How To Write Your Own Book

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How To Write Your Own Book

Create an information product in print form. Learn the keys points to succeeding as a home-based publisher while bypassing the traditional publishing routes.

Millions and millions of full sized books and small booklets are sold each year. Most are produced by the large publishing houses. However, there are also several million books sold every year by small, unassuming, one-person publishing companies.

Many of these one-person publishers operate from a home-based office. And, surprisingly, some home-based publishers earn excellent incomes.

In this report you’ll learn how to succeed as a home-based publisher, producing books, booklets, reports and manuals on nearly every subject imaginable. And, if you have no desire to write your own material, you’ll learn how to get authors to write for you.

Many authors have chosen to by-pass the usual publishing routes and, instead, self-publish their own books. Admittedly, this requires more work, but it could also mean more profits. There are many reasons authors decide to self-publish, including:

1. It’s very difficult to get a manuscript accepted by the giant publishing houses, unless you are a personality in some field, or are already a successful author.

2. Often, the large publishing companies will want to edit a manuscript in such a manner that is unacceptable to the author.

3. Often, the author can market his own book more effectively than a large publisher will. This is especially true if the material is of a non- fiction or of “how-to” nature.

4. Self publishing allows the author to keep all of the profits.

5. There is plenty of opportunity for the author/self- publisher to set up other profit center products that are related to the topic of the book.

So, as you can see, there are many compelling reasons why thousands of authors have chosen to self-publish. Also, the availability of low cost microcomputers have made self-publishing much easier than in past years. This report will give you a step- by- step approach to self-publishing your own book.

Note: this report is not about writing. It is assumed that you will write your own booklets, or hire a ghostwriter to do the job for you. So the following information will focus only on the steps you need to take to succeed (make money) as a self-publisher.

HOW IT WORKS AND HOW TO DO IT STEP-BY-STEP

(1) Generate book ideas and proposals, either your own or by hiring authors/ghostwriters.

(2) Evaluate these ideas and proposals as to the feasibility of producing a valued book, and reaching a large group of prospective customers.

(3) Evaluate the size of the market and determine how you’ll reach that market. Also, research any competitive books.

(4) Consider various related products that you could sell to the people who buy your book.

(5) Write and edit the book, pay royalties to an author, or hire a ghostwriter to do it for you.

(6) Produce a camera-ready copy for the printer.

(7) Begin your marketing effort by designing ads and brochures. (Often, this step comes before, or during, writing the book. Your sales material can give you something to “live up to.”)

(8) Launch a full scale marketing and publicity campaign. (A “full-scale” roll-out should follow a test marketing campaign. You want to make certain you have a truly salable product, and should spend little money to test the waters.)

(9) Get printing quotes and have the final version of the book ready to print and bind as soon as you’re sure there will be sufficient sales to warrant these costs.

(10) Sell follow-up products to your customers. All of these steps can be carried out quickly. You could easily have a fast-selling book on the market within 6 months, or less.

SELECTING A TOPIC

The best, and easiest, subjects for self-publishers to produce are of the “how to” genre. Books, reports and manuals that tell readers how to do something are among the liveliest sellers. It’s very difficult for a small publisher to be successful with novels, or poetry books. So this report will focus on “how to” books. However, you can apply many of the techniques discussed here to market other kinds of books as well.

To begin, you should publish material on topics which you are most familiar. You should also have a market targeted and a plan for reaching that market. Example: you may have in mind to produce a book about how to make money with crafts — to be sold in small craft shops, craft fairs, craft magazines and through direct mail to people who make craft items.

It’s not necessary for you to be an expert on a topic if you aren’t writing the book yourself. But you do need to be knowledgeable enough to evaluate the book proposals that are submitted to you. Otherwise, you’ll have to hire an expert to evaluate the manuscript for you.

Most small publishers specialize in one general topic. For example: crafts, income opportunities, computers, a particular hobby, gardening, health and others. A home-based publisher, like you, will then produce several books on the same subject. Thus, greatly increasing sales because you’ll have related books to offer to the same customer.

Once you have a few potential topics, these ideas must be evaluated. The most crucial question is, “can I sell a book like this and, if so, how will I sell it?” First, you need to evaluate the size of the market. If there are only a few thousand people who would be interested in your book, you may want to reconsider.

