Myth and Mistake: Your book needs to be in a bookstore to sell copies

Myth about BookstoresWhile this seems to be the aspiring author’s dream to be in a bookstore, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Shelf space is expensive in today’s bookstore, but not only that – check out these alarming statistics as well:

  • 52 percent of all books are not sold in bookstores! They are merchandised via mail order, internet, in discount stores, through book clubs, and in nontraditional retail outlets, etc.
  • About 20 percent of online sales are of titles not available in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Projections are this figure will soon reach a third of all book sales!
  • Typically bookstores only carry stock of books that will sell within 30 days, or they go back to the publisher and you buy the books back. Bookstores are famous for returning books to publishers. The industry return rate is typically 36 percent for hardcovers and 25 percent for softcovers.

To see your book on a bookstore shelf you can:

  • Do what’s called “Reverse Shoplifting” and place your books in local big box stores. When someone sees your book, they can grab a copy, and still check out. The bookstores will still sell the book, as your ISBN and barcode will give pricing and book information. You won’t earn royalties, but it will help with word of mouth marketing and getting exposed to new people to read your book.
  • Furthermore, always do what Robert Kiosaki did on his press and publicity tours. This best selling author of the Rich Dad Poor Dad series used the phrase, “You can purchase my book everywhere” when doing publicity for his first self-published book. Because in fact, this is true. When you use a Print-on-Demand (POD) service like Create Space you elect to do their expanded distribution sales channel – which gives booksellers and stores the ability to order your book online and ship it directly to the consumer.

So, remember – just because your book isn’t on a store shelf doesn’t mean you can’t get widespread distribution for it. Plus, just being on a shelf isn’t going to sell your book. In the end, it’s still up to you to make sure your book sells, from the shelf to online!

The Steps to Writing a Book (The Process of Writing a Book)

Writng your Book on PaperWriting a book can be a simple or complicated process. To simplify the process, familiarize yourself with the steps necessary to write a book, make a plan, set goals, and get accountability to see your book through to completion.

Here are the basic steps to writing a book:

  • Have a well thought out book idea
  • Write, write, and write some more
  • Send your manuscript to a few trusted peers for review
  • Hire a professional editor
  • Choose the title of your book
  • Decide how you will self-publish (ex: use a print on demand, find a local printer, etc.)
  • Hire a cover designer, get your cover designed
  • Hire a layout designer, once your book is in final edit format, get the book in layout
  • Put together the miscellaneous pieces, such as purchasing your ISBN, barcode, getting endorsements, finding someone to write your foreword, and so on.
  • Print a test/proof copy of your book
  • Register for a sales tax license in your county and/or state
  • Order copies of your book
  • Sell your book!

While I know this is a very simple version of what goes into creating a book, in reality these are all the necessary steps that it takes to bring a book to life.

To see a more detailed explanation of each of these steps, be sure to check out our guide, How to Bring Your Book to Life This Year, available on Amazon.

When to Be an Expert, and When Not to Be

Book ExpertIt’s easy to get caught up in learning something new, but there comes a time when you have to make a decision and ask yourself “Is this something I want to be an expert in?”

Perhaps it is. But most times we learn everything we can on a subject because it is fascinating, and we think we need to. Yet, the truth is we don’t need to become an expert on everything. We only need to become an expert on what we are most passionate about, and what we do for our work.

  • If you need a website for your business, doesn’t mean you need to master websites.
  • If you use social media for work, doesn’t mean you need to teach social media classes.
  • If you learn a skill, it doesn’t mean you need to become the next guru around it.

The same is true for self-publishing.

The reason I say this is that when I first started understanding how the book process and self-publishing world worked I realized I needed to learn everything I could on the subject. Now, I see other people going through the process of writing, creating, and self-publishing a book. Many of these people spend countless hours learning and figuring out the “self-publishing” world.

Some realize this isn’t an area they want to become an expert, so they use their time marketing, perfecting their book, and focusing on what really matters.

However, the people who believe they need to be an expert on the subject before they can move forward really get bogged down in the details.

Luckily, people specialize in certain areas of business so you don’t have to.

Before you decide to become an expert on something, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I really passionate about this topic?
  2. Could my time, money, and energy be spent on my own topic of interest/expertise?
  3. Is this something that I want to teach or share with others?
  4. Am I learning this because I feel I need or have to?
  5. Could someone else teach me the most important aspects of this topic?
  6. Would I be able to save time and energy if I found an expert to work with?

