Perspectives from Self-Publisher, Britt Reints on Marketing and Topic Burnout

I had the opportunity to chat with Britt Reints, author of An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness, who was kind enough to share her insights on why she chose to self-publish and the interesting things that happen when you are marketing your book.

Why did you decide to self-publish your book?

Honestly, I didn’t even try to publish the traditional route because I was scared someone would tell me I couldn’t do it. I’m an instant gratification person, and I didn’t want to wait for a long time only to be told, “No.”

What aspects did you end up doing yourself and what did you hire out?

I hired a cover designer and a few editors. I also hired a short-term publicist who blasted out my press release to every outlet and got me on a few radio shows. I did my website all by myself and the interior formatting of my book and e-book. I used Scrivener for the writing and organization of my book.

Do you remember how much it cost to produce your book?

I can’t remember exactly, but I’d say somewhere around $1800. The cover designer charged around $500, editors $800, and the publicist was around $500.

You’ve been writing for about 12 years. How helpful was your blog in informing your book?


Well, I traveled for a year, but I didn’t write about that trip. I wrote the book that I didn’t see in the self-help genre (I cringe at the term).

I wanted to write something that discussed the topic of happiness in a way that reached more people. I wanted it to be accessible.

I saw the same themes coming up over and over again on the blog, so I knew they were universal, and I wanted people to know how to do it.

Do you consider yourself a happiness guru of sorts?

After I wrote my book and did a Ted Talk, I haven’t written. It kind of killed my writing because after writing my book, marketing my book, I got annoyed with my topic.

Being associated with my book’s topic ended up being limiting in a way. I was interested in happiness because of a personal experience I had, but I’m kind of over that and want to explore other things.

What was the biggest marketing event that went the furthest?

I definitely sold the most number of books when I was speaking at corporate events and conferences and had my book for sale in the back of the room. I could sell a lot in bulk—20-30 books at one event, so that’s where I saw the most traction.

What advice would you give others?

Hone your craft and be a good writer (and all that jazz) but know that 90% of your work is going to be in marketing your book. If you’re not good at marketing, then invest your money in someone who is.

Do you think it’s worthwhile to self-publish a book?

Writing a book is a stepping stone. When you’re done, you have a huge sense of accomplishment, and it solidifies your platform. Similar to getting your college degree, it shows that you can do a good job and finish something. You can flesh out an idea into a finished book. It’s a major portfolio builder.

What’s next for you?

I would publish again, but now that everyone is writing on the internet, I feel less inclined to put my opinion out there until I know how my opinion is different from everyone else’s. I’m still active on social media, but Twitter is so noisy. I prefer Facebook for tracking conversations.

Check out Britt’s TedX talk here: Creating your owner’s manual for a happy life

Bio

Britt Reints is a happiness expert who doesn’t believe there is any such thing as a happiness expert.

Check out her writing at www.inpursuitofhappiness.net.

A New First: Learning New Skills when Self-Publishing

People always ask me if it was a lifetime dream to publish a book and honestly, it was never a dream of mine.

Throughout my academic career, I have written so many papers, technical reports, and research articles that the thought of writing a book had never crossed my mind until relatively recently.

However, once the idea was in my head and I discovered that there were a lot of viable options to self-publish a book of high-quality, I knew I had to do it.

Academia— always on someone else’s timeline

I’m used to the “publish or perish” mindset in academia—which insanely combines high quality with a sense of dire urgency. You must put out your best work before your colleagues. 

Academic publishing can be brutal. You are at the mercy of multiple rounds of revision, fact checking, and peer-review testing that are beyond your control and yet, you are expected to publish before everyone else.

There is a lot of hurry up and wait when it comes to academic publishing. Your best work is almost always in someone else’s hands.

With that in the back of my mind, I knew that if someone else published a book with the same idea and concept, I would be upset with myself for not pursuing it.

I relished the idea of being in control of the timeline but I was a harsh (still fair) boss and I held myself to self-imposed deadlines.

As much as I hate to admit it, it was the drive to be the first to publish the idea in book format was what spurred me to work those long nights for months on end. Because let’s face it, there aren’t many firsts left for most adults.

A new challenge

As an experienced professional, I had already gone through the ringer from graduate school, learned how to behave professionally in a traditional 9-5 office job, and presented at enough conferences to shake off the nerves.

The idea of creating and publishing a book was a new challenge.

A new set of steps to figure out and an exciting hike off my usual beaten path.

I felt confident that I could leverage my experience with traditional publishing in academia and apply my project management skills in self-publishing. I wasn’t leaving anything behind—I was taking all of my skills and utilizing them in a new way. It felt refreshing. It also jazzed up my daily tasks.

