ProWritingAid is a grammar and style tool for writers of every type.
It goes above and beyond traditional checking tools by not only pointing out errors in your text but showing you exactly what they are and why they matter.
The ability of ProWritingAid to assess your work and teach you how to advance as a writer is why its creators compare it to a virtual mentor rather than just another app.
Let’s explore this AI-enhanced tool to see if it’s the right choice for you.
2 – Should you use ProWritingAid?
Although ProWritingAid can help with any task, from a short email through to a full book, three types of authors especially should check out this tool further.
Fiction authors. If you want to succeed as a self-published fiction author, you can’t afford to let editing errors hurt the quality and credibility of your book. ProWritingAid is a great first option for self-editing, so your real editor can use their magic and experience to help your story shine.
Nonfiction authors. When you’re releasing a book to inform or inspire people, you shouldn’t let anything stand in the way of the benefit they gain from your book, and self-editing helps your message hit home.
Business writers. Authors in the business world need to make every word count. Enhancing the persuasive power of your copy through self-editing is the perfect first step.
If you fall into one of those groups, let’s see exactly what ProWritingAid can do for you.
3 – What does ProWritingAid do?
Although ProWritingAid is customizable to your needs as a writer, it helps your work in 10 key ways:
Identifies if you have used consistent rules for spelling, hyphenation, and the capitalization of your words.
Looks for cliche and redundant language.
Finds grammatical errors in your work.
Suggests mistakes with your terminology.
Provides contextual thesaurus suggestions.
Scans a text for instances of plagiarism.
Boosts the readability of your writing.
Points out instances of repetitive wording and phrasing.
Makes your paragraph structuring better.
Highlights vagueness and complexity in your work.
If those ideas sound like they would help you write your next book with more confidence and clarity, let’s explore how to use this tool and the feedback it offers.
4 – How does ProWritingAid improve your writing?
Let’s take a moment to think about the practicalities of using ProWritingAid to improve your book.
You can use ProWritingAid in one of three ways:
Use ProWritingAid in the Cloud.
Integrate with your browser.
Download a desktop app.
After you have ProWritingAid ready to run, you can work with it by following these steps:
Open up ProWritingAid.
Input your text into the interface.
ProWritingAid performs a scan.
The suggestions made are highlighted in different colors.
You can check out its suggestions by hovering over the text and accepting or rejecting them.
Now that you have a basic idea of how the tool works, let’s continue this ProWritingAid review with a closer look at its 20+ reports and how they can improve your writing.
5 – What do the reports cover?
Although the information ProWritingAid offers might seem like a lot, you can customize it to filter out anything you don’t need.
ProWritingAid offers these 20 different reports.
Writing style. ProWritingAid identifies many of the common style errors a human editor would advise against, like too much passive voice or use of weak verbs.
Grammar. As well as pointing out standard grammar mistakes, ProWritingAid also takes input from experienced copyeditors and uses their knowledge as part of the feedback on your writing.
Overused words. We all overuse certain words that we might not even be aware of. ProWritingAid doesn’t only identify them, it also suggests the amount you should reduce them by to make your writing more impactful.
Cliches and redundancies. ProWritingAid points out the times where your writing is cliched or tautological, so you can choose to simplify it as you see fit.
Sticky sentences. The sticky sentences report shows where your writing contains too many glue words or prepositions like ‘on’ or ‘in’ that fail to add any real value.
Readability stats. Depending on your intended audience, you should make sure the language you use is suitable for their reading level. ProWritingAid offers full analysis using the Flesch Reading Ease score.
Repetition check. If you use the same sentences too often, it can be jarring for your reader and annoying for your editor. ProWritingAid points out the words and phrases you tend to overuse. Over time, you’ll instinctively use them less often.
Sentence length. Varying how long your sentences are is one of the best ways to keep them as engaging as possible for your reader. ProWritingAid offers a visual representation of their length so you can easily see where there are too many brief or long sentences in a row.
Pronoun usage. After your text is scanned by ProWritingAid, sentences containing pronouns outside of the 4-15% level recommended by the tool are highlighted. Switching these up improves the experience for your readers.
Transitions. Around a quarter of your sentences should contain words like ‘to’ or ‘as a result’ to keep the flow of your ideas smooth and understandable.
Consistency. ProWritingAid helps to ensure your writing keeps the same approach to spelling, punctuation, and American or British English throughout.
Pacing. If you want to make sure your reader isn’t bored by meandering prose, ProWritingAid identifies sections where your pacing requires rapidity.
Dialogue tags. When your writing veers too far away from simple dialogue tags like said or asked it often loses power. ProWritingAid highlights every tag in your text so you can choose a better option where needed.
Contextual thesaurus. While thesauruses can help you find synonyms, using them in the wrong context is a recipe for disaster. ProWritingAid’s contextual thesaurus helps ensure your synonyms are suitable.
Diction. Running your text through ProWritingAid’s diction checker makes it less verbose.
Alliteration. If you use alliteration in just the right amount it’s pleasing to read. Too much can be distracting or irritating. Check exactly how much alliterative wording your writing has so you can ensure it fits.
Homonyms. It’s easy to let a homonym slide into your sentence, especially if you’re dictating. You can identify and remove any embarrassing slip-ups by taking this approach.
Acronyms. Although a lot of acronyms are essential to the content you want to write, they might not be compatible with a regular spellchecker. ProWritingAid lets you identify the acronyms in your text and save them to a dedicated glossary for later recognition.
House style. If you’ve ever had to switch between writing styles mentally, you know it’s no simple feat. Make things easier by creating custom style guides that keep your writing aligned with expectation.
Plagiarism check. Plagiarism is a serious concern for authors and academics alike. You can ensure the originality of your words by paying for a plagiarism check from ProWritingAid.
6 – Can you integrate ProWritingAid with other tools?
Sometimes, it can be difficult to give up the writing apps you know and love in favor of having to learn something completely new.
At this time, you can stick with your favorites to integrate ProWritingAid into seven tools used by writers.
Firefox. If you write content in Firefox, you can check your grammar and writing style without having to leave the browser environment.
Chrome. Chrome is the most popular browser on the planet as well as one of the most customizable, so it makes sense to see a ProWritingAid extension here.
Safari. ProWritingAid integrates directly into Safari to help spot your online writing errors.
Edge. Microsoft’s newest browser lets you avoid mistakes with an Edge extension.
Google Docs. If you want to combine the editing power of ProWritingAid and the collaborative power of Google Docs, you can easily integrate the two.
Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office is still a popular choice for many writers. Why not make its spelling and grammar capabilities more powerful by adding ProWritingAid?
Scrivener. Scrivener is one of the most fully-featured options available to authors and writers. If you are already a Scrivener fan, you can use its project files directly with the desktop version of ProWritingAid.
It’s great to see ProWritingAid making an effort to meet writers where they already are.
7 – How much does ProWritingAid cost?
You can either use ProWritingAid for free or pay $79 for a year’s access to its Premium features.
Free. Try the free version of ProWritingAid online with a limit of 500 words per session.
1-Month Premium. $20 will let you try out everything ProWritingAid is capable of for a month.
1-Year Premium. $79 gets you a year’s access to ProWritingAid Premium.
Lifetime. A $399 investment gives you lifetime access to ProWritingAid, including all future upgrades.
Take the time to get a feel for the free tool and how it fits into your writing process before leveling up to a paid option.
8 – What are the pros and cons of ProWritingAid?
So now that you have read this ProWritingAid review, and know what it can do and how much it costs, it’s time to think about its advantages and disadvantages to consider if it’s the right tool for you.
Learning how to become a better speaker is different for everyone.
If you’ve ever attended school, been employed, or participated as a member of a club or committee, you have almost definitely been subjected to some form of public speaking. 😨💀
Horrific, scarring, awful. We sweat, we cry, maybe we throw up.
Public speaking can be a terrible experience for the unprepared person, the anxious person, the just-spilled-coffee-down-the-front-of-my-white-dress person (maybe that one was just me?), but the benefits of public speaking FAR outweigh the negatives, AND (great news!) I’m here to help.
We’re going to learn how to be better at public speaking:
Like I said, participating in nearly anything presents the opportunity for public speaking. Can it be avoided most of the time? Probably. In fact–
When I was in college, seventeen-year-old Hannah’s presentation skills were weighed, measured, and found wanting. I spoke too fast, I used too many filler words (and filler sounds 😬), and I made inside jokes as a nervous tick (shoutout to my friends who sat in the back and laughed way louder than they needed to).
Opportunity after opportunity to speak in public presented themselves. I gave research presentations, I addressed committees, I taught classes for honors credit–it came up a LOT. And I was an expert at crawfishing my way out of it.
For example, in my required Speech class, I put HOURS of work into writing, practicing, and perfecting speeches–only to strategically fall ill, have a dentist appointment, or slouch so low in my desk I was halfway on the floor to avoid actually giving the speech.
I was supposed to give SIX presentations for that class–I gave ONE, and I only gave that one because someone ratted me out.
Shockingly, refusing to practice didn’t make me any better at speaking.
Go figure. I eventually decided I needed to face my fears and just rip it like a bandaid until I improved. Sophomore year, I started hopping at opportunities to speak. If we had a group project, I’d present. If we were hosting a fundraiser for an organization I chaired, I’d give the thank you address. I went to live readings for creative writing and read my own pieces out loud (awful, terrible, kill me).
It was awkward and uncomfortable! I’d walk up to podiums bright red and breathing heavy on my shaky little legs. But the more I threw myself out of my comfort zone, the better I got, and the more natural it came to me.
By my senior year, I was presenting something almost every week. I breathed evenly, my legs didn’t shake anymore, and my face stayed its natural, iridescent pale for the whole presentation.
Being a good public speaker often directly translates to being a better private speaker as well.
Here’s what I learned from public speaking:
I learned how to give cues better–I indicate with my hands to help people follow along with multiple or complex ideas
I can better read a room’s environment
I can code switch more precisely
I can translate ideas to coherent verbal communication much easier
I caught a lot of opportunities by putting myself out there. You never know who’s in an audience and what they’ll remember you for. I got job offers, scholarships, and friends just from using my voice and putting myself out there.
It is less often the things you say and more often how you say them that can influence people. A confident speaker instills confidence–people trust a well-presented thought more than that same thought when it’s expressed with stammering and uptalk.
If you believe what you’re saying, and you sound like you believe what you’re saying, other people will be inclined to believe it as well.
How Becoming a Better Speaker Can Grow Your Career
In almost any industry, being a strong speaker can help build your career. Taking on speaking roles can prove leadership capabilities, responsibility, confidence, and competence.
Volunteering to pitch a project to your boss, for example, can endear you to the coworkers who have been alleviated of the task, places you as the face of the project, and shows your boss that you have initiative. That’s something people remember.
If you’re self-employed, speaking at events can help promote your own work–like products, books, and courses. Public speaking events can be a great platform facet.
Pairing a book with a course with in-person seminars creates a full experience for your clients. And, just like in a traditional job, speaking well projects leadership, responsibility, confidence, and competence.
How to Become a Better Speaker
So we know why we want to be better speakers, but how do we get there?
Here are five easy ways you can practice public speaking without actually throwing yourself into the ring yet.
#1 – Study other people’s speeches
Watch talks from strong orators or presenters in your industry. See what you like about their presentation style, think about what you would do differently, and apply that insight to your own speeches. Take note of how they use the stage space, what they do with their hands, how they keep eye contact, and how they utilize pauses. All of these are practiced, intentional actions that experienced speakers master over time.
#2 – Practice at home
Rehearse your speeches in front of a mirror, or even record yourself presenting. Watch the video back to see how your body language is helping or hurting, if you keep good eye contact (or lens contact), and spot any filler language you might need to cut back on. This low-pressure rehearsal time will help you focus on honing specific skills.
Until I was sixteen, I barely spoke to people outside of my immediate family. I never expressed when I was uncomfortable, I never argued. Then I started my first YouTube channel. My old videos are awkward and cringey to watch now, but they literally taught me how to verbally express myself. I developed an online voice, and it translated over to how I spoke with others in person, which eventually led me to become a stronger public speaker.
#3 – Practice through the internet.
With COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing, now’s as good a time as ever to practice speaking through online live events. Maybe start even smaller by gathering a few friends in a groupcall to discuss something specific. Then you can transition to something like a livestream, where it’s only you talking. Try to interact with viewers’ messages to get practice generating live responses and engaging with an audience.
#4 – Start with small audiences.
If you have housemates or in-person coworkers right now, practice speaking in front of them. Having a friendlier audience you’re close with is often a more comfortable stepping stone as you work your way up to bigger crowds. You can even expand that audience a little at a time by adding one or two friends to the group each time.
#5 – Have your practice audience question you.
When I presented research in college, I’d present in front of friends first and have them grill me about the material. This helped me make sure I actually comprehended the material well enough to present it competently, and it also gave me practice answering questions the audience might really have. Having a more challenging practice round will help you feel more prepared and more confident when it’s time for the real thing.
Best Tips for Improving Public Speaking
Here are seven extra hacks and tips you can use to strengthen your public speaking skills.
Outline instead of planning word-for-word. Oftentimes, it’s better to have a bulleted list of topics to cover rather than memorizing a speech script. With a script, forgetting a word or a line can throw off the entire rhythm and you might forget what you were saying. If you practice speaking with your main points, you can make it up as you go, speaking from a place of studied authority instead of spouting a memorized speech phonetically. Even if you don’t stumble over a line, a memorized speech can also sound mechanical and less engaging to listen to.
Use audience-first language and present information with the mindset that the presentation is about THEM. It’s not a performance about you–you’re educating or sharing tools to help the people listening. Make sure you don’t turn a speech into one-sided speed dating. If you make the presentation about you, it’s less interesting to listen to and easier to get into your own head. It might make you feel more open to judgment if it’s about YOU, so keep in the headspace that it’s about your AUDIENCE and remember that you’re there to help them.
Make eye contact with your audience. Picking a spot on the wall or ceiling or floor to watch during a speech probably feels more comfortable, but if you can make eye contact with a different audience member every few seconds, you’ll keep the crowd much more engaged and help keep yourself on track of the conversation. Remember that you’re talking to people by looking at the people you’re talking to.
Talk to your audience before the presentation. If you can, mingle with audience members before your speech. If it’s an event, this is a great networking exercise, but it will also help to humanize the audience to you, and you to the audience. It’ll be more like a continued conversation by the time you’re ready to speak if you’ve already made a few introductions.
Be interactive during your speech. Ask questions to the audience, react to their reactions, call out to specific people you know in the audience and share related anecdotes involving them. If you make it an interaction instead of a one-sided information dump, you’ll be more relaxed and the audience will be more engaged to receive your message.
Gain confidence and authority on your subject matter through a book. Publishing a nonfiction book in your area of expertise will instantly increase your credibility with an audience, as well as help to relax your nerves because you know that you know your stuff. You literally wrote the book on it. Like I said earlier, layering multiple elements like a book, a course, and live seminars gives you a strong, authoritative position for your platform.
Remember that no one wants you to fail. This tip was absolutely pivotal for me as I was building my foundation in public speaking. The audience wants you to do well. They don’t want to see someone crash and burn–they’re there to hear a compelling, interesting, entertaining speech. Everyone is supporting your success, so don’t feel intimidated!
And here’s an image to help memorize that:
These tips and exercises helped me ENORMOUSLY. If I can public speak with ease today after growing up crushingly shy and borderline nonverbal, so can you!
Don’t be afraid to volunteer to speak if the opportunity presents itself, let yourself be nervous, and know that practice will make it better.
If you need to, use the at-home tips to gain a little confidence before you try out an audience, but don’t be afraid to take chances and mess up a little! All speaking experiences, even the ones that don’t go so well, will help you grow as a presenter.
Nowadays, if you want to be successful with your book, you have to know how to use social media for writers.
Marketing is one thing all authors will need to know how to do, no matter if you want to self-publish a book or traditionally publish. That’s right! Even traditional publishers are now looking to your SOCIAL PLATFORM as a decision-maker for buying your book or not.
And no matter your goals as an author, whether you want to write fiction full-time or want to use your book to grow your business, social media is important.
We’ll not only cover which social platforms are most important for authors right now, but also where to find your audience, and what content actually performs the best on each app.
Do you want to sell books? Do you want to make a career out of selling books?
Then yes, writers need social media. It’s for book marketing, and one of the most powerful types of marketing in this day and age.
This isn’t to say that you can’t sell books without social media. There are certainly people who do so, but unless you really know how to use ads or you get a lucky break and hit some charts in the rankings, (or are a student of our Sell More Books program where we teach those methods), your best bet for long-term success in writing is by building your author platform.
So while you don’t need social media, it increases your chances of long-term success exponentially.
The difference with social media marketing (especially for authors)
Social media is so different from “traditional” marketing methods. It’s not an email, it’s not a flyer in the mail or a commercial on TV, and it’s certainly not a radio ad.
What makes social media marketing different from other forms of marketing is that it’s personal.
It’s a person doing the marketing, very rarely a full brand speaking from behind a logo (though this does happen). With social media for writers, it’s certainly personal.
And this means that traditional methods of marketing a book are a bit different.
In fact, we’d say social media marketing is less about actually promoting your book and more about promoting your thoughts, ideas, and interests while keeping your book easily available.
This concept is a little confusing at first, but we’ll get into what this looks like with each social platform. But the main idea behind this principle is this:
If someone likes you and enjoys what you put out into the world, they’ll likely enjoy your books because of how much we place ourselves into them.
Yes, we even do this when writing a fiction novel. Our themes and messages come from within us, and when someone gets to know who you really are and likes that, they’ll probably like what you write about.
What’s the best social media for writers?
By and far, Twitter is extremely useful for anyone trying to have success as an author, especially as a self-published fiction author.
Does this mean it’s the best platform for you and your specific book? Not always.
While we recommend every writer be on Twitter, there may be other social platforms better suited for your audience. Meaning, certain people of varying ages and interests use different social platforms.
You’ll have to understand where your audience is if you want to operate on the best social media platform for you.
Thankfully, we cover those details below by going over the demographic of each platform (info by HootSuite) in detail so you can decide which will house your target audience, along with how you can connect with them.
Twitter for authors
As stated above, we believe all writers should be on Twitter. There is an extremely large fiction reading and writing community on Twitter, but it’s also really useful for nonfiction.
The struggle with a platform the size of Twitter (and really all of the ones we’ll cover below), is that they’re too big. It’s hard to find where your audience is. But that’s why we’ll also cover some useful hashtags to pay attention to.
HOW TO USE TWITTER FOR AUTHORS:
Each social platform is different. Depending on the people and its interface, different content will perform well.
For Twitter, it’s all about relateability. The posts that do the best are the one that speak to people directly, in a way they can relate to really well. It’s not really about you on Twitter, it’s about others.
So when you take to Twitter, remember that while it’s a social platform where you can divulge your own information, making all of your posts solely about you isn’t the right game here. We can save that for Instagram in a minute.
Type of content that performs best: short relateable questions and statemetns
Hashtags to note: #amwriting, #writingcommunity, #WIP, #writerlife
Other hashtags for genre-specific depend on what you write and the niche (particularly for nonfiction, the examples above leave heavy for fiction users).
Want to see a few author profiles on Twitter who are doing it really well? Here are some examples of social media for writers you can follow and emulate:
The reason this bio is really successful is because this author’s book is available, but it’s not spammy or pushing people to buy. Another reason, is because her main bio is short, sweet, to the point, and also showcases her personality.
When it comes to sharing posts on social media, especially when “promoting” your book, it works best when the words come from others. We tend to not believe authors who say their book is great, because of COURSE they think that!
Retweeting praise for your book is one of the best ways to share proof and get others interested.
Instagram for writers
Instagram is one of those social media platforms you really have to mess with to get right. Meaning, some people can find great success with one strategy, and that same strategy won’t work for you—even if you do everything the same!
Part of this is because of the story feature, and that you have to actually put yourself out there on Instagram. While it does have a somewhat negative reputation for being “fake,” people do congregate here for connection and to follow people’s lives closely.
HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM FOR AUTHORS:
As mentioned, Instagram has more to do with daily life/lifestyle than it does only branded content. That, and memes. Yes! The meme culture has shifted somewhat away from Facebook and is everpresent on Instagram’s platform.
So what works here then? Relatable memes, intimate stories where you show up with energy, and “pretty” images on your main feed.
Remember that you’ll have to find out what works for YOU here. Does your audience wants to see more of you? Of what you’re reading? Of your book-writing process?
Demographic: 52% female, 48% male — 67% ages 18-29
Posting frequency: at least once per day on your main feed, several times on your story
Type of content that performs best: Stories! Getting on your story and showing you, your real face, your real life. On your main feed, aestheticlaly appealing images of your book, you, and your life will do best.
Hashtags to note: #amwriting, #writerlife, #writersofIG, #writersofinstagram, #bookrelease
Facebook for writers
Facebook’s seemingly everchanging interface has increasingly frustrated people. In truth, Facebook is dying as a means of self-promotion unless you pay for ads on their platform.
Determine if you want to use a personal profile (not recommended), a page, or a group.
The main differences here are that a profile allows friends, a page allows for likes (and your stuff shows up on their feed like a profile’s would), and a group allows for a specific place for members to post and collaborate.
For writers, we usually recommend a page. But, if you are looking to build a brand, or maybe even an exclusive “club” for your readers, a group will get far better engagement than anything else. Facebook has continued to deprioritized page’s content, while boosting group posts.
It all depends on what your goals are as an author, and if your audience is even hanging out on Facebook.
Demographic: 79% ages 18-29
*Note on this: while this number reflects those who have Facebook, personal insights tell us the most active group of users is above 40-years-old.*
Posting frequency: 3 times per day max
Type of content that performs best: Images, videos
Hashtags to note: While Facebook has hashtag capabilities, they’re not really used to nearly the same extent as Twitter and Instagram
BONUS: Youtube for authors
Youtube isn’t for everyone. We’ll go ahead and say that right now. Not everyone has the presence for it, and not everyone will even like this style of platform building.
However, if it is something you’ve considered and need a push to start, it can be very lucrative as a secondary form of income, as long as a massive means of marketing your book—especially if you start “making it big” and gaining a lot of subscribers.
Our Youtube channel has over 40,000 subscribers and has grown immensely over the last year. We’ve seen this success first-hand, but we’re not the only ones.
There are several self-published authors who have used Youtube to quit their full-time jobs and pursue writing and creating videos.
HOW TO USE YOUTUBE FOR AUTHORS:
The first thing to think about here is what type of content you can post about, and what audience that will bring in. Many writers post videos with advice for writing books and publishing.
Others take the route of being on “Booktube,” where they read and post book reviews for other readers.
Each has their own pros and cons, but the bottom line with Youtube is that you have to be authentic, be something different (which can even simply come out in your own personality), and be consistent. One of the biggest common factors of success on Youtube is that people didn’t give up—they kept doing it through even a couple years of very slow growth.
If you are someone who’s not writing fiction and you’re looking to create awareness for a nonficion or a book to grow your business, the topics you talk about should be related to your book.
Demographic: 81% ages 15-25
Posting frequency: two times per week, 1 time per week at a minimum if you want sustained growth and engagement
Type of content that performs best: videos, helpful tips, how-tos, relevant updates, reviews, etc.
Author platform growth on social media
By far the best tip we can give you is to be consistent. With social media, it really is all about showing up regularly with content your audience wants to see, whatever that may be.
And secondly, don’t be afriad to iterate and try new things. If memes aren’t working for you, try being more real and personal. If your Twitter one-liners just aren’t working, try asking more questions and creating polls.
The people who gravitate to your social platform will respond differently to content that might “work” elsewhere. Find what works for you, be generous in how you give content, and make your book easily available. If people like you, they’ll search for how to consume more of your goodies—you don’t really have to push to promote your book on social media.
Don’t you agree that there’s almost too much information online about how to self-publish a book? So much that it can be really hard to actually determine what’ll be helpful to YOU?
We get it. We’re in the space every day, and we have to say…not all the advice you read will work.
Much of it is outdated in this everchanging space and doesn’t help you self-publish on Amazon in a way that actually brings you SUCCESS.
There’s far more to self-publishing a book than simply uploading it on Amazon and hitting “publish.” You can absolutely do that.
But don’t you actually want to sell books?
No matter what your goals are, to grow your business with a book, become a full-time fiction author, or simply to publish a memoir or self-help book to create an impact, we here at Self-Publishing School know what works.
We’re in the weeds with hundreds of students every week, learning, growing, and even expanding our program’s content to ensure it’s up-to-date.
And you know what? We want to give you a full, complete guide right here…for FREE. Nothing. Because we believe in you and the story you want to tell, no matter what it is.
