We chose to self publish for a number of reasons with our previous experience marketing books as a top factor in that decision. In this article, I’ll lay out some of the steps we take as well as link to a few useful articles and podcasts from other authors. If you want to read about the tools we use to write and publish our books click here. Interested in how we design our covers, read the article here.
We’ve worked with a few books published by major publishing houses. Yes, you get some major retailer shelf space when you publish with them, but if those books don’t sell they go back to the