. And nothing is worse than seeing your hard work be transformed into something you didn’t want. When you self-publish, you are able to preserve the dignity and genius of your objective. No one is pressuring you to sell more books, or to taint your message so that it will reach wider audiences.
You are not pigeonholed or made to become someone you’re not comfortable with.
You write as you, and for you. And that is liberating. That is self-publishing freedom!
#6 – You Control Your Creative Concept
There are horror stories about authors whose ideas and voice became unrecognizable after they went down the traditional route.
When you work with a traditional publisher, you don’t just sell them your manuscript, you sell them your idea.
Your book may become something you are not comfortable with. Or, your dreams for a sequel or a revision may be completely squandered if it does not comply with the motives of the traditional publisher.
But as an independent author, you retain total creative control.
You are free to be expressive with your work. You are free to be vulnerable and controversial. You are free to be you.
When you self-publish, you also control who you write for. If you sell via the Amazon Kindle store, you can choose, and then tweak, your categories and keywords. You determine your marketing efforts.
Most people looking to write a book want to earn more money, gain more freedom or have a platform to share their ideas.
When you self-publish and have complete ownership over your ideas, you also have complete ownership over your future.
There is no traditional publishing firm to stop you from selling a supplementary online course that includes material from your book, starting a speaking career, re-releasing your book with a hardcover or audiobook, or even releasing an updated version of your book.
You determine the trajectory of your book, your ideas, and your publishing career when you self-publish.
Even Big Names Choose Between Traditional Publishing VS Self-Publishing
Though there are some benefits to traditional publishing, even some well-established and successful authors admit that the joys of being an indie author outweigh a traditional publishing deal.
So much, in fact, that big name entrepreneurs who have large followings and could easily get a traditional publishing deal are opting to go the self-publishing route.
It really is…but only if you’re dedicated and have the right process to get you results.
The fact is, a lot of misinformed people judge self-publishing as being a waste or that you won’t make money. Those people just don’t know how to properly position their book on Amazon, market it, or even title their book to sell.
That’s why so many of our students are successful; they follow our program and with the help of their coaches to tailor their strategy, they make money and have major success with their books.
Why Go With Traditional Publishing?
As you can probably tell, we here at Self-Publishing School are huge advocates of being in control and ensuring you get all the money you deserve for the work you’ve put in.
That being said, sometimes traditional publishing will be the best option to fit your needs.
Here is why some people might opt to go with traditional publishing instead of reaping the rewards of self-publishing.
#1 – You have connections in the publishing industry
The chances of landing and agent and making it in traditional publishing is very low.
Because this market is very saturated and publishers really only publish certain types of books, those who have better luck with traditional publishing are those who have connections within the industry.
Bascially, if you know someone who is an agent or an editor at a publishing house, it might be beneficial for you to work with them in order to get published through that house.
#2 – You want the label
The best perk when it comes to traditional publishing is typically the fact that you can say you’re a traditionally published author.
Because you have to go through a number of different processes and rejections in order to “make it” with traditional publishing, it can be seen as a sign that you’re a better writer than others.
However, as much as it can sound impressive, it doesn’t always mean it is.
#3 – Distribution
Book distribution is much easier as a traditionally published author, mostly because you don’t have to deal with any of it.
Traditional publishing houses have very wide reaches and because of this, your book can reach a lot more stores in more places than if you traditionally publish.
#4 – Less responsibility on your part
If you’re the type of person who just wants to write the book but don’t want to worry about the title, book cover design, editing, or more, then traditional might be for you.
Keep in mind that traditional publishers do purchase the rights to your book when you get a book deal and therefore, can make you alter anything in it to meet their needs.
Meaning, your plot and characters can drastically change. If you’re okay with that, then traditional publishing works for you.
#5 – No upfront costs to you
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean traditional publishing is necessarily “free.”
Typically, those who get traditional book deals receive an upfront payment of varying amounts. From there, the rest of the expenses fall on the publisher.
However, those upfront payments aren’t often big enough to cover your living expenses for the length of time it takes to get your book finished and out into the world. And that means you’ll still have to continue to work another job while writing and meeting deadlines in order to get your book done.
#6 – A slow and steady process
This can be both a pro and a con. If you’re not in a rush to get your book out into the world, then the slow and lengthy traditional publishing process might be a good thing for you.
Ultimately, Self-Publishing Will Change Your Life
It may be that, like quite a few writers, you’ve dreamed about working with a big-name publishing house all your life, and nothing will satisfy you until you get that experience. There is nothing wrong with that.
If you’ve identified this need early on, then maybe it’s best for you to go down the traditional publishing route.
But let’s say you win the book lottery and get published. There is still no guarantee that your publisher’s efforts will get your work in bookstores or into the hands of the editors of your favorite literary magazines and newspapers. There’s also no guarantee in sales volume.
However, self-publishing gives you an alternative path. It gives you an assured chance of getting your book out there. You have a better chance of seeing success in your sales and making an impact if your message resonates with enough people. Not to mention, you get to stay true to the vision of your book.
Self-publishing allows you the freedom, money, community and control to shape your life into one that you adore.
Here at Self-Publishing School, our goal is to improve this arduous writing process. Right now, we coach our students to routinely complete a new book in just 90 days, finishing their first draft in as little as 30 days!
They are able to accomplish this by following a simple step-by-step guide that we’re going to share with you today.
How long does it take to write a book?
It can take anywhere from 2 months to a full year to write a book depending on the word count, how often you write, and how much you’re actually writing each session. A good rule of thumb is to allot at least 4 months to write a book.
Many authors report that it takes up to a year to write a book, but more recently, authors are finishing their books in as little as a month to 90 days with our specific system.
How long it takes to write a book largely depends on how much time the writer puts in to actually writing it, though.
The truth about how long it takes to write a book depends on how many words are in it.
Here’s a guideline for how long it takes to write a book:
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Following the guidelines below, you can learn to supercharge your own book writing process, and you’ll become a published author much faster.
What is the average time it takes to write a book?
The average person writing a book for the first time can expect to spend anywhere from 4 months to over a year writing a book. While this might seem like it takes a long time to write a book, there are always methods to shorten this.
Taking everything above into account, the truth is that most people don’t write every day, especially if you have a family and a full-time job.
So let’s break this down a bit further for the average person living an average life that doesn’t allot daily writing time (& they don’t have our system for getting more done with less time):
30,000 – 50,000 words: 500 words 3 days per week = 4 months – 7 months
50,000 – 80,000 words: 500 words 3 days per week = 7 months – 11 months
80,000 – 100,000 words: 500 words 3 days per week = 11 months – 1 year +
As you can see, if you maintain an average of 1500 words written per week, writing your book can span from 4 months to over a year without the right system to get it finished quickly.
How long does it take to write a 100 page book?
A 100 page book is about 30,000 words. If you write more than 1500 words per week, you can expect for it to take 2 – 4 months to write a 100 page book.
How long does it take to write a 200 page book?
The average person can expect to spend 3 -7 months writing a 200 page book if they focus on writing more than 1500 words per week.
Now, this would equate to roughly 50,000 words. Many of our students can actually finish their draft of this length in only 30 days with our process.
How long does it take to write a 300 page book?
A 300 page book can take 4 – 9 months to write at an average of about 80,000 words, writing 1500 or more per week.
The average fiction book that’s at a higher level than middle grade will run about this length. In fact, the large majority of young adult books are 70,000 – 90,000 words and can take a bit longer for the full writing, revising, and self-editing process.
How to Write a Book Faster so it Doesn’t Take as Long
If you want to know how to write a book faster so it doesn’t take as long, here are our best tips.
#1 – Establishing a Strategic Deadline
Deadlines are designed to help you inch closer to completing your book by giving yourself a writing habit. It also encourages you to work every day hitting both short-term and long-term goals.
However, you won’t find success by setting arbitrary due dates. They must be set up for your book’s success.
Here are 3 ways to establish strategic deadlines:
Define realistic deadlines. Set short term and long term deadlines for each portion of your draft that breaks down your entire book.
Set honest expectations. If you’re only able to write 500 words a day, so be it. Don’t push yourself into thinking that you can complete an unrealistic task. Be honest with your abilities and align it with your deadline.
Implement rewards. Don’t make writing a book feel like a tedious job. Reward yourself for achieving your goals! Attaching rewards to each accomplishment will make finishing your book much more aspiring to complete.
#2 – Prioritizing Your Writing Into Tasks
What separates those who can write multiple books to those who can barely write a page is the ability to prioritize. Because there are so many competing factors that pull away our time and energy, prioritizing is actually a very hard concept to implement.
But in order to write your book, you need to establish clear priorities to get anything done.
Here are some ways to prioritize your work:
List out every detail of your book and turn them into tasks
Assess each task to identify what carries the biggest value to completing your book
Order tasks by its immediate priority and length of time to complete
Anticipate unexpected changes to your schedule, and plan an alternative schedule to stay on track
Make the effort and spend a few hours prioritizing your writing process. You will be surprised with how much writing you can accomplish with a well thought out task plan.
#3 – Creating Word Count Goals
One of the best ways to accelerate the writing process is to set word count goals. Like training intervals, setting up word count goals will pace how many words to write a day.
First you have to understand how many words in a novel for your genre. Once you know this, you can work backward to figure out how much you have to write each day in order to reach your deadline.
By establishing these parameters for your own success, not only will you be more likely to accomplish these goals, but you will also notice improvements to your writing.
Here’s an example of a tracking sheet you can set up in order to accomplish your word count goals:
We recommend writing down your daily, weekly, and monthly word count goals to not only show your current progress, but to keep you motivated until you reach the end.
It also helps to include rewards for every new milestone!
Start your daily word count goal to 500-1,000 words per day. By completing 1,000 words per day, you’ll be looking at your completed 30,000 word first draft in one month!
#4 – Finding Your Accountability Partner
A supportive partner can be a great soundboard, a first pair of eyes, and a protector of your sanity. They can also be the extrinsic motivation you need to meet your own deadlines and word counts.
When you have an accountability partner backing you up, it makes it harder to procrastinate because they expect great results from you!
At Self-Publishing School, we believe in the accountability system and encourage our students to pair up with other like-minded students to encourage one another and hold each other accountable for reaching goals and deadlines.
You may have an image of what an author does in your mind: He or she sits down at a computer, powers it on, and gets to work. The author does not leave his or her computer for days, shutting out all distractions and totally neglecting all social obligations.
In the end, the author has created a fantastic book that people fall in love with instantly.
Well, there are some authors out there who may fit this bill, but it doesn’t fit reality for the average author like you and me.
With each book that I write, I spend time before I begin with a set of writing goals to help me stay on task, and I’m here to help you discover how to set and stick to your own writing goals.
Here’s the thing–you may not have the luxury to go into reclusion and adopt an exhaustive practice, where you can finish a book in one sitting. You have work, family, and other commitments that may prevent you from shutting yourself in a room with a computer or typewriter for days on end.
This biggest hurdle you may have is believing you do not have time to get your writing done!
In my experience as a writing coach, this is the most common belief. Thinking and believing you don’t have time to write can be your worst enemy when it comes to achieving your dream.
Please don’t listen to your mind chatter. Instead please know you can….
Change this mind chatter by creating writing goals
Balance writing with other commitments with doable goals.
Be an author, so long as you set and follow your writing goals.
Let’s get started with ten of my surefire ways that go into developing writing goals…
#1 – Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Writing goals help you determine what you can realistically accomplish in a day. As you build your goals you will immediately make headway on your book, and finish it before you realize it!
Having clear and specific writing goals will set you up for success to get a little bit done each day.
Keep in mind…a writing goal is just a goal you set for each day. You determine a realistic time frame that fits your schedule. Then you figure out what you want to accomplish in that time frame.
You might want to write a certain number of words, or you might want to finish a chapter, or you might want to spend an hour brainstorming and formulating your book.
#2 – Writing Goals Vary From Person to Person
When you set your writing goals, you must think of what you want to accomplish. Your goals are personal and unique.
When thinking about your goals take into consideration the following:
Do you want to work on a certain part of your book each day?
How many words do you want to write each day?
What time of day are you going to write?
How can you publish within a certain time frame?
Think of what you want to accomplish. Then set basic writing goals that will help you get your ultimate task accomplished by your deadline.
For instance, if your book is due in two months, set aside a logical amount of words you can create each day over the next two months that will have your book finished by the deadline.
Be sure to set realistic goals. You can’t expect yourself to write your book in a day. Your creativity and quality will suffer if you rush it, and you’ll hate your project! You will be much happier if you work at a pace that is comfortable for you.
Also, be sure to cut yourself some slack. Not everyone wants to write every day. If you have other commitments, make time for them. But always set aside a bit of time for writing out of your week, preferably every other day.
A good writing goal is measurable. “I will finish ten pages by Friday” is an example of a measurable goal. You set a timeline and an amount, and then you see if you accomplish it.
Setting deadlines by which you finish certain blocks of writing or writing tasks helps you see if you are making good progress. When you see how much progress you have made, you will feel more accomplished and more encouraged to keep plugging on!
#3 – Break Big Goals into Bite-Sized Chunks
You want to write a book. OK, that’s a great goal, but it’s a huge goal. You are less likely to complete that goal because it is just too large and vague.
Rather, you should break that big goal into smaller goals. Your brain gets less overwhelmed. “I want to write a chapter a week” is a way that you can break this huge goal of writing a book down into smaller pieces.
Over time, all of your little accomplishments pile up into one huge one. Before you know it, your book is finished and ready for the editor!
#4 – Set Your Writing Goals Down on Paper
As you set writing goals, be sure to write them down.
I recommend using a daily planner. Set aside a block of time when you have nothing else going on. Then determine how much you will write.
Also, schedule times to perform writing goal reviews. This is where you check your progress.
It can be helpful to write down little pep talk notes, too. A writing motivational quote or a nice mantra to recite when you feel like giving up can help you stay on track.
Add these motivational quips next to your written goals.
#5 – Self-Review: Don’t Be Your Own Worst Critic
There is no doubt that we writers can be hard on ourselves! But to keep goals, you must review your progress. Self-review is not a time to beat yourself up for not meeting a specific writing goal.
Instead, use your self-review time to reflect on all that you have accomplished. Reward yourself for a job well-done. Think, “I did it! I actually wrote something!” Follow it up with a little celebration that you will enjoy.
If you are constantly falling short on your writing goals, that is a sign that your goals are unrealistic. The only way to keep a writing goal is to set a realistic one. So if you keep setting a writing goal to write a thousand words a day, and you usually only write three hundred, that is OK.
Just change your writing goal to be three hundred a day!
If you are exceeding your writing goals, on the other hand, perhaps you should step up the challenge. Increase your daily word count, for example.
Have a review date. I like to review my progress every Friday. Your review date should be a day when you have little else going on and you have managed to make some progress. Make it consistent, such as a certain day of the week or month.
#6 – Trust Your Intuition
A good writing goal is to write intuitively for a while, at least at the start of your scheduled writing session.
Intuitive writing is where you just let your ideas flow. You start with a blank page and write whatever comes to mind. The results will surprise you!
Don’t block your stream of consciousness by writing about a specific topic, or by worrying about grammar. Just write!
After an intuitive writing session, you can start editing. Trim the fat of excess words. Correct spelling and grammar mistakes. See how you can logically organize your work into an outline.
#7 – Cut Out Distractions
When you sit down to meet a writing goal, don’t let distractions get in the way. This is a good time to turn your phone off and shut off the TV. Emails can wait.
Distractions derail your thoughts. They can also suck you into a vortex of paying attention to things other than your writing goals.
The time you set aside to write should be used solely for writing. Just focus on your writing goals and your creativity. Don’t let distractions take your mind away from the task at hand.
