WRITE A BOOK
a guide to non-fiction writing
A. I. ABANA
– EDITION 2 –
EXCEPT FOR REVIEW PURPOSES OR BRIEF QUOTATIONS WITH ATTRIBUTION THE CONTENT OF THIS BOOK IS NOT TO BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM WITHOUT EXPRESS PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR.
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– INTRODUCTION –
So you set out to write a book, you draw out your pen and pan out some writing pad or you launch your favorite word processor program all set to write. Then it hits you... -BLANK- ...no words, no ideas and not the slightest clue what to write about, that... or how exactly to start writing whatever it is you have got in mind.
Despair not, you are one in a sea of would-be writers facing a similar bottleneck of a challenge, whether you call it “writers block” or some other name the problem(s) all fall under the same umbrella (for which this book was written) – How To Write A Book. Within the pages of this book you will find “gems” and valuable facts that would prove useful to your writing efforts, whether you are working to write blog posts, product reviews, e-books or physical books, you do well to study every detail outlined in this book.
Let me say it here that about all the things I write about in this book are not the products of some education I got in a writing school somewhere, in this book I will be showing you what I have come to discover in my own way, during many years of trying out my hand at writing a book, these are products of raw experience gotten in the “battle field” slugging it out among thousands and thousands of writers to put my own books on the scene. There is an art to writing and make no mistake as you begin your journey into the world of competent writing your creativity and imagination would be tasked. This however, does not mean that no methodology exists to surmount the problem of writing your heart out in a plausible and elegant way, there is style to writing which can differ from person to person and there is or are a set of guidelines which if you adhere to will aid your ability to churn out volumes of thoughtful words that would otherwise have been more difficult or impossible to put to pen.
I intend to unveil one such methodology through the chapters of this book in the hopes that you would find the “beginning of the thread” when it comes to what things to write about and how to go about writing them. I realize that some people reading this could be zealous and eager to churn out the next bestseller, whatever your ambitions or inclinations are about writing, you would do well to heed the directives and guidelines written in this book.
So do you want to find out what “formula” to use to churn out book after book? Do you want to know what definite things go into writing a decent, relevant, life enriching and immensely valuable book? Then read on from here on out to the last chapter because every word was written for you.
– GETTING A TOPIC –
A traveler could use a map, a soldier could use a weapon, besides the basic tools for the job a writer needs a morale, a central message, an aim, or a topic about which to build and craft out his piece, be it a poem, an article, a white-paper, a report or a book.
Think of a topic as you would a compass, without which the writing would have no bearing. The topic or message a writeup is about contains the essence of its writer’s efforts.
When you set out to write, first have a topic. There is however a requirement, you cannot just use any topic, if you miss it in nailing down a good topic to write about you can very well miss your target audience and if you miss your audience, you have missed your efforts at writing.
About the most prominent cause of “writers block” or blanking out of ideas or words when setting out to write a good volume or piece is an unsuitable or inappropriate topic. As you would likely find out, what topic is appropriate or not is relative to the writer, some niches, genres or domains are better handled by some writers than others, nevertheless some general guidelines apply to about all writers regardless of what niche or genre they are into.
Having said all this, what then makes a topic “on point”? What then makes it relevant or suitable? How do we even know where to look to get a hint at or idea on such topics? Lets find out…
– DEMAND ANALYSIS –
When you set off to write, you don’t just dream up arbitrary things in your head to write about, if you did that your effort would be a gamble or as it were a shot in the dark with the hopes that you would hit your target.
You need pointers to carry out just about every step of the book writing process, you know, indicators that would at the very least enable you make an educated guess as to what to write about or how to go about it. From my experience, these pointers are less definite for fiction or adventure writing than they are for “real life” problem oriented writing and as such the topical research is nuanced for those two.
Demand analysis for fiction need not be (neither can it be – as I have discovered) thorough, usually you can just find out what “domain”, genre or “class” of fiction sells the most and concentrate there. Some brief search on Google would bring up blog posts and or social discussions that reveal industry facts as to what class or domain of fiction sells the most.
For instance there are romance fictions, horror or thriller fictions, “adventure” fiction and what have you… as of this writing, fiction books in the romance niche seem to have the best market share, meaning that should you decide to write a fictional romance book, your chances of succeeding by selling more copies than other authors who are into writing books in other areas of fiction are higher than not. You can more easily sell your work in a very active domain or area of fiction than if you were writing out of it, endeavor to flow with the market, I hope you get my point.
Before you write a work on fiction, find out the “hottest” or best selling class first, when you have settled on that, you may take a cue or two (although not necessary) from the writing style of some of the bestsellers you get out there or in your favorite online book store(s). Equipped with these two you are set to write your own fiction book, with the peace of mind that your book is going to be in a proven “domain” or “class” of books that is already known to sell well. You of course are going to need a story or craft one within this niche you have selected but suffice it now under demand analysis for fiction to know that it’s prudent to choose a topic domain that’s proven to sell.
The idea here is to sail with the prevailing wind (of the market) not against it, I hope you understand. It is not like you cannot make any sale writing in other areas but I assume that unless you were writing for charity, you should in addition to being a writer also be mindful of the effect of market sentiments on demand and ultimately your profitability – a wise writer should.
This is one way you iron out topic research for fiction, the rest is art. Some writers would tailor their book topics according to popular subjects or trending issues around the world to help give their work a “boost” and ease its publicity. For instance writing a romance novel about a president’s daughter who got involved with a wanted terrorist or a European prince in love with a low income immigrant damsel who was trafficked across the Mediterranean in search of a better life and so on. Both these examples are romance and they all revolve around globally acknowledged issues at the time of this writing which are “global terrorism” and “Europe’s immigration crisis”, I hope you get the picture.
The “demand” in the topical research for fictional works is largely about identifying a hot selling class of fiction and writing out a story in that class whose topic revolves around or leverages a popular or controversial but well known issue.
For non-fiction books, the demand analysis or research is more detailed. Unless you are an academic, unless you were writing out some research oriented book or paper, unless you are a journalist writing out reports and articles about important national or global issues, I am going to assume you are looking to write a “regular” non-fiction book which has definite and practical relevance to people’s daily routines. For example, I personally have a leaning for writing “HOW TO” books, I also assume that your book may or may not have an academic or research feel to it… it could, albeit subtly in the form of figures, tables of data, brief formulas and so on. I assume that your book is sort of like a self help book, or some skill or game instruction book, you know, just the general non-fiction life enhancing kind of book, that’s not overtly academic or research oriented as those have their own rules of construct.
For such a book you keep an eye out for a common popular problem, a difficulty or a challenge facing mankind, typically the more pervasive the problem, the more you can expect demand for your book to be strong, you can form a topic for your book around the problems, difficulties or challenges you have observed.
If you intend at all to use online avenues, stores and platforms to sell or market your book, then your demand analysis should start with something called “keyword research”.
To do this, first, mentally “cook up” or bring up any topic of interest to you, this is only to serve as a “seed” for your demand analysis. As an advice you should not use a topic to write a non-fiction book about unless demand for the topic is proven in some way to exist, now go to the largest online book retailer which is amazon.com (as of this writing), using a good web browser, in the search bar of the amazon home page type your topic idea – type one character at a time allowing for some seconds in between key presses, now watch as the auto suggest feature brings you a list of suggested keywords related to the topic you are typing or have typed. The first results under books or kindle are keywords that were typed in by people actively seeking a product (book) dealing with or related to that suggested keyword and or the words (topic) you are typing.
What this means is that demand exists for the suggested keywords (possible topic ideas) being presented to you in the drop down list of that search box and should you make one of those suggestions your book topic (or title) you are almost certain (I said almost because competition is involved) your book (which you wrote around that topic) would be in demand. Keep typing the characters until you finish typing what initial word(s) you wanted to type all the while monitoring the suggested search keywords in the list and if any of the suggestions strike you as one you are able to write something about, you can consider picking that or you can check some other one. Change as many topic ideas as you want and type them in slowly, one character at a time until you get a suggested search listing hinting at something you can take on.
