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How Much Does It Cost to Publish A Book?

To learn more about the cost of publishing a book and how to get connected with some of the best (and most affordable) designers, editors, and formatters, join Chandler on this FREE webinar!

“Remember to think of the cost of self-publishing as an investment, not a cost. [A book is] an asset that earns you money long-term.” – Joanna Penn

It’s been an epic journey, from coming up with your idea to fleshing out the first draft of your book, and now, it’s time to launch your book out to the world for everyone to enjoy.

However, you may be wondering, “How much does it cost to publish a book?” Self-publishing has broken down a lot of barriers for writers and dramatically lowered the costs of publishing a book, but there are still costs involved.

Since the explosion of digital books on Amazon and various other platforms like KoboiBooks, and Smashwords, first time authors and professional authors alike can write, publish and promote their books for less than $1,000. On the other hand, you can spend as much as $20,000 on self-publishing and book marketing costs if you have that kind of budget.

Let’s break down the costs of the self-publishing process. We’ll share some secrets to bring those costs down if you’re budget-conscious.

The Rise of Self-Publishing

If you’re an author dreaming of making your books available to millions of readers, you can make it happen. You only have to invest your time, some money and a little bit of sanity.

The sky’s really the limit. Self-publishing on Amazon has made it possible for us to all fly with our books. Are you ready to make yours fly?

There are many factors that can affect the cost of publishing your book. What it really boils down to is this: How much are you willing to spend, and how well do you want your book to sell?

The reason I ask these questions is because if you go cheap on everything, you could end up putting out a low-quality book that gets panned by bad reviews, and then it won’t sell.

On Amazon, quality sells. And yes, quality costs money. But there are ways you can creatively cut costs and still put out a quality book. Let’s take a look.

Crunching the Numbers: How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

To start, let’s look at a sample budget. Now, these aren’t the high-end numbers for self-publishing. You can spend as much money as you want — this is a list of budget-conscious pricing for getting your book done within a reasonable budget.

I’ll go into each of these in more detail, with links you can check out for yourself and find what works within your budget. Take some time to shop around see where to get the best value for the best price.

To learn more about the cost of publishing a book and how to get connected with some of the best (and most affordable) designers, editors and formatters, join Chandler on this FREE webinar!

How Much Does a Book Cover Designer Cost?

Even though we’ve been told “you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover,” the reality is, we do it anyway. The design of your book can often determine whether or not people will actually pay for it and read it. Your cover will make or break your book right off the bat.

If there’s any one cost you don’t want to go cheap on, this would be it. While it’s true you can outsource to someone on Fiverr and get a decent cover for less than $20, it pays to do your research and find a better designer who is going to deliver a cover that sells your book.

Check out this video Chandler Bolt recorded on how to use Fiverr.com to outsource your book cover design.

How to Use Fiverr to Outsource Book Cover Design - YouTube

I would recommend setting aside a budget of at least $100. This isn’t to say that spending tons of money will get you an awesome cover, but going cheap may hurt your sales in the long run.

How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?

A high-quality book should always be edited by a real editor. Whether you hire a line editor or copy editor, you should get a professional to look over your work. Don’t try to cut corners here. Even if you’re a professional editor yourself with 30 years of experience, you need to outsource it to a professional editor.

Trust me: A book that contains typos will get bad reviews and sales will drop flat. Love your book by spending the cash on editing. You can find quality editors at Upwork, or you can find the editors we recommend in our Preferred Outsourcer Rolodex if you’re a member of the Self-Publishing School community.

You can get a very short book, around 15,000 words, line edited for about $150-$250. Ghostwriting, developmental or structural editing will run you much more than that depending on the length of your book and the depth of edits you require — prices run around $2,000 for 100,000 words.

How Much Does Book Formatting Cost?

When it’s time to format your book, if you’re publishing on Amazon, you might want to get it formatted both for print and for Kindle. You can outsource the formatting of both your e-book and print book for around $60-$200. Fiverr has some good formatters at reasonable prices.

I’d also recommend asking fellow authors if they have any great recommendations for book formatters. Once you find a book formatter you really like, hang on to their contact information for future reference.

How Much Does it Cost to Promote Your Book?

When it comes to spending cash on promotional sites, you could empty your bank easily. Set a budget for yourself and go with the best of the best within that budget.

Budgets vary but I’ll spend $29 on the low end for Buck Books and go as high as $1,000 if you add on a bundle of promo sites to launch your book.

Again, this is a major money suck if you’re not careful; you can throw thousands into it and get mediocre results.

For the best results on several paid launches, I have used:

Bookzio ($19-29)

Robin Reads ($35)

Buck Books ($32)

BKnights ($5-40)

Awesome Gang ($10)

Bargain Booksy [$25 for nonfiction]

BookSends [$40]

When it comes to paid promotions, do your research on the top sites that can generate a good return. Check out this detailed list of promo sites — some are free!

How Much Does it Cost to Record an Audio Book?

Creating an audiobook can run you anywhere from $300 to $3,000 depending on the length of your book and who you hire to do it.

If you have a novel with multiple characters and want different people to read different roles, it can run towards the high end of the budget, especially if you’re using high-end talent.

If you have a good voice or acting experience and you want to give it a shot, you can purchase the basic equipment and record the audiobook version yourself. Check out this blog post for setting up your recording studio and doing it yourself.

Additional Author Tools and Expenses

Here are some of the basic tools for professional authors. This will add a price tag to your book, but many of these are just a one-time payment. Other tools will bill you monthly.

Book Publishing Courses

If you’re new to the game of self-publishing, take a course like Self-Publishing School or join our Mastermind community for everything you need to get started.

You could also look into taking multiple courses on Udemy. But again, you can spend a fortune on various courses. I would recommend sticking with one course until you complete it and branching out to learn other skills after you get your first big win.

An Author Website

Building an author platform is a great consideration if you’re looking to expand your business, write blogs and promote your work. You can build an entire website or just a landing page with a call-to-action to get users to opt in. It’s also important to capture leads to build your mailing list. A lead capture form on your website helps you find quality leads and determine your primary audience.

Here are some things you’ll need to look into in order to get started with building a website:

Hosting

You can sign up for hosting with servers such as Bluehost or Hostgator. The cost would be around $150 per year, which is very reasonable for website hosting. You will get a discount when you sign up for the first year, but pay full price when you renew.

Domain Name

You can purchase a domain name to secure your brand and start driving traffic to your site. Check out Name.com. A domain name will cost around $10-$15 a year.

Email Subscription Services

If you want to collect email addresses, you’ll need to sign up for an email subscription service to manage your emails. There are several choices:

  • MailChimp: This is free up to the first 2000 subscribers. If you opt in to use their autoresponder service or other upgrades, you’ll have to pay around $10 a month depending on the number of subscribers.
  • AWeber: This platform costs $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
  • ConvertKit.com: ConvertKit has tons of value. Price is based on subscribers but starts at $29 a month for your first 1,000 subscribers. This is now one of the most robust sites for building an email list.
Publish Under Your Own Company

I’ve talked about this elsewhere, but there are perks to publishing your print book under your own company, instead of publishing with a CreateSpace ISBN or another print on-demand service.

The ISBN (the 13-digit number above the barcode at the back of your book) lets bookstores and libraries know everything about your book, including the publisher.

If you use a free, generic ISBN assigned to you by CreateSpace or IngramSpark, you’ll limit your chances of a bookstore carrying your own book. Free ISBNs eliminate your ebook from being stocked on Overdrive, for example, which circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014 to public libraries all over the world.

Getting your own ISBN and setting yourself up as your own publisher will cost $295 for 10 ISBN codes, but it will help you access all distribution channels.

This isn’t necessary if you’re just starting out — it’s more important to publish your book and get it out there. However, if you are serious about building a self-publishing empire and making a full-time living from your writing, you’ll want to eventually invest in getting your own ISBN codes and setting up your own publishing company.

How to Increase Book Sales

We all want to make cash with our writing. It may not be the only reason we write, but self-publishing your own book is still an investment. And like any investment, it’s nice to get a return rather than taking a loss.

Here is a list of strategies you can implement to increase your book sales and get more eyeballs on your work.

  1. Run a contest through Goodreads.
  2. Reach out to podcasters and influencers in your niche and set up an interview. This has proven to be a big game-changer for authors like Hal Elrod and Tim Ferriss.
  3. Run promos every 3 months. After your book has been at regular price for a while, wait three months and then drop it to 99 cents again. Set up some paid ads every other day for one week. Try using the KDP countdown strategy.
  4. Blog about the topics in your book. Set up a blog and get more traffic and interest in your work by writing about what you love. Traffic that lands on your page can be directed to your Amazon Author Page and that means more book sales!
  5. Write another book. Building a catalog of books is a great formula for generating higher monthly income.
  6. Apply for a spot on Bookbub. Bookbub is the big gorilla when it comes to book promoting. It’s expensive ($300 and up), but it’s a solid investment and you will make your money back on the promo costs. You can check out Bookbub here and sign up for an author account to get started.
4 Ways to Save Money on Your Book Costs

Self-publishing can be expensive if you let it. Here are a few tips to help you save on your book costs, both now and in the future.

Tip #1: Save Money on Book Formatting (if you dare!)

