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The First Word from BookBaby

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completing a book

The First Word

Guest post by Steven Spatz
President, BookBaby

Every journey starts with the first step. Every story starts with the first word. Then it’s just a matter of completing a book.

When I wrote my first book, The End – Now What? – 6 Steps To Take Your Manuscript To The Market Place In Six Weeks, I didn’t have any kind of plan or blueprint to guide my journey to completing a book. I pretty much just relied on my home grown “ation” strategy.

What’s my “ation” strategy? I’m glad you asked.

  • It has to start with inspiration. Creating the content that interests me – and hopefully potential reader.
  • The job of writing takes perspiration. It’s work – damn hard work at times.
  • I recognize that I’ll have periods of exasperation when I’m just sick and tired of that whole damn thing and I take (brief) breaks from the process.
  • Ultimately it requires determination. Keep your eyes on the prize.

The result was a 50,000 word nonfiction book cranked out in fits and starts over an eight month period. I learned a lot about the book writing process during that experience. I’ve learned even more from talking to BookBaby authors about how they covered their own journeys. This time around I’ll be better equipped to do the job.

Here are some of the writing tips and ideas I’ve collected over the last year:

Location, location, location.
Find your writing place. Sure it’s possible to be creative anywhere – sitting on the subway or standing in a line – but for the long haul and more consistent creativity, your best work will come out in a space where you regularly write. That primes you to get into the right frame of mind as soon as you sit down. Or maybe it’s more than one place. I have three: a secluded corner in a local library and two different coffee houses. Set aside a particular place that you do nothing but write or create and you can jump start your creativity.

What time is good for you?
Even more important than “where” is “when.” For me it’s probably going to involve getting up 45 minutes earlier and writing a few paragraphs before work. Forcing yourself to write at 5 am isn’t the solution for everyone. It works for me because I have nothing else to divert my attention in those early dawn hours. There are all types of writers – after-hours writers, lunch break writers, mini-block writers, etc. Track your time and energy for a week or two to find what’s best for you – and then block out that time on your calendar as an appointment with yourself.

Add interval training to your writing
Some writers I know incorporate these short sprints into their writing routine. Here’s how: Use a simple kitchen timer to force yourself to just flat out write. Set it for five minutes to write as much as you can. You’ll likely censor yourself less if you can just write whatever comes naturally and edit later. It’s not about quality during this brief burst of keystrokes. Give yourself permission to write a few lousy paragraphs or pages. You’ll have plenty of time to go back and edit later.

Read if you’re not writing
Like many writers, I feel inspired when I’m playing the part of reader. Instead of turning on the TV when you’re on a break from writing, spend your time reading the work of others. The more “I wish I had written that” pieces you come across, the better your work will be and the more motivated you may be to produce something worthwhile. Some authors find other arts to be inspiring – paintings, movies, photography, and so on. Soak up all the creativity you can when you’re not actively writing.

Don’t break the chain
His television show was “about nothing,” yet legendary comic Jerry Seinfeld’s method for success is very much something – and visual. Each January, he hangs a large year-at-a-glance calendar on his wall and, for every day he wrote new material, he earned the right to draw a big red “X” over that day. Drawing those Xs got to be pretty fun and rewarding, so he kept doing it. Eventually, he began to create a chain of red Xs. The idea was to never break that chain. This simple pleasure can turn into a surprisingly powerful motivator.

Never miss twice
If you don’t have the luxury of Seinfeld’s free time, you can give yourself a very small cushion and still be successful. Let’s say you have your new routines and habits in place, your alarm set to signal your writing time… But one day you wake up and simply don’t feel like writing.

So don’t. We all slip up now and again. Don’t beat yourself up, but also don’t slip twice in a row. It’s inevitable you’re going to miss a writing session, but use the “never miss twice” mindset to get back on track.

Be flexible
Your writing schedule might change – often. Life events will throw wrenches in your plans, but you can plan a new schedule. And then stick to that.

Write or die
If all else fails, you can always resort to using the app WriteOrDie, With a tagline of “Putting the prod into productivity,” this program is absolutely diabolical!

Here’s how it works: First, you configure your writing period, word goal, and your preferred punishment should your fingers stop typing. Once the setup is complete, you’ll need to type continuously; otherwise there will be consequences, in varying levels.

  • The gentle mode is quite forgiving. When you pause your writing for a set period of time, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
  • In normal mode, if you pause, you will be played a very unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
  • For the true author-masochist, there’s Kamikaze Mode: You must keep writing or your work will un-write itself. Simply disappear from the beginning of the passage! Talk about writing with a gun to your head!

As for my own system, I have one more of my “ation” strategies to think about: The exhilaration of finally finishing that book!


Steven Spatz, President of BookBaby

Steven Spatz is an author, marketer, and the President of BookBaby.


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PUBLISH YOUR BOOK how to write and publish a book self publishing writing a book nonfiction book memoir self help book production

5 Steps to Write & Publish Your Book

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how to write and publish a book self publishing writing a book nonfiction book memoir self help book productionAn overview of the book publishing process

On March 29th, I will host a FREE online class, “What to Expect When Writing & Publishing Your Book.” In today’s post, I am going to touch on some of what we will learn during the webinar. To register for this free webinar for aspiring authors, click here.

Writing a book is a multi-layered project, and it probably doesn’t surprise you that there’s more to it than just writing a book. As you already know, the writing is the first component. At the end of the writing, you have a manuscript – but that’s not really a book is it?

I want to show you long view of publishing a book. You’re probably going to think “Oh my word–I had no idea what I was getting into.” And you’re right. If you aren’t a professional publisher, you wouldn’t know all the pieces involved, and that’s why I’m here to usher you through the process. If you stick with me, you’ll have all the tools you need to produce a professional product that will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any other book on the market.

Book Writing and Publishing Process

STEP ONE: WRITING AND WRITING AND WRITING

  • Initial Book Writing – The first step is to plan your book project in a BookMAP and write all the components until you have a finished manuscript. This is where you invest your time, energy, and emotion, and when you are finished you will have accomplished something few others have done! You will have a complete manuscript.
  • Editing Your Book – Every top-notch author has a first-class editor who does several things to improve upon what you have already accomplished. In the first pass, you will want a developmental editor. A developmental editor takes a look at your overall work and gives feedback on the structure and organization of the manuscript, the development of your characters, the consistency in your story line, your vocabulary, the impact of your message, your use of language and how your unique voice can be amplified. A developmental editor will point out any missing elements in your manuscript and make suggestions about how to weave them in. A developmental editor is crucial for every author, particularly if you are not a professional writer
  • Book Focus Groups – I’m a big believer in focus groups, and the best way to understand if your manuscript achieves its goal is to gather a group of six to ten people who are part of your target market, give them a copy of your manuscript, and ask for their raw feedback. This will be invaluable to you. When you receive that feedback, you make the changes you think are appropriate, then pass the manuscript to your editor for final editing.
  • Final Editing Process – This time, you need what we call line-level editing. You editor will scrub your work and make corrections in punctuation, verb tense, spelling, and sentence structure. They will correct your grammar and make suggestions about how to rewrite your sentences for clarity.
  • Proofreading – If you want a flawless manuscript, you can’t skip the step of hiring a proofreader. Understand this: You are not a capable proofreader. You already know what your story is supposed to say, and your brain will fill in any gaps with what you intended.

Once these steps are complete, you are ready to turn your manuscript into a book.

STEP TWO: THE BOOK DESIGN

Before you design your book, you need to know what you want to produce, and you have a lot of choices to make. Do you want a hardcover book? Or a softcover? Both come in a myriad of sizes, and you need to decide which size best fits your format. Will you issue an eBook, and if so, you need to prepare separate digital files for Kindle, Nook, and iPad.  

One of the most important elements is your book cover design. Your title and your book cover art will work together to invite the reader to purchase the book. They also work together to communicate the essence of your book, while creating a key question in the potential reader’s mind: What is this book about?

Remember that books are often shelved with only the spine visible, and you will want yours to stand out. What will the spine of your book look like? Try adding a dash of color to draw attention.

When turning your attention to the interior design, consider these questions: What fonts are you going to use? What will your copyright page look like? Your table of contents? You must use industry standards for chapter starts and page numbering. And be sure you’ve calculate the appropriate thumb holds – that’s the margin space where a reader places their thumbs to hold the book. Readers should not have to shift their thumbs while reading the book because this causes a degree of stress that interferes with their reading experience and causes fatigue.

Just for fun, take a look at some book interiors, and notice how they differ in style to match the book content. You need a professional designer for both the book cover an interior.

STEP THREE: BOOK PRODUCTION

Of course, you’ll need to get your book produced, and you have several options. Do you want to use an on-demand printer that will print the books as they are ordered?  There’s a higher cost per book for this option, but you won’t have to put your money into the inventory up front. However, if you want to pay the lowest possible amount per book, you will opt to print a large quantity of books and warehouse them until they are sold. The warehouse can be your basement, and many authors like this option because they can maximize their profits with this approach.

STEP FOUR: BOOK DISTRIBUTION

So now you’ve got the book in hand. How are you going to distribute it?

There are numerous ways to distribute your book and, of course, your eBooks will be distributed online.

If you print a quantity of books, you can elect to ship them out yourself as they are purchased, but bear in mind that this option requires you to have shipping supplies and a fair amount of time to send things out. Some people make arrangements with warehouse distributors or sheltered workshops to send out their books, and others elect to work through book distributors who receive orders and ship them out to bookstores, online retailers, and libraries. All your distributions methods require payment, so find out what the distributor requires before signing any contracts.

STEP FIVE: BOOK MARKETING

Books don’t sell themselves, so you need to plan your marketing strategy. Will you engage the services of a publicist? Or will you do what many authors do and use the social media tools that are so readily available? Will you hold events, like book readings? Use email marketing to get the word out? Or go the traditional advertising route?

Be specific when defining your primary market. Picture the person who buys your book. Is it a woman between the ages of 30 and 50 who is unhappy with the signs of aging? It isn’t every woman between 30 and 50, it’s a subset of that group. Who are they?

What are your secondary markets? Secondary markets are those people/organizations/institutions who will also purchase your book, like educators (if you’re writing about children) or mental health practitioners if you are writing about coming out of a depression. You’re going to use this information when you start reaching out to customers, so think it through.  

Click the image above to register for my free webinar on March 29th!

Click the image above to register for my free webinar on March 29th!

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF WRITING & PUBLISHING YOUR BOOK

So what’s the most important part of this process? The most important part is always what you are working on right now. Focus on today. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Just do the best possible job on what’s in front of you. There will be plenty of time to focus on what’s ahead.

If you need help to write your book, consider one of my nonfiction book coaching programs:


author-coaching-book-coach-online-writing-class-get-my-book-outAbout Nonfiction Book Writing & Publishing Expert Nancy Erickson

Nancy Erickson is better known as “The Book Professor,” a writing and publishing consultant who specializes in helping aspiring nonfiction authors bring their book ideas to market. Nancy works as a book coach assisting authors that write self-help books, biographies, business books, and other nonfiction books through online courses and book coaching. Contact Nancy with questions or to have her speak at your upcoming event by clicking here.


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Book Launch Party Book marketing

How to plan a successful book launch party

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Book Launch Party Book marketingWhen your book is finished, you need to celebrate! Many authors want to host a launch party, and that can be a lot of fun. I’m talking about a launch PARTY– a major event with over one hundred guest, the media, and a lot of hoopla.

Fun? Yes. But it’s a lot of work, and it’s not for everybody.

When Is A Live Book Launch Event Feasible?

Not every book warrants a live book launch event. Before you plan yours, be sure you meet these critical success factors:

  1. You have an excellent product

how to publish a book how to write a book book launch partyThere are NO SHORTCUTS to producing an excellent product, so be sure that you took the proper amount of time and devoted attention to your book as a product. Is your writing compelling? Did you have a professional book editor? Was your work proofread, and is it mistake-free? Did you invest in a professional book cover and interior cover designer?