Really consider these questions before you decide to ingest every bit of material on a topic. You don’t need to know everything about every topic, but you should know the most important and critical pieces.

How to Write a How to Book

How to Write a How-To BookThere are many reasons why you’d want to write a how-to book, such as to educate people, give people the tools to do what you do best, and to attract clients.

Writing a how-to book is a fantastic way to generate leads into your business.

Take our own how-to book on writing and self-publshing as an example. While we’ve outlined all the steps needed for people to write and self-publish their book, the majority of our clients come to us through reading the book, but still want additional support. Although it wasn’t the primary reason for us to write our book, it’s been a great added bonus, and it’s a strategy that will work well for you as well.

Yes, there are some people who will use your book and do all the work themselves. But they’d likely do it themselves whether they had your book or not, it’s just their style. And, the people who get your book and see your expertise will reach out to you for your help. In essence, your book is a tool that will help attract more clients into your business. Plus, people get a chance to resonate with you and your style from reading your how-to book. They instantly “buy-in” to what you are selling.

So, here are a few tips for writing a how-to book.

  • Keep it simple. Teach what you know in a simple, easy to follow format. Don’t “dumb it down,” but do make it easy to follow. You want the information to be so clear that someone who knows nothing about what you do can follow your steps.
  • Map out the process from A to Z, and double check to make sure you cover every point and step that’s needed to complete the work.
  • Offer insight on common mistakes and errors that people could encounter throughout the process. This will ensure they are equipped with the tools they need. It will also eliminate fielding a lot of questions as issues come up. Include the information in each section, or make a FAQ section or common mistakes chapter to cover these topics.
  • Only teach people what they need to know to complete the process. You could tell them everything, but if you did they are likely to feel confused and not do the work. Nor will they call you to do it for them. The easier you make it for them, the more they will trust you can make it an easy process when they do hire you. Don’t over-complicate it with the hope  they will call you to do the work – because they won’t!

Lastly, just remember – you can’t give it all away. It’s just not possible. Instead remind yourself the more you give, the more you receive. If you skimp in the book, people will feel you’ll hold back with them as well. But if you give them as much as possible, they’ll trust you, love you, and share you name with everyone they know!

Why Writing a Book WILL Sky Rocket Your Business

Money and BooksI’m sure I’ve made a lot of mistakes in building and running my business. But if there was one thing that I could do over again, I would have written my book FIRST.

Since we generally don’t get a second chance to do something over again – I’m recommending that you write your book this year. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. A book will build your business in ways that you never imagined. And it will be worth every single moment of its birth.

Here are just some of the benefits of what a book will do for you and your business.

Credibility/Expert Status. This one is hard to deny. When you wrote the book on the subject, you’ll be the expert in everyone’s mind. Getting you interview slots in the media, notoriety, credibility, and ultimately higher earning power.

Attract New Clients. Clients love to work with people who know what they are talking about, have experience doing the work they are getting hired to do, and who can articulate a book on a subject that shows their education, expertise, and viability. Your book will become a lead generation tool so new clients can find you and seek out your services.

Speaking Engagements. If you’d like to add more speaking engagements to your business building plan, a book is an incredible tool for getting in the door with event planners and meeting organizers. Send a copy of your book off to them with your speaking one sheet and you will guarantee your spot on the stage.

Additional Income. A book provides an additional source of income; you can easily sell books at your speaking engagements, on your website, or other retail outlets. While book royalties may not fill your bank account, they other opportunities that come from a book will.

Platform for Additional Offerings. If you use your book as a true platform for your business, seed throughout the book about your offerings and services, and use it as a marketing tool in and of itself – you’ll find many ways to increase your business. From hosting workshops and retreats, to offering coaching or consulting. Write your book in a way that will open doors for future, unknown opportunities.

And if you are ready to take the leap and write your book this year, then check out our book How to Bring Your Book to Life This Year or send us an email on how you can get started!

Are You a Walking Mind Map? How to Get Your Thoughts Down on Paper

Write in a JournalHave you ever felt as though you have too many ideas? Or your ideas are all over the place? Well, you may be a walking mind map. If you are, it’s okay. Many people walk around with ideas dancing around in their head, but isn’t it time you got those ideas down on paper?

Here are a few ideas on how to get your thoughts down on paper–and into a book.