Sometimes you may get the exact (original, seed or hypothetical) topic you typed into that search box suggested back to you in the drop down indicating that people (buyers) are actively looking for a product with that title or topic. This same method of topic research applies to other online book stores like Barnes and Noble, they show you suggestions as you begin to type, suggestions which you can use as topics to write your book about.
You can type the root keyword of your “seed” book topic (the one you arbitrarily coined up), give a space and type the letter “a” on your keyboard, the drop down suggestions should change accordingly. For instance type “how to a”, and suggestions will drop down showing listings containing words starting with “how to a”. Now press the backspace key erasing the “a” and type “b” instead, the suggestions would change again. This way you can type through all the alphabets checking out the suggestions displayed and you can pick a suitable one (a topic you are confident you know something about) among them to use as your book topic because it already has some demand.
Now the suggestions that come up on the online bookstore websites as of this writing do not show you the amount or number of searches, they only show you the keywords being searched, if you want to have an idea just how strong the demand for that keyword (the title you are to use) is, take the suggested keyword and head over to the Google Keyword Planner tool (GKP), use it there and the GKP would show you the average monthly searches on “Google search” for that keyword (please Google “how to use Google keyword planner for keyword research” for more details, its simple to use and its free), Google is relevant here because your book page on amazon and other websites get indexed by Google and it can send traffic to the book’s page and description.
So this is how you research a topic to write about for non-fiction books, get a “seed” topic, use the suggestions feature of amazon or Barnes and Noble, pick a suitable (one you feel confident you know something about or can write something about) keyword from there and check its demand strength and quality using the Google Keyword Planner (GKP), this way you would get a good topic to write a non-fiction book about without too much uncertainties as to whether or not it is (or going to be) in demand.
Note: I took you through this method on the assumption that you are new to writing and are yet to amass a brand identity for yourself, an established writer with thousands of readers and fans may not have to go through this as just about any idea they coin up and write a book about would get the attention of buyers because that author is a well known personality and already has successful books upon whose performance the new book will warrant and draw sales. The essence of the demand analysis therefore is to minimize the frustration new authors may face of not making any or enough sales because their name or identity is unknown to readers.
Permit me to digress a little here I feel this is worth mentioning, I have had to take on book topics where I get questions cropping up in my mind about my ability to write anything praiseworthy on that topic, I get the mental question “you know there are professors in this field you want to write about… can you compete with the books they write?” and so on but there is something… I know stuff about that topic even though those may not be as deep as those of professors, I know that I know stuff, because I am an avid news consumer, I read the papers every so often, I read books, articles and discover stuff online or some other media and gather facts and a rich knowledge base through good observation, personal introspection and or research.
All these have in some way or other given me a good idea just what that book topic is about. With the conviction that I can do it I pick that topic up and set out to write one chapter at a time until I finish it as best as I know how. In fact, one such book I wrote is one of my best performing books so far, it began to get sales right from the day I published it without any kind of launching program or additional marketing effort on my part, I just sat in my bedroom, published it online and to my surprise sales began coming that very day. My point here is this, in and among people, perfection is relative, someone knows better than you do, just as you know better than another. There are people out there who would gladly pay you to let them have at some knowledge or information you have in the form of a book you have written, this is the truth. Pick that topic you are fairly sure you know something about, develop it, publish it and you might be in for a surprise how “good” someone out there would think you have written it. You may think very little of your abilities but I tell you in the eyes of someone out there you are even as a great professor, don’t belittle what you know… this is the secret to locking down some book topics. As you would find out in chapter three, when you begin to write your chapters it will be crystal clear that you indeed know more than you realize you did.
– ROLLING OUT A CONTENT PLAN –
Having locked down a good topic, the next thing to do is to lay out a “super structure” depicting all the dimensions of the topic your book is going to explore, this super structure is known by various names and about the most popular is “the table of contents” or simply “contents”.
Many a book reader or a prospective customer spends an ample amount of time studying the table of contents of a book to get a feel for what it offers or contains before they finally make the decision to purchase it. Knowing how to set out your table of contents and what words to use as your chapter rubrics is an important skill a book writer would do well to grasp.
If you were writing a fictional work, your storyline and plots should serve to define what makes up your table of contents and how. This disquisition is non-fiction inclined and the thrust of our discourse will be non-fiction.
I believe there is as much art involved in setting out a table of contents as there is in actually writing the internal contents of a book itself. You shouldn’t expect that all writers have or use the same methods to come up with an outline for their books, it would depend on the writer’s knowledge and or writing prowess. As stated earlier a good writer knows something about or is acquainted with the chosen topic he or she is writing about, this knowledge they have about their book topic, they got either through actual life experiences or through a deliberate research about the topic.
A good writer who is ready to write a book is at the instant he begins writing a reservoir or buffer of much information about the topic he or she is writing about. What I mean here is that a book writer cannot and should not be a complete illiterate concerning what they want to write about, even if they are not very conversant with what they are writing about, each point or fact they put down should make sense to them and to their readers and they should at least have some modicum of understanding about what it is they are scribbling down. This is how authors who are not “authorities” in a particular problem area manage to write useful and compelling books about those topics – by researching out materials and information pertaining to their topic of interest, taking points, understanding those points or facts and putting them to pen, piecing together a decent book.
Whatever means you employ to acquire the knowledge you have about a book idea or topic, it should at least be enough to draft a good table of contents from.
As a personal style, I usually start my table of contents with an “INTRODUCTION”, I figure regardless of what topic I want to write about, an introduction would almost always fit it. Then I separate the topic I want to write about into major “aspects” or parts that are capable of “standing” on their own. Let me try to explain, I take an aspect of that topic which I figure I can write like one thousand words (more or less) about, and I set it apart as a possible “chapter” in the book I am about to write, then I pick another “aspect” of the topic I want to write a book about and repeat the same thing I did with the previous “topic aspect” by setting it apart as a “candidate chapter” in my book.
I continue this way until I build a list of about ten different aspects (more or less) that encompass or cover wholistically the entirety of the chosen topic. Sometimes these “aspects” have other “aspects” within them and these embedded “aspects” are what you should use for your subheadings within the chapter.
So I list down the items or major aspects each of which qualifies to stand alone as a chapter in my book, when I am satisfied that all the relevant possible “aspects” of the topic I want to write about have been represented by a “chapter” in my list I append a final standalone section I call “CONCLUSION” to match up the “INTRODUCTION” I placed at the beginning of my list. Sometimes before the conclusion I may add a “MISCELLANEOUS” to reflect other things I could not put under any particular chapter but those things still warrant elucidation. The “MISCELLANEOUS” can come in handy all depending on what topic I am writing about.
Let me try to explain this “aspects” perhaps it would be clearer, say you want to write a book about “HOW TO WASH CLOTHES”… after thinking about it for a while you noted that one aspect of that would be “Rinsing”, another aspect would be “Soaking”, another aspect would be “Washing Action” another aspect would be “Sun Drying” yet another might be “Removing tough stains” and so on and so forth, get the major aspects you can think of which you are fairly sure you can write hundreds, a thousand plus or even thousands of words plus about, to describe it in detail as best as you know how. Such a grouping of “aspects” that make up the topic “HOW TO WASH CLOTHES” is what I am talking about as the draft or rough sketch “table of contents”.
The aforementioned is the typical procedure I follow to build the tables of contents when writing out short “10,000 words plus” books for online stores like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. The method is not however limited in its scalability, what determines your book’s size and or word count in the end is the number of words that go into each chapter you write.
If you followed my method and brought forth a list of ten items in your table of contents and then go on to write 4,000 to 8,000 words per chapter, you would end up with a book having between 40,000 to 80,000 words, the secret to a book’s size is with the size of individual chapters and not necessarily the size of its table of contents. You could have a book whose table of contents has twenty plus chapters but the book itself has about 15,000 words in total, or you could have a book whose table of contents has nine chapters but the book itself has 60,000 plus words in total.
So to draft a solid table of contents, do as I have suggested above or if you have your own methods by all means employ those because when it comes to writing, it seldom hurts to improvise – it is art, what matters is that you end up with a list of “chapter” keywords or identifiers you are going to develop later into a book, make sure you have as many “chapter” items as you consider necessary. Now to perfect your table of contents if you find that two chapters or more are very similar in what they represent, consider joining or merging them together to become one chapter instead, this should leave your list with only distinct “chapter items” that have little or no overlaps.
When you have successfully ensured the uniqueness of each chapter identifier, next thing to do is to prioritize them, by this I mean that you should study them carefully to decide which chapter items should come before which. If you are writing about “How To Drive Cars” for example the chapter about “parking a car” should not come before the chapter dealing with “ignition or starting up a car” because naturally a car should be moving (or started up) before it gets parked. I hope you get my point.
Prioritize the chapters starting with an “Introduction” as I have suggested previously or your own opening chapter – whatever that is, then place each of the chapters in a way that optimizes the message or topic of your book such that someone reading the book can have a “smooth sail” reading from start to finish without having to jump around the book trying to “connect the dots”. For instance in this book I placed the chapter on “ROLLING OUT A CONTENT PLAN” before the one on “PUBLISHING” so things can be logical, I hope you get my point
After setting up your table of contents in this way, next thing is you check to optimize the length of the “keywords” or “sentences” identifying each chapter. You don’t want an overtly bloated chapter identifier or name description, the shorter you can trim the chapter identifier or name description the better, because the short name descriptions are unlikely to clutter your “contents” page and the little detail they give can arouse curiosity and prompt a prospective buyer into wanting to checkout the main chapters for more details or buying the book if they want to get such details especially when such a person is on the move or short of time (for physical books) and if the book was online they are just gonna have to buy it to see the whole chapters because the samples they get online don’t show everything.
For example, a chapter designated “Parking your car such that you avoid tickets and passers-by” could better or simply be shortened “Parking” in the table of contents of a book with the topic or title “How to Drive Cars”. In my own way if I find a certain word is important as a chapter identifier but that word happens to be too long I would shorten it with only the first letter and a forward slash, for example in this book’s table of contents instead of typing “Writing, Editing and Presentation” I typed “Writing, E/ and P/”, sometimes I use only the first few letters of a long word and append a wild card asterisk to denote the missing characters for instance instead of writing “ENVIRONMENT” I would write ENV*, all this is so a lot of e-reading devices can display the whole chapter identifier on a single line without having to wrap it to the next line because it’s length is too long. I believe keeping it short will help the appearance and improve the “curiosity exciting” factor of the chapter identifiers.
After that the next thing to be concerned about in your table of contents is the use of a clear font that’s not obscured in styling. I personally don’t like a table of contents formatted with a font family heavy on serifs. The fonts should be large enough to read with a comfortable line spacing preferably with accompanying chapter page numbers (for physical books), unless you were writing an e-book where such page numbering is irrelevant.
I understand that many writers prefer to simply type directly into a word processor what ideas they have in mind for a table of contents or even the body of their chapters, my method however is different, I write first on a paper (I buy a spiral bound note book to draft my books on), then from the paper I type what I have written. I have found that there is a different mindset for writing on paper and a different one for typing, it seems to work best for me if I write my draft on paper first before I type in to a computer later on. Use whatever method works best for you.
(NOTE: you do this next step of bookmarking and anchoring when you have finished developing the book, I only bring this last point up to put you on notice).
Now, in the case of e-books, when you have done all the above suggestions (excluding the page numbers), you should take the time to set up some internal linking between the chapter identifiers in the table of contents and their corresponding chapter headings (or bookmarks) in the body of the book, this would help the reader with navigation and give your book a professional feel. Look at the table of contents here on this ebook, they are hyperlinked to the various chapter headings throughout the book and you can click any of the contents items to go straight to the chapter or heading it points to… that’s what I mean by bookmarking and anchoring.
– WRITING, EDITING AND PRESENTATION –
It is for this stage that the previous chapter (rolling out a content plan was written), it is at this stage that the relevance and advantage of setting out a good chapter outline beforehand will reveal itself. What we had covered in the previous chapter is the creation of a plan for the book you are going to develop. If you took the time to layout a good table of contents, your efforts at fulfilling this stage of the book writing process should be easier than not.
What I mean is that if you had done a shady job in mapping out a content development plan in the form of your table of contents you are very likely to “stagger” or “wobble” at this stage. When I started out writing books I didn’t know this, I simply wrote what came to mind at whatever time in whatever way… the result was that it took me well over two years to put together my first book manuscript because I didn’t know the importance of having a well defined and structured table of contents first. It is at this stage that many writers would loose interest or motivation, this is where they encounter the infamous “writers block”.
When you begin to write, take the items of your table of contents one at a time. Only when you have satisfactorily developed one item (chapter) would you move on to the next item (chapter), in this way, you are less likely to mess things up. Let me add also that you should develop the chapters in the order in which you sorted them in chapter two (rolling out a content plan), don’t develop (or write) chapter one for instance and then jump on to develop chapter five next, skipping chapters two, three and four in the process, I personally consider this counter productive and a manifestation of either insufficient ideas or a lack of motivation. Note that both these things are likely to confront you when you begin writing, which is why I strongly recommend that you stick to the order of things/items in your table of contents.
When you pick an item and you begin writing, you will very likely at the instance you set out to write not have more than a sentence or two in your head about the chapter you are developing (even when you are quite knowledgeable about the “topic” of the chapter). In my experience you don’t know what you know until you begin writing, you don’t know what words you would be writing in the fifth, sixth or seventh paragraphs for example, you only get to find out as you go on writing.
Don’t assume you know the exact words you are going to be using in writing that chapter when you start, the “magic”, art or “miracle” in the ability to write out and develop chapters as I have discovered is that when you begin writing or have written down that “little” sentence or two you have in mind at that particular instance… you will receive the inspiration for the next sentence (one which you didn’t think about at the beginning of your putting pen to paper).
When you write that first sentence, as you are in the process of writing it, brainstorm (deeply think through) the chapter you are writing about in an attempt to explain it in words, that explanation you are able to “think out”… that is what you write to paper, don’t stress about whether or not it’s elegant, just write it down and continue to think up more explanations – there is a time you would go over to adjust things but for the beginning just write down what you think up. You would find that very likely before your writing pen or typed words reach the end of that sentence you are currently writing, the next sentence will “clock in” or come to mind.
Sometimes, you may finish putting down the sentence you are writing while still brainstorming the next sentence idea to write or type, when the sentence or idea doesn’t come up, pause for a brief moment and intensify the brainstorming – avoid distractions, think intensely (with focus) about the chapter you are developing, imagine in your head all the aspects of that chapter that are pertinent and relate them mentally to the few sentences you have already written, in doing this you would get more “ideas” on how to extend the sentences you have already written so you can add more “talk” to your words.
Sometimes despite your bests efforts at brainstorming to think out words you could write down to help explain the chapter you are developing, you could still not be able to write as much words as you would want to… in such cases you could think of alternative means of explaining the chapter you are developing and by this I mean using a story or two to explain the point or points you are trying to develop in that chapter. This story may be a real life occurrence or a parable or it may be one you saw in a movie somewhere or one someone told at some place and you heard… whatever your source is just make sure such a story would help elucidate the point of the chapter you are developing. If you are still not clear about this check out this book [ ] and see how I did it there with stories. In that book I used many stories to explain the points I was making, from the beginning of the book to the end I used stories to develop many of the chapters. Just see how I did it there and learn…
You see, the whole thing is like driving a car at night on a highway without street lighting… you don’t see the whole road on ahead of you but you do see your immediate front some distance away. When you drive that distance you can see, you get to see more clearly a further distance which you couldn’t see well before, the more you drive over what you are able to see the more you encroach upon territory and road you couldn’t see when you first began, you continue this way and you will drive over miles and miles of road that was virtually invisible at the beginning of your venturing to drive, I hope you get my point, writing out and developing chapters is a lot like that. The little distance you were able to see in the above analogy is the few words – a sentence or two, you are able to think up at that time, your driving over that small distance is your effort to write down the little that came to your mind and the discovery of new road ahead is all the other sentences and paragraphs you didn’t realize you were going to write in the beginning but later on they came to your mind as you went on writing.
One way to see this is to imagine you had a group of friends seated in front of you, friends who desperately want to know about the “chapter idea” you are writing about and who happen to know either very little or nothing about it. Imagine yourself giving them verbal lectures about it… imagine you are making, forcing or “pushing” yourself to explain it to them as best as you know how, this verbal lecture is what you write down to paper in the chapter you are developing until you hit your desired word-count level (my own level is typically around 1000 words) and then you stop and go over all you have written to check for possible adjustments after which you can drop the pen for that day and resume the following day to develop the next chapter in like manner). When you are just starting out with writing, one chapter a day should suffice unless you are confident you can do several chapters in a day.
While you think intensely on the aspects of the chapter you are developing – subtopics and so on, whether the book you are writing is fiction or not the “aspects” (subtopics) of the chapter you are developing should serve as guides to help further develop your chapter. this is important because sometimes memory may not be what you expect it to be and when you see that you are forgetting these “aspects” (subtopics and other details) of the chapter, you should jot down or scribble them (the “aspects”) aside to aid your remembrance. When you delay to write down a sentence idea that comes to your mind in a minute or two you may never be able to recall it again that’s why you should jot it down as soon as you “think it up” and the moment it comes to mind, so that as you develop your chapter, you can visit those aspects or idea snippets which you had penned down, adding them to what you are currently writing to help add volume and more sentences and paragraphs to your chapter (It’s indeed an intuitive and creative process, pure art).
There are instances in writing where after putting down a paragraph or two, you would discover that there are certain words you could have added to the first paragraph which you have already written and there is no space to put this new set of words (this can happen when you are using a physical writing pad to craft your draft), what to do is to mark up (with a special symbol) the position where you would want to to put the new set of words in the original paragraph with any mark/symbol of your choosing, then get a clear space somewhere on the pad, put that same markup (symbol) at the new location to denote its relationship with the previous markup symbol you placed where you wanted the text be, then write your words/idea right next to this symbol, when you are done, put a horizontal line underneath and or above the text you wrote for demarcation or enclose the whole block in a rectangle you draw to separate it from the other stream of writing (demarcate it) as you go along developing your draft chapter. I usually use asterisks or some alphabet encircled to help denote the relationship of the point I want to insert my sentences or paragraph(s) in to the sentences or paragraph(s) I would be jotting down elsewhere which also carry the same mark up symbol I had used earlier.
All this might sound confusing but don’t worry as you try out your hand at developing chapters and come back to read this book over again you should be able to grasp and relate to what I have just explained here based on the experiences you have had.
You see, writing is something you learn by doing… this here is an informed guideline from someone who has been on that road before, it is to help you try out your hand at building chapters until you get the hang of it and are able to use your own style. It’s kind of like riding a bicycle for the first time, you could use all the instructions you can get but you have to try it out in some way to “get it”… it is a creative process, you can’t teach creativity but you can guide someone into developing their latent creativity, I hope I am making sense.
Back to the discourse on chapter development, later on when you are typing or editing the chapter you would arrange things as appropriate, all this however is just to help you write down your idea but if you are using a word processor you can just go ahead and put words where you want them.
It’s not really a process to be rushed but if you can develop speed at it, it would help your productivity because the “stream” of ideas or sentences coming to your mind tend to “flow” better if you are fast enough to write the ideas or sentences down before the next upcoming idea vanishes in your mind.
I have noted that if you are slow in writing down the immediate idea that came into your mind, you are less likely to pick up on the next idea that would follow it and you would have to pause a moment or longer in thought to brainstorm and “wait” for the next sentence or idea to drop into your mind again while thinking intensely or brainstorming to develop or write a chapter.
I have also observed that the process of brainstorming tends to be more tedious for non-fiction works/books than fiction because with non-fiction books (“how-to” books and so on), you are constrained by facts and the need to conform to (and not violate) established laws and rules governing phenomena and reality in general. Whereas with fiction, you are possibly only constrained by the depth of your ideas, you are not restricted to or by reality. You are not restricted by the constraints of known laws or rules governing natural or everyday phenomena and you can choose to acknowledge those rules/laws or not when you are writing fiction.
So when you brainstorm a non-fiction work, be mindful of things that are generally considered to hold true and steer clear of fallacies or ideas that are self contradictory regardless of what topic you are writing about.
Continue this way until you notice that you have covered as much “aspects” of (or truths about) the chapter (the one you are developing) as you know, continue until you find that there is either no new idea in your thought stream (mind) to add to the sentences and paragraphs you have already put down for that chapter or you are satisfied with the amount of words you have already written.
Write as much as you can unless you had previously set a benchmark or a “cut off” number for the amount of words that go into each chapter to control the size of the book. For instance when I set out to write a 10,000 word (more or less) book with about ten chapters, I tailor my chapters to contain around 1000 words (more or less) each, if your idea from the beginning is an 80,000 word book, divide that number of words by the available number of chapters you have penned down for the book to get a rough estimate of the number of words you would need to put into each chapter as you develop them.
So that’s how you do it, the aforementioned is a process you can follow to develop or write out your chapters, just start out writing the first idea or sentence that comes to your mind, write it down, don’t delay. As you do so, mentally imaging (brainstorm) what other aspect of the chapter you are developing should be written next, a “flow” of sentences or ideas you can write or append next to what you have already written would begin to come to mind, try it.
As you write, the “flow” continues coming in discrete flashes, as you stop (brainstorming), the “flow” tends to also stop. The more you think intensely about the chapter idea you are developing (writing) the more sentences (and or paragraphs of ideas) would come to your mind.
After you have developed (fully written down) your chapter, next thing to do is to edit it, reading it from the beginning to the end correcting spelling and or grammatical errors as you go along, you can format headings, font family, style or size, then fix the chapter in a decent line spacing (I use 1.15 line spacing even though the amazon book store – kindle, will end up reformatting it according to their standards). Then break the whole chapter into paragraphs each containing a decent number of lines – anywhere between 3 to 20 lines per paragraph should do, use your discretion here. I personally bold all my headings and capitalize most or all of them, they are either centralized or aligned to the left. For my chapter headings I use a color of blue level 3 or sometimes I use red level 3 for some of my headings. The whole chapter text though is aligned as “Justified” but by all means use whatever style seems best to you.
This is how you can go about developing your chapters one after the other until the whole table of contents have been developed. Depending on what kind of days you have and what kind of chapter idea you are developing, you might find that developing a chapter might actually take you several days to reach the desired word count, sometimes you may even take a week piecing the chapter one sentence at a time, or one paragraph at a time… depending on what kind of mind you have, how rich your experiences are, how broad your knowledge base is, how healthy you are and how much time and motivation you are able to spare and muster to attend to your writing. It varies from person to person, fully motivated I can write a book in two weeks, low on motivation or buffeted by other things it can take me three months or more, I hope you get my point.