“You don’t have many “firsts” these days, babe. I’m proud of you.”

My husband made a valid point. As professional adults, a lot of our “firsts” are behind us. I’m a huge believer in always learning, studying, and researching new things but the idea that publishing a book would be a new “first” stuck with me.

The first time…

Self-publishing a book would be the first time I ever held a book in my hands with my name on the spine.

  • The first time I took an entire project from start to finish on my own inertia.
  • The first time I cared more about a project than anyone else.
  • The first time they were my deadlines and not someone else’s.
  • The first time I could create the sequence of steps and follow them how I wanted.
  • The first time someone else wasn’t asking me for project updates—I was the one managing a team.

My book wasn’t anyone else’s project. It was mine.

My first.

And it felt great.

If you’re looking for a new “first” and are considering self-publishing a book, let’s have a quick chat to see if I can help.

Want to do it on your own like I did? Check out my comprehensive course on self-publishing.

Why Every Professional Should Publish a Book

Every professional should consider adding a book to their resume. As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you already control your creative ideas, budget, and messaging around your work, why not do the same with your intellectual property and self-publish a non-fiction book? 

Publishing a book can boost your business in many ways:

Increase your visibility

Small business owners and entrepreneurs benefit from having a book that boosts the reach of the brand. As a professional, your job title may change from job to job but a book is an embodiment of your expertise and knowledge that follows you wherever you go.

A lot of work you develop during your career stays with your job when you leave or change roles but capturing your novel ideas and thoughts in a book means that you can take those experiences with you no matter what job you have.

If you developed a novel approach to analytics, management, or marketing, you could record and share that knowledge in a way that better serves other professionals like you. 

Books boost your credibility and visibility as an expert in the field. You’re already the expert, so why not write the book on the topic? 

Market your business in a new way

You’ve already developed your website and services, and clients love working with you. You are a trusted member of the professional community, and you offer valuable insights in all of the work you do. Providing clients with a book enables you to stand out from the rest of the competition in your field.

Books serve as the ultimate contact card for consumers. By selling your book on Amazon, you can reach potential customers around the world. 

As the author of a book, you’ll be invited to new events, conferences, and opportunities that didn’t previously exist. Publishing a book establishes your company’s brand and garners positive media attention.

It also provides a direct line of communication with consumers and leaves behind a legacy of institutional knowledge for your business.

Capture a lifetime of experience

Many retired professionals, once removed from the daily obligations of work, want a way to capture all of their knowledge and expertise while it is still fresh. After 30+ years of experience, it often feels like a waste of all of that on-the-job experience to let it all disappear into the ether that is the first year of retirement.

Capturing the unique experiences you had during your career in the format of a book is an enjoyable project that many recent retirees don’t often consider.

What to write about?

Write about your successes, failures, strategic decisions, and insights behind the creation of your company, your business, and your ideas. What drove you to become successful? What is the backstory to your company or brand that nobody knows? 

Share your wisdom with your existing customers, and you’ll find that in doing so, you’ll end up reaching an entirely new base of clients. 

Find out if self-publishing is right for you with this free PDF, 10 Steps to Self-Publishing

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Book Marketing Ideas

“Content is fire, social media is gasoline.” -Jay Baer

When it comes to marketing your book, you have to do what every business does—get your product (that’s your book) in front of people who might be interested in reading it.

How you go about doing that will need to vary based on your audience.

In my lecture, Identifying and Connecting with Your Ideal Reader, I walk you through how to define your reader and think about where you can find them on the internet and in real life. (Click here to head to that lecture.)

Your marketing strategy for 25-35 year old women who are interested in yoga and aromatherapy will be slightly different than another author’s strategy who is targeting men between the ages of 55-65 years who are American classic car enthusiasts.

While the messages will differ depending on your ideal reader, you can still reach them in similar ways.

Here are a few ideas to market your book:

1. Book reviews on blogs

I guarantee that someone out there has a blog and is enthusiastic about your book’s genre. It’s up to you to track them down and make the connection.

Google your fingers off and create a list of potential book review bloggers and start contacting them with a friendly request for a book review.

You’ll need to send them either an e-book file or physical book for their review. You must give your book to reviewers freely and don’t even hint to them that you are looking for positive feedback.

According to Amazon’s book review policies, you cannot solicit positive reviews in exchange for a free copy of the book. Authors cannot incentivize or compensate reviewers in any form.

Ask the blogger to copy/paste a version of their review on your Amazon sales page and Goodreads when they are finished and ask them to let you know when the review on their site is live so you can share their blog post far and wide on your social media platforms.

If it helps sweeten the deal, you can offer one physical book for them to run a reader giveaway. They’ll run the promotion and send you the mailing address for you to ship once the giveaway ends.

