- Want to boost your authority with a valuable, good quality book?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed and unsure about how to write and publish your nonfiction business book?
- Have you become are fearful and imposter syndrome has kicked in?
- Or perhaps you just want to get your book out there as soon as possible, but without cutting corners?
No specialist worth their salt would want to put their name with something that reads badly looks amateurish and is more akin to a lazy kid’s school project. As an expert, you want to make a difference by sharing your hard-earned expertise gathered from time in the trenches, and helping others with get good results matters.
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense guide to self-publishing your book, read on…
1. How to RESEARCH and PLAN your book
You would never head off on a long unfamiliar car journey without programming your sat nav first, yet budding authors head off into the wilderness without doing any book research or planning.
What should you do to get off to a good start?
1.1 Learn how to teach your skills effectively
The first thing is to get clear on is how to teach your expertise to your reader. So many books miss the mark because people don’t understand how “instructional design” works. That might sound like an irrelevant buzzword thrown in for good measure, but it’s a very important concept. It’s all about making sure your teaching is effective and enjoyable. Who wouldn’t want a book that made readers feel that way about your techniques?
As a nonfiction business book author, it is imperative that you get results for your readers, in that efficient, effective, and appealing way. Why? Because people will look up to you as a good teacher. If your book rambles, your reader doesn’t get the result that the cover promised, then it is utterly understandable that they feel they have been cheated out of their time and money (even if it’s only a few pounds for a book). What’s more in that frustrated frame of mind, they’re not going to want to do anything else with you – and certainly not give you any more money.
It’s important not to blindly guess how to plan your book outline, and rather to follow a simple but proven system which transfers your core expertise to your students’ heads the easy way. Learning a few basics about instructional design will help you map out your solution so your readers get great results and enjoy using your methods.
1.2 Research your book idea
It’s worthwhile spending a couple of hours of book research to see what you can glean from other competitor books on your topic before you start planning yours.
For one thing, your research will help you confirm what your readers really want to know. You will quickly spot the common elements that appear in all the books on your subject. Armed with that information, you can be sure you’ve not overlooked something vital in your planning. It also helps to have a good understanding of who your target readers are.
What’s more, by analysing book reviews, both positive and negative, you’ll get valuable suggestions you can incorporate into your book, to make sure it takes advantage of the valuable advice in those reader comments. It also helps you come up with your unique book angle.
Doing this means your book will be better than the weaker books out there by easily avoiding the complaints they attracted and building on the strengths of the better books. It’s also a simple and effective way to make it different. Plus the strengths you build on can become a great USP for your book marketing.
1.3 How to plan your book outline
Once the research is done, it’s time to plan the specifics of what you will cover, in what sequence and to what level. After this stage, you’ll be confident you’ve captured all of your relevant expertise and organised it into a format that makes it easy for other people to implement your advice.
Using that information you have gathered, create your detailed book outline. Following this outline ensures your book stays on track. So many people are tempted to add, twiddle and tweak as they write and inadvertently bring in a lot of repetition, padding and confusion in the process. Sticking to your planned outline is your insurance policy against these problems.
Another big win is you can see all the small steps needed to take so that you get your big end result – a bit like realising you can eat the elephant… one bite at a time.
ONLINE RESOURCE: If you’re looking for a good mindmapping tool, check out the free website, www.mind42.com.
1.4 How to monetise your book
You don’t need to be a genius to know that book sales alone are not going to make you a zillionaire. To monetise your book, you need some well-thought out, relevant offers you can suggest to your readers. Even when people have read about your entire system, there are lots of reasons why they don’t want to apply it on their own. They might want reassurance as they implement the ideas. They might choose to pay someone to get the job done when they find out what’s involved “is not part of their wheelhouse”. They want more of your help, to go beyond the beginner level.
You need to have a plan in place to meet those reader needs too.
2. How to WRITE your book
Once you’re clear about what you’re going to write, whether you plan to type in or dictate your first draft, it’s time to put pen to paper or mouth to microphone.