Many small publishers recommend that you have a potential market of at least 50,000 people who would be interested in your topic. Next, you need to determine if these people are easy to reach. Are there online distribution points, magazines, trade associations, or mailing lists that you can use?

You’ll find that most self-publishers suggest that you find a market niche that is not being adequately covered. Here’s a sampling of marketing model railroading, self-publishers, writers, Apple computer owners, computer programmers, gardeners, health enthusiasts and hundreds of other narrowly defined interests. Each of these topics may only have a potential market of 50,000 to 200,000. But this is often enough for you to be successful. It’s especially true if you have a good way to reach these people, and if you publish several books about the topic.

Most publishers are recommending that you stick to special subject books rather than broad coverage books. It seems as if the day of the high page count, broad topic books are about over. There are also many groups of people who are interested in all kinds of narrow, specialized topics.

Other factors to evaluate include: are there any similar books already on the market, how is your book different (more valuable), are there people who really want your book, is your information up-to-date and can you produce exciting promotional material to sell your book?

It’s important to consider your book’s selling points. If it’s easy, write an ad for the book, that is, your material has many selling points, the book will be easier to market. More about book marketing later.

BOOK TITLES

The title of your book can have a big effect on sales. A good title will often result in increased interest as well as higher profits. A good book title should: grab the attention of the customer, clearly reveal the book’s subject, arouse interest, define the area covered by the book and promise benefits to the buyer/reader. Many books also have a subtitle. The subtitle is usually about 6 to 15 words long and should reveal even more about the book.

BOOK LAYOUT

There are several basic decisions you must make concerning the layout of your book. These decisions will influence the cost you pay for printing. For example:

(1) Stick with standard sizes — 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches or 8 1/2 x 11 inches. (Some printers may have slightly different book dimensions.) But just make sure that you request a standard size that your printer can easily produce. Odd sizes will increase the overall cost of printing.

(2) Number of pages — All book printers have optimum number of pages that they can produce. These are usually increments of 4, 8, 16, or 32 pages. You’ll want to make sure your book falls on these increments or you’ll pay extra for blank pages. The page count does not include the cover. Example: It may cost 10% more for a 161 page book than it does for a 160 page book. Therefore, you’ll want to reduce your manuscript by one page.

(3) Typeface — This is the style and size of the letters that make up the text. The most used typeface for books is Times Roman at 10 point size. If you use 12 point size, more pages are required, 8 point size will require less pages but will be harder to read. Don’t use some offbeat, out of the ordinary typeface. Make your book easy to read.

(4) Type of cover — You can decide to use a plain, one- color cover or a glossy, 4-color cover. If you’re planning to sell through bookstores, you’ll need to design a fancier, eye- catching cover. For mail order sales, customers are buying information, not a pretty cover; so you can put less emphasis on cover design.

(5) Other factors that you may need to consider are: pictures, photos, an index, size of chapter headings and subheadings. You can explore various book layouts simply by examining different books. Pick one that you like and discuss it with your printer.

TYPESETTING

Once the book, or booklet, is written and edited, your first concern is to prepare a “camera ready” copy for the printer. The printer must have a good master copy of your book in order to prepare plates for the printing press. The pages of this master copy must appear exactly as you want the final copy of the book to look. In other words, it should contain: headlines, subheads, margins, justified text, any graphics or pictures and, ideally, proportionally spaced letters (typesetting).

The only way to get all of the above features is by having your book typeset. Unfortunately, typesetting can be expensive. You may pay $20, or more, per page if you hire a commercial typesetter. However, computers can reduce the cost of typesetting. Here’s what I mean:

(1) Produce the book on your computer and deliver it to a typesetter who can typeset from your saved media.

(2) Send your product to a service that specializes in desktop publishing and have him/her typeset the book for you.

(3) Buy your own laser printer and desktop publishing software and typeset the book yourself. This gives you complete control over the typesetting. It also allows you to perform editing changes quickly.

BOOK EDITING

There are two phases of book editing. The first step is to edit the book before typesetting, and before a printing master is produced. This step is designed to eliminate the majority of errors.