As always, be genuine, be grateful, be nice and you’ll go far.

2. Let your voice be heard! Podcast interviews

Similar to your blogger outreach, you should repeat the same process for various podcasts. Hop on iTunes and start searching for pods related to your topic.

If you’re going to be a guest on podcasts, you need to know a few things:

1. Get a decent microphone. Sure, you can do it with your ear buds, but really, a nice microphone makes a huge difference and it’s not that expensive.

I use the Blue Yeti Microphone and I got it at a discount during a Black Friday sale. Get the foam filter that goes over the head so we don’t hear every spittle and click. Your listeners will thank you for spending an extra $7-$9 on your equipment.

If you find yourself on more than two podcasts, it’s time to invest in a microphone. Who knows? Maybe you’ll start your own podcast…storytelling in the author’s own voice is always nice to hear.

Whenever preparing for an interview, remember to relax. It’s just a conversation. Prepare some talking points around why you created the book, your inspiration, and what you want readers to take away from your book and let the words flow.

The more you do, the better you will be at interviews so do some mock interviews to calm your nerves.

3. Take ALL of the pictures. Share on Instagram

Someone who does this really well is Lola Åkerström who created an Instagram account for her book, Lagom.

 

A post shared by LAGOM Book (@lagombook) on

Readers send her pictures of her book in their house and she reposts them on her Instagram account. 

The end result: a stunning display of creativity and engagement with her readers around the world.

Seriously, follow her and do one better, buy her book here.

4. Put things in motion with a moving gif or video of your book

Want a high-quality image or video of someone reading your book but you don’t have any models around?

You can head to websites like Placeit.net and create a mockup of your book.

This can turn into a rabbit hole so don’t get lost. Get in and get out!

Here’s an example of a one that I tested out.

Buuuut, if you want to DIY it, which you might, you can create your own by animating your own book cover images.

Here’s an example of what I did for my Knocked Up Abroad books. You can see it on my homepage here.

Steps (super easy and free):

1. Take some flat lay pictures of your book(s)

2. Make the scene somewhat interesting

3. Make slight changes between snaps

4. Animate them using iMovie OR do what I did and create an animated slideshow using the Elementor WordPress plugin on your site.

5. Join a few marketing groups

There are TONS of other ideas for marketing your book—this is only scratching the surface.

For more ideas, I recommend reading Book Marketing Made Simple by Karen Williams and joining marketing groups on Facebook.

Internet Marketing for Authors and Books

and 

Marketing Across the World if you’re looking to connect with international entrepreneurs.

I’m in both groups, so come in and say helloooo.

6. Blog in your own words

This one is the most obvious but I almost forgot to mention that you should be blogging and continuing to put your ideas out there.

Add a link to your book at the bottom of every blog or in the sidebar widget of your site to encourage your readers to read more.

Put the link to your book everywhere. Make it easy for readers to find you.


Okay! That’s it for me. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

Kickstarting Cami the Kangaroo—How one author reached 100% in 9 days

Did you do any research before launching your Kickstarter? If so, what did you do?

 
Yes! I started researching Kickstarter campaigns three months ago (in November), when I first read about it on one of the author Facebook groups I’m a part of.
 
I did several things:
– I asked for advice and tips from several authors who had already run successful Kickstarter campaigns,
– I searched “Kickstarter” on Facebook author group pages and read all I could that people had already posted, and
– I went onto the Kickstarter website and studied people’s campaigns (past ones and ones that were running at the time) to see what they did that made them successful and
– I read several articles on the Kickstarter website itself to learn more about the program.
 
I also spent time backing several authors who were running campaigns.
 
 

Why did you select Kickstarter over IndieGoGo or another crowdfunding platform?

 
The main reason I chose Kickstarter was because it was the platform most other authors in my Facebook groups used and were using. It was the one I could get the most advice about from others! 
 
 

What types of “behind-the-scenes” work did you do that you think contributed most to your success?

 
As stated above, research, research research! I spoke with other authors, reading about Kickstarter and crowdfunding. Then in December, came the marketing.
 
Being a teacher, I literally knew nothing about marketing, so once again, I enlisted the help of other authors for ideas. I had magnets made and a press release and took them around town, dropping them off at local coffee shops and stores.
 
I called and visited numerous dentist offices. I called and emailed local TV and newspaper outlets and told them about my project and scored two newspaper stories and two TV interviews.
 
I researched and emailed parenting bloggers asking for support. I joined teacher and parenting groups on Facebook. I contacted local libraries, schools and just started passing out my magnets to anyone and everyone!
 
I had to think about the rewards, shipping costs and make a video (which my colleague Jim made for me). I also started my author Facebook, Instagram and websites and started building support for those as soon as I could. 
 

