I’ve been wanting to write a post for a while about the things I’ve done so far to get my book out and have the success I’ve had so far.
Part of me wants to share every step of the process, because I feel there may be insight for a lot of you. I know a number of you have asked questions about publishing. If you want a post where I go over the full details, let me know in the comment section and I will schedule a follow up post.
So let me just start with the things I’ve learned so far.
- Start with Why
Setting a why in any project is, in my humble opinion, the most important thing you can do. The “WHY” of what you are doing will be the thing that pulls you through. The process may get long, there will be criticisms, you will hit roadblocks. Let me help you break it down into smaller chunks:
- Why are you writing your book?
- Who is your book trying to reach?
- Is there a message you want to convey?
- How are you wanting to impact people?
These are tough questions, and you don’t have to answer them before you start. But as you are writing, think about them. Basketball has a goal. Think of what those goals are.
Bonus: What were my goals as I wrote the book?
From the beginning, I wanted two things. First, this was an entrepreneurial project – I.e. I wanted to turn this into an income producing business. I don’t make apologies about that. Second, I knew I had a message that could change people’s lives. I learned to wage war against the spiritual forces of evil, and I wanted to share what I learned so other people had that same message.
2. Start building your audience now
This is one of the most crucial things I can tell you. I wish, two years ago when I started my book, that I had really started building my audience. I thought in some ways I did, but I really hadn’t.
I am quite sure by now you’ve seen me talk about my book on Facebook, either through direct messages or posts. That has been incredibly frustrating – not because of the people, but because of Facebook’s algorithms. Some people see my posts, most people don’t. If I post a link to my personal webpage, I will get 1-2 likes. If I post a picture, I will get hundreds. If I start messaging people and asking them to buy my digital copy, which I did – after around 100-150 messages, I get blocked and can’t send them. I then have to wait 24-48 hours.
So what do I suggest to building an audience? Email.
I know it sounds strange, but email seems to be the best way to target your audience. I am currently building out my email list now, because Social Media is unreliable. I need to be able to connect with YOU, my reader.
How do you do that? To begin, I would recommend two resources.
- The book “Your First 1000 Copies” by Tim Grahl. It goes into detail and his website keeps people on top of everything.
- Start building your email list now and start regularly working it. How can you do that? You can start with something as simple as jotform.com. They will allow you to build a form to capture emails. Keep in mind, when you email someone on a mailing list, there are certain legal requirements you have to follow. You can find those in the book above or by googling the CAN-SPAM act. Or you can take advantage of the free services from MailChimp and other email providers.
What I would recommend? Ask your friends now if you can add them to your email list for the book you are marketing. Then I would set up a regular goal to email them ever so often. Possibly once a month.
3. You are going to have to sell your book
Whether you hire a publisher or you self-publish or you go the traditional route – you are going to have to sell your book. I put close to 500 hours into my book writing it. I really wanted a great product, and I feel like it ended up in that area. I went the hybrid publishing route, and paid thousands of dollars to get my book published. Why did I do that? I wanted the services my publisher had, but I probably could have done some myself or hired them out to other people. However, I really wanted his connections. He’s well connected in the book world – he’s published over 300 books, he’s connected with people like the guy who wrote “Chicken Soup for the Soul” (Mark Victor Hansen). He knows a lot of people.
However, choosing him lined up with my point number 1 – I knew what I was trying to accomplish.
4. Echoing the sales point – advocate for you
Why did I hit best seller status? I worked with my publisher to hit best seller status, and I messaged people and asked them to help me out. So many of you did, and I am grateful.
Why did I get my first book signing? I called around and found a place that wanted to work with me in the way I wanted to work.
Why did I get featured in the news? We called the news and told them I would be doing a book signing.
Too often, we tend to think we need someone else to crown us as “The NEXT BIG THING.” Stop that. Know YOUR worth and value. You are created in the image of God, and you and YOUR story have immense value.