Write your ebook with Scrivener. Not only is Scrivener the number one author tool for writing and organizing your manuscript but, if used effectively, it can save you money on formatting costs. If you’d like to learn more about how it works, check out this Scrivener webinar hosted by Joseph Michael with Chandler Bolt.

Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer also offers a bundle of Book Design Templates for both fiction and nonfiction. These templates cost money but will save you money in the long run from outsourcing. I have personally been using these to do the formatting for my books. It can be time-consuming at first but once you get the hang of it, you’ll save money on formatting costs.

Tip #2: Build a List of Email Subscribers

Although this topic deserves its own blog (or book), I’ll mention it here because if you build up an email list now, it can save you thousands of dollars in promotional costs down the road.

When you launch your next book, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of fans waiting for your next release. Not only that, but these are the fans who will leave reviews if they join your launch team and purchase your book the first week it comes out.

This drives your rankings up, and this drives sales even further. Sound good?

You can start to build your email list by including a link to a lead magnet in your ebook. A lead magnet is an offer of a free, valuable piece of content that readers will get if they go to your website and subscribe to your email list.

Tip #3: Barter When You Can

If you’re just starting out with self-publishing and you’re on a tight budget, look to barter services when you can. By coming to a deal where you exchange your services or something you have that is of value to people, you can save yourself lots of money.

As a writer, maybe you have some copywriting skills. See if you can share some of that in exchange for design work from a cover designer. But it doesn’t have to be just raw skills that you barter — Dana Sitar got a cartoonist friend of hers to do the illustrations for her book in exchange for $50 and 10 percent of direct sales of the book. It’s a decision she doesn’t regret, as the illustrations get her raving reviews.

If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to fully cut back on the quality of your book. See if there are possibilities to cut a deal and get the service you require to set your book apart.

Tip #4: Write a Great Book!

This might seem like an obvious tip, but paying attention to the quality of your book throughout the writing process is going to save you money. The better your book, the less you’ll have to spend on editing.

You will also gain a solid reputation as someone who writes really well. This means loyal fans will spread the word about your book and your blog, your email list grows and any future books you release will practically promote themselves. Well, almost.

Time to Start

We are in a great era of self-publishing. Anyone can turn their dream into a reality with just a few months of hard work, a bit of cash and a great book idea.

We’ve broken down the different costs in self-publishing your book so that you have a rough idea of what to budget. Writers have gone on to publish bestsellers with as little an investment as $1,000, while others have required up to $20,000. It all depends what you prioritize and if you can save costs in a manner that doesn’t decrease the quality of your book.

While money matters, remember the reasons you want to self-publish your book: to get your message out there, build authority, and add something new to the world. Spend what you can to make your book as high quality as possible. If your audience likes it, you’ll be sure to hit your goals.

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish six bestselling books in a row…and use them to build a seven-figure business in less than two years. Click here to save your spot now!

The post How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book? appeared first on Self-Publishing School Blog.

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“The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.” – Raymond Chandler

We’ve all been there: You finally squeeze in some writing time in between all your commitments. However, when you sit down to write, something odd happens. You thought that a torrent of words would flow out — after all, you have so much to say. Yet, each word that comes out of you is dragged out. Writing feels less like fun, and more like bleeding. At the end of the hour, you find you’ve only written 100 words, and not the 500 words you budgeted.

Any writer understands how frustrating it is to schedule time to write, but to have almost nothing to show for that time.

I have some good news: This doesn’t have to be the case. You can set up your writing process in such a way that it’s guaranteed you’ll find your writing flow and have words stream out of you faster than you can catch them. You can make sure that your writing session is as efficient and effective as possible so that not a single minute is wasted.

Writing faster will not only mean that you complete your book’s first draft, which can be a life-changing achievement, it’ll also mean that you’ll be quicker at anything you write. Your blog posts, emails, letters, and even your social media updates will be written faster.

Here are all the practical tips I’ve gathered over the years to help me and my students write book drafts in less than 30 days.

Write Every Day

I’m going to start with an essential tip: If you want to write faster, you have to write every day.

Writing, like any craft, gets better the more you do it. The more you practice your writing skills, the faster the words will come to your mind and your fingertips. You’ll get better and quicker at connecting different pieces of knowledge, forming new ideas and improving your natural storytelling abilities.

You’ll also get quicker at the mechanical process of writing. You’ll develop a muscle memory for your keyboard and your writing speed will go up. Soon you’ll wonder how you could have ever survived at your slower words-per-minute speed.

What to write? You could update your WordPress blog every day, or a chapter of your book every day. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re writing.
Action Steps

  1. Choose what you’re going to write about every day, whether it’s blog articles, chapters of your book or even a personal journal.
  2. Set your word count goal for each day.
  3. Track how many words you are writing per hour or day.

However, even writing everyday won’t stop you facing that feeling you get when you see a blank page. To avoid that and guarantee your words flow every time you see a new page you need to create an outline.

Create an Outline

Here’s the writing world’s worst-kept secret: outlines work! To achieve any goal, you need to plan first. The same can be said for writing. Even if you’re able to crank out 3000 words an hour, it won’t matter much if your content lacks direction, as readers will get confused and drop your book. A solid outline gives you the direction you need to keep your readers engaged.

Writing a book is a lot of work, but we can cut out a ton of obstacles with a well-written outline that builds passion and purpose into your writing.

Here’s how an outline can double or even triple your writing speed: 1. Outlines Eliminate Writer’s Block

One of the reasons writers experience writer’s block is by not having an outline, or having a poorly written outline. If your outline is well-organized and fleshed out with all the ideas, chapters and sections flowing in logical sequence, chances are writer’s block won’t be an issue.

When you have to stop to think about what comes next, you’re no longer in writing mode. Instead you fall into confusion and frustration and then default to research mode.

“I know I can get through this if I just it look up…” You start doing everything else but writing. The next time you hit a wall, check the flow of your outline. Revise what you need to and keep moving forward. Be sure to do as much research as you can before the initial writing begins.

2. Outlines Provide an Organized Framework for Your Book’s Structure

Your outline is the roadmap for your book. Without it, your writing time is slow and grueling, like running up a mountain with a ball and chain. Sounds tough, right? A well-organized outline boosts productivity throughout the writing phase.

The secret to completing any big project is to break it into small manageable chunks, and an outline breaks this marathon project into small manageable writing tasks. You’ll write much faster when the chapters flow from one to the next and ideas are combined and clustered. When your outline flows with a well-organized structure you don’t have to stop to think about what to write next. Your fingers can keep moving in flow with the plan you created.

3. Outlines Give You a Bird’s Eye View

When you can see your book in its entirety on the page, you feel compelled to write as much as possible. Think of it as a race. You’ll perform much better knowing the exact distance you have to run — especially as you near the finish line and you have the end in sight.

Behind every great post and book is a bulletproof outline. Here are some steps you can take today to get started with this process.
Action Steps
For your book:

  1. Spend some time today and go back and revise your book outline. If you don’t have one, make one.
  2. Look at areas that could be better researched. Review the chapters that have ideas that require deeper development.
  3. The aim is to make your outline the best it can be. Revise your outline as you go, but make sure your words keep hitting the paper.

For other writing:

Commit to this rule whenever you’re writing anything: Five minutes of outlining for every 500 words of content. Writing a 1,000-word article? Spend 10 minutes developing an outline. Writing a 100-word email? Spend a minute outlining your points. Every minute you spend outlining will save you a heap of time later.

“Write Drunk, Edit Sober”

Want to write better quality stuff? Then you’re going to have let go of your inner perfectionist.

Hemingway is often attributed with the quote, “write drunk, edit sober.” While I’m not advocating you become an alcoholic to produce content, you can adopt the figurative meaning of the quote.

The largest obstacle to entering that zen state where the words zip out of us effortlessly is our tendency to censor ourselves. We continuously correct what we’re about to say before we put the words on the page. Us writers tend to be perfectionists, yet this self-criticism gets in the way of our creativity.

A better strategy is to write a rough draft first. Think B- quality instead of A+. This is what Hemingway means when he says to write drunk. During the drafting phase you let go of caring about the quality of your work, but instead focus on the quantity. Aim to finish your daily writing goal, no matter how bad the draft is. The goal is not to have a perfect manuscript.

Once you’ve finished, then and only then, begin the “edit sober” phase. Here you can engage your inner critic. You can cut what doesn’t work and polish what does. It’s best to begin the editing phase with a fresh set of eyes, usually after you’ve taken a break. If it’s a short article, then sleep on your draft before editing. If it’s a book draft, then take at least a week off the project before looking back on it.

It’s hard to let go of that inner judge when drafting our work, but once you do, you’ll write significantly faster. Often when you look back on the draft that you thought was horrible, you’ll find it’s better than you thought. Not perfect, but better than you imagined. You’ll also see that there were some ideas you put in there that couldn’t have happened if you were writing as a perfectionist.

Also, if you’re still worried about the quality of your book draft, remember that you’ll hire an editor to polish your book to be the best it can be.

Action Steps

  1. When you begin writing a piece, throw perfection out of the window and aim for a rough draft. Think B- work and not A+.
  2. If you find it hard to lock up your inner perfectionist, set yourself a challenge to write a word count in a set time, like 500 words in 30-minute chunks.
  3. After you finish your draft, put it away for a bit of time before you begin editing.
Write First, Research Later

Here’s a piece of great advice many journalists receive: write first and research later. It might be counter-intuitive, but before you close this page and think I’m crazy, hear me out.