You must promptly elaborate on your key points and get that expertise out of your head, onto the page and ready to be polished up into the finished book. The longer you take to do this, the more likely you are to fail. Life inevitably gets in the way, gradually dimming the fire in your belly, until it dies and your book’s future is snuffed out with it.
2.1 How to format your book
It’s a real confidence boost when your book looks professional from the get-go. Working with a clumsy, scruffy document is demoralising when you know how good the information is that you’re sharing. It’s like serving a gourmet meal on chipped plates and expecting the guests to love it just as much. No. it doesn’t work that way.
By starting your draft off using a clean, crisp and elegant book template, if you need to show other people, they have confidence in what they are seeing because it looks like you care about the information. Legibility and ease of reading are important considerations.
There’s more good news with this approach because starting with a decent book template saves a big rework job later. Trying to reformat tens of thousands of words to drag your work across the finishing line in some semblance of order is truly joyless, even less so when you know that job is utterly avoidable.
A good book template will also include the front matter and back matter pages, things like the copyright statement and the glossary in the correct sequence. These are often overlooked by newbie authors, which is a shame as they give a much more professional feel to your finished book.
2.2 How to elaborate on your planned book outline
There are two methods to choose from – dictating and typing in your ideas. Let’s have a look at those now.
2.2.1 Dictating your book
The technique I prefer people to use is to dictate their book rather than write it. This is because it is the fastest way to get information out of your head. (In my experience as a book coach, the slower people are at writing their book, the more likely they are to fail, and for that reason, it’s my job to make sure that people complete the job as quickly as possible.)
Dictation also frees people from worries about their written English and their spelling. It also gives your book a lovely conversational tone, just as if you were teaching your reader face to face over a coffee or in a classroom setting, rather than numbing them into a coma with long words that make you sound like you ate a dictionary for breakfast.
2.2.2 Typing your book
You may find some finer, complex points are better typed than spoken from memory. It’s important to know the quick and easy way to type up your ideas so that you don’t lose momentum and also that these typed portions of your draft are integrated seamlessly into your manuscript. Applying 14 simple plain English rules and testing your text for readability are two great ways to avoid the “wrote like I ate a dictionary” problem. Both techniques take just a few minutes to learn.
2.3 How to add images to your book
Another thing to consider is adding visual content to your book as well as the written word to explain your point. Depending on the context, you may wish to use images like photos, illustrations, diagrams, maps, icons, tables, charts, so you can make your point the best way possible. Sometimes, a visual cue is much clearer than a rambling explanation. Imagine trying to explain what a rollercoaster is like to someone who has never seen one, versus a simple diagram or photo.
Artwork can be a bit of a minefield and clumsy pictures lower the perceived value of your book. Always check your images are 300 dots-per-inch and above. Pictures that you use on-screen that are typically of 72 dpi will look fuzzy, and Createspace (Amazon’s print-on-demand publisher) will flag that as a quality issue when you upload your book file. If you’re not sure what resolution your images are, have a look at the file properties. It’s listed there.
2.4 How to design your book cover
The last part in this book writing section is about how to get your book cover right. People do judge books by their cover.
You only have one to two seconds to catch your reader’s eye. Your cover must have a clear, readable title and subtitle and some relevant imagery so the reader understands the premise of the book instantly. So many times I see spindly text on a busy background that gets utterly lost. Sometimes the subtitle is so long, it covers half the front cover – not very “two-second glance” friendly. These are two massive rookie mistakes.
Like your interior, your book cover also needs to look professional and not home-rolled. Amateurish covers mean potential readers fail to take your book (and by extension, you the author) seriously.
Not being “arty” is not an excuse for a substandard cover. There are some simple book cover design rules that you can follow to create something fitting, plus you’ve seen thousands of book covers in your lifetime, so you know exactly what standard you should be aiming for. I know you’ve played the card game, SNAP! so you know how to spot visual similarities and differences. As a professional, your book cover must be above the standard of artwork only a parent would love enough to stick on the fridge.
