Tag Archive for: writing publishing and marketing books

Book author tips from my experience

If you’re looking to write a book, you can learn from my experience writing, publishing, and marketing Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients. If you’re a book author planning to self-publish your book, you may find my tips particularly helpful.

Below you’ll find links to my posts for book authors.

Writing a book

6 lessons from my book writing experience” discusses goes beyond the writing process to discuss decisions that you make during the writing process—such as the use of images—that will affect the ease with which you eventually manage turning your manuscript into a published book. My writing group was the biggest contributor to my completing my manuscript. Its members, who were mainly fiction writers with little knowledge of financial topics, urge me to write a book. They also held me accountable for turning in chapters for them to critique. They spurred many tweaks to my text, as well as my changing the order in which some of the chapters appear.

If you want to write your book using multiple devices, you may be interested in the solutions mentioned briefly in “Write your book on multiple devices.

Publishing a book

When you self-publish, you’ll need to make many decisions that you can avoid if you work with a traditional publisher. I discuss many of these in “7 steps toward picking your self-published financial book’s formats and formatter.” For example, you’ll need to decide whether to publish an e-book (and in which of the many formats) or a printed book as a paperback or hardcover. I hope that my tips can help you avoid a fiasco I experienced along the way to publication.

As part of the formatting process, you’ll need to create a cover for your book. I outsourced to a professional book designer for Financial Blogging, used my website guy’s designer for Investment Writing Top Tips, and created a cover myself using Canva for Investment Commentary. I also used crowdsourcing to help select the cover for Financial Blogging, as I discuss in “Tips for crowdsourcing self-published book covers.” Crowdsourcing also influenced the ultimate title of my book.

Marketing and selling a book

I cover the basics of book marketing in “How to market your self-published book: Lessons from my experience.” You’ll learn the process I followed to launch my financial blogging book.

Your pricing will affect how you market your book—and how many books you sell. I discuss some considerations in “How to price your self-published book—lessons from my experience.” The good news is that you can change the price, if the price you use initially doesn’t achieve the results you desire. You can also offer temporary discounts.

If you want to sell your book directly to readers, you’ll need a virtual shopping cart to handle the transactions. I use E-junkie. I’ve written up “Selling PDF e-books online: Tips from my E-junkie experience.” I also use E-junkie for selling my coaching, as well as my financial blogging class and investment commentary webinar.

What else would you like to learn?

If you share your questions with me, I may be able to answer them in a future blog post.

7 steps toward picking your self-published financial book’s formats and formatter

book cover: Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients

I learned some lessons as I struggled through getting my book formatted.

When you self publish your book, you get more control over the final product. The downside? You must sink time and money into the production process, starting with choosing your book’s formats and formatter. I learned firsthand about this when I published Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

So many format choices

Do you want to publish electronically, produce a physical product, or do both?

Electronic formats include PDFs; formatting for the most popular e-readers, the Kindle and the Nook, and many other less widely used formats. As for physical producers, you can choose between paperback and hardcover as well as print-on-demand vs. printing and buying a batch of books before you sell them. The choices can feel overwhelming.

Step 1. Ask readers for their preferences

In the beginning, I thought I’d publish Financial Blogging as an e-book. After all, they’re the wave of the future. I figured I’m a dinosaur in my preference for printed books.

However, I dutifully surveyed my social media connections after a savvy friend suggested I ask whether people read “how to” books as e-books, PDFs, or printed books. I was surprised by the enthusiasm expressed for printed books.

Step 2. Consider your book’s demands

The nature of your book may influence its format. For example, an interactive book won’t work if it’s printed on paper.

In my case, my book included multi-page worksheets and special layouts that work best on 81/2” x 11″ paper. They wouldn’t display well on e-reader screens. This is what drove my decision to produce two versions of my book—PDF and print-on-demand paperback—formatted with 81/2” x 11″ pages.

Step 3. Decide on DIY vs. outsourcing

It’s possible to do it yourself, especially if you’re creating a text-only mini e-book PDF. My annual Investment Writing Top Tips compilation in PDF format is a DIY job, except for the professionally designed cover.