A routine is important when you want to get something done without distractions. Having one is the only way I am able to accomplish my goals and I can’t stress this enough.
#8 Psych Yourself Up
You just had a long day. The last thing you want to do is write. Being a couch potato in front of your favorite show seems far more alluring, right?
We have all been there. But you will ultimately feel guilty if you sacrifice writing time to vapidly watch TV.
To get motivated for a writing session, think about your writing goals and how badly you want to accomplish them. Think about how great you will feel when you finish your book or article.
Also, think about how badly you will feel if you don’t meet your writing goals. That sense of disappointment can be crushing. Avoid it altogether by just working on your writing goals!
You should give yourself a pep talk every day before your block of writing time. Tell yourself, “I can do this!”
A support network of some sort is also very helpful. Friends, family, and other writers can all cheer you on when you don’t want to write.
Finally, use a writing prompt to get inspiration if your mind feels dry. I find daily writing prompts or story writing challenges featuring prompts can really get me going.
After I write a bit on a prompt, I’m officially in writing mode and ready to tackle a writing goal.
#9 – Fill Your Life with Writing
One way I stay focused on my writing and gain motivation to complete my writing goals is by filling my life with writing.
I may not write every minute of every day. I spend time with my pets, talk to friends, take trips, and other hobbies I enjoy. I have a life outside of writing that keeps me from getting burned out.
But, I do make sure writing infuses my life.
I read a lot. Books inspire you and teach you how to be a better writer. Read within your book genre and watch your inspiration flourish. Read any enlightening new blogs and new books that catch your interest, too.
I also focus on writing a lot. When I’m not writing, I’m talking to people about writing. I am sharing my writing with my coach or in writing groups. I post in forums. Sometimes, I join contests or challenges and follow writing prompts.
My social media is full of writers and writing groups. That way, I’m always thinking about it at some level, always connecting with other writers for inspiration and advice, and always sharing my writing to gain insights into how I can improve.
#10 – Celebrate Each Victory
When you tick a writing goal off of your list or planner, you should not move on to thinking about the next goal. That’s how you get overwhelmed.
Instead, think about how great you are. Think about your success so far. Congratulate yourself.
Take a break and celebrate somehow. You have every right to reward yourself and strut your stuff!
Celebrations are not wastes of time. They are crucial to writing. If you celebrate each goal, then your brain will be more likely to want to complete more goals. Then you create an internal well of motivation to complete all of your writing goals.
Word of Wisdom to Live By
I leave you with this: Anyone can be an author, and you are more than capable of accomplishing your heart’s desire to write a book.
The whole key to writing is setting writing goals that you can easily accomplish and measure. Review yourself and congratulate yourself on progress made.
Writing goals build on top of each other. So, as you complete one goal, you slide closer to the overall goal: Finishing a piece.
With time, you start to build momentum. Writing goals turn into routine. You get bit by bit done, and before you know it you have finished!
Just set aside some time for your writing goals. Then throw yourself into them. Motivate yourself however you must, but don’t skip out on writing. The sense of accomplishment you earn in the end makes it all worth it!
What are your top five writing goals to get you to the finish line of writing your book?
Let’s face it, different people define an author platform in many different ways but according to Jane Friedman, an author platform can be defined as the ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach.
An author platform can be described as everything you’re doing online and offline, to create awareness about who you are and what you do, so you can boost your brand visibility and make it easier and faster for your target audience and even the general public, to discover and connect with your brand and books.
At the end of the day, your author platform makes it possible for you to build relationships with a diverse group of people online and offline so you and your books can get noticed quickly.
How to Build An Author Platform With 8 Steps
Now that you know what an author platform is and why you need one, let’s look at the steps you can take to build your own:
#1 – Know your target readers
To build an author platform that will help you succeed, it’s important for you to know everything about your target audience and be able to answer the following questions:
Who are they?
What do they do for a living?
What’s their age, sex, marital status, and location?
What are their hobbies, interests, and motivation?
What challenges and problems do they struggle with?
What makes them happy and unhappy?
Where do they spend their time online and offline?
When you know who your target audience is, it helps you learn where to focus your time and energy and on who.
And here are some tips to help you identify your target readers:
Use Google to search for blogs, forums, and communities where your audience may be active e.g. blogs within your niche, websites of authors with similar books, etc.
Look for books similar to yours and take note of the kind of people reading them because they might be your target readers also
Use key details about your book to identify the specific type of people that usually buy such books, e.g. book format, book genre, price, number of pages, etc.
Do research on social media for groups interested in books similar to yours
When you know your target readers, you can apply that knowledge to everything you’re doing and build an author platform that draws and engages the right audience successfully.
#2 – Identify and define your brand
Your brand helps people to recognize you and form an opinion about you and your books, through your personality, your values, your voice, your promise to your readers and even the feelings you stir up in them, every time they read your books or come across your website and social media profiles.
Your brand is what makes you unique so you can stand out among others.
One of the best tools you need to build your author platform is a website.
And it should be a website with a modern and attractive look plus a functional design so that everyone that visits the website can have a great user experience at all times.
Here are a few ways your website can help build your author platform:
Your website is one place where you can showcase your brand as much as you want, using your brand colors, tagline, headshot and so on
A website makes you appear more professional and credible and boosts your chances of gaining the trust of your target audience
Because your website is your business headquarters, you can remain open for business 24 hours a day seven days a week
With a website, you and your books can be found easily by your target audience and the general public
On your website, your target readers can learn about your books at their convenience, irrespective of their time zone or location, all over the world
You have 100% control over your website so it cannot be taken away from you without notice, unlike your social media accounts
You can use your author website to sell your books directly to anyone who is ready to buy
To be able to enjoy all these benefits from your website, it’s important to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly, contains content that’s easy to read and scan, loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and is also accessible from any browser.
Bottomline, avoid website mistakes that can drive people away from your website.
#4 – Start blogging consistently
Blogging is a way for you to share pieces of your writing with the public, in the form of blog posts and articles published on your blog.
Even though it’s not compulsory to have a blog on your website, it can help build your author platform in the following ways:
Blogging consistently compels you to write on a regular basis which helps to improve your writing
When you publish content regularly on your blog, you’ll attract more people to your site
As long as you produce quality and valuable content, blogging can position you as an authority and expert on your subject, which increases your credibility
Blogging makes it possible for you to have a two-way conversation with your readers because they can respond by commenting. This can help you build a community or a tribe of loyal fans (that can leave you those 5-star reviews!)
Blogging can help you connect and build strong relationships with other bloggers, influencers, authors, the media and so on
To build your platform through blogging, it’s important to write for your audience and always provide value.
Also, don’t forget to observe blogging best practices like adding images and graphics, optimizing your posts, writing magnetic headlines, and publishing consistently, maybe once or twice a week or every two weeks or monthly and so on.
#5 – Build an email list
Your email list is a list of people who gave you permission to send emails to them regularly when they signed up on your website and gave you their email address.
One key advantage of having an email list is that no one can take it away from you.
Here’s how to build your email list:
Choose an email service provider like Convertkit, Aweber, Mailchimp, etc.
Create a sign-up form on your website
Make available a thank you gift, also known as a lead magnet or reader magnet, for people that sign up
Decide how often you’re going to send emails to your list and be consistent about it. This could be weekly, biweekly, monthly and so on
Ensure you always send personalized emails that provide value
Avoid buying a list or putting people on your list manually
Remember to provide a way for people to unsubscribe easily from your emails
With an email list, you now have people that are interested in your brand and can be reached directly through emails, one on one.
You can use this unique opportunity to share relevant information about you or your new releases, when you’re ready for a launch team, to sell your books or provide information about your book launch or events, or to even sell directly to them, from time to time.
Check out this interview video with Chandler Bolt and Nick Stephenson that goes over how to build your audience as an author:
Remember, it’s okay to start with nobody on your list because that’s where most people start from but with time, persistence and best practices, you can grow your email list which helps to build your writer platform
#6 – Write guest posts
A guest post is a blog post or an article that you write and publish on another person’s site.
Research and confirm that the blog you’re interested in accept guest posts, allows an author bio with links back to your site and have an audience that matches the type of audience you want to attract
Read their guidelines and follow them
Pitch an original post title that has not been written before on their site or anywhere else
Respond to comments once your post is published
#7 – Connect offline
While it’s true that a lot of your author platform building activities will be done online, there are some steps you can also take offline, to connect with your target audience and build your author platform.
Here are some ways to connect offline:
Inform family, friends, neighbors, and other groups in your community about what you do
Create business cards that has your website information, using your brand color, font, logo, etc and share them everywhere you go
Join author groups and associations in your local community and beyond
Attend writers conferences and events
Accept speaking engagements
Support your local libraries and bookstores and participate in some of their activities
Become a guest on a podcast or on radio or television
Having a presence and being active on social media can put your brand in front of a large number of people that you may not have the opportunity to connect with anywhere else, which goes a long way to increase your brand visibility and build your author platform.
Examples of such social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and many others.
Here are some simple tips for using social media as an author:
Identify all the social media platforms where your target readers can be found
Choose one or two that you like and are comfortable with and learn everything about them
Come up with a strategy on how you will use each social media platform to achieve your goal
Decide in advance how much time you can afford to spend on social media daily and keep to it
Create a profile and start posting, using the strategy you came up with
Even though social media can be used effectively to build your author platform, almost everyone agrees that it can take up a lot of your time if you’re not careful, so remember to take preventive steps to avoid that.
Now that you know all the steps you can take to build your author platform, come up with your own plan of action by identifying the step you want to start with and those you can even do at the same time.
Remember, building an author platform takes time and cannot be done overnight so the earlier you start, the better.
That means growing pains, the terrible twos where nothing makes sense, and an angsty teenage phase where the words themselves rebel against you and you regret that drunken night so long ago when you thought you had the next great novel idea…
Thankfully, we have a step-by-step guide to make it a lot less painful.
Your goal should always be for your writing to be clean, concise, and easily understood.
Just because you can write a grammatically correct sentence that goes on for 3 pages won’t make people want to read your book.
In fact, it will probably send them looking for anything else to do.
If your goal is to impress people with your technical skill and ability to write long beautiful sentences that barely make sense, then you’re not writing a book, you’re creating an art piece using a book as a medium. That’s fine if that’s your goal, but that’s not what we’re doing here.
If you want the story to be the art, not the words themselves, then clarity should be your number one priority.
Where do you begin? At the beginning of course.
It doesn’t really matter where you start, but the beginning is never a bad choice. You generally want to start with the big picture and work your way down to the small stuff.
Your focus should be on story, character and flow first, then grammar and exact words later.
Think of editing like woodworking. The craftsman goes over their piece hundreds of times. First, they cut out the basic shape, then they shape it, add in the fine details, and finally come through with finer and finer sandpaper until they’re polishing up a beautifully finished work.
It’s the same thing with a book.
#2 – Break Your Book Up in Sections to Edit
If you’re starting at the beginning of a long book it can be helpful to break it up into manageable chunks. Split it into four or five pieces that you can edit one at a time.
A great way to do this is to break it up by Act, if you’re using a three-act story structure.
If you do this you need to be careful that you pay attention to the flow, and that all the pieces that you edited separately still fit together in the end.
One of your final edits should always be a top to bottom read through for flow, and when editing in chunks, this step is even more important.
#3 – Step Back and Define the Point of Your Book
I said we start at the beginning, but that’s not entirely true. Not yet. First, we need to step back from the manuscript entirely.
Before you put red pen to virgin paper, you need to know what your book is about.
“I know what my book is about, I wrote the fool thing,” I hear you shout at your screen.
Too often though, I find that it is remarkably easy to finish a piece and not really know what the main point is. We can become so bogged down with all the side plots and tangents that we forget what’s vital to the story.
What is the story really about if you trim all the fat? What is necessary to tell the story, and what isn’t?
You want a sleek, streamlined story. Not a bloated one, that’s so full of side plots that it’s impossible to tell what the main one is.
How do we know what the point of our book really is?
Write a short synopsis. Anywhere from 500-2000 words. Don’t just write one though. Write several synopses explaining it in different ways, from different points of view and perspectives. This will give you an extremely clear idea of what’s important and what’s not to tell your story.
This will help you focus on what’s important, and it tells you where you need to do more work.
#4 – Focus on the Characters
This brings us to characters. Every major character should appear in your synopsis.
If they don’t then likely they aren’t really a major character. Ask yourself what purpose they serve and why they’re there.
If they don’t have a purpose you need to give them one, remove them, or trim their part down so they’re not distracting from the overall focus.
Your characters should all have a purpose, from major to minor.
Make sure every character serves their purpose, and none of their arcs are left incomplete. If you leave them with open ends, it can make your character development weak and therefore, uninteresting.
#5 – Editing Chapters
Now you know what your story is saying, you’ve synopsized it several different times from different angles, and your characters work. Now let’s go on a level.
Let’s look at all your chapters.
Just like your characters, every chapter needs a purpose that moves the main plot forward.
Ask these questions about each chapter:
Does this chapter have a purpose?
Does it move the plot forward?
Does it develop an important character?
Can I continue the story without it?
If the chapter doesn’t do one of these things, either cut it or find a way to condense anything important into another chapter, it may not need to stand on its own.
#6 – Editing a Book for Pacing
While you’re going through the chapters, consider the pacing of the book as a whole.
This can be a hard thing to explain, as it is very much a feeling, but until the climax of your book, you shouldn’t have any big breaks in the action. Little breathers can be good to set up the next scene, but you shouldn’t have long stretches where the tension drops.
Above all, the story should never grind to a halt.
Don’t give your reader whiplash by slamming on the breaks and then speeding off a second later.
Let your story breathe slowly. Slowly increasing and decreasing the pace like your book is taking a breath. All the while you are slowly ramping up the pace and tension until the climax.
Here are a few ways to pace your novel effectively…
Book’s Overall Pacing
Will it be faster (think horror/thriller novels), or will it be slower (think contemporary or romance). This will determine how you write and finish chapters.
You likely have a preference as an author for a fast or a slow-paced book. This is often the same as what we prefer to read.
Do you like your books to be the type you can’t put down and read in a couple of sittings, or the type of book readers can pick up every night and read a chapter or two?
Certain book genres also predetermine your pacing, so keep this in mind.
Book genres with typically fast pacing:
Action / Adventure
Book genres with slower pacing:
Book genres where pacing varies greatly:
Pacing Within Chapters
The pacing within a chapter is also very important, and there’s a great way to manage this with your writing.
A really great way to manage pacing within chapters is to use paragraphs wisely.
Now, there are grammatical rules to follow for paragraphs, but you can also use paragraph breaks and writing chapters intentionally to slow down or increase the pacing.
If you want a fast-paced chapter: The key to faster pacing is shorter, more frequent paragraphs. Dialogue is also very useful for increasing pacing because it pulls readers farther down the page, quicker.
If you want a slow-paced chapter: Fewer paragraphs, written longer, will slow down the pacing significantly. This means more internal thoughts and more in-depth descriptions. Essentially, you’re creating more text on the page, which takes longer to read, which slows the pacing.
Putting these methods together: You can use these techniques to create a rhythm within your work. If you feel like an area is too slow, see where you can break up paragraphs or add bits of dialogue. And if a section is too fast, see where you can add more internal musings or setting/character descriptions.
Remember, if you end a chapter on a cliff-hanger, this will make the pacing for this section seem faster.
Overall Book Pacing as a Whole
It’s important to step back and look at your book in terms of pacing as a whole. It can be easy to pace a few chapters in a row slowly, only to have that section of your book feel boring to readers.
While you may have reasons for keeping those chapters slower-paced, too many in a row can create that “rut” readers often complain about in the middle of a book.
Step back and look at your chapters next to each other. A great way to do this is with sticky notes.
Use one color for a slow pace, and another for faster-paced chapters.
Line them up along your wall and step back.
If you have too may slow-paced chapters next to each other, do some digging and figure out how you can add tension there—and realize that if you have several fast-paced chapters next to each other, your book will speed by, which can often cause information overload or confusion.
You control pacing on the large scale with plot and structure, and on the small scale with sentence and paragraph structure. Short punchy sentences speed the reader along, and long, complex sentences and paragraphs slow the reader down.
#7 – Line Editing a Book
Now we begin my least favorite part… the line by line edit.
There’s no shortcut here. You have to go through your book, line-by-line, word-by-word, and consider each paragraph sentence and word.
You’re looking for typos, grammatical mistakes, passive voice, but largely just, how can you make this more readable?
Ask yourself this when line editing a book:
Would this sentence be more clear if I rearranged it?
Is this sentence necessary?
Does it add anything?
Is this paragraph clear?
If not, how can it be more clear?
Is it obvious who’s speaking here? How do I fix that?
These are the kinds of questions you need to be asking about each and every sentence and paragraph in your book.
That being said, there are some common things to look for that I’ll show you in the next section, and it never hurts to have a copy of the Chicago Manual nearby as well.
Common Book Editing Mistakes to Avoid
Not everyone is perfect and can edit a book perfectly the first time. That’s what book editors are for, after all.
However, handing over a manuscript littered with these mistakes can not only make the editing more expensive, but it can also hinder your book’s final product because, well, the better version you send to the editor, the better final product.
Here are a few things to avoid when editing your book.
#1 – “Keep it simple stupid”
KISS, the old Navy saying is a good one to live by when you’re editing. Shorter and simpler is almost always better.
If you can say it in fewer words, do it.
If a shorter word will work, use it.
If you can say that whole beautiful monologue in a sentence, guess what? Shorten it.
There are always exceptions to the rule. If you have a good reason, breaking this rule can make a section stand out. Exceptions can be for characterization, mostly. If you have a character who is long-winded and this serves a purpose, their ramble of dialogue can likely stay.
If you’re ever unsure, though, stick to simple.
#2 – Avoid redundancies
It’s very easy to do because it’s often how we talk. In writing though, it’s unnecessary, and it can actually make your point less clear as the audience tries to figure out why you just repeated yourself.
Don’t just say the same thing you did another way to make sure the point got across.
Don’t drone on and on because your words are too bountiful a crop to cull, and the audience should marvel at your use of words….
You see what I did there?
Don’t do it.
Your audience is smart, and will usually pick up what you mean the first time, Even if they don’t, guess what? It’s a book, not a Snapchat, they can go back and reread if they need to.
Give your audience credit, they’re often smarter than you think.
This brings me to my next point.
#3 – Don’t preach
It’s one of the things I struggle with the most. I’m just itching to have a character, the narrator, or some pretty prose spell out the fascinating philosophical implication of this character’s actions or thoughts.
Don’t do it. It’s cheap, and it comes across as flat and boring.
Find a way to show it with action instead.
Your audience is smart; if your writing is done well, they should come to the conclusion you wanted them to on their own. It will be far more powerful than if you simply told them because it’s an active experience for the reader.
They may also come to a different conclusion than you expected, and that can be even more fun.
#4 – Show, don’t tell.
This is very similar to the last point. If you have some piece of information you need the audience to know, show it with action instead of telling them, or have it come up in natural conversation between the characters.
Don’t tell the audience about the terrible PTSD your character is suffering from. Don’t fill the page with beautiful prose about how the character feels.
Show them how the character is affected. Let your audience experience the emotions through the character.
Showing is always more powerful than telling, and powerful is what you want.
#5 – Don’t Overdo Styling
Don’t be cutesy or flowery with your word choice or styling.
“He wheezed an answer,”
“Don’t… goooo. DON’T!!!”
It’s distracting and silly. It’s like the literary equivalent of the over the top drama in a soap opera.
It’s comical, and not in a good way.
#6 – Watch for writing tics
Just like you have verbal tics that you fall back on when you’re speaking, like “umm,” we have writing tics as well.
They’re often unconscious and entirely unnecessary. They clutter up the page, and you need to excise them from your piece like little tumors.
These are words like:
Basically (Many adverbs really)
Great (most Adjectives)
For instance, I have a bad habit of using, “So,” and “which,” far too often.
I may say,
“So, because of that….”
“Which is why we need to…”
Be on the lookout for your common tic words. They’re almost always unnecessary and can rob your writing of power by making your sentences wordy and confusing.
Keep in mind that you likely have a word or phrase you use often as well. For example, you may use “pulled” or “snatched” or even “reluctantly” repeatedly and not even notice.
Keep an eye out and learn to recognize these words or phrases.
#7 – Don’t over-edit
Generally, the more you edit the better your book, but there is such a thing as too much editing.
You don’t want your book to be stuck in perpetual editing hell.
It’s easy to get trapped by the feeling that your book has to be perfect, but perfection is often unattainable. Eventually, you need to publish it.
Get it as good as you can, but don’t obsess over it. Share it. You’re writing isn’t complete until you share it.
What’s next? Editors, beta readers, and more!
After you’ve done everything I’ve said so far it may still be a good idea to hire an editor.
Beta readers are a great choice if you can’t afford an editor, and even if you can, I still recommend it.
All a beta reader is, is someone, usually a family member or friend who you ask to read your book and give you feedback before you publish. The value you get from seeing what normal people think of your book is massive.
And this should be done before you send to an editor, for obvious reasons (you wouldn’t want to pay for another editor after betas have pointed out major flaws you need to rewrite, would you?).
But you have to take their criticisms to heart. You don’t have to change everything they bring up, but seriously consider what your readers and editor say.
Try to avoid defending your piece too strongly. It’s easy to simply write off criticism as someone just not understanding what you were doing. Especially if it’s a phrase or section you like.
And a major tip for when you have beta readers: never explain or correct their assumptions. It can be tempting for you to dive in and tell a beta why they didn’t understand a section, but doing this risks their feedback being unbiased and fresh, and therefore, unusable.
The bottom line is that if someone misunderstands something you said then others may too. You may not be wrong, your friend may have been an idiot, but chances are there is a clearer way for you to say whatever it was they didn’t understand.
Remember, there’s no “right” way & this is YOUR process
In the end, there is no perfect way to edit a book.
If your finished project is clean, clear, and easily understandable, then you edited perfectly. Whether you follow this guide, talked to a monk on top of a mountain, or you laid all the pages on your floor and changed every sentence your cat stepped on, it doesn’t matter if the final product is good.
And ultimately, every writer has a different editing process. If you want to print your book to edit it, perfect! If you prefer to use Google docs, great!
It’s all about whatever works best for you and allows you to create real progress and change in your manuscript.
What I’ve given you is a guide to get started. Take it, tweak it, make it your own, and go finish your book!
You nod as the light turns green. Time to go, time to move forward.
“Letting fear drive you will only drive you to disappointment,” the narrator reads his book to you. Your speakers beg for just a little more volume to drown out the traffic.
You lean in and turn it up.
This is what you want for your readers, this is what your current readers are missing, and these are the readers/listeners you are missing by not having an audiobook.
There is an entire audience who have no idea that your book could change their lives. In fact, they don’t even know it exists if they only listen to audiobooks.
Don’t worry! We can fix this, just hang out with me for about 10 minutes or so, and you will be equipped with encouragement, inspiration, and most importantly, aplan!
After writing multiple books and recording my own audiobooks, I’ve learned a few things that will help both green and seasoned writers. With so much useful information packed into one post, we’re going to break it down to some basic questions straight from middle-school English class.
Here’s what we’ll cover in relation to audiobook creation (if you’re in a hurry, skip to 1, 3, and 5):
Why not just sell both the digital and the audio? I know the temptation. After investing all this time and money into this audiobook, I need it to “pay” off, so why should I give it away? If that’s a hurdle you can’t get over, at least try using it as a lead magnet for a limited time, then switching to paid. Doing it this way allows for #4 (below) to thrive.
Fewer customer complaints.
When people get something for free, they are less likely to complain about it, though it still happens. However, this releases you from feeling like you have to have the perfect product. As Chandler says, “done is better than perfect.” We’ll cover more in the HOW and WHAT sections.
If you decide to put the book on Audible (the leader in audiobook production) or other sites like Findaway Voices, you will still get sales from people who never took the time to visit your Amazon (or other) page.
The most obvious: Build Your Subscriber List!
Having an author career is a long game. It requires support and a following at the least. This is the point of a lead magnet, to entice readers to sign up for your correspondence. Subscribers by email are gold for an author. Check it out here (and get a free audiobook) to see how the process looks from the subscriber’s side.
None of the other questions matter if we don’t understand our “why.”
As an author, you want to reach a broader audience while also better serving your current readers.
The market for digital and print books is saturated (which isn’t the worst thing), but the audiobook market is still wide open. This is a great time to jump in, stand out, offer more, and expand your reach.
Audiobooks are growing faster than any other digital publishing.
Nearly half of all listeners are under 35 and listen to 15 books a year, claiming that “audiobooks help you finish more books.”
People choose audio for multi-tasking, portability, and the novelty of someone else reading to them.
Podcasts (another growing industry) are a gateway to audiobooks.
Some publishers are skipping ebook production and going straight to audio, recognizing that audiobook sales are independently increasing.
Are you convinced yet?Before you go hire someone or crank up your voice memos,read on to see how best to create your audiobook.
#2 – How do you make an audiobook?
SPS has a great post here about how to make an audiobook. It includes tips on prepping your content, recording, hiring narrators, equipment, uploading to ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) for Audible, and more.
In addition to those things, here are a few tips from my experience when producing my first audiobook.
Use two computers or devices. I used one to handle the recording and audio editing (I chose to do simultaneous editing), and the other to read from while revising. No matter how many times you edit your book, you’ll always want to tweak something; recording your audiobook is no exception. If you’ve hired out your formatting, make notes for them of what you’ve changed.
Keep plenty of water nearby. One time while recording some of my music in a studio, the producer told me to take a drink of water before every take. I didn’t realize how much difference it made until I tried it. Take a deep breath and a big swig before each take.
Don’t beat yourself up for tripping over words. If it keeps happening, take a break. “Ahh! Can you even read? Come on, Michael!” Believe me, I understand the frustration.
Invite or hire a professional or semi-professional to help with setup. If you have any musician friends or podcaster buddies, have them help set up your environment and equipment, down to chair placement and lighting. I made the mistake of trying to do it all by myself (cue Eric Carman) and I ended up re-recording my book 1.5 times—that’s 2.5 total! It was a mess.
BONUS: A crucial piece of advice: listen to audiobooks in your genre. This should sound familiar, as it’s common advice to read the genre you write in, and it’s just as important to listen to it. To be a great writer, you must be an avid reader (and listener!)
With so much screen fatigue, it’s nice to break away and maybe look at, I don’t know, the sky or something real. Try that now…I’ll wait…
Ah, wasn’t that nice?
Let’s get back to business! What makes a good audiobook?
Cast the right voice (even if its yours): coming up in #4: WHO…patience, young grasshopper…
Conviction: Not only does your book need to be believable, but your narrator needs to convey the same conviction as you did when writing it.
Eliminate Mouth Sounds: This. Was. A. Pain. You, like me at one point, probably have no idea how much sound your mouth makes, from breath control to saliva and lip smacks. I ended up hiring someone from Fiverr to go through and edit my four-hour audiobook; the cost was around $300, which included mastering (adjusting the levels and frequencies for the specific ACX requirements).
“Is my book right for audio?”
I would argue that ANY book can be useful as an audiobook!
“What about children’s books?”
Imagine the novelty of having the author narrate his/her own work while the kids flip through the pages, all without having to go to a book-reading.
“How about short, daily reads, like religious devotionals?”
Au contraire…imagine how helpful it could be to have someone walk you through a recipe in real time, hands-free. If that doesn’t quite work, it can still serve to push people to your digital/physical book for reference and pictures.
In fact, some audiobooks come with companion content such as Good Clean Fun by Nick Offerman.
By now, you’re seriously considering this audiobook thing. Logically, the next thing to work out is WHO should narrate your book.
#4 – Who should narrate my audiobook?
Having a perfect book will not save you from poor narration. Audible makes it a point to offer a Performance section in their reviews.
Did you also notice the tab below for Amazon Reviews? That’s even more reason to get the “WHAT” right in this entire process.
When it comes to narration, there are two ways to go: do it yourself or hire it out.
Narrating Your Own Book:
There a plenty of advantages here. If you choose this route, you can either set up your own recording space or purchase studio time with an engineer.
Many readers will say they prefer authors to narrate their own works because it’s more authentic to the intentions. However, not all writers are great narrators.
I suggest this, a test run:
Use a phone app or voice recorder and try reading a chapter into it.
Listen back with objective ears, imagining your ideal reader.
Ask yourself if you were drawn in to the story or distracted by the narration. Be honest with yourself, and consider what it would take to make it better: cadence, pronunciation, accent, or perhaps a professional narrator. *If you choose to tackle accents, do your best to respect them rather than stereotyping. Audiobook listeners tend to care about accuracy and honor. For example, in England alone, there are half a dozen or more accents. In America, southern accents vary across states and regions.
Send the sample to an objective friend (preferably one familiar with the accents and style you’re going for), and be open to honest feedback.
If you decide self-narrating isn’t for you, then you can hire a professional.
Tups for hiring a narrator:
Cost: Narrators can be paid in different ways. ACX offers an hourly rate or a 50% split royalties option. There are other ways as well, such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Voices.
Voice: fiction or non, nailing the voice is a make-it-or-break-it detail for many listeners. In fact, Audible has an entire section of its reviews dedicated to Narrator Performance. There is a common consensus that says having an non-preferred narrator is one of the biggest turn-offs for listeners.
Communication: you’ll want to make sure the narrator gets the pronunciations right as well as any specific occasions of sarcasm, humor, drama, timing, or more. They can fix some things in post-production, but changing the pronunciation of a main character’s name after finishing the book would be nearly impossible. It’s not as simple as “Find and Replace” (one of my favorite word processing functions!). ACX has great videos to help with such things.
If this post has stirred you up at all, then you must act!
You and I both know this to be true, so here are some things you can do right now to become a better writer and jump start your audiobook production.
Try the self-narrating tip from #4. For me, I’ve always loved doing impressions and finding new voices and accents. In fact, it has influenced my writing; I now try to include characters whose voices I know I can give life to. Recently, I made one of my characters Scottish, an accent I’ve always admired and respected.
Get started listening with Audible right now if you haven’t already, and start reading reviews, specifically in the Performance section. There are also plenty of free audiobook sources out there.
Continue polishing your book as best you can. Adjustments to the written word are fairly easy, but punching in seamless narration is nearly impossible. It doesn’t have to be perfect though! There is always the option to re-record your book (and likely be even better the next time around) or hire someone else to do it.
These are some common reasons you procrastinate when writing a book:
You’re not sure how to get started
It’s terrifying to spill your guts to the world in a book
You’re insecure about your writing and have writer’s block before you’ve even started
You’re afraid of getting negative book reviews when you do eventually publish
You’re worried that even if you do write your book, nobody will buy it and you’ll end up with low book sales for life
You’re not sure how to take your idea and turn it into an actual book
Take a deep breath (but no more coffee, you’ve had enough). Remember that all authors have been exactly where you are right now. Every successful writer—from William Shakespeare to Walt Whitman to Stephen King—began by staring at a blank page.
It’s not enough to have an inspiring book idea. Before you put pen to paper, you need to know your purpose.
I won’t lie. Writing a book is rewarding, but it requires hard work. It requires emotional labor, long nights (or early mornings), extended weekends, and facing a constant self-critical process that is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
Solidifying the purpose fueling your book will carry you through this difficult process.