Advocate for you!
Bonus: there’s a cool site called matchmaker.fm. I was able to sign up for a free membership, and over half the podcasts I’ve been on have come from asking people to be on their podcast.
5. The best secret for making your book a good book – how much should you self-edit
There are a couple of things I will recommend technically after you finish your book and get it ready, but before sending it to an editor. There are actually 3 types of editing to a book and you should at least pay for one. Before it goes to them, I recommend you do your own edits.
- Take one pass at your book and ask yourself – am I expecting the reader to know something I should know?
- Take one pass at your book and focus on this – Did my book flow well? This is crucial, so make SURE you do this.
- Take one pass at your book and ask – do I like reading this?
- If you don’t, don’t scrap it. But look at how to make it likeable.
- To make it likeable, be vulnerable. Share your feelings, your bad parts, and your struggles.
- Paint picture with your words – take this example.
“He walked into the room and touched his son.”
Now check out this example
“He walked into the dimly lit room. The heart monitor beeped slowly. His son lie on the bed, asleep. He crossed the room quietly as not to wake him and touched him on the forehead, brushing his hair back.”
6. The next best secret to making a good book – Beta Readers
I will repeat that hiring an editor is crucial. However, one of the things that helped me immensely was asking for Beta Readers. However, I also took every point of data and analyzed it. Let me share what happened with me.
I had a group of 20 people who offered to read my 5th draft of my book, so I sent them all copies in Word. I had 7 people get back to me that they read the book. Your first question is probably going to be, what happened to the other 13. Mostly, I don’t know, and honestly I don’t care. Why? Because people have busy lives, and they are doing this for free. Focus on the positive – I had 7 people who gave me feedback, and for that I am grateful. I am grateful for even the 13 who didn’t. Why? Because they cared enough to offer, even though they couldn’t follow through.
But back to the stats: of those 7, 2 people gave me really great feedback. One person, actually an ex-girlfriend’s mother, told me one huge thing that stood out, “You have the how, but why did you make the decisions you made?” The other person, Matthew Chatham actually, gave me very specific feedback in a ton of great areas.
I took this feedback and reworked my book, making sure I was explicit with what I was thinking and feeling and taking the advice of my friends.
Another bonus point – there were 2 buddies who read the book who made it halfway and stopped. They are bother father’s of 4, they read a ton, and they are incredibly entrepreneurial (which also means they are busy). They were part of my target audience, so I was really very much interested in their reaction. They had full intentions of finishing the book, but they just didn’t have time to finish it.
When they told me that, I sat back and thought about what that was telling me. It told me that my book was not a good enough read to keep them coming back for more. Because of their response, I took an entire pass through my book solely focused on making the book a gripping and enjoyable read.
7. Understand sales returns
I’ve had a lot of training in sales in my days. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is to understand the numbers and rejection. Let me give you a few examples
- Matchmaker.fm – when I sent out messages to matchmaker.fm – I’ve booked around 5 or 6 podcasts from it. I’ve sent out close to 50 messages. Is that ok? Yes. The cool thing, of those 5 or 6 podcasts, I’ve reached close to at least 1000 people.
- Selling digital copies – I wanted to hit best seller status. My publisher and I teamed up on ways to get that, but I also didn’t want to leave it in the hands of my publisher. I went through and texted a ton of people and I messaged every person I know on Facebook. I told them, I’m trying to hit best seller status and we are selling the digital copy for $1. Would you be willing to buy a copy. I messaged over 1800 people. I sold around 350 copies that way. But I hit best seller status.
What can you take away from that? It’s always a numbers game. Understand that rejection is a part of success.
I hope these tips are helpful. This is not a comprehensive list. However, many of the things here you won’t hear from other people who are looking to help you with your book. Let me know what you liked or didn’t like in the comments, and I look forward to reading your book.
And if you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to get more content and pick up my book on Amazon. While you’re at it, make sure to leave a review.