WARNING: This blog post will be lengthy, and will cover topics not JUST related to uploading your book and self-publishing it on Amazon. Because again, there is MORE TO IT than just that. So focus, even bookmark this page, prepare to take some notes, and know that it’s possible for you to do 🙂
If you want to skip over some important points and JUST get down to the how-to list, click here.
Self-publishing is when you publish a book without a publishing house first buying your book’s rights and producing the book for you. With self-publishing, you maintain 100% creative control as well as 100% of the royalties.
While traditional publishing requires writing a manuscript, querying, landing an agent, agent selling to the publishing house, and ultimately, you only writing and editing based on what your editor wants, only to receive 8-10% royalties AFTER printing costs and AFTER your advance gets earned-out.
There’s really no wonder we believe, in today’s world, self-publishing is the superior option.
But hey, you can decide for yourself after reading through this post 😉
Is it a good idea to self-publish a book?
The best way to publish a book is dependent on what your own unique goals are. Some people will find great success in self-publishing while others are better suited for traditional publishing.
Ultimately, unless you have a good amount of experience as well as connections in the traditional publishing world, this route will be difficult, and you may not ever get published.
With self-publishing, anyone can do it. Anyone can get on Amazon and upload a book. HOWEVER, not everyone can do it well in order to succeed.
There are thousands and thousands of authors making full-time income and MORE from self-publishing. Those people have figured it out. Some of these people are our very own coaches here at Self-Publishing School, teaching our students what it truly takes.
Others, have done the work and have spent years honing their craft and series’ in order to see success.
So ultimately, you have to ask a couple of questions in order to determine if self-publishing is a good idea for you:
Do you want to maintain creative control and tell the story the way YOU want, with a cover that YOU want, and keep 100% of the royalties?
Do you want to simply write and let others dictate the rest?
Do you want to market your own books? SPOILER: this is required for BOTH publishing avenues.
Are you serious about this?
No matter which way you choose to publish, you have to do the work. You have to do the book marketing. You have to commit, set writing goals, and work toward it.
You have retailers to publish, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and more. You also have aggregators like IngramSpark, Lulu, Bookbaby, and more that print your book and distribute it TO the retailers.
And then you also have self-publishing education companies, who teach you the ropes about how to self-publish the right way, with resources to help you get there.
The latter is what Self-Publishing School is. So of COURSE we’ll put ourselves at the top of this list, because we truly believe it’s the smartest and best way to self-publish.
Why not take the guidance from those most experienced? But because we want you to make the best choice for your needs, we’ll cover the other types as well.
Here are some of the best self-publishing companies you can work with:
Self-Publishing School (That’s us!): An education company with 1-on-1 coaching, a private and exclusive Mastermind Community, and an entire digital course you keep access to for LIFE, all dedicated to helping you not only write a high-quality book, but also publish it for increased visibility and that coveted “Bestseller” banner. Learn more about our various programs for various types of authors-to-be here!
Amazon, Kobo, B&N, iBooks: These are retailers, places readers can go to purchase your book and have it shipped to them. Amazon is by far the largest of them, however, you should aim to self-publish across all mediums to increase buyers.
IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, Smashworlds, Lulu: Through these companies, you can have your book printed and distributed to the retailers listed above (and more). Amazon also prints its own books. So you could go exclusively with Amazon. But Amzon doesn’t publish hardback covers, like IngramSpark does. Do some research, and check out some reviews to choose where to print yours from.
When you self-publish a book, you’ll use a variety of these types. You can go it alone and simply upload with Amazon, using KDP Print (their book printers), or you can learn what it REALLY takes to do this successfully, and potentially work with us.
Cost of Self-Publishing A Book
Since you don’t have a massive publishing company backing you, there are expenses you’ll incur on your journey to self-publish a book.
Most are very mild, but they may seem like a large chunk of change to invest in your book (really, your success).
Thankfully, there are ways to cut costs. Our students have discounts through book designers, formatters, editors, and other book production services they’d have to pay full price elsewhere.
It’s likely that you can cut self-publishing costs by opting for freelancers or even checking out Reedsy’s resources to find someone to work with.
Editing: $200 – $2,000+ (this depends on word count)
Cover Design: $300 – $500 average (this is IMPORTANT!)
ISBN & Copyright: $100 – $400 (depending on country and number of ISBNs you choose to purchase)
Interior Formatting: $150 – $300 (depends on internal design)
Proof Copies: $50
Launch Team Goodies *Optional*: $100+ (signed copies, posters, etc.)
Self-Publishing Resources to Succeed *Optional*: $500 – $5,000+ (education companies)
TOTAL COSTS: $850 – $3000+
DON’T LET THESE NUMBERS DISSUADE YOU! You can save up while writing your book (which takes a good chunk of time). Just be prepared to invest in this if you want to be successful.
Also keep in mind, this is to produce a HIGH quality book. Which is the entire purpose of finding success in self-publishing a book. You have to be able to compete with traditionally published books, which are backed by massive budgets.
You can stick to the low-end of these costs and NOT opt for a developmental edit, which is one of the most expensive components.
But ultimately: do NOT skip at least a copy edit and do NOT skimp on the book cover. The book cover design…is the most important in today’s world of visually stimulating content.
What is the best way to self-publish a book successfully?
As the leading experts in this industry, we here at Self-Publishing School know we have the best way to self-publish.
It’s about more than just how to upload your book onto Amazon. And most people forget this. Most people who want to succeed in self-publishing a book, at least.
So we’re breaking down the best way to self-publish a book for maximum SUCCESS, from start-to-finish.
#1 – Create a self-publishing plan
You want to do this the right way, yes? And skip over the crap that’s not useful or the stuff that won’t really make a difference?
Good. Then you need a plan so you understand what it really takes to succeed. We don’t mess around here at Self-Publishing School.
So this includes putting together a timeline—or at the very least, a to-do list—of all the steps you’ll need to accomplish in order to self-publish your book.
You can even just jot down notes from this blog post in the order they’re here, since we’re handing you the ultimate blueprint for self-publishing in this blog post.
If nonfiction: what do you know the most about? What do people often tell you you should write about? What do you find yourself explaining over and over (for example: I often get asked “how’d you turn out successful?” from those who know my upbringing–this would be a great topic for nonfiction).
If fiction: start with some writing prompts. Try the “what if” strategy: what if a character in a certain town comes across a certain oddity?
Let your mind wander, come up with a book idea you think is GREAT, and dive into the rest of the self-publishing process.
#3 – Mindmap your idea
Have you heard of a mindmap? This is a powerful tool we use here at Self-Publishing School to help our students when they “don’t know where to even start” when they have an idea.
It allows you to get ALL your ideas out so you can better organize in the next step.
A mindmap is what you create when you start with a blank sheet of paper, and in the middle you draw a circle with the main topic of your book, or the main plot.
Then, you draw branches from this for other main elements, where you create more branches to fill out those ideas. It’s hard to describe in words, so here are some examples:
A mindmap is the space to dump ALL of your ideas, no matter if they’ll make the final book outline or not. Anything you can think of, the more, the merrier.
Then move on to the next step.
#4 – Create an outline for your book
Outlining a book can be really fun, and really difficult at the same time. It’s when you’ll finally put your ideas in the order you want them to appear in the book itself.
You trim the fat. You add the details. You have a clear blueprint for writing your book.
This step is also completely up to you. Different people outline in different ways.
Here’s a brief overview of only a few of the various methods to choose from (we suggest watching this video for more tangible examples):
Sticky Note Method: This is when you find a blank wall or large poster and use small sticky notes to write your main plot point or book elements and then arrange them in the order you want to write them.
Skeletal Method: This one is like what you may have written in school. You start with the main point as a title (chapter title maybe), then the next bullet can be the overarching idea, and then beneath that, you’ll have the supporting details or events you want to write about.
Basic Bullet Points: For this method, it is as it’s named. You start at the top and create bullet points for all the events you want to happen and write about. After this is complete from start to finish, draw lines to separate chapters.
Snowflake Method: This method involves starting small and broadening the outline. You start with one sentence of what will happen, expand this into a full paragraph, and then multiple for each chapter of your book.
#5 – Complete the book you’ll self-publish
This includes the entire writing-to-finished-product process, and we’ll outline this in just a moment below. But just know that this is the longest and most difficult part of self-publishing.
Yes, the actual self-publishing part isn’t as difficult as creating and maintaining the discipline to finish your first draft, self-edit, revise, hire an editor (YES, you need one), format the book, have the cover designed…I think you get the point.
Getting the first draft done is the most difficult part for most of our students. So let’s break down what this looks like, along with the other steps mentioned above to complete book production.
Here’s how to actually complete a book:
Start writing, and follow our outline IN ORDER
Maintain a writing schedule to finish your book
Once the first draft is complete, let it “rest” for a week or so
Book an editor (do this now, they usually have waitlists and you can do the next step while you wait. Plus, it’ll give you a deadline 🙂)
Self-edit the book chapter by chapter, rewrite, and make any changes
OPTIONALBUT SUGGESTED: After you have it the best it can be, send it to beta readers or critique partners for feedback (DO THIS BEFORE SENDING IT TO AN EDITOR)
Book a formatter and cover designer (some services have packages that include both)
Perform book edits from the editor (really take their feedback to heart. It’s easy to be offended or not want to listen, but if they’re qualified they DO know best) and set up launch team and marketing goals while you wait to get it back
Send to the formatter when it’s 100% edited
Get your ISBN and copyright your book
Work with the cover designer on tweaks (they’ll also need the barcode, ISBN, etc.)
Order proof copies and review, adjust if needed
This process is extensive and what our students truly get a lot out of our programs, since each of these steps is thoroughly outlined with video tutorials. But, we’ll still cover a few more points below.
We do have blog posts and/or videos for many of the steps above if you want more details. Just do a quick search in the bar at the top (or click the three bars to see search if you’re on mobile), or head to our Youtube channel and check them out.
#6 – Get an ISBN & Copyright your book
Amazon provides a free ISBN if you choose to use this. However, keep in mind that with an Amazon ISBN, you cannot sell your book on other retailers (like B&N, Kobo, iBooks, etc.) with that same ISBN.
For this reason, we always recommend our students buy their own (and get a package of them if you plan to publish more than one book).
First, make an account (you need this to check out)
At the top right, under “Register and copyright your book” hit “CopyrightsNow!”
On the right, select which package option you’d like and add it to your cart–we suggest the 1 ISBN and Copyright, but if you plan to publish more than one book soon, choose another
Click “go to cart” from the pop-up screen
Follow the process to check out
This process is pretty painless, but it does cost $184 USD for 1 copyright and 1 ISBN. These are essential costs.
If you want to add a copyright paragraph into your book, we have an actual book outline template you can use for those opening pages. Just choose fiction or nonfiction, fill out your details, and check your inbox for DIRECTIONS for how to use and access.
Book Outline Template Generator
Choose your book type to receive a "fill-in-the-blank" book outline template you can use to plan your book.
Enter your information below to receive your free outline template!
Book Outline Template Generator
Thanks for submitting! Check your email for your book outline template.
In the meantime, check out our Book Outline Challenge.
There are a growing number of options for where to get your book printed and distributed from. For self-publishing a book, Amazon is a typical go-to, but KDP print has some limitations that can move your attention elsewhere.
Why do you want to go with someone besides Amazon to self-publish a book? Because you can get your book into other online retailers, like B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and many more.
Amazon keeps everything on Amazon.
Here are the main print/distributors and their differences in self-publishing:
— Amazon’s KDP Print —
This is Amazon’s own printing press, which used to be CreateSpace. It was acquired by Amazon so they could serve self-publishers on their platform all in one place.
Ease of use: 5/5
Cost to publish: $.85 flat fee per book over 108 pages + $.12 per page (for a 300-page book, Amazon would take $4.45 in printing costs out of your retail price)
IngramSpark is one of the most popular book aggregators out there because they include hardcover in their printing options, where Amazon’s KDP Print does not. Many find this to be more appealing and a higher benefit.
Ease of use: 3.5/5
Cost to publish: $25 – $49, with a $25 per book edit fee, plus handling fees per book. You can see a breakdown of the costs here in the review linked below.
This is another distributor that’s been around for a little while. They have a flat fee for using their service, plus a royalty rate for you. Their services range from book printing to distribution to even ad management serivces. However, in all honesty, you can get the same level of service with a higher royalty rate elsewhere, but you may find they work best for you!
Ease of use: 4/5
Cost to publish: You pay $99 – $399 depending on distribution choices, but only KEEP between 11% – 20% of your royalties. PLUS, there are fees for editing your books.
It’s time to start building your launch team! This is such an exciting time, because self-publishing your book is getting REAL!
If you’re not sure what a launch team (or street team) is, it’s a group of people who are dedicated to reading your book, writing a review on the platforms you want, and helping your self-publishing journey become a success.
Overall a launch team helps you build hype and market your book before and during your launch.
When you build your launch team, you’ll want to find people who are actually interested in your book. Yes, friends and family can certainly help, but tapping into the market you WANT to sell to can be more effective.
Here are a few steps for building your launch team:
Create a social post, email, or announce it anywhere else you see fit
Offer a FREE version of your book (a PDF copy is usually fine) to get people to sign up
If you have an email list or a website, use a form to capture their information for use later
Create a Facebook Group or a Discord or something equivalent where you can communicate with the launch team all at once in a singular location
Set up a list of tasks, challenges, or other initiatives to ensure your launch team is invested in helping you market the book
Set them up for success by clearly communicated and listing DATES you expect things completed by
HAVE FUN!! This team is here to help you succeed! Be kind and treat them well.
#10 – Create a launch plan
This highly coincides with the previous step on building a launch team and creating a plan for THEM. Ultimately, to self-publish a book successfully, you should also set up an effective launch plan.
As someone working on a book, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. There’s much to plot out, decisions of tone to be made, editing to be done, and then publishing and marketing. You have many a word to get up on the screen. I expect you could use some encouragement to keep working at it.
We’ve got some encouraging quotes from those who have gone before you, those who have actually gotten the book done and then perhaps become famous because of said book.
We will provide some background of the authors to not only point out their mastery but also to provide you with some great book recommendations!
Writers Need to Read
As a writer, you need to know your specific genre and your craft. If you’ve never read a cozy mystery, how do you expect to write a compelling killer or all the twists and turns that a cozy requires? If you’ve never read a book on how to get the most out of hot yoga, how will you write a book on the subject? You need to know your field and how your book will be different than others out there. Reading will also help expand your vocabulary – and your mind!
“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” – Ray Bradbury
Bradbury is most well known for his iconic book, Fahrenheit 451, that has been made into a movie and graphic novels. He wrote more than 30 books, 600 short stories, not to mention his many poems and screenplays. This man wrote a lot!
“One must be an inventor to read well. There is then creative reading as well as creative writing.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Most of us learned about Ralph Waldo Emerson and his student and colleague Henry David Thoreau in high school. Alive in the 19th century, they were the fathers of Transcendentalism. Emerson was a well-read, well-respected lecturer and published author of many essays.
“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” – Stephen King
Stephen King is one of the most famous fantasy and supernatural modern novelists in this day. He’s written over 60 books, many of which have become films, miniseries, or television series. He’s most well known for It, The Shining, The Stand, and his first novel Carrie.
While you can’t write without reading, you really can’t write a book without actually writing it! Like Chandler says, your book doesn’t have to be perfect but it does need to be written! Here are some amazing authors encouraging us to just get to it and write!
“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” – Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult has written 25 novels including My Sister’s Keeper, Small Great Things and is a New York Times Best Selling author. This is also one of the most widely used encouraging writing quotes and we love it!
“If you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” – Dan Poynter
Perhaps the father of self-publishing, Dan Poynter has written more than 130 books, 800 articles and was also, interestingly, a parachute designer.
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach
Well known for his strong mustache, Bach was the author of some of the best sellers in the 70s including Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.
“The final sentence can’t be written until the first sentence is written.” – Joyce Carol Oates
Having written nearly 60 books, plus short stories, plays and more this lady knows her stuff. Oates is a pillar in the literary fiction world.
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”- Ernest Hemingway
Nobel Prize winner, sportsman and author of 24 books, we know Hemmingway as a master most for his The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls. And if Hemmingway didn’t consider himself a master, who can?
“It doesn’t matter how many book ideas you have if you can’t finish writing your book.” – Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting is a modern author who has made it his job to help others write their best.
The right ideas need to be conveyed in your book. Either fiction or non-fiction, your thoughts need to be laid out well so your readers know what you mean and take away the message you want them to understand.
“The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea.” – Thomas Mann
Most well known for his 1912 book, Death in Venice, Mann was an anti-nazi German who married a Jewish woman.
“Ideas are cheap. It’s the execution that is all important.” — George R.R. Martin
Martin’s epic Fire & Ice books have taken the world by storm in the HBO television series Game of Thrones.
“Writing—the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye—is the great invention of the world.” – Abraham Lincoln
Honest Abe was the United States of American’s 16th President who was a great orator and is most well known for abolishing slavering.
Finding the Right Words
Once you’ve figured out what to write and how to convey it, you’ll need to do some polishing. Finding the right words to show off what you mean is everything. We encourage you to hire a professional editor who understands your genre.
“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” – Mark Twain
Twain was the pen name for Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who wrote Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn which we’re pretty sure you’ve heard of before. Clemens was famous in his time and met presidents, successful businessmen, and royalty because of his work.
“Style means the right word. The rest matters little.” – Jules Renard
Renard was a French author, mayor, and playwright from the 1800s who used humor to tell hard stories.
“Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.” — Sylvia Plath
Plath is a famous poet who we now understand struggled with depression and ultimately took her own life. She is most well known for her Pulitzer Prize winning poems but she also wrote short stories and novels.
“Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called.” – Jarod Kintz
Kintz is a self-published author with three books under his belt. Maybe not super famous but we still love this quote!
Your Book Can Change the World!
Now you need some encouragement to keep going. Writing the book is half the battle! You need to keep going with publishing, marketing, and selling! The idea that YOUR BOOK can make a huge difference in the world may help you keep going when you’re feeling like throwing in the towel.
“After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Philip Pullman
Pullman was knighted for his writing. He is the author of the best selling His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy as well as many more books.
“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” – Martin Luther
This is the guy from the 1500s who helped start the Reformation by allegedly nailing his Ninety-five Theses to the front door of a fancy German church. He wrote many famous letters, pamphlets, sermons, as well as books. He knows about changing the world!
“Write what should not be forgotten.” – Isabel Allende
Allende has been called “the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author.” She’s authored 20 novels as well as many non-fiction pieces that focus on women’s rights.
“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.” – John Updike
Updike wrote art and literary critiques for the New Yorker and authored more than 20 books as well as short stories and poems. He is one of only three authors to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once.
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams
While not really a published author, Robin Williams was a famous actor and an amazing storyteller.
“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” – Aldous Huxley
Huxley is most well known for his 1931 book Brave New World in which Big Brother is always watching. He wrote nearly 50 other books as well as essays and poems.
“For me, literacy means freedom. For the individual and for society.” – LeVar Burton
Okay, LeVar hasn’t written a ton of books but he’s READ a ton of books TO us and we all love Reading Rainbow! He still counts as a book authority.
On Failure and Rejection
Not everyone will love your book. You will get a few one-star reviews and feel some hurt and rejection as an author. Take it as a badge of honor as these great authors have felt the same way.
“I was learning the craft; I didn’t study writing in school. Rejection was my motivation, and failure is what taught me.” – Pierce Brown
Brown’s space opera Red Rising series have each been on the New York Time’s Best Seller List.
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C. S. Lewis
Best known for his still popular The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe series, Lewis wrote about 30 books and was a contemporary of J. R. R. Tolkien (bonus book recommendation!) who wrote the iconic Lord of the Rings series.
“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.”- James Lee Burke
Burke is a prolific novel mystery author whose stories have been adapted into film.
So what are you struggling with? Which of these quotes is helping you move to the next step? If you need a help with accountability and publishing, we encourage you to look into our Self Publishing School model. Attend a webinar with Chandler this week to get started!
Writing is one of the loneliest professions. Especially in early drafts, you’re on your own… Later in the process, you might work with editors, beta readers, or publishers–but when you’re writing, it’s just you.
Some writers love that! It’s why a lot of people decide to be writers. But sometimes the isolation just becomes a little too much. What’s an easy solution? A writing partner!
Besides quelling the loneliness, a writing partner can improve your writing, keep you on track, and help you finish projects quicker.
Here’s what you’ll learn about writing partners:
What is a writing partner?
Why might you want a writing partner?
What are things to look for in a writing partner?
How do you find a writing partner?
Writing partner vs writing groups
Tips for using a writing partner
Some reasons you might NOT want a writing partner
What is a writing partner?
A writing partner, or a critique partner, is another writer you can swap writing and critique with. You might read everything each other writes, you might only have a writing partner for a specific project, or you might work on a consistent schedule where you regularly exchange chapters, stories, or writing exercises.
Sometimes a writing partner is an actual collaborator for co-writing. A lot of this information and advice can apply to co-writing, but this blog will focus on a writing partner as a critique partner.
Why do you want a writing partner?
Now that we know what a writing partner is…why do we want one?
Like I said, writing is solitary! It’s nice having someone in on your writing with you, there to help you brainstorm, and just to have someone to talk to. Even if they aren’t writing collaboratively, a writing partner can offer new perspectives and help you over writing humps.
New perspectives. Having someone else’s eyes and opinions on your work is valuable for having a full view of what you need to improve. It’s easy to get myopia if you’re the only one looking at your writing.
Regularly consuming another work-in-progress can be inspiring for your own writing! “Critiquing other’s writing sometimes inspires me in my own work. It gives me ideas or helps me figure out problems I have.” — Krystal Dean, one of my writing partners.
Improve your writing. Having feedback on your writing and critiquing other’s writing are two of the most helpful activities to hone writing skills.
“Writing partners hold you accountable.” — Gloria Russel, another writing partner. Even if you don’t have a strict submission schedule, just having someone expecting progress on a piece can keep you on track.
“It’s a nice way to ease yourself into other people reading your work and receiving critical feedback.” — Micah Klassen, my New Writer writing partner. If you’re new to the feedback and workshop process, a writing partner can help you get used to sharing your work in a safe and familiar environment with a friend! Letting someone you trust read your story is a lot less intimidating than sending a manuscript to a literary agent or publisher.
What are things to look for in a writing partner?
When choosing a writing partner, it’s great to be selective. You can always break off a deal with a writing partner if it isn’t working out, but it’s much easier to put time and thought into who you partner with at the beginning.
So what kind of characteristics make for a good writing partner?
Here are a few things you might look out for:
Someone you get along with! You’ll spend a lot of time communicating with a writing partner, so it’s best to have someone you’re friendly with–especially because you’re critiquing each other’s writing. Regular critique requires good communication and a fair amount of trust. If you’re uncomfortable with your writing partner, or you’re just not good at communicating, it won’t be a good relationship–it might even scare you off of writing.
Someone at a similar writing level as you. You want to have around the same skill and experience level to have a fair exchange of critique. Ideally, you’ll have strengths and weaknesses that complement each other’s, but you should have around the same level of skill. If one has much more experience, it likely won’t be a fair exchange.
A good writer. There are lots of levels of experience in writing, but some writers are just better equipped than others. You want someone who is striving to learn, always improving, and passionate about writing.
A good critiquer. I know a ton of great writers who are just awful at giving feedback. You want an attentive, observant, caring reader who knows how to communicate clearly. You can read a story and know it’s bad, but if you can’t pinpoint and express specific issues, you might not be good at critiquing others.
How do you find a writing partner?
If a writing partner sounds good to you, and now you know what to look for, how do you find one? The best place to find a writing partner is by being friends with writers! I’ve chosen my writing partners and critique groups from friends of mine who were already writers.
This has worked best for me because I already know we have good rapport AND I know they’re strong writers–I even know our personal strengths and weaknesses to be sure we complement each other.
If you don’t have a network of writer friends, you can find some:
Try joining a local book club or writing group. If none exist in your area, contact your school (if you’re school-aged), library, or community center to see about starting one.
If that isn’t an option, or you’re just not feeling the in-person interaction, there are tons of online book clubs and writing groups!
Twitter is a great place to find other writers, especially indie writers. Some hashtags you can check are #AmWriting and #WritersCommunity
Writing partner vs writing groups
Some people prefer one-on-one writing partners, but there are benefits to having a group of writers instead:
More eyes and opinions on your work
More writer voices to learn from
More strengths and weaknesses to balance yours
A great way to build strong relationships with other writers!
In a critique group, you have the opportunity to select writers with various strengths. One might be great with writing natural and compelling dialogue, one might be a master of imagery, another might have a talent for realizing subtext and working with symbolism. The more varied your talents within a writing group, the more rounded your critiques will be.
Also consider diversity in your critique group. Different ages, genders, ethnicities, orientations, life experiences, and perspectives will give you more rounded critique. If your writing group is solely people who are very similar to you, you’ll get more standard feedback, and likely an echo chamber of thoughts you’ve already had.
