Seven Ideas for Writing a Book

Book Ideas-Blank PageSome authors jump right in and start writing their book. They know immediately what type of book they are going to create. However, I would encourage you to really consider what type of book is best for you, your message, and the marketplace.

Here are several ideas for writing a book.

By all means this is a not a comprehensive list of book ideas, but it should get your mojo going, your wheels turning, and the creative juices flowing.

  • Self-Help/Personal Development
  • Personal Story/Memoir
  • Anthology/Interview Series
  • Children/Young Adult
  • Informational/Instructional
  • Novel/Fiction
  • Parable

Here are a few reasons why you want to consider each type of book – no matter what your topic!

  1. Self-Help/Personal Development – This category works best for those who are seeking to use their book as a marketing platform for other types of services, such as consulting or coaching. It’s also a great tool for getting yourself booked as a speaker. Not to mention, a self-help book is ideal for showcasing your knowledge and sharing that with people through a low-entry product.
  2. Personal Story/Memoir – When individuals write their book with the slant of a personal story or memoir, they are also setting themselves up for speaking opportunities and a platform. In this case, an individual shares their story as inspiration or information in itself, but isn’t talking directly to the reader, nor are they offering advice. Their wisdom comes from their experience and can be showcased brilliantly in a memoir style book.
  3. Anthology/Interview Series – This can be an easier book to complete or write. You can interview individuals to put in your book or have them submit their own stories for publication. Collect stories around your topic and see it all come together. You may find that people will understand the value of the message more effectively through individual stories, rather than through one of the other ideas listed.
  4. Children’s/Young Adult – If this isn’t a genre that’s calling to you, don’t forget Harry Potter and it’s multi-generational power. Typically people think of this genre as fiction and storybooks, but many factual books exist to educate and inspire the youth market. Perhaps your idea would do well here.
  5. Informational/Instructional – How to books are always great sellers. They are typically designed for a very specific or niche market, and can help educate and inform people to take on a task themselves. Don’t worry about giving away all your information in a book, most people only utilize a very small percentage of the information they read, and even more will approach you about just taking care of it for them. This is another great way to build a business, while sharing information and establishing your credibility.
  6. Novel/Fiction – This is often the scariest genre for general nonfiction writers; however, if you are considering writing a personal story/memoir and you’d rather not make the story about you –you can easily fictionalize it instead. Not only will this prevent your family from disowning you, it will also give you liberty to gracefully deny anything from your past that you aren’t proud of.
  7. Parable – I believe this is a great genre, as it typically puts valuable, moralistic writing into an easy to read format with a story behind it. Throughout the years many parables have reached bestseller status, and have taught a very valuable lesson at the same time.

There you have it.

Seven ideas for writing a book.

If you are writing something outside of what I mentioned here, I’d love to hear about it. Or let me know what style you prefer, and if you’d be willing to branch out into other genres.

What is the One Marketing Expense Authors Should Invest in

Marketing ManpowerMost authors want to know what the best marketing is for their book; it’s a critical component to the success and sales of their published work. So, when a new client asked me last week

“What’s the ONE thing I should invest in when it comes to marketing?”

I had just one answer, and one answer only.“Man-power!”

Knowing what it takes to sell a book – I’ve realized that no investment is worth it, except that of man-power to get things done.

The one marketing expense authors should invest in will help to:

  • Book speaking engagements
  • Find reviewers to review the book online
  • Write and manage social media posts
  • Respond to publicity opportunities
  • Write press releases, blogs, and/or other marketing material
  • Find blogs for you to be a guest on
  • Search for book awards to apply to
  • Contact local bookstores to get your book on the shelves
  • Set up events, book signings, and sponsorships
  • Design advertisements, write copy, and create marketing materials

The list could go on, but I think you get the point. You could pay for things like ads in a magazine, booths at a convention, or other random opportunities. But there’s no help, like a helping hand to create more exposure, reach more of your target market, and get your book into the hands of people who read it and pass it along!

If you are going to invest in any marketing for your book, invest in manpower.

Using Press Releases to Market Your Book

Press Releases for BooksWriting press releases can be a fun and profitable way to get attention for your book. A press release is a newsworthy piece that is written in a similar style to a newspaper article.