Here’s a rule of thumb: If it was cheap to produce your book, you produced a CHEAP BOOK!

  1. You have received favorable book reviews

Book reviews are important, but you won’t get them overnight. You have to work for them. You must coordinate with reviewers and respect their time. Be sure to allow four to six months to request and receive reviews!

A great way to solicit book reviews is to produce and distribute ARCs – Advance Reader Copies. ARCs are not only useful because they allow others to critique your book before it’s on the market, but if there are any errors you didn’t catch, those readers certainly will. You can make corrections as needed.

  1. You have credible book endorsements

how to get book reviews favorable book reviewsYou’ve seen those back cover and inside-the-front-flap endorsements. Are they important? You bet your boots they are! Endorsements are like a trusted friend’s advice, and the bigger the name, the more powerful the recommendation.

Who might write an endorsement for your book? I suggest you go to your target market and solicit experts in the field of your writing, other authors, organization or associations that are affiliated with your subject matter, and those who will be impacted by your book.

  1. You are connected to your Target Market

Just like the three most important factors in real estate are location, location, location, the three most important things that authors can do to promote their book is to connect, connect, connect. Be connected with your Target Market through all the available social media channels.

When Should I Start Planning my Book Launch Event?

Planning a launch event takes time, and you should begin when you have identified your primary audience and you know your release date.

Allow Six Months to Plan Your Book Launch

A Book Launch Event is similar to any other major event, such as a wedding or a bar mitzvah, and it requires the same attention to detail. It’s wise to work with professionals to get the job done right!

A good event planner can take care of all the details for you, which allows you to focus on your guests and your presentation at the event. Here’s a look at what an event planner can do for you:

book launch party planning book event planning

What if I Don’t Have Any Money for My Book Launch Party?

If you don’t have a budget, you can still have a party! You just have to get creative. An event planner can help you to seek donors, barter for services, and create a community for mutual benefit.

Planning Your Book Launch on a Budget

Event sponsors may contribute funds that offset the costs of your party, such as venue rental, food and beverage costs, and audio equipment rental. Sponsors are your angels, and they come in a few flavors.

You’ll be quite fortunate if you can get one or two Corporate Sponsors to contribute cash ($500 to $1000) for your event. For their high dollar contribution, you’ll want to thank them by asking them to speak at the event, by featuring them on your invitations and signage, and by promoting them in press releases.

You’ll receive a big boost if you have ten to fifteen Table Sponsors (Vendors) who pay  $100 each to be part of your event. You will provide them a six-foot table to display their products or services and to promote their business to your event guests. For their lower dollar contribution, they’ll be able to have a table at the event, connect with your audience, and sell their products or services.

When hosting a major event, volunteers are invaluable! You’re the host/hostess of this party, so you need to be available to your guests. But there’s a lot of coordinating to do if the event is going to flow well!

Volunteers can help you check in your guests, sell books, and direct the flow for your book signing – all of which all YOU to be free to mingle and celebrate your great accomplishment.

sponsorships for book launch partySponsoring Organizations can give you a big publicity boost if they are well-known and are connected to the material in your book. What charity can you invite and designate as a beneficiary of book sales? For example, if you book is about surviving cancer, you might invite the local chapter of the American Cancer Society to attend and receive 10% of that evening’s book sales. For lending their name to the event, they will be able to have a table at the event, connect with your audience, promote their organization and services, and benefit from book sales.

Some people will want to support your event by donating their services, such as printing, to your event. These are called In-Kind Donations and they are invaluable. For contributing their products or services, you will introduce them at the event and feature them on your invitations and signage.

Think and Plan Ahead

After all your hard work, a book launch party is warranted. Think big! If you want your book to change lives, save lives, or transform society, then make a big splash. Get people involved, get the word out, and get going!

You’re the only one who has your story. You’re the only one who can do it!

 


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