If you’d like to put together a writing group, consider the following elements:
Compatibility amongst everyone. Different personalities can get along great, if everyone is a good communicator.
Similar goals and schedules. Make sure everyone is on board with whatever schedule and routine you decide on.
Similar works in progress. If one person is a poet, one is writing an autobiography, and one is writing a science fiction novel, it’ll be difficult to determine what is due when, and feedback might be unfair. It’s obviously quicker to give feedback on a single poem than it is to give feedback on an entire chapter of a science fiction novel.
If you want a writing group but the idea of putting one together is intimidating, consider starting with one partner and growing from there.
Tips for using writer partners
Here are a few suggestions to utilize a writing partner or group to their fullest potential:
Set up a schedule to swap progress on your works in progress. Having an agreed-upon schedule written out makes it much easier to hold each other accountable, and it will help limit disagreements and conflict.
Use the same prompt for writing exercises. I love using this for my short story writing group. Take the same prompt, write a story or poem from it, then see what each other comes up with. It’s a ton of fun seeing the different styles and stories from each writer and it’s a great writing exercise.
Do word sprints together. My favorite writing memories are staying up all night with my friends as a teenager, word sprinting for NaNoWriMo. My writing partners and I like to sprint for twenty minutes, then share our new word counts and our favorite line from that sprint. Almost anytime you can make something a collaborative effort or a fun activity, you’ll get more done.
Swap stories! My partners and I have written scenes of each other’s WIPs to give a fresh perspective or to break a writing block with a scene. If you’re stuck on something, you can ask your writing partner to write a few paragraphs and see what they think should happen next. It’s unstuck me several times.
Use “I” statements in feedback. Especially early on, getting criticism is hard! To be respectful of your writing partner’s work, try phrasing feedback with an “I” statement. So instead of saying something like, “this chapter is boring,” you could say, “I feel like this chapter doesn’t have enough content.” Acknowledge that your opinions are subjective to keep everything in perspective and sound less like you’re attacking them.
Some reasons you might NOT want a writing partner
Obviously, there are lots of benefits to having a writing partner or group, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone!
Here are some reasons a writing partner might not be right for you.
If it will make you nervous to actually write. If you know someone is reading early drafts, you might get so in your own head that you’re too nervous to produce new content–you might second guess yourself and fall away from the project. You can always try it out, but if you realize writing partners aren’t your style, that’s fine too! Everyone has a different process. A solution: Maybe you have a writing partner for a second draft instead of your first one.
If you work on an irregular schedule. If you can’t commit to submitting projects or feedback on a timely basis, writing partners might not work for you. A solution: If you can write regularly and commit to a schedule, but you and your writing partner have very different timelines, goals, and expectations, you might just need to find someone with a similar lifestyle to partner with instead.
If a writing partner gives feedback in a way that makes you defensive. There are so many different types of communicators, and some of them clash. If you feel the need to defend yourself or your writing against all of your writing partner’s critique, you might need a new partner. A solution: Check in with yourself and see if you need to learn to accept critique better. If you’re not the problem, have an open and frank discussion with your partner about the way they present feedback. If that doesn’t help, don’t be afraid to cut ties with that writing partner and find a new one.
Writing partners are a great tool to get feedback, keep on schedule, better your craft, and build substantive relationships with other writers. Like any relationship, they take work! So use these tips to find and sustain healthy dynamics with other writers.
Have you finished writing it? Now you gotta edit it.
Let’s talk about editing, the different types of edits and editors, and what kind of editing your story needs.
What is editing?
Editing is the process of refining a work of writing. There are many types of edits, and there are many types of editors. The main types of editing are developmental editing, line editing, and copy editing. Let’s look at those in detail, as well as examples of each.
It is helpful to note that there is a big difference between a self-edit and a professional edit.
Every book needs a professional edit! Even if the writer is a professional editor themselves, editing their own book would require taking a several year gap between writing and editing to be able to come back to it with the new perspective required.
You would effectively have to forget your entire book before you could do a proper job editing it, and even then, you’d have to have substantial editing experience to do it credibly.The short of it: hire an editor.
However, before the professional edit, is the self-edit. There are several rounds of self-editing a writer might partake in. You can also use critique partners and beta readers as tools in the editing process.
Different Types of Editing:
Critiques – critiques aren’t edits, but I’m including them because I think they’re such an important part of the writing process. You can get critiques from writing partners, beta readers, or hiring a professional. Critiques should point out problems with pacing, voice, character arcs, story structure, and other macro edits.
Developmental editing – this is substantive editing, where you evaluate an entire manuscript for problems with plot structure, character arcs, overall story, consistency, etc. You might rearrange or delete chapters, condense, expand, or even rewrite the whole thing. Critiques should give you an idea of what to do for developmental edits.
Line editing – line editing is less about macro changes and more about micro changes. This is editing for things like style. It covers syntax, character dialect, realistic dialogue, verbiage, prose, etc.
Copy editing (proof-reading) – copy editing gets down to the tiny details, like proper sentence structure, consistent spelling, and grammar.
Types of Editing Examples
There isn’t a single form of “editing”. Different types accomplish different goals. For that reason, you may need to hire multiple editors for different types, or make sure the editor you hire has various types of editing they can commit to.
#1 – Developmental editing
Developmental editing has a bigger impact on a longer piece, like a full novel, but for the sake of brevity, this example is of a light developmental edit of a single scene. I only changed a few things, such as taking out one of the times the character is shot. Since I changed what happens in the scene, not just how it’s worded, this is a developmental edit.
The man laughed as he turned raising his gun and firing. Celine dove to the ground. Stone shrapnel and dust blasted her pants. Two bullets slammed into her vest with the force of a hard punch. Pain shot from her bruised ribs as she rolled behind a large boulder.
The gunfire stopped as sat against the stone. She assessed her pistol. Footsteps came towards her. She tossed the pistol aside as she scrambled away from him. As she slid behind another boulder a bullet tore into her right calf. Blood ran from the wound further staining her pants. Dust rained down onto her as he shot in her direction.
Her heart was pounding as she listened. She was patient. She grasped the hilt of her knife with her right hand and waited.
The gun stopped firing and she jumped over the rock. She ran as fast as her injured legs would allow. The pain tore through her body with a fresh surge of adrenaline. Her hand held her knife tight. Her tired body propelled her forward. Red ran down her pants. This was her chance to end this god, this man.
Celine lunged at him. He was fast for his age. His wrinkled face stretched into a calm sneer as he caught her first strike and crushed her hand. He grinned as watched the pain spread across her face. He glared at her as she swung the knife at his face. He caught her wrist and squeezed as he laughed. She felt her grip falter.
She kicked at his leg trying to free herself. landing several blows that he didn’t even notice. He dropped her injured hand and within a second his hand was on her throat. He squeezed hard. Her eyes bulged and her face went red as the black closed in.
The gunfire stopped. She pressed against the stone and assessed her pistol.
She grabbed the hilt of her knife and jerked it from its sheath. When she saw his legs, she chucked the busted pistol as hard as she could, catching him in the ear. She scrambled to another boulder, dust raining down onto her as more bullets lodged in the cave wall. She fell into the shadows, heart pounding.
“Celine?” he called, his voice calm. He sounded like he was smiling.
Celine clenched her teeth and squatted over her feet, clutching the knife. When his slow steps finally reached her, she launched herself over the rock. Pain tore through her body with a fresh surge of adrenaline as she lunged at him.
He was fast for his age. His wrinkled face stretched into a calm sneer as he caught her first strike and crushed her hand. He glared when she swung the knife at his face, catching her wrist and squeezing as he laughed.
Her grip faltered. She kicked at his leg, landing several blows that he didn’t even seem to notice. He dropped her hand and wrapped his fist around her throat. He squeezed hard.
Her eyes bulged and her face flushed with heat as black closed in.
This developmental edit mostly toned down the violence in the scene, which makes the violence left much more impactful. Developmental editing is usually used to fix much bigger problems, but this is a good example of slight developmental edits, since the actions have been changed.
If you would like to see the full edit and reasoning behind my changes, check out this video!
#2 – Line Editing
Line editing will clean up the language of a piece, but it won’t change what actually happens in it. Here’s an example from a flash fiction.
Conversation hummed around me in the diner as I waited. The waitress cleared her throat, forcing me back to earth. I looked up into her expectant face and faltered.
“I’m sorry, did you say something?” I asked.
Her deep brown eyes flashed from mine to the pile of shredded napkin on the table in front of me and back.
She let out a slight chuckle and said, “I didn’t mean to interrupt, I just thought you might want a refill.” She held out the coffee pot clutched in her right hand and gave a nearly indiscernible shrug.
“Oh. Yes, please.” I lifted my mug, glancing once again toward the entrance at the front of the little building.
“Hot date?” She asked, giving me the full force of her ‘customer service smile’.
“Something like that,” I replied.
“Well, good luck,” she said. “Let me know if you need anything else, okay?”
With that, she turned and walked back toward the counter. I watched her leave, her dark ponytail bouncing against the back of her light blue uniform shirt. She really was very striking.
The diner hummed with conversation.
A waitress cleared her throat.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “Did you say something?”
Her deep brown eyes flashed from mine to the pile of shredded napkin on the table in front of me and back.
She chuckled. “Sorry to interrupt. I thought you might want a refill.” She wiggled the coffee pot in her hand.
“Oh. Yes, please.” I lifted my mug, glancing at the diner entrance.
“Hot date?” she asked, giving me the full force of her customer service smile
“Something like that.”
“Well, good luck.” She turned back to walk to the counter. “Let me know if you need anything else, okay?” Her dark ponytail bounced against her lower back. She really was very striking.
This is a line edit, because I didn’t actually change anything that happened. I cleaned it up to be more concise and effective, but the actions are still there, whereas in the developmental edit, I changed the actual actions the characters took. Since this example is from a flash fiction, I only left the bits that I thought were absolutely necessary, so it turned out to be a bit shorter than the original.
If you’d like to see my full edit of this flash fiction, check out this video.
#3 – Copy Editing
Copy editing, or proof-reading, will check for technical mistakes. I’ve highlighted the changes in this excerpt.
Waking up everyday to that god damn shrilling tea kettle shooting steem into our kitchen, adding to the evergrowing smear on the ceiling. You’re always their, rushing to grab the handle and turn off the stove before it wakes me, but your never quick enough. You see me, and smile offering a cup of green herbal that I never refuse and also never drink. I pour it down the sink you leave. I wash my mug and yours and listen to the gravle crunching beneath the tires as you pull from the curb.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll do it.
Waking up everyday to that goddamn shrilling tea kettle shooting steam into our kitchen, adding to the ever-growing smear on the ceiling. You’re always there, rushing to grab the handle and turn off the stove before it wakes me, but you’re never quick enough. You see me and smile, offering a cup of green herbal that I never refuse and also never drink. I pour it down the sink when you leave. I wash my mug and yours and listen to the gravel crunching beneath the tires as you pull from the curb.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’ll do it.
Copy editing checks for things like missing, mis-used, and misspelled words, punctuation, and syntax.
Now here are some general tips for editing most types of writing!
5 Editing Tips
Editing should be done in rounds, starting with macro changes to fix problems with overall structure, then ending with grammar edits. If you edit in reverse and start with the smaller problems, you’ll make small mistakes again when you do developmental edits. Start with big edits so you don’t have to backtrack!
A lot of writers benefit from editing with a physical copy, so you might print your piece! Some writers use mark-up systems with different colored highlighters for different types of edits. I like to mark with a red pen.
Take some time from your piece before you try to self-edit. For short stories, I’ll wait a day or two. I just finished the first draft of my novel, and I’m waiting until the start of next month to begin my second draft! Getting some space from the piece will allow you to return to it with a fresh perspective, and that makes editing a much easier process.
Read it out loud! Hearing your words–especially your character’s dialogue–helps you spot mistakes.
And the most classic piece of advice on editing: kill your darlings. If something isn’t serving your story, you gotta be able to let it go. Here’s a list of things you can almost always cut from your writing to get you started on trimming.
Editing is tedious and time-consuming, but it’s the most important part of the writing process and should never be skipped or rushed! Take the time to revise and polish your story into the best version it can be.
Do you find that you struggle to connect your readers with your characters? Does your MC feel distant and detached? You might need to work on your psychic distance!
Psychic distance, also known as narrative distance, is an important literary element that affects how your reader relates to your character.
A simple definition of psychic distance is how close a story’s narration is to its character.
Psychic distance in writing overview
There are multiple levels of psychic distance. You can have a very far-off, objective view of the character–take the sentence:
“A woman sprints through the forest.”
Who is she? What’s she doing? What’s she thinking? We don’t know! We know nothing about her. Because this is an unknown character, likely an introduction, it is appropriate for the reader to be somewhat detached from her.
On the other side of this spectrum, you might have a sentence like:
“Moss slips under my feet as I run through the forest.”
In the first example, we are far-off, objective observers of this woman. There isn’t a large sense of urgency, and we don’t have a strong emotional tie to her.
In the second example, we are the woman. We are a part of the scene, we know our footing is unstable, we feel more connected to the story.
Those are two ends of a spectrum, so a point in the middle might be:
“Carol runs through the forest, slipping on moss.”
This one is third person, a little further than the second example, but we know her name. Knowing Carol’s name puts us closer to the character than if she were just a “woman.” We might care about her a little bit more. We don’t know her thoughts, and we obviously aren’t her, but we know her name.
Psychic distance is a spectrum with endless points, and they range from very far from your character to very close to your character. To explain this a little easier, let’s pick four points, or tiers, on the psychic distance spectrum.
Let’s say tier 1 of psychic distance is objective observation, tier 2 is indirect thought, tier 3 is direct thought, and tier 4 is a stream of consciousness directly from your character.
Here’s an example paragraph with zooming psychic distance. It starts wide with objective observation, then zooms to a stream of consciousness.
“The woman walks into the forest. Carol has always loved trees. They’re so quiet and unopinionated, filtering harsh sun to a kinder glow, cutting winds to a gentler breeze, inhaling carbon dioxide and exhaling calm.”
Tier 1 psychic distance: objective observation
“The woman walks into the forest” is objective. We’re not in her thoughts–we are simply observing the world for what it is. This distance is great for setting the scene. Picture an opening scene of a TV show or movie: they start with an establishing shot. The outside of a house, a panning shot of a forest, maybe even an overhead angle of a city. The objective distance takes in the wider world or a glimpse of a character we don’t know yet.
In this tier, the narrator is in charge. An example that keeps wholly in this distance of narration is Lemony Snicket in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Those books tell horrible stories of child abuse and endangerment. Why is it marketed to children? Because the psychic distance is far enough away. The reader views the characters through Lemony Snicket, so far off that it isn’t nearly as emotionally impactful as it would be from a closer perspective. Imagine those same stories as a first-person account from Violet’s point-of-view. It’s much darker and heavier, isn’t it?
Keeping so far away makes it very difficult to connect reader to character, but, as in the above example, it can be done intentionally and serve the story well.
Tier 2 psychic distance: indirect thought
“Carol has always loved trees” is an indirect thought. We have a small glimpse into Carol’s head, but we’re still in a separate narrator’s perspective. That narration puts a barrier between the reader and Carol.
Think of this tier as voice-over. We’re getting inside information of a situation, but it’s not happening in real-time or up close, so it’s not as urgent as it could be.
Tier 3 psychic distance: direct thought
“They’re so quiet and unopinionated” is Carol’s direct thought. We’re much closer to her now. From this distance, we can even infer a little bit about her perspective–why would she note that the trees are quiet and unopinionated? Maybe there’s a little subtext there. Did Carol have an upsetting conversation with an overstepping friend? Maybe that’s why she’s taking a walk in the woods.
This is the most common distance you’ll see in most fiction. It’s the standard narrative closeness, and likely will become your default.
Tier 4 psychic distance: stream of conscious
From “They’re so quiet and unopinionated,” we slip right into a stream of consciousness: “filtering harsh sun into a kinder glow, cutting winds to a gentler breeze, inhaling carbon dioxide and exhaling calm.”
Tier 4 removed the narrator’s voice completely, and we’re feeling what Carol is feeling. She’s super into these trees. We get it, Carol.
This is as close as we get to our character. Even in third person, the narration can slip in so close that we become the character.
In that example paragraph, we started wide and ended narrow. What if we reverse it?
“The trees filter harsh sun to a kinder glow, cut winds to a gentler breeze, inhale carbon dioxide and exhale calm. Trees are so quiet and unopinionated. Carol has always loved them. The woman steps into the forest.”
How did that paragraph feel? Not as satisfying, right?
The reversed example doesn’t foster the same reader-character relationship. We don’t go into it knowing it’s Carol thinking about the trees, because we have no context for her. You want your reader to grow closer to your character–not further away. You don’t start very close, then know less.
You can zoom in and out with the distance you view your character, but you cannot zoom in and out with the distance of how you know your character.
You will hop around with psychic distance for your narrative in general, especially if you’re not in a first-person point of view, but one aspect you shouldn’t change is the closeness with which you refer to your character once you are on a first-name basis. This is one of the biggest ways new writers mess up with psychic distance–they hop around with how they refer to their character.
Inexperienced writers will often call a character by their name, David, then they’ll use a synonym in the next sentence like, the man or the prostitute. We already know his name is David, so using synonyms is zooming in and out of the reader’s intimacy with the character for no reason.
Writers who switch psychic distance in referring to characters are often trying to do one of two things:
Avoid the repetition of repeating a character’s name.
Remind the reader that the character is blonde by calling her the blonde.
Neither of these are good reasons to regress on psychic distance. If you feel you’re being repetitive with your character’s name, do you really need to be using their name so often? Here’s a video by Jenna Moreci about dialogue tags that might give you some ideas of how to avoid using a character’s name too often. And if you want to work in description of a character, simply describe them in a natural way instead of using a synonym for their name.
If there’s one rule to psychic distance, it’s how you use a character’s name. Apart from that, psychic distance is a fun tool to experiment with for dynamic narration! Decide what distance is going to be the most impactful for whatever you’re trying to accomplish in that sentence or in that scene, and do it intentionally.
For an example of purposely using different psychic distances, think again of how you set a scene. You start wide to establish your setting: where are we, what time is it, what’s the weather like–then we zoom into what the character is doing. A wide psychic distance is used to establish setting and context, a tighter one is for when we’re close to our character.
As with any writing advice, you should keep in mind that there are no hard and fast facts about what to do and not to do, but you have to know the rules before you break them, or you’re gonna look like an idiot. You can break the “rules,” as long as you know that you’re breaking them.
To summarize, be aware of where your psychic distance is, use it intentionally, and use it to your advantage. And once you’ve named your character, call them by their name. One of the quickest ways to spot an amateur is when they call the character by some descriptor other than their name after we are intimately familiar with the character. So watch out!
Reading books is an incredible way to boost creativity, grow as a writer, and educate yourself on specific topics that interest you or you need to learn more about.
Chandler has made a habit of reading one book a week. This single decision resulted in him reading four books a month, and fifty-two plus books a year. One book a week compiles to a lot of books at the end of the year. Sound inspiring yet daunting?
Maybe you don’t consider yourself much of a reader.
Maybe you’re simply not used to reading or don’t read often.
Don’t be discouraged. It might surprise you that not that long ago, Chandler didn’t read much either. In fact, he was a C-level English student and a college drop-out. Regardless of his English grade, he realized the importance of reading. Rather than make an excuse he had two thoughts:
One: “I don’t have time to read.”
Two: “How do I make time to read?”
More important than even those two thoughts was his third thought, “I’m going to find a book on how to read faster.” It might seem counterintuitive to read a book on how to read a book, but Chandler’s first step in his process of reading set the tone for all the books he would later read.
He realized that if he spent purposeful time reading a book that educated him on how to read books, all the books he’d read in the future would be much more profitable.
In this post, we’ll cover what he learned from the book “10 Days to Faster Reading.”
The fundamental principles we’ll talk about are:
· Where To Read Books To Get The Greatest Benefit
· How To Track What You’re Reading
· How To Read More Books
· The Secret Of How To Read Faster
As you read through these points, take note of the ones that will most benefit your own goals and lifestyle.
Number 1: Where To Read Books To Get The Greatest Benefit
A good rule of thumb to follow is to never read in bed or on your couch. Of course, when it comes to fiction this is a different story. When reading fiction, pick the most comfortable place to read. Reading can and should be fun!
But when reading for educational purposes, you want your brain to be on full alert. Your brain goes into lazy mode when sitting on the couch where you just binge-watched that last Netflix series.
On the topic of where to read, it’s helpful to never even work from the couch. Blurred boundaries on work/life balance are not healthy and certainly not helpful.
It’s important to read with intentionality. Make it a point to,
· read at a desk with a comfortable (but not too comfortable!) chair
· read in a chair where your brain is used to being alert
· read at the coffee shop you love working at during the week
These seemingly small choices will go a long way in how much content you’re able to cover and how well you retain the information you read.
Set yourself up for success by choosing a place to read where your mind is already on full-alert. You’re doing yourself a disservice trying to read in bed. It will probably take you just as much energy – if not more! – to stay awake as it will to read.
When starting your new reading habit choose a well-lit chair or desk where you’re used to being productive. This will help your reading sessions be much more efficient. Ultimately, it will also allow you to make more time for reading because what you’re reading can be read and retained in a much shorter amount of time.
Number 2: How To Track What You’re Reading And Read Faster
Tracking what you’re reading is a tremendous benefit when it comes to speed reading. Wondering how to do so? It’s much easier than you might think. There are three different methods for tracking your reading:
· Simply cover up the words as you go
· Uncover the words as you go
· Or put your finger in the middle of a page
Chandler’s favorite method is to sit at a desk with his finger in the middle of the page he’s reading. This keeps him looking back and forth and scanning the page as he goes. He’s gone from hardly reading to reading a book a week, and recommends you try this method out for yourself!
Number 3: How To Read More Books
Finding time to read on a daily basis can be difficult. You likely have work, family, and friends, not to mention working out, meals, and sleep to consider. However, even finding 10-15 minutes a day has a compound effect on how many books you’ll end up reading.
Chandler has established a specific morning routine that allows him 30-45 minutes of reading every single work day. If you’re wondering how to make time for reading be sure to put it in your morning routine. You don’t need to start with 30-45 minutes a day, but even reading for 10-15 minutes every morning will impact your own, self-education in a positive way.
Not only will establishing a morning routine allow you the time and space to read more books, but tracking what you read will speed up your reading and allow you to get more read in the same amount of time.
Bonus: The Secret Of How To Read Faster
We’ve covered where you should be reading, how to track what you’re reading, and how to read faster. But you might still be sitting there thinking,
“I’m really not a reader. I love learning but when I pick up a book, it takes me so long to even turn one page. Reading is so important but my day is packed. I only have 10-15 minutes to read, on the weekends!”
Short on time to sit down with a book? Chandler has another method of reading that will greatly benefit you, especially if you have a long commute to work or a workout you just can’t miss.
Get those books read on audiobook!
Whether you’re on a flight, walking to a meeting, headed to the gym, or even at the gym, listening to an audiobook gives purpose to time that could be spent passively listening to the radio.
Reading doesn’t need to be viewed as simply a time with your eyes on the page, scanning word after word. Reading can also look like you on the treadmill, earbuds in, keeping your brain healthy and growing as you keep your body healthy and fit.
Chandler prefers to listen to audiobooks on 2 or 2.5 speed. This allows him to track faster with what’s being read and additionally get more books read in less time. He even listens to audiobooks as he scooters to his next destination!
If you’re just starting out listening to audiobooks, start listening at the normal speed. As you get used to actively listening and working to retain the information, try upping the speed to 1.5. As you grow as a reader/listener, you can up the speed even more.
If you already have a habit of listening to podcasts, simply swap some of your podcast time out for audiobooks. Chandler’s a fan of listening to audiobooks over podcasts because often, podcasts are a stream of thought. They aren’t as centralized or focused. On the other hand, books are way more intentional, practical, and laid out.
If you’re a writer yourself, you know the work it takes to create a book.
You have to get the idea, expand that idea into chapters, and then write it all down. That’s before the multiple drafts of editing! It’s only after countless hours of time, energy, thoughts, and lots of typing that the book’s theme is laid out in a reader-friendly way.
The privilege and opportunity of listening to a book while driving to work or running at the gym should be taken advantage of. Even if you’re not a reader, you can still get a lot of reading done.
How To Read More Books, Recap:
Making more time for reading and reading faster are goals that will change you as a writer and as a business person.
Yes, it takes effort to read, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes to get the habit started.
Establishing a specific amount of productive reading time into your morning routine will make the effort seem even easier to accomplish. Those 10-15 minutes of dedication will grow you as a person, in your business, as a writer, and as a reader. Your self-disciplined education will take you further than you realize.