I want to emphasize a chapter development plan here, I personally write (and often type) one chapter a day (unless I feel super motivated to make it two) and I sometimes free myself from writing on Saturdays and or Sundays (or special days). I believe this kind of plan for writing and resting will help your motivation and boost your productivity for the long run. This way you can crank out about two 10,000 word (more or less) books every single month, books than can get you money continuously for a life time! In truth I get monthly email alerts of payments from my books sales even when am not thinking about them, you know, pleasant surprises… when I go to the ATM and withdraw thousands from my books sales I get the feeling – it’s all worth it.
Having said all that, if you find that you are not able to write out your book idea/topic or develop its chapters for some reason, you can seek co-authorship with competent folks you know or outsource the book writing on Elance, Freelancer or some other website offering book writing services giving them your instructions and vetting the work you get.
There is something you should know about “developed” chapters and that is that it seems no matter how well you prepare your chapter long after you may have finished the book and published it, when you go over your words you are very likely to still see areas where you could rephrase some sentences, words or add in some paragraph and so on and so forth… the more you go over your chapters the more you would see how they can be made better… this is how authors get to produce multiple editions of their book long after they had published it because they keep seeing things they could have written better or ideas they could have added and so on. It’s just what it is, that “flow” of ideas and words just keeps on coming when they go over their book… so if you have written up to your word count level and are fairly satisfied with the chapter, just go on ahead to develop other chapters because even if you spent a year working on that chapter you would keep seeing things to improve or change and if you had to attend to every one of those you may never publish your book because you will keep seeing things that could be adjusted.
Finally, I want to say something about developing your vocabulary, I believe there are readers out there who would be more impressed by your elegant use of language than even your expounding of the book topic, one way to learn to write elegantly is to form a habit of reading the articles and books of seasoned journalists and authors, noting every heavy or obscure word they use and using a dictionary to find out its meaning, then spend a few moments meditating on and internalizing the meaning of such a word. Do this for all the “big” words you come across in those articles or books you read and in doing so your own vocabulary would improve tremendously. You will find that as you develop your chapters, the “flow” of sentences and words you get in your mind will contain some of the same big words you found in those news articles and books, words whose meaning you had meditated on earlier. Continue to amass vocabulary and your writing will reflect it and stand out.
The above is a screen grab of how I structure my chapters, I create folders within which to save each of my chapters separately, this is to avoid a clutter. After this I will assemble all of them including the Introduction, Miscellaneous and Conclusion into one giant collection of chapters called a “Manuscript”. To this manuscript I would then add things like a title page, table of contents (which I created earlier), copyright page, “about the author” page and so on. Below is a screen grab of one of my manuscripts – you can see some of the various chapters with their headings colored blue, I use the software LibreOffice Writer, it’s free to download and use and it does a decent job. Not only will you be able to use it to create your books, but its got a drawing section where you can create your cover pages… in fact, every single cover page I have for my books I created with LibreOffice. It also allows you to save your documents in Microsoft Word’s “.doc” format for uploading to amazon, it allows exporting directly to PDF so you can upload your finished book to createpace.com and has a handy feature for compressing images withing documents… very good software and it’s free to download and use.
This is what my manuscript looks like after assembling the chapters together.
– COVER DESIGN –
There is a saying… “don’t judge a book by its cover”, this I consider to be largely true, I use the word “largely” because an astute book reader tends to develop a sixth sense in judging the quality of a book by both the import of its title and the design prowess that went into setting up its cover page.
(Once again below are photos of Libre Office in action, they are screen grabs of some of the cover pages I had designed using Libre Office Draw, you can notice some common style I use with the vertical bar on the back page, this is just my personal style but you can use whatever works for you).
The cover page is more than just a harbinger of a book’s content, it gives off in different ways clues that hint at what kind of quality or gravity of seriousness to expect from the contents of a book. A title in itself is not sufficient to represent a book’s message, in fact it can often times be misleading, for this reason we would explore a book’s cover page according to known popular elements that make it up and see how they go about influencing the book’s public perception and or its sales.
Of the many things that go into a good book, the cover page is about the first part of the book customers and readers are going to encounter, this is the more reason you should take the design of your book’s cover page seriously.
– BOOK TITLE –
I start with this one because it’s about the first thing you would normally read on many cover pages. It would also seem that readers have come to expect that a cover page’s title would be located somewhere along the top of it, this is not a hard rule though as book cover design permits you to place your title in some other places besides the top, for example by the side, close to the book’s spine/adjacent it or at the bottom of the cover page in which case your author name should be placed somewhere at the top to “balance out” the placements, in fact I discovered you can place your book title just about anywhere on the cover page depending on what kind of design you are working on and what positioning you have found to give the best conversions.
When you design a book cover, your title should be as large as needed so that a prospective reader or customer can easily spot it and or read it. When you setup the title, you should choose to use a font family, style and size that would not take away from the “performance” or conversion “efficiency” of the cover page.
What I mean is that fonts should reflect the message of the book, if you are writing a horror or crime fiction book for example, the lettering of your title should have a design style that portrays something about them (like they seem to be dripping blood, have droplets of blood, or look like they have just been pulled out of the flames, you know… eerie stuff that expresses the theme of a thriller novel) and so on. [NOTE: I am not encouraging you to write horror novels at all, I believe those don’t add any real value to peoples lives, I only bring them up here to illustrate a point].
The thing to know here is that just about everything you put on your cover page should help communicate the message, topic, tone and spirit of the book you have written or are writing.
Subtitles and or tag lines should not clutter your cover page, the cover page should not be congested with too much words but be as terse as requisite.
– AUTHOR NAME –
This was mentioned in a previous section, however, I still want to say a word or two about the placement of author names which I believe will help the cause of your book. It is believed that a small sized author name is less efficient than a large sized author name (by size here I mean the font size).
Let your author name be as “majestic” as you can make it on your cover page. Don’t worry if you are relatively unknown in the niche you are writing about, just make your author name stand out, or comfortably visible. A large author name comes across or portrays you as an author who is confident of what they have written in their book and is not timid, unsure or ashamed of their work, it is also likely that some readers would think you an authority in the genre or niche of the book’s topic, even though they haven’t known you because your name is prominently and confidently displayed on the cover page of your book.
About the position of your name on the cover page, I will advice that you place your name in contrast to (to complement) the position of your book’s title on that page, what I mean is if your book’s title is on top of the cover page, you should endeavor to put your author name at the bottom of that cover page and vice-versa.
I will also advice that if you have a prominent personal title that commands respect, like PhD, Apostle or General and so on, append those in a visible way to your author name, this I believe will give a boost to the efficiency (the rate at which it attracts/convinces people to buy or read your book) of your cover page.
When you place your author name in contrast to (complementing) your book title, it doesn’t necessarily have to be centralized in alignment, the overall arrangements of title and author name can be tweaked to improve efficiency, if your title is placed at the upper left side of your cover page, you could either centralize your author name at the bottom or shift it toward the lower right. If your title is to the center or upper right, place your author name to the bottom left or center it depending on what configuration ends up giving you the best conversion rate (selling rate) but as an advice try to contrast the arrangements by placing them on opposite sides (up/down/left/right) of the cover page to avoid centralizing everything and to give the whole cover page design a balance.
– COVER GRAPHIC –
An apt graphic is very important to the efficiency (conversion ability) of your cover page, in fact I would be bold to say that it is the most prominent feature of your cover page. A lot of readers and customers are going to see your graphic image first before they read your book title.
Your cover graphic needs to blend with or complement the books topic, anything else would more than likely be a huge blunder, imagine a book about “How To Party” whose cover graphic is the pope!, or a book about “How To Cook Beans” with a graphic image of a soldier at a battle front. Both images in these examples obviously contradict the message or topic of their book’s titles, the book’s title and it’s cover graphic need to be in harmony.
The cover graphic need not be a real photo, it could be an info-graphic or some other type of graphic, what is important is that it complements the title of the book and draws attention to the book. There is a belief that human faces work best in cover images/graphics, this may or may not be true for your case and you may need to swap cover designs to test and use the one which results in the best conversion or performance in sales, you just might be surprised which design is better than which regardless of what you read or hear about cover design. Such is the nature of cover design to optimize efficiency, you just may have to improvise but the suggestions I have given here should be enough to get you started.
– COVER SIZE AND COLORS –
If you are publishing a physical book, your publisher should be able to handle the size details (dimensions) for your book and or cover page but if you are self publishing (an e-book) or on createspace, the usual requirements by online book stores and platforms as of this writing is that the longest side (in portrait mode) should be at least a thousand pixels in length and the result of the division of the longest side (height) by the shortest side (width) of the book (height divided by width) should be around 1.6 (slightly more or less).
If you are using createspace.com or some other book printing service, they would provide you with standards that determine the acceptable dimensions of your book’s cover page.
Use appropriately themed but contrasting colors that do not obscure the title or author name. Use images and fonts with strong colors that contrast beautifully to grab attention, this should help your cover page to convert better.
– PRICING –
If there is one thing about which you can be fairly certain your book’s sales will correlate and sway in response to, is a change in the price you set. There is an economic principle at play when you alter the price of a product (your book), the higher the price of the book, the lower or lesser the sales it tends to get.
It would seem that most folks just have a sweet tooth for anything cheap, it is in this light and because of this reason that a lot of authors would want to deliberately crash down the price of their books in order to boost demand for it and consequently improve on sales.
This logic, as straight forward as it seems is not always the best approach to improving sales, as experienced marketers know fully well that there are situations where a drop in price wouldn’t necessarily lead to improved conversions, in fact, there is evidence to suggest that an increase in price for some books resulted in more or better conversions and sales than not.
It then follows that there is a technique or method to pricing that is not strictly subject to the principles or laws of economics and or marketing as we know them. As we are going to elucidate shortly, pricing is a powerful mechanism to regulate not just the sales of a product (book) but can also be simultaneously used to achieve some other aims.
If you are conversant with online book selling platforms like ClickBank or Amazon… you, like me, are likely to have noticed that as of this writing, their pricing of books tend to be worlds apart. Whereas ClickBank’s books tend to have higher prices, the ones in Amazon seem to be on the cheaper end.
If you were to take the time to analyze why this is so, you would likely discover that ClickBank’s book prices, apart from making big money for the platform (due to the higher prices), appear to be far more favorable to affiliate marketers. Those higher book prices make it possible for affiliates to bank home more cash per book sale than they would if the book were very cheap say at 0.99 cents. The ClickBank model thrives on the activities of affiliates to bring in many buyers.
Now if you look at the Amazon model, especially the kindle side of things you would discover that it is not as affiliate friendly. It seems to me that Amazon is leveraging the power of its brand name, to make e-books sell than having to rely on affiliates to fuel its kindle e-book sales.
Even though their affiliate system (Amazon Associates), still works for physical products, it just doesn't seem to me to be that profitable for kindle e-books. Imagine an affiliate sweating it out to sell a 0.99 cent e-book just to get about 4% of that amount as commission?… I hope you get my point.
Now if that same affiliate were to direct their efforts at some physical product, say a $500 digital camera, they would be banking about $20 in commissions for every sale they make, this is why I see the Amazon Kindle e-book pricing model as relying heavily on the Amazon.com brand name and less on affiliates to fuel sales. Amazon also has pricing rules for its Kindle e-books, if you charged between 0.99 cents and $2.98 or $10 and above, they would charge you the book author 70% of the books selling price as their commission for every sale but if you did price your book anywhere between $2.99 and $9.99, they would charge you 30% of the book's selling price as their commission, which means that you the author will get 70% of your book's selling price upfront when you price your book within that range.
If you study this pricing model and policy in-depth, you would see that it greatly favors consumers (readers and book buyers), than it does the book authors themselves, or their potential affiliates.
About the only advantage of this type of pricing policy I see is that it gets volume (the sheer throng of buyers by the millions who are naturally attracted to cheap offers). This volume in turn makes it irresistible for the book authors who have very little option but to cash in on the volume of demand that the Kindle e-book pricing policy (which leverages the brand strength of Amazon.com) has amassed.
So you see, about every book store or platform online, have their own pricing rules, regulations and or policies and you would have to decide what to charge folks based on not just the bookstore’s policies but also what you think the strength of available competition is (and what their prices are) for your book’s title. Charge rates or prices should be based on things like the size or volume of your book (in words), the quality of research and workmanship you put into setting up the book and its cover page, whether or not you have the marketing muscle/brand power to sell your work by promoting the book, the market performance of the book at present (a hot selling book can accommodate a price increase, a poor selling one could use a price decrease) and maybe some other factors in addition to these.
If your book is handled by a physical publisher, I believe the publisher should worry about and handle the pricing details. Now, there is this research carried out by an online e-book aggregator – Shakespir.com, which I think leverages book buyers psychology to suggest price. They suggested that e-books should be priced $3.99 for the purpose of getting the most sales. They said that e-books priced at $3.99 tend to sell the most copies, this they explained was possibly due to buyers perceiving that the price of $3.99 is not too cheap and carries with it a hint that the book being sold is of good quality. Well, I personally believe that what you price your book at is going to be contingent on what you have tested to work best for you, and by that I mean the price point at which you find that you are able to make the most profit or at which you achieve some other aim or goal.
So after all has been said, my advice is if your book has more than 10,000 words in volume, consider pitching your starting price at a range that’s $2.99 and above, if your book is less than 10,000 words in volume consider pitching your starting price at $2.99 or less. Of course nothing here about pricing is set in stone and like it is with a cover page, you may have to tweak your pricing to see what gets you the most sales, so set and tweak your book price based on things like its volume, its competition, your marketing budget and all such things as were outlined above. I hope these suggestions would help you to pitch your book prices optimally.
– PUBLISHING –
Publishers seem to pervade our world, I am not able to think of one serious city which is completely lacking in publishers that can attend to your book needs. With technology and the internet getting more ubiquitous by the day it’s even the more easier to publish a written work.
If you are looking to publish a physical book, a walk in to any of the publishers offices or a meeting with their agents should get you started. Now, there is a global emphasis on e-book publishing as the future of book publishing, in fact, as of this writing, there is data to suggest that e-books are about to (if not already) overtake traditional physical books in sales. People see e-books as the future of book publishing, for this reason, we are going to “zero in” our focus on e-book publishing as done on popular book selling (retailing) stores and platforms.
From what I have gathered, e-book publishing is not just a potentially better way to publish books for more sales but it is also much more convenient to do so, in fact, you could publish an e-book and have it up and selling in one day.
The publishing process on your part only takes about five to ten minutes to upload, setup and publish (post), while the approval, and the book’s going live on the book stores in my experience takes about a day or so, usually a few hours (less than 12 hours).
– AMAZON.COM –
This is the biggest book store/retailer/publisher I know of, they don’t just sell books as retailers, they have publishing platforms for both authors and third party book publishers.
The advantage Amazon gives book authors and publishers is that you can expect the platform to have a larger number of book buyers than other book selling platforms because Amazon is a powerful and popular brand. This is an advantage you should consider when setting out to publish books.
Amazon offers three options I know of to authors who want to publish a book with them, they got the Kindle e-book publishing platform, they got the CreateSpace physical (paperback) book printing platform to print and deliver physical copies of your books and they got the Audible service where you can have audio versions of your book published. So when you want to publish your e-book, first have your manuscript ready in the form of a document file with the extension “.doc” or “.docx”. Have your book “description” ready in a separate text file (as of this writing Amazon will allow you to type up to 4000 characters in/for your book description).
Then set aside a list of seven keywords that are relevant to the title or topic of your book, this is for the Amazon search engine to help find your book when book buyers type keywords in the amazon webpage search bar related to your book title (NOTE: I use the same method I used to get my book topic to also find my related keywords, I simply pick keywords that have a bearing to my book’s topic in the drop down auto suggestions and make them my “related keywords”).
When you got all the requirements ready, head over to this URL (http://www.kdp.amazon.com). From there on out it’s straight forward, the URL page and the system there has been designed to be intuitive and to guide you step-by-step, I believe even a child can do it, therefore it would not be prudent for me to repeat the steps here, all you need is an active account with Amazon (it’s free to sign up), your book manuscript ready, your book description, your set of keywords and your book’s cover page image file (I use a jpeg image format for my book covers).
If you have access to the internet, the whole publishing process on Amazon is free, you won’t have to pay them anything to publish your book. Just log in there, follow the steps and publish your book, it’s that simple. As of this writing, Amazon calls their e-book publishing platform “Kindle Direct Publishing”, KDP for short.
– E-BOOK AGGREGATORS –
Besides Amazon, there are many other book stores and retailers online, like iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and so on. Now, it is possible for you to visit the book stores one at a time to publish your book on each of them but that can be tedious to do, so instead you could leverage the services of e-book aggregators.
These aggregators (websites), will take your e-book and distribute it across many book retail stores online saving you the bulk of the work, for instance when you make a sale, they would handle the tax issues and other things. In my experience such aggregators offer a great convenience to e-book authors. Instead of you yourself doing the manual work of visiting each online bookstore to publish and setup your book, the aggregators will do it for you and spare you the effort. There are many aggregators to choose from, two of the ones I consider prestigious are Draft2Digital (D2D) and Shakespir.com, you could Google “list of e-book aggregators” to find out more.
The publishing process on many of these e-book aggregators is a lot like the process you would encounter on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform of Amazon. They are not difficult to navigate and or use and I consider them self explanatory and intuitive… you might give it a go.
You should know also that the e-book stores and aggregators all have their own tax rules and commission policies which may vary from store to store, it wouldn’t be prudent to give you their tax details here as those including their commission rates and terms of service can change at the book retailer’s or aggregator’s discretion.
So there you have it… this is essentially what entails e-book/book publishing, get your book (manuscript and other things) ready, head over to a publishers office or locate their agents if you are looking to publish a physical book the traditional way, you might get turned down by some of the traditional publishers for whatever reason… but hey, there are other options to try out. If it’s an e-book, go to an e-book publishers website like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) – http://www.kdp.amazon.com, you also have the option to use their CreateSpace service or go to a book aggregator like Shakespir.com or Draft2Digital.com (D2D), setup a free account with them, upload your book manuscript and publish it there. Either way you go, they (the platform) would deduct their commissions, tax and whatever fees they add and send you your earned royalties when you make sales.
– PROMOTING –
After you have written and published your book, the next thing to follow is promotion, if your book was published by a traditional “brick and mortar” publisher, you can expect that the same publisher would have a marketing plan to sell your book.
Besides the formal book launch and other promotional events, the publisher should be connected to a string of marketing outlets and or book stores, all these would help to sell your book. If on the other hand you have published an e-book, unless you had enrolled in a book promotion program like Amazon’s Kindle Select, you would have to promote and market your book using other media and or platforms to drive sales.
By now you may have realized that writing a good book is only a part of the whole process, the one piece you must (or should) do to complete the circle is a good promotion. This stage (of promotion) is where many e-book authors miss it and looking at the facts you can’t really blame them, as the promotion of a product (book) is a field of endeavor requiring its own skills and or experiences. The e-book/book authors are just that, authors and not marketers, they know to write a book and or publish it online but the domain of an active and productive product (book) campaign eludes them, not to mention many of them can’t really afford a marketing budget to push their book sales. Many books lie dormant on the Amazon Kindle e-book store without making sales for this same reason, their authors don’t know how, or don’t have the time/inclination to market them.
My definition of marketing is this: the minimization of obscurity and the optimization of conversions for brands leveraging the tools of media and cogency.
When setting out to promote a book or any product for that matter, the first thing to do is to understand the medium or domain within which you are promoting, let’s elucidate, if you are promoting or marketing online (on the internet), you need to understand the web as it can be utilized for marketing purposes, you need to understand its elements and how they interact with each other (by elements I mean the websites and platforms that matter online). Same principle goes for offline marketing, in both instances you need to get to grips with what media or platforms are available and how those platforms can be profitable to you (through driving readers or buyers to your book).
For example, offline you have media like the TV, radio, and the newspapers, all these media have varying degrees of reach and available pool of viewers, listeners or readers. For a fee, they can promote your product and send people (buyers) to your book, this part should be taken care of by your traditional publisher.
If you don’t like the idea of offline marketing, you would have to go online to promote your book. In the online world there are many platforms (websites and services), a good understanding of this concept of platforms will help your marketing. A website online is essentially a platform, there are seven types or groupings of platforms I have identified, some of which you can leverage to sell your book.
The prominent platforms are the selling platforms, the traffic platforms, the hybrid platforms and the payment processing platforms. These four should be sufficient for your marketing purposes.
The selling platforms embrace the likes of Amazon and ClickBank.com which you have known from previous chapters, the traffic platforms are the websites where you can buy traffic, they include the search engines, social sites and any other media websites that can send you traffic (readers and buyers) for a fee.
So your task of marketing your e-book is essentially about getting traffic (human website visitors) from the traffic platforms to the selling platforms (Amazon et al), that’s the marketing in a nutshell.
As already stated, the selling platforms like Amazon.com and ClickBank.com are the same places where you published your book, even though they handle payment processing (they are also payment processing platforms but not like paypal.com or 2CheckOut.com), they are primarily “selling” platforms as their payment processing is for products on their platform only.
After you have setup your book (published) with a selling platform (Amazon e.t.c.), go to one of the traffic platforms (Google, Facebook, Bing etc). Google sells traffic to people for a fee, in a section of their website called the “Google Adwords”.
You will need a Gmail email address (the email is free to sign up) to be able to buy traffic from Google Adwords. When you open an Adwords account (it’s also free), you get to choose keywords, and bid on those keywords (keywords related to your book title/topic), when you pay for those keywords there, Google will provide you with tools right there on the website to set up an advert on their search engine results pages (SERPs) where you would get clicks from people who would be redirected to your book page on Amazon to make a purchase.
So the whole system is laid out straight forward, setup/publish your e-book on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), when it’s live and selling, go to the Google Adwords program, with some money say $20 or $50 or more, you should get between 100 to 500 or more visitors/referred traffic from Google to your book page on Amazon where they would checkout and possibly buy your book depending on how well your pricing, cover page and book description convert.
Actually, the rate at which these people get to buy your book will depend on a lot factors, for example your choice of keywords in the Google Adwords program, your bidding level and your advert’s effectiveness.
Am sorry if all this seems long winded and complex but for those who understand the situation, marketing things out there is what it is… war. With multitudes of marketers all trying to sell something, the competition can get ruthless, that’s the truth. Amazon alone has over 3 million books, if you typed “how to write a book” in the amazon search bar this book you are reading may not even show up because of sheer competition from other author’s books, but I still get some sales… I don’t say this to discourage you I believe no matter how competitive things get out there you could still make it if you are determined enough.