Ok, you’re thinking—“Don’t worry, I know why I want to write a book. I want to write to feel important!” That’s an interesting thought, and feeling important may be a byproduct of becoming a self-published author.
However, feeling important isn’t the same as your purpose—your WHY. Feelings are fleeting, whereas a purpose is a deeper, intrinsic motivator which will keep you burning the midnight oil to power through Chapter 23 when the rush of feelings have long dissipated.
These are some popular reasons for authors to write a book:
Grow a network: To meet and connect with others in the industry.
Passion project: To share an empowering story for the greater good.
To have an escape: A mental escape can help you deal with real-world problems.
To give others an escape: If you write fiction, you might want to give others struggling a safe place to go.
To change lives: Books change lives and your message could empower others to make a change in their life.
There are no wrong or right purposes for writing a book.
Your WHY will be unique to you.
Once you’ve honed in on your WHY, let that purpose help focus your writing. By keeping your purpose at the forefront of your creative process, you’ll make the writing process quicker and smoother than you thought possible.
#2 – Get Rid of Your Excuses for Not Writing the Book
You’ve figured out your WHY and articulated your unique purpose for writing a book. And right on cue, something is going to try to derail your progress already: your writing excuses.
When there’s nothing standing in your way, it’s sadly typical to start letting excuses for not writing your book become the obstacle to your success.
But you can overcome it.
It’s worthwhile to spend a little time addressing some common excuses many of us make to prevent us from writing.
Once you’ve cleared out the cobwebs and smashed those mental roadblocks, you’ll be better prepared for the writing process ahead. Getting your mind ready is one of the first steps to producing valuable work, whether than a publishing an ebook, the next great American novel, or a passion project.
Excuse #1 – You don’t know what to write.
You may not realize it, but you have a story worth telling.
In fact, you may be pleasantly surprised to find as you write that you have more than one story and you’re having a tough time narrowing down the content.
The easiest way to start writing your first book is to choose a topic you’re comfortable with. You can literally write a book about anything, so go with what you know.
Here’s how you can figure out what to write about:
But I have some good news: Writing a book takes less time than you think.
Find an hour a day you devote to something mindless—social media, video games, internet, or TV—and start writing instead.
And if you don’t have an hour, try 30 minutes. Even 5 minutes 3 times a day can be a source of massive writing productivity. Think about it.
The average person can type 60 words a minute. 60 words x 5 minutes = 300 words. Do that 3 times a day and you’ll produce close to 1,000 words a day.
You’ll amaze yourself at how an hour per day adds up to something productive!
Excuse #3 – Good writers spend all their free time reading.
Think you need to read all day long to be a writer? Think again.
In fact, many prolific writers cut down on their reading—at least temporarily—in order to give themselves enough time to write.
Besides, you don’t need to be a literary connoisseur to write a great book. Your writing style and voice is your own.
And the best way to discover your own natural writing voice is by sitting down and writing (not reading what others have written).
Here are some tips to use reading to help you write a book while reading less:
Only read a chapter or two at night
Read in a genre different than your own (this helps avoid being influenced too heavily by another book)
Be intentional about what you read
Have designated reading time that doesn’t interfere with writing time
Stop reading for a while if you have very little spare time
Excuse #4 – You’re “not an expert.”
A lot of people get tripped up on this. They think, “Oh, I’m not really an expert on ___. I can’t write about that.”
The truth is that the whole concept of “expert” is very subjective. An amateur astronomer wouldn’t seem like an expert to Stephen Hawking…but to 99% of the rest of the world, they would be an expert.
You don’t need to know everything about your topic. As long as there’s a knowledge gap between you and the reader—and as long as you’re helping to fill that gap by teaching them the things they don’t know—then you’re expert enough to write a book.
So stop worrying about “not being an expert!” If you’re passionate and knowledgeable about a topic, then you are 100% qualified to write a book about it.
Excuse #5 – Your first draft must be flawless.
A draft is a work-in-progress, and the goal is simply to get it on paper. A draft will have mistakes and that’s okay—that’s what the self-editing process is for.
Even experienced professional writers who finished a book that ended up covered in the red pen of an editor or numerous red changes in a document, just like the one pictured below.
As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “Done is better than perfect.”
If it works for a multi-billion-dollar company, it should work for your first self-published book.
Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve already said, writing is hard work. But shedding these excuses should help get you into a positive frame of mind for the writing process.
#3 – Realize You Don’t Need to Be Perfect
The thought of writing a book causes many people to think, “I’m not a good enough writer. I need to do _____ before I start writing.”
You don’t need a writing mentor or coach (though it does help).
You don’t need to read thousands of good books.
You only need one thing: a system for finishing your book.
There’s no such thing as a perfect book or a perfect writer. When you get down to it, the most important distinction is between authors who finish their books and authors who don’t.
Don’t worry about being perfect. Just focus on your book, and your writing will get better and better over time.
As with anything we learn, writing is a skill. It requires practice to hone over time. So let go of the idea that you’re not good enough and work to improve by reading expert writing tips and practicing daily.
This will help you make the mindset switch from “I can’t” to “Let’s get this done!”
How to Write a Book Step 2: Pepare to Write a Book
Now it’s time to start your prep work. Before you start putting any words onto the page, you need to focus on a few important preparations.
Take the time to complete these steps and you’ll be setting yourself—and your new book—up for success.
#1 – Schedule Your Book Writing Time
Here are 3 things you can do to create your own customized book writing plan.
Without a plan, it’s too easy to let your book writing goals get pushed to the background, eventually fading into the soft mist of “someday.”
Step 1 – Develop a writing habit and plan it out
Don’t let your book end up in the graveyard of dreams. In order to realize your end goal, you need actionable steps to follow.
Assess what’s going on in your life in the next 30 days, then block out when you can write, and when you can’t. It’s common for new writers to set unrealistic time goals, which in turn generates stress when it’s impossible to meet those arbitrary deadlines.
Avoid this and stay realistic, since developing a writing habit is most important at this stage in learning how to write a book.
Thirty minutes (or even 5 minutes) spent writing is better than nothing, so resolve to make it happen and find the time.
If Laura could make it happen, then writing your book is certainly an attainable dream.
Step 2 – Choose the time of day you plan to write
You might decide to get up early and write before the obligations of your day crowd out your writing time. But if you’d win the gold medal in the Olympic sport of snooze-button slapping, then choose a different time or make sure you get to bed earlier so you’re fresh in the morning.
If your evenings are free, but your brain is mush and you’re only good for sinking deep into the couch cushions, then choose a different time or rearrange your schedule so you aren’t so burnt out in the evenings.
Alternatively, you can grab some time on your lunch break, or sneak small blocks of time into your workday, such as when you’re transitioning between activities, or waiting for a meeting to start.
Whatever time of day is convenient for you, stick with it so that it becomes a predictable part of your day. This will establish a writing habit.
You may be wondering: How do you choose a deadline when you have no idea how long the book-writing process will take?
One month is a good benchmark to start with. Self-Publishing School recommends writing until you hit a daily word count of 500-1,000 words, but this ultimately depends on how many words are in your book. If you can commit to an hour a day, you should be able to reach that goal. After 30 days of daily writing sessions, you will have completed a 30,000-word draft.
If you’re not sure how many words you should be aiming for, fill out the calculator below so you’re shooting for the right word count for your audience and genre based on industry standards.
Consistency is key. Small, consistent actions toward writing your book is how it comes to life.
If that schedule doesn’t work, then commit to a time period and a daily word count that does. It’s okay if that’s 15 minutes per day.
The ultimate goal is your rear end in the writing seat for that allocated period of time each day.
Share the end date of your first completed draft with others so you have extrinsic motivation to keep moving toward that finish line.
It’s a good idea to choose an editor for your book (before you finish your first draft) and schedule when you’ll have the completed first draft of the manuscript in that person’s hands.
That way, if you’re tempted to flake out and put off a writing session, that looming deadline can help keep you going.
#2 – Create Your Writing Space
The physical space where you write your book is important. If you try to write in an environment that’s too loud, too busy, or too cluttered, and you’ll find yourself getting frequently distracted.
True, some authors can write in a disheveled environment…
…but I suspect that most of these authors would become even more focused and productive if they cleaned up their writing space to make it easier to focus on their writing.
However, that’s just my opinion. The truth is that the “best” writing environment is going to be personal to you. We all work well in different settings, so with that in mind, consider these general guidelines to boost your productivity:
How to Start Writing Tip
- isolate yourself from family/friends/even the family dog - remind everyone it's YOUR time - Turn your phone off - Close ALL web browsers - Close your email
- invest in a GOOD chair - or resort to using a stand-up desk for more energy - fill the area with motivational quotes - make sure you're physically comfortable for the next 30 minutes or an hour
Choose Beneficial Background Noise
- turn off all sounds if it distracts you - turn on lyric-less music to help you concentrate - choose energizing music to help you focus
(To get the sound of a cafe from the comfort of home, check out Coffitivity.)
You might need to experiment to find the writing environment that allows you to focus and write freely.
Bottom line: Find the writing environment that makes you comfortable and go with it. Once you find the best creative process for you, you’ll even look forward to writing!
#3 – Equip Yourself with the Right Writing Tools
Would you try to construct a piece of furniture without a hammer, nails, or wood?
Of course not! You need the right tools for the job.
Well, the same principle applies when writing a book. And when it comes to writing, your most important tool is your choice of writing software.
Unfortunately, most people don’t really put much thought into which program they use to write their book. They just use whatever word processor they’re most familiar with.
But doing this can cause you to really miss out—especially if there’s another program out there that would work much better for you.
There are countless options out there, but most people end up using one of the “big 3” word processors:
We’ll cover all of them for you below.
If you just want a time-tested program that works, Word might be the program for you. It’s the most widely used word processor in the world, which means it’s highly reliable and consistent. It also provides a lot of formatting options and even has a navigation pane you can use to easily find the chapter you’re looking for.
One of the biggest downsides to Word is that it’s fairly expensive as far as word processors go.
If you like advanced features, definitely check out Scrivener. It was created specifically for authors, and it contains all sorts of tools that are really helpful for both fiction and nonfiction authors.
For example, you can use the corkboard view to organize how you’ll write your book using virtual notecards:
The biggest downside to Scrivener? Because of all the advanced features, it has a steeper learning curve than other word processors.
If you do decide to go with Scrivener, here’s a Scrivener tutorial for you to learn how to use it best:
You can think of Google Docs as sort of a “Word Lite” program that you can access online, for free. While it doesn’t boast as many features as Word or Scrivener, it’s the hands-down most convenient program out there for sharing and collaboration.
Because everything is stored online, you can access your work from anywhere. And it’s easy to share your work with others and collaborate by leaving comments in the margins:
The big downside to Google Docs? It lacks the more sophisticated features of Word and Scrivener.
Of course, these are only 3 options—there are many more great writing tools out there.
How to Write a Book Step 3: Actually Write Your Book
OK, we’ve got the preliminary stuff out of the way—time to sit down and actually write this thing!
This is an exciting part of the process…unfortunately, it’s also the part where many people get overwhelmed and give up.
But there’s good news: actually writing a book can be a lot easier than you think—if you have the right system. A system that guides you from your idea through your outline and all the way up to your final, polished, publication-ready draft.
Here are the most important things you need to do when writing your book.
What’s a topic you know a lot about or can’t stop talking about?
These are all great ways to come up with bestselling book ideas. In a nutshell, you’re trying to find topics that you’re knowledgeable or passionate about. Because these are the topics that you’re going to do a great job writing about!
Notice that I highlighted the question, “What do you get paid for? What’s your expertise?”
That’s because this is a particularly useful question for coming up with book ideas. A lot of people seem to forget that there is usually at least one topic on which they are a bona fide expert—and that’s their job!
It might not seem that exciting or special to you, because you’re so used to it, but to someone else who’s trying to learn what you already know…your job-related knowledge can seem very valuable indeed.
#2 – Don’t Censor Yourself
When you’re brainstorming ideas, don’t censor yourself. Just let the ideas flow. Realize that there is no such thing as a crazy idea. Anything can make a great book topic.
So don’t ever let yourself feel silly or start to judge yourself—doing so is a surefire way to stop your creativity in its tracks.
On the other hand, don’t feel bad if your topic sounds too commonplace either. Even if you’re writing about an age-old topic—like a weight loss book or a romance novel—that’s OK!
The truth is that there are no “new” ideas. Everything has been written about before.
But it hasn’t been written from your unique perspective. And that’s what really matters.
Realize that a writer’s job isn’t to come up with never-before-seen ideas. Doing that is pretty much impossible in this day and age.
Instead, a writer’s job is to explore topics from their own point of view. To lend their unique spin on them.
#3 – Take a Reader-Centric Perspective
While thinking of your book topic, here’s a piece of advice that I strongly recommend you follow:
Think from your reader’s perspective (not your own).
Many people are too self-centered when they write. When I say “self-centered,” I mean that they’re thinking only of themselves: their interests, their hobbies, their passions.
Yes, it’s true that those are great topics to explore when coming up with your book topic. But during this process, you’ll need to switch from a self-centered perspective to a reader-centered perspective.
Ask yourself questions like:
What would my reader be most interested in?
What would my reader most like to learn?
What are my reader’s biggest problems?
What’s the biggest question my readers are asking?
When you start to think this way, it becomes much easier to write your book in a way that provides immense value for the people who matter most—your readers.
#4 – Figure Out Which Book You Should Write First
By now you should have a long list of book topics. And you might be wondering, which topic should I write about first?
Here are a few tips to help you choose the best starting project:
Which one can you finish the fastest? Usually, this is the topic where you have the most experience. This is a good thing to keep in mind because the faster you can finish your book, the faster you can get it out in the world where it can earn you money and help people. (And the faster you can get started on your second book!)
Which one are you most likely to finish? Usually, these are the topics you are more passionate about. For your first book, I highly recommend choosing a topic that you’re really passionate about to help make sure that you’ll remain interested throughout the entire process.
Which one is going to make you happy? This is a little harder to define, but it might be something that strikes a chord with you. Maybe there’s a certain book topic that stands out for one reason or another. If that’s the case, then go for it! Remember, writing should make you
Now with these tips in mind, choose the topic for your very first book before proceeding to the next step.
#5 – Come Up With a Title
The most important words of your book are the ones that appear on the outside cover:
Your book title.
You don’t have to decide on your final title at this point, but your title is so important that it’s worth thinking about up-front. But knowing how to write a book title can be tricky.
Essentially, the way it works is you’ll create a mind map—sort of a brain dump with a line connecting related ideas together—on your book’s topic.
Start your BookMap by writing your intended topic in the center. From there, answer the questions and add as many related ideas as you can think of. (Again, connect related ideas with a line.) The BookMap gives you the benefits of writing in free-form and creating structure from all the connections you make.
Once you’ve completely filled out your BookMap, the next step is to group all the related ideas into categories. There’s no hard and fast rule for how to do this; just combine your ideas in the way that makes the most sense to you.
One way to do this is to rewrite each idea on a fresh piece of paper, this time grouped together in related topics. Or, you could simply use different-colored highlighters to categorize your ideas with different colors.
Either way, the result is the same: when you’re done grouping your ideas, those categories will form the outline for your book—each category is a new chapter. So now you know exactly which topics to write about, and you know which points to cover in every chapter of your book.
If you want a really easy book outline template to use, we’ve got one for you!
Just choose your type, fiction or nonfiction, submit your information and you’ll have a made-for-you book outline template complete with chapter-by-chapter structure assistance too.
#8 – Capture More Notes with The Sticky Note Method
You can use this method instead of the BookMap, or as a supplement to it.
For about a week, carry around sticky notes and write down anything and everything that crosses your mind regarding your possible book topics.
When the week is up, organize all your sticky notes into sections and themes. Then, organize these themes into the patterns that would make sense in the context of chapters of your book. You can then elaborate in areas where you notice missing pieces to the puzzle, and use all of the material you’ve gathered and organized to create an outline.
This method may be helpful if you’re struggling with the notion of committing to writing a whole book since it lets you break down the process into manageable pieces. The ultimate outcome of using this method is deeper thinking, clarity, and concise organization of thoughts and patterns.
#9 – Now Write Your Book…One Chapter at a Time
You now have a chapter-by-chapter outline for your book. The only thing left to do…is to actually sit down and write it!
There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to write your book. But there are some ways that are easier, faster, and more successful than others.
And in my experience, there’s one writing method that works better than any other. Here’s how it works:
Complete a mini-BookMap for that chapter, brainstorming everything you know about this topic. (10 minutes.)
Organize your ideas and turn that BookMap into an outline. (10 minutes.)
Write or speak the chapter by following the outline you just created. (45-60 minutes.)
Repeat this process, chapter by chapter, until your book is completed.
Steps 1 & 2 should be familiar by now—they’re the same steps you followed to create your overall book outline. You just repeat those steps on a smaller scale for each chapter.
Then in step 3, you have a choice: you can type out your chapter on a computer, or you can use a recording device & transcription service to dictate your chapter.
If you like the idea of dictating your book, rather than typing it out, here’s how to do it.
#10 – Speak Your Book
This method works well if you’re a strong speaker and you prefer speaking to writing. The ultimate outcome is that you can create your book draft as quickly as possible, with no actual “writing” on your part. Cool, huh?
Once your chapter outline is complete, the next steps are:
Speak your first draft aloud into a recording app or device such as Voice Memos or Audacity.
Get that audio file transcribed using a transcription service like Rev.
Read through the transcription and revise/polish it up.
As I mentioned, one of the benefits of this method is its speed. Just how fast can you write a first draft using speech dictation?
If you’re writing a nonfiction book specifically, this method will work great for you.
Well, if the average book is 15,000-25,000 words long, and if the average person speaks at about 150 words/minute, then you can easily speak your entire book in approximately 2-3 hours.
Of course, your spoken & transcribed book will need some polishing and revision to get it publication-ready. But it’s still the fastest way of writing a book I’ve ever come across.
#11 – Speed Up Your Writing
Writing faster means getting to publication—and to profits—that much sooner.
Try these pro tips to maximize your daily word count:
Flex your writing muscles each day. The more you work, the more efficient you’ll get. Create your writing routine and stick to it.
If you get stuck on a particular section and stop making progress, find a different part of the book that appeals to you today and write that section instead.
Planning and research can be necessary—or a method of procrastination. Limit your prep work to a reasonable timeframe so it won’t stop you from writing. Use a timer if it helps you stay on track.
An accountability partner can keep you on track. Set up weekly meetings to review work and cheer each other on.
How to Write a Book Step 4: Avoid Potholes Along the Way
If you’ve been following along with steps 1-3, then you’re in the process of writing your book. You’re working from a solid outline, which means you know exactly what to write in every single chapter.
So nothing could possibly go wrong…right?
Unfortunately, no. Even when you have a solid plan, a proven system, and a detailed outline, you can still get tripped up by some of these sneaky book writing roadblocks.
Luckily, I’ve got some tips to help you overcome the most common book writing problems.
#1 – Beat Writer’s Block
Writer’s block can rear its ugly head in many ways. For some, being blocked means no words at all, while for others, it means trying to nail down a functional draft in the midst of a tornado of swirling ideas.
Most of the time, writer’s block is a symptom of a paralyzing fear of others’ opinions.
The harsh reality is, if you write, at some point you’ll be on a first-name basis with a bout of the block. The only way to deal with it is to beat it.
Here are 8 methods I’ve found personally useful when fighting writer’s block:
Circle back to your BookMap or outline and see if there’s useful info that sparks fresh inspiration. Sometimes it just takes looking back at the bigger picture to remind you where you’re going with your draft.
Change up the physical way you’re writing; sometimes a simple shift can boost creativity. If you use a laptop, put pen to pad. Try some new music, a new location, or new beverage to sip at your desk.
If you find you start writing slowly and warm up as time goes on, allow adequate time during your writing sessions to get the creative juices flowing.
Review what you wrote yesterday to refresh your memory.
Talk it out. Sometimes a quick conversation with yourself is enough to work through writer’s block. Or call a friend and bounce some ideas off them if you’re truly stuck.
Remember that what you’re writing doesn’t need to be perfect—you’re writing a first draft. If you have a case of perfectionist syndrome, tell yourself it’s okay to write something you’ll think is terrible. Making something good is what second drafts and the editing process is for. Always remember: Done is better than perfect.
Go for a walk. You might be surprised at how a walk outside, or a brief bit of exercise, helps refresh and recharge your creative juices.
Read another author who has a style you like. Read their book for 10 minutes and then start typing, holding their voice in your head.
#2 – Don’t Edit While You Write
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You sit down to write and you bang out a page or two. Then you stop and reread what you just wrote. And instead of continuing, you go back and start editing those first few pages of writing.
In your mind, you’re just fixing up your work. You want everything to be just right before you continue on ahead.
But in reality, you’ve just stopped all your forward progress. You spend the next hour trying to make those pages PERFECT…and when perfect doesn’t happen, you get frustrated and stop writing.
Usually, when this sort of thing happens, it becomes very difficult to do any more writing. Why? Because writing and editing use different parts of your brains—and when you allow yourself to slip into a more critical/judgmental frame of mind, it becomes almost impossible to start creating again.
That’s why, even though editing is an important skill, you need to resist the urge to edit your work while you’re still writing.
Don’t start editing your book until AFTER you’ve already created the entire first draft.
#3 – Format Your Book Properly
Few things are more irritating than having to go back through your entire book to fix the formatting.
The take-home lesson? Think about how you want to format your book before you write it, and then be consistent. It’ll save you a lot of time in the long run.
And take the time to figure out how to format your book for publication. For example, did you realize that fiction and nonfiction books typically use different indentation styles?
Nonfiction books tend to use block paragraphs, like this:
Avoid using hard indents. (Don’t hit “tab” at the beginning of a new paragraph; instead, change the paragraph settings to automatically give each paragraph the indentation you want.)
Only use one space after a period. (Using 2 spaces was necessary with typewriters, but not with computers.)
If you want to create a page break, do not hit “Enter” repeatedly until you reach the next page. Instead, use the “Page break” function. This is the only way to ensure that your page break will work even after people resize your book on their Kindle.
#4 – Keep Going, & Don’t Stop—You’re Almost There!
Now you know not only how to get started writing your book, but how to complete your book project in a mere 90 days!
Remember to keep your WHY at the forefront of your mind, and you’ll be able to crush any and all obstacles that get in your way. If any of the common challenges or obstacles we’ve mentioned rear their ugly head, you’ll know how to deal with them.
With just a little bit of time and a lot of determination, you are on your way to officially calling yourself an author.
How to Write a Book Step 5: Launch Your Book Successfully
By this point, your book is completed—congratulations! You’ve done something that most people will never do.
You’ve written a book.
But you’re not done yet. Not quite. Because you still need to launch your book in a way that sets it up for success; in a way that maximizes your readers, your income, and your influence.
Unfortunately, most people who succeed in writing a book never get this whole “launch” thing figured out. They throw their book up on Amazon without really having a plan, and as a result, they get very few sales, make almost no money, and are frustrated at the lack of response to their work.
If you follow this simple launch plan, you can rest assured that your book will come out with a bang and will generate steady sales right out of the gate and for years to come.
#1 – Get a Good Cover
We all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But in reality, people do exactly that—all the time. And that’s why, if you want your book to sell, having a powerful book cover design is important.
Here are a few examples from some of my own books:
Notice a couple things. First of all, it’s orange—which helps it to stand out and grab attention. Second, it’s super-clear what the book is about. The title is in the upper third of the book in large print, so you can read it even in a thumbnail.
Both covers were designed using the same basic principles. They’re simple, bold covers that stand out. They also have subtitles that clarify exactly what the book is about.
Now this style of cover works great for my niche, but it won’t necessarily work for every type of book.
For example, it would make a terrible cover for a romance novel!
Why? Well, in short, it doesn’t look like a romance novel. Remember that part of a cover’s job is to tell people what the book is about. And in many genres of fiction and nonfiction, readers have come to expect a certain type of book cover.
In order to clearly communicate what your book is about to your ideal readers, you need it to fit in with their expectations—while also standing out enough to grab their attention. This is another reason why it pays to head over to the Amazon bestselling books list and study some of the most successful books in your genre.
What do those covers look like? Do they share a similar layout? Color scheme? Font style?
For example, if you were writing a romance novel, you would want to study these covers:
Find out what the most successful books in your genre look like, then imitate that look—but change it up just enough so that it stands out and grabs your readers’ attention. If you do not have the design ability to effectively do that, then consider hiring a professional cover designer from various places like 99designs or 100Covers.
Step 1 is pretty simple: you want them to read your book, leave a review, and share it with their own friends and family.
This is how you spread the word about a brand-new book when you don’t have an email list or a social media following.
Step 2 can vary from person to person. What do your friends & family get in return for helping you? In many cases, they get things like:
A free copy of your book
Their name mentioned in the “Acknowledgements” part of your book
The chance to be part of something inspiring
The personal satisfaction of helping to create something meaningful
As your launch team grows bigger, you might need to offer more than that. For example, maybe another person in your niche agrees to promote your new book to their email list—but in exchange, they want a percentage of your profit.
(This is called affiliate marketing, and it’s a great way to grow your audience and your revenue while letting somebody else do the marketing for you.)
But don’t worry about that for now. Just reach out to anyone you know who would be willing to support your first book launch and ask for their help.
#3 – Get Ongoing Reviews
If there’s one thing we know about the Amazon algorithm, it’s this:
It loves reviews.
One of the biggest indicators of success with self-publishing is getting Amazon reviews.
If you want your book to show up in search results and as a “Recommended” book when people are looking at similar products, you need to continue generating ongoing reviews to keep the algorithm happy.
When you do, your book will start to show up at the top of Amazon results:
Reviews are a fantastic form of social proof. They’re a credibility sign that lots of people have read your book and loved it—and that makes other people more likely to want to read it, too.
But you have to be careful about how you go about trying to get Amazon reviews. For example, you can get in big trouble if you try to pay for reviews, swap reviews with other authors, or offer free gifts in exchange for reviews.
You can solicit reviews, but they cannot be “incentivized” reviews.
The best way to learn how to write a bestselling book is to get help from somebody who’s been there before.
People often ask me how I was able to make so much money and sell so many copies of my very first book. And I always tell them the same thing:
Because I sought out a mentor. Someone to teach me a proven book-writing process that had been tried and tested. A book-writing system that was almost guaranteed to work, as long as I followed it properly.
Well, that’s the real secret to my success as an author. I sought out the help I needed to give my very first book a major head-start.
My Final Tip for Learning How to Write a Book
And now I’m sharing the opportunity to learn from someone who’s mastered writing and self-publishing books with you. To learn from a mentor who can help you achieve your dream of writing and publishing your very first book.
If you want to finish your book, you need a roadmap. That’s why I’m sharing some of the best strategies and tricks other bestselling authors paid thousands of dollars to get — yours FREE→
So you have a killer book idea….the next step is taking that small idea and learning how to mindmap for a book in order to set yourself up for success.
Coming up with a writing prompt or story idea that both will interest you and drive sales is probably the hardest part of self-publishing. But that doesn’t mean the process of taking that idea and turning it into a book will be easy.
The first major step in that process is mindmapping, and in this blog, we’re going to explain the best ways of how to mindmap for a book.
One might wonder why mindmapping is even necessary. First-time authors may find it tedious or boring while other full-time writers might be talented enough to get away with it.
Mindmapping may not be essential to a successful rough draft, but it makes getting to a refined manuscript a whole lot easier.
For a fun relatable metaphor, I would compare it to grocery shopping.
Do you really go to the grocery store without a plan or list of things to buy? Do you aimlessly walk up and down the aisles and just throw whatever looks good into the cart?
Maybe if you’re 10, and Mom’s buying, but most people would probably say they went to the store with the intention to buy certain items. In this comparison, the prepared list before heading to the store is your mindmap.
And from your mindmap, you create your book outline.
For that step, check this out:
Book Outline Template Generator
We’ve already put the brunt work in, creating front matter, and a fill-in-the-blank style book outline template that’s easy to use.
It even has guidance for what to cover in what chapters in order to plot a really good book readers will love.
Fill in your information below to get your outline 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.
Without your grocery list, it will take a lot longer walking up and down every aisle to make sure you have everything you want and need in your cart. There’s also a greater possibility that you forget something that you actually do need, and you won’t notice until you’re home.
You can also check out the training below in order to not on understand the importance of this step, but to get a better idea of what you need to set your book up for success:
#1 – Mindmapping helps organize thoughts of your book
After you initially devise the main idea or theme of your book, there’s probably a ton of loose thoughts in your mind of what you want to include.
Before losing them in the cobwebs of your head, write them down in your mindmap!
Mindmapping is all about getting every single, teeny-weeny thought or concept written down on paper. Then you can begin organizing which thought goes where.
Doing this as you write is nearly impossible. Mindmapping helps get all your thoughts on one subject together in one place. That way, they are all grouped together in your book, and you didn’t forget any (like when you forgot to buy peanut butter at the grocery store).
#2 – Mindmapping begins to naturally carve out book chapters
When authors perform the grouping part of mindmapping, they are actually beginning to form the chapters of their book. This happens so seamlessly, that they might not even realize it!
If you tried to skip mindmapping and subsequently, outlining, and just began writing the rough draft, you might not know where to begin.
Well, after mindmapping, because you wrote out all of your thoughts of every idea you had on each topic, you now know which topics are the most important and have the most supporting information.
Start your book with those bigger topics. When you make a switch in topics during your writing, you know it’s time to begin a new chapter.
As I said in the grocery store example, it’s much easier to forget an item that you need in the refrigerator if you’re just aimlessly walking around the store looking for what you need.
If that’s how you approach your book, you will likely forget to discuss a topic or make a point that you wanted.
Devising a plan for your book through mindmapping helps guarantee that doesn’t happen. It also pushes you to continue brainstorming. You may believe you already have enough to cover a certain subject, but going through the mindmapping process will push you to think of even more great ideas to include when writing your book.
Now that you understand the importance of mindmapping, let’s dive into how to mindmap for a book.
Choose Your Method of Mindmapping Your Book
After learning the three key aspects of why mindmapping is necessary to write a strong manuscript, you’re ready to begin your mindmap.
Now, there are essentially two different ways to mindmap. Let’s dive into each one!
The two different ways to mindmap for a book:
Bubble maps on printer paper
Post-it notes on a bulletin board
Each author should choose the mindmap technique that makes them feel the most comfortable.
Self-Publishing School teaches to avoid using a computer when performing the mindmap phase. I couldn’t agree more.
Surely, it can be done on a laptop or a tablet, especially an interactive one where the user can use his fingers to write and draw. But I find a good, old-fashioned paper and pencil to be the best way to mind map.
You can also use post-it notes if that’s your preferred style.
Mindmap Option #1 – Bubble map on printer paper
The last real requirement before beginning is a piece of paper without lines. Printer paper would work best. Because of the added flexibility of erasing, I would also advise a pencil instead of a pen, but that’s my preferred use of writing utensil anyway.
On the first piece of paper, write your book topic (make it as general as possible) real big in the middle and circle it.
Next, take the more specific topics and put them in smaller circles around the big circle in the middle of the page. Draw a line from each little circle to the big, center circle.