When you begin writing you have one mission: enter flow. This is the state where the words come out of you effortlessly and you lose awareness of time flowing by. This is the key for quality and effective writing.

Once you enter flow, your mission is to stay there.

A sure way to get thrown out of the zone is to stop mid-sentence to find the capital of that country you want to reference, and then get sucked down a Wikipedia rabbit hole.

Instead of interrupting your flow of writing, use a writer’s tip I’ve talked about before: TK your research point.

TK is short for “to come” and is a handy placeholder to use for research points you want to look up later. There are barely any words in the English language that have those two letters next to each other, making it easy to use the Command+F function to find these placeholders.

For example, let’s say you were writing about the Golden Gate bridge and couldn’t remember the date it opened and its length. You would write:

The Golden Gate Bridge was opened in TK and was the longest bridge with a main span of TK.

This takes 10 seconds to write, and you can stay in your flow and move on to the next sentence. If you had Googled each of those facts, the sentence would have taken you 60 seconds and taken you out of your flow. After you finish the draft, you can go back in and fill in the blanks:

The Golden Gate Bridge was opened in 1937 and was the longest bridge with a main span of 4,200 feet.

Action Steps

  1. When drafting, if you can’t remember a piece of detail, put TK as a placeholder, instead of going to Google.
  2. During your editing phase, use Control+F to search for “TK” and replace each result with the relevant piece of research.
Schedule Brief Typing Practice Sessions

Think of your typing speed as the bottleneck between your brain and your piece of content, like the narrowest part of the road that’s causing a traffic buildup. Your fingers simply can’t type as fast as your mind is working.

Unfortunately, technology hasn’t yet progressed to the point where we can think of the words and they magically appear on the page, but with the help of a few fun and simple online games we can improve our typing speed.

I’ll share a secret with you: I used to not be able to type very well. I was like someone from the early 20th century, using two fingers to pound out my content. My typing speed was barely above 30 words per minute. Yet, writing was important to me, like it is for you, so I worked at it.

Even now, for ten minutes a day I play online typing games to test my writing speed and provide feedback on how efficient I am a typist. It’s a great way to master the skill of getting your word count up. Check out 10FastFingers or Key Hero.

Use Proper Sitting Posture

The position of your body has a lot to do with typing speed and efficiency. If you slouch in your chair you’ll cramp up and find it hard to concentrate. Here is how you should position yourself:

  • Make sure that you are sitting up straight — don’t lean or hunch over towards the desk.
  • Position your elbows at right angles to the keyboard — avoid bending your arms upwards or downwards.
  • Properly position your fingers on the keyboard.
Buy a Standing Desk

It’s scientifically proven that the standing desk has major benefits for your health. Standing gives you higher energy levels and better blood flow. But that’s not all! It also boosts productivity and makes us more efficient when typing.

Challenge Yourself

Writing faster will not only allow you to finish your book’s first draft faster, it’ll make you quicker at all forms of writing. You’ll be speedier at composing emails, recommendation letters, cover letters, social media posts and articles. Writing is also closely related to thinking. Being a faster and clearer writer will make you a faster and clearer thinker.

Follow the above tips on your next great article idea or book chapter and see how many words you can get out in a timed writing session. You’ll be amazed at the difference in your writing speed. Instead of your draft taking months to produce, you might find that you’ll be able to pound out full-length novels on the weekends.

The post 7 Game-Changing Strategies to Write a Book Faster appeared first on Self-Publishing School Blog.

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The right book writing software can make all the difference in the world.

With the right software you can write faster and more effectively. You’ll be more focused, with fewer distractions. And just as importantly, you’ll have an easier time keeping your outline and notes better organized.

But to get there, you’ll have to make some choices. Authors have all kinds of options when looking for the best book writing software.

Should you stick with tried-and-true Microsoft Word? Move to Scrivener, the software of choice for many professional authors? Or maybe it’s worth giving Google Docs a try, so you can easily share and co-edit your book with an editor?

We’ll cover the best options in this article. For a quick overview, here are the 11 best book writing software options for writers:

  • Microsoft Word – Word Processor, $79.99
  • Scrivener – Word Processor, $45
  • Pages – Word Processor, $28
  • Google Docs – Online Word Processor, Free
  • Evernote – Note-Taking Software, Free
  • FocusWriter – Word Processor, Free
  • FastPencil – Word Processor, Free
  • yWriter – Word Processor, Free
  • Freedom – Productivity Software, $2.42/month
  • Hemingway App – Style & Grammar Checker, Free

Let’s get started by comparing the 3 book writing software “giants,” and then I’ll share some less well-known tools that might help improve your writing process even more.

First, though, there’s one thing you should spend some time thinking about:

Which Book Writing Software Features Are Most Important to YOU?

I’m not trying to sell you on any particular book writing software in this article. Instead my goal is to give you an idea of what’s out there so you can weigh the options for yourself. Who knows—you may even discover a brand-new tool you absolutely love.

There are 9 things to consider when deciding which program to use for your book. Depending on your needs, some of these questions may be more or less important to you:

  1. How easy is it to format text the way you want?
  2. Does it have templates available? How many?
  3. How much does it cost?
  4. Is the program simple & easy to use?
  5. Does it offer any extra features or other bells & whistles?
  6. How about a distraction-free writing experience?
  7. Is the program user-friendly?
  8. Can you access your files no matter where you are?
  9. How easy is it to collaborate with editors & team members?

In the end, the truth is that there are many great writing tools out there. It isn’t really a question of which tool is BEST. What it comes down to is: which tool works best with YOUR unique writing process?

The Big 3, #1: Microsoft Word Review

Before any other tools came along, Microsoft Word was the only option available. Everyone used it.

Today, even though there are many other word processors out there, Word is still the most widely used book writing software in the U.S. Millions of people continue to use it for their writing needs.

And it’s easy to see why. Word has a lot going for it!

It’s been around a long time. It’s trusty and reliable.

It also provides a relatively distraction-free writing experience. (Much better than working on Google Docs in your browser, for example, where you’re only an errant mouse-click away from the entire internet.)

If you just need to wake up in the morning and meet your word-count goals by keeping your head down and getting those words pounded out onto the page, then Word is a good choice. No fuss, no muss. It’s about as simple as it gets.

Word also offers some simple organization. Using headers, you can organize your book into chapters—and then you can navigate through them quickly using the Navigation pane:

You can create your own free book writing template using Word. And if you start writing your book in Word and don’t begin with the correct formatting, it’s pretty easy to clean up your formatting to make it “book ready” with a few simple steps.

If you’re a Word user and you’ve got your own system in place for writing books, then perhaps you need to look no further.

But Word does have some downsides.

For starters, it doesn’t always play well with Macs. If you use a Mac, then Word might cause you a lot of frustration with crashes and formatting. (Luckily, Apple offers a comparable program—scroll down to the “Pages Review” to learn more.)

Word is also pretty vanilla. That’s part of its appeal, sure, but it also means Word lacks some of the more advanced features you get with other programs like Scrivener and Google Docs.

(For example, Scrivener offers more advanced outlining functionality. And Google Docs makes it easier to share and collaborate on your files.)

All in all, Word is a solid contender for best book writing software. But there are many other choices out there.

Cost: $79.99 if purchased separately.

The Big 3, #2: Scrivener Review

You just learned that Microsoft Word is the most widely used word processor in the world. But does that mean it’s the best?

Think about it this way. The fact that Word is so prevalent means that it has to cater to all sorts of users—students, businesspeople, writers, teachers, marketers, lawyers, the list goes on and on and on.

But Scrivener was created for one type of person only:

Writers.

And if you’re a writer, chances are you’ve heard of Scrivener. A lot of writers absolutely love this program, with its advanced features and distraction-free writing experience.

This 6-minute video gives you quick overview of Scrivener along with some highlights and screenshots:

Book Writing Software: Scrivener Tutorial - YouTube

In short, Scrivener gives you an insane amount of flexibility for writing, formatting, and organizing your book.

Blogger and author Jeff Goins swears by Scrivener after giving up Word. He says: “I wasted years of my life doing all my writing on Microsoft Word. But that’s all over now. I have finally seen the light.”

Entrepreneur Michael Hyatt says about Scrivener: “I now begin every piece of content—no matter what it is—with this tool. It has simplified my life and enabled me to focus on the most important aspect of my job—creating new content. I am more productive than ever.”

Scrivener has a ton of benefits for authors that we could fill up dozens of pages discussing. I’ll keep it simple and give you the top benefits here:

  • Helps with plotting for fiction authors
  • Easily export your data to other digital platforms such as Kobo, ibooks, etc. (this is one of the best features)
  • Provides outlining functionality that keeps your content organized
  • Powerful composition mode with distraction-free writing environment
  • Easily drag and drop to move sections around
  • Provides a collection of robust templates
  • Supports MultiMarkdown for bullets and numbers

Because Scrivener was designed for writers, it’s super easy to lay out scenes, move content around, and outline your story, article, or manuscript. Instead of keeping all your content in one big file, Scrivener allows you to create multiple sub-files to make it easier to organize and outline your project:

Scrivener is a fabulous tool for plotting out storylines. Using the corkboard view, for instance, you can recreate the popular “notecard method” for outlining your project:

But as awesome as Scrivener is, it’s not perfect.