Once all these steps are completed, you have your first draft manuscript. Well done.
3. How to REVIEW and EDIT your book
A mistake-laden book will do you no favours, so let’s look at how to do a thorough quality analysis of your work to date.
3.1 Editing your first draft
Once your first draft is finished, the next step is giving that first draft a health check so that it’s in good shape. You need to be sure that the gist of what you want to say has been captured accurately. This gives you a lot of peace of mind.
If and when you need show others your first draft, although it doesn’t need to be perfect, it does need to look like someone cares about the information that’s being shared. Otherwise, the person reviewing will feel like they’re having their time wasted if a sloppy document riddled with the most basic of mistakes ends up in their inbox. If you don’t care enough to check it, why on earth should that. Especially, if you are on a tight budget and they are helping you as a favour!
The best way to get initial feedback on your book is to recruit some beta readers. I recommend you find 10 people who are in your target market who want to learn your system and apply your expertise.
Why 10? Because inevitably a few will drop out, or be terrible at giving meaningful feedback.
Seeking opinions from beta readers means you get some views from a few fresh pairs of eyes. Towards the final stages of your book, it becomes more difficult to see the wood for the trees. You know the material too well and make assumptions about what you think you have written – rather than doublechecking what you have written. Think of this beta reader evaluation like getting Amazon reviews in advance, without the risk of putting the book live before it’s ready for public consumption. Your reputation as an expert in your field stays intact, come what may.
3.2 Creating your final draft
Once you’ve got the feedback from your beta readers, it’s time to analyse and apply it. You must fix any major weaknesses and incorporate relevant good suggestions before your book gets a thorough quality check in the next step. In the unlikely event you had a significant amount of problems to fix, ask your beta readers to review your updated draft and check your remedial action actually hit the spot.
3.3 How to copy edit and proofread your book
This is the final quality check of the worded content itself and the message that you’re sharing. It’s a critical stage that many people try to sidestep because of the expense. This is a false economy. Ideally, you’ll want to outsource this to a professional. However, if you’re on a tight budget, you can do a reasonable job yourself with the aid of the tool Grammarly.
Remember to allow plenty of time to “
Even if you’re outsourcing editing and proofreading your book, running your book through Grammarly as your final check will free up your editor to focus on the subtler problems. You want to avoid their train of thought
4. How to PUBLISH your book
Once your words are stable, it’s time to format your book files and upload them to Amazon KDP for your Kindle book and Createspace for print. Don’t start the formatting until you are sure your book is error free – otherwise, you have double the aggravation because you have to correct in both versions. Ugh!
(Unfortunately, the prices vary wildly for book publishing and promotion. Check out the special report on how much it costs to self-publish a book.)
4.1 How to create your Kindle book
So often seen as the poor relation of their printed brothers, many people think they can cut corners with their Kindle version. They forget that their printed and Kindle book share the same review stars.
One of the biggest reasons for the dreaded one-star star reviews for Kindle books is shoddy formatting. Unreadable diagrams. Chapter headings starting at random points on a screen. The absence of a clickable table of contents. Quite often a lack of commitment in these areas is followed with lax editing and pitifully low proofreading efforts. The star-ratings tumble accordingly.
It’s important to know how to prepare your book content for Kindle adequately. There are some minor tweaks required, like removing numbered page cross-references, so that you can outsource the material to a formatting service or, if you’re on a tight budget, upload it to Amazon KDP yourself.
If you have a straightforward Word document, it usually translates quite well using Amazon’s online conversion process.
However, nonfiction books often require complicated layouts with tables, annotated diagrams, mathematical equations and more. It is worth the investment to get your book optimised professionally, so it looks good on not just on Kindle devices, but also the other devices that run the Kindle app, like desktops, tablets and mobiles.
Once uploaded to the Amazon KDP website, you can test it online using the Amazon emulator and methodically click through page-by-page, looking for the big, and the tiniest of mistakes.