It sounds like you reached out to tons of people. How many people do you think you’ve emailed during the campaign? 

 
Oh gosh! Hundreds! Family, friends, my book club, my church, my school I teach at, newspapers, TV stations, bloggers, other authors, libraries, schools, dentist offices, the MN Dental Foundation (who I hope to donate books to)…I’m sure I’m forgetting some! 
 
 

How did you get your local TV coverage? Did you have that connection before you launched?

 
Nope! I just prepared and sent an email about my journey from teacher to author and they contacted me about doing a segment! 
 
 

What has been the most surprising thing about your Kickstarter campaign? What did you not expect to happen that has happened?

 
So many people have helped me. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am just so grateful!
 
From my friend, Malina, who gave me the idea to choose a kangaroo for my main character, to my friend Jen who put me in contact with someone to help create the bookmarks I plan to give all backers. The ladies in my Bible study who have prayed for me and supported me through this entire thing to my friend and colleague Jim who created the video for my campaign.
 
From people like you and other authors (especially Diane Alber) who have given me so much great advice and support to my friends (old and new) who have championed for me this whole time.
 
My family (parents, sisters and my extended family in WI, TX and CA) has been especially supportive—every time I make a new post on my author page, they are right there sharing it and supporting me.
 
My #1 fan and cheerleader has been my husband Will. He has supported me every step of the way—I definitely couldn’t have done any of this without his unconditional support and love.
 
 

Have you had to change your strategy mid-campaign? If so, why?

 
Yes! I was surprised and excited AND grateful when I found out that we made our goal about 9 days into the campaign! So, I then had to start thinking about stretch goals.
 
Once again, I had to research, talk to my author friends and do a lot of thinking about how to go about that. I really wanted to be able to donate books to schools and also to the MN Dental Foundation and since I have over two weeks left of my campaign, I’m hoping to keep the momentum going to be able to do that. 
 

What advice would you give a fellow author who is looking to crowdfund their book?

 
Reach out and talk to people! Ask questions. Start researching and building up support for your book a couple of months before you launch. 
 

I know you’re still in the midst of your campaign but would you pursue crowdfunding again or recommend it for other authors like yourself? If so (or not) why?

 
Yes! It’s been so fun! I’ve loved every minute. The amount of support I’ve had has been overwhelming and exciting.
 
I am so grateful to have had this experience. I have learned so much, made so many new friends and have had so many new experiences. 

Watch the video below to back Stacy’s book and help her reach her stretch goals, Cami the Kangaroo has too many sweets!

Want more crowdfunding help for your book? 

Perspectives From a Fellow Self-Publisher: Kiran Prasad

In this interview, I sat down and chatted with Kiran Prasad, author of A Mindful Move: Feel at home again, to pick her brain on what she loved and would recommend to anyone thinking about self-publishing.

Why did you decide to self-publish your book?

I tried to go the traditional publishing route and got nowhere with it. I spent a lot of time researching how to do it and sent off book proposals only to receive one rejection after another. I was lucky to get any response at all. Felt a bit like applying for jobs in a tough economy!

It seems that these days it is not enough to write a good book, you need a social media following of thousands before you can get noticed by traditional publishers.

Publishing is essentially a business and they need to be sure your book will sell well.

In the end, I was glad I self-published because I got to have autonomy over the entire process.

What aspects of the publishing process did you do yourself and what did you hire out?

Being an English Literature major and teacher, I value quality writing, therefore, I paid for professional editing. I also paid for a cover design because I know how important a polished look is to selling a book.

I set up my own website and social media following on my own after attending a writing workshop, reading books, and watching video tutorials.

I found it tough to justify spending much money upfront on my book not knowing if I would get a return on my investment.

Since we’re talking about investment, how much did your book cost to produce?

Most of my cost was for professional editing. But the total cost for editing, proofreading and cover design was around $3,000 dollars.

We all know that royalties won’t pay the bills but what types of things have happened after you published your book that surprised you?

At a webinar that I attended, we were advised to think of our book as a glorified business card. Really, I haven’t done much marketing of the book since it’s publication but I’ve still had a lot of people, like you, contacting me about it.

I’ve been on a few podcasts, blog interviews, and a New York Times journalist contacted me to write a column about mindfulness and moving. I’ve also been contacted by a women of color empowerment workgroup to give a 60-minute workshop and potentially give a talk at a university too.

None of those things would’ve happened if I hadn’t published my book.

What surprised you about the self-publishing process?

I was surprised how long the cover design ended up taking me and how the cost of professional editing could be variable as I went through the different stages of editing.

A pleasant surprise was how quickly my book went live on Amazon Kindle! It was the most incredible feeling to see my book up there for the world to purchase!