And the biggest downside to using Scrivener is the steep learning curve involved. You aren’t going to master this program overnight.

But if you’re serious about your writing career, then investing the time to learn this program will be worth it. You’ll save time and energy in the long run.

And if you want to learn how to use Scrivener as quickly & easily as possible, we can help!

We offer a free training called Learn Scrivener Fast, where we teach you how to use all the most powerful features in Scrivener to supercharge your writing process…all in just an hour. To watch that free training, just click this image (it will take you to a separate page with the video training):

If you want to dig even deeper, you can also download the Scrivener Manual (550 pages), or watch the Scrivener YouTube tutorials they’ve put together at Literature & Latte.

Long story short: Scrivener is an investment. It will take some time to master. But once you do, you’ll never go back—it’s the single most powerful book writing software out there.

If you like what you see from Scrivener, you can buy it here:

Buy Scrivener 3 for macOS (Regular License)

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular License)

Cost: $45

The Big 3, #3: Google Docs Review

We’ve looked at the appealing simplicity of Word and the in-depth power of Scrivener, but there’s another writing software that more and more people are starting to use: Google Docs.

Essentially, Google Docs is a stripped-down version of Word that you can only use online through a Chrome browser. It’s a simple yet effective word processor.

The beauty of this program (and Google Drive in general) comes in the ability to share content, files, and documents among your team. You can easily communicate via comments, for example:

This program keeps a complete history of all changes made to a document, so if you accidentally delete something you wanted to keep, simply click the link at the top of the screen that says “All changes saved in drive.” That will bring up the version history, where you can review all the changes that have been made to your book file and revert to a previous version if you so choose.

Google Docs doesn’t require any installation and can be accessed anywhere via your browser (or an app on your phone).

And here’s one of the best features: everything is saved on the server frequently and automatically, so you never have to fret about losing a version or draft of your work.

(Anyone who has ever lost a draft of a book understands how valuable this feature is!)

Plus you can access your work when you move from one location or another—no carrying a laptop or thumb drive around with you. When you share a book draft with others, like test readers or your editor, they can comment directly on the draft using the built-in comment functionality.

Out of the “big 3” book writing software tools, Google Docs is probably the least sophisticated when it comes to formatting and outlining tools. But it makes up for that with easy collaboration, sharing, and online access.

Cost: Free

Pages Review

Think of Pages as the Mac alternative to Microsoft Word.

It has a variety of beautiful templates to choose from, has a simple design, and syncs with all devices from within iCloud.

Personally I love the ease of Pages. It works great for creating ebooks or manuscripts with a variety of tools you can get creative with.

Cost: $28

FastPencil Review

FastPencil is a nice little platform with lots of tools. You can also use it for distributing your ebook. It is free to start writing with, but they offer paid services as well.

Everything happens online in your browser, which means you can access your files from any computer (as long as you’re connected to the Internet). Here’s what the word processor looks like:

Cost: Free (or you can pay for more extensive features)

FocusWriter Review

FocusWriter is word processor for writers that is intended to eliminate distractions to help you get your book written quicker. It is a basic, lightweight text writer that was designed to to be completely free of the distractions.

In its fullscreen mode, there are no toolbars or additional windows, just a background and your text so that you can concentrate solely on writing your draft.

Here’s an example:

Source: https://focuswriter.en.softonic.com

You can customize the image in the background to suit your project to help inspire your writing.

Not much more to say about FocusWriter. It’s simple and effective. If you need a lot of features, it probably won’t work for you. But if simplicity is your thing, then you may have found your perfect writing tool.

Cost: Free

yWriter Review

yWriter is a really popular word processor (intended mainly for novelists) with some impressive features (especially for a program that’s completely free).

It helps keep your project organized by giving you space to include notes on all sorts of things, like character notes, scene notes, scene goals, etc. You can specify whose point of view each scene will be written in, and you can see the word count of your entire novel broken out by chapter—all at a quick glance:

Source: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5_Screens.html

One thing that yWriter does differently than a lot of other programs is focus on scenes, rather than on chapters. A lot of writers prefer this, since scenes are usually fun chunks of story to work on. And using yWriter, you can rearrange all those scenes to compose a compelling novel.

I’d call it a Scrivener alternative that is free to use. But one downside is that it only works for Windows (at least, for now—an iOs version is currently in beta).

Cost: Free

Evernote Review

Evernote is a note-taking app. It’s a great way to keep track of your thoughts—like brainstorming ideas, outlining chapters, and jotting down inspiration when it strikes.

The mobile app is particularly useful for capturing new ideas when they strike, since most people have their phone with them 24/7. Here’s what Evernote looks like on a phone:

While you can use Evernote to write content—I’ve used it for writing blogs and other small sections of books—you wouldn’t want to use it as your main word processor. Its functionality is a bit too limited.

But as a way of keeping track of ideas, it’s a great find.

Cost: Free, but there is a cool upgrade for $5 a month that gets you Evernote Premium

Freedom Review

Freedom isn’t technically a writing tool, but it sure can help improve your writing. It’s a productivity app designed to help eliminate distractions by blocking certain..

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You’ve finally made the decision. After years of saying “I should,” you’ve made the bold decision to finally sit down and write your book.

It’s a tough, yet brave decision. Sitting down to get your message out in the world will be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you do. But now that you’ve made this decision, you may be wondering: 

Should I approach a publisher and go down the traditional route? Or should I self-publish and become an indie author?

Before the age of the internet, the only way a writer could get their book in front of millions was to send a book proposal and a query letter to a traditional publisher or agent. The writer hoped that day’s gatekeeper had drank their morning coffee, woken up on the right side of the bed and actually given your letter and proposal more than a 10-second glance.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening was slim to none.

This resulted in brilliant people like yourself being denied the opportunity to share their experiences, stories and knowledge with the world.

The Publishing Industry Is Shifting

Thankfully, this is no longer the case.

With the development of online marketplaces like Amazon, the publishing process has changed. You can distribute your book to everyone, regardless of what some traditional publishing house thinks about your idea.

You have a book inside of you and the world needs to read it!

Why Self-Publish?

The publishing world has changed, and it’s time for you to reap the benefits. Here are seven reasons why self-publishing is the best route to take—and why you’ll think twice before dealing with a publishing company again.

1. You Don’t Have to Wait for Permission.

With self-published books, you do not have to wait for anyone to give you the green light.

  • You decide when and how to publish a book.
  • You decide whose hands your book gets into.
  • You decide how successful you are.

In other words, you don’t have to convince any gatekeepers to allow your book to reach the global market.

“But, don’t traditional publishers have a good idea for what will sell or not? I mean, if they reject my book, they’re probably right that no one would want to buy it.”

Wrong.

Have you ever heard of Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4-Hour Workweek”? It has been a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller for over four years. It sold nearly 1.5 million copies and has been translated into 35 different languages.

Oh, and get this: It was rejected by the first 26 publishers it was presented to.

Maybe you’ve also heard of a certain children’s book, the one about a young boy with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead who discovers he is a wizard. The ”Harry Potter” franchise is a patent bestseller, with the last four books in the series being the fastest-selling books in history. 

Yet it was rejected by 12 publishers in a row, and was only picked up because the eight-year-old daughter of an editor demanded to read the rest of the book. Even then, after the editor agreed to publish, they advised J.K. Rowling to get a day job as she had little chance of making money in children’s books. Little did they realize the publishing success they had stumbled onto.

Now, just imagine all the other authors out there who stopped after the first 10 or 20 doors slammed in their faces, believing the lie that they didn’t have a profitable idea.

You cannot allow other people to determine your success.

Self-publishing gives you the avenue to do that. You and your readers decide the worth of your words, rather than one person at a publishing firm who may not realize the potential publishing success in their hands. 

2. You Can Publish Your Work Quickly

If you were to take your book to a traditional publisher, it would take years to publish.

For example, it may take up to six months for you to even hear back about the book proposal. And assuming they accept your proposal, it will take at least another year before the book is actually published.

With self-publishing, you can produce your content as quickly as you want. And in the Amazon Kindle store, you can publish a new book whenever you want. That way, you can share your work as quickly as you create it!

3. Bring Home the Bacon

Traditionally-published authors are typically paid an amount of money up front. However, once the sales come rolling in, they only get a small cut of the earnings. 

Why? Because they have to pay the publishing house, the editor, the marketers, the designers, etc.

But when you self-publish, you take in most of the earnings (save for the money you actually choose to spend on marketing, book production and publishing). On Amazon, for example, self-published authors receive 70% of the royalties for an eBook priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Now that isn’t bad!

4. You Form Invaluable Connections

Self-publishers around the world have gathered online and in person to provide a community that supports one another in publishing their work.

These connections become priceless as you meet other up-and-coming influencers like yourself.

“Wait—so where would I meet these people?”

Because self-publishing requires that you find your own editor, cover designer, formatter and launch team members, you end up connecting with people throughout your whole writing experience.

Self-published authors also gather on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit.

The camaraderie allows people to expand far beyond what they could have done on their own, or what they would have been limited to with a traditional publisher.

Want My Best Done-For-You Plans to Finish Your Book Faster?

I’m opening up my vault of step-by-step action plans and private community of authors to help you get unstuck, stay on track and finish your book faster.
Click here to learn more now!

5. You Control Your Objective

So much of a book is influenced by the motive that fuels it.

  • Is your motive to make money?
  • It is to launch a new career?
  • Is it to share your story?
  • Is it to become a public speaker?
  • Or, is it simply something to cross off your bucket list?

Remember, writing a book is hard work. And nothing is worse than seeing your hard work be transformed into something you didn’t want. When you self-publish, you are able to preserve the dignity and genius of your objective. No one is pressuring you to sell more books, or to taint your message so that it will reach wider audiences.

You are not pigeonholed or made to become someone you’re not comfortable with.

You write as you, and for you. And that is liberating. That is self-publishing freedom!

6. You Control Your Creative Concept

There are horror stories about authors whose ideas and voice became unrecognizable after they went down the traditional route. 

When you work with a traditional publisher, you don’t just sell them your manuscript, you sell them your idea.

Your book may become something you are not comfortable with. Or, your dreams for a sequel or a revision may be completely squandered if it does not comply with the motives of the traditional publisher.

But as an independent author, you retain total creative control. 

You are free to be expressive with your work. You are free to be vulnerable and controversial. You are free to be you.

When you self-publish, you also control who you write for. If you sell via the Amazon Kindle store, you can choose, and then tweak, your categories and keywords. You determine your marketing efforts.

With 45 percent of e-book sales going to indie authors, audiences are showing that they respect and want to purchase the ideas of everyone—not just those endorsed by traditional publishers.

7. You Control Your Future

Most people looking to write a book want to earn more money, gain more freedom or have a platform to share their ideas.

When you self-publish and have complete ownership over your ideas, you also have complete ownership over your future.

There is no traditional publishing firm to stop you from selling a supplementary online course that includes material from your book, starting a speaking career, re-releasing your book with a hardcover or audiobook, or even releasing an updated version of your book.

You determine the trajectory of your book, your ideas, and your publishing career when you self-publish.

Even Big Names Self-Publish

Though there are some benefits to traditional publishing, even some well-established and successful authors admit that the joys of being an indie author outweigh a traditional publishing deal.

So much, in fact, that big name entrepreneurs who have large followings and could easily get a traditional publishing deal are opting to go the self-publishing route.

These people include Pat Flynn, Jeff Goins, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, Johnny B. Truant and James Altucher.

Self-Publishing Will Change Your Life

It may be that, like quite a few writers, you’ve dreamed about working with a big-name publishing house all your life, and nothing will satisfy you until you get that experience. There is nothing wrong with that. If you’ve identified this need early on, then maybe it’s best for you to go down the traditional publishing route. 

But let’s say you win the book lottery and get published. There is still no guarantee that your publisher’s efforts will get your work in bookstores or into the hands of the editors of your favorite literary magazines and newspapers. There’s also no guarantee in sales volume. 

However, self-publishing gives you an alternative path. It gives you an assured chance of getting your book out there. You have a better chance of seeing success in your sales and making an impact if your message resonates with enough people. Not to mention, you get to stay true to the vision of your book.

Self-publishing allows you the freedom, money, community and control to shape your life into one that you adore.

So, start writing your own bestseller today.

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish six bestselling books in a row…and use them to build a seven-figure business in less than two years. Click here to save your spot now!

The post Publishing a Book: Traditional vs. Self-Publishing appeared first on Self-Publishing School Blog.

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Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

If you’re new to writing fiction, I may have just offended the pantz off of you — but hear me out!

Fiction authors tend to fall into one of two buckets when writing their books:

Bucket One: Pantzers are writers who basically only have a few vague elements about the story in mind when they start writing, but nothing else.

Armed with almost no details, they hit the keyboard, banging out a magnificent novel in no time. One of the most famous pantzers is Stephen King. In interviews, Stephen King has said that he often has an idea of the beginning, the premise, and a vague idea how it’s all going to end – and that’s all he needs to start writing his book.

Bucket Two: Plotters are writers who need to know every piece of their story, down to the minute detail, before they will write a single word.

They will know who each and every one of their characters are, what their motivations are, the chapters needed for the book, chapter sections, and in some cases, even paragraphs. Probably the most famous plotter out there is James Patterson.

Clearly, it’s possible to be successful whether you’re a plotter or pantzer. But here’s the harsh reality: whereas Stephen King and James Patterson sit on opposite extremes of the ‘Outline Spectrum’, most of us fall somewhere in between.

If you are a new author who has never written a piece of fiction before, how can you know if you are a pantzers or a plotter?

The answer is unfortunately you don’t. And the deeper answer is, the more you write, the more you will tend to go to one end of the spectrum or the other. I started out my writing career as a pantzer, but the more I write, the more novels I publish, the more and more I’m becoming a plotter.

So, who you are as an author changes.

But that still doesn’t answer the question: Are you a pantzer or a plotter?

My best advice is to be something in between. Someone who looks beyond the “outline” of a novel, and identifies something much more important in their story…

The 5 Key Milestones.

How you outline your novel is absolutely moot if you can’t identify these five critical milestones in your story — and that’s what we’ll be discussing today.

Got your pen and paper ready? This guide will not only cover the milestones but challenge you to start documenting your own. Once you’re done, you’ll be ready to get down and dirty with your novel’s outline… pantz or plot style.

How to Write a Novel: The 5 Key Milestones of Every Successful Novel

Most novels and movies have five key points that make up the core of their story.

What’s more, these milestones are something that readers have subconsciously been trained to look for when digesting a piece of fiction. In other words, if you don’t have these five key moments, your reader is likely to turned off of your story because it didn’t meet expectations set by the hundreds (if not thousands) of stories they have already digested before yours.

Let’s take a look at the milestones:

How to Write a Novel – Key Milestone #1: The Setup

This is where you make your story promise.

You tell your reader what kind of story it will be – a comedy drama, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi – and you give a few clues as to what they can expect. Whatever you said in these initial pages must be followed to the end of your story.

A stone-cold drama cannot turn into a slapstick comedy by the end of the story. That doesn’t mean a stone-cold drama can’t have humor in it, it just means that you can suddenly pivot and become an Adam Sandler movie.

Also, during the setup, we learn a little bit about…

  • The characters
  • Their challenges
  • The world they live in

We get a sense of where the story is heading.

One mistake made by first-time fiction authors is that they do not properly set up the story expectations and the reader goes in expecting one thing, only to get another.

Nothing annoys readers more and so it is essential that during the setup phase of your novel, you set the expectations that you will meet during the book.

(RELATED: How to Get Amazon Reviews For Your Book: Top Strategies for Targeting Quality Reviewers)

Example: In the Hunger Games, we meet Katniss. From her surroundings, it is obvious that she is poor, and as soon as she steps outside of her wooden shack we see hovering drones.

  • Within the first few pages of this book, we have learned three essential things:
  • This book is a drama
  • Katniss is our heroine and she has a miserable life
  • SURPRISE! There are drones and other technologies that indicate this to be a sci-fi
  • We are about to read a dystopia set sometime in the future

Challenge:

  • What does your story’s setup look like?
  • What happens?
  • What story promises do you make?

Create a list of everything your reader needs to learn in order to enter your story’s world.

How to Write a Novel – Key Milestone #2: The Inciting Incident

The inciting incident is the moment in your story when your hero’s life changes forever. It is the ‘no-going back’ moment, where nothing that happens afterwards will return your heroes world back to normal.

Katniss volunteers, Neo takes the blue pill, Dorothy lands in OZ … the aliens are here!

As soon as your inciting incident happens, your story should be full throttle towards the climax.

The most common mistake first-time authors make is that their inciting incident is reversible. That means that something could happen that would return the hero’s life back to normal.

No, no, no!

Your inciting incident should as final as the severing of a limb or a death of a loved one. Nothing should be able to reverse the effects of your inciting incident has on your hero.

Example: Katniss volunteers! In the Hunger Games, the inciting incident is irreversible because – quite literally – soldiers grab Katniss, whisk her away from her world, and into the world of the games.

There is no escape.

And even if she could get away, she would be hunted by the Capital for the rest of her life. With those two simple words, “I volunteer!” her life has changed forever.

Challenge:

  • What is your inciting incident?
  • Is it strong enough?
  • Are there ways you could up the stakes or shorten the timeline?
  • How can you make it your inciting incident as impactful and irreversible as possible?

Brainstorm several inciting incidents… Don’t settle for one. Take a look at your inciting incidents and ask yourself this: Which one of these is the harshest, deadliest inciting incident of the bunch. Then pick that one.

Note: There is an exception to this rule when it comes to romances.

With romances, the inciting incident is almost always win the two lovebirds meet. (Not always, but for the vast majority of romances, this is the case.) With romances, try to create an inciting incident that simultaneously shows how perfect these two people are for each other while setting up the numerous reasons why they can’t be together.

How to Write a Novel – Key Milestone #3: The First Slap

Now, we are away to the races!

Over the next few chapters, your character should be making a series of gains and losses, where the aggregate result is that their situation is slightly better than what it was at the moment of the inciting incident.

The reason why we need this upward trajectory is because we are setting up the reader for the first slap.

The first slap is the moment when everything that our hero has gained is lost in fell swoop. Your hero is brought down to zero. In other words, all gains are lost, and your hero’s situation has never been bleaker.

The greater the fall, the more engaged your reader will be.

Example: In the Hunger Games, Katniss’s world is brought down to 0 when she actually enters the Games.

Between the inciting incident on the first slap, Katniss has made several gains, garnering the attention of the Capital and making some friends along the way. But none of that matters the moment she enters the Games – and what a moment it is.