Not to digress too much the main thrust of this book is “How to Write a Book” and not “How to Market a Book”… I touch on promotion to give you an idea of what is involved in getting people to see and buy the book you have written, because one of the biggest problems you will face with succeeding in this industry is obscurity – a state of being unknown and a situation where you have a good book but readers and buyers are not able to find you because there are millions of books trying to get their attention and because you have other authors whose books are directly competing with yours, I hope you understand this.
Google is only one among many traffic platforms, Bing is also a traffic platform you should consider but if these search engines aren’t your thing then you should consider other traffic platforms like Facebook, they have a system where you can advertise products, you create fan pages and promote those pages on the Facebook platform. When folks “like” those pages they get to click on your product (book) link on the page and they get redirected to your book’s page on Amazon where they can buy it, or you can direct them to an email list sign up squeeze page where they can sign up and be your subscribers whom you can market your book(s) to on a later date through email.
If social traffic doesn’t work for you there are also media buys like infolinks, kontera and third party blogs and forums you can contact to place adverts for your book. There are also folks with e-mail lists who would promote your book to their lists for a fee, the e-mail ads are called solo-ads. Many solo-ad sellers hang out in solo-ad Facebook groups.
Besides all these however, there are dedicated book marketing platforms you could use, some of these have fantastic attestations and user reviews to their credit. You can checkout websites like booksbutterfly.com, bookbub.com/partners, freebookservice.com, freebooksdaily.net and so on and so forth.
Whatever methods you choose to use just make sure that the proceeds from your book’s sales at least more than covers the amount you spent on buying traffic (at least above your break-even point), that way you would be making profit with every sale.
Now, in the case you don’t have any money to use to promote or market your book by buying traffic for it from traffic platforms, you are going to have to work to raise or build/develop your own traffic platform. You can set up a free blog on blogger.com and start writing articles or posts and populating the blog with valuable content, submitting it to the search engines and RSS feeds for indexing and listing. After sometime, about a year or so of solid hardwork, you should start to get free traffic from the search engines and other referrals which you can then forward or redirect to your Amazon book page by recommending your book to your visitors on your blog.
I would also not forget to mention amazon’s kindle select program, where you can offer one of your books (assuming you have many books) for free for a limited time so readers who get it can check out your other books or follow your author page on amazon.
A personal blog, a personal forum, or a personal Facebook fan page that has many visitors, members or “likers” can serve as your personal traffic platform. The setback with developing a personal traffic platform, is that it takes time, some serious effort on your part and sometimes money too. This is why many folks would rather just go to traffic platforms like Google, bing or Facebook, buy the traffic they need and get their book selling. So there you have it, those are some of the ways you can market your book profitably. The options are by no means exhaustive but should suffice for a reasonable start.
There are definitely other ways to help get the word out about your book besides the ones I have mentioned in this chapter, you can hang out in relevant forums and other media to keep an eye out for trends. Also look out for the latest in available marketing software, bots or apps that might optimize your efforts at promotion.
– RINSE AND REPEAT –
They say one good turn deserves another… if you have successfully written and published your e-book, you would very likely happen upon such a dictum in your thought stream.
I have found by experience, that the business of writing books tends to thrive better with volume. In our world today, technology exists to archive books and other written works that would have otherwise gone “extinct”, what this implies in turn is that more and more books are going to be competing to get buyer’s and or reader’s attention. The explosion in the amount and volume of textual information on the internet is proof of this, even bloggers are now talking about “information overload” as a problem!
Readers are getting inundated with books by the day, for instance the Kindle e-book store of Amazon now has millions of e-books all trying to get picked up by readers, how then does a book (your book) “make it” in such a mass of books?
Apart from a good marketing/promotion campaign as elucidated in the previous chapter, one thing an author can (and should) do is to replicate their efforts at writing, over and over again, in other words to rinse and repeat.
As was elucidated in previous chapters, the e-book platform’s policy models like that of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) intrinsically encourages and expects multiple e-book production (writing many books) of book authors. In fact a look at the KDP e-book dashboard would reveal that it is set up in such a way that suggests and expects authors to upload and publish more books.
Whether your first e-book was a success or not the key to conquering this industry is quality, visibility and volume (in the form of multiple e-books). A lot of writers do not realize this and the moment they begin to see signs that their e-books are not performing, they tend to give up, I will encourage you to write yet more books and see how they go.
My second book for instance, performed way better in terms of the number of times it was downloaded than my first book. You see, I spent about two years putting together and tweaking my first book before releasing (publishing) it but I decided to write yet another book using lessons I learned from my first publishing. I put more serious effort into writing this second book which I “beat out” in about two weeks.
The rate at which it was accepted and downloaded by readers on the Kindle e-book store was encouraging. Based on the figures I have as of this writing, this second book is my most popular book. You see, that happened largely because I took a decision to “Go Again”.
I realize also that people don’t necessarily think of your books the way you think of them, the book you think would be your bestseller or performer might turn out not to be as you had hoped even after all the research and careful preparation of things. While the book you didn’t give too much thought to, the book you simply dusted up, scribbled some thoughts and published might turn out to surprise you with a better performance, such things are not uncommon in the book publishing world.
As apt as the “book topic” research we have covered is, there is still a hint of art and or chance in what book turns out to be a resounding success, you can (and should) plan and roll out your book content and cover page to the best of your ability but ultimately the general state of the e-book market forces would still influence the performance of the book, this is the more reason why it is wisdom to diversify by writing more books.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, the more books you write the more your chances of “hitting it big”, it may not be easy but I believe it’s well worth it.
– CONCLUSION –
Not many ways exist to leave a legacy as to write a book with your name proudly set on its cover page, you can expect a book you have written to outlive you, not to mention its potentially reaching millions or billions of people.
This beautiful medium (a book) as suitable as it seems for conveying the contents of your mind to others, is not without its unique challenges, as such you should not expect a “new-bee” or rookie author to write a master piece or “pound out” a best seller overnight without some form of guidance, hence the reason for this disquisition.
Writing books, as with many ventures in life has its rules, methods and techniques, and as was explained through the chapters in this book, those methods can differ from author to author, some being more efficient than others.
I have elucidated through the pages of this book what I am convinced is a good way or method to go about writing a book. The method discussed has been tested and proven to work, in fact, the book you are currently reading is a product of this method.
I expect that if you have read through the pages of this book from the beginning until this point, you should be able to write out a wonderful book worthy of people’s time and or money.
This book started out in the first chapter with an explanation on how to go about “getting a decent topic” for your book, then it proceeded to explain how to “roll out a content plan” so you can build your book around that. Of course it did not forget to explain in detail “how to write, edit and present” your book’s content.
Having done that, a chapter was devoted to introduce you to the details of book “cover design”, another chapter was consecrated for your book’s “pricing” and how you should go about setting it.
This book went on to discuss “publishing” and how you can get your book published, also a chapter was devoted to explaining how you can go about “promoting” and marketing your book after which you can “rinse and repeat” the whole process as many times as you wish.
I believe this book has done fair justice to the subject matter – “How to Write a Book: a guide to non-fiction writing” and it is my hope and trust that you have been enlightened enough to write your own book.
To Your Success,
THIS BOOK HAS A PHYSICAL VERSION AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK FORM, YOU MIGHT ENJOY THAT BETTER. YOU CAN GET THE PHYSICAL COPY OF THIS BOOK BY TYPING 1519669658
HOW TO WRITE A BOOK Without apology, I intend to spill out the secrets of book writing other authors would not tell you... within the pages of this book is unveiled a sound technique of book writing. Let me say here that the method I describe in this book is the same one I used to write this very book itself, I have written over ten (10) books and i know this stuff works. Let me say it again, the method in this book works!... after going through this book, in 14 days or less you should be able to have a very well written book of your own, a book that keeps making you money over and over again. From writing books, to reports, to articles or even product reviews, you would find the method and technique discussed in this book relevant. The book is a quick read and the language is easy to understand.