E-books are more complicated. I had my virtual assistant convert Investment Writing Top Tips 2012 to the Kindle and Nook formats following the instructions the the string of blog posts by Guido Henkel that starts with “Take pride in your ebook formatting.” It took her roughly 9.5 hours to complete.

You can also try automated formatting, following the instructions on Kindle Direct Publishing or Nook Press for the Nook. However, you may run into format glitches. Plus, the quality of your layout in the e-book will be limited to the quality of the layout and coding in your original.

I’m not an expert on the DIY approach, so please do research before you pursue this approach.

If you’re a busy financial professional, you should outsource. Fighting with formatting wastes your valuable time.

Step 4. Ask for recommendations

I’m a big believer in the power of recommendations. However, I suggest that you get specific in your recommendation request. Tell your colleagues the formats you’re targeting and whether your book involves any challenges, such as the inclusion of images or other complex formatting.

Step 5. Investigate pricing and turnaround times

Pricing varies greatly for formatting your book. The ultimate price will depend on factors including:

  • Your page count
  • Special formatting requirements
  • The need to convert from one format to another—for example, my designer prefers to format for print publication before he converts to an e-book format
  • How many edits or other changes you make after you submit your manuscript for formatting
  • Timing—if you have a rush job, your designer may charge a premium price
  • Your book cover requirements—prices vary greatly depending on your source of cover images
  • Nature of services included—the designer I initially hired included consulting on book page size, pricing, and other marketing services in her flat price, but most designers don’t offer such services or charge a la carte.

You may find it hard to compare designers’ price estimates for your book. In my experience, few designers quote flat fees that include everything you want. Instead, they may say $x per page and $y per hour for services such as inserting images or designing graphics.

In “The Real Costs of Self-Publishing a Book,” Miral Sattar says you can pay $150-$3,500 for cover design and from $0-$2,500+ for print and e-book formatting.

By the way, if you pick a book formatter who won’t design your book’s cover, you can pick up tips from “Your Book Cover is Like a Highway Billboard” by Scott Lorenz.

Step 6. Ask for references and samples

If I had been more diligent about Step 6, perhaps I could have avoided my book designer fiasco in which my designer quit partway through the design process because she wasn’t up to formatting mind maps and sidebars.

You should look at samples of work your designer has done in your genre and with formatting challenges such as photos and graphs. Do you like how they look? Also, ask for references so you can learn about the designer’s responsiveness and other characteristics.

However, even good references are no guarantee. After all, nobody gives out names of people who disliked his or her work. In my case, my initial mistake stemmed from relying on the assessment of a consultant who’d had great experiences with the designer who let me down.

What’s the worst that can happen?

I had a book fiasco. My book designer quit without warning, making it impossible for me to launch my book at my May 2013 flurry of speaking engagements. That was a big disappointment.

However, with the help of my book consultant, I hired Jerry Dorris of AuthorSupport.com to design my book’s cover and interior. He did an amazing job. His design is far superior to that of my original designer. My book came out three months later than planned, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

Step 7. Take the big leap

Once you complete Steps 1 to 6, it’s time to hire your designer and move closer to sharing your book with the world. But you have more work to do.

In a future post, I’ll write about managing the book design process.


If you’d like to see the book design I ended up with, check out Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients. You can peek inside the book on Amazon to see the great work Jerry did on the interior design.


6 lessons from my book writing experience

Thinking about writing a book?

Before you start, please consider six lessons from my writing experience with Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients. They’ll make your writing process flow more smoothly. If you enjoy this post, I’ll follow up with posts about my book’s production and marketing.

1. Decide on traditional vs. self-publishing

Your decision about whether to seek a traditional publisher or to self-publish will affect your writing process. Historically, the traditional route requires writing a proposal, finding an agent, and then seeking a publisher. To attract an agent and publisher requires having a “platform”—a readymade audience of people who’ll buy your books—in addition to expertise and a strong proposal. The platform is important because today’s publishers don’t do much to market books they don’t see as blockbusters.

I toyed with the idea of going the agent-publisher route, even though I had a strong hunch that I’d self-publish because of my book’s niche. I liked the idea that someone else would manage the production process. Plus, it would be cool to say “I have an agent.” I signed up to meet with three agents at the April 2011 member-only pitch sessions at the annual conference of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Surprisingly, the agent whom I met—only one of the three meetings panned out—asked me to send him my proposal and sample chapter. I floated up to Cloud Nine. By the way, here’s a link to my 2011 one-pager.

Unfortunately, my proposal and sample chapter didn’t get results from the agent. He responded once via email, but then ignored my email and telephone follow-ups. I wish he could have said, “Sorry, your book isn’t right for me.”

Anyway, the reason I stress the traditional vs. self-publishing decision is its impact on your writing process. If you go the traditional route, you should wait to write your entire book until after you snare an agent—and probably after the two of you land your publisher. For advice on pursuing an agent and publisher, here are some sources:

If you’re self-publishing, you can start writing whenever you feel ready.

2. Test your concept

If you’d like people to buy your book instead of simply accepting it as a free giveaway, you should test your target market’s interest in your book idea.

If you write a heavily trafficked blog that’s narrowly focused on your book topic, that’s a good indicator of interest. You can also look at your blog’s statistics or run a poll on your blog (or in your e-newsletter) to refine the focus of your book.

Presentations and classes are another great way to test your book idea. My book actually grew out of a class that I taught. I figured that since advisors were willing to pay a three-figure fee to take a class with me, there’d probably be interest in a book, too.

3. Develop a plan

My plan was to take my class notes and write them up, paced by the need to provide drafts on the schedule of my creative writing group. To write your book as quickly as possible, you’ll benefit from starting with a

  • Outline or other structure for your book
  • Schedule for hitting milestones in your book creation process

Having a plan for your content before you write will allow you to write more efficiently and identify the focus of each chapter in advance. This will prevent the painful task of rearranging it later.

If you don’t have an outline, consider mind mapping your book’s structure. That’s how I figured out the structure of my blogging class, which became the foundation of my book.

Creating a schedule or some form of accountability will help discipline you to work on your book. You, like me, may find it hard to squeeze your book into your daily routine. A target of one chapter per X number of weeks may help.

4. Get support

Get whatever support you need to make your book project easier.

The Nobscot Niblets, the creative writing group that I participated in, was invaluable. At our twice-a-month meetings, they gave me deadlines, critiques, and encouragement. Without them, I would never have started my book. Nor would I have finished it as soon as I did.

You may be able to find a local writing group through MeetUp.com. That’s how the Niblets started, though I was brought in by a friend.

If groups aren’t for you, a writing coach or accountability buddy may help. I’ve discussed the buddy approach in “How a blogging buddy can help your investment or financial planning blog.”

5. Test your material

It’s hard for you to experience your book through your readers’ eyes, so ask others to read your book to give you feedback. This could mean reading individual chapters along the way and then reading the complete manuscript.

The Nobscot Niblets did both kinds of reading for me. They convinced me that I needed to add some topics, such as compliance, that I wasn’t eager to cover. Their reading of the complete manuscript prompted some changes in my chapter order, in addition to numerous tweaks.

I also enlisted a writing instructor and several members of my target audience to read my book. Their reading from different perspectives tested the effectiveness of my book.

6. Manage your images

Images, tables, and other graphic elements may make your message easier to understand, but they’re also a big pain when you format your book.

To minimize the pain, follow these rules:

  1. Only include graphic elements that contribute significantly to your readers’ understanding. I cut quite a few screenshots from my book during its production phase.
  2. Snap any photos at a high resolution. Unfortunately, I had no idea when I took the two photos in my book that I’d need them for the book. They look okay, but not great.
  3. Limit your use of computer screenshots because their resolution typically isn’t very good. Substitute typed text for screenshots when possible. Screenshots can work, but they may not look as crisp as the rest of your book.
  4. Keep your graphic elements small in terms of height and width if possible, assuming that you’re planning to make your book available in an electronic format. A table that looks great printed on 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper won’t display well on a tiny screen.
  5. Limit special formatting. In my book, the two-column formatted text that needed to line up was a royal pain during book production.

These are my best tips to help you complete a draft of your book.

Interested in learning my tips for turning your manuscript into a published work? Let me know.