Press releases work best when they aren’t directly selling the book, but instead taking an angle and integrating the book into the angle. An angle could include a current event, a holiday or national service day, the weather, a local slant, a tie into another story, or some other angle. (Here’s a site that I found that lists some other angles for press releases. http://www.websitemarketingplan.com/pr/newsangle.htm)

The point is, people like to read story’s that are newsworthy. As soon as your press release starts sounding like a sales pitch, people will stop reading it.

Once you’ve written your press release and have polished the writing, you’ll want to send it out through various channels, including your local news and radio stations.

Some online sites to submit your press release include:

It’s best if you take the time to follow up with the news source after sending the press release. This won’t work with the online sources, but you can pick up the phone and call the local news and radio stations. You will want to let them know what’s going on (what your story/angle is), and that you have a potential story for them to cover. Remember, it’s isn’t about selling your book, it’s about drawing attention to what you do and providing value to the news outlets.

For the online version of the press release, do you own self-promotion by linking your social media sites to the online press release, and create your own buzz about the story.

Marketing Your eBook – 5 Ways

Book MarketingMarketing your eBook can be fun and simple. Plus, eBooks are a great way to reach your market, expand your network, and attract more prospects into your business.

Here are five ways to market your eBook.

  1. Give it away for free. While that might sound counterproductive, it’s a great strategy to build momentum for your book and create a buzz. The majority of books are sold due to word of mouth – this means when you give your book away (for a limited time only) you get people talking about the book. When people can no longer download it for free – they are then forced to buy!
  2. Ask for reviews. The higher the rating your book receives the more it will show in the search engines on book sites like Amazon. Be sure that you ask everyone to review your book to help drive more organic traffic.
  3. Be a guest blogger on related sites. Post a guest blog about your book topic or an excerpt from your book on other blogs with high traffic. Give them a taste of what the book offers inside and then lead them back to your site to make the purchase of the entire ebook.
  4. Give away a chapter for free. People like to “preview” books. Think about hitting the bookstore. Do you simply look at the cover and make your purchase or do you also check out the table of contents, read the first chapter, and flip through the pages?
  5. Use all the traditional online avenues. Integrate social media, your website, a blog, and videos into your book marketing. But – don’t try to do all of it at once. People receive information differently, so using multiple strategies will help you cast a wider net in reaching the perfect buyer for your ebook.

These are just a few great ways to market your ebook. My last tip for you is to remember – never – ever give up marketing your book/ebook.

The First Steps to Writing a Book

Writing StepsThe steps to writing a book may not be as obvious as you think. But there are specific action steps you can take to write a book, and ensure it gets done.

Here are the steps to writing a book.

Remember that the process of writing a book is different for everyone. I have seen people zip through the writing process in a few months. I have also seen people write for a few years. I believe fiction often takes longer, as characters need time to develop, and the storyline must be exact in order for the book to work. In non-fiction and how-to books the time can be much shorter. Especially if the information is already living inside of you, it just needs to meet the paper!

Before you write a word, the first step to writing your book is commitment. Without commitment, the chances of seeing it to the finish line are slim. For commitment, you need to understand why you want to write the book, be clear about what your goals and hopes are for the book, and ensure that you are choosing and writing about a topic that you plan to be interested in for a very long time. (At least 3 years!)

The next step to writing your book is dedication. You may have to turn down social events, or lock yourself up in a cabin to get your book written. Being dedicated to the writing process will help you complete your book. The more time you can set aside to focus on it, the more you make it a priority in your life, the faster you will see your book come to life.

The third step is a clear outline. Outlines are different for everyone. I know some people who keep their entire outline in their head. I typically use mind-maps and outline what each chapter would or could be about, followed by expanding on those chapter ideas, and including what each chapter will entail. Then I write from my outline. Some days I pick chapters that are more challenging, other days I focus on chapters that are easier and more fun. Either way, use some type of outline to keep your book focused and on track.

The steps to writing a book are pretty simple. If you follow the basics, getting committed, making time to write, writing, and then moving through the steps of book production, you’ll have a book before you know it.

The writing process often feels like the most difficult part of creating a book for many new authors. And it can be. But with the right support, clear timelines, goals, and accountability – you can easily make it through the writing process.

If you’d like to know more about the self-publishing process, be sure to check out our book How to Bring Your Book to Life This Year, which walks you through it step-by-step.

How to Write a Book Outline

Book OutlineWriting a book outline can be one of the most important pieces of getting your book done in a timely manner. When you have an outline, you’ll find it is often easier to write, stick to a schedule, and keep your book’s topic focused and concise.