So you’ve committed to reading.
You incorporated it into your morning routine.
You downloaded an audiobook app and are ready to go.
There’s one important question to ask before starting the first chapter of your next book.
What should you read?
Some questions to ask when considering what to read next are:
· What’s the field I’m working in?
· What subject most interests me?
· What’s a topic I’ve wanted to brush up on?
For a more in-depth video on how to pick which book to read next, click here.
The number one thing to consider when starting your reading journey is to be intentional with your reading.
It’s one thing to read every book that crosses your path. People love recommending books, and many of those recommendations are good, quality books that should be read.
However, it’s important to consider your own goals and aspirations when choosing the book you’re going to read next.
You could easily spend 10-15 minutes on your daily commute to work learning about a subject that will never be directly beneficial to you. While learning stretches and grows the mind no matter the topic, how much better to read a book that will directly impact your work/relationships/personal goals right now, today?
This is why choosing the right book is so important.
We all have the time to read. Whether that time looks like reading early in the morning as we work through our morning routine, or listening to an audiobook as we work out at the gym, we all have time to prioritize what’s truly important to us.
Choose the right place to read.
Let your mind be alert and ready to go.
Track what you’re reading so your time spent will be productive and efficient.
Read all the books you can, but make sure they support your goals and dreams.
Let us know what book you’re currently reading and how it’s impacting you. We’d love to hear!
If you’re looking to become an author, you might be thinking how much do authors make? Is it a sustainable career option?
Many will look at being an author as being a “starving artist.” And while this may have been true when the traditional publishing industry turned away almost everyone, it’s just not the reality anymore.
There are so many people out there making a living writing and publishing books. And not just barely making a living, making a full, healthy full-time income while pursuing something they truly enjoy.
Authors can expect to make a full-time living provided they have multiple books, know how to market them well, and an active, engaged fan base.
There are a ton of factors that play a role in how much authors make in a year. No two authors will make the same amount, though we all wish we could be lumped with the income of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.
How much an author makes per year depends on:
Royalty rate earned per book sale
Up-front advance offered (traditionally published only)
Scope of book marketing
Size of audience
How many books are published per year
How many books are currently out
While most people think traditionally published authors make more than self-published authors because of the fame of authors like Stephen King or George R.R. Martin, that’s not actually true.
The averages actually swing higher in favor of self-published authors.
You can see a real breakdown of each with our self-publishing vs traditional publishing analysis to see for yourself.
Here are the main differences in income for self-published authors versus traditionally published authors:
Traditionally Published Authors
40% – 60% royalties per book
Can publish 2-3 high-quality books a year
No advance, but you make money right away
10% – 12% royalties per book
Can take 2-3 years to publish one book
Up-front advance (but you don’t make royalties until that advance is “paid back” to the publisher)
If you want a specific amount made per book between self-published authors and traditionally published authors (after printing costs as indicated by Amazon, etc.) at a $13.99 retail price and a 50% royalty rate for self-published authors and a 10% royalty rate for traditionally published authors, here you go:
Self-Published Authors – $13.99 retail priced book
$4.77 per book
Traditionally Published Authors – $13.99 retail priced book
Note: Traditional publishing houses may have a lower printing cost through partnership deals or owning a printing press, but a $4.45 printing cost was used in the above calculations for both.
Regardless, you can see the major difference between the two: several dollars per book for a self-published author and sometimes not even a full dollar for traditionally published authors.
How much money does a new author make?
This is such a common question we get here at Self-Publishing School, and it’s understandable. Most people think you have to be really well-known to make money as an author.
This will help you understand how to price your book and help you calculate sales goals in order to reach an income level you really want.
Many of our students sell 2 -3 books per day through our Sell More Books program, and with many having multiple books, this number increases rapidly.
Ultimately, if you want to make money as a new author, your best bet is to write often, publish often, and create series or at a minimum, multiple books.
What are common author royalty earnings?
Since we covered this above for the most part, let’s give a quick overview of what author royalties look like.
Self-published authors can make between 40% – 60% royalties on a single book sale while traditionally published authors usually make between 10%-12% royalties.
First-time authors who want to traditionally publish can get an advance, which is usually $10,000 (usually not that much more for a first-timer). However, with traditional publishing, you do not start to earn royalties until you have sold $10,000 worth of books atyour royalty rate.
Basically, you have to earn back that $10,000 before you actually start to earn a royalty check from your publisher. And many publishers make a deal with the author that if they sell X amount of books, their royalty rate will go up, hence the difference there.
For self-published authors, you start making money from your first sale.
Ways to Make More Money as an Author
So now that you have an understanding of how much authors make, we wanted to let you in on a few tips for making more money as an author.
Here are our best tips for becoming a full-time author.
#1 – Choose between self-publishing or traditional publishing
First and foremost, you’ve got to learn the difference between self-publishing vs traditional publishing, and then make the choice that will be best for you.
Setting yourself up for success with this is crucial if you want to make the most money you can as an author.
There are successful paths with both avenues. Just know that traditional publishing will take longer (2-3 years with the entire process it encompasses) and you might not see big returns unless you end up getting lucky with a bidding war between publishing houses.
Those bidding wars are what usually get authors massive advances, like those 6 or 7-figure deals you hear about.
We actually put together a deep, full analysis for you to decide for yourself. Just click the button in the image below!
#2 – Write to market
Did you know traditional publishing houses have staff who come up with book concepts that are “trending” or hitting really well in the market, and then they also employ writers to bring those ideas to life?
Sometimes it’s the same person, but not always. They do this in order to have the biggest chance of making money by capitalizing on what’s “hot” in literature right now.
The best part? You can do this yourself as a self-published author.
But how do you write to market? And is it a less “legitimate” form of being an author?
There’s an argument between some more entitled authors and those who write to market under the guise of writing to market being a “sell-out” or some of the equivalent.
That’s just people being, well, entitled.
The truth is that if you love to write and can come up with story ideas easily, can write quickly, and are able to publish quickly, then writing to market is a legitimate (and smart) career opportunity as an author.
As a self-published author, you can write to market by looking at categories you enjoy creating stories in and seeing what types of stories are doing really well.
An example would be the Age of Vampire Novels that was initially kicked off by books like Twilight, triggering an explosion on vampire stories by many authors and publishing houses. And these sold really well.
Today, vampires aren’t quite as popular as Urban Fantasy in the Young Adult category.
If you’re someone who likes fantasy, you can benefit from writing those types of books and publishing them frequently.
The idea is to create a lifestyle with writing your novels. Instead of dedicating an entire month to it, you dedicate your life to building habits around writing every day.
Because if you want to make money as an author, you have to make it a habit, a part of your life, and a job.
So we recommend creating writing habits you can stick to in order to always be working on a story.
#4 – Publish series
If you truly want to “make it” as an author, writing and publishing a book series is a fast way to get there, especially if you publish multiple series.
The reason you make more money with publishing a series is simple: one customer is more likely to make multiple purchases.
If you have a great first book, they’ll buy the second and then the third, etc. This means you can make more money off of a single person.
Not only that, but if one customer buys every book in your series, they’ll also usually leave reviews as well as buy other books you’ve published that aren’t in the series.
Series establish a strong fanbase, which keeps you “employed” as a full-time author.
#5 – Put together an email list or other platform
Having a singular way you can communicate with people who have said “yes!” to wanting information from you is crucial. It’s like having a sales list.
We always recommend an email list because you own your list. Whereas with social media platforms, the company owns your followers, you don’t.
So if anything were to happen to a social platform and you lose all those followers, you’d have no way of communicating with them–just imagine if a social platform went down the DAY of your launch.
Email lists are also a great resource for recruiting beta readers, launch team members, and getting people excited about your book come launch time.
Here are a few things you need to create an email list:
Email provider like Convertkit (we have an SPS student exclusive deal through them!), Mailchimp, or other
A way to capture emails: like a website, a lead magnet in your book, etc.
That’s it! If you can capture an email address to a service provider, you’re done.
#6 – Commit to being an author
One of the best pieces of advice we have for you is to make a commitment. You can’t expect to make a full-time income if you’re only sort of interested in writing or you only work on writing when the mood strikes.
Just like with any other job, you have to work whether you’re in the mood or not.
This is the biggest mindset shift our fiction coach Ramy instills in our students. So much so that our exclusive community decided to take InNoWriLife a step further and track their progress with each other in a massive spreadsheet.
This is their dedication, and it’s why these students are so successful in being authors.
They wanted it and they made the changes needed to make it happen, like investing in Self-Publishing School to teach them the ropes.
But it’s not just our fiction students who are crushing this. Our Become a Bestseller nonfiction students are just as dedicated and have created the same habits.
Learning how to create an online course is becoming more and more relevant as time goes on, and the coronavirus pandemic has proven just how valuable that is.
While we here at Self-Publishing School hopped on this trend much earlier than the pandemic by creating our Course Building for Authors program, we thought it would also be helpful to break down some tips for creating an online course for all of you.
While we obviously can’t give away all of the secrets for how our students of that program are launching their courses to $10,000+, we can give you a step-by-step rundown of how to create one for yourself.
How to Develop an Online Course With NO Content Yet
If you have nothing and are starting from scratch, you’ll likely be a little more behind than others.
This blog post will help you but most of the time, having some sort of blog or a published book will make creating an online course much easier, faster, and overall better.
Our Course Building for Authors students often either come to us with a book published or another asset they’d like to turn into a higher revenue-generating business.
This gives them a solid base of content to turn into a course outline, an email list generated through a lead magnet inside their book, or a popular blog or other content asset they’ve been making for a while.
That said, if you truly don’t have any content, you can still learn how to create an online course! You’ll just have to understand that it may take a little longer to generate a solid outline.
Online Course Platforms to Use
While we’ll get into more of this specific step later (and how our students save 50% off a high-rated online course platform’s annual pricing), I wanted to drop a few options for you when it comes to where your course will live.
It’s important to have a reliable, trustworthy, and customer-service centered course platform in order to ensure your customers’ needs are met.
Here are some of the top online course platforms to consider:
There are plenty of more out there, but those are the best from our research.
How to Create an Online Course Step-by-Step
So you have your idea, you know you want to use a course to create a passive income revenue source, and you’re ready to go!
Let’s get into how to create an online course that does well and sets you up for success when you launch in order to build your online business.
#1 – Make a plan
You could just put some content together and run with it, but we’ve found this is why most people fail with their online courses. They have the desire but don’t plan appropriately.
You should be aware of what you need, the expenses involved, and how you’ll make a return on that investment (ROI).
Do you have a platform with people asking for a course?
Do you have a platform to sell to? (We teach you how to do it without one in our program!)
These are just a few of the items you want to plan for while thinking about creating an online course.
From there, you should build an action-plan to tackle some of these prior to launching your course (though you can start developing the outline and content before).
#2 – Know what you want the course OUTCOME to be
Most people don’t think about what success looks like for their customers before they develop the course. This is a huge area of importance we cover in-depth in our Course Building for Authors program, mostly because it sets you up for the long-term.
The more of your customers who find success, the more likely they are to refer, give you a high rating, and ultimately grow your business.
After all, the course is about them. Not you or what you’ve made. It’s about their struggles and how you’re solving that problem for them.
So ask yourself: what will the outcome be? What will be changed from starting the course to finishing? What will they have when they’re done?
You can use our program promise as an example: Turn your book into an online course and get your first 10 sales.
The result of this program is that our students will walk away with a complete course based on their book, and a guaranteed first 10 sales (because we also cover how to SELL your course).
If they don’t receive that, then we have some serious making up to do.
This also gives us a clear line of sight into what success means, which allows us to track this in order to make sure our students are getting what they paid for.
#3 – Get feedback about your idea
This is most helpful if you have an actual platform to go to. One of our Course Building for Authors students had a bit of a large Facebook group, and she was able to use that to ask them exactly what they wanted.
While we don’t necessarily advise people to make a course only to give people what they want, you should absolutely make sure that what you are covering is needed.
If you create a course on how to create a solid morning routine when what your audience really needs is a method of getting their tasks done throughout the whole day, it won’t perform as well.
Ask your friends and family, search forums, take to social media and research the need for what you want to create. If there’s a great need and little help, that’s the idea to go for.
#4 – Decide if you want guidance creating your course
You’ve already read all about how we help people build online courses with our program. But this is where you should decide if you want that help, or if you want to risk the odds alone.
You can check out that program page linked all over this post, and you can also research other methods of creating an online course.
All I can really advise you on is this: if you want to succeed, to make money from your course, and create a course that truly makes a difference, getting guidance from someone experienced will make a difference.
Imagine yourself without any help, trying to navigate this by Google search…and then imagine if you had a program walk you through step-by-step how to make it, with 1-on-1 coaching for specific questions, as well as a large exclusive community to support you.
You can absoutely have success without going to a coach or program to teach you this. However, it’ll likely take a lot longer and you’ll have to put forth much more work.
As a company that’s gone from $0 – $16 Million in 5 years from online courses, we know a thing or two…or ten 🙂
And we’re teaching you our exact methods, our sales tactics, and more.
If you have a book, this step is likely a lot easier, though there are some major differences between a book’s content and a course’s content.
That being said, creating an outline is super important. Think of each line item in this outline as a module for your course.
Having a clear plan with your destination (what you’ve determined “success” to be for your course) will help you create a better course, faster.
And in the age of time being the most valuable resource, this is really important.
Here are the steps for outlining your course:
Create “modules” for each section that differentiates from the one before it
Then go through and list 2-5 topics for each module
Then go deeper and indicate the biggest “takeaway” for those unique topics as well as for each module
Don’t forget to make a section for proof, examples of someone or yourself accomplishing what you’re asking them to do
Review your outline to determine if it needs anything else in order for people to succeed in your course promise
#6 – Develop the entire course content
Now’s the time to dig deep and make your content!
There are a few options you can use to put the course together:
We here at Self-Publishing School recommend have all three available. But first, start with the written content (unless you’re more of a speaker, in which case record, then transcribe).
The reason for having several different types is because people learn in all sorts of ways.
By giving them choices, you create a better user experience and will be more likely to have people succeed and then leave positive reviews, boosting your course sales (not to mention the testimonials you can use for marketing).
Remember to be clear with your instructions, use metaphors to make it easier, and use examples from your own life. People love authenticity. Be real about what you did and how it worked in order to get them to take action.
#9 – Launch to a BETA group
Before you go live, you should always launch your course to a beta group at a lower offer price than you plan to go public with. This is super important for setting your course up for success later on.
It can be hard for those of you without a platform, but even offering a discounted price and letting people know it’s for a testing phase can help you get conversions through your website.
This stage is really vital for understanding what people are actually getting out of your course. Much like with writing a book, you can’t always tell what’s working and what’s not because you created it.
Have others go through, let them tell you what’s confusing, what didn’t work, and what was even hardest for them.
This gives you a list of “fixes” you can make before launching publicly that will give your new customers the most success.
#10 – Make any adjustments from the beta group
This is pretty self-explanatory, but make those changes! Don’t just ignore the feedback you get.
While you don’t need to change everything, especially if only one person had an issue and others didn’t, you do want to make sure you’re adjusting things that several people spoke up about.
Make your course the best it can be for your customers, and remember you can always make tweaks and updates later on as well.
#11 – Launch & Sell!
Now’s the time! We know these are a lot of steps, but they’re necessary to build a course that will perform well and bring you and your customers success.
That being said, selling it all on you. Whether you’re selling straight from a landing page or you’re getting on sales calls, the important thing is to focus on their need and how your course helps them solve it.
In our course building program, we actually have an entire section on selling and how to do it without feeling “salesy,” with our own blueprint for what we do here at Self-Publishing School.
When it comes to your career, your business, and even your author goals, learning how to become a speaker at events might be on your mind.
After all, thousands of people go to events to hear from authorities on topics they’re interested in learning more about. In order to place yourself as that authority, speaking at these events is important.
Over the past couple years, I’ve spoken at over 40 events on the topic of writing and publishing a book successfully.
This had brought in over 7-figures for my business, not to mention all the people who are now aware of me, what I do, and Self-Publishing School as a whole.
We recently launched a new product here called PR & Speaking for Authors on this very topic, with even more information. But in this post, I’m going to unveil our own process for becoming a speaker at events.
This might be a hard pill to swallow but the truth is that if you want to get paid to speak at events, you have to have experience, a message worth the price tag, and authority.
Usually, people pay to speak at events when they first start. Sometimes you pay to “sponsor” the event, which you then get to speak at.
Until you become someone who has a platform and can bring more people to the event. In most cases, being able to show extreme authority in your field can also benefit getting paid to speak at events.
And for authority, we always recommend at a minimum, publishing a book. Being a published author is like having an immediate “authority” stamp on your forehead.
Here are other ways you can get paid to speak at events:
Publish that book 😉
Grow your platform
Build a resumé of high-quality events you’ve spoken at
Network with people who can vouche for you
How to Become a Speaker at Events: Our Foolproof Methods
I’m basically handing you our playbook for booking stages and becoming a speaker at events. Most of this was formulated by my Head of Business Development, Pedro Mattos.
He’s been largely responsible for this process and booking speaking events that have generated over $1.5 Million in sales for our business.
You’ll see a couple different types of steps for becoming a speaker at stages. These are separated by “networked” steps as well as “cold”.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, networked steps involve getting speaking gigs from people you’ve met and connected you to the right people whereas cold research and outreach are the opposite, where you find the information and reach out without having any prior connection to the event or coordinator.
Both are really important, though networking will usually get you the most bang for your buck down the road. When you’re starting out, cold outreach will be your most lucrative, since you likely don’t know many people in the event business…yet 🙂
#1 – Finding events to speak at through networking
Say you’re in a position where you’ve been able to connect with people who are in the event business. By that, I mean they either work at events, throw them, or speak at them regularly.
These people can also be a past or current client, colleague, or strategic partner or someone’s event you’ve already spoken at.
Here are some people you can get in touch with in the “event business”:
associations you’re a part of
online groups or forums
experts you know
We recommend listing some names you can think of and putting those all in one place where you can track the progress of this before actually reaching out.
Organization is KEY for becoming a speaker at events. You’d be surprised how many opportunities can fall by the wayside without organized outreach and follow up, which we’ll cover.
For Self-Publishing School, we use Asana’s “Board” structure, as you can see below:
This way, it’s super organized. You know exactly who is in what stage so you know which steps you need to take next to become a speaker at their event.
You can also create something similar in a spreadsheet if you don’t want to use other software. Either way, make your list, label each step, and keep track!
#2 – Finding events via cold research
This is where the majority of you will likely fall if you’re just getting into the speaking world. You’ll do “cold” work when you don’t have any prior connections to people who work at the event, the event itself, or speakers.
Most of this requires good, old-fashioned online research, and we have a few tips for that.
This will take some work. It’s not an instant result. That said, it’s worth it and you’ll likely make some connections within your niche that allows for other opportunities as well.
Keep track of these events and contact information in a spreadsheet or task organization software like Asana.
#3 – Outreach for networked events
You should have two lists at this point, one for people you know/of and another for cold outreaches. Once you’ve got that research down, start with the people know you, since these are usually the best chances of becoming a speaker at events.
When getting in touch with these people, there are certain methods that work better than others.
Reach out via channels in this particular order until you get a response:
Text (ideally voice memo)
Direct mail via a hand-written letter
Here’s an example of a message Pedro sent out about an event.
We like to follow a specific formula for outreaches that we’ve figured out gets the most responses.
Here are a few things to remember for this:
Mention how you know them
Don’t ask for a referral, instead ask where they are going (and give a reason for your ask)!
BONUS: End by asking for their address and sending a gift
#4 – Cold outreach to speak at events
Your cold outreach will be a little different than messaging those you already know. While a little more of an uphill battle, there are a few ways you can put yourself ahead of others.
Knowing event planners main problems can help you craft your outreach to get attention.
Here are their 3 main problems:
They need to fill their event (aka sell tickets)
They need to provide amazing content that solves a problem for their audience
They need to cover their overhead / make revenue from the event through means other than ticket sales (sponsorship revenue, back-end sales revenue, etc)
With that stuff in mind, you need to at least mention and cover one of those needs in your first outreach, specifically how you can solve that problem.
Remember that with an initial outreach, you are not selling the event planner on having you on their stage. You’re selling them on getting on the phone with you for a 15-minute call.
Here are all of the components I would cover in the initial email:
Direct subject line that talks about the opportunity of you and them working together. Ex: Partnership Opportunity
In the first line two lines, explain who you are and why they should care (hit on one of the 3 pain points above)
In the next line, explain why you believe that would be a good fit for their stage, and what your ideal scenario would look like.
End with a CTA to book a short 15-minute call or an opened ended question asking if they have completely filled their speaking slots (this really works)
Add a PS. with a link to something that proves your credibility (if you have a book, this should always be linked in your signature to begin with)
#5 Following up with initial outreaches
Follow-ups are arguably even more important than anything else. If you don’t bake this into your system, you’ll lose out on a lot of opportunity.
Our philosophy is “the money is in the follow up”.
If you are not getting a response, it’s probably one of three reasons:
Your message is not relevant for them right now
You are not talking to the right person
You are not using the right medium (Facebook vs. email vs. text)
With that said, it is important to address all three of those points in your follow up – which means:
Reach out to different people in the organization and ask to be directed to the correct person
Change your ask, subject line, etc
Try multiple mediums until someone replies (but don’t annoy them, spread out your contacts over some time to give them a chance to look at your messages)
#6 – Navigating your first call with event coordinators
We’ll cover two things in this point: how to schedule your first call and how to execute it to book the event.
How to Schedule Your First Call
If and when someone replies to your initial outreach positively, you’ll want to get on an actual phone (or video chat) call with them as soon as you can to close the deal while you’re fresh in their mind.
Your initial outreach should have included something about hopping on a quick call to chat details (since that was the purpose of it). Now when they respond, try to make that call happen in the next 48 hours to increase your chances of booking the event.
From here, you’ll include a link to a calendar where they can book, or you’ll confirm the time and send out a detailed calendar invite.
You’ll see an example of a Google invite below:
What to do While on Your First Call
The goal of this call is to familiarize yourself with the meeting planners and get a better understanding of their goals, challenges, and really anything you could help solve.
The second purpose is to get some logistics around stages and offer a solution that includes you speaking at or “sponsoring” their event.
Here’s an “outline” of what you should be shooting for during this conversion:
Step 1 – Introduction and rapport
Ask where they’re from
Introduce everyone on the call and provide:
Context for who you are and what you’re doing
How what you do relates to them and their event
Step 2 – Give context and figure out their goals
“It’s so great to connect, and I really appreciate you taking the time to hop on this call. I know we don’t have a ton of time scheduled and I want to be respectful of yours, so to give you some context…”[give context around the call, sample below]
Provide them with some more details about your mission, passion, and overall purpose, as well as why you want to grow our event connections and speaking resumé
End this bit with: “So with that said, I’d love it if you could give a quick overview of the top projects / goals you’re working towards over the next few months, and we can see if there’s a way we can help.”
Step 3 – Let them know what you’re working on and why you’re building partnerships
Give an overview of a few projects we have in the works that lend themselves to partnership opportunities
Start off with a content sponsorship pitch “I think one easy win to start this relationship off is to start with a sponsorship. I’m sure you’re always looking for new sponsors, we’d love to see what would make sense”
Go with an assumptive / “this-is-a-no-brainer-and-the-obvious-next-step” tone and you’ll pretty much get a 100% conversion on this
Then ask them what it would look like to have you do a 45-60 minute presentation on your speech topic
Finally, if it’s a fit and they have a decent-sized list (10k+ for bigger platforms, smaller if you’re just starting out), pitch an affiliate webinar:
“Last thing that I think could be really cool for your audience and this relationship, is I’d love to do a live training around [your niche topic/speech]. We’ll set it all up, your audience gets access to some great content, and the best part to you is you get $x for any person you send to the training who becomes a student. Is that something we could get on the calendar in the next couple of months?”
The idea with these steps is to move through the conversation seamlessly and in a way that makes sense to them.
As with any professional call, don’t interrupt or ignore questions, etc. You want to have a cordial conversation that’s upbeat, fun, and makes them want to be around you, which will help with their decision to include you in their speaker lineup.
#7 – First call recap email
Yes, even your call needs a recap email. This helps to clear up any confusion and have a physical reference for both of you for what needs to happen next.
Ideally, this recap email should be sent to ALL relevant parties less than 3 hours after the call takes place.
It should recap EVERYTHING that was discussed, and specifically note dates, percentages (for discounts), specific next steps, and the names of people responsible for those steps.
If additional intros need to be made (content teams, for example), include everyone on the recap email, and indicate that the introductions will be made in a separate thread.
Be hyper-specific here. It might feel unnecessary or OCD. It almost certainly won’t come across that way.
Here’s an example of a solid recap email:
#8 – Confirming the event!
Now, don’t just go taking any event you can. It’s tempting but remember, you’re also vetting the event owners, their mission, and ensuring it aligns with what you’re doing.
BUT, if the event checks all of your boxes and meets all the requirements you set up for yourself, here’s what you’ll do next:
Email the meeting planner confirming that you will be attending the stage
Send an email to connecting anyone within your business (if there’s more than you) to the event planner
Add the event to your personal calendar so you don’t forget
Move this event over in your planning / tracking software or spreadsheet
Transfer all known information, contracts, etc into the task you have in order to have all the info in a single place.
That’s how you become a speaker at events! It seems complicated, but this process isn’t as simple as sending one email.
We’ve nailed down this process and our Head of Business Development swears by it. Let us know how it works for you!
The authors who are willing to put themselves out there—whether in the form of speaking gigs, media, or other in-person appearances—have the best chance of standing out from the crowd and grabbing the attention of book buyers.
What area speaking engagements?
Speaking engagements are when you speak in front of a group of people on a specific topic you’re knowledgable about in order to inform or inspire.
Most people think of TEDx Talks when they hear the term “speaking engagement.”
However, not all speaking gigs have to be at the Ted Talk level in order to be considered a speaking engagement. Any scheduled speech you give (even unpaid) in front of a group of people is considered a speaking gig.
How do I book paid speaking engagements?
Not everyone can get paid to be a speaker upfront. If you want to be a paid speaker, you have to first hone the craft of speaking and then gain experience in the field.
Some may get lucky enough to be booked as a paid speaker upfront but usually, it can take time, experience, and a resume of speaking engagements in order to take home money for it.
An easy way to expedite the process of becoming a paid speaker is to increase your authority by writing a book.
Before you can reach the days of paying someone else to book your speaking gigs, you have to put in the work for yourself first.
This means doing research and performing a lot of outreach in order to connect with those responsible for booking speakers at different events.
Keep in mind that you may have to start small (and we’ll touch on this below) before you can expect to book yourself at larger, paid speaking engagements.
How to get speaking engagements at churches?
One major way to not only make an impact but reach new levels with your faith is to book speaking engagements at churches.
While not everyone will need this bit, it’s super important for those of you seeking to share your story and message. And like some other methods listed here, one powerful way to reach more churches is to write a book about your faith and message.
This allows you to present the church with some concrete information about you as a person of faith and the specific message you’d like to share. Not only that, but it can also be a great way to sell more books.
Here are a few ideas to help you land speaking engagements at churches:
Be present in that church community
Share your message and ideas with others
Develop a strong speaking ability
Live your faith and message outwardly
Allow someone else to nominate you (due to #2)
Attend local church activities
Ultimately, you’ll have to pitch your idea and message in order to land this speaking gig. However, the steps above can help others see you as a source of information, inspiration, and faith.
How to Land Your First Speaking Engagements as an Author
We’re not saying it can’t be nerve-wracking to stand up in front of a crowd. That’s why we recommend starting small, saying “yes” to multiple opportunities, and getting lots of practice.
This isn’t a one-and-done proposition if you truly want speaking to become an effective piece of your “professional author” repertoire.
So, how exactly should you land that first speaking engagement?
Read on for our ten tips, and you’ll soon be writing your notecards for your debut talk.
#1 – Start Local
Conferences are a natural place for speakers of all levels to take the stage. However, don’t feel as though you have to limit yourself to formal settings to find speaking engagements.
Any group where your desired audience gathers can provide a chance for you to speak.
You could speak to students, to religious organizations, women’s groups, at your library, local business associations…the list is endless! Look around your own community and make a mental list of all the places where you might ask to speak.
#2 – Speak to Your Niche
If your book is geared toward a specific niche, explore related groups. For example, if your book is a memoir about overcoming an obstacle—such as domestic violence or cancer or another illness—you could speak to a support group.
If your book is about productivity, then seek out entrepreneur groups or the chamber of commerce.
If you’re a nurse, and you’ve written a book about health care, then hospitals are a natural place for you to speak. If your story relates to a specific sport, then hit up the closest sport teams.
No audience or venue is too small or informal for your first “official” speech.
#3 – Find a Natural Connection
While we do recommend starting small and local, look even closer: make sure the group you choose will actually be well-served by hearing your message.
Look, there’s nothing worse than standing in front of a crowd that’s bored, or worse—hostile—because you’re wasting their time.
There’s an easy way to warm up any crowd, and that’s to have something in common with them. You want your first speaking engagement to be closely related to your book and your book’s message.
If your book is all about the stressful life of a lawyer, then you’re not going to want to speak to a group of airline pilots.
For your first speaking gig, your goal is to find an audience that will benefit from your book’s message. Ideally, you want to find an audience you naturally connect with, because that connection will make you more relaxed and authentic, which will result in a better speech.
#4 – Build Excitement
If you’re not quite ready to beat the bushes in order to grab your first speaking engagement immediately, then consider building up some excitement first.
We authors share a common goal: to get our target readers excited about our book’s message!
How do you do that? The good news is the Internet makes building a virtual audience fairly easy these days with consistent effort. You can establish a following of readers through your website, through online forums, via social media, and by writing blog posts, both your own and by writing guest posts for others.
Use all of these types of content to build your audience with the goals of increasing book sales and finding your first speaking gig.
#5 – Hone Your Skills
Think of informal ways to practice your speaking abilities with the goal of scoring a “real” gig.
You can produce videos on your book’s subject, join podcasts, and seek out online interviews to share your voice with the world, gain exposure, and get comfortable with your talking points.
By showcasing your speaking talents, you open the door to an invitation to speak in a more structured setting—that even pays more.
Plus, you get great practice speaking about your book’s message before you have to stand on a stage in person.
#6 – Attend a Writer’s Workshop
A great way to get the inside scoop is to meet other authors and pick their brains about their speaking process.
How did they find speaking engagements? What are their best speaking tips? What fees do they charge?
Meeting other writers gives you a broader network to use as resources on all topics that impact authors—not just the nitty-gritty of drafting books.
#7 – Speak at an Industry Event
These fact-based speaking engagements are perfect for non-fiction authors. Whether your industry is blogging, healthcare, law, plumbing, or real estate, it’s likely you can find a conference about it.
The exact nature of the industry doesn’t have to mirror the topic of your book.
Instead, you can focus your talk on skills that can help people in that industry.
For example, if your book is about productivity, you can create a talk that’s focused on how your audience can adapt the productivity lessons found in your book to suit their particular industry.
#8 – Aim Low (at First)
The first of your speaking engagements probably won’t be a Ted Talk, and that’s okay!
The first time, in fact, you may have to volunteer your time to speak at a pretty tiny event.
But as the saying goes, you have to walk before you can run. Just keep taking steps toward bigger and better events. With each new speaking gig, your resume will grow—along with your confidence!
#9 – Practice Makes Perfect
Write a speech today, and read it to yourself daily—before you even have speaking engagements lined up. You want to be able to handle a speaking engagement that’s the very next day if someone called you out of the blue.
What way when the times comes, you’ll be ready to shine.
#10 – Say YES!
When you’re offered your first speaking engagements—take it!
Even if it gives you butterflies or if it’s not the “perfect” fit for your brand, you need to be open to invitations when you’re just starting out. You’ll gain valuable experience, polish your skills, and get your book’s message out there to the public.
All good things!
Get started now on finding your first speaking gig. No matter the size of your audience, you’ll gain exposure for your message, while achieving the unparalleled life experience of speaking about your passion.
Humph… That’s the sound you just made as you heaved another big sigh.
You’re frustrated. You’ve been trying to write your book for months.
You’ve got the best intentions. But every time you sit down to start writing, you get interrupted…
Someone needs YOU to review that important report before it goes out (it’s 6:30am, how is anyone else at work?!).
Your husband gets home early and suggests that you go out for dinner (you can’t say no, you haven’t spent much time with him this week.).
A friend calls you in distress. She has broken up with another guy and needs a shoulder to cry on (you rush out to meet her at your local cafe, which is packed because it’s Saturday.).
It feels like the Universe doesn’t want you to write this book!
But this book is important to you. You want to make an impact. Share your knowledge. Eventually transition into writing more books and serving more people.
If only there was a system that would keep you on track and allow you to see what was coming up so you could be proactive.
Enter the Author Success Journal.
It’s time to ditch the overwhelm and get focused on your goals.
Because once you know the steps you need to take to stay focused and what actions to take and when, the sooner you can finish your book and get it out into the world.
Ready to be a successful published author?
Let’s get started.
What is the Author Success Journal?
The 90-Day Author Success Journal was created to help you achieve your most important author goals over the next 90 days by providing you with space to record your goals, the action steps you need to take, with reflection and suggestions for adjustment along the way.
Why 90 days?
An entire quarter is a good amount of time for you to stay focused and get work done. It’s also a short amount of time that if you need to pivot, you haven’t lost much in the process.
Your success as an author largely depends on the actions you take.
The Author Success Journal brings focus and clarity so you can move forward in your author journey.
Let’s break down the entire Author Success Journal process so you can see how it helps you write and publish your book.
Mind Map Your Way to Clarity with the Author Success Journal
One of the first things you’ll do in your writing process is mind map your book idea.
Because this is such a successful way to get all your ideas down in one spot, it’s also the first thing you’ll do inside your Author Success Journal.
The mind mapping process isn’t just for your book.
I use it to get clarity on lots of things, like what book to write next, how my book fits into my overall business, and how to transition my book into a course.
I find that when I’m stuck, mind mapping is the key to unlocking and unsticking my mind.
This is why it’s the first part of the journal. You have three pages to do a complete brain dump before you start mapping out your author success journey.
Before you can get clear on your goals, you need to get everything out of your head.
Once you’ve created your mind map or brain dump (it’s up to you how you use those first few pages!) it’s time to move onto the next stage — setting S.M.A.R.T goals.
So for example, a S.M.A.R.T goal you might set would be Write 500 words per day, Monday to Friday for 4 weeks.
Choosing S.M.A.R.T goals like that gives you a very clear plan of what you’re trying to achieve and a way to keep track of it.
Ideally, you’ll choose 3-5 S.M.A.R.T goals for the next 90 days and outline these in your Author Success Journal.
I’d recommend taking it a step further and writing these down on a piece of paper and putting it above your computer (or wherever you are writing) so that you see them every day.
The key is to choose goals that make you stretch a little… that give you butterflies in your tummy when you think about them.
BUT… don’t set yourself up for failure either. Avoid choosing goals that make you start thinking that you can’t achieve them, that they’re impossible.
What’s next? Your 90 Day Goals.
Your 90-Day Plan
This next step in the Author Success Journal is about taking your S.M.A.R.T goals and deciding on what you want to achieve within the next 12 months (like write and publish your book!) and then breaking them down into 90 day achievable steps.
Here’s an example from the journal:
You’ll notice that in the example, there are dates attached to each goal.
This is so that you’ve got a deadline to work towards.
If you use a digital calendar like Google Calendar, go ahead and add those dates to your schedule. Set yourself a reminder each week to check your progress… or better yet, use the journal to track and map out where you’re at.
To ensure that you don’t miss your goals, let’s take it a step further and break it down into 30 day goals.
30-Day Plan & Overview
This is about taking those main goals and breaking them down into all the nitty gritty tasks that allow you to achieve your end goal.
This is about being intentional and getting clear on what you actually NEED to do to reach your goals.
This is where a lot of brand new authors fail.
They fail to set S.M.A.R.T goals and they fail to then break those down into the tasks that will get them there.
But that’s not you anymore! You’re going to work backwards from your goals and write down all the action steps needed to achieve them.
What would that look like?
Let’s take the example from above. Write 500 words per day, Monday to Friday, for the next 4 weeks.
The 90-Day goal for that would be to have a rough draft written in 30 days.
Our 30 day plan might look something like this:
The key is to also map out anything that might impact or stop you from completing those goals.
It’s about being schedule aware. It’s about being proactive with your time and problem-solving BEFORE overwhelm hits.
Before you dive into using the Author Success Journal system, let’s get even clearer on your top goals and the action steps you need to take for the month ahead.
List Your Top Goals & Associated Action Steps
This is all about outlining your top 3-5 goals for the next 30 days (if you have that many, you might only have one if you’re in the writing phase).
It’s about setting your intentions and making a plan to achieve them.
Once you’re clear on what those are, you’ll outline the action steps you need to take to meet your goals. This is where you’re going to write down specific, time-driven tasks based on what you’re trying to achieve over the next 30, 60 and 90 days.
All clear on what you’re doing?
Now we’re ready to dive into the heart of the journal… your weekly and daily pages.
Reflect on The Week Ahead
As you head into the week ahead, it’s time to bring clarity and awareness to what you’re trying to achieve.
Because we want to make sure that you’re set up for success. That there are going to be no surprises when you sit down to write, or when you map out your marketing plan.
You’ll see two pages that will ask you to write down what the week ahead looks like at a high level… what meetings do you have planned? Any work trips that will take you away? Social outings? School committments?
This is the area to record all of that information.
Then, you’ll have space to reflect on the last week. What wins did you have and what did you learn?
You’ll also look ahead and have space to record any thoughts or ideas that come to mind as you think about what you’ve got on your schedule.
Doing all of this allows you to do a mini brain dump. It frees your mind from having to remember #allthethings and allows you to get laser focused when you are writing.
Each week, you’ll have the opportunity to do this. It’s a great way to ensure that you always have clarity and awareness of what’s going on around you and how you can ensure you meet your author goals.
Next up — Daily pages.
Get Focused Daily
This is the magic of the Author Success Journal process.
The daily pages are designed to help you get extremely clear on what you’re doing and also provide insight into what you might want to STOP doing…
In the example below, you’ll notice that the day is spread across two pages. This is so that you have plenty of space to record your thoughts and map out your day.
You’ll choose a focus area. This is how you can set your intention for an individual day.
You’ll also list out the three main actions you’ll take towards ACHIEVING your goals. These are your most important items and must get done that day.
Then you can plan out the rest of your day.
You’ll then have space for reflection at the end of the day. This is a nice addition to your evening routine and allows you to get clear on your progress.
You’ll also set yourself up for success by stating your IMMEDIATE next step for the next day.
This entire layout is designed to bring clarity and intention to your author success journey.
You’re setting yourself up for success when you use this journal.
By now, you should be able to see why the Author Success Journal process will allow you to succeed where you might have been failing right now.
By writing down what you’re focusing on each day and mapping out your action steps, how can you not achieve writing and publishing your book?
The other key components of the Author Success Journal include:
Rewrite Top Goals & Action Steps. At the beginning of each new week, you’ll write down your top goals and action steps. This is to bring visibility to what you’re working on.
Monthly Reflections. This is where you’ll review the previous month and track your progress on your 90-day and 30-day goals. If you need to pivot, this will make it obvious where you need to make changes.
90-Day Review. Once you finish your first Author Success Journal, you’ll have the opportunity to reflect and review the last 90 days. This will provide you with clarity on what worked well and what didn’t. You’ll be able to see patterns, figure out where you need to make changes, and also see where you succeeded!
Your author success journey largely depends on the action steps you take, remember?
Using something like the Author Success Journal brings visibility and awareness to your goals in a way that allows you to track and measure your progress.
What isn’t tracked, doesn’t get measured.
Your Next Steps
If you’re here, it means you’re ready to take the leap and finally get the clarity and direction you need to finish writing and publishing your book
And Bill was a victim of those misconceptions for years.
It prevented him from following his oldest dream to become an author because he just thought it wasn’t in his realm of possibility.
“Self-Publishing School made publishing on my own a possibility. Not understanding how the publishing world worked, I just assumed I wouldn’t be able to do it or I’d have to work too hard to get myself published.”
This is not uncommon. After all, who wants to spend years simply looking for an agent to take them on, and then have to go through the process of seeing which publishing house will take their book?
And then have to wait in line another couple years for that publishing day to come?
But this is what people think is their only option to publish a book. When it’s simply not.
“When I saw Self-Publishing School and saw the success other people were having doing it, and held a book in my hand that was self-published that was good, it really opened my world.”
From never getting past three pages, to publishing a great book was Bill’s biggest accomplishment, to which he credits the community at Self-Publishing School greatly.
It’s hard to showcase just how big our community is and how willing and ready we are to help each other at the drop of a hat.
In addition to the community within Self-Publishing School team members, the Mastermind Community (which each student gets into for free) is made up of over 2500 members, there to aid others in the journey based on their own experiences.
Here are just a few pictures showcasing how the community can help in so many ways.
The Best Part of the Process Was Also The Worst
Few people see writing a book as something as impactful as it really is.
Bill was able to experience first-hand what publishing a book can really do for your mind and spirit.
“When you write a book, you meet every demon that you have inside; the insecurities, the fears, the procrastination, everything that came up.”
Writing and publishing a book is a vulnerable process. Many people who don’t succeed often get overwhelmed by the process without the right support.
Feeling doubt as writer is common, but it should never stop you from pursuing your dreams.
It might be a scary journey, but it’s worthwhile.
Just take it from Bill:
“Who I become by writing this book is my favorite part of writing this book.”
If you’re ready to experience that growth the way Bill did, don’t wait. Start today!
If you are an author and you want to sell lots of books on Amazon (I know, who doesn’t right), you need to get a few things right with your book: Keywords, categories, the competition, and what about that book data everyone keeps talking about? How do I figure that out?
Well fortunately, Dave Chesson and his team have developed a state-of-the-art software Publisher Rocket that is doing the work for you.
But, as far as measuring analytics or drilling down into the hard nitty-gritty of what passed as a “good keyword”, unless you could afford the time to do the research, and you were comfortable with the tech involved, grabbing those 7 master keywords for your book was like shooting in the dark and hoping to hit the target.
In most cases, unless you really know what you are doing, authors were missing the mark altogether.
I remember spending up to 2-3 hours trolling through Amazon, comparing book rankings, searching for those magic eBook categories that held the low hanging fruit we strive to snatch so our books can survive in the big ocean of countless books.
I won’t lie to you…it was exhausting. And if Amazon changed something [and they often do] they wouldn’t announce it until much later. Authors would then find out ambiguously, when sales dropped suddenly, and have to go through the whole process again of checking keywords, switching out categories…and on it went.
But back in July of 2016, that all changed.
Dave Chesson—founder of Kindlepreneur.com—launched a software called KDP Rocket that would change the way authors search for keywords. With the introduction of this software, authors could use analytics in a way that was presented so that they didn’t have to have a degree in digital engineering just to understand what data they were looking at. With easy to follow tutorials and a system that worked, KDP Rocket was an “island in the middle of a big ocean.”
And this, as many now know, was just the beginning…
Later, Dave and his team added more features to the program that included category research and setting up AMS ads. Authors were no longer “guessing” on the best keywords and just shooting dice to the wind hoping to land a good play for their books.
The game had changed, and Publisher Rocket is setting the stage for the future of the self-publishing arena.
The publishing field is not the same as it was three years ago, or even last year. This is where the Rocket comes in. Imagine a system that gives you the hard data Amazon won’t share with you. You can go there right now and find the best categories for your book within a matter of minutes without even having to troll through endless pages of books.
Publisher Rocket has now given authors a massive advantage when it comes to:
In other words, we now have a fighting chance to navigate through all the data, analytics, and helps authors thrive and not just survive in the self-publishing arena.
Now, let’s dive Into the core features of Publisher Rocket. Then, I’m going to give you a brief glimpse into what new features Rocket has planned for future upgrades. And believe me, if you think it’s good now…just wait.
Publisher Rocket and Amazon Terminology
Before we dive into this post, let’s go over the common terminology used with both Publisher Rocket and Amazon. This will help you to better understand the features of the software.
KDP: KIndle Direct Publishing. This refers to Amazon’s online publishing tool. KDP allows authors to publish their books for free in both eBook and book format.
ABSR: Amazon Bestseller Ranking. This is the ranking of the books as they are ranked according to Amazon. So for example, ABSR #1 is the top selling book in that category.
Age: in the competition analyzer refers to the age of the book, or how long it has been in publication.
ASIN Number: This stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number
KWT: Targeted Keyword in the book’s title. This tells you if the keyword being searched is in the title.
KWST: Targeted keyword in the book’s subtitle. This tells you if the keyword appears in the subtitle.
DY Sales: estimated daily sales for the book based on the ABSR.
MO Sales: Monthly estimated sales for the book based on projection of sales based on ABSR
AMS Ads: Amazon Marketing Services. This is Amazon’s paid marketing ads platform. Setting up ads for your book has big potential for bringing in organic traffic.
KDP Rocket 1.0 to Publisher Rocket 2.0
A few words on the progression of KDP Rocket to Publisher. When you buy Publisher Rocket, there is a guarantee that you won’t have to pay for upgrades every time Rocket makes an improvement.
And, over the past three years, a lot of progress has been made. According to Dave Chesson, from his very own Publisher Rocket Review, here is a timeline that shows all the upgrades made to date.
August 2019: Search bar is added to the main category page so users just type in the keyword and it pulls up the categories to best fit your search.
Very slick. Now users can just type in a keyword and this eliminates clicking into the categories first and then doing a search within that category.
At the end of this post, I will cover the new features and updates coming soon with with Amazon and Publisher Rocket.
So, let’s continue…
5 Ways Publisher Rocket Excels Above the Rest
#1. All Future Upgrades…Free?
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I just bought this new software 2 weeks ago and they already want more money for the new version!”
Yes, it sucks when you have to keep forking over cash for something you already paid for. But Publisher Rocket is where users pay once. Only once.
That’s right. So if you bought KDP Rocket 3 years ago when it launched at $69, you haven’t paid anything extra for the number of upgrades made since then. It’s a one time fee.
And how often does Publisher Rocket upgrade? There is a new version at least every two months, if not sooner.
Dave Chesson and his team are in the publishing field everyday, monitoring current changes in the marketplace, and integrating these changes into the Publisher Rocket software for an overall amazing user experience.
#2. Up-To-Date Current Statistics While You Write
As a writer, it is important you stay fixed on what you do best…writing a book. Let someone else do the market research and keep you updated on shifts in market data, analytics and updates as they happen in real time.
Publisher Rocket is constantly monitoring the market and providing updates on current statistics. PR keeps you informed so you don’t have to be out there testing unknown waters. I feel like someone has got my back and they are 100% reliable, and this protects my author business.
#3. Reliable and Fast Tech Support
Running into some tech issues with Rocket, or you have a question about something? Send the team at publisher Rocket a message at Publisher Rocket Support.
The response time is generally super-quick. In a few instances they responded back within 3 hours. This is crucial if you are in the middle of a book launch, or preparing for one, and you need help right away.
Nothing worse than sending in a ticket you have to wait days for a reply. Not the case here. As a matter of fact, you can check out the Publisher Rocket user testimonials that were not requested but discovered organically by Dave and his team.
#4. The Price is…$97.00?
How much does Publisher Rocket cost? Yes, it is $97.00. This is a one-time only fee and never pay again. Gotta love it.
#5. User Friendly Software that Anyone Can Use
I work with hundreds of authors a week. One of the biggest hurdles is dealing with tech issues around keywords, categories, or the basics of understanding algorithm data. But to use the Publisher Rocket, the software is laid out so that, even if tech is not your thing, it doesn’t need to be.
With easy-to-follow tutorials and everything explained on the page, the tech side of marketing is made so much easier. You don’t have to know everything about keyword research to find the best keywords for your book.
The Rocket does the work for you based on what you ask it to look for. It spits out the data, and you decide to use that in your book.
Publisher Rocket 2.0 Features: What Does the Publishing Software Do?
If you have been using KDP Rocket for some time, you have a good idea what the software can do. If this is your first introduction to what is available, let’s break it down so we know exactly what we have.
Publisher Rocket can be broken down into 4 features that focus on:
Let’s take a look at each of these:
As an author that has been using the Rocket from its early release back in July 2016, I can honestly say that it is the best software out there for several reasons.
First of all, Amazon doesn’t share the data that the Rocket does. Have you ever tried searching for categories for your book using just Amazon? If so, you better block off a holiday to get it done. The categories that are listed in the KDP Bookshelf provide no direction as to book rankings or competition. In fact, most of the actual categories are not even there.
When it comes to breaking down all the metadata and figuring out the best keywords, best categories, and how the competition is comparing, this is where Publisher Rocket steps in to provide authors with an experience that nothing else compares to.
Publisher Rocket can do for you what Amazon, and most other software, won’t [or can’t].
So, what are the current features of Publisher Rocket 2.0 that makes it stand tall above anything else?
Over 16,000 Book and eBook Categories Listed
Imagine if all you had to do was type in a keyword in the search bar and Publisher Rocket throws out your results for your potential categories in just seconds. That is exactly what it does as you can see here:
To make it even better, you can select Book, eBook or both and Publisher Rocket will put up the categories from both book platforms.
Includes Book Data, Not Just Kindle
When KDP came out it was focused on Kindle data only. But hard copies (aka paperbacks) still sell and are just as relevant. So now Rockets’ search includes data for books and is presented to Rocket users in an easy-to-interpret layout.
Competition Analyzer: How is the competition performing?
This is one of our favorite features of the Rocket software. You can check out the daily and monthly sales of books in the market in relation to your own books.
Check out who your competition is and based on data, look for the areas you could improve your own books’ performance.
The competition analyzer provides users with all relevant data that gives an inside look at who your competition is, how well they are doing, and how your book compares to their performance.
The competition analyzer provides up-to-date information for each book based on:
Age of the book
ABSR of each book
If the keyword appears in the book title and/or subtitle.
Daily and monthly sales of the book based on data from the current ABSR.
Sales page link. You can click on ‘check it out’ and be taken to the book’s sales page.
Having this information is critical because, if your book is underperforming in sales or rankings, you can compare to the competition and make changes to your book that influences metadata. Now you are armed with the statistics to beat the competition.
Can Publisher Rocket help you to become a bestseller?
Keyword Search Feature
Publisher Rocket helps authors identify the most profitable keywords for your book. How does it do this? First, you type in a keyword into the keyword search bar, and then hit ‘Go Get Em Rocket.’
Rocket analyzes the top 5 books that use that keyword based on the following criteria:
Fame and strength of the authors
Age of the books
# of reviews and review grades
Whether or not the keyword is in the title/subtitle
Enrolled in Kindle Unlimited or not
This is a key feature of the Rocket software.
It tells authors:
how many people are typing in that keyword/phrase
Competition score of that keyword from 1-100.
How much money the top 5 books are earning on average
# of competitors using that keyword
Without this data, you wouldn’t be able to figure out how many people are using this keyword, or if it is being searched for at all. The keyword feature eliminates the guesswork are provides accurate data.
Several years ago, when AMS ads were introduced to authors, I can remember spending hours upon hours just doing keyword research, copying and pasting. But now…
Publisher Rocket has the most amazing feature available that eliminates all of that. If you are familiar with Amazon Ads, then you know your book needs hundreds of keywords to be effective.
In addition, the authors have to stay on top of their ads and monitor them carefully. Setting up a successful ad campaign takes work, time and yes, money. The ads can get expensive if you just set it up and let it go.
This feature is by far my favorites and, to add, even without all of the other features talked about here, if this was the only one available it would be worth the price of Rocket alone. Yes, it is very cool.
The feature comes with a filter as well. You can eliminate any keywords that are not relevant to your book simply by filtering these out. Before this, authors had to manually take out keywords.
But if you are interested in setting up AMS ads, I would highly recommend learning as much about ads as you can. Fortunately Dave Chesson has a free course on AMS ads right here. Check it out so you have the overview of what it takes to set these up.
Can Publisher Rocket help me with Amazon book ads?
Is Publisher Rocket Worth It?
You’ll have to decide. Let’s break it down this way. You already know everything Publisher Rocket can help you with, so we will just assume you decided to already use it if you aren’t already.
Publisher Rocket pays for itself: There are three ways that you users will earn back the initial investment spent on PR.
The cost of Rocket is $97.00. If the Rocket saves you 5 hours of your time, you just earned back your money. How much is your time worth per hour?
When you sell about 47 books priced at $2.99 (at 70% royalty) because you could find profitable keywords and better categories, the software just paid for itself.
If Rocket helps you to filter out a bad book idea because nobody is searching for it, and gets you to change your marketing efforts based on proven data, it definitely just paid for itself. This will save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of working hours you would have spent on a book that won’t sell.
Sneak Peek: New Upgrades Coming Soon for Publisher Rocket
As this post is being written , there are several amazing new features coming soon, according to Dave Chesson. These upgrades will, of course be free and, if you think the software is good now, wait till you see what is coming next.
Audible Information Analyzed.
Yes, we know Publisher Rocket can pull data for eBooks and books now. But how about a feature that includes audiobooks? This is coming soon.
Just Launched: New “Search-All” Feature for categories. Added to the Publisher Rocket search categories is a search bar on the main category page. Now you type in the keyword and Rocket pulls up relevant categories.
Opening up categories to international markets.
Yes, you heard it right. Amazon will be opening up AMS to the UK. And what this means is, Publisher Rocket will be there to provide category data to give authors in the US (and everywhere else where applicable) to join the UK market. This is huge in terms of growing your author business and expanding into global markets.
New Amazon Category System launching. Soon, Rocket will launch a new feature that updates with the latest in ABSR (Amazon Best Seller Rankings) three times a day. But that’s not all. Publisher Rocket has plans to bring in a bunch of new data for categories that will help authors to really find the best categories to rank in. This will include volatility, average ABSRs for the month, and the sales popularity of these categories. Why hang around a category that isn’t bringing in traffic?
Remember, all upgrades are free and installed automatically on your Publisher Rocket software.
Is Publisher Rocket Worth It?
You be the judge. We’ve shown you what the Rocket software can do. Here is a breakdown of the best advantages to using Rocket, and why it matters to the success of your books as an author.
Sell More Books: We know that Publisher Rocket will help you to sell more books. Actually, you can sell a lot more books and start earning more than your day job once you use the tool. Countless authors claim they started earning 3x more with Rocket.
Keep Your Sanity: If Rocket prevents you from losing your mind, because you just spent ten hours on Amazon trying to figure out categories and relevant keywords, you made your money back and get to keep your sanity. So yeah, it’s worth it. Win-win.
Free upgrades for a lifetime: Don’t you just hate it when you buy software and then 6 months later you have to pay more money for their upgrade. And then again six months after that. Over a lifetime, you could end up spending thousands of bucks on a piece of software you initially paid $150 for.
Of course, they don’t tell you this when you sign up. But Publisher Rocket, while it upgrades frequently, doesn’t ask you for additional funds…ever. You pay once, you keep upgrading, and there is nothing more to do. Gotta love it.
Continuous Market Research. That’s right, as we mentioned, while you are sleeping and dreaming of writing that next novel, somebody else is out there on the cutting edge gathering data and figuring out better systems to help you scale up your author business. The Rocket software will soon update three times a day, staying current with complex data shifts and doing the work for you while you focus on your book business.
Gives authors a competitive edge. You can access the most up-to-date data on categories, keywords and AMS ads. You can also figure out the best kind of books to write before you write them so you don’t publish something nobody wants to buy. This is a big win for an author who has the goal to write for a living and wants to make real money in self-publishing. And, you can analyze the competition as we have seen, to stay ahead of the game and get your books out in front of readers first.
The Ongoing Changes in Self-Publishing
The self publishing industry is in a state of constant change, growth and expansion. Nothing stays the same from one month to the next, or for that matter, day to day the data is in constant flux.
Amazon algorithms change, metadata for books shift, and how readers search for and discover their favorite books has become very streamlined.
For these reasons, as authors, we need to be on the cutting edge of this growth or else…we start losing books sales, customers, and get lost in the bloody waters.
Publisher Rocket provides a huge advantage to authors because Dave Chesson and his team are on top of this 24/7. In fact, PR is now working to update data three times a day. This data is relevant to book categories, as well as expanding international markets.
While we are busy writing and creating content to publish to market, someone else is doing the heavy lifting in terms of ongoing market research and providing you as an author with the most current, up-to-date data so you can stay on top of your game.
Sell more books, build greater authority, and keep on living the dream as an author.
If you have an experience or any strategies that worked best for you using Publisher Rocket, drop your story in the comments section below.
In fact, your kids may even be inspired to write and publish a book themselves! And yes, it is possible.
Our student and thriving mom, Anita Oommen, is living, breathing proof.
The downside is that your kids may just want to write and publish many books after getting a taste of it once (and you will as well!).
Maybe you’ve wanted to write a book for years, maybe even decades like many of our students.
But fear keeps getting in the way.
Fear that you won’t be able to write the book.
Fear that you don’t know what to write about.
Fear that the process will bring you further from your children and home life you’ve worked so hard to maintain.
But imagine this…
Despite all of those fears and doubts, you put bravery first and decide to take action and, like Anita, and you find the process easier than you imagined with the right program and it actually brings you closer to your kids.
So much so that they feel inspired by your bravery, and motivated that they can write and publish a book too!
Over 80% of people say they want to write a book…but the fact is that only about 2% ever do for so many reasons like the doubts and fears Anita faced.
And yet she did it, and succeeded so much so that her children jumped on board, each publishing one book themselves.
“I heard Chandler Bolt, and listened in, and was all in.”
This simple thing, signing up for free training, was the catalyst that led her to publish her book Picking Up The Shards, a story involving fear and doubt itself.
And it was what led her own children to each publish a book of their own, at 11-years-old and in kindergarten!
Leveraged Impact on Her Family
Here at Self-Publishing School, we talk a lot about leveraged impact. It’s the idea that by writing a book, you can impact several people.
Yourself, by accomplishing a goal and something arduous.
You impact those in your immediate surroundings like friends and family.
You impact strangers who find your book, read it, and are changed because of it.
And they impact their friends and family because of you and your book, and the cycle continues, until your leveraged impact reaches corners of people’s lives you maybe never even imagined.
For Anita, this impact was direct. She inspired her children to each publish a book.
“I started writing and the kids were like, ‘I think I can write a book too!'”
The impact this will have on her children is expansive. Not only can they say they’re published authors, but the confidence this has given them, the insight into how they can inspire others will be carried with them throughout their life.
Alaina Oommen, at only 11-years-old, already has a taste of this for herself.
“It’s really changed my life because most 11-year-olds aren’t exactly like, a published author and it’s just an amazing feeling when someone actually just runs up to you and says, ‘I read your book, and it inspired me.’ Because that was the whole point of even writing my book.”
Not only does Alaina, at 11, have a professional piece of work she created, but she’s also already seeing this concept of leveraged impact in action.
Just imagine where this will carry her and her brother in life now that they know what’s possible.
Their lives are already forever changed.
At Self-Publishing School, we’re in the business of changing lives and helping others achieve the same.
Many people believe they can simply start writing and will eventually have a completed book, ready to publish, but Brianna knew that just wasn’t the case.
After all, this was something she’d never done before. And without even having an idea, she sought out someone more experienced in the field for answers.
This was the catalyst that allowed her to pursue her dreams, and earn $4,000 per month in client work from her book.
A Coach’s Guidance Helped Her Uncover The Big Idea
There are some people who have the ability to push you, forcing out what’s necessary in order for you to succeed in what you’re trying to accomplish.
It’s no surprise professional athletes have several coaches at their fingertips, instructing them on how to best work out, what diet will help them succeed, and how best to approach their position to win on the field.
So why shouldn’t people looking to become professional writers (AKA: authors), not have the same support?
“I had no idea what my book was gonna be about, I just knew that I was supposed to write one.”
Brianna only knew she wanted to write a book. She felt called to publish, to share her experience, but wasn’t quite sure how to approach this arduous task.
“I was writing the wrong book—a different book for 10 days before my writing coach kind of called me out and said, ‘Well wait, you should be writing this book’, and he was right.”
What we find often with our students is that they come in with this amazing idea, sometimes even part of their book already written, only to realize that it’s not the book they should be writing.
It’s not the book they can sell or it’s not a book their target audience wants or needs.
With a coach, who has published many books before, you get the direction you need to avoid wasting months (and sometimes even years!) writing a book that won’t sell and therefore, won’t share your story or message.
Writing a book gives you credibility, yes, and it also gives you impact.
Being able to have a professional piece of work that you spent hours crafting to support your passions and values can do wonders in launching or growing a business that you love.
“I really was connected to the fact that if I were to write a book, it would be a launching pad for a business—a creative business for myself.”
Brianna used her book to launch her own consulting business. Talk about an effective business card!
From her book (aside from royalties!), Brianna is able to bring home an extra $4,000 per month from consulting clients she wouldn’t have if it weren’t for her taking action to write and publish her book.
Not only did she go from leaving her 9-5 to stay with her kids to publishing a book, she’s now her own boss, making her own rules, her own hours, and contributing to her family financially and emotionally by showing her children what it looks like to go after your dreams.
And she didn’t do all of that alone, either…
Being an Author Isn’t Always Isolating, Not With the Self-Publishing School Community
When you take on a journey like writing and publishing a book, it can seem isolating, like you’re the only person who can make this thing happen. After all, you spend a lot of time inside our own head when writing…
But you’re not alone with Self-Publishing School.
“My favorite part about going through the Self-Publishing School program was the accountability, the structure, the Mastermind Community, and the wonderful comradery between the authors.”
We don’t think the process of writing a book even should be isolating. If so many people are out there writing and publishing books, why not give them a space to collaborate, get feedback on titles and covers, as well as share knowledge to help each other succeed?
That’s what the Self-Publishing School Mastermind community is all about.
Over 2,500 uthors from around the world congregate in an exclusive Facebook group to support each other, hold one another accountable, and even join each other’s launch teams to boost the success of their books.
“People were very kind and available to answer questions, and I’ve been in the Mastermind Community for two years now and I still feel connected, although I published my book two years ago.”
It was this support that led Brianna Ruelas to her next big accomplishment.
Using Her Book as a Springboard
Authors no longer have to be “just” authors. In fact, Brianna Ruelas can now add “professional speaker” to her resume with the tools her book has given her and the doors it has opened.
Because she’s placed herself as an authority from being a published author, she’s able to more easily book speaking gigs.
This only furthers her credibility, establishes herself as an authority, and ultimately can help her bring in even more clients. All of this built on the back of her book.
If she hadn’t taken action and joined Self-Publishing School, the past two years could have looked very different. It could have look much like yours may have:
Spending days wishing her book was published. Jotting down a few sentences here and there, never quite being able to finish the book.
Heck, she may not have even started the book, and it would have remained this distant idea that pops up to nag on the edges of her mind each time she went on a road trip.
And she would have the clients she’s had.
She wouldn’t have the experience of launching and growing a business.
She would have “speaker” listed on her resume.
Because Brianna Ruelas allowed Self-Publishing School to support her, she was able to use this high-quality book that was published effectively to bring in new prospects, new clients, and a new life.
And It’s Not Over…
Brianna published her book two years ago, is still bringing in royalties, and that’s not to mention her consulting business income from her book or the speaking gigs she’s acquired because of it.
And she’s not even done…
Next on Brianna’s list is launching her very own course to coincide with her book in order to scale her business further and continue to build a career she’s passionate about.
All because she wrote and published a book with Self-Publishing School.
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.
Full Disclaimer: We are affiliates of the Pete Vargas course. That does not affect any of the breakdowns below.
What that does mean, however, that if you buy through our link, we’ll earn a commission on your purchase. It also means that you will earn access to over $7,000 of exclusive bonuses.
What is the Stage to Scale?
Stage to scale is a proven method developed by Pete Vargas for both entrepreneurs and business owners to learn how to scale their businesses through speaking and attending stages—developed for both experienced speakers and newbies.
Often referred to as “The Stage Whisperer,” Vargas has booked over 25,000 stages in the past 15 years, helping businesses of all kinds flourish in this more-competitive-than-ever environment.
There are obvious pros to the Stage to Scale method. Self-Publishing School alone was able to generate $1,000,000 in sales using this very method.
Here’s a breakdown of the best parts.
#1 – Relevant for both the beginner and advanced speakers
From the start, Pete does an awesome job of letting you know that this course if for both the beginner speaker that has never stepped on a stage, to the most advanced speaker looking to increase their results.
The way that Pete ensures this is through teaching based on principles and frameworks such as the heart, head, hand, and heart speaking framework, that you can use to create a powerful signature talk.
This is so powerful that here at Self Publishing School, we’ve had both our Founder Chandler Bolt as well as our speaking team design their own signature talks based on this framework.
#2 – Pat Quinn is phenomenal
Although Pete Vargas does an amazing job throughout the majority of the course, I’d have to say that he is no match for the unbelievable teacher that is Pat Quinn.
Pat brings to the table the background of a cognitive scientist expert, as well as a professional magician. And what that means for you is a combination of both entertaining and scientifically proven way to learn, retain and apply the information that you learn throughout this course.
Ever have a hard time retaining what you’ve learned in a course? I guarantee that will not be an issue with Pat Quinn’s teaching.
#3 – This is not a speaking course
This is a grow your business through speaking course.
Although the speaking content in the course is great, this course was not meant to help you become a better speaker.
The Stage to Scale course was designed to help you use stages and speaking as a key channel to find qualified leads, spread your message and attain clients.
Pete goes into extreme detail about to structure your talk so that it actually converts. He also goes deep into how to create a backend offer that will allow you to drive huge revenue numbers for just one-hour on the right stage.
If you are looking for just a way to sound better during your presentations, this course is not for you.
But if you are really looking to use stages and speaking as a true driver of growth in your business, then you should definitely consider the Stage to Scale method.
#4 – The Unstoppable Stage Campaign
Most people don’t know how to book stages in the first place. They think they need to hire an agent, create a speaking reel, join national speaking organizations, and hope that one day an email with a request to speak will come into their inbox.
The reality is that none of that is necessary. If you were to ask our team why were we able to get on 24 stages and generate over $1,000,000 from those stages in 2018, the main reason would be the Unstoppable Stage Campaign.
In this training, Pete breaks down everything from Gold-Mining, Finding Your Dream Stage, Cold-Outreach Approaches, and Closing the Deal.
This alone is worth the price of the course.
#5 – The templates and scripts are unreal
I’ve found that in courses that teach through principles and frameworks, a lot of times you can still feel stuck once it’s time to execute.
One of the best practices that Pete Vargas uses in his Stage to Scale course is he actually gives you word-for-word templates and scripts that you can use to:
Reach out to meeting planners
Execute a win-win call where you position yourself as the solution to the meeting planners problem (hint: that’s how you actually win stages)
Get referrals from your ‘champions’ to win stages within your network (this is the easiest way to get booked)
Create a ‘Why Me Video” to showcase how you are the right person to solve a specific problem to any event planner’s audience
We’ve personally used these scripts to book over 40 stages over the last 18 months for our founder Chandler Bolt and our team, so I know they work like magic.
Stage to Scale Method Cons & Areas of Improvement
Alright, so I’ve shared a lot of the awesome resources and learning you’ll be getting once you go through the Stage to Scale course.
What about the not-so-good stuff?
Well, as much as this course over-delivers in multiple areas, there may be things that are you may not like.
#1 – Lack of Mindset Training
Now, if you are looking to learn the exact how-to’s on booking stages, executing amazing talks, and growing your business, there is very little missing in this course.
However, the reality is that you will need to have a great mindset to deal with the out-of-comfort-zone moments that you will face while implementing this course.
This isn’t a course that you can get results from by just sitting back and letting a program do all the work. You’ll have to send cold emails, negotiate with meeting planners, and speak in front of large audiences.
All of this is taught in the course, but you’ll still have to overcome your limiting beliefs in order to actually do it and get a return on your investment.
A small section on how to get over those limiting beliefs could have been a good addition to the already amazing content in the course.
#2 – No examples of High Converting Talks
Although there is more than enough content in the Signature Talk section for you craft your own talk, some people might prefer to actually see what a high-converting talk following Pete’s methodology actually looks like!
What are the nuances that the great speakers have, how do they carry themselves on stage, etc?
We all know that body language makes up 80% or more of all communication. The great news is, however, that we’ve recorded multiple of Chandler Bolt’s talks that generated as much as $110,000 from one event.
In fact, you get you to watch that talk here as a part of one of our bonuses when you enroll in Stage to Scale with us!
And if you have ever wanted to land a TEDx talk, check how Chandler used Pete’s Story Braid Framework to deliver an incredible message about how book creates leveraged impact.
What You’ll Learn With Pete Vargas’ Stage to Scale Method
The course is broken into 7 modules and additional bonus content such as how to land a TEDx Talk.
Module 1: The Foundation
Using stages to grow your business is not an easy task.
That’s why before you start crafting your talk, booking your dream stage, and impacting millions, you need to have the right foundations set.
The foundations you will learn include:
Why Stages Matter
How to find your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
The Stage to Scale Success Method
This is a powerful module. Make sure to go deep on your BHAG exercises, and listen closely as Pete takes you through the Stage to Scale Success Method, and your chance of success will sky-rocket.
Module 2: Crafting Your Signature Talk
Have you ever wondered about the formula that the best speakers in the world use to craft their talks?
Not only that but wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to start from scratch every time you gave a new presentation (no matter if the talk time was 60 minutes or 5 minutes)?
In this module, Pete and Pat will walk you through how to:
Use the Story Braid Framework to create a high-converting talk
When to share your call to action with an audience (so that you don’t sound salesy)
How to expand and contract your content to fit any talk time
How to open and close your talk so that your audience feels connected to you
Module 3: Deliver and Maximize Your Talk
What separates the good from the best?
This one is good.
A lot of courses talk about the intricacies of a subject, but only a few actually deliver. In this section, Pete and Pat hold nothing back. Everything from pacing to ‘embedding’, to reducing risk and increasing urgency is covered so that you can quickly go from average to world-class (seriously).
I do warn you that implementing all of this at once, maybe a bit overwhelming.
So take your take and try to add one piece of advice at a time to your signature talk.
Module 4: Create Your Scaling Offer
Zig Ziglar once said, “I’ve never changed anyone’s life from the stage, but if they buy my cassettes, I then have a chance at changing their life.“
Zig was right.
The stage is the key that opens the door to being able to go deeper with someone and truly creating transformation in their lives with your products or services.
This module is all about understanding the different ways that you can scale past the stage with your audience, and how to turn those ideas into reality.
Pete breaks down in amazing depth the pros and cons of those methods which include courses, coaching programs, in-person intensives, and others.
This is a very powerful exercise for you as a business owner whether or not you choose to use stages as a way to find your dream clients.
Module 5: Collect and Convert
There is a delicate art to converting from the stage. What most people don’t know, however, is how to convert after the stage and maximize your revenue long after your 60 minutes are up.
You’ll want to dive into this training to learn:
3 types of opt-ins and the exact format of what converts the highest from stage
The Art of collecting leads – maximize your opt-in rate (this will even help you off stage)
The Step-by-step playbook of what to do pre-game, game time, and post-game to maximize sales (our complete checklist)
Full disclaimer – this is where your most or your money will be made (so pay close attention).
Module 6: The Business Model of Speaking
When most people think ‘stages’ they think of you speaking in front of a full room of spectators, giving a well-prepared talk for either 45 or 60 minutes at a time.
Also, when they hear that our founder Chandler Bolt spoke 24 times in 2018 alone, they usually are worried that they will also have to spend time on the road and away from their family…
The reason why Stage to Scale is so powerful is because Pete Vargas completely re-writes what most people believe of stages to be.
In this module, he will help you discover the 5 types of revenue-generating stages that you can take advantage of.
He will also breakdown the 8 online and 8 off-line stages and will help you identify which ones are ideal for you (hint: if you don’t want to travel, take advantage of the online stages, they work just as well, and sometimes even better than off-line stages).
Module 7: Winning Stages
Pete Vargas says that he wants to impact 100,000,000 people through 1,000,000 stages. That mission is what drives him and his team, and he wants you to help him reach that number.
In this section, Pete finally reveals why they call him the Stage Whisperer.
He walks you through his Unstoppable Stage campaign, responsible for helping him personally book over 25,000 stages out of his offices.
Pete also helps you understand the decision-makers who hold the key to your dream stages so that you can solve their needs and close the deal every single time.
This is my personal favorite and I have probably watched this training at least 15 times. It is that powerful and you will want to reference it often.
Bonus #2: The Stage Whisperer Blueprint – $999 Value for FREE
Has the thought of doing your own research, reaching out to event planners, and negotiating deals sound like the last thing that you want to do? You know that your value is truly in being the one on stage, and not the one setting up the stages?
Chandler Bolt thought the same thing.
That’s why we created an exclusive training called The Stage Whisperer Blueprint, designed to help you find, hire, train and manage a rockstar stages manager, who will book on only the best stages so that you can focus on doing what you do best. Sharing your message.
Bonus #3 – How Self Publishing School Went from 0 – $1 Million in Revenue from Stages (Live with Chandler Bolt) – $5,000 Value for FREE
Honestly didn’t think Chandler would agree to this.
He’ll be peeling back that curtains and going deep on a live training around exactly how Self Publishing School booked 24 stages which led to $1,000,000 in revenue (while booking 0 stages and generating $0 in revenue in 2017).
This is absolutely can’t miss stuff.
Bonus #4 – Free General Admission ticket to Author Advantage Life – $697 Value for FREE
Author Advantage Live is the #1 conference for authors who want to learn how to sell 10,000 copies of more of their book and make a true impact.
Have a book? Amazing. AAL will blow you away. Don’t have a book yet (but know you will write one some day)? Perfect.