Now, you have the beginning of your mindmap. More than likely, each of those smaller circles are going to turn into your chapters. Essentially, you’re creating a roadmap for your rough draft.
Here are the keys to successful first bubble midmap:
Make your central topic in the biggest circle as general as possible.
The reasons you want to write the book or important arguments you want to present will make the best topics in the second-tiered bubbles.
Continue your roadmap, writing key aspects to include for each topic to fill out the mindmap.
When you’re finished, you are going to have something that looks a little like this:
How to Mindmap For Your Book Using the Bubble Method
Everyone has slightly different methods for mindmapping a book. What I’m taking you through is my experience, plus some tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Keep in mind that this is just a base. The real benefit comes from making this process your own and finding what works.
If someone asked me what my book was about, I would be a lot more specific than that, but start very general in the mindmap.
Staying general allows the secondary bubbles—the ones that directly link to your very general topic—to be the main subjects of the chapters in the book.
#2 – Secondary Topics Are Your Central Arguments
More than likely, the general topic is what the subject that you love, but your central arguments are the secondary topics of your mindmap.
They are also what is going to make your book unique.
Returning to my book as an example, I wanted to write a book about the James Bond film series. But many people have done that.
What makes my book unique is the secondary bubbles on my mindmap surrounding the generic topic. Those were the central arguments to my book, and eventually, they became my chapters.
#3 – Branch off from your secondary topics
Referencing my mindmap example again, you can see that each secondary bubble then has multiple bubbles of thoughts coming out of it.
This is where you start to see a “road” for your rough draft.
I wrote down every possible idea I had on each of my topics that links to my general subject. I basically kept writing and making more road until I ran out of paper.
A lot of the ideas I wrote here were already in my head, but I also came up with new ideas through the process of mindmapping.
I never would have came up with all of these concepts if I hadn’t taken the time to mindmap.
How to Mindmap Your Book With the Post-it Notes on Bulletin Board Method
The other way to construct a mindmap is with post-it notes on a bulletin board or wall. If you love post-it notes, this may be the best way for you.
The keys to a successful post-it notes map is the same as the bubble map. The only change is in the display.
In the above example, each big piece of paper with a number in the middle marks a chapter and certain topic pertaining to your larger, general subject. Each colored post-it note applies to a chapter and is the same as the third-tiered bubbles from my own mindmap.
Both techniques will work. You choose which one is best for you!
After completing your first mindmap, you want to repeat this process for every chapter.
The post-it notes picture above is the beginning of the next step of the process, which is then mindmapping each chapter. If you prefer the printer paper mindmapping technique, then repeat the exact same mindmap except plug your more specific topic in the middle.
This allows you more space and enables you to get even more detailed with your roadmap.
Notice how I included even more details off the “masculinity” bubble in this mindmap than I did in the first one. The main mindmap was definitely a good starting point, but then diving into a mindmap for each major topic or chapter pushed me to brainstorm even further.
This will have the same affect on you and place you well on the path of writing a well organized rough draft.
Tip: Another way to think of your mindmap is to think backward from the outlining phase, which comes directly after the mindmap.
While the bubble roadmap and the post-it bulletin board are the most popular mindmaps, there are other techniques you could try! Here’s one more example of a mindmap:
Yes, this looks more like a book outline than mindmap, but if you feel more comfortable with a list like this, then do that.
There’s no right or wrong to mindmapping. The important part is to really begin brainstorming that great book idea and begin organizing your thoughts into possible chapters.
Last big key to a mindmap? Remember, it’s going to change
Let’s return to our grocery store list analogy to end our blog. Even with the best, most-detailed shopping list, we all tend to deviate from it sometimes. Whether an item that you don’t necessarily need is on sale or you find a different brand for cheaper price, audibles to the shopping list happen.
Keep that in mind when you’re mindmapping. This isn’t going to be EXACTLY how your final draft will go. The mindmap process is just supposed to place authors on a road to an organized and well thought-out first draft.
Lucky for me, I didn’t give up on writing a book just because I didn’t know how to do it. Instead I sought out a mentor who knew what they were doing—and his advice helped me to write my first book and make it a huge success.
I’ve continued to use that system for all my subsequent books, which has helped me to write my books in just a fraction of the time it takes many other writers.
Now I’m paying it forward and sharing that advice with you.
Download Your Book Outline Template
We really did create an easy, fill-in-the-blank style book outline template in Google Docs for you to use.
All you have to do is fill out the information below and get your outline, complete with front and back matter, along with resources to guide you through the chapter-by-chapter outline.
Book Outline Template Generator
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Book Outline Template Generator
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In the meantime, check out our Book Outline Challenge.
The BookMap is the key to getting your book project off the ground in just a few hours. It’s a template you can follow to quickly pull together all the subjects you want to write about and organize them into topics that will become the chapters of your book.
Step 1: Print out the BookMap and have a few clean sheets of paper ready.
Step 2: Use the BookMap template to draw your own map with everything you know about that topic.
Step 3: Organize those sections to form your book outline.
(Note: don’t let your ideas hold you back! It may be a little difficult to fit all your ideas onto one page and that’s totally normal. Don’t think smaller just because you have less space :).
Now let’s dive into each step in a little more detail.
Outline a Book Using The BookMap Step 1: Choose Your Book Topic
First things first: you have to download the BookMap. There are 2 versions of this (free) download—one for fiction books and one for nonfiction books.
As you can see, the BookMap is a kind of mind map that’s been pre-filled with the most relevant questions you’ll need to answer to write your book. And no matter which version of the BookMap you’re using, you’ll notice that the center question is the same:
What’s your book topic?
So first, go ahead and choose a topic. What do you want your book to be about?
For a nonfiction book, this could anything that…
Is a hobby of yours
Is related to your occupation
You are passionate about
You consider yourself an expert on
You’re curious to learn more about
And for a fiction book, think about what you’re inspired to write! Do you love mysteries, or coming-of-age stories? Are you fascinated with a particular event in history, a specific person, or a concept that can be dramatized in a novel?
Another tip is to think about the kind of books you love to read. That’s usually a good indication that you will enjoy writing that kind of book. If you love reading romances novels or science fiction books, then try writing one yourself! Because you’re familiar with the genre, you’ll be able to shortcut the learning curve and will probably be surprised by how great a story you can write in your very first try.
Once you have a topic, move on to step 2:
Outline a Book Using The BookMap Step 2: Fill Out the BookMap
Now that you have a topic for your book, the next step is to brainstorm everything you know about that topic by filling out the BookMap. This will help you get all the most important and relevant ideas down on paper, making them much easier to work with.
Here are some of the most important prompts to answer when you’re writing a book:
BookMap Prompts for a Nonfiction Book
What problems are you helping people to solve? A lot of people make the mistake of writing about themselves—the things they love, the things they find interesting—without stopping to consider what the reader wants.
What are your reader’s problems and frustrations? How can you help them to solve those problems with this book?
Example: I know from experience that new moms have a hard time losing that baby weight—especially since you’ve got a little infant taking up all your time now. So I’m going to help new moms overcome this frustrating situation with a book that will help them make smarter choices in the kitchen and ultimately, feel better about themselves.
Lessons you’ve learned: Think about how you have personally grown over the years, as it relates to this topic. What are the biggest things that you’ve learned?
How have your views changed and evolved over time? This can be an insightful thing to brainstorm, since it can help you get a better idea of where your readers are probably at right now and some of the challenges they’re facing.
Example: One thing I learned in the process of losing my baby weight is that you can’t beat yourself up every time you make a mistake. Doing that will only lead to more emotional eating!
Stories & examples: People learn best from hearing stories about real people overcoming real problems. What stories can you remember that will help you to illustrate your points more effectively?
Example: My friend Mindy tried to lose her weight through exercise alone, without changing her diet. And she continued to gain weight—until she finally realized that she needed to change the foods she was putting in her body.
Ideas to explore: What concepts or themes can you bring up in your book? Does your topic relate to any deep ideas or universal truths that might resonate with your readers?
Example: One idea I want to explore is the importance of self-esteem. Yes, it’s important to be at a healthy weight…but what really matters is the way you feel about yourself—no matter what the scale says!
Other books you’ve read: Have you read any other books on the topic? If so, did those books have any helpful messages you can include in your book?
Example: In Dr. Berg’s book The New Body Type Guide, he talks about how your hormones can impact your body shape. This could be a helpful thing for women to learn about, so they can realize not everything is under their control.
Topics to research: Are there any other topics you would like to include in your book, but you might need more time to learn more about? If so, make a note of them so you can remember to do a little research.
Example: I’d like to do more research on insulin and learn more about how carbohydrates affect fat storage.
Frequently asked questions: Are there common questions, myths, or misconceptions about your topic that people have? If so, your book gives you a great way to bust those myths and enlighten people with the truth. Try to think up at least a few common misconceptions.
Example: “Should I avoid eating fat?” This is a common question for many women. Some people think that eating fat will make you fat…but the truth is, eating healthy fats can actually help keep you feeling fuller, longer so you can stick to your diet.
Ready to get started outlining your non-fiction book?
BookMap Questions for a Fiction Book
Main characters: Who are the main characters in your story? Flesh them out and start to learn more about who they are and what their purpose is in your story. Make sure to include your protagonist, antagonist, and any important supporting characters.
Example: Sarah is a stubborn teenage girl who becomes convinced that her neighbor is a serial killer.
Background: Explore your important characters’ backgrounds. Where were they born? What was their childhood like? What’s the educational level? What are their beliefs? Where do they work? Flesh out your characters until they start to feel like real people.
Example: Sarah was betrayed by her best friend in 5th grade, and as a result she has a hard time trusting people.
Character development: How does each character change and grow (or regress) during the course of the story? What causes this change to occur, and what effect does it have on the other characters?
Example: Sarah learns to trust other people which helps her to escape from the killer and bring him to justice.
Theme: What larger ideas do you want to explore in this book? Betrayal, love, friendship? How do the events of your story shed a new light on these concepts?
Example: I want to explore the concept of trust, and why you can’t always do it alone in life.
Scene & setting: Where do your story take place? Is it a real location, a historical one, an invented one? Be sure to think about different factors like the climate, geography, culture, and government. How do these things affect the characters in your story?
Example: Sarah lives in a wealthy suburb where crime like this is very uncommon, which makes it that much more terrifying to Sarah’s parents.
Major events: What are the big turning points that take place in your story? Your best bet is to brainstorm a long list of dramatic events so you can choose the options that fit best in your story.
Example: At one point, Sarah sneaks into the neighbor’s house looking for clues—and she discovers a bloody knife in the basement! Before she can get out, however, she hears the front door open upstairs…
Climax: The climax is where your story reaches a crisis point. Tension and drama are at their highest, and the protagonist faces his or her worst fears—and they either succeed, or fail, for good. Don’t lock yourself into one climax here. Instead, brainstorm a few possible climax ideas so you can choose the best one.
Example: At the story’s climax, Sarah is forced to trust her new friend Alex to help her escape from the killer’s basement.
Conclusion: Your conclusion takes place after the climax, at the very end of your book. What happens to your characters when it’s all said and done? Do they live happily ever after, or face a tragic end? Once again, feel free to brainstorm several possibilities. You don’t have to lock yourself into one ending just yet.
Example: It’s a happy ending for Sarah, who survives the killer and grows as a person. But the ending is bittersweet because of all the tragedy the killer has left in his wake.
Ready to get started writing your fiction book?
Outline a Book Using The BookMap Step 3: Organize Common Topics into Sections
The final step in this process is to look at your BookMap and combine all the related topics into sections. Those sections will become the chapters of your book.
There are a couple of ways to do this.
You could write them out on a separate piece of paper, keeping them organized by section. Or you could use different colored highlighters to connect the ideas in your BookMap visually.
No matter how you choose to do it, the idea is the same: combine all the related ideas together.
Nonfiction example:Maybe you have an anecdote that would serve as a great example for one of the lessons you want to share. In that case, group those 2 things together—they deserve to be in the same chapter.
Fiction example: Maybe one of your character traits really seems to resonate with one of the themes you want to explore in your book. If so, group those 2 things together—this way you’ll know to use that character trait as a way of exploring that theme in your novel.
Once you’re done with Step 3, step back and take a look at what you’ve completed.
Phew! Step 2 is a long one, I know. But trust me—by answering those questions, you just took a MAJOR step forward in completing your book.
You now have all the topics you need to write your outline.
Let’s dive into exactly what these writing blogs have to offer and why you should be paying close attention to them if you want to improve your writing, start your book, and publish it on Amazon (or wherever else you want to publish it through)!
There are a lot of different avenues writers have to be aware of when it comes to building a successful career from their work.
And Write to Done gives you just that!
Being both a creative writing blog along with covering nonfiction writing, Write to Done teaches you how to master a number of different techniques and habits geared toward helping you succeed in the literary world.
You don’t want to miss out on all the writing advice they have to offer along with motivational material to help you keep it up.
The Write Practice is a massive source of helpful information for writers everywhere. They cover writing blog posts touching on topics revolving around key writing practices, writing exercises, and even writing prompts to get your mind stirring.
You won’t be without help with The Write Practice.
Not only do they offer free help through their blog posts, but they also have programs, writing contests, and help involving your author platform in general.
All of these writing blogs have something unique to offer that you won’t find any anywhere else. When it comes to learning any craft – especially writing – it’s important to broaden your search and learn as much as you can from as many talented minds as you can.
What if you knew you could share the story inside you with an audience excited to hear your every word?
There’s a way to up your levels of success before ever writing the first word or your book. Actually, for some people, it’s even easier to up their chances of success than it is to write the book.
Let me explain…
When people hear I’ve written a book they often respond with, “I’ve always wanted to write a book!”
The next phrase is usually something along the lines of, “I’m terrible at writing.”
And in the back of their minds, the other hesitancy might be, “Who would even read it?”
It’s a scary thing to sit down and stare at a blank screen.
It’s intimidating to write that first sentence.
“What if I never make it to the last sentence?”
“What if nobody cares if I do end up finishing?”
Perhaps the biggest question of all: “What if no one reads it?”
These are real questions. Questions I’m here to answer.
It all comes down to branding.
A few decades ago books sold based on the quality of the writing. While that’s still true today, often books are sold based on the platform of the person writing the book. That’s where branding comes in.
If you’re in college maybe your brand is sweatpants and too much coffee, late-night Instagram stories, and weekend adventures.
If you’re in the world of business, maybe your brand is pristine suits, important meetings, and networking with the right people.
Either way, this is your passive brand. It’s the self you portray to the world without really thinking about it.
Of course, you considered what to wear this morning. You saw the still kinda clean shirt on your dorm room floor and decided to wear that to the exam.
Or you chose the darker suit to wear to your business meeting because you didn’t want to stand out too much. You probably made sure it matched your pants (always a good thing!).
But you probably didn’t think about it much more than that. And that’s ok!
Regardless of what you put on this morning, let’s talk about how personal branding can be the difference between writing a book and writing a book people read.
#2 – Active Author Branding
Active brand is the part of you that you intentionally choose to let the world see.
There are ways to do portray yourself that will greatly impact the influence you have. Influence brings followers.
Followers turn into fans.
Fans turn into avid readers…who leave you 5-star reviews that allow more readers to find you.
The following tips will help you develop intentional author branding.
#3 – Developing Your Author Voice
Your author voice is important. After all, it’s what the world hears from you. Yes,
you can alter this if you want to, but we recommend leaning into your natural voice so the you you’re showing the world is authentic and real.
Countless factors determine your voice:
Stage of life
Who you hang out with
Your past experiences
All of these and more play into your personal voice.
It’s how you talk, in person and online. It’s how you communicate to the people around you. The type of punctuation you choose. Even the emojis that consistently stay in the time box in your messages.