What advice would you give someone thinking about self-publishing? 

Research the process before jumping in so you know what you’re getting into. It can become overwhelming to learn and do at the same time.

Build a following before you publish so that you’re not tackling the marketing aspect at the end.

I recommend reading Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, for marketing ideas.

Research who the leaders are in your subject area and reach out to them for connections. I sent a free copy of my book to Naomi Hattaway, the community leader of I am a Triangle, and she’s been a great help.

I also recommend joining the Alliance of Independent Authors. You can join before you are self-published and put the member badge on your website that lets your readers know that you’re a professional.

I suggest following Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn. She has a ton of great advice, podcasts, tutorials, and e-books that really helped me while I was researching everything.

You need to set a deadline and hold yourself to it. Make it public if you need to. I posted to my Facebook page that I would release my book on my birthday and I hadn’t even started the process.

Without a deadline and someone holding you accountable, it’s easy to just keep on writing and writing.

What’s next for you, Kiran?

I’m going to keep moving forward and publicly announce that my next book will be released on my birthday in 2019. I have so much to say about my plant-based diet and how it has truly changed my life but more on that to come soon!

I really want the books I write to make a difference in people’s lives.

Bio

Kiran Prasad is a teacher, speaker, and author of A Mindful Move: Feel at home again.

She is a New York Times featured author and her work can be found at http://www.jaskiranprasad.com

Connect with Kiran on Facebook to follow her future work.

 

Click here to keep reading more perspectives from fellow self-publishers.

Major Mistakes I Have Made as an Indie Author

Time to own up to my mistakes. Don’t you love learning from other people’s mistakes? Well, read on because I’ve made plenty.

When it comes to self-publishing, it is really easy to get far down the wrong path before you even know that you’re heading the wrong way.

It’s tough to accept that there will inevitably be some “learning experiences” but whenever we do something new, something beyond our comfort zones, we are going to make mistakes. 

Some will be more expensive or embarrassing than others.

Here are my top 3 mistakes I made as a self-published author:

1. Hiring out e-book formatting

For my first book, I hired out the e-book formatting to someone I found on Fiverr—a great website to find freelancers but it can be hit or miss.

I upgraded to her service for the .mobi and .ePub file types and waited 10 days for the files.

Everything worked out well, but during those 10 days when I was waiting, I found some teeny tiny changes I wanted to make to my manuscript.

I wanted to add a call to action for readers to leave a review at the end. Simple, right?

What I didn’t realize was that my teeny tiny change meant that I would have to purchase another “gig” on Fiverr. Basically, any time I wanted to update one thing, I was going to have to spend $100 to do so.

Now, maybe it was my experience with this particular freelancer or maybe it is standard practice, but I didn’t know because I had never tried formatting an e-book before.

What I did know was that I wanted to learn the process myself so that I wouldn’t have to pay for every little change I wanted to make to my e-book file.

I also didn’t want to have a manuscript riddled with dead links, or missing references to my subsequent books until I could amass enough changes to make a new revision worth the money.

Lesson learned: format your own e-book.

Which, not surprisingly, leads me to my next mistake…

2. Improperly formatting your own e-book

Having learned an expensive lesson with my first book, I learned a cheaper, but more time-intensive lesson and embarrassing lesson with my second book, serving as a cute reminder that the universe loves keeping things in equilibrium.

I may have saved a few bucks but I paid for it in ego.

I researched how to use Scrivener to format my e-book files to look and feel like my paperback version.

I really wanted e-book users to have as similar an experience to paperback readers, and I knew I could make that happen using the wonders of the technology at my fingertips.

I uploaded my manuscript into Scrivener and followed the online tutorial step-by-step.

Everything looked good on my end. Download file, upload file, wait, preview, make a small change, download, upload, wait, preview, etc.,

I probably downloaded and uploaded 50 versions to my Kindle app, double checked everything using the author tool, KindlePreviewer, and even asked my mom to check the files on her phone, tablets, and Kindle reading devices.

After checking what felt like more than enough times, it was thumbs up.

Time to hit publish.

Bam. I sent out the e-book files to everyone who had pre-ordered the book (300+ people) with instructions on how to get them onto their e-reading devices.

Woo hoo! Pop the bubbly. 

Two months later, I get an email from a fellow self-publisher friend who sent me screenshots of my Kindle manuscript on her Kindle Paper white device.

This must be wrong, I thought, this e-book is a mess! 

The formatting was, in a word, wonkadoo.

Fonts and text size randomly changed throughout a paragraph, and the spacing was inconsistent.

My e-book was a hot mess.

Completely unreadable.

OMG, I had sent that out to EVERYONE and was currently encouraging people to buy it and it looked like my daughter’s worst tangled hair day.