Here are our tips on how to write a book outline.

Know your personal style. Knowing your personal style will help you decide what type of book outline is right for you. Do you typically find that you are visual? kinesthetic? or linear and logical?  What your answer is will greatly depend on the type of outline that will work best for you. However, this isn’t to say that you cannot use a variety of these outlines and tools to complete your book outline.

  • Sticky NoteFor the visual and kinesthetic learners, one of the best outline options is the “sticky note” method. The sticky note method is simply a compilation of sticky notes that you can easily move around and adjust based on your outline.  For example, write out all your chapter ideas on individual sticky notes. If you were writing a book about running a marathon, it would look like this, one sticky note: “Training for a Marathon,” another sticky note: “Running Gear,” another “Choosing the Marathon that’s Right for You.” And so on. Each sticky note would be the chapter heading. Underneath, you could then write the subheadings or ideas that go along with each chapter. You can use a different color for each topic or chapter, and then you can lay these all out on a poster board, in a folder, or even on a wall in your home or office. Using the sticky note method, you’ll be able to manipulate the outline by literally and visually moving it around right in front of you.
  • Mind MapThe second method we recommend is using a mind map. This method is great for both the visual and the linear/logical thinker. In the mind map outline, you’ll want blank sheets of paper so you can map out the book in front of you. Typically, a mind map starts with the overall big idea in a circle on the page, followed by rays or lines coming out of the circle leading to other ideas. From there each idea can be expanded on with new circles and lines connecting the points together. Be creative with this, use colors and other images to support your book outline.
  • The third method is strictly for the linear/logical individual. It is your normal outline, similar to what we were taught in school. Point I, II, III followed by supporting points of A, B, C. This is the least recommended outline method. When writing in a linear fashion our brains think more linearly. When writing a book, creativity is necessary, so the more creative you can be in the outline, the more your brain will identify outside the box ideas and thinking.

Simply put, knowing what type of outline to create is the most important piece of putting together your book outline. After you have made that decision, start writing out all your ideas. Most of which you’ll end up using in your book, but there will be many more things, that you write down, that you will discard throughout the process.

Remember to be flexible with your outline. Things will shift and change as the book comes to life, so a piece that you thought would be in chapter two, may end up in chapter 10. And that’s okay.  When writing your outline, just remember it’s about getting out as much information as possible so you’ll have a base of which to write and pull ideas from as you sit down to bring the book together.

Overall, you’ll want to clearly focus on these points to write your book outline:

  • Your overall book topic/idea/focus
  • Your chapter/section headers and ideas
  • Your subsection/chapter pieces and components
  • Your supporting pieces for each subsection
  • Examples, stories, or other supporting elements

From there, your book outline should start to come to life!

If you have other questions in writing your outline, we’d love to hear from you. Simply leave a comment on this post.

Without Great Solitude, No Serious Work is Possible

Stuart Miles coffee“Without Great Solitude, No Serious Work is Possible.”  Carl Sandburg

This post is written by Jan Haas.

Are you struggling because you know you want to write, and yet you can’t find the time? The only way to get into the practice of writing is to create time by yourself.  Discipline and commitment to your writing practice means you will have to sacrifice your time somewhere else. Writing has to become a primary relationship- one you have with yourself.

I am moving back into the habit of writing daily, not just morning journal pages, but creatively with a prompt.  I am working on several new books at one time, and am allowing my intuition to let me know what I am working on that day. Yet I know that my best writing time comes not just in the mornings, but when I actually schedule time to go somewhere, away from the house, where I am not distracted by other work, to-do lists, and family members who all want a piece of my time.  If I want to write, I have to take myself seriously as a writer, and allow that time to be scheduled in just like a regular appointment.

Solitude can look like several different things.  There are writer’s retreats, where you can actually get out of town and focus solely on writing for a week at a time, or a few days.  While that sounds ideal, what is more realistic for me is to crash at my parent’s house while they are out of town for a week.  Do you have someplace you can be by yourself, away from the normal business of the day?  Take advantage of it!  Since I can’t always get away for long periods of time, I am now scheduling weekly coffee shop outings. Because coffee shops have wi-fi capabilities, I have to set my writing expectations before I go.   My writing folder is the only thing open on my computer for the time I have set aside- that means no emails, no Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, and my phone is set on silent. This is an appointment I have with myself as a writer, and I need to value that time, as much as I value any other face to face time.