All of this factors into your voice.
But using voice to intentionally create your active brand goes a long way in establishing yourself.
If you don’t know what your specific voice is, go through some of the recent texts you sent your friends. Next time you grab coffee with someone, take note of how you naturally communicate with them. That’s your voice.
The next step is to implement that voice across all platforms. The social media outlets you use. The blog you run. The conversations you have.
People want to hear what you have to say, but more importantly, how you say it. They want to know you, not just the knowledge you bring.
#4 – Discovering Themes in Branding
Next up are themes.
These themes seem to run through your life and your writing.
When identifying the themes of your life here are some questions to ask:
What opportunities do you jump at the chance to volunteer for?
What type of movies do you regularly choose to see?
What books do you read?
What type of people do you choose to hang out with?
What stories do you love re-telling from your past?
These are the themes you’re passionate about. These are the themes that should dominate and infiltrate your writing.
Because readers can tell when you’re passionate about what you’re writing and when you’re not. Passionate writing engages readers.
Writing is a skill you can never be the “best” at. You will always be able to grow and expand on your writing skills. Once you’ve reached what you believe is your very best, there is still mountains more you can improve upon.
If you’re like me (and almost all writers out there), you likely struggle with insecurity in your writing. Us writers have a tendency to focus on the bad without knowing how to make it better, and this can often cost us our writing motivation.
If you’re ready to learn tips like the famous “show don’t tell” and more, keep reading, or check out the video below!
How to Improve Writing with Tips for Writing a Book
In order to improve your writing skills, you have to commit to writing as much as you can, using different writing exercises, and reading often. You have to form a writing habit in order to do this.
But there is good news about this.
Your writing skills are not stagnant. They change and grow as you do.
Think of it as running. The more you run and train, the better you become. It can be really hard to write a book at first but as you learn new techniques, how to use literary devices, and new methods for making it easier, you become a stronger, better runner.
Writing is exactly the same.
The way you improve your writing skills is by making a commitment to you, your work in progress, and all the people who can benefit from your book.
Being a good beginner writer is about learning the craft of writing and learning specific techniques that make writing good in the first place.
In fact, becoming a good beginner writer is all about reading as much as you can and writing as much as you can. This is what will help you recognize those literary elements you can then replicate and make your own when writing and editing.
Just like I mentioned above, the more you can write, the better you will get, and this makes publishing your book and showing it to the world much easier.
But it’s also about consuming content about becoming a better writer, like podcasts, blog posts, and videos around the craft of writing.
Once you know how people interpret different events, messages, and themes, you can weave them into your book so it has more impact when they’re finished reading.
And for the fiction writers out there, psychology helps you create real and lifelike characters that leave readers itching to turn that page and read more about them and their journey.
Writing Tips Action Step:
In order to accurately research for your book, think about what you want your readers to take away from each chapter, and then the book as a whole.
Then research how real people interpret those specific messages.
If you want readers to feel inspired during a certain part of your book, research “psychology of inspiration” and read how one can build up to feel inspired and even how it affects their outlook in order to better craft the next chapters.
Writing Tip #4 – Write as often as you can
Even if all you’re writing is a paragraph, it’s better than not writing at all.
And if you can’t add on to your book for whatever reason (maybe a lack of an outline?), then write something else.
Here are a few ways you can utilize this writing tip by writing something else:
Spend 15 minutes listening to music that reminds you of your book to get you in the zone
Tell all your friends/family to leave you alone for writing time
As mentioned above, the more you write, the better you get. But you can’t write if you’re constantly checking your phone, email, or watching TV.
Writing Tip #6 – Research storytelling and story structure
This is largely for the fiction writers out there, but all writers can benefit from this writing tip of improving your storytelling.
Storytelling and writing are not the same things.
Writing is the way in which you describe what’s happening within the story. The story itself is a whole other piece of the puzzle – and is arguably the most important piece.
When you have a story idea worth writing, there’s a few things to remember.
Here are our top writing tips for learning the craft of storytelling:
Study comedians – the reason comedy is, well, funny is because comedians know how to tell stories in a way that keep us on the edge of our seat, and then they surprise us, which often initiates the laughter.
Learn from great storytellers – Stephen King is one of the best storytellers of all time. He has a book, On Writing, that touches on this craft. Give it a read for some of the best writing tips you’ll find.
Read as much as you can – Writers learn how to write through reading. The more you read, and the wider variety of genres, the more you’ll naturally pick up on the art of storytelling.
Get feedback on your stories – This is the hardest, but most crucial writing tip to help you improve. You have to understand your weaknesses in order to make them stronger. Ask friends and family for help in order to learn how to make your stories better.
Writing Tips Action Step:
Read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos about the art of crafting a story.
Another great way to learn the ins and outs of storytelling is to watch great comedians. The reason they can make you laugh is how they craft what they’re saying.
Notice the pauses, when they speed through what they’re saying, and how they deliver that final line.
These are all techniques you can use on a larger scale when writing your book.
Writing Tip #7 – Always get feedback
This will always be the hardest, but most important part of improving your writing. Of all the writing tips to take and execute, this is the best one.
It’s very difficult to gauge your own writing – because you wrote it.
This is much like trying to tickle yourself. It just doesn’t work because you’re the person doing it and is much more effective when someone else does it.
That’s why the beta reading process is so vital. It’s when you let others read your book in order to gain feedback from people in your intended audience.
That’s what it’s like for your writing. You need an outside set of eyes on your work.
Do you have any predictions about what will happen?
Do you have any feedback I didn’t ask you about?
Writing Tip #8 – Focus on new ways to phrase common visuals
One of the best ways you can strengthen your creativity is by consciously thinking about how you can describe common things in new, interesting ways.
You want to make people see that common item or situation or visual in a brand new light.
The way you can do this is to pause when you’re describing something in your writing and think to yourself, “how else can I explain this to create a stronger emotional impact?”
Here’s an example of this writing tip if you’re still a little confused:
“The sun set behind the trees and the world fell quiet.”
Is this a bad way to describe a sunset and night beginning? No. However, you can easily get more creative about how to illustrate this to readers through words.
“Night yanked the horizon over the sun, silencing the world with its absence.”
This is saying relatively the same thing, but in a way that stops and makes someone appreciate the way in which it was crafted.
Writing Tip #9 – Practice writing in your head
This might sound a bit confusing, so let me elaborate.
When you look at the world, how do you see it? Probably the same way everyone else does.
Here’s an example of how you can practice writing – but only in your own head. This can help you learn how to craft your prose to read in a beautiful, elegant fashion while also being unique and interesting to readers.
Right now, I’m looking out my window into the backyard. It has snow, the trees are bare, and the sky is a muted gray at the horizon, fading to a very faint blue as you look higher up.
This is a very typical visual for winter (especially in Wisconsin).
Now, in order to practice writing without writing, all you have to do is start describing what you see in prose that you would write in your own head.
“Stillness hung in the air thicker than Christmas morning eggnog, the ground covered in a thin sheet of white speckled with brown where the snow failed to make its mark. Bare branches reached toward the absent sun, reluctantly accepting the gray of winter in its place.”
This example is more prose than reality, but this is how you can sharpen those skill by just thinking in this way.
Notice the world around you in the way you would write it in a book.
The more you practice this when you’re on the subway, making dinner, or even watching your family and friends interact, the easier it will be to write those situations in your book.
Think like a writer in order to become a better one.
Writing Tip#10 – Use strong language
This writing tip can completely transform your writing for the better.
It’s the single best way to make your writing more captivating without really adding anything new. You just simply have to replace weak language with stronger, more descriptive writing.
This can take some time to get used to but the more you do it, the easier it will get.
So how do you recognize weak language?
Here are some mistakes to look for in your writing to utilizing this writing tip:
Passive voice –Passive voice is any use of a “to be” past participle. Now, that’s just a fancy way of saying that if you have something was done by something, it’s passive voice. An example of this is: “The chicken was beheaded by the farmer.” That is passive voice, whereas, “The farmer beheaded the chicken.” is active voice.
Weak verbs – These are the basic, non-detailed version of better verbs. An example would be, “She walked to the store.” In this case, “walked” is the weak verb. You can use another form of this verb to create a stronger visual for your reader. Here’s what that would look like: “She strutted to the store.”
Emotion explaining – Using words that are emotions in your writing is a pretty clear indicator you have to show and not tell. Saying, “She was scared,” is telling. You can create a better experience for the reader by showing that she’s scared through body language, dialogue, and description.
We even make it simpler for you with our strong verbs list. It has over 200 strong verbs and includes the common weak verbs you can replace.
Writing Tips Action Step:
Fill out your information for instant access to your strong verbs list of over 300+ verbs to use!
Writing Tip #11 – Just write to write
Forget about your goals. Forget about how anyone else will interpret what you’ve wrote and just write.
Do it for you. Write what you like and what makes you happy.
Don’t think about the future or publishing or where you’re going from here. Just grab that outline, sit down, and write because it’s fun.
Believe it or not, this frees up a lot of mental space and allows you to write without thinking too much, which often helps you write better.
One of the best writing tips I ever received was to always have a side project going on, something you have no intention of ever publishing. This is where your real writing happens.
It’s a place for you to experiment, discover your writing voice, and learn what you truly love to write while still working on your main project and accomplishing those goals.
Writing Tips from Famous Authors
What better way to improve your writing than to practice writing tips from those who have mastered the craft?
Here are our top writing tips from professional writers like Stephen King, JK Rowling, and even Margaret Atwood.
#1 – “Just do it.”
Much like we mentioned above, Margaret Atwood is a huge advocate of diving right in and just writing, despite your fears, insecurities, or lack of direction.
“I think the main thing is: Just do it. Plunge in! Being Canadian, I go swimming in icy cold lakes, and there is always that dithering moment. ‘Am I really going to do this? Won’t it hurt?’
And at some point you just have to flop in there and scream. Once you’re in, keep going. You may have to crumple and toss, but we all do that. Courage! I think that is what’s most required.”
As someone who has made waves with a number of her novels, including the masterpiece that landed her an entire TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale, she is someone you want to take advice from—especially now that Margaret Atwood’s Masterclass is available.
#2 – “You’ve got to work for it.”
Much to every writer’s dismay, books don’t actually write themselves. If there was a special machine we could plug into our brain that would spit out a perfect copy of the story inside our minds, we would all opt for that instead of sitting down and plucking away at the keyboard.
But that’s not a reality (at least not yet).
Someone who knows the value of hard work when it comes to writing is J.K. Rowling. Perhaps you’ve heard of her?
“You’ve got to work. It’s about structure. It’s about discipline. It’s all these deadly things that your school teacher told you you needed…
You need it.”
As hard as it can be, Rowling’s advice is as sound as any. Work for your book. Work hard so others can benefit from the worth you’re holding onto.
#3 – “Write for yourself first.”
Stephen King has an entire memoir-ish that doubles as writing tips simply because writing has been nearly his entire life.
One of the best lessons King says he ever learned was from a newspaper editor he worked for while he was in high school (which he discusses in his memoir/writing book On Writing) and he has maintained that voice in his head throughout each work he writes.
“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.
Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.”
On Writing by Stephen King continues to be a source of inspiration and help for writers everywhere. King has a way of pulling you in and giving you the BS-free advice all writers want – and, in most cases, desperately need.
#4 – “Quantity will make up for quality.”
Ray Bradbury is one of the most quoted authors out there. He shares his methods for writing and how to actually succeed in this industry.
His best advice, in my opinion, comes from his book Zen in the Art of Writing, where he says you have to schedule the time to write – and write daily because quantity will make up for quality.
In fact, quantity is what leads you to quality.
“Michelangelo’s, da Vinci’s, Tintoretto’s billion sketches, the quantitative, prepared them for the qualitative, single sketches further down the line, single portraits, single landscapes of incredible control and beauty.”
In essence, the more you practice writing, the better you’ll become and that makes all the difference when it comes to separating yourself form other writers.
#5 – “Tell the truth.”
Miss Angelou is an inspiration to writers everywhere. She’s a personal favorite of mine and her quotes and advice for both writing and life has always spoken to me on a different level than others.
One of the best writing tips I’ve read of her is the fact that you have to write the truth.
“I look at some of the great novelists, and I think the reason they are great is that they’re telling the truth.
The fact is they’re using made-up names, made-up people, made-up places, and made-up times, but they’re telling the truth about the human being—what we are capable of, what makes us lose, laugh, weep, fall down, and gnash our teeth and wring our hands and kill each other and love each other.”
When you have a truth worth sharing, writing becomes easier, more meaningful, and therefore more impactful for those reading it.
This ties into our writing tip above about writing what you want to read. Focus on telling your truth.
#6 – “You can’t edit a blank page.”
Are you sensing a theme within these writing tips yet?
Even Jodi Picoult agrees that you can’t become a better writer if you never write.
“You can always edit a bad page.
You can’t edit a blank page.”
The best of all writing tips is this one. You have to actually write if you want to get better because great writing doesn’t happen on the first try. It happens on the second, fifth, and even tenth.
You first have to write the words in order to make them better.
You’ll try to decide whether you’re emotionally, financially, and physically ready to take the plunge. But until you become a parent, you’ll never know how amazing, enriching, and challenging your life could be.
Once you become a parent, you know that your life will never be the same.
By it’s very nature, writing is an introspective, thoughtful activity. The process of writing a book will force you to turn your thoughts inward. Through writing, you’ll gain perspective about what really matters to you.
Writing a book will also teach you about the unique value of your own willpower.
The simple act of committing to a writing project, and seeing it through, will measure the depths of your discipline. Writing a book can be a powerful way to get in touch with your thoughts, values, and motivations.
Plus, writing is cheaper than therapy!
#3 – You’ll have created a professional-quality, ready-to-sell book.
It used to be that only writers with a publishing deal or those who paid for vanity publication ever got to see their books in print. Those days have changed.
Thanks to the rise of self-publishing, any person with a story to tell can become a published author and sell their book. Self-publishing is now affordable, easy to implement, and requires only basic computer skills.
If you can type your book on your keyboard, you can figure out how to self-publish. As your own publisher, you call the shots. You’re the CEO of your own destiny.
Even better, you get to retain more of the royalties if you self-publish. What’s not to like?
Even better, you get to retain more of the royalties if you self-publish. What’s not to like?
#4 – You’ll pocket a healthy chunk of change.
The brilliant ideas you have kicking around in your head aren’t earning you any money. Only once you commit those ideas to paper and hit publish will you earn income from your thoughts.
Your book can earn you a stream of passive income simply by existing.
And then there’s the future—audiobooks, courses based on your book, and speaking gigs! And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can make money off your self-published book—but you need to write it first.
#5 – You’ll let Amazon do the heavy lifting.
Amazon self-publishing is easier than ever. Amazon makes it intuitive and straightforward for authors to upload and sell their books.
They’ve also made it easy for readers to find and buy your book. It’s a win-win.
That’s not to say that you can set up an Amazon page and let it flap in the breeze untended. In order to sell your book, you’ll need to do some marketing and PR.
The good news is that Amazon gives you the tools and resources you need to succeed.
#6 – Our time here is finite.
Nobody’s getting out of this life alive. Our time here is finite. It’s our choice how we want to spend our time. If you’ve ever wanted to write a book, don’t wait for a life crisis to force your hand.
The time is now.
You have a chance to share your words, thoughts, and passions with the world. Don’t let that chance slip through your fingers.
#7 – You’ll reignite a passion.
Each one of us has a passion for something—whether that’s rock-climbing, organic cooking, or comedic storytelling.
What’s your passion? You already know the answer to that question.
Here’s our next question: When’s the last time you stoked that passion? If that answer is, “you can’t remember” or, “it’s been years,” then you’ve got some work to do.