Journal: Journaling is one of the easiest and fastest ways to release the swirling thoughts in your head and to transpose them into something that makes logical sense. I realize not everyone loves to journal, but think of this simply as a brain dump, rather than “journaling” like when you were a youngster. Journaling helps you to sort through the ideas and to make sense of what is in front of you. It also puts your thoughts into visual format. Sometimes, the mere act of being able to “see it” will help you make sense of it.

Record Your Thoughts: Voice recorders became popular just before the computer and technology boom, it was as if they disappeared due to the almighty word processor, but I see they are making a comeback as individuals recognize the need to speak their thoughts. Grab yourself a voice recorder, or use an app on your smart phone, and when an idea decided to bless your presence–record it!  Capture every single thought. You can easily download and transcribe these later.

Video: This may not be the first choice in making sense of your ideas, but for those of you who are kinesthetic, you get to “act” out your thoughts in front of the camera. These video journals don’t need to be published to YouTube, simply keep them for recording your thoughts and for the shear act of getting them out of your body.

Talk it out: Magic happens when two people gather together to speak of an idea. If going at it alone doesn’t seem to be floating your boat, find a friend or colleague who you can hash out the details with. Be sure to take notes, or bring a voice recorder so you don’t miss a word that is said. Brilliant thoughts are born when talking with a trusted friend.   

These are just four ways for you to get the ideas out of your head, and transpose the mind map you are walking around with into something concrete. It takes commitment, dedication, and a lot of love to get a book out of you. Use one or all of these methods, and as always, remember the most important part is getting this down and on paper so you can share it with the world. In the end, how it all comes together doesn’t really matter.

William P. Young’s Cinderella Story

The ShackThis was written by Jordan E. Rosenfeld and originally published on Writer’s Digest.

It’s the ultimate self-publishing dream: William P. Young’s novel went from photo-copied Christmas gift to chart-topping bestseller. Here’s how he pulled it off.

In the early 1990s, James Redfield’s self-published spiritual adventure, The Celestine Prophecy, shocked the book world by selling millions of copies through word- of-mouth marketing. Now, another book exploring the big questions about God and love has done it again. In just over a year, William “Paul” Young’s novel The Shack has sold more than 3.8 million copies.

In 2005, the Oregon-based father of six took The Shack—a spiritual parable about the tragic loss of a family’s young daughter—to Office Depot to make copies for Christmas presents. He made 15, passed them out to family and friends, and thought little more about it.

“I’m an accidental writer,” Young says. “I’ve always written, but the creative stuff has been for gifts. I have no formal writing education. It never crossed my mind to be published.”

That is, until Young began receiving e-mails from people he didn’t know, telling him they loved his book. His friends had given their copies to their friends, spreading the story in an ever-widening circle.

“The response was remarkable in terms of the impact the manuscript was having in people’s lives,” Young says.

Intrigued and surprised, he sent the book to the only writer he knew, author and former pastor Wayne Jacobsen, for an informed outside opinion.

“I still wasn’t thinking about publishing,” Young says. “I just wondered if he would take a look at it.” When Jacobsen called only three days later to rave about the manuscript, Young was shocked. “He told me he rarely encountered a book that he wanted to pass on to friends, but mine was one,” Young says. Jacobsen wanted to share it with two friends, Bobby Downes and Brad Cummings. From there the enthusiasm mounted. The three men were so enamored by Young’s story that they urged him to consider doing something with it in the hopes that they could adapt it into a screenplay.

With no publishing experience, Young followed Jacobsen’s suggestion to shape the text into a novel and try to get it published.

“It was a highly collaborative experience,” Young says. “We were all working regular jobs, but in between we were sending the manuscript to our friends and rewriting it.”

Once they felt the book was ready, they submitted it to 26 faith-based and mainstream publishers. “The faith-based publishers said that although they liked it, they didn’t have a niche for it; it was too edgy and would upset their constituents,” Young says. “The non-faith-based publishers said basically the same thing, except it was ‘too much Jesus.’ ”

Jacobsen and Cummings, however, had such a firm conviction that the book was saleable that they made Young a wild proposition: to publish the book themselves. Together they pooled their money and created a publishing house called Windblown Media with a single title—The Shack. They printed 11,000 copies that were delivered to Cummings’ California garage, threw up a quick website and hoped for the best. Their goal was to sell those copies in two years, and build momentum for a screenplay version of the book by selling 100,000 in five years.

They pre-sold 1,000 copies within 10 days, mostly from subscribers to Jacobsen and Cummings’ popular podcast “The God Journey.” In four months they sold the entire 11,000-book print run. They sold 22,000 more in 60 days and 33,000 more in 30 days, all through viral means. Since that initial print run the book has sold more than 3.8 million copies, with only $300 in original marketing funds. To top that, The Shack appeared at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, where it remained for weeks.

Hachette Book Group acquired Windblown shortly thereafter, and now seeks to publish titles that follow the imprint’s mission: “to provide creative and intellectually honest literature for those seeking a renewal of love and faith.”

“Nobody who’s been on the inside of this isn’t surprised,” Young says. “We’d sit and laugh because it’s so far outside the range of any expectations. I feel like I’m on The Truman Show. I’m talking to thousands of people these days, and a year ago nobody cared what I had to say.”

A SHACK FULL OF DEMONS

The Shack draws deeply on Young’s religious experiences as the son of missionary parents. His childhood was full of confusion and pain, not the least of which was the death of his older brother in a motorcycle accident. Each of his siblings had a different location on their birth certificate, and Young attended numerous institutions by the time he graduated high school. The first 10 years of his life were spent in a tribal village in New Guinea.

“My background is in a highly religious context, but there’s a lot of devastation in my history,” Young says. “I had a very angry father and was disconnected from my family. Sexual abuse was a part of that as well. I was raised in a tribal situation, among cannibal people.”

Just before his 10th birthday, Young was “yanked out” of New Guinea and dropped into Canada after his parents finished their missionary service on the island.

The Shack, Young says, is a metaphor for the place behind a religious façade “where you hide all your secrets—a house of shame.” He adds that he wrote the fictional account to try to explain his relationship with God to his kids.

Though he’s deeply spiritual, Young says he’s at odds with religious systems, but in a “much more graceful way” because a crisis forced him to confront and re-evaluate his own religious and personal choices more than a decade ago. In 1994, Young’s self-proclaimed religious façade imploded.

“I had a three-month affair with my wife’s best friend. It was either kill myself or face my wife,” he says. “I went through her fury. She was the perfect person for me because her anger and betrayal were so deep that she just pounded on me until I saw how screwed up I was in my heart.”

As a result, Young’s relationships with God and his wife of 29 years, Kim, have since been transformed. The Shack, he says, is the expression of his healing.

“Last year Kim said to me, ‘I never thought I would say this, but it’s all been worth it.’ To me that’s a huge grace. She’s not saying the crap has been justified, but redeemed.”

A NEW CONVERSATION

So what made a little parable such a runaway success? The protagonist of The Shack, Mack, finds himself on a journey to revisit the site of his daughter’s tragedy, which is, appropriately, a shack. There he encounters God—or rather, Christianity’s holy trinity.

In Young’s story, Jesus is a dark-skinned Middle Eastern Jewish man who thwarts Mack’s expectation of a hunky blonde Jesus. God isn’t a white-haired wizard figure, but rather a matronly black woman who calls herself “Papa” in an attempt to challenge Mack’s preconceived notions. The Holy Spirit is a transparent creature named Sarayu who can’t be seen directly.

Young feels that it’s precisely his unorthodox imagery that is speaking to such a wide audience and—he admits—bringing him criticism, not that he pays much attention to it. He believes the book is encouraging readers to have honest conversations about off-limit topics that they’ve been putting off for years or keeping in their hearts.

Some of the responses Young has received include e-mails from estranged family members who reconciled with one another after reading the book, and from chronically ill patients who say The Shack has helped them in important ways.

Young also says his audience comes from all manners of tradition, inside and outside Christianity.

“I think people are tired of religion and how it divides and damages people,” he says. “You can name it whatever you want, Islam or Christianity, but if you have a system in which God is distant and angry all the time, and you’re trying to please him through the right disciplines, it isn’t going to work for everyone. People have a real need to be authentic and to not hide anymore.”

THE SIMPLE LIFE

Now that The Shack has sold millions of copies, one might imagine that Young’s life has taken a dramatic turn for the luxurious. That’s not the case, although his family did relocate to a new town.

“We moved from Boring, Ore., to Happy Valley,” he says, chuckling. “Nothing that matters has changed for me. I’m not shipping out soldering tips and cleaning toilets, but if all this went away tomorrow, I would be fine.”

While he’s not currently under contract to pen another book, Young does want to keep writing. “I’ve always written and so I’ll continue to write, but I don’t feel any pressure,” he says. “Whatever I write will be an expression of a gift, not something that’s my identity.” [WD]

Get Started Writing – How to Get Your Butt in the Chair to Write

Woman Sitting to WriteI’ve often found that the most difficult part of the writing process is simply getting started. Many people have a deep desire to express themselves through writing – whether blogs, books, or articles, but what trips them up is just finding the time, energy, and motivation to put pen to paper.

Here are a few quick tips to carve out time for a pastime worth prioritizing.

1. Write first thing in the morning – before checking email or doing any other work.

2. Give yourself bribes. Treat yourself to a spa appointment or some other gift when you reach a particular word count. Just make sure it is something you really crave, otherwise, this doesn’t work.

3. Take a brisk twenty minute walk for inspiration.

4. Find an accountability partner.

5. Write by hand, instead of on the computer.

6. Play inspirational music.

7. Visit a new place – write from there.

8. Read books on writing and creativity.

9. Take a shower, hot bath, or wash the dishes. Water is often a source of new ideas.

10. Light a candle and call upon the creativity guides to support you.

11. When all else fails, do something else.

What a Book Can Do For You and Your Company

Ideas for marketing your bookHave you considered writing a book or putting together some information on your topic of expertise? If so, what are you waiting for? Time, money, energy, effort?

Having a book can be an excellent way to grow your business, attract new clients, and expand into new marketplaces. Here are just a few things a book can do for you and your company.

1. Help you stand out in a crowded marketplace

2. Attract new clients

3. Position yourself as the expert

4. Build rapport with people without even meeting them

5. Showcase your talents and knowledge

6. Help get you booked as a speaker at local or national events

7. Get press and publicity for your company

8. Give your customers and clients confidence in your services

9. Share your company’s story or mission on a bigger scale

If you aren’t sure what to write about or the topic of your book consider:

1.  A “how-to” manual for the services you offer

2. The story of your failures and successes

3. The story of your company, if it is unique and stands out

4. What people need to know about your industry

5. Informative on the topic you are an expert in

6. An anthology sharing the stories of your clients

7. An inspirational memoir

8. A what not to do book

9. A parable explaining about your business or services

Inquire with us to find out how you can quickly and easily get your book out into the world.

How to Write Your Way to More Clients!

Writng for BusinessWriting can be an incredible tool to attract and retain clients. Although we primarily support our clients with book writing, I wanted to touch on the significance of writing itself. And – any of the writing that you do can later be repurposed into a book. Just remember to keep all your work in a place that you can easily access it, and repurpose it for other projects.

Here are several ways you can write your way to more clients!

Blogging: Blogging is a great way to write what you know, build an audience, and engage your target market. Whether you are an aspiring author or an entrepreneur, a blog gives you the platform to share your insight, information, and wisdom with the people who want and need it. Blogs tend to be shorter, more concise, and directly geared towards a group of people (aka your target market).

Newsletters/Articles: When you write articles and newsletters, you get the opportunity to really share specifics. For example, a great article or newsletter will tell people steps to take, or how-to do something. It may not offer an opinion, like a blog, but rather be very factual and informative. Conversely, newsletters and articles differ from a blog as they lack the community feel and the opportunity for people to be engaged with you about your content.

Press Releases: While most people utilize press releases to attract the media, press releases are a great way to simply attract your target market. Now, with the capability of publishing press releases online, you can utilize key words strategically, so that others may find your press releases more easily. Write your press release for the purpose of attracting clients, and if the media contacts you – it’s an added bonus.

eBooks/Mini Books – If a book seems daunting, start with an eBook or a mini book; typically under 50 pages. You can repurpose your blog posts, newsletters, articles, and even your press releases. Perhaps an eBook is your top 25 Tips on XYZ! You can sell these or give them away. If you sell them, be sure to include a version for your eReaders of Nook, Kindle, and iPad. Set the selling price at a “non-decision threshold,” meaning $.99 -$2.99, a price point that many people hardly think twice about, but one that can add up quickly for you.

There are many other ways to write your way to more clients, but these are some of the basics. Other things you can consider in using words strategically include: social media posts, answering questions in forums, writing effective email copy; a bio that sells, and web content.

What other ways are you using words to attract clients and win business? We’d love to hear from  you. And of course, we’d love for you to save all your work to one day write a book, one of the best ways to attract new clients and business.