The second phase is to complete a final editing of the book after a master copy has been typeset. The purpose of the second phase is to eliminate any remaining errors. A second purpose of this step is to cut out or add material and to adjust the length of the book, if necessary.

You may also wish to adjust the length of a chapter so that each chapter will begin on a right hand page. You may wish to adjust the length of the book to save printing costs. For example: as I mentioned earlier, most book printers operate in set increments of pages. Many offer 16 page signatures. Therefore, a 160 page book would take 10 signatures. A 164 page book would take 11 signatures and cost extra because of those additional pages. So if you can eliminate 4 pages, you’ll save printing costs.

Editing a book takes a considerable amount of time. There are many things to check for, including: spelling errors, sentences that are too long, misuse of words, punctuation errors, capital letters, nonsense sentences, factual errors, omissions of vital material and so forth. Eliminating spelling errors is usually the easy part. With a computer, you can use a spell checker program to catch most mistakes.

I usually make about three passes through the entire book looking for errors. When an error is found, I’ll mark it with a red pen so it is easy to find. When the entire book has been edited I return to the computer and make the necessary changes.

Then I’ll print the book one final time and again check for errors. Finally, I’ll have another person make a last check for me. Having another person make a final check of the book can be beneficial. They will look at the book with a fresh view and catch errors that you may have overlooked.

One of the most important parts of editing is to check the book’s facts, and its completeness. You must make certain that the book contains no factual errors and that it adequately covers the topic. If your book falls short in these two areas, it will most likely be a failure and a waste of your time and money, as well as a waste of your reader’s time and money. So always double check each fact and make certain that all of the important facets of the topic are discussed. In other words, make sure that your book has something informative to say.

After the book has been typeset, you can make one final check to look for small errors. It’s almost impossible to catch all errors, but you’ll want to remove as many as possible.

PRINTING THE BOOK

Costs to print a book can vary widely, depending upon many factors and upon the printing company that you choose. Examples:

(1) The type of paper used in the book and on the cover. There are many different grades of paper from which to choose. 50-pound offset paper is commonly used for the interior of most books.

(2) The book’s dimensions and number of pages.

(3) The number of books printed. You’ll pay a much higher cost-per-book if you have, say, 1,000 copies printed rather than 5,000 or 10,000 copies printed. But the number of books that you produce should also depend upon how many you think you can sell within the first year of marketing. You can always order an additional printing, if your book proves to be a fast seller. The price-per-copy usually decreases at about 2,500 to 3,000 copies.

You’ll want a sufficient number of pages in your book to adequately cover the topic. Don’t write in a “too wordy” routine just to add extra pages. Make sure that you have something worth saying … then say it succinctly. “How-to” readers dislike rambling prose. So leave all “fluff” out of your book and get to the point.

At the same time, you’ll want enough pages in your book to suitably impress the reader that it contains an adequate coverage of the topic. You can’t completely cover a wide ranging subject in less than 100 pages. You may need 200 or 300 pages. However, some narrow topics can be nicely covered in 10 to 50 pages.

It’s often acknowledged by self-publishers that “page count” determines the price you charge for your book. But, in general, I disagree. To me, it’s the value of the information you provide that should determines price. For example, if you have discovered a unique, fast, easy, low-cost way to make fuel for automobiles at home, and can relate that information in 6 just pages, you can most likely sell your report for a very high price. Who cares how many pages it takes? It’s the how-to information that’s important.

Once you have the complete specifications of the book, it’s time to get printing quotes. You should contact at least 4 or 6 printers for these quotes. Many printers will give you samples of their work.

Before you choose a printer, be certain to check on reliability, quality and length of time to produce your book. Ask for a few customer references and don’t be bashful about checking with them about the printer’s reliability and qualifications.

You don’t always want to go with the cheapest price. For example, you may find a nearby printing company that will print your book at a slightly higher price than a far away competitor. But you can pick up the books yourself, thus saving the cost of shipping which may lower the overall cost. The most important thing you can do is to find a printer with whom you can easily work. A printer who will readily work with you can provide a lot of help getting your book ready for printing, thereby saving you time and money. While price is an important factor, I look for reliability, honesty, speed and service first.

BOOK MARKETING

Book marketing efforts really begin before the book is even printed. You must define and identify your most likely customers, determine why they would want your book, design benefit laden ads and brochures and direct your ads toward the most likely place your prospect will see it. It can also consist of developing a wholesale program to dealers, wholesalers and bookstores.

Other marketing methods include: sending publicity releases, mailing review book copies to editors of appropriate publications and, perhaps, appearing on radio or TV talk shows. There are literally hundreds of different ways to sell your books. One self-publisher sells 30 to 40 books every day by hawking them on the street! Imagine … no ad costs, no direct mail costs, no discounts, no postage … just pure profit.

Some publishers go so far as to design an ad, or direct mail piece, for their book before they even write it. If they have trouble writing a hard-hitting ad, they would probably have trouble selling the book.

All book ads, direct mail pieces and brochures should focus on the benefits that the book will give the customer. These benefits include: more money, a better job, health, happiness, knowledge, love, luck, personal improvement, and so on. Your ads need to convince your prospects that they’ll enjoy these benefits by buying your book. Therefore, your ads must be eye-catching, descriptive and inspirational. If you don’t want to tackle writing your own ads, hire a direct response copywriter to do it for you. The really goods ones can often bring you more business than you can handle.

Another important factor to consider is the overall appearance of your ads and brochures. Simply put, they should look appealing and be easy to read. Make sure that you follow the rules of typesetting, proper graphic techniques and, most importantly, employ a stop-the- readers-in-their-tracks headline and use well written, compelling ad copy.

Mail order book sales can also be increased by adding incentives such as: 10% discount when buying before a certain date; free report with each purchase; buy four books get the fifth one free; or some other low-cost freebie. A bonus for promptness almost always increases book sales. But remember, when you’re mentioning your bonus, relate the benefits derived from that bonus … not just the bonus itself.

OTHER SELLING TECHNIQUES

One way to promote your book is by making personal appearances at book stores. You can arrange a book signing party with the book store owner or manager. The book store orders 50 or 100 of your book and advertises the party. The author personally autographs each book as it’s sold. Some authors go on national tours that encompasses autographing parties, talk show appearances, speeches, seminars and trade shows.

It should be mentioned that this way to sell your book is, in reality, difficult. Getting book store owners or managers to agree to “book signing” events takes some doing. Your topic must be very, very interesting and you must be convincing enough to get your foot in the door. It takes work, but it can be a lucrative way to sell books.

There are many self-publishing groups that work together in co-op marketing, either through book shows or by direct mail. You may want to take advantage of these co-op efforts. Also, there are many book shows going on all the time throughout the country where you can exhibit and sell books directly, or make contact with wholesalers.

ADDITIONAL INCOME

Here are a few other ways your book can produce money for you: selling through book clubs, selling subsidiary rights, movie rights, or by selling foreign rights.

It is suggested that you get involved with a local self-publishers or writer’s group where you can develop different ways to make money with your book.

One of the best ways to produce additional income from your book is by selling products that are related to the book’s topic. If you’re selling a book about making money with computers, for example, you should include a catalog of other computer books or shareware software.

When you get an order for your main product (your book), you ship the order along with a catalog of your other products. Since the customer has already expressed an interest in your topic by buying your book, a certain percentage of those buyers will also be interested in your other related products. That is, of course, assuming that your customer was satisfied. You can get these other products by developing them yourself, or by acting as a dealer for other companies. Some self-publishers make more money from these “bounce back” catalog sales than they did from the original book sale.

Another important aspect of marketing is the manner in which you operate your business. You should always bend over backwards to treat the customer respectfully. Answer all complaints and ship all refunds promptly. Process all orders fast and reply to every inquiry the same day, if possible. You want to develop a good reputation for your company, if you ever expect to harvest repeat orders.

CONCLUSION

Self-publishing your own book, like most worthwhile endeavors, takes some amount of preparation. You can hire experts to do part of the work for you (design covers, typesetting, editing, indexing, ghostwriting, etc.). It is recommended that you do much of the work yourself in order to save money and to help you learn the ins and outs of book publishing.

You can save yourself some problems by preparing an overall plan for producing and marketing your book. You’ll also want to gather additional products related to the book’s topic that you can sell for additional profits.

Thousands of successful authors have found that self-publishing is the only route to take. Why not you?

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