I was shocked my friend had made it as far as she did reading my e-book before she emailed me the screenshots.

What I didn’t know and what I hadn’t counted on was that the newest Kindle devices are not display options in the KindlePreviewer software. Come on, Kindle, what’s up with that?

That meant that readers with newer Kindle devices (like Kindle Paper white) were not seeing what I was seeing because KindlePreviewer was only showing me the most ancient Kindle device displays. What a surprise, right?

The readers with the latest Kindles were seeing all of the backend formatting that was jumbled when I imported my Word manuscript into Scrivener where I formatted the file.

Everything looked great on my end but it was a hot mess behind the scenes. I felt like I was walking down the street feeling like hot stuff with my dress tucked into my underwear.

Embarrassing.

I spent hours combing through every chapter to remove all of the improper formatting manually. Again, these were things I couldn’t see—everything still looked fine in Scrivener, but the screenshots showed otherwise.

After assuming there was an error on every line, I reformatted my +100k-word book by hand, waited a bit, crossed my fingers, and asked my friend to upload my latest file onto her Kindle device.

Once she gave me the go ahead, I republished on Kindle Direct Publishing.

In short, it was an embarrassing nightmare, but I learned that if you go to the “Look inside” feature on your Amazon sales page, you’ll see what the readers will see when they look at your e-book.

A few lessons learned here:

1. Test your e-book on every device imaginable—new and old.

2. If you’re formatting an e-book for the first time, you will most likely make mistakes. This will probably take hours of trial-and-error to correct.

3. Think like a reader and click on all of the things they might click on when navigating your Amazon sales page.

4. Profusely thank readers who point out embarrassing mistakes.

3. Not planning a series from the beginning

After spending months researching and pouring long nights and early mornings into my first book, it never occurred to me to publish more than one.

I emptied myself into my first book. I gave it my best stories, effort, and energy.

Publish another book?

That’s like asking a woman who has a one-month-old baby in her arms when she’s going to have another—the answer is “get out of my face.”

However, if you can get over your desire to slap someone across the face when they ask about “your next book,” think about the momentum you’re generating when you publish and market your book.

People read your book, and they want more from you—that’s the best compliment a reader can give a writer.

Because I thought I’d only have one attempt at this book publishing process, I made my first book way too long.  My second book was STILL too long for many readers.

Instead, I should’ve waited until I had amassed enough content for a three-book series and then gotten everything lined up and ready to release over time.

By thinking about a series on the front-end, I would’ve been able to plan out my covers so that they coordinated in design.

I would’ve been able to pace my readers so they wouldn’t be exhausted after book #1.

I could’ve given my readers more content every 9-12 months on a schedule, and the momentum from one book would flow directly into another.

Everything would’ve been easier from a marketing perspective.

Lesson learned: If you think there is even a remote possibility of a series, pause and plan out as much as you can in advance. You’ll save money on cover design, marketing, and you’ll be giving your readers exactly what they want—consistency.

But, in the end, none of these mistakes sunk my ship—I’m still sailing.

Self-publishing involves a lot of trial and error and without a doubt, you will make mistakes just like I did.

Actually, you’ll make different mistakes, and when you do, send me a message and I’m happy to laugh along with you in solidarity.

Do better when you know better and keep on chugging along.

 

Want to grab lifetime access to my comprehensive course on self-publishing?

It’s for beginners and it contains lessons learned like these and much, much more.

Click here to test drive the course with free access to the first two lectures.

5 Reasons Why Every Author Should Know How to Self-Publish

Just as race car drivers don’t need to be engineers or mechanics, they all have a basic understanding of how their cars work. Why? Because it’s professional to be knowledgeable of all of the moving pieces that affect your career.

Every writer needs to understand the publishing process whether they self-publish or not.

Here are 5 reasons why it’s crucial for writers to know how to self-publish:

1. Understanding the bigger picture improves the quality of the end result

The publishing process is step-wise and methodical. There is a series of activities that must be addressed in sequence in order for an e-book or paperback book to come together.

However, if you don’t think about who is going to be reading your book until the end when it’s time for marketing, you’re going to climb a steep hill and struggle to connect with readers. 

By thinking of the marketing at the onset of the book development and publishing process, the end product will be better for the reader.

There are a lot of questions that an indie publisher must answer while publishing a book and they all affect the reader’s experience.

What font to use, what cover design to select, how many chapters, etc., All of these factors are pieces of the puzzle. Understanding how they all fit together is important if a writer is going to create a book that is a pleasure to read.

Take away point #1: Think about the readers and the reading experience from the beginning to provide high-value content that resonates deeply with the reader that results in a loyal following.