4.2 How to create your print book
Before you embark on this stage, it’s important to understand the industry standard ways that are used to format a professional book so that the finished result doesn’t let you down and harm your credibility. A few wrinkles in a Kindle book are, perhaps, excusable because it’s a different medium to paper. The layout of your words will naturally behave differently across a range of physical devices, but there’s no such leeway with a print book.
The credibility boost you get from being a published author will come from the print format most of all. Don’t cut corners at this stage.
Once formatted for print, you can save your final manuscript as a PDF and upload it to Createspace, along with your book cover PDF (which is the back, spine and front cover as a wraparound.)
You can review your printed book using the emulator on the CreateSpace website. It enables you to digitally “flick through” a printed copy and again look for the big, and the tiniest of mistakes.
Once you’re happy with that, you can order a printed proof copy and check everything is OK before making your book live.
Don’t rush this stage – each time you want to revise book once it’s live Amazon removes your book from sale for 4 to 7 days, while your printed proof copy is shipped to you. Your book being unavailable after launch is not a great boost to your professional author status.
5. How to LAUNCH and PROMOTE your book
Once your book is done, and you’re happy that your book has been finished to a high standard, it’s time to build some buzz and get promoting it. Thanks to self-publishing, it’s much easier to get your book out there. The drawback is you need to fight harder to get your ideal reader’s attention amongst all the noise in the marketplace.
5.1 How to create a press pack
The first step in this stage is to learn how to create a press pack. You need a press pack so you can quickly and effectively explain the premise of your book, your professional credentials and your motivation for writing it. This means you can make an impressive and credible first impression on the journalist or another influencer that you wish to connect with. It also makes it easier for other people to talk about your book – accurately! If you’re wondering what to include, add key documents like your author biography, highlighted snippets of your book, a book summary and press release explaining what the book covers, why you wrote it, and where people can buy it.
5.2 How to plan your book promotion and launch strategy
Once your press pack is together, you can devise your book promotion strategy. Your strategy should list who you want to approach and how you plan to approach them, for example by post, email or phone. Rather than bowling up like a rookie, kicking them in the shins and rambling on about your book, you will have a professional, structured format to follow.
It’s also essential that you track your progress during this stage and make sure you follow up on all the opportunities that come your way. A simple spreadsheet will suffice.
5.3 How to create your author platform
This is the final aspect of promotion. You need to think about how to spread the word online about your book and start growing your following. Whether you plan to self-publish or go down the traditional route, you will need to build your audience.
Your author platform website provides a place where people interested in you and your book can find out more.
Plus, you can, for example, showcase the press coverage, podcast appearances and webinar guest slots you have garnered, to demonstrate your authority, popularity and your successes.
There is a strong argument for starting your promotion before you start writing. However, it can be a recipe for overwhelm, since you’ll also be concentrating on writing and publishing your book at the same time. It’s hard to go all out promoting your book when it doesn’t exist and you’ve never written one before. People can sense that (understandable) fear, and this can mean you squander changes. In this context, it might be best to leave this until the end.
In an ideal world, you’d do this beforehand of course, but realistically, it’s not the end of the world if you do your promotion afterwards.
Your business book should aim to be an evergreen asset for you to promote your expertise, authority and credibility for years to come, it’s OK not to rush and try and do everything all at once – especially if that means you don’t complete your book in the first place.
When it comes to writing your book, if you follow these simple steps, you’ll make rapid progress.
Try not to focus on solving all the problems at once. Work out what your next move needs to be and then make that, overcoming any minor stumbling blocks as you go. Just like you can’t predict the precise traffic conditions on every moment of your long car journey, you can’t predict everything that you’ll encounter on your book journey either. Like a motorist can suddenly hit an unforeseen snag with a lane closed because of an accident, or the traffic lights suddenly going out, so too can your book project hit the buffers temporarily. Like the driver, you can only deal with that situation when it happens. Extra planning would not make the obstacle disappear when if finally surfaces along the way.
If you have any book questions, please do get in touch. I’d hate for you to head off in the wrong direction.