We’ll cover that too. See you in Orlando?
Bonus #5 – Full Access to a $110,000 Generating (in one weekend!) Presentation – $297 Value for FREE
I don’t know about you… but I personally love to see the best in action (as opposed to just learning the techniques).
We mentioned that Stage to Scale didn’t have a full example of someone using the Story Braid Framework to convert a large percentage of the room.
Well, we decided to give that to you as a part of the bonuses.
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.
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!
You’ll make their day!
#10 – Use the right #Hashtags
You want to connect with a specific audience.
What kind of audience do you have in mind?
Are they a niche audience?
Do you want to promote to everyone from the Bookstagram community?
What is your main target?
It’s important to know this beforehand because the use of hashtags is incredibly necessary to start things off on Instagram.
You’ll reach more people by using them and by choosing the right ones, you’ll reach to the audience you want/need for your account.
These are some of my favorites to use when targeting the Bookstagram community:
These guidelines won’t work if you don’t feel like this is something natural in your life. Yes, it’ll take some time to get used to it, but in the end, if it makes you feel stressed or you start overthinking it, just ditch these!
Your Instagram account needs to be a reflection of your life as an author, of the things you love to do and everything you’re willing to share with the people who love and support you the most: your readers!
Whatever, however, and whenever you want to give them something, share with them, give them sneak peeks of future books or just talk about your day, they’ll be there for you!
Instagram is supposed to be fun, a lot of fun! If you spend too much time tying to snap the perfect photo, you won’t have any time left for your book! Just jump on the rollercoaster (hopefully now, after having read these tips, with a better security belt) and see where it takes you.
#1 – LET TIME WORK FOR YOU AT AUTHOR ADVANTAGE LIVE.
[Here’s how] Most people get caught up the One Day Attitude. “One day soon I’ll finish my book” or “One day soon I’ll launch my business to $10,000 a month.” Having a time constraint for a goal is one of the best ways to ensure it gets done. Parkinson’s Law states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Time is on your side right now.
Action Step: Commit to one goal from now until we meet you at Author Advantage Live.
Use the form below to send in your goal so we can best hold you accountable & celebrate your success at the event.
“I plan to get through my 2nd draft and have it professionally edited.”
VIP & Launch Your Book Accelerator Student
“Publish my second book & finish my course content. “
Mike Acker VIP & Course Building for Authors Student
You are more likely to accomplish a goal if you write it down. You are also more likely to complete your goal if you have someone holding you accountable. Let’s do both!
#2 – GET THE DISTRACTIONS OUT OF THE WAY.
[Here’s how] You have the opportunity to make a lot of progress during the event.
Most will get more out of 30 minutes at the live event than they would for weeks on their own.
In some ways, the amount of focus you will have at Author Advantage Live is equivalent to 30 minutes a day for 6 months.
Action Step: Tell people ahead of time that you will be “off the grid.”
Let your friends and family know that during the dates of September 20-22nd (or September 18-22nd if you’re coming to the Launch Your Book or Launch Your Course Accelerator) that you’ll be focused on your book(s) and your business.
For those that matter most, set a check in time at night so they know when to expect you and you won’t have to task switch throughout the day from your phone to the conference.
Use every moment you can to implement and connect with other authors and experts that will help you move forward. The more you can stay immersed during the weekend, the better you’ll set yourself up for success after the event for years to come.
#3 – UTILIZE THE BRILLIANT EXPERTS ONSITE AT AUTHOR ADVANTAGE LIVE.
[Here’s how] Often we get in our own pattern of how to do things, that we forget there are people who have already solved and conquered the problems we are facing. One of the questions we ask frequently at Self Publishing School is, “who do we already know that has solved this problem?” in order to avoid wasting time and money.
The more you are aware of your challenges the faster you can get real action steps from real experts in person.
Action Step: Create a list of the biggest challenge(s) you are facing as an author or a business builder.
At the event there will be numerous opportunities to get direct feedback from others who have already solved the challenges you are facing.
(Especially if your challenge is something massive, like I don’t like doing sales and marketing for my book.) Start your list now … so when you have the opportunity you will get the feedback you need.
#4 – BUILD UP YOUR NETWORK.
Yes, ESPECIALLY if you don’t love networking 😉
[Here’s how] A woman I spoke with last week was very excited about the event, but was freezing up by the idea of making connections with other people at Author Advantage Live. We always say, “Extroverts love live events, but introverts need them.” Building up a community of other authors and impactors is crucial to continue to challenge you to elevate to the next level.
Action Step: Show up physically & mentally. Instead of dreading the thought of networking, simply focus on being present.
Author Advantage Live is structured in a way where you don’t have to be a good networker and you don’t have to be an extrovert to get a lot out of it. Simply showing up and being present, you will leave with real connection and real people to support you on your journey.
You deserve support. Be ready to show up and you will experience it.
#5 – CREATE LIFELONG ACCOUNTABILITY.
[Here’s how] Having your Accountability Buddy to hold you accountability is one thing, but it’s also powerful to bring someone from your inner circle.
Author Advantage Live is the ONLY event dedicated to helping you as a self-published author sell your first 10,000 book copies, build a platform to scale your income and impact, and unlock your Author Advantage.
My team has been working on this project in secret since January with the purpose of creating the most valuable, go-to conference in the self publishing industry…
And at the risk of giving away a few surprises, I think we’ve done exactly that.
But here’s the deal – because this is the first live writing conference we’ve hosted, we’ve capped the number of tickets at 300 attendees…
(We didn’t want to end up like the Fyre festival disaster on Netflix.. ;).
And if you’re reading this blog post right now…
So are approximately 150,000 other writers and authors just like you who visit this blog each month.
Which means Author Advantage Live will sell out.
Right now, and for the next few days we’re offering an Early Bird Discount on all Author Advantage Live ticket packages…
This is the lowest price these tickets will ever sell at (to reward our longtime community members who are fast action takers).
But there are a limited number of Early Bird Tickets Available…
Once the Early Bird Discount tickets have been claimed, the price goes up $100.
What Is Author Advantage Live?
Author Advantage Live is the ONLY event dedicated to helping you as a self-published author sell your first 10,000 book copies, build a platform to scale your income and impact, and unlock your Author Advantage.
Who is Author Advantage Live For?
Are you a writer looking to learn today’s cutting-edge book sales and marketing strategies based on what’s working right now?
Are you a coach or consultant looking to cut through the noise, position yourself as the undisputed expert in your niche, and create an asset that makes clients ask you to work with them?
Are you someone who wants to take the knowledge and expertise you’ve already written in your book (or already have in your head!), repurpose it, and turn it into a higher-ticket digital product or service?
Are you looking for a proven process to write a book that positions you as an expert, and generates a steady stream of qualified leads for your business?
Are you someone who wants to use their book to build a highly profitable business on the backend?
Or maybe you’re an aspiring author looking for the strategies, frameworks, and inspiration you need to make your bestselling book a reality?
If you found yourself nodding “Yes!” to any of those questions above, then Author Advantage Live 2019 is specifically for you!
What Will I Get At Author Advantage Live?
Author Advantage Live is the first event of its kind hosted by Self-Publishing School… and we’re pulling out all the stops.
At AAL, you’ll be rubbing shoulders and collaborating with some of the top Self Publishing School coaches, team members, and your fellow authors and community members so that you can see what it actually takes to write and publish a bestselling book, build a six and seven figure business, and create a platform that allows you to scale your income, influence, and impact.
Get feedback, support, and encouragement for your book and business ideas during our Author VIP night and mastermind breakouts…
Immerse yourself into the mindset of what it actually takes to grow a six figure online business…
See and engage with Chandler Bolt in person! He’s inspired and trained you via video to this point…the opportunity to engage live with your book, brand, and business ideas is like adding gasoline to the fire.
Build life-long relationships with other authors in the Self-Publishing School community during our networking events and cocktail night, so that you have allies, accountability, and don’t have to go through your journey alone.
All of this takes place over 3 days designed to Change Your Life and get you results:
Day 1: Crafting Your Message & Identifying Your Audience
There is nothing more powerful than a compelling story, and Day 1 is all about focusing on crafting YOUR unique story and identifying YOUR perfect audience.
On Day 1, we’re covering ALL the necessary elements that a compelling story MUST have, as well how to ensure your story and book topic are positioned the RIGHT way that sets you up for maximum book sales while positioning you as an expert in your niche AND driving qualified, ready-to-buy leads to your business.
Day 2: How To Sell Your First 10,000+ Copies
Day 2 is not just about giving you tons of content and theoretical knowledge about selling more books. Our goal for you on Day 2 is to arm you with the playbooks you need to walk away with a tangible, step-by-step gameplan to go out and sell at least 10,000 copies of your own book to position you as the undisputed expert in your niche and unlock YOUR Author Advantage.
At 10,000 copies sold, doors start to open for you that had previously been invisible. Podcast interviews, speaking engagements, partnership offers, and business opportunities will suddenly all start to present themselves.
This is what we call the Author Advantage.
Day 3: How To Build A Business On The Backend Of Your Book
Day 3 is possibly the most POWERFUL day of Author Advantage Live.
Whether you’re a career author, entrepreneur, or what we call an “impactor,” you’re going to walk away from the last day of Author Advantage Live with takeaways that have the potential to change your life.
On Day 3, Chandler is going to show you EXACTLY how to take your book and repurpose the hard work you’ve already done into a higher-ticket digital product or service…
And the step-by-step playbook you need to build a six or even seven figure business on the backend of your book.
You’re going to learn the EXACT strategies we’ve executed at Self-Publishing School to build a $12,000,000 business on the back of Chandler’s OWN books in just 5 years.
Lastly, there’s a special keynote speaker on Day 3 that we are INCREDIBLY excited to announce. You don’t want to miss this!
Otherwise, stick around so that you can gain a further understanding of what it actually means and what it truly takes to get on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Because it could impact your path to get there…
Why do authors want to get on the New York Times Bestseller list?
Getting published in the New York Times Bestseller list is traditionally regarded as the gold standard in the publishing world. While many notable bestseller lists exist in the publishing world —The Wall Street Journal bestseller list for business-themed books, for instance—the New York Times Bestseller list, published weekly since 1931, is the oldest and most prestigious list.
To that extent, getting your work published on the list is a major deal–but there are “rules” that bars many ridiculously great authors from ever reaching this status.
Getting published on the Times’ list not only raises your profile as an established author but can offer many more opportunities.
Here are some benefits of becoming an NYT Bestselling author:
Land future writing contracts with established printing houses
Broader industry recognition
Establish you as a major thought leader and expert
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about the New York Times Bestseller list is that it is an evolving list.
It always has been and, as historical and more recent trends seem to suggest, probably always will be. To be fair, it is not only the Times.
Only as recent as 1995 did the Los Angeles Times begin to count paperbacks again on its bestseller list.
Further back in time, in 1961, the Chicago Tribune more infamously denied certain high-selling books that it considered to be “sewer written by dirty fingered authors for dirty-minded readers” from appearing on its Bestseller list.
Various genres and classic works of literature have historically not appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list. The recent explosion of E-books (The Times began counting them in 2010), self-published books, and audiobooks have also contributed to a more evolving list.
How do best seller lists work?
The New York Times Bestseller list is made up of various lists divided by different categories such as fiction and non-fiction, hardcover, paperback, Ebooks, audiobooks, and various book genres.
For you, the aspiring writer whose goal it is to be published in the their Bestseller list, probably the most important thing to know is what is worth writing if you are to get your work published on the list.
Again, The New York Times does not consider various categories for their bestseller list. A helpful article published on their site about their various guidelines and scoring method clarifies the matter.
Here is what those guidelines state:
“Among the categories not actively tracked at this time are: perennial sellers, required classroom reading, textbooks, reference and test preparation guides, e-books available exclusively from a single vendor, journals, workbooks, calorie counters, shopping guides, periodicals and crossword puzzles.”
Cookbooks, contrary to popular belief, are included, as are religion, spirituality, and faith books.
The NYT Bestseller “List” is Not a True Measure of Bestselling Status
It may seem contradictory and still remains controversial to say but it is nonetheless true: The New York Times Bestseller list does not represent a true best-seller list–that is, when accounting for actual total sales.
Just what constitutes “Bestseller” status has been the decades-long battle – legal, political, commercial, and otherwise between—the Times, various authors, and book publishers.
Like any traditional gatekeeper, the Times has its set of rules, standards, and procedures. As such, they hold the “keys” as to “who” gets in…and who is left out (even if they’re deserving).
It is best to think of New York Times Bestseller status as something that is subjective in nature. A book that becomes a New York Times Bestseller doesn’t necessarily have to sell millions of copies, or hundreds of thousands, for that matter. While book sales do meet the subjective criteria that the Times uses, it is a specific kind of “book sale” that counts toward New York Times Bestseller status.
Moreover, given the explosion of online sales and the diminishing number of traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores (and, consequently, bookstore sales) the sales methodology behind how books are counted has influenced which books appear or do not appear on the list.
As explained in a recent article about how to become a best-selling author and how to appear on a bestseller list, it’s stated that the New York Times in particular, when tallying books for bestseller status, considers:
Books that sold in a very specific time period: The Times does not track cumulative sales. Hence, why the Bible, the best-selling book of all time, will not appear on the list. Books like Don Quixote and The Tale of Two Cities, worldwide beloved classics that have sold millions over the years, also will not appear. Dan Brown’s Davinci Code, however, will appear, as it did for several years between 2003 and 2006.
Books sold at very specific places: certain book sales are “weighted” more favorably depending on where they originate. Bulk sales, under certain conditions, are counted toward bestseller status; ebooks published by a sole vendor are not, etc.
Again, the Times explains this in more detail on their site.
What Writers Need to Know About the New York Times Bestseller List
Even though it retains its prestigious reputation, The New York Times Bestseller list has been the subject of much controversy. Charges of “curated elitism,” an overreliance on books published by the major New York publishing houses, questionable methodologies, bribery, editorial and political bias have prompted lawsuits and intense debates among authors, book publishers, and industry executives.
A 1983 lawsuit by William Beatty, an American writer best known for his novel The Exorcist and 1973 movie by the same name, is a case in point.
While his book Legion sold many copies during its initial publication—enough to earn a comfortable spot for a while on the Times’ Bestseller list—his book appeared on the list only for one week.
Sensing bias and claiming that by it not remaining on the Times’s list his sales were being hurt, Beatty took his case to Court. In Court, the Times defended itself on grounds that “The list did not purport to be an objective compilation of information but instead was an editorial product.” The Court sided with the Times, dismissing a $3 million lawsuit.
Think of it like this: The New York Times is the newspaper equivalent to a prestigious university and fashionable high-end clothing brand. When it comes to getting on their bestseller list, just as it is for gaining admission to, say, an Ivy League School, few get in.
For those that do, they did their due diligence, worked incredibly hard, made great contacts, followed the rules, met the editorial standards, among other things.
How to Get on the New York Times Bestseller List
If you really have your hearts set on becoming a New York Times bestselling author, here are some of the things you’ll have to do in order to make it happen.
#1 – Know What the NYT List wants
A Stanford Business School analysis done years ago concluded by saying that the “majority of book buyers seem to use the Times‘ list as a signal of what’s worth reading.”
Knowing what the Times regards as a bestseller is important because it provides a helpful window into this segment of the bestselling publishing world (which has evolved past just the Times in recent years).
It helps to know what is currently passing for a New York Times Bestseller.
Simply start with the category in which you would like to be published: fiction, non-fiction. Beyond that, genre: history, political, fantasy, science-fiction. It helps too to know who the Big Players are.
The Times is known to favor the Big New York publishing houses. Who are these? What are their submission guidelines? Who are some agents known for working with them?
#2 – Obtain fast and diverse sales
In the age of digital self-publication and promotion, the traditional publishing route is virtually a thing of the past.
Not so for a New York Times Bestseller. Unlike selling on digital mediums where you can become a Bestseller by selling your book on, say, Amazon, to whomever, wherever, becoming a New York Times Bestseller follows a different system.
To achieve bestseller status on the Times not only do you have to sell at least 5,000 – 10,000 copies in one week, but these sales have to be diverse sales.
That is, you cannot sell 10,000 books to a pre-existing list of followers through a personal website or thousands from only one marketplace like Barnes and Noble.
Rather, these sales must flow from retailers across the country and in different geographical locations—everything from Big-Box chains like Barnes and Noble and Walmart, small independent book stores, E-commerce giant Amazon, university bookstores, etc.
It is worth noting that the public does not have access to who the aforementioned retail outlets are. To prevent possible abuse from those looking to rig the system.
But the thing that is discrediting the NYT Bestseller List further and further is the fact that you can sell many more books than what is required, but would still not make it on the list.
Therefore, Amazon sales only (where 64% of books are purchased!) will not count on their own.
#3 – Build a Strong Author Platform
For first-time and lesser-known authors it is especially critical to have a pre-existing audience before attempting New York Times bestseller status.
This is how you can start to build your author platform and audience:
Be active on social media: it goes without saying, people—potential followers, collaborators, industry leaders, publishers, agents, and readers—exist in the digital space. Find them, connect with them, and collaborate, if possible.
Be already building credibility / expertise on your particular niche / topic / passion: write a weekly blog, as an example. This is perfect practice to hone your writing skills, develop your voice and writing styles, conduct research for your eventual book. The goal is to establish trust and credibility.
Collaborate with others in your particular area for more knowledge and broader exposure: if you want to get in with the Big Wigs you got to know your stuff. Once you have built up some credibility you can leverage this and reach out to important figures in your field. It is a win-win-win for you, the person you are reaching out to and the audience that is set to gain important information from the two of you.
Engage with your audience: Assess your audience’s “book pulse:” how hungry are they for your words of wisdom, unique insight, creative mind? What questions are you asking them? What have they had to say about your previous blog posts, vlogs, tweets, etc? Are they genuinely impressed, suggesting you write a book perhaps?
Maybe they are giving you more fuel for your book—telling you about things you had previously not known before, mentioning other books that further your expertise? Engagement is key. What, if any, do you have with your audience?
#4 – Have a Pre-Order List Before Your Book Launch
You should have such a list for any book you seek to publish. For a potential New York Times Bestseller it is especially important from a sales perspective.
Rob Eager, a notable book marketing consultant, explains that, in the case of a New York Times Bestseller, all pre-orders sold before a book launch are counted during the first week of official sales.
So, for instance, 5,000 sold during pre-release and another 5,000 during the first official week equals 10,000 total books sold—a critical number to reach during the first week for New York Times Bestseller status.
Having a pre-order list works hand-in-hand with a pre-existing audience. If you already have the audience it is, of course, easier to have a ready pre-order list. If you are successful enough to have both of these before launch you are in good shape.
#5 – Exchange speaking fee for a bulk book purchases
While it may not be the best course for everyone, speaking engagements are incredible opportunities to double-down on your writing endeavors and entrepreneurial goals more broadly.
They are not only great confidence-boosters but serve as great book marketing opportunities.
Exchanging speaking fees for a bulk book purchase is especially important during the pre-order phase because it allows you not only reach a broader audience (and hopefully make more sales) but allows you to meet the Times’ requirement that book purchases be in different geographic areas.
New York Times Bestseller Status vs. Writing as Means to an End
Given the age of digital entrepreneurship where self-publishing a book continues to gain significant traction, effectively taking down the traditional barriers of entry—publishing industry contacts, top-notch agents, and costly marketing plans—it is really up to you to figure out your writing goals.
Traditional publishing with the aim of appearing on an internationally-recognized Bestseller list like the Times versus self-publishing with the aim of achieving personal / business goals (and potential Bestseller status just not in the Times) is a tradeoff you’ll have to consider.
Remember publishing a book is not an end in and of itself. With its ability to boost your name, reputation, and authority, not to mention, depending on your industry, land you more consulting clients and speaking gigs, writing a book can open up some pretty amazing doors. A successful published book is a marketing tool like no other.
Whatever path you choose, keep in mind that achieving Bestseller status in places other than the New York Times Bestseller List has been proven to land equally promising and lucrative opportunities.
And we are just in the beginning phases of this amazing trend. Self-Publishing School is here to help.
Writers don’t just write, they communicate. They have a burning message that they have to get out there, and if they are successful, they find an audience hungry for that message.
But as an author you’re not just limited to writing when it comes to communicating with your audience. You can also speak to your audience. When you learn how to become a motivational speaker, you will connect with your audience in ways you never could as a writer, and you’ll be able to build a much stronger brand.
In this article we’ll set out to convince you that, if you’re serious about becoming a professional author, you should also think about building up your speaking career. Since becoming a public speaker isn’t easy, we’ve put together a few tips on how to get started so that you can begin planning your public speaker journey today.
Here’s why and how to become a motivational speaker:
8 Reasons Why You Should Become a Motivational Speaker
Once your book is published, your next move will determine your book’s success in the long term. We’ve already discussed how to launch your book, and some other ways you can market your book, but speaking will establish your author brand. Here are eight reasons why.
#1 – Becoming a Speaker Sets You Apart
The truth is, the world of self-published books is quickly becoming a saturated field. That means you need to do whatever it takes to bring attention to your book, including being assertive about marketing. Us writer types are often reserved and introverted and may not seek out public speaking opportunities. If you’re a speaker and an author, you stand out from those one-trick ponies!
While some authors prefer to stay out of the spotlight, it’s not a good marketing move. To find readers and make a name for yourself, you need to put yourself out there. Speaking engagements garner attention for your book and set you apart from the (shy!) pack who aren’t as comfortable in the limelight.
The good news is that even if you aren’t a born speaker, you can learn the skills you need to become comfortable on the stage.
#2 – Speaking Engagements Make You a Better Writer
Learning the art of both forms of communication — writing and speaking — will bode well for your career. Reading passages from your book is commonplace at book launches, author events and speaking engagements.
The beauty of this exercise is that you get to see your words through a different lens — that of your readers. You can see the real-world, real-time impact your words have on others. Not only is this a cool feeling, it can help you tailor your next book to whatever your audience responds best to.
There’s nothing like real-world feedback to let you know which topics ring true with your audience and which don’t.
#3 – Speaking Establishes You as an Expert
People make value judgments, and if you’re speaking in front of a specific group about your passions, then you MUST be an expert, right? While writing a book can also establish you as an expert, there’s something about standing up in front of a crowd that solidifies you in that “expert” light.
Speaking engagements in your professional area or your book’s niche will earn you professional credibility within that community. Your perceived authority and prestige will be boosted by your association with the event you choose to speak at.
#4 – Speaking Fees Generate Income
Speaking fees can add up when you consistently book speaking engagements. If you do it enough, speaking can become a significant income stream for you as an author. In fact, speaking fees can even surpass the money you make from book sales.
The more speaking engagements you book, the higher the rate you can demand for your services. The more you speak, the better you’ll be at it, thereby opening the door to lucrative engagements, like keynote speaking at large events.
#5 – Speaking Gigs Sell More Books
If you knock it out of the park with your speech, you’ll have attendees clamoring to buy your book. “Back of the room” sales can boost your book’s success!
Sign, smile and meet your fans, and you’ll make money while feeling like a rock star in the process.
#6 – Becoming a Speaker Broadens Your Network
Public speaking enables you to connect with your existing fans and create new ones. If you make a connection with your speech, and you take the time to develop a relationship by answering questions and signing books, you’re marketing yourself, your brand and your books.
By extension, this type of marketing will result in your fans talking about you to other potential fans. The word will spread that you’re a speaker who must be heard, and an author who must be read. Leverage these connections by collecting emails at your speaking engagements so you can follow up on future speaking dates and book releases.
#7 – Speech Writing Lets You Test New Ideas
Perhaps you have a cool new idea for a blog post or a book topic? Write up a speech and try it out during a small speaking engagement, before committing it to print. This is how big-time comedians test their material: a surprise appearance at a tiny venue. They get to see the audience’s reaction to what they’re saying up close so they can refine their messaging.
CDs, DVDs, courses, and workshops: All of these options are secondary sources of income from your book and your role as a speaker. The more prolific you become as a speaker, the more marketable your additional revenue streams will become.
Even if you start off speaking for free to 10 students at the local community college, your speaking career can evolve to higher levels. If you’ve recently been published in a well-known publication, had a media appearance or hit a best-seller list, you can up your speaking engagement fee and product prices accordingly.
You may now be convinced that it’s time for you to you dust off your shoes and hit the public speaking circuit to sell more books, but the question remains, how do you become a motivational speaker? Where do you start and how can you guarantee success?
5 Steps to Becoming a Motivational Speaker
Becoming a public speaker can launch your books to the next level and add credibility to your author brand. Sometimes there’s nothing that screams “expert!” louder than seeing someone give a speech on stage to an attentive audience.
However, if it was easy to become a speaker, then everyone would do it. We’re not going to sugar coat this: Becoming a speaker can be tough, and it can be hard to figure out where to start. But, we’ve made things a bit simpler by putting together five steps that you can follow to get started on your speaking journey.