Challenge: Brainstorm what your first slap can be. Like with the inciting incident, try to come up with 3-5 scenarios and pick the one that is harshest.

Take a look at all the events that could potentially happen between the inciting incident and the first slap. This is a loose mind map as you are not committing to anything at this point, but do try to get a sense of whether or not your hero will be making gains and losses (with a net value of gains) and try to assess whether or not the first slap is harsh enough to truly wow your reader.

Remember, you want your readers to hate you for what you’ve done to the characters they love.

How to Write a Novel – Key Milestone #4: The Second Slap

Your hero has rose to the challenge! She has successfully thwarted the big evil that has been thrusted upon her by the first slap and she is doing well.

…Now it is time to bring her back to 0 again.

The second slap should be as harsh, if not harsher, than the first slap. This is the moment when the reader should be looking at your book and thinking, “Wow, this author is mean. Diabolical villain mean!”

But there are two essential differences between the second slap and the first. In the second slap we are setting up for the climax, which means that the hero needs to have an out. In other words, there should be some semblance of hope.

Example: In the Hunger Games, the second slap is when the Game Masters announce that two tributes can survive the Games should they both be from the same district.

Katniss goes looking for Peeta, only to find him mortally wounded – he is bleeding to death and won’t survive the next few hours, let alone the rest of the Games. We know enough about Katniss to realize that Peeta dying is the worst thing that could happen to her (besides her own death).

But there is hope!

An announcement is made that there is something at the cornucopia that the Tributes need, and Katniss just knows that there is medicine there for Peeta.

Challenge: Brainstorm several seconds slaps and pick the harshest one. Then ask yourself – where is the hope and how will it lead into the climax?

(RELATED: How to Get an ISBN: Cracking the Code for Self-Publishers)

How to Write a Novel – Key Milestone #5: The Climax

The rollercoaster that you’ve put your reader on is almost over.

The reader has gone from an engaging setup where they get to learn about your characters and world to the inciting incident where everything is turned on its head. Then they are subjected to the first and second slaps where you embrace your inner sadomasochist in order to punish your hero and give the readers the thrills they so richly deserve.

Now it is time to wrap it all up with the climax.

There is only one rule to the climax. A rule that must be adhered to, no matter what genre you are writing in…

Make it amazing! The climax should be the moment where your reader puts down the book and goes, “Holy S&*%! That was awesome!”

Example: The climax in the Hunger Games is the final confrontation between Katniss and the remaining Tributes, as well as the monsters that the Game Masters send after her. It is wrought with danger and excitement. But what makes the climax truly kickass is the poisonous berries at the end.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, pick up a copy of Hunger Games today and read it! You’ll immediately get why this scene is so amazing.

Challenge: Brainstorm your kickass climactic scene! Show us how amazing, smart, resourceful, powerful your hero is when overcoming their final obstacles.

There you have it, the framework to creating a kickass story. This method is particularly effective for first-time authors who are still finding their writing feet (or should I say typing fingers) and is an awesome resource that experienced writers can rely on time and again when planning their stories.

The 5 Key Milestones combined with a spot-on Premise and A-Story will tell you where your story starts, where it is headed and how it will end. In other words, if you do the exercises above, you should have everything you need to get your novel to the finish line.

(If you haven’t planned your Premise and A-Story, do so using these guidelines.)

And with those elements in place, there’s nothing stopping you hitting that keyboard.

Before we go, I’d like to leave you with one last piece of advice. All of the above are guidelines … a roadmap, if you will, to help your story stay on track and get you to the finish line. But be warned, your characters will surprise you, your plot will take unexpected twists – don’t worry, that’s where the magic is.

If your character does something that you didn’t expect, then your reader will most likely be blown away by their actions.

If your plot has a twist worthy of Six Sense or Fight Club that wasn’t in your outline, then your reader will walk away, entranced by your writing skills.

Go with it, enjoy the process, because your readers certainly will enjoy what you produce.

[READ NEXT: The Story Foundation Trifecta: 3 Critical Elements Every Novel Needs to Succeed]

That said, do pause for a moment to take a look at the unexpected elements and see if they affect your 5 Key Milestones. If something unexpected happened somewhere in between Key Milestone 2 and 3, for example, then see how, or even if, it will affect Key Milestones 4 and 5. Adjust accordingly – then write boldly.

And if you need a bit of extra help, I’m going through these 5 Key Milestones in a lot more detail in an upcoming webinar I’m going to conduct with Chandler Bolt. Get the full scoop and register to join us (before we fill up!) here.

The post How to Write a Novel: The 5 Key Milestones All Your Favorite Stories Hit appeared first on Self-Publishing School Blog.

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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.

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! Take your books to your events, and press the flesh in the back of the room. Sign, smile and meet your fans, and you’ll make money while feeling like a rock star in the process.

Want my best done-for-you plans to finish your book faster?

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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.

You can join Toastmasters International if you’d rather not test material on a “real” audience. Interacting with your audience and getting their read on your material can help you decide whether your ideas are publication-worthy.

8. Speaking Generates New Income Sources

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. 

Time to Start

Being a writer is great, but if you want to become a successful and professional author, then speaking might be a great next step in making sure your book makes it into the hands of your intended audience. By sharing your message via the spoken word, you gain credibility and build your brand in ways that books alone can’t do. Gaining success as a speaker may not be as easy as writing a book, but the rewards are well worth it to your brand. 

The post Become a Motivational Speaker (Why All Authors Should) appeared first on Self-Publishing School Blog.

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Have you ever seen an Amazon book description that looked absolutely stellar? Nice big words, perfect layout, well structured? What am I saying? Of course you have!

Well, there’s a secret to how those self-publishers are making it look that way. They’re using Amazon’s approved HTML in their product description. That’s right, they’re coding it to look that way and you can, too.

By adding a little code in the editor when writing your book description, your sentences can now be bold, underlined, or even bigger in size.

Having an eye-catching book description is critical to marketing your book. After all, why would your potential buyers read your tantalizing book description and click “buy” if it’s ugly to look at?

By adding some code here and there, we can craft your book description to catch the attention of your audience and improve conversion rates.

As you can see, there is a clear difference between a well-structured book description using basic HTML and a book description that just uses plain text.

It isn’t as simple as writing it in a Word document then copying and pasting it into Amazon.ope. That well-formatted beauty requires a little HTML-love in the text editor.

I’m going to show you exactly how you can tap into this, even if you know nothing about HTML or CSS. I’ll even introduce you to a free book description tool that will help you build beautiful, eye-catching summaries so that your book will stand out and get even more customers.

Amazon Book Description Tips

Lucky for us, we can use special snippets of code in our Amazon listings to access their font styles. All you need to do is type the right things around the sentences in your product description to make the words stand out and look great. 

However, there’s a limit to what we can do. Even though we can use HTML, it isn’t like eBay where you can make flashy banners, pretty tables and style your product description with your web design kung-fu. There are restrictions on what we can and can’t do.

Let’s look at Amazon’s allowed HTML tags

HTML Tag

Description

<b>

Formats enclosed text as bold.

<br>

Creates a line break.

<em>

Emphasizes the enclosed text; generally formatted as italic.

<font>

Determines the appearance of the enclosed text.

<h1> to <h6>

Formats enclosed text as a section heading: <h1> (largest) through <h6> (smallest).

<hr>

Creates a horizontal “rule” or line. Often used to divide sections of text.

<i>

Formats enclosed text as italic.

<li>

Identifies an item in an ordered (numbered) or unordered (bulleted) list.

<ol>

Creates a numbered list from enclosed items, each of which is identified by a <li> tag.

<p>

Defines a paragraph of text with the first line indented; creates a line break at the end of the enclosed text.

<pre>

Defines preformatted text.

<s>

Formats text as strikethrough. See also: <strike>

<strike>

Formats text as strikethrough. See also: <s>

<strong>

Formats enclosed text as bold. See also: <b>

<sub>

Formats enclosed text as subscript: reduces the font size and drops it below the baseline.

<sup>

Formats enclosed text as superscript: reduces the font size and places it above the baseline.

<u>

Formats enclosed text as underlined.

<ul>

Creates a bulleted list from enclosed items, each of which is identified by a <li> tag.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what all that means. I’ll show you.

To get your words to do the above, all you need to do is sandwich your sentence or words with the <fill in the code> above and end your sentence or word with </fill in the code>.

So, for instance, if you wanted to add a bit of code to the sentence, “My book is the best thing you’ve ever read,” you would type into the editor:

<fill in the code>My book is the best thing you’ve ever read.</fill in the code>

(Don’t write “fill in the code”—instead, use the cheat sheet above to see what letters will make the change you’re seeking.)

HTML Examples for Each Tag

Now that you know how to wrap a tag around a sentence and which HTML tag you can use, let’s go through each one, apply it and see how it will look on the U.S. Amazon market.

Header Font Size

To get the words to be larger, you’ll need to use the Header Tags which are <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6>. The H1 tag is the largest; H6 is the smallest.

Let’s see what they look like when wrapped around a word:

Bold

To make a sentence or word bold, all you need to do is wrap that word or sentence with <b></b>

Like this: Self-Publishing School is <b>amazing</b>.

Italics

To italicize a word, you can use either <i> or <em>.

Like this: Self-Publishing School is <i>amazing</i>.

