Entrepreneurial Skills and Passion Define Author’s Business
How to Jump-Start Your Book (Business)
The Book In You
By Susan Klopfer, MBA
Susan Klopfer, author and publisher
www.susanklopfer.com and www.findthebookinyou.com
Welcome. I think that I know why you are here…
Are you Ellen, Tom or Jean? Or have you always worked at home and want to find a way to bring in more income for family vacations? Retirement? A new home?
You might have a passion for history, travel or politics − so strong that you want to persuade others to learn what you have to say. Or to share the information you’ve obtained for others to consider.
Many people who face these or related goals seek quick, efficient help in getting this task done; they may or may not understand where publishing has been moving in the past few years, so starting a book without this proper knowledge can cost them time and money.
In fact, today’s “author” typically runs a small (or large) business that includes writing, marketing, distribution, promotion and sales.
If you are feeling somewhat overwhelmed, take a deep breath. It’s going to be fun!
We’re going to cover a 10-point list for Jumpstarting a self-published book. The list is based on what I have learned over the past 30 years as a journalist, book development and acquisitions editor and author. These steps will help you meet your goals.
One warning: If you are green to today’s new publishing directions (and most folks are), read at least two books or visit websites by pioneers in the industry, before getting started.
There are many great books on the topic and here are several suggestions. Just make sure that anything you read on the topic has been published in 2009 or beyond.
The following Ten Steps are not necessarily intended to be followed in the numbered order. Once you get your self-publishing education, through Poynter et al, you will undoubtedly change the order. For myself, I like to start with Step 4, writing cover copy. (Where ever you start, keep track of your expenses. Save all receipts.)
Now, let’s get started.
Ten Steps For Discovering, Writing, Publishing, Marketing and Selling The Book In You
Step 1. Choose your topic.
Most published authors suggest that you write about what you know and love. Beginning authors should select a book topic* that will be easy and fun to research, write and market. Once you have your topic, this is a good time to develop a working title. Publishing guru Dan Poynter says to “write what you love and can sell to your colleagues.”
Step 2. Do the research.
Unless you are a true expert, this step may take hours and hours, weeks and weeks or maybe months. But you have several important obligations when you write a book and this starts with quality research that includes checking and verifying every fact and resource. You owe this to yourself and to the readers of your book. While this is the time to research, it is not the time to write. Researching and writing are very separate tasks and each requires your complete attention. As you wind down your research, organize your materials and write a Nonfiction Book Proposal and a first chapter.
Step 3. Think about who will read your book and how you will reach them.
This may be a surprise, but less than half of all books are sold in regular “brick-and-mortar bookstores.” Digital publishing is coming on strong. There are plenty of opportunities in markets that are friendlier to self-published books starting with online bookstores and some local, independent bookstores. In fact, the locals love self-publishers, especially when they offer to come into their stores and give free talks, besides signing books.
This is a good time to start reading up on and practicing relationship marketing. It’s an important time to have your “author” business cards printed and to begin thinking about yourself in these terms. Think about who might be willing to write a book review. These steps are really the first part of the marketing plan you will later produce.
Step 4. Write the draft of your book’s back cover copy.
This is a key idea that comes from Dan Poynter. Covers sell books! Your cover copy should almost provide you with an outline of what’s to come. What is the book about? Who should read it and why?
What categories does it sell under? Print, audio, books on CD all have back covers. If you are smart, you are going to publish your book in these formats, adding an e-book and iPod format to your equation, too (and they don’t have back covers).
Step 5. Plan ahead – Finding Professionals.
If you are not going to actually design your entire book cover (the artwork for the front and back), this is a good time to start locating your book cover artist, as well as your manuscript editor and possibly a typesetter and interior designer (if you aren’t going to do these tasks yourself). You may also need help from a development editor.
Depending upon your plan, you may need to locate a printer (if this is a p-book—a printed book on paper pages). You may need a printer who provides print-on-demand services and who can replicate CDs.
You should also start thinking about how you will market and distribute your book, if you haven’t already done so. Many self-publishers start setting up websites, blogs, Facebook pages and other social networking around this time or even earlier. This is also a good time to re-examine all publishing options before you make a final commitment. You may or may not want to purchase a block of ISBN numbers at this time.
How are you going to track your profits and losses? This is a good time to make sure you’re comfortable with your bookkeeping and accounting skills. Or to talk to a professional.
Step 6. Write your book.
How do you get started writing? This shouldn’t be too tough, since you’ve already written a detailed proposal, developed a working title, have designed a back cover and have written a sample chapter by now! This is NOT the time to rewrite and/or edit your book. That comes later and requires a separate kind of focus. Plan on writing at least 5 to 10 pages every day.
Step 7: Proof AND EDIT your book.
Do your re-writes and the find several people to read your book – people who know something about your topic, friends, and family members. If possible, have someone read the book to you, while you listen. When they’re done and you’re satisfied, send your book out to a professional copy or manuscript editor.
While your book is out of your hands, so to speak, this is a good time to be selecting or creating the final cover, front and back. This is also a good time to start learning more about LinkedIn, and Twitter (more social networking tools). Some people do this before ever starting with Step 1.
Step 8. Put it all together (Publish)
Your final, edited manuscript and cover are ready to be published. While some authors like to have their work formatted into print, first, and then move on to digital, audio books and other formats — you may want to have this done all at once. You will need to make this decision based on your marketing plan.
Step 9. sell your book.
Remember when you decided who you are writing this book for? Where will you find these folks? Do they read blogs? Visit Facebook? Buy and sell on EBay? How will you promote and distribute your book to your intended readers?
Will you give speeches and sell your book at the back of the room? Will you spread the word via radio talk shows? Will you approach independent books stores? Sell online? This should be outlined in your marketing plan so now is the time to hit the road.
Really knowing your audience and marketing to them is critical for your success. The book marketing guru happens to be John Kremer. Start looking at his website at http://www.bookmarket.com. It’s vast, so don’t let it scare you. But Poynter and Kremer are critical knowledge brokers who provide the most current information for self-publishers.
What marketing plan? You really did start this process when you chose your topic and wrote the book’s back cover. But now is the time to make sure that you strengthen this plan.
Step 10. Fine tune your marketing plan.
Start by figuring out what is working and increase those marketing activities. Look for other opportunities, too. We’ll be learning about some quick and easy marketing tools as well as activities that take more time and focus.
There you have it! It is a BUSINESS to write and sell a book. But don’t let this scare you off. If you plan your authoring journey, using today’s new book authoring, publishing and marketing techniques, it will be much easier to make it happen.
This list is intended to give you a glimpse of the next 24 weeks. It IS going to be a lot of work – but you can do it.
* Bolded items in the 10-Step list are all covered in detail in the Find the Book In You Course Workbook and accompanying CDs.