Once upon a time, I was a young one (about 8 or so) desperately writing out bits of poetry for my parents who did think it was sweet but kinda told me in no uncertain terms that it was unlikely to make me money as I did live in a third world country. I listened and relegated writing to being a hobby.
And then I progressed to being a ‘Mills & Boon’ reading tween churning out romantic dramas for my fellow boarding school students (nowhere near as fancy as that might sound!) to act out for our various events.
An English teacher noticed my talents for writing and added me to his little writing group of students with a little more seeming talent than the rest. Nothing much came of that except a confirmation memory in my head that I had a little talent in writing. Thank God for him.
Fast forward a little and I discovered my own journal as an angst-filled, misunderstood teenager and I filled it with the happenings of my days. This became a place for my parents to see what I was up to and so, I had to find new places to hide it all the time.
All the while, I accepted inside of me that I would never be published and so, writing became something I did just for me and maybe, for my children when they were old enough to read it.
And now, here I am, many journals later and seven Amazon books later (2 of which became bestsellers), I discover the awesome possibilities of self-publishing. It took 36 years but I finally found the courage and I am privileged to be born in a time when writing books and self-publishing is absolutely possible. I have even heard it said that 100 kindle books could be the secret recipe to $10k a month – I have not tried that one yet!
How did I do this? How can you get published?
It is very simple, really and I am now going to explain it in the simplest possible way. You may be looking for a convoluted explanation but you are certainly not getting that from me because I would rather you just got on and did it, rather than carry on looking for some magic bullet that does not exist.
The simplest thing I can say to you is that if you want to write – you need to write and then you need to publish it. It really is that simple but I know you want a little bit more so here goes…
1. Build An Audience
This is possibly not where you expected me to begin but if you do want to make it big as a self-published author, then an audience is pretty important. Unfortunately, it is the thing that most creative struggle to do. They want to produce the work and they forget that they have to market and promote the work!
And so they miss out on reaching as many people as they would like.
Don’t make that mistake – Build an audience and start now even before you have the book written or even planned out. Start to build a community of people who like what you have to say, who understand where you are coming from. How do you do that? Use social media and then move them onto your own mailing list.
We are very, VERY blessed to live in this day and age where we can build an audience of people who want to hear from you so decide where you would most like to be – whether it is Pinterest, Periscope, Facebook or whatever and allocate some time each day to build a community that is engaged and listening in to what you have to say.
What do you want to write about? If uncertain, ask questions of the audience you are building. Tap into the conversations they are having already. And then decide for yourself what you are best-placed to write about.
Yes, it may be a stretch when you think of the topic at the start but as long as you have some working knowledge of the subject and you are willing to research the rest, then that may be your topic.
Of course, you may already have an idea – Why not put that out? Come up with a creative title because the unfortunate truth is that you may have the best book on the planet but if the title does not grab attention then you will not get the eyeballs on the book in the numbers that you want.
3. Outline the chapters
OK, so when I have written books, I always try to have a list of chapters upfront as that makes me feel a little more in control of the direction of the book but then I did write one without any chapters upfront and it seemed to come out nicely enough anyway.
Personally, I tend to stick to about 10 chapters or so and I write out the title of each chapter in my journal and refer back to that as I write out the book.
If you are doing fiction, I imagine it will be somewhat different for you but that is not my forte so I cannot tell you.
4. Write the book
OK, now this is where procrastination is likely to come hit you over the head but you must not let it. I have been known to set up Facebook groups just for the purposes of keeping myself on track. I invite people to the group and I promise them a chapter a day and the finished book as a reward for keeping me on track. And because I have announced that I will do it, I get it done.
Some days, I stay up supremely late to make sure I fulfill my end of the bargain because I know it is a slippery slide to ‘NO BOOK’ if I do not stay on track. And the shame, oh the shame of not coming up with a chapter a day so I do it! And I get feedback along the way as well, which is very helpful.
That may work for you to keep things moving in terms of writing the book so consider doing that, okay?
Another way to do it, would be to record the book as an audio and get the mp3 file transcribed.
5. Get it proofread and edited
Now, some authors would probably say that there is a difference between the two things and possibly there is. But for the purposes of this quick guide, I would suggest you get someone other than yourself to do this.
I have found people on upwork and also on fiverr.com to do this end bit of my books. And also, against everything I have just said to you, I sometimes have left it a week or two and just done it all myself as I am very firmly in the camp of ‘DONE is better than PERFECT’.
This may reduce the quality of my work but I am okay with that as I am not in this for the many accolades of book writing (at least not at the moment!) , I am in it to fulfill myself and also to gain even more of an audience as I personally see Amazon audiences as a willing set of buyers.
6. Get A Cover Done
Truth is, I would already have got this done by this point. It takes my favourite book cover creator on Fiverr.com about 3 days to produce a cover that I love so I tend to get the cover done as soon as I know the title of the book. It also forces me to get the title tied down as I do not like waiting for the cover to be done when the book is ready and complete in my mind so I ensure that the cover is done well before I ever intend to complete the book.
So, yes, pop on over to one of the sites mentioned already that offer outsourcing services and find a graphic designer to design a great book cover for you.
7. Upload it to your chosen site
My usual choice of site to upload my book is Amazon because as I mentioned, they do have a ready audience looking for things to buy and I love to tap into that. However, there are other options for you like Smashwords which will also distribute your book to other places like Barnes and Noble and many other places – Have a look on their website to see where your book can be distributed to.
This may need more editing and preparing as Smashwords likes it to be edited a certain way. They do provide a manual that talks you through it or you can take your manuscript to Fiverr.com and ask for someone who knows what Smashwords wants and they can get it done for you.
Of course, you can also load it onto your own site for sale. However, consider the audience on your site… If you do not have that many people there then do not expect things to happen i.e. sales!
And also, remember that if you decide to register in Amazon KDP Select program which will enable your book to be available for Kindle Unlimited and a few other benefits like free book promotion (the book can be downloaded by your peeps for free for 5 days), then you will not be able to list the book anywhere else for a 90 day period. I do tend to use the KDP select program as my goal is to increase audience size so I do want it to be accessible to a huge amount of people.
8. The Marketing
This is the most important part of writing the book and yet, this is the part where people drop the ball. Hopefully throughout the whole process of you writing the book, you have followed my advice and been growing that audience size and also keeping them informed of the progress of your book. Now it is time to start reaping the rewards of having an engaged audience. Tell them to rush over and buy, buy, buy.
Do not stop there though…
Start brainstorming where you can announce the birth of this lovely book…
Think Facebook groups…
Specifically look for groups that allow you to promote your book…
All other social media platforms…
Consider running a Facebook Advert to it as that could get your best selling status quickly and helps with social proof.
Then, of course, if you have an email mailing list of interested prospects, tell thm, tell them, tell them…
Announce it on your Facebook profile…
Tell all your friends and ask them to share it with other people as well…
Go offline and do a meetup where you do a reading of your book…
Keep thinking of how you can tell people about your book!
And do it consistently.
Like any business, it really will come down to how many people you inform about it.
And that is it.
That is how a book goes from inside your mind to the online space.
And of course, you could also get it printed out physically and that can act as a very solid form of social proof. Amazon thankfully also offers a print-on-demand service called Createspace. This will mean that your book only gets printed in the numbers that it is ordered. This does avoid the unfortunate reality of a garage full of books that no one is buying that can assail many authors.
I do believe that everyone has at least one book within them (I actually think they have more but, let’s start with one!) so if you do feel an urge to write, put your fingers to keyboard and begin. Just make sure that you promote, promote, promote. That is how your book reaches the masses.
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