Underline

Underline uses <u></u>.

Like this: Self-Publishing School is <u>amazing</u>.

Horizontal Lines

If you want to separate some text with a horizontal line (also called a line break), all you have to do is add <hr> and it will look like this:

Lists

There are two types of lists: ordered lists and unordered lists. Ordered lists are numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. Unordered lists use bullet points.

Unordered are denoted at the beginning using <ul> and their structure looks like this:

<ul><li>Unordered Item One</li>

<li>Unordered Item Two</li>

<li>Unordered Item Three</li>

</ul>

Ordered Lists are denoted by the <ol> and their structure looks like this:

<ol>

<li>Ordered Item One</li>

<li>Ordered Item Two</li>

<li>Ordered Item Three</li>

</ol>

HTML Tags You Can’t Use

So, what can’t you do in your book’s HTML description?

Well, you can’t do anything with images, like you can with normal HTML. You can’t insert images into your book description, nor set a background image. But who would want to do that? That’s what your book cover is for.

Anyone familiar with HTML will also know its cousin, CSS. You can’t use CSS with a Kindle description. So no fancy new fonts, font colors or CSS styles for any Kindle-specific summary you’re crafting.

Quick Word on Special Characters

Though it isn’t necessary, you can use trademark and copyright symbols in your book description by using the following code:

Special Character

Code

Copyright symbol ©

&copy;

Trademark symbol ™

&trade;

Registered trademark symbol ®

&reg;

Free Amazon Description Generator Tool

Hand-coding your own book description can be tedious. That’s why I designed a special free software that lets you see in real time what your description will look like. It’s called the Amazon Book Description Generator.

Just type in or copy and paste your book description, and with a few clicks, you can make it look the way you want it.

Once you’ve gotten it the way you like, just click “Get My Code” button and it will automatically create the HTML code you need for Amazon.

Then take that code, go to the KDP bookshelf and update your book’s description.

Examples of Well-Formatted Book Descriptions

To get your creative juices flowing, here are some examples of other books that have used book description formatting on their product page and taken it to the next level:

Chandler Bolt’s Book Launch: It’s clean, and effectively uses the “bold” feature to highlight the most important words. That way, those who skim the description will immediately see the parts that Chandler wants them to see.

Patrick King’s Conversation Tactics: This is one of the most effective uses of underlining as well as bullet points to neatly organize information. Patrick rocked his final sentence, the call to action. It leaves a strong lasting impression—and how can you NOT see it?

Steve Scott’s : Here’s another well-laid-out description that highlights the right spots and makes it easy on the eyes. My favorite part about his book description is the first paragraph, which shows up even before the customer clicks “read more.” Steve has made it so that his most eye-catching hook is featured right smack dab at the top of his sales page. Nice move.

Get Our Feedback on Your Description

Now that you know what is allowed by Amazon, how to code HTML for book descriptions and have a cool free tool that will do it for you, it’s time you get started on creating your book descriptions.

Remember, making a well-formatted book description will not only make your product listing more professional, it’ll be sure to hook your potential readers.

So get started now! Use the free tool in this article to bypass the hassle of using HTML code and make a gorgeous book description today.

Once you’ve created a savvy-looking book description, comment below with your book’s link, and I’ll check it out and respond.

The post Amazon Book Description HTML: Making Words Look Better appeared first on Self-Publishing School Blog.

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“Pencils down.” The phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of students. What if you didn’t write enough? What if all the answers are wrong? Too bad; you’re stuck with your final essay. There’s no going back.

There’s something about the finality of closing the door on any knowledge work that’s tough. We don’t want to miss anything—whether it’s a witty quote or that perfect case study. The same with writing books—ending your research and starting your draft is daunting.

It’s possible to go on researching forever, really. Countless book ideas remain unwritten and unpublished because the writer is just looking for that perfect piece of research. But with that attitude, you’ll never publish your book!

We’re not asking you to abandon the research process. Virtually all non-fiction work and most fiction works require at least some research to complete a final draft, but it does require moderation.

This post is split into two parts. First, we’ll show you how to carry out a comprehensive research process in as little time as possible, then we’ll show you how to fine tune your research once you begin drafting your book.

The Research Process

Many writers fail to publish or even begin drafting their books because they’re stuck in the research process. Here we’ll show you three critical steps you can take to make your research as thorough as possible, and to avoid the trap that many writers fall into–researching their books forever.

1. Plan Your Research

Research is a necessary part of writing, and with some genres (e.g. historical fiction), it’s impossible to start without research. However, before you pick a single book or open a new tab in the name of research, there is something you have to do: Plan your research.

In academia, there’s an entire subject called research design, which teaches researchers how to choose their research methods, scope out their timeline and outline their research process. Professional researchers have to plan out their research before they carry out any research. Not only does this tick the check boxes for funding, but it also helps them stay on track and ensure their research project is valid.

Notice what they don’t do. A researcher doesn’t just blindly pick up a book and follow where their gut tells them (though this does make up part of the process) or start experimenting and follow what’s interesting. First, they plan, set a specific end date, and then execute.

Instead of approaching your book research in an ad-hoc manner, putting in research time when you feel it’s warranted, we advise that you design your research process. We’re not asking you to leave no room for spontaneity, often the best ideas come from the most unlikely of sources, but there should still be some structure to your research so, you don’t waste any of your precious time.

Remember many writers have still not begun their manuscript years after they started working on their book because they’re “still researching.” You want to avoid this trap.

This means you should set a clear end date for your research process, where you promise you’ll start drafting no matter how little, how much, or what kind of data you’ve gathered. It also means that before you start, you think about where you’ll gather your research from, and how much you’ll gather. As interesting as a side tangent can be, you don’t want to wander too far. Keep your research focused on the subject matter. If something seems interesting, note it down for the future. Maybe it could be your next book.

2. Outsource Your Research When Possible

Often, writing feels like a solitary endeavor, after all it is just you and yourself staring at a screen, tapping away at a keyboard for hours on end. But just because it feels like a lonely mission, doesn’t mean it has to be one. Especially in research.

No matter your subject, there’s an almost certain chance that someone else has done the heavy lifting for you. Someone who has immersed themselves in the field, found the dead ends, the wrong turns and the secret passageways. So why not tap into their knowledge?

When thinking of where to begin your research, tap into the human capital available before books or the internet. Are there any professors at your local college you can ask? Any editors in your domain that you can first reach out to? A great place to find names are the references used in journal articles or the authors of literature reviews and book reviews.

By asking them for help you can save yourself miles of wasted research, get an expert’s perspective on the topic (differentiating yourself from many other self-published books), and save yourself time. Often, as long as they don’t have a demanding schedule, they’ll be happy to respond to an email or two.

Don’t forget to remember them in your acknowledgements!

3. Ignore Your Inner Perfectionist

There’s a chance that if you’ve always wanted to write a book, you’ve got a perfectionist streak. And when it comes to book research, you’ll want to keep it under control.

You want to be a laser beam in your research. Focus on the best books for the keywords you’ve identified and don’t get sidetracked. Practical research is the key–find facts and data that will make your book more interesting, not analysis that you find interesting. It might not necessarily be the same thing.

This also comes in when you’re writing your book. Ignore the temptation to include all the research found in your book. Often 20% of your research efforts will form 80% of your book. If you found some piece of research you’re just dying to get out there, maybe package and release it as a bonus eBook for the thorough minded amongst your audience (and build your email list,) or have it in the appendix of your kindle edition.

7 Killer Tips on Researching Your Book 

Now that you know the critical steps to carry out your book research, it’s time to look at ways to improve it. Some of these will save you time during the research process, others will help you to finish your manuscript as fast as possible, and yet give you that sense of completeness and thoroughness once it’s done.

1. “Backload” Research

There’s a secret to mastering the craft of research when writing your book that might strike you as controversial: Write first, fact-find second. 

You may think that’s odd, but first hear us out. Consider this scenario: You’re working on your draft and you hit a spot where you feel stuck. You don’t know the answer to a question that arises in your manuscript, so you switch over to Google and start poking around for the answer. Soon you find yourself wandering around the internet as if you came into a room to find something, but you can’t for the life of you remember what it was.

And here is where you find yourself at the end of your writing time–watching cat videos– and you don’t even like cats.

The problem with researching while you’re writing is that you squash your momentum. Your draft will take longer to finish and it will be harder to write if you need to jump out of your writing mindset to switch over to research.

The solution: Don’t research at all once you’ve started writing until your rough draft is finished.

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2. “TK” is Your Friend

Here’s an editorial trick: When you hit an impasse in your draft and you’re tempted to look something up, whether that’s a quote, a proper name, or details about a location, mark that TBD spot with the letters “TK.” TK annotates a spot in your draft to return to when it’s time to research. Then keep writing!

Why the letters “TK”? There are no words in the English language that have the letters “TK” next to each other, making it easy for you to use the Control+F command to find your TBD spot later on.

By setting aside your research for later, you can keep moving on your draft and fill in the small details later. This prevents you from taking up all your time with research and avoiding writing. 

3. Turn off the Internet

Turn off the Internet while you’re writingMadness, you say? Well, why do you need the Internet? You’re going to do your research when you’re done writing, so the Internet is just distracting you. Write now. Google later.

Some pro writers say they like to take their laptop to a locale with no Wi-Fi so there’s zero temptation. Try an Internet desert for a day or two and see if it improves your writing pace. 