Writing takes discipline, commitment and the willingness to sacrifice time away from other things so your mind can focus on writing.  While this practice is still new to me, past experience has taught me that my body will fall into the rhythm of these days, and will learn quickly that time in a certain coffee shop means creative time, and the words will flow that much faster.  This is a practice, and practice makes you better at what you do.

So happy solitude!  And happy writing!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Making Time to Write

Making Time to WriteThe writers I mentor, and myself included, all struggle with making time to write. Although we may want to make writing a priority, it’s one of the first things to get pushed down on the to-do list.

Writing isn’t hard, but getting started is. I always find that when I get into the flow of writing I can easily keep going. I’ve learned that’s not where I find trouble. I find trouble is saying, you know what life, I’m going to write – despite the dishes, the laundry, the to-do list, watering the garden, or whatever else is standing between me and the page.

Being in the flow feels magnificent and magical, writing and let the creativity flow out of you (whether good or bad on that day) is a process in itself.

Writing will heal your spirit, not-writing will make the dragon in your mind come out “see, I told you, you’ll never finish that book.” But, writing it will build your confidence. Not writing it, will tear your confidence down.

Make the time to write, wherever you are, however much time you have available. 10 mins here and 10 mins there will add up to a lot of 10 mins over time.  Stop thinking you need hours to write, you can write something beautiful in just a fraction of the time.

Write to write. Perfection doesn’t exist, writing is there to bring out your best. The more you write, the more you get to practice, the better off you and your writing will be.

E-Books for Smashwords and Kindle

E-Books Save TreesDid you know that the average printed book has a carbon footprint of about 8½ lbs. from production and packaging through distribution and retailing? E-books provide an opportunity to make a big impact on our environment. Let’s look at some of the most effective ways to connect with readers in this fast-growing digital market.

An efficient way for authors to simplify e-book publication is to open accounts at just two major sites: Kindle Direct Publishing at kdp.amazon.com and Smashwords.com. Currently, KDP covers about half of the e-book market and Smashwords distributes to the other half.

Since e-books are currently published in two major formats, these two sites provide e-books which can be read on almost everyone’s e-reader devices. One format is Amazon’s proprietary content for the Kindle e-readers and apps. The other is ePub, an open source format which can be read on the iPad, Nook, Sony Reader, Google Nexus, etc.

Smashwords offers the ePub format, along with many others, and includes such benefits as:

• e-book conversions directly from MS Word

• world-wide distribution through a premium catalog to Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, libraries, etc.

• consolidated sales reports

• free ISBNs

• unlimited updates

• generous royalties

• authors retain all rights

We can help you set up accounts with both Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing, as well as prepare and upload the correctly formatted e-book files. Please contact Gail Nelson for more information at e-book-design@comcast.net.

Costs to Self-Publish

Books and Money, Cost to Self-PublishNot knowing how much your book will cost to produce can be an intimidating factor in getting your book wrapped up. But don’t let lack of funds stop you from bringing your book to print.

Here is a basic list of the costs associated with book production for self-publishing.

Another point I want you to consider, like with all things, you have a choice in your level of services. You can always choose the “cream of the crop” service providers, the “cheapest,” or the happy medium. Depending on your personal style and needs, this could vary from person to person and influence the total cost to produce your book.

  • Editing  $1500 – $3000
  • Layout/Interior  $500 – $1500
  • Cover Design $250 – $1000
  • ISBN – $0 – $250
  • Barcode – $10
  • Domain Name – $15 – $35
  • Website Hosting – $0 – $150
  • Printing Proof $0 – $25
  • Project Management — $500 – $1000
  • Books/Inventory $250 – $500 (to start)
  • Sales Tax License $50 – $75
  • eBook Conversion $150 – $350
  • Launch Party Supplies $0 – $200

Other expenses, depending on your situation could include: website design and setup, marketing and advertising material, an Essentials Book Marketing Package, copyright guidance, ghost writing, illustrators, and complete children’s book production – to name a few.

The areas that are most essential to producing your book are the top three mentioned in this list. These are your most expensive needs, and ones we don’t recommend your scrimp on. A well-written, beautiful book – both on the inside and outside – will influence your readers in whether or not they pass along your work to others.

If you have questions around specifics, just let us know: info@selfpublishingexperts.com.