2. You’ll know when you’re being ripped off

“What I didn’t know was what NOT to pay someone for their services. I had no idea if I was getting a good deal or not.” – Clara Wiggins, The Expat Partner Survival Guide

When a writer understands all of the moving parts of the publishing process, they get a feel for the market rates for editing, graphic design, and typesetting services.

Knowing what aspects a writer can DIY themselves because the on-screen instructions are easy to follow can save someone a lot of money.

Many companies will charge a pretty penny for merely pressing a button and a lot of writers will pay for that “service” because they don’t know what they don’t know.

Take away point #2: You control the costs when you understand how to recognize valuable work and services.

3. Greater independence and control

Without understanding the e-book and print publication processes, many writers are reliant on other third-party publications to review, evaluate, and approve their work before publication.

Knowing how to create your own e-book and paperback and how to sell them on Amazon means that a writer has 100% independence and control of their final word.

It also means that they can move at whatever speed they want. You, as the writer and self-publisher, become the rate-limiting step—not factors beyond your control.

Many traditionally published authors are going indie because they were tired of feeling like their careers were in other people’s hands. 

Self-publishing means that the person who cares the most about your book is in charge. 

Take away point #3: Once you discover how great it feels to call the shots for every aspect of your book, you’ll never want to give up that joyous freedom.

4. You can do the easy fixes

Even if you’re not tech savvy, you can do some really easy fixes, believe me.

You just need to know when something is an easy fix.

Want to update your Amazon sales page? That’s a 30-second update. All it requires is logging into your Amazon seller account, modifying the text, and pressing save.

However, some writers need to submit changes to someone else who gets to it when it fits within their workflow, which could take days or even weeks to fix. A 30-second fix shouldn’t take days to make.

With the author in control, these quick changes are done in a snap.

Investing in the learning process now saves you a lot of time later on.

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, took hours figuring out an easy bug fix that was brought to his attention after running Facebook for a few years. Had he had basic skills in web development, he would’ve saved a lot of time.

Take away point #4: You’ll learn that not everything requires expertise. Some basic knowledge goes a long way.

5. You’ll spot new trends

The self-publishing world is changing so quickly, and new technology is emerging every few months that make a writer’s life much easier than even a few years ago.

Did you know that there is a free software program that will do your e-book formatting for you?

Whaaaat? I know! I tested it out, and the pros and cons are available to my students, but believe me, and there will be more software coming in the future just like this that helps writers save time, stress, and money.

Knowing the process means that you can spot these trends easier than if you handed over your work to a black box and said, “Here. Do it for me.”

Take away point #5: You’ll see solutions everywhere once you are familiar with the problems.

What is involved in learning the publishing process?

Have I convinced you that it’s worth your time to have a working knowledge of the publishing process?

Now, I know that everyone is busy. Many writers have full-time jobs and write in the evenings, and the thought of taking on one more thing to learn is overwhelming.

That said, if you want to be an independent author—someone who makes smart and effective decisions in their authorpreneurship—then having a working knowledge (notice I did not say expertise) in the publishing process is extremely valuable in the long-term.

If you want to learn more, I’ve developed a comprehensive step-by-step guide to self-publishing.

Enrollment in this all-video course comes with lifetime access to all upgrades (remember all of that technology that is forthcoming? Yeah, I’ll be updating the course to reflect the latest and the greatest in the field), a printable PDF guide, and a closed Facebook community to provide support and answer questions.

What you get:

– independence
– increased competencies in self-publishing
– reduced wasted efforts
– money saved
– stress reduction
– accountability
– valuable networking with fellow indie authors

Sound good?

Click here to increase your smarts on self-publishing.

You’re Not Going to Make Money Selling Your Self-Published Book But You Still Should Do It

The truth hurts but I’m not going to lie to you—book royalties are pennies. PENNIES.

Unless you’re a NYT bestselling author, you’re probably not going to make real money selling your self-published book.

I mentioned this briefly in the 5 Myths of Self-Publishing but really, self-published authors see book royalties as the sprinkles on top of the cake.

Reality: even NYT bestselling authors use their books to launch other things like speaking tours, interviews, and other non-book activities.

Let’s look at real-life examples

One of my friends, Imad Elabdala at Kidnovation, used Kickstarter to launch his children’s illustrated book for Syrian refugees and has since spoken on the TedX stage about vulnerability and confidence, been a guest on countless radio stations, and has won national awards for his work in community outreach for refugees.

The book highlighted his mission and all of the work he was already doing in that space and exposed more people to his work.

Another great example is self-published author, Stephanie Espy who created the book STEM Gems and has since launched a movement to get more girls interested in STEM fields.