4. Keep it Organized

When you find a key piece of research, file it so you can track it down later. Whether you do this with a virtual folder on your laptop, an actual folder in your desk, or with a tool like Evernote or Scrivener, the idea is the same. You need to compile all your resources together in one place so you can find it later.

Organization now will make adding research to your manuscript later easier and quicker. When your draft is done, you can put your hands on your resources right away.

5. Red Text Marks the Spot

If you’re humming along in your draft and hit the crossroads of a quote or stat, switch your text color to red to highlight that you need to come back. Red text marks the spot that needs later attention and you can keep drafting.

Of course, if you used the “TK” tip above you don’t need this step, because then you can just use Control+F to find where you placed “TK” in your draft. However, the red text will give you a visual STOP so you know this is an area that needs more research just by looking at it. Call it extra insurance so you don’t miss anything.

6. Hired Guns

There’s no shame in outsourcing the manual work of research. For the most cost-effective resource, consider a college intern. When looking for interns, make sure they have a background in your field. If your book is about demographic trends then look for qualitative researchers, perhaps someone with a major in the social sciences. If, however, you need to do some number crunching then look for some more quantitative oriented interns.

Or, if you need to hire a pro, look to Upwork to find a good researcher—be sure to check ratings and consider giving applicants a short test to make sure they’re up for the task.

7. Add it All In

Batching your work is a trick of the productive. By segmenting what you need to get done, you maintain focus without the need to switch from unrelated task to unrelated task. When your first draft is finished, return to the designated areas that required research, which you marked with “TK” or red text. Fill in these gaps and add in all your research at once.

Start

Remind yourself that your goal right now is not the most perfectly researched book, it’s a finished one. You’re not going to be selling your research on Amazon, you’re going to be selling your story.

Writing a book is a mind game. Don’t let the lure of research (or cat videos!) distract you from finishing your draft. Plan and set an end date for your research process, and then put all your energy into research. When that’s done, begin writing your first draft no matter what, and hold off on any research until you’ve got a finished rough draft. Use our tips to manage your research efficiently and get to work on writing.

Don’t let research be the death of your book.

The post Writing a Book? 7 Killer Research Tips appeared first on Self-Publishing School Blog.

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Deciding to write a book is similar to deciding to be a parent. You may have read all the books on parenting by the experts and analyzed the decision to death, trying to decide whether you’re emotionally, financially, and physically ready to take the plunge… but until you become a parent, you’ll never know how amazing, enriching, and challenging your life could be. On the day you become a parent, you know that your life will never be the same.

This is the same with deciding to become an author. Until you’ve ushered your new creative life into the world, you have no idea of the incredible myriad of ways writing a book can enrich your life. You won’t even need to publish a bestseller to realize this, just the act of writing and publishing a book has its own benefits. Once you’ve published a book, you’ll ask yourself why you waited so long to make it happen.

We’re here to convince you that you should finally write that book, and you should do it this year. Because if not now, then when?

Here are 13 reasons why this is the year you’ll write your book.

1. You Are A Writer (You Just Need to Write.)

“You can’t use up creativity. the more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

Listen, everyone can be a writer. Each one of us has a story to share. In fact, most of us have more than one story to share.

The simple truth is that in order to be a writer, you just need to write. And to become an author, you just need to publish. No if’s, no buts. At Self-Publishing School, we’re here to tell you that both of these worthy goals are within your reach. You just need to start—today.

2. You’ll Discover Who You Are.

By its very nature, writing is an introspective, thoughtful activity. The process of writing a book will force you to turn your thoughts inward. Through writing, you’ll gain a perspective about what really matters to you.

Writing a book will also teach you about the unique value of your own willpower, because let’s face it, writing is hard work. The simple act of committing to a writing project, and seeing it through, will measure the depths of your discipline.

Writing a book can be a powerful way to get in touch with your thoughts, values, and motivations.

Plus, writing is cheaper than therapy!

3. You’ll Have Created A Professional-Quality, Ready-To-Sell Book.

It used to be that only writers with a publishing deal or those who paid for vanity publications ever got to see their books in print. Those days have changed. Thanks to the rise of self-publishing, any person with a story to tell, and the means to write it, can become a published author and sell their book.

Self-publishing is now affordable, easy to implement, and requires only basic computer skills. If you can type your book on your keyboard, you can figure out how to self-publish. As your own publisher, you call the shots. You’re the CEO of your own destiny. Even better, you get to retain more of the royalties if you self-publish. What’s not to like?

4. You’ll Pocket A Healthy Chunk of Change.

The bad news is you probably won’t make millions and millions from your book sales alone. Only 200 books, out of the 300,000 published every year, go on to sell more than 100,000 copies.  However, the good news is that you don’t need to be a New York Times bestselling author in order to become wealthy from your ideas.

Writing a book can open doors in your financial life. Want to kick start your career as a consultant? There’s no better way to prove your expertise to prospects and get leads than writing a book; busy executives search through Amazon all the time for books to solve their problems. Want to help people through speaking engagements? Writing a book gives you credibility and allows organizers to see if your message is a good fit for their event. Want to build courses based on your ideas? Writing a book will gives you credibility and can act as a lead generation machine to launch your venture.

In the past, the only writers who made money were those who had a bunch of bestselling books. Now, the possibilities are endless once you write your book – but you need to write it first.

5. It’s Not Hard to Start.

Perhaps you’re worried about writer’s block, or the fact that you don’t have any ideas, or that the very act of writing will wear you out. However, chances are that if you’ve always wanted to write a book, you’ve probably already started writing.

Got a collection of drafted blog posts or a set of unpublished short stories sitting around on your hard drive? If so, then the good news is that then you’re halfway towards having a completed book!

A book is nothing more than an extended collection of articles (or stories if you’re writing fiction.) By repurposing your existing content, and hiring an editor, you can circumvent the dreaded writer’s block, and you can do the most important thing with any major project—you can start. Now.

6. You’ll Let Amazon Do the Heavy Lifting.

Amazon is the king of the self-publication market. Amazon makes it intuitive and straightforward for authors to upload and sell their books. They’ve also made it easy for readers to find and buy your book. It’s a win-win.

That’s not to say that you can set up an Amazon page and let it flap in the breeze untended. In order to sell your book, you’ll need to do some marketing and PR. The good news is that Amazon gives you the tools and resources you need to succeed.

7. You’ll Embrace the Mantra, “Nobody Lives Forever.”

Nobody’s getting out of this life alive. Our time here is finite. It’s our choice how we want to spend our time.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book, don’t wait for a life crisis to force your hand. The time is now. You have a chance to share your words, thoughts, and passions with the world. Don’t let that chance slip through your fingers.

8. You’ll Reignite A Passion.

Each one of us has a passion for something—whether that’s rock-climbing, organic cooking, or comedic storytelling. What’s your passion? You already know the answer to that question.

Here’s our next question: When’s the last time you stoked that passion? If that answer is, “you can’t remember” or, “it’s been years,” then you’ve got some work to do. You owe it to yourself to explore your passion and write a book. We promise that when you’re writing about something you love, it won’t feel like work.

9. You’ll Be A Pro Author.

Only 1% of the world’s population ever publishes a book. That’s a heady statistic. By writing a book, you set yourself apart from the masses.

Even if your book is fiction or a memoir, the fact that you’re now an author lends an air of authority to your professional endeavors. You can now add “author” to your CV, LinkedIn, and professional website. Publishing a book is like having a business card on steroids.

In short: No matter what you write a book about, becoming a published author boosts your professional authority. You’ll have accomplished something few other people have. Our preemptive greeting: Welcome to the Author Club! We guarantee you’ll like the rarified air up here.

10. You’ll Tackle A New Challenge.

Life has so many obligations—taxes, school pick-up, miles on the treadmill—it can be easy to fall into a daily rut.

Writing a book is leaving your comfort zone. Trying something unfamiliar can be scary—we get it. But, that’s precisely why it’s exciting. The only way you grow as a person is by forcing yourself to leave your comfort zone.

Time to jump off the cliff—write a book and become an author this year. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll gain by pushing the limits of your own self-imposed boundaries, not just in your writing skills, but in your personal growth.

11. You’ll Become Smarter.

Writing a book requires research. No matter what topic you’re writing about, you’re going to have to research new concepts and topics. By opening the door to new ideas, you’ll educate yourself on a broad array of ideas. You’ll be invigorated by how much you learn while you’re writing, and emerge much brighter for having done so. And when you’re done, you can assert yourself as an expert in your field.

Your book can then open the door for speaking engagements, conference presentations, and other professional networking opportunities.

12. You’ll Stop Making Excuses and Just Do It.

We know, we know, you’ve been mulling over the idea of writing a book for months (years?) now. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article. You can write a book in as little as 60 minutes a day. You don’t need to have Olympic level time management skills to find that time.

How long are you going to give yourself permission to keep quashing your dreams? It’s time to commit and just do it.

13. Because You Can!

And you will! No more excuses. You can’t afford to put off writing a book any longer. All that counts is that you put one word after another on paper, and you keep doing it until before you know it, you have a completed first draft. Think about how amazing you’ll feel?

Don’t put it off another day. Write your book today. This is the year for you to finally become an author.

The post 13 Reasons Why You Should Write a Book This Year appeared first on Self-Publishing School Blog.

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