#1 – Improve your speaking skills
You’re getting into the field of speaking to build credibility and heighten your audience’s perception of you as an expert.
But, there is no quicker way for your audience to think you don’t know what you’re talking about than to bomb on stage.
If your talk is filled with lots of “ums” and “ahs,” you get flustered when the microphone stops working, or you speak really fast, your audience will lose confidence in your message faster than they can say “refund.”
Before you run you first have to learn how to walk, and before you can fill out a room and sell more books, you first have to learn effective public speaking skills. You need to learn the right tone of voice, perfect your body language and hone your speaking abilities.
You can do this by joining your local Toastmasters club for practice and by watching lots of motivational speeches by successful speakers. Find a speaker’s style that you like and see how you can adapt your own speaking style to match.
#2 – Network Like You Mean It
To get better at speaking, and potentially build a speaking business around your book, you’re going to have to meet other speakers. Only they have the know-how of the industry in your local market and know the names of agents and venues that can land you speaking gigs.
Meeting inspirational speakers will not only improve your speaking skills, it will in turn inspire you on your speaking journey. Any self-employed project can be disheartening, and you’ll need all the inspiration you can get, so network like it’s your job.
Ask your friends and family if they know anyone with public speaking experience. Find and join your local Speakers Bureau and the National Speakers Association.
Networking will also introduce you to something else that can fast track your success.
#3 – Get a Mentor
Often as writers we avoid any formal or informal training. We choose to be self-taught instead of seeking training or mentorship. This can be fine, as some of the best writers in the world were self-taught. However, many other crafts require you get a helping hand before you succeed.
Can you picture Rocky Balboa without Micky? Harry Potter without Dumbledore? Or Thoreau without Emerson? It’s not possible. There’s no way any of these characters or writers could have undergone their personal development journey without a mentor, and you’ll need the same in your speaking journey.
Speaking is still a “who’s who” type of industry. There isn’t a formal marketplace for speaking gigs and speakers. Mentors can help you get a leg up and introduce you to speaking gigs if they think you have potential.
#4 – Invest in Yourself Up Front
Before college we have to go to high school, before high school we go to junior high, and before junior high we go to elementary school. You can’t go straight from elementary to college. Sure, there are some geniuses who get to skip all of that, but those happen once or twice in a generation. The rest of us mere mortals have to go through each stage.
Public speaking is the same. If you stick at it, continue to improve, build your network and your reputation, there will come a day where your inbox will be filled with lucrative speaking opportunities. However, before you get there, you need to invest in yourself. And that involves giving lots of free speeches.
Take up any speaking gig you can find. Whether it be at local events that match your book’s topic or speaking to college students who are studying something related to your work, land any free speaking gig you can.
Most great speakers succeeded because they were in it for the long term and weren’t ashamed to take free or low-paying gigs in the beginning. They knew they were investing in their future. Adopt this mindset and instead of thinking of free speaking gigs as a burden, you might start to become excited to do them.
But don’t speak for free for too long. The next step is crucial.
#5 – Have a Marketing Plan
Think about your cliché pirate story. There’s swashbuckling pirates, the one-eyed baddie, the seven seas and what else? Treasure, of course!
And how do they find the treasure? With a treasure map! Even though they brave the fierce seas, battle sea monsters and put down crew mutinies, the protagonist in a pirate story is confident they’ll find the treasure eventually because they’re following a treasure map.
You have to do the same with a marketing plan. In case you didn’t notice from everything else we’ve mentioned in this article, speaking is competitive. In order to see success, you’ll not only have to differentiate yourself from other good speakers, you’ll need to have a focused and consistent effort to get the word out there to potential clients.
A marketing plan will help you with all of this. Often newbie speakers use a “hope and pray” approach to marketing, or follow their latest creative marketing idea, and this is why they fail. You cannot fall for this trap. Having a solid marketing plan will keep you focused, give you room for continual improvement and help you discard what isn’t working.
Becoming a new author requires a unique fortitude and strength of character.
Writing a book forces you to plan, write, and edit between 50,000 to 100,000 words!
It also requires working with an editor, a publisher (or self-publishing), a design team, and developing a book launch strategy to get readers to see your upcoming bestseller on Amazon. This amount of work can feel overwhelming and can easily crush your confidence.
But what makes new authors become bestsellers like Stephen King comes down to one factor: hard work.
Writing takes tremendous effort, but more importantly, requires a strong mindset. Having coached and taught so many successful writers ourselves, we’ve studied and compiled all of their strongest personal qualities that you can adopt and apply to your life to become an author.
Let’s reveal how these qualities can shape you to become a published author.
#1 – Exercise Patience
Writing a book is not an overnight process. It takes a lot of time! Part of learning how to be a professional writer means that you have to cultivate not only discipline and focus, but patience.
The good news is that patience is something that can be developed with practice. Suzannah Windsor Freeman, author of The Busy Mom’s Guide to Writing, discovered that “infinite patience” was the key to her success.
Freeman also famously said, “If your dream were to be a concert pianist, you wouldn’t expect to sit down and just play. You’d take lessons for many years, practice every day, and sacrifice a great deal in order to achieve that dream. So, why do we expect ourselves to be able to write well without the same level of commitment and patience?” Her words advocate that the more time you spend practicing your craft with patience, the better writer you will become.
Action Plan: Cultivate patience by practicing your craft everyday. Whether it’s creative writing or creating short stories, experiment with any form of writing to improve your skills and develop great ideas.
#2 – Apply Consistency
To become a professional writer, you must treat writing like a serious job. This means that you must commit to a consistent schedule and adhere to a writing process in order to develop good habits and not waste time.
Consider the following strategies to make yourself more consistent as you start the writing process:
Emulate the “Calendar Strategy.” With a calendar, mark an X for each day you write and make it a goal to not break the chain.
Find your creative space. Find and create your own space where you’re most comfortable and creative. Whether it’s your office, a coffee shop, or even your kitchen, use it as your place to write everyday.
Create a writing schedule. Writing at the same time everyday will develop a consistent writing habit. Consistent writing actually creates a muscle memory, triggering your brain to turn on creativity when you sit down to write.
Action Plan: Experiment with these methods to optimize your writing process. Following a consistent plan will easily double your output and complete your book in no time.
#3 – Practice Optimism
Psychologists say that practicing optimism can help you be more productive and live a happier life. It can also help you overcome inevitable pitfalls like writer’s block.
The best part is, you can train yourself to think more positively and take on even the worst events that can negatively impact your life.
Here are a few ways to practice optimism:
Anticipate a positive outcome. Our realities reflect what we think, making our perception of reality the mirror of our thoughts. So having a positive attitude will always increase your optimism, even at your worst.
Share your optimism with others. Optimism is a contagious attitude powerful enough to shift the momentum of any negative situation to a positive one. So share your positivity with others and build that unshakable force to complete your goal.
Remove all negativity. Negativity will bring you down, and surrounding yourself with it will encourage more pessimistic thoughts and self-doubt. Avoid it at all cost.
Action Plan: In your writing process, come up with both negative and positive outcomes for any given situation. For each negative situation, try to look for positive outcomes and work towards turning it into a favorable result.
#4 – Value Criticism
No matter how amazing your book is, there’s always someone who will harshly criticize your work. Instead of viewing it as a humiliating remark, learn to apply the feedback to your writing.
Developing a thick skin is one the hardest things to do, and like many of the other characteristics, takes time to build.
When writing your book, you can build resilience to criticism by practicing the following:
Anticipate harsh edits and rearrangements across your entire book.
Prepare to cut out your favorite paragraphs or sentences.
Count on reading plenty of negative reviews on Amazon, social media or by the press.
Action Plan: Try to find positive feedback from every negative criticism or review on your book. Make it a goal to develop enough flexibility so that one day it will no longer bother you.
#5 – Be Empathetic
Know that by sharing your story, you’re helping someone else. Your unique experience will empathize with readers and they will draw strength from the words you wrote in your book.
Here are two successful authors whose work has touched many readers:
Professor Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, was faced with a terminal illness at a young age. Rather than wallow and fade away, he used his last days to create his masterpiece. His book wasn’t about death, but rather short stories that advocated the importance of overcoming hurdles and capturing every moment you have to live for. His generosity to share his life resonated with readers as a tale of courage and inspiration to anyone facing similar adversities.
Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, wrote her memoir while going through a devastating divorce that left her full of anxiety and panic. She stressed the importance of discovering the best version of herself by leaving behind her previous life to set out to explore the different aspects of nature within food, travel, and love. Her painful story of loss and regrowth profoundly connected to readers so much that it eventually became a movie.
Action Plan: Make the effort to write down the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered and explain how you have dealt with them. You will be surprised to see how meaningful your story is to your readers.
Adopting these characteristics can mean the difference between seeing your name on the best-seller list and never publishing your first book. Applying these practices not only help you become a published author, but also a better person.
Authors don’t just make money from books. Often, the majority of their income comes from what is behind the books.
Recently, my friend Gregory was four weeks out from publishing his first book. He had spent the better part of a year writing and preparing to launch his book.
Just a few weeks out from the launch he realized he had neglected to think about something important: how was he going to monetize the back end?
The journey of self-publishing hits a major milestone with the launch of a first book, but it does not end there, especially if you want to grow a business with your book.
While a well-launched book can certainly earn a good income, if you do not monetize the back-end of the book by consulting, speaking, or creating online courses then you are not realizing the full potential of self-publishing.
As they say, a book is the new business card. But, you can’t just have a business card – you need the business behind the business card as well.
There are several ways to monetize the back end of a book:
Consulting / Coaching
Speaking / Workshops
Create Online Course (fastest and most scalable)
While I am biased, my absolute favorite method is to create an online course. It doesn’t take 6-12 months to develop like a software product would, and it doesn’t rely on your personal time like offering services, consulting, and speaking.
Knowing that I specialize in online courses, Gregory reached out to me for help with producing a course for the new book he was about to publish. I’ll be sharing 3 steps to create online courses from your books. With these tips you too can maximize the results of your next (or a previous) book.
Imagine if you take every book you have published, which people are buying for $5-$10, and quickly transform the same content into a parallel product for which you can charge 10 to 100 times that amount.
As the owner of a course production company, people often have the same question when it comes to turning a book into an online course:
What’s the difference? Why would people pay more for the same material?
Great question. There are a couple key differences between a course and a book (aside from the obvious differences in format).
Step 1 – Understand the differences between a book and a course
Tone – If you were to read your book out loud, verbatim, that would be an audiobook which has a very different feeling to an online course.
Focus – Again, using the audiobook example, your audiobook might be 15 hours long, while you course is 5 hours long. A large part of the value of a book is exploring the “why” of a topic or possibly the history, while a course is designed to be extremely actionable. That means the content requires great focus.
Specificity – Books are filled with great stories and great ideas. They plant important seeds in your mind, and might even have some simple exercises at the end of the chapters. That being said, it takes a lot of effort to apply what you learn from a book. A significant part of the value of an online course is how easy it is to take action. If it’s a course about networking, you can provide email templates, step-by-step guides to follow, software tools you can use. It’s designed to be immediately actionable, while a book on networking might discuss more general concepts on networking such as why it’s a good idea to go to a conference, to make good eye contact, to introduce people to each other, etc.
If you want to see some real-life examples of the differences, check out the audiobook and the online course version of Gregory’s book to compare (you can do a free preview of each to see what I mean).
Both are based on the same content, but the tone, structure, focus, and specificity is quite different.
Step 2 – Build an online course from a book or a manuscript
There are a few ways you can do this:
1.) Decide the Format – There are many ways to build a course. You can build a text-based course, a video-based course that focused on live filming, or on recording your screen while you teach someone to program, or by recording slides as you teach. Usually it’s a mix. You can also have courses two hours long, or 20 hours long. With or without PDF handouts. With or without bonus content (such as expert interviews).
Here is what we decided on for Gregory’s course:
Ultimately 3 modules, with 3-5 lessons each
The lesson length would average about 10 minutes (although it ranges from 5-15)
The content style would primarily be a mix of recording well-designed slides, mixed with bonus content like expert interviews, follow-along PDF guides, etc.
Pro tip: How do you decide the course length/structure? One module should bring people through a major milestone. For example, setting up a website before beginning to write content and market the site in later modules. One video should have one clear, stand-alone step in the process. For example, video 3 of module 1 for Building Your New Website might entail setting up the site hosting, video 4 might be configuring wordpress, etc.
2.) Turn the manuscript into a course script – This means cutting the fat and changing the tone as discussed above. Your course should clearly get people from point A (where they are now) to point B (where they want to go) and this should be clearly reflected by the course script. Even if your book is quite long, you can do this in about a week if you maintain focus
3.) Turn the script into a slide plan – This is a document which matches up the main ideas in the script with slides that you will be recording. Most people jump straight from script to slide design, but this (quick) intermediary step ensures that your course has a good flow to it and stays organized
4.) Turn the slide plan into slides – Create a slide template that you like, then customize slides to match your slide plan. Or better yet, outsource this process to a professional.
5.) Record the scripts as an audio file – Sit down and read your script as enthusiastically as possible.
Don’t try to record your screen with the slides at the same time, the quality will be lower. Record the audio separately then match the slides in post-production.
Leave a pause and say “SLIDE X” between slides. This will help with the next step, editing.
6.) Combine the slides and audio file into a video file – Self-explanatory. It is not recommended that you do this yourself, as a professional likely would do it better/faster. Invest a few hundred bucks to get it done right the first time.
7.) Find useful places to add extra materials – PDFs, expert interviews, new examples, templates, etc. Just ask yourself every time you say do this, “how can I help them do that?”
8.) Clean up, edit and structure everything into a finalized course – Did everything stay organized? We recommend using a google drive folder structure that we link to below to keep things organized.
9.) Upload the course to your website – If you want the simplest option possible, go with Teachable. This is what we used for Gregory’s course as well. If you want something more sophisticated, go with MemberMouse (another popular option we use with clients).
Step 3 – Connect the book and the course
Now that you’ve completed the course, how do you get people from your book to find your course, and vice versa? The simplest way is to directly link from your book to your course website.
However, sometimes people will complain about that approach “they are just trying to sell their other products!!!”
Another way is to direct people to a companion website through a lead magnet, which offers additional resources and downloads for free — in exchange for their email address.
Then you will want to set-up an email autoresponder which offers additional value and guides them through the process from having read the book to wanting to delve deeper and buy the course.
Pro tip: Add this download link to the beginning AND the end of the book, and preferably a few times in the middle. Not everyone finishes every book they buy, so you want to make sure they see the link even if they stop after the first chapter. In fact, you can even include the page with the link in the “free preview” of the book on the kindle store to get even more people to see it.
What kind of results would this really get?
Let’s say you get 5,000 downloads as part of your book launch, then 1,000 purchases per month after that
20% of those people who grab the book also check out the link
Then 50% of the people who visit the page submit their email address
Finally, 10% of those people who join your list also purchase your course
You now instantly have 500 more people on your email list, and 100 more people per month ad infinitum
50 people buy your course during your book launch, and 10 more people buy every month
If your course is priced at $500, then that is $25,000 in additional revenue during your book launch, and $5,000 every month after that
…and that, my friends, is the power of combining a book with an online course.
I know writing a book is hard (I’ve written several myself) and by the time it’s done and published you may feel done yourself. But, don’t forget that offering a course is your chance to either kick start or rapidly grow your business.
The best way to maximize the value of your book is to lead people from your book to discover other parts of your brand.
Give the people who love your book the opportunity to work with you further, either through an online course or through one of the other methods discussed above.
If you’re here, you might be wondering how to be a writer for a living. When I see bestselling authors who have turned writing books into a full-time career, I have to stop and ask myself: “How did they do it?”
Stephen King has written over seventy bestsellers since the publication of Carrie in 1974. To this day he continues to write consistently.
James Patterson has sold more than 300 million books worldwide. He has been quoted as saying: “It’s pretty much seven days a week for me. You’re lucky if you find something you like to do and then it’s a miracle somebody will pay you to do it. That’s my situation. It’s not work for me. These are all stories that I’m really dying to tell.”
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, once jobless and with a dependent child, has sold over 430 million copies of her books.
What magic formula do these authors have? What super-talent have they been blessed with? What am I NOT doing now that I could be doing to turn my passion for writing into a real career?
How to Be a Writer
Now you might be thinking, “Well, good for them. But I just want to make enough money on my writing to earn a living, not 100 million bucks!”
But it’s not about how much money you can make at your writing. That might come later, but what really matters is this: practicing the habits and actions professional authors implement as part of their work life that leads to this kind of success. You don’t have to earn a fortune to be a professional writer; you just need to model what the pros do and the outcome will take care of itself.
There are a set of definitive traits pro authors have that make them masters of the trade. Good writing that sells is the result of these essential traits. For both indie and traditionally published authors, these 10 traits of professional authors are universal and a must-have for launching your author career.
Here are the top 10 traits of pro authors, and how you can adopt these traits to become a professional writer that gets books published, earns you an income, and creates a sustainable business you can grow and love.
Pro Author Trait #1: Develop a Daily Writing Habit
Pro writers have developed the writing habit. They write almost every day and have a word count goal for the day. Pro writers stick to a consistent writing schedule and put in the time to put pen to paper [or words into a Word doc]. This is one of the most critical traits. Without putting in your writing time, your book becomes a “someday” thing instead of an “it’s-happening-right-now” thing.
By nurturing the writing habit, you are creating content people will love to read and pay money for. You will exercise that writing muscle and churn out a great story, a memoir, or a book that offers solutions.
What is my daily word count goal?
How many words would I have to write every day to finish my next book by a chosen deadline?
How many books could I finish in a year if I stick to a writing habit of 1500 words per day? [You might be surprised!]
Pro Author Trait #2: Approach Writing as a Business
A hobby is something you do when you have time; the business of writing and becoming a pro author is what you make time for every work day. Authors who approach writing as a business are far more likely to succeed than hobby authors who show up occasionally with little direction and lofty ideas. A professional author is, essentially, a creative business person.
As with any business, your author business needs a schedule, deadlines, goals, and a plan. Authors spend time planning the material they are creating, how they will deliver it and, most important, they deliver when that deadline approaches.
As with any job, you have to show up every day at the time designated or else you don’t get paid. Writers who make a living at their craft go to work every day with the mindset that this IS their business and not just a dreamy project that they are going to pick away at. One of the fatal flaws many “hobby authors” make is in thinking that the writing success will just happen if they keep plugging away haphazardly. Maybe it will, but most likely, it’s your approach to the writing craft as a business that will determine your level of success.
Of course there is nothing wrong with writing as a hobby! However, if you want to turn this into a real thing, start to think and plan as a business leader. Pro authors make a living at writing because they are intentional with their business goals.
Am I a writing hobbyist or is this my future business?
Pro Author Trait #3: Write Valuable Content People Want to Read
A pro author does one of two things: either tells a good story [fiction] or provides solutions to a problem [nonfiction]. A great author can even combine both for a more compelling read!
It isn’t enough just to be a good writer, but you have to write with intentional purpose and provide valuable content people want to read. If you write fiction, you craft page-turners with crisp plots leading to a compelling climax.
For nonfiction authors, your readers have a problem and they need you to solve it. Knowing your audience and writing for them is the best way to make your content valuable and in demand. You can master your craft by giving people what they desire most: entertainment, information, inspiration, or a book that promises to change their lives forever.
Who am I writing for?
Does my content provide a specific solution?
Am I engaging my readers?
Pro Author Trait #4: Delegate Business Work to Other Professionals
There are so many tasks that a writer can do that have nothing to do with writing: editing, cover design, formatting, book promotions, and social media engagement. The list is endless. For pro authors, the crux of your daily activities should focused around product creation. This could be writing a book, blogging, or creating a course.
But the fact is, time is limited. If you try to do it all, you’ll get burned out and start watching television to escape.
As with any business, you need a tribe of people assigned to different parts of the business so that you have more time to do the work that only you can do: writing books. This means creating content readers love should be at the forefront of your business. Delegating everything else to freelancers will save you precious time and eliminate the stress of feeling like “I have to do it all.”
Is there anything I’m doing that falls outside of content creation?
If so, could the extra work be done by someone else?
Could I find someone on Upwork or Fiverr to take care of it, or do I need to look elsewhere?
Identify where you can save yourself both time and stress by delegating the little stuff so you can spend more time doing what pro authors do best…write books!
Pro Author Trait #5: Become a Habitual Note Taker
Both fiction and nonfiction writers craft their books around the ideas they have day and night.
And we never know when or where these ideas are going to strike.
Ideas are like rainbows; one minute they’re here and the next minute…poof, they’re gone!
You need to be ready at all times to catch ideas as they come.
If not, you’ll struggle to remember hours later what that “golden idea” was that passed through your mind.
Get into the habit of carrying a small notebook with you.
When you go to sleep, keep your notebook within reach for ideas that come in the night, or as you doze in the morning.
You can install idea-capturing apps on your devices such as Evernote, Simplenote, and Apple Notes. Make your idea capturing system easily accessible at all times.
How can I set up my system for note taking when I’m on the run? When I’m sleeping? When I’m at a party conversing with important people and suddenly get that idea I’ve been waiting for all year?
Pro Author Trait #6: Read with Purposeful Intent
Writers read! Yes, we love reading. It stimulates your imagination and paves the way for more ideas. You can read books in your genre or read something totally unrelated. When you’re not writing, set aside time to read your favorite book. If you are writing a series of books on sales, you could read books on that topic. It could give you more insight into your area of expertise.
What book can I start reading now that would improve my business or contribute to personal development?
Pro Author Trait #7: Retain Readers and Build a Loyal Fan Base
If you notice, almost all professional authors got that way because they focused on a particular brand or niche. Then they built a strong following of raving fans in that niche. Readers become fans and fans become regular customers who buy your other books.
The best way to create a loyal following is to write for your fans. Keep giving them more of what they crave by constantly creating content that offers value. When you write, know who you are writing for and create content they need.
By using an email marketing service such as MailChimp or AWeber, you can gather email addresses of your loyal fans and communicate with them regularly. Pro authors understand the absolute must of having an email list, and they build their author business entirely around it.
Am I writing for a specific niche, or do I change topics often?
What do my readers like about my work? If you aren’t sure yet, find out why people are reading your stuff.
What email marketing service am I using to collect email addresses?
Pro Author Trait #8: Recognize the Importance of Rewriting
Every great author knows that the real writing isn’t in the first draft—the real work towards greatness begins during the self-editing phase. The first draft offers a framework for the book and the rewrite is the guts of the machine; it’s here that all the sweating and crying pays off.
Writing is 10% talent and 90% hard work. The pros spend about 20% of their efforts on the first draft and the rest goes towards rewriting, revising, pulling their hair out, and refining the manuscript until they get it to the point that it’s good enough to ship to the editor.
Many authors, even the pros, can get bogged down in editing. This is especially true when the perfectionist monster is on your back. But real pros know that an unfinished book is an unpublished book, and nobody reads a book that isn’t published.
In a very tiny nutshell, here’s how to be a writer:
Be a pro.
Revise your work.
Let a professional editor polish it.
Ship your product.
Do I spend enough time on rewriting?
Do I get bogged down in the editing phase and need to ship it to the editor?
Pro Author Trait #9: Ship Product Consistently Despite Their Fears
“Ship often. Ship lousy stuff, but ship. Ship constantly. Skip meetings. Often. Skip them with impunity. Ship…The paradox of our time is that the instincts that kept us safe in the day of the saber tooth tiger and General Motors are precisely the instincts that will turn us into road kill in a faster than fast internet-fueled era. The resistance is waiting. Fight it. Ship.”
James Patterson published 15 titles last year. Indie author Patrick King publishes a book every 4-5 weeks.
Pro authors are always putting out content and creating. But shipping raises fear in many people. Let’s face it, it’s scary to put stuff out there for everyone to judge and criticize. But if you want to become the professional you know you can be, you have to ship your product as often as you can.
Am I stuck because I’m afraid of shipping my book?
How can I get over the fear of putting my content out there?
Pro Author Trait #10: Become a Master of Rejection
If there is any one trait that a professional writer has it is this: the ability to keep pushing forward despite the critics, naysayers, and abundant forms of rejection. You’ve no doubt heard the stories of power authors like Rowling and Grisham, King and Margaret Mitchell. Getting rejected or having your draft torn apart by critics and reviewers can crush your confidence, but only if you let it.
The one trait that turns an average person into extraordinary is the ability of taking rejection and crushing through the barrier of being told “No.” The authors who make it develop grit. In psychology, grit is based on your passion for a particular long-term goal, alongside motivation to achieve your objective. In other words, you get what you want when you want it badly enough.
How badly do I want to write this book?
Am I passionate about the story or content I am crafting?