Entering the world of book publishing can be overwhelming. Without a clear path, direction and focus, you may find that all the hype about easily self-publishing your book will hurt your sales and reputation rather than help you. While it’s true many people have become quite successful writing, publishing and selling books, if you sacrifice quality and the following crucial steps you may end up doing yourself more harm than good. You want to be seen as the go-to expert in your industry, not just another no-name self-proclaimed “expert” out to make fast money. Here are the four crucial steps to take to ensure your success:
Step 1: Identify Your Audience
While a print book will give you more credibility and make you stand out as the go-to expert in your industry, the Kindle market is quickly becoming saturated. Either way you choose to publish, if you don’t have your audience and message in mind first, you’ll be writing to a blanket audience of “everyone,” which means ultimately no one will buy your book. You need to ask yourself, “If I could sell my book to just one person, who would that person be? What do they look like? In what industry to they work? What are their hobbies?” After you identify your audience, take time to research what eBooks are already available to them. What do the reviews say? Are they in a hot niche market? How many results in an Amazon search do you get when you search for your topic?
Contrary to popular belief, though a market may be saturated, if there are thousands of eBooks already in that market there’s a reason—because people are buying! I recently started converting to a mostly raw diet. I’ve been downloading eBooks and purchasing print books on the topics of raw nutrition, raw “non”-cookbooks, etc. I’m not just buying one book in this niche, I’m buying several! If a niche is a hot topic and heavily saturated, that may be an indication it’s actually a good niche to write about and have a presence in. If it’s not a hot topic and has hundreds or thousands of titles already available, it may be overly saturated.
Step 2: Research the Gaps
Once you’ve researched what books are already available and have skimmed the reviews, start looking in the reviews for what readers wish the book contained. What gaps are found in the marketplace? You may find the same gap spoken about in more than one book’s listing, and that’s a good indication you should write about it. Don’t just jump into writing an eBook without doing a little research first. It might also be beneficial for you to purchase a few of the best sellers in your category. Read those reviews, read those eBooks, and note what you would do differently. How can you customize the same material to your specific audience?
Step 3: Write!
After you have your audience researched and know what gaps to fill, write! Carve out a block of time every week to spend time putting words to paper. Avoid editing as you write—simply let the words flow. You can always go back and edit your writing after it’s done. The fact is your book will never be finished—there’s always going to be something you can improve. But you can decide when it’s done.
Step 4: Production: Editing, Design, Programming
Then don’t skip these crucial steps: editing, cover design and eBook programming. Unedited books look bad to the reader, and give you a not-so stellar reputation to your potential audience. If your book is hard to read or poorly edited, reviewers won’t be shy to tell the world. When in doubt, hire a professional editor to look over your work. A book will always have a few typos, but the more eyes are on your manuscript, the more polished it will get.
Your book cover is the first thing people will see and how they will judge your content. You might have great content, but if the cover isn’t professional you’re just another book in the pile. I’ve seen thousands of horrible book covers done by the author or the author’s best friend’s cousin who happens to know Photoshop. Remember the first impression! You don’t go on a first date without brushing your teeth. You’re courting your potential readers, so entice them to look closer at your book with an outstanding, professional book cover. If you can only afford to outsource one service and you’re not a professional graphic designer yourself, outsource your book cover design to a professional. Your increase in sales and the broader reach of your message will be worth it!
Lastly, for eBooks, without proper eBook programming, your eBook can be hard to read and get massive negative reviews. Those negative reviews can’t ever be removed from Amazon and can permanently damage your reputation. I’ve seen eBooks get quickly published only to get massive amounts of one- and two-star reviews. Then the guru (usually a guru will do this part) emails their massive list and asks people who read their eBook to post a positive review on Amazon. This may counter-balance the overall rating, but it won’t make those negative reviews disappear. And fixing the formatting later, after the negative reviews have been posted, won’t make them go away either. Do it right the first time and you won’t have any regrets.
The Bottom Line
The truth is, as with all industries, there’s no such thing as a “get rich quick” or “make $5,000 per month your first month!” result with book publishing. It takes hard work, dedication and ongoing attention to fill your audience’s needs to make a career out of being a full-time author. Now, that being said, books are a great way to generate leads for your business and increase your passive income. But publishing is not for the faint of heart. Dedicate yourself and your resources, and you’ll see results. Try it for a quick money-making scheme, and you’ll be sorely disappointed!