What is the most difficult part in writing a book? Well you may sometimes say that it is publishing. Most of the amateur writers think that as writing is something that we can do by ourselves, it is much easier when compared to other more technical and expertise-requiring fields like publishing and marketing. That was true a few years back but at present it is a total misconception. That is not because writing has become harder (It will always take the same effort for you to write your content) but because that the other fields (i.e. publishing and marketing) have got a lot easier. At present, it is so easy to self-publish a book that all you need is just a working Internet connection. Therefore, if you ever dreamed of publishing a book do not just back up because you think it is a daunting task, it is not like that anymore.
So, everything got simplified, except this one, sitting down and writing. I admit that it is the hardest part in making a book.
“Before you have to launch a bestseller you have to write one”
– Jeff Goins (goinswriter.com)
Recently I have published a book along with my friend (You can see it here). About two months we were working very hard on the writing section, it was my first book and we self published it on Amazon in both e-book and paperback formats. I was so amazed by the publishing process that was so easy that I completed it in a single day!
Now I am summing up all the useful knowledge that I have gained while publishing my book into this single post so that you too can make you dream of being an author a reality.
So, let us get into the main topic, the 7 steps towards publishing a successful book:
1. Deciding the theme of your book
What are you going to write about in your book? If you have decided to write a book then you would already know what you are going to write about (at least abstractly). Therefore, the first thing you need to do is to start building upon that idea. Start with a much simpler version of that idea, like a single sentence and start expanding from it. Make it into a paragraph and start planning about the different chapters of the book.
Then divide the different parts of the book into categories and assign sub-categories, which would mainly signify the different things to be mentioned in those categories. While planning always remember to allow space for expansion. Most probably while writing you will come across situations when you would feel like adding something extra in some parts. Therefore, any deep and precise plan would do nothing other than get you lost. Make your plan as simple and shallow as possible. Once you get the basic picture of the overall outline of your book, it is time to move to the next step.
2. Planning your writing schedule
Scheduling your work is an important aspect of successful writing. If you are not regular in your writing (taking 1-2 days off work often for a relief is okay but not more than that) chances are that you will end us unsatisfied with the quality of your writing and will have to amend huge parts of it completely, that is twice the work. Therefore, it is better to stick to a schedule.
“The main reason why we procastinate: it rewards us with temporary relief from stress.”
– Niel Fiore (Author of The Now Habit)
You do not have work day and night for it. All you have to do is write a small part (not more than 500 words) every day and you will get a 30,000 word book in exactly 2 months. Assign a particular time in your daily schedule for your writing and try to write at the same time every day. If you have other on some particular day then it is okay to cut that day off your schedule. Don’t try to overwork the next day to complete the previous day’s tasks, that won’t always be good.
So, once you have set a particular time for your writing and has planned your daily schedule, it’s time to set some goals.
3. Setting your writing goals
Once you have a clear idea about the different parts of your book from beginning to end, the next step is to set a deadline for completing each of them.
Do not try it in superman style. Everyone has a natural tendency to break to deadlines so make sure you keep deadlines that are convenient to you. I would recommend ones that will not require you to write more than 500 words a day. It is better not edit in between your writing, just write down a part completely and then edit it from beginning to end.
You can use tools like ‘Wunderlist’ keep you reminded about your goals. It is extremely helpful if you are writing a book with more than one author, it supports community to-dos and even messaging (within lists).
4. Visualizing your completed book
Dreams are always a great motivation for success. In this case visualizing your completed work is very much important to keep you moving forward.
It is good to design your book’s cover page right at the beginning. It is very necessary in getting the complete picture of your finished book. Most of the experts recommend hiring a professional cover designer for this purpose but if you have a little experience in the field of designing, you can use tools like ‘Microsoft Office Publisher’ or ‘Adobe InDesign’ to design your cover.
Most publishers like Amazon offer their own free cover designing tools for designing you book’s cover but if you need a perfect cover, it is better to use a more professional tool like the ones mentioned above.