You owe it to yourself to explore your passion and write a book. We promise that when you’re writing about something you love, it won’t feel like work.
That’s a heady statistic. By writing a book, you set yourself apart from the masses.
Even if your book is fiction or a memoir, the fact that you’re now an author lends an air of authority to your professional endeavors.
You can now add “author” to your CV, LinkedIn, and professional website.
In short: No matter what you write a book about, becoming a published author boosts your professional authority.
You’ll have accomplished something few other people have.
Our preemptive greeting: Welcome to the Author Club!
We guarantee you’ll like the rarified air up here.
#9 – You’ll tackle a new challenge.
Life has so many obligations—taxes, school pick-up, miles on the treadmill—it can be easy to fall into a daily rut. Writing a book is leaving your comfort zone.
Trying something unfamiliar can be scary—we get it. But, that’s precisely why it’s exciting.
The only way you grow as a person is by forcing yourself to leave your comfort zone. Time to jump off the cliff—write a book and become an author this year.
You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll gain by pushing the limits of your own self-imposed boundaries.
#10 – You’ll gain more knowledge.
Writing a book requires research. No matter what topic you’re writing about, you’re going to have to research new concepts and topics.
By opening the door to new ideas, you’ll educate yourself on a broad array of ideas. You’ll be invigorated by how much you learn while you’re writing, and emerge much brighter for having done so.
And when you’re done, you can assert yourself as an expert in your field. Your book can then open the door for speaking engagements, conference presentations, and other professional networking opportunities.
#11 – You’ll stop making excuses and just do it.
We know, we know, you’ve been mulling over the idea of writing a book for months (years?) now. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article.
How long are you going to give yourself permission to keep quashing your dreams?
It’s time to commit and just do it.
#12 – Because you can!
And you will! No more excuses. You can’t afford to put off writing a book any longer. All that counts is that you get your first word on paper, and then a word after that.
Before you know it, you’ll have a completed first draft. Think about how amazing you’ll feel? Don’t put it off another day. Write your book today. This is the year for you to finally become an author.
Are you FINALLY ready to take action?
The only difference between an author and anyone else is the fact that they wrote the book. They started.
1000 words single-spaced is about 1 page in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or equivalent software. 1000 words in a book is about 3 pages.
One thing to keep in mind with how many pages is 1000 words is that it depends on the text, its size, and the spacing you’re using.
For example, if you write 1000 words on a page in Google Docs, but maintain double spacing, that would be about two pages. However, if your text is smaller than 12 and you use a different spacing variation, it may only be one to one and a half pages.
Here’s how you can make 1000 words be more than two pages:
Increase the font size by .5 or 1 point
Increase the line spacing
Change the size of all the punctuation to be larger
Ultimately, you can expect there to be roughly 300 words per page in a book you write as a whole. Because dialogue requires paragraph breaks, there will be fewer words than if you have a few pages of full paragraphs instead of dialogue.
On average, there are about 300 words per page in a book. This number can vary depending on if you’re writing dialogue or how short each paragraph is.
How to Find How Many Words are in Your Novel So Far
Knowing where to look to locate your word count will help you determine how long your book is actually going to be once it’s finished and you publish it (which you’ll learn to do in the next step).
Finding your book’s word count depends on which writing software you’re using to write it.
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Keep in mind that this is not a perfect way to calculate the number of pages your book will be. However, this rough estimation can help you understand the approximate length of your book.
How many words in a novel?
How many words in a novel vary depending on genre, audience, and the story itself but in general, the average words in a novel is between 60,000 and 90,000 words for most genres.
The amount of words in your novel does matter. Depending on your genre, having too many or too little can not only hurt your book sales, but also cause fewer 5-star reviews (which also hurts your sales).
This is how many words to have in a novel for each genre.
#1 – How many words in a memoir?
On average, when writing a memoir should not exceed 90,000 words and that is a stretch when it comes to memoir word count.
We recommend memoirs be between 45,000 to 80,000 words in order to maintain intrigue and reduce intimidation. This means your memoir will average between 150 and 265 pages.
When readers see that a memoir exceeds 300 pages, it sets up a red flag in their mind. Even if they’re interested in the memoir, a very lengthy memoir is often indicative of something reminiscent of an autobiography (which is basically a timeline of life events) versus a personal life telling with a theme or message.
Exceptions for memoir word count:
You’re famous or well-known. Anyone who already has an audience can get away with a longer memoir simply because people have already shown interest in your life. They’re more likely to want more rather than less.
Your memoir contains multiple lessons or messages. If your memoir is in several parts or you have a few messages to get across, you can write a longer memoir. Keep in mind, however, that it may be more beneficial to write two memoirs instead of one massive one.
It’s your first draft word count only. It’s okay if your first draft is over 90,000 words. Oftentimes, professional editing will cut down the unnecessary information so your memoir is the appropriate word count.
Average book length for a memoir: 45,000 – 80,000
#2 – How many words in a self-help book?
Any self-help or motivational nonfiction book should be between 30,000 and 70,000 words
This means your book will be between 100 and 230 pages in total.
Those looking for help through a book in this genre don’t want a massive novel to go through just to read what they need. For that reason, if you have a motivational or self-help book idea, keep it at a lower word count will actually help you more.
For example, our own Student Success Strategist, Lisa Zelenak, wrote this book called Find Your Thing. It’s a self-help book detailing how to escape monotony in your early 20s and do work that actually matters.
Find Your Thing is about 30,000 words and, with formatting, 178 pages long.
The reason this book does well is because it is not a super lengthly novel. With a self-help book, your audience wants to learn something and they want to learn it sooner rather than later.
Average self-help book length: 30,000 – 70,000 words
#3 – How many words in a fantasy novel?
The average fantasy novel should have between 50,000 and 150,000 words. However, the true word count depends on the category in which you’re writing.
If you’re writing a young adult fantasy novel, you should keep your word count below 90,000 words or 300 book pages.
This is due to the audience you’re reaching preferring that length.
If you’re writing an adult fantasy novel or an epic fantasy novel (like Game of Thrones), your word count can skew higher at 90,000 – 200,000 words.
Not all fantasy novels are epic fantasy novels. Epic fantasy is a sub-genre beneath fantasy and encompasses very long journey-specific plots. Authors who write in this style are George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, and the late J.R.R. Tolkien.
Average book length for fantasy novels: 50,000 – 150,000 words
#4 – How many words in a science fiction book?
Science fiction books typically have between 50,000 and 150,000 words, like fantasy novels. This puts them at between 170 – 500 pages.
This specific genre has a lot of flexibility with word and page count due to the variety of plot types and story arcs.
Here are some popular sci-fi novels and their word counts:
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – 50,895 words
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – 100,609 words
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 46,118 words
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – 69,000 words
The Stand by Stephen King – 500,000 words
The Martian by Andy Weir – 104,588 words
As you can see, word count for science fiction books vary widely. However, we do not suggest writing a novel of 500,000 words unless you as established as Stephen King is.
Average science fiction book length: 50,000 – 150,000 words
#5 – How many words in a romance novel?
Romance novels often run between 50,000 and 90,000 words on average.
Romance is a unique genre because the plot is all about two characters and their adventure with one another. For that reason, writing a long, lengthy book just about their romance can become a problem for the readers.
This is why romance books tend to be below 90,000 words.
The more you write, the more you run the risk of losing your reader’s attention and motivation to keep reading.
A popular romance novel that’s a great example of keeping your story shorter rather than longer is The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.
This book only has 52,000 words and has become one of the most recognizable romances of our time.
Average romance book length: 50,000 – 90,000 words
#6 – How many words in a mystery novel?
Mystery novels do best if they’re written between 40,000 and 80,000 words.
Writing more than 80,000 words can become difficult, as you have to ensure your readers don’t know the answer behind the mystery.
As with anything, the more you say, the easier it is to decipher the clues underneath, which is what you don’t want when it comes to a mystery novel.
Average mystery book length: 40,000 – 80,000 words
#7 – How many words in a horror novel?
Horror is much like mystery in the sense that you don’t want to drag these novels on too long. Therefore, we advise writers to stick between 40,000 to 80,000 words for horror novels.
As an example, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is 42,211 words long.
Average horror book length: 40,000 – 80,000 words
#8 – How many words in a dystopian novel?
Typical dystopian novels run between 60,000 and 120,000 words, though this genre has the flexibility to be longer.
Because dystopian is often a sub-genre, meaning it usually has a broader genre within it like fantasy or sci-fi, there’s room to expand and grow these types of novels.
Here are some popular dystopian novel word counts:
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – 90,240
Red Rising by Pierce Brown – 124,749 words
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau – 59,937
As you can see, this genre’s word count bounces all over the place. Just keep your intended audience in mind (young adult, middle-grade), in order to know how many worse to write.
Average dytopian book length: 60,000 – 120,000 words
#9 – How many words in a contemporary book?
In a typical contemporary book, you will have between 60,000 and 90,000 words.
One popular example of a contemporary novel is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, which stands at 60,965 words in total.
Contemporary novels typically don’t exceed 90,000 words particularly because they’re focused around modern problems versus anything other wordly. This means if you write too long of a book, you run the risk of losing your reader’s attention.
Average contemporary book length: 60,000 – 90,000 words
#10 – How many words in a young adult novel?
Young adult books range between 60,000 and 90,000 words. Unless you’re writing a young adult epic fantasy, which can go up to 150,000 words.
Young adult is a category more than a genre, but it’s important to keep this in mind when writing a book in any genre.
Your audience matters because different age ranges prefer different lengths of books. An older audience, like new adult or adult, is far more likely to consumer a book that’s over 100,000 words, whereas a younger audience like young adult only has the attention span for less than 90,000 words.
#11 – How many words in a middle-grade book?
Middle-grade books are best if kept between 20,000 and 55,000 words in order to maintain the attention of readers this age.
Anything longer can be difficult for a younger audience to consume and retain all of the information. Therefore, cap your first draft off at 65,000 words with the intent to cut out what you don’t need when you ship it off to your editor.
Keep in mind that these word counts are guidelines. One thing we teach here at Self-Publishing School is that you must first know the rules before you can confidently break them.
Here are our top tips for using Instagram the right way.
#1 – Create relevant content
Don’t panic already, ok? This doesn’t mean you’ll have to take photos of yourself or strip down for a good number of likes.
What I mean with creating relevant content is make your Instagram account about something you truly love.
Yes, you’re an author, but what kind of author? Will you share with your followers about your struggles of being an author?
Will you share your process your writing? Will you snap pretty pics of other books you’re reading and loving? Of your pet? Maybe your garden?
The point is, you’ll love it and your following will feel it and love you more for it.
#2 – Post regularly
Many often forget about this one, but you betta believe it when I tell you, this is probably the most important one!
By posting regularly, you’re showing up more often in other feeds and that will increase your chances of getting likes and comments on your photos, and even visits to your profile.
There are many arguments about when you should post and how many times per day, but there are also some great apps that evaluate what works best for your audience.
I always advice posting a photo once a day and not more because you don’t want to overdo it.
In general, the best times for posting are between 4pm and 7pm, which is when people are going back home from work.
However, you should also do what you feel is natural for you and your account.
Less is more but once a day is a must!
#3 – Post consistent content types
Now, when posting, you’ll have to think about what you want to post. This is your part of your job after all, so you should plan it just as you plan your writing.
The best rule to follow is post the same content. This might sound boring to you, but the most successful accounts started this way.
The same type of content, over and over again, and then they opened up to other things. But, in the beginning, it’s important that people will recognize your account as a whole and will want to follow you because you’re consistent and have a structure.
For visual ideas on how to do this, I recommend checking out this Instagrammer, who I love! Marlene uses the same type of content, similar backgrounds, several nuances of the same color, but every picture is unique and makes me wanna go back to her profile!
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency.” – Dwayne Johnson
#4 – Create strong aesthetics
If you’ve noticed from the above screenshot of Thanks a Latte Blog’s account, you’ll find it extremely soothing and inviting. The reason why is her aesthetics.
When creating content and posting it, she’s clearly thinking it through.
In the first phase, you’ll have to do the same!
This might bother some of you, but no one can deny how beautiful an account like this looks. It appeals to the eye as a whole, but each photo is also carefully laid out.
For similar outcomes, look for a color palette and stick to it.
Using one main color and different nuances works out great and it won’t be a lot of work for you to figure out what goes well with what.
Another thing you can try to use is repetitive miscellaneous: either décor pieces you have around the house or flowers in the background, what’s important is that there is a nice wave between all your photos.
If you feel inspired looking at your feed, your followers will too!
#5 – Use high quality photos
You don’t need a professional camera for this! Don’t start making excuses.
Nowadays, our smartphones have good cameras that will just do if used in the best way possible. You’re starting out, you don’t need to spend all that money on something you probably won’t even know how to use!
The best advice for high-quality photos is natural lighting.
Honestly, it’s that simple. Natural light helps your photos look more alive and colorful and it’ll take you a whole less time to edit them—if you edit them at all!
If you’re on the lookout for a good photo editor (that is free!), I recommend using Lightroom or Snapseed.
They’re both really simple to use and many creators on the internet have developed presets that you can buy and use on your photos. If you really don’t know what to do with a photo editor, just buy a preset or two and you’ll be fine!
Just remember! Natural lighting!
#6 – Engage frequently on Instagram
Imagine this: you’re scrolling down on your feed, see a photo you love, you like it and decide to comment.
A simple comment but it’s there. You see another photo, like it, comment and so on. The first Instagrammer actually answers your comment on their photo.
Who do you think you’ll be more inclined to interact again with?
This is a no-brainer and it’s true for every and anyone out there. You’ll feel like you have a connection with this person, even if you’ve never met them in real life.
Answering every single comment, you get might be a difficult task to accomplish, especially if you have a larger following, but it’s Instagram 101.
Not to mention, all your lovely readers will feel SO special because their favorite author answered them!
One of the authors I’ve noticed does this extremely well is Ella Maise. She just knows how to connect with her followers in what feels a very natural way.
Make someone’s day: reply to them!
#7 – Share about your life
Now that we’ve discussed replying to your followers’ comments, I would like to tell you how important it is to use Insta Stories.
Again, you might be an introvert or a very private person, and that’s ok! But you can always share a few snaps that didn’t make it into your profile or a few short videos of your daily life.
You don’t even have to share your face, just record them when you’re taking a nice walk or doing something out and about.
I do recommend speaking though, because I feel that there is a special relationship that is developed when followers hear your voice and what you sound like. (It’ll be weird at the beginning, but you’ll get used to it pretty quickly, I promise!)
“Happiness is only real when shared”
#8 – Host giveaways on Instagram
Not to quote Oprah or anything, but she was onto something! Hosting giveaways is one of the best ways to get out there and get some free promotion.
You’re an author with your author Instagram now, so it makes sense that your prizes are books.
I’d recommend starting with other author’s books because you can include them in the giveaway. For example, to win, one has to follow you, the author and comment on both profiles something related to you or the book. It doesn’t get much better than this!
To host something like this, it might take you a little longer to plan than just posting a photo, but the rewards might also be much higher.
Giving will translate into receiving…
#9 – Repost relevant content
Definitely repost photos and stories on your Insta Stories! I LOVE it whenever I get a notification that someone has re-posted a photo of mine and added a little thank you note or just simply tagged me over on their stories. It makes it personal and I always feel more likely to interact with that person again.
When reposting, I suggest going for anyone and everyone.
However, remember that popular Bookstagrams might help you get to larger audiences, so their support might be very well needed.
I’m not saying you should butter them up, but it is in your interest to interact with them. They also might be reviewing your books and publicity is always great!
As with everything, just don’t overdo it and your readers are your main base so don’t forget to share their stories too!