Stephanie has been nurturing her career for the past 10 years and the successful launch of her book has led to her receiving numerous awards and multiple features in the press

And finally, Estonian entrepreneur, Tiina Bruno, became the thought leader in creating sustainable workplace environments for families after publishing her book, Föräldramart, in Sweden.

Her company, ParentSmart Employers, is helping companies around the world make better use of parents’ skills developed during parental leave.

She was the first person to quantify the competencies and skills gained during parenthood and translate them into real value in the workplace. 

All of these authors have the same thing in common—their work was further enhanced and validated after they published a book on the topic.

External validation

When you publish a book you can always say you are, “First name Last name, author of Book Title,” on your bio and in introductions at conferences and at speaking engagements.

Hello, external validation. 

People who are interested in your work will take a look at your book on Amazon. They’ll browse through your reader reviews and lo and behold, your expertise and professionalism in your subject area just increased tenfold.

So, whether it be a dream of yours to see your name on a book’s spine, your desire to tell a story that is currently missing on your bookshelf, or a way to translate and preserve your experience and expertise in a book, you will reap untold benefits after you publish your book.

After you’ve published a book you’ll not only be able to raise your rates but you’ll also have more…

– Speaking opportunities and engagements

– Podcast interviews

– Newspaper coverage

– Collaborations with others in the field/genre

– New projects and activities that result from the book

Your book is the final frontier in your career but a stepping stone to countless other opportunities that can make you money, increase your professionalism, and establish your expertise on a topic and that is why you should do it.

It’s not about the book.

It’s about everything that comes after you hit “Publish.”

5 Myths of Self-Publishing (Plus a fun video)

Myth #1: Self-publishing is for untalented writers

It varies by genre but many traditionally published authors are going now self-publishing or publishing with independent presses.

New York Times bestselling authors like Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs (gah, I loved that movie), left her publisher and took back the rights to 7 of her 12 books.

Good for you, Claire!

She said she feels more in control of her writing career than ever before.

“Instead of waiting for the next thing to go wrong, instead of feeling like I can’t get close enough to my own career to move it in the right direction, I wake up every day and get right to work. I’m ridiculously busy, but I’m learning so many new things about writing and publishing and connecting, and I spend all day (and often a chunk of the night) doing the work I was born to do.” – Claire Cook

If you love reading about dirt on the revenue grabbing and what finally made Claire say, “enough is enough,”  then read her tell-all here.

I’ll also remind you that NYT bestselling book, The Martian by Andy Weir started out self-published on a Reddit thread. Reddit, folks. Andy tested out his science fiction story on a discussion forum.

Some self-publishers have talent…some do not. Just like traditionally published authors.

Myth #2: Self-published books are low-quality

Not to brag or anything, but my readers often ask me the name of my publisher. I confidently reply that my publisher is me. I did all of this.

Many self-published books have identical quality to those from the Big 5 publishers.

In fact, that’s why I created a webinar about the essential elements of a beautiful book. I want to raise the standards for self-publishers.

Let’s create some amazing books, here, ok?

Want my design tips on the essential elements of a beautiful book? Grab my free video training here.

Myth #3: Anyone can self-publish because it’s super easy

I dare you to say this to an indie author. I. Dare. You.

Traditionally publishing houses hire experts for each department. They have teams of editors, proofreaders, typesetters, graphic designers, marketers, and distributors. They have lawyers and accountants who advise them on how to run the business of publishing books.

An indie publisher must learn the workings of all of that and make decisions about pricing, marketing, and of course, content.

Wearing all of those hats can become a lot for any one person to take on, which is why many self-publishers hire freelancers to help them with their books.

Myth 4:  You’ll never make money selling books

It’s not in the selling of the books where you make money but in all of the other things that happen after you publish your book.

I’m talking about speaking engagements, conferences, lectures, and other opportunities and partnerships that come after people start discovering your work.

It seems like everyone has a blog these days but not everyone has a book—that’s because it’s a ton of work to self-publish a book and most people don’t have the time or expertise to do it themselves. 

Self-published authors who are prolific writers and create an extensive library can and do make money. It’s not impossible but like anything, it takes hard work and consistency. 

Myth #5: Self-publishing is basically free

This one makes no sense to me. I’m not sure why anyone would think that creating something that other people want to buy is A) easy to do or B) cheap to create.

NOPE!

If you want a high-quality beautiful book that readers will recommend to their friends and family to read themselves, you have to invest in high-quality design, editing, and layout. Let’s not forget about marketing.

At the end of the day, creating a book is not free and depending on the type of book you want to create, it can become quite expensive.

If you’re interested in learning about the true costs of self-publishing, you can access my free webinar here.

 

My take on the 5 common misconceptions of self-publishing is captured in the video below. Enjoy!