Also having a clear picture of the structure of your book is necessary to make sure you stick to the topic. If you do not know where the book will end, chances are that you start with something and then end with another thing that is completely off-topic.
You can even set you book for pre-order on Amazon. People ordering your book even before it is published is a great motivation for you to stay dedicated to your work.
5. Making others aware of your book
Most people thinks that marketing comes only after publishing your book but that not a good idea especially if you are self-publishing. You should start building your audience even before publishing your book. Starting a blog is one of the best ways to get that done. The next best platform is social media, start making people aware that you new book is coming soon.
Start a blog on WordPress or Blogger and also a mail-list. I would recommend MailChimp for creating mail-lists. It is a extremely simple and effective tool. You can create custom emails campaigns and manage multiple mail-list. Above all, it is all free if you have less than 2000 subscribers, (We will talk more about blogs and mail-lists later in this post).
So, you have made others aware of what you are doing, now let’s move to the most exciting part of the process.
Completing Your Book
6. Making your book ready for publishing
It is better to publish you book in at least in e-book and paperback formats. I did it with Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) which supports both these formats. You can also use other platforms like Lulu for this purpose. Amazon KDP will distribute your e-books worldwide and your paperbacks across America and Europe. For distribution in India, we used Pothi.com.
No matter where you publish your book, the formatting is almost the same everywhere. It is better to format your e-book in the Microsoft Office Word (.doc or .docx) format, which is recommended across platforms like Kindle. To read more about formatting Kindle e-books click here.
For print books, you would need convert them into .pdf format, which can be easily be done within Microsoft Office Word. If you need pre-formatted templates for your book, your book, you can get from Create Space, click here to get it for your desired page size.
7. Be prepared to embrace failure (especially if it is your first book)
Failure is not a disaster. You should learn to take it as normal. Give yourself grace and let your determination continue into your next book. Concentrate on your blog and mail-list. Always keep in mind that the next time you publish a book, you will be having more number of readers and subscribers – which ultimately converts into more sales.
A more common step that some authors take while their books are not selling as expected is to invest huge sums on money. However, I will not recommend that. Instead, try to dive a little bit deep into your marketing. Copyblogger has some of the best and most effective guides on the internet for finding out and correcting the defects in your products that might be affecting their sales. Click here to view Copyblogger’s resources (you would need to get a free membership to acquire them).
1. Never allow your book to sit beneath your desk (No matter what)
No matter how much you messed up with your work, just go ahead and get your book to the market. There is no bigger failure than making the unpublished manuscript stay forever beneath your desk or inside your drawer.
“Every year, millions of books go unfinished. Books that could have helped people, bought beauty or wisdon into the world…..The secret of finishing a book is having a process you can trust”
– Jeff Goins (goinswriter.com)
Remember that if you have finished the writing part, then the publishing is so easy (only a few hours task). If you have not finished the writing, it maybe because that you have started to doubt yourself as to whether you can finish it or not. Always keep in mind that it is common for most of the writers, even I had such a feeling when I reached the middle of my writing part. What you have to do is to keep that taught aside and keep moving forward. Never lose hope in yourself.
2. Start building an audience before publishing your book
I have mentioned about this before, and said that we will be talking more about blogs and mail-list. A blog is a two way conversation, you not saying something just for the sake of saying it, but to trigger a discussion on that particular topic and to get other’s valuable opinions about it (in case of products it becomes feedbacks rather than opinions). I recommend using WordPress for creating your blog. You can create a free blog ([YourBlogName].wordpress.com) or use a top-level domain that is hosted with providers like Bluehost or Go Daddy. You can do the same with Blogger under the name [YourBlogName].blogspot.com.
In case of mail-lists, MailChimp is the perfect solution. As mentioned above, you can create custom campaigns and maintain multiple mail-lists, all for free if you have less than 2000 subscribers. Learn more about using MailChimp in this e-book (Click here to download).
And now let’s get writing
So, these are the steps that can make you a published author if executed in the right way. Once you finish reading this article, don’t waste your time. Go, get started with your first/next book. And let me see you as a successful author within a few months.