I wrote my first book because it became a burning need to change my own life. I self-published
get the message out there regardless of what any establishment thought. I wrote the next 2 books and
blog because I wanted to share how amazing the world is for authors now,
and communicate how other people can achieve their book-dreams also.
It has been 14 months since I self-published my first book, and I am about to get the 2nd and 3rd onto
Amazon.com. Wow! I couldn‘t write for over 20 years because I was afraid of failing. Now I am writing
every day, and desperate to find more time to write other things! OK, so I am not a best-selling author
(yet!). But my books help people, I am useful and that is my own success. I get emails from people who
like what I write, comments on the blog and positive tweets. This is much more feedback that I ever
got from my own silent diaries, full of unrequited writing.
Self-publishing has liberated me from fear because it enables me to reach people on my own
terms. I know that on the internet people will find me who want to read what I write. I am also in-
spired by the podcasters I am meeting online and listening to: JC Hutchins
, Seth Harwood
and Tee Morris
. I am loving their stories and their success with reaching out across the
world. They challenge me to write and to express as well.
I truly believe that the experience of self-publishing has banished my fear of writing. It
has not made me a millionaire in money, but I am all the richer for the experience. By releasing the
fear and enabling my first book, it paved the way for the next 2, and who knows how many more. I am
34 right now. Prolific writers get through at least 1 per year, so that makes a good 60 more before I pop
To those readers thinking about writing a book – do it now. Self-publish it and get over your
fear. Your next book will be the better for you getting the first out of the way.
Warning: Personal, sentimental post!
In the last few weeks, I have been considering
writing fiction. Shock horror! For a non-fiction
author, this feels like an almighty shift
within me. I wanted to share this change with
you, because I think many writers feel the same
I didn‘t write a book for many years because I was
afraid. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. The
usual reasons. I didn‘t think I wrote well enough.
Why would anyone want to read what I wrote any-
way…. You know what I mean!
Self-Publishing Banishes the
Fear of Writing
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The benefits of this are:
There are no upfront printing costs for books. They are just printed when ordered. This
means a lower cost of entry and you get paid after the books are sold.
No stock is held so there are no holding/storage costs, and for self-publishers, no depressing
pile of books in the corner of your living room
Your book can be ready for sale immediately anywhere in the world on completion and
upload of the manuscript. You don‘t have to ship and store books at various locations. You can also
publish internationally e.g. have a POD site in India and US to serve different markets.
There is the ability to change the text and publish changes more quickly. This is particularly
useful for textbooks that are updated regularly.
It is more environmentally friendly as there are only print and shipping costs for actual
sales. No huge print runs so no pulping of leftover books.
The negatives for print-on-demand are:
There are lower profits per book as printing costs are higher than bulk printing, but the bene-
fits of not spending the money up front often outweigh this. You will also need a small print run
if you want to have your book in physical bookstores as they can‘t take POD. For speaking and back of
the room sales, you can order a small print run from the POD printer, but it may be too pricey for full
What is Print-on-Demand and Why is it
Print-on-demand publishing is becoming more common
especially in the self-publishing world, for small presses
and academic textbooks.
Books are printed individually when there is an
order placed for them instead of in bulk upfront. A
print-on-demand publisher will have digital files of your
manuscript and cover, and they will just print the book
out when it is ordered and ship it to the customer.
Print on demand will save you money
Print on demand changed my life! (Video)
When Is The Tipping Point For An
Author To Go Digital?
There are many within the book/publishing/writing industry who have already embraced the changes
and opportunities digital publishing brings. But there are many more who still talk about ―the smell of
a new book‖, who chase the end of the rainbow for the traditional publishing deal and reject self-
publishing as beneath them.
So when does the tipping point come for an individual author to go digital?
For me, it was in April 2008. I had written my first book and (briefly) tried to get a publishing deal. It
was all too slow and being a first time author, I decided to self-publish anyway
. Within a few months I
had learnt all about the other options available to me including the digital options that are free or
cheap and that allow me to have a printed book or a digital product online.
With Lulu.com (and many of the other self-pub services) I could load a Word document for
free and see my book on Amazon.com within a few weeks. I also now sell my books in India with
a similar service, Pothi.com.
With print-on-demand, I can sell my books in the US and other countries while holding NO
stock. I don‘t have to pay thousands for up-front printing. I just load my files and when someone
orders, they print it and ship to the customer. No stock, no up-front costs. This still produces a
printed book so it is brilliant for the author starting with little budget.
With ebooks, I can load my book onto a website like Smashwords
, for free, and people can
download it for a fee or for free. My work is out there and it costs me nothing to distribute it. I
can even get paid! If I want to give it away for free, it could go viral like Seth Godin ―The Ideavi-
‖ and bring me massive traffic to my website and global readership for my next book.
With free blog and audio software like Wordpress
, as well as social network-
ing, I can reach more of the book buying public with articles and audios. I can meet people in
Have you embraced the digital opportunities for authors yet?
An article recently examined whether The Tipping Point has
come for the publishing industry
It suggests that 2009 is the year that the ebook finally
changes the publishing industry to a digital model,
helped along by the global financial crisis cutting costs and
jobs. When the #1 bookseller Amazon.com acquired the #1
iPhone e-reading application Stanza, it brought ebook reader-
ship to the forefront of news and blog talk
Image: Flickr CC Kosabe
How to Publish an Ebook for Multiple
Platforms Using Smashwords.com
Smashwords.com is the best site for ebook publishing. You can
publish easily from anywhere in the world and be distributed on the Amazon Kindle, Sony EReader,
Barnes&Noble.com, the iPhone via the Stanza app and be available in multiple formats. Wow!
is an ebook site where you can buy and sell ebooks in various formats. As an author,
you can load your Word document onto the site for free (Smashwords takes a % of sales), and it will
convert your document into the various formats for you. This takes a lot of time and effort from us
creative types who don‘t want to spend days reformatting.
Ebooks have taken off in 2009. With more ebook readers being
launched weekly, mobile phones with ebook apps and the publishing
world in a spin, you need to jump on the wave!
If you have the digital rights to your book, or if you have something you
would like to self-publish, you can publish it as an ebook in a few hours
and have it for sale today! It might not make you a millionaire, but you
will be available on another platform, accessible globally, and all for free!
The books can also be tagged on social networking sites so it is a great service. Smashwords is develop-
ing new distribution deals all the time, so you load your book once and it can be available on multiple
platforms. The picture above shows one of my books for sale on the iPhone Stanza app.
A Smashwords Style Guide
is provided which you should definitely read first. Don‘t assume that your
file is ok to load as is. The best file to load is a basic Word document with no formatting. Check the
converted versions and make changes, then reload as necessary. It took me a few tries! Once you are all
set up, use the Smashwords Marketing Guide
to learn about marketing tactics and promote your book.
To start the Smashwords
publishing process, register for an account, and just follow the
You set up an author profile
, and Smashwords will index
your book for Search Engine Optimisation and allow
customers to sample your text. You can load YouTube
videos, and create coupons to allow special offers for your
Related article: Update on the International Amazon Kindle and what it means for authors
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What is an ―Author Platform‖ and Why
Do You Need One Now?
Here are some examples:
Are you already famous? Maybe just in your niche but are you already a household name be-
cause of something? If yes, you have a platform and will likely get a book deal. Think Paris Hilton or
George W. Bush – they don‘t need to know how to write to get published! I suspect this category does
not include anyone reading this blog!
Do you already have a speaking platform? Can you get audiences of several thousand to pay to
come and see you?
Do you already have an existing business with clients and customers who will buy your book?
Do you have a popular blog or website that reaches thousands of people? Think Gary
and Christian Lander‘s ―Stuff White People Like‖.
How big is your email list of people who subscribe to your newsletters or ezines?
Do you have a huge podcasting audience who are raving fans and want to buy your books?
Think Scott Sigler and JC Hutchins.
Can you develop a massive following using web 2.0 technologies? Think Tim Ferriss who
used the leverage of bloggers to promote ―The Four Hour Work Week‖ into a huge hit.
Do you have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, Facebook or mySpace? Can
you convert those into book buying fans?
Have you already had a self-publishing hit book that you have successfully marketed yourself?
Think Lisa Genova‘s ‗Still Alice‘ and Christopher Paolini ‗Eragon‘.
The phrase ―author platform‖ has started to become
more of a catchphrase in the publishing and book world,
so I thought I would explain it if anyone is confused.
The author platform is how you are currently
reaching an audience of book-buying people, or how
you plan to do so. It is your influence, your ability to sell
to your market. It is your multi-faceted book marketing
If you don‘t have any of these right now, never fear. Most of these people took time to build their
platforms. We all start somewhere!
If you are a self-published author, you need a platform to sell your books.
If you haven‘t written a book yet, you need to start building your platform so you have one when your
book is ready.
Book-selling is a business for publisher and author alike. We all need to eat! Some of us would like to
eat really excellent food at superb seafood restaurants, and not just mince and beans. So selling
books is important to us all. There are thousands of books published every month. There are mil-
lions of blogs online. What makes you stand ahead of the pack? Why will people buy your book?
Why do you need an author platform?
If you want to get a publishing deal, you need a platform to prove
your books will sell. Many agents/publishers will not even consider
you if you don‘t have a platform already. If you don‘t believe me, check
out this post
by literary agent Rachelle Gardner who says ―you really
need to show that you are willing and able to put the time and effort
into marketing yourself and building a readership online―.
How can you build your author platform?
So many ways! They all take some time and effort. There
is no magic bullet. You will get there, but only if you get
Start with the free Author 2.0 Blueprint
which will give
you lots of ideas!
How to Discover and Build Your
Branding is important because it enables people to find you, and when they find you, they
might just buy your book. So who are you online? Which niche do you fit into? How do people find
Creating an author platform
is vital for a new author‘s success, and creating a brand is the basis for the
platform. But you need to know what you are creating before you start!
To decide on your brand, answer the following questions:
How do you want to be known? What words do you want people to associate with you?
What are your goals for the next 3 years? What words are associated with that?
Will your books be in a particular genre?
Who do you admire and want to emulate in writing and also as a brand? Find their websites and
keep screen-prints of what you like and don‘t like. Use them as a model (but obviously no plagia-
rism!). If you have a website already, enter it into Google Keyword tool
. Are you happy with
the keywords associated with your site? Do you need to change your focus?
What images do you want associated with you and your brand?
You also need to know what you want for your future, because if you can‘t see the brand extend-
ing over multiple books you have hard work ahead! I made this mistake after my first book ―How To
Enjoy Your Job
‖ when I branded myself with ―career change‖ and a business image. I quickly realised
that I didn‘t want to speak or write on this topic anymore and started The Creative Penn
, a new brand,
from scratch. I brainstormed ideas and settled on using my own name and the image of a pen with
creativity. You can still keep more than 1 niche/brand, but be aware of the effort involved!
Having a brand doesn’t mean you need an expensive logo or unique design (although you
can do these things). It means you have an image and words associated with you in people‘s minds.
You resonate with something to your fans and customers. People will form these opinions themselves,
but you can control this if you build a brand.
If you think branding is a business marketing term and doesn‘t
apply to authors, it‘s time to change your mind!
The internet is made up of many tiny niches and websites, blogs
and books relate to those markets. People find those sites by
searching for specific words and phrases based on what they are
interested in. Your author website, or your book, can be found in
this way too.
Building Your Brand
Once you have decided what you want your brand to be, then
you need to ensure you stay on message, and make sure people
don‘t get confused when they arrive at your site. For example, if
you write a horror book, people will not expect pink teddy
bears and smiley faces on your site. If you write romance, have
a site that reflects that.
* Blog and network on topic and within your brand niche. For example, on The Creative
Penn.com I will not talk about my day job, I won‘t give you cooking or family advice. I also won‘t
review a sci-fi book. I will stay within the bounds of The Creative Penn brand because that is what you
expect (and want) from this blog. I will also only tweet the same topics as it fits with my brand.
Image: Flickr CC Karola
* Be consistent. Try using the same photo across multiple so-
cial networks so people recognise you. Put your picture on your
key material because you want people to connect with you per-
sonally, not just your book. Try not to jump around too much
with your brand ideas. Think about it, then focus your energy on
developing that brand consistently. The internet compounds
your efforts, so the longer you are in the game, the more effective
you will be.
* Find others in your brand niche. Connect with likeminded
people and follow similar blogs. Get to know who makes an im-
pact in your area and read what they are doing. Connect with
them on Twitter if you can. Perhaps interview them for a pod-
cast? Google them and see where they have been posting or ap-
pearing. Do they have video or audio? Which social networks do
they use? Where do they sell books? From there you will also find
people you can network with and who may start following your
The internet is segmented into
Image: Flickr CC LePiafGeo
I speak on this topic and my slidepacks are loaded
Click here for the Digital Marketing and Branding
Award Winning Book Marketing Plan
I have been an avid student of marketing and sales for the last year, reading countless books and lis-
tening to audio programs to ensure I knew what I was doing. I have incorporated much of what I have
learned into this blog. At the beginning of 2009, I won an Award for the Best Marketing Plan for self-
which included an overview of all the different types of things you can do to market
your book. As this site is all about author education, I am sharing it with you – just right click to
download from the link below.
Click here for the Award Winning Marketing Plan
It includes ideas in the categories of PR, press releases, TV, speaking, networking, book launches,
internet promotion, articles, advertising, joint ventures, corporate sales. It doesn‘t include Twitter as it
was done before I joined up—now I would consider Twitter to be a very important part of a marketing
For more on book marketing plans, check out the free audio with Dana
Lynn Smith, the Book Marketing Maven
Click here for download of .mp3 file or listen online.
What you should include in a book marketing plan
Advice for authors who are unsure about marketing
Top tips for doing a marketing plan for publishers
How to combine social networking with selling
And much more!
Having your own book is fantastic – but books don‘t sell
themselves. You need to be marketing and promoting your book
whether you are a self-published author, or if you have a contract.
Marketing is your money tree – you need to put effort in for
it to grow!
Branding and marketing in the digital economy
Book promotion: 5 top tips from being on TV
Press releases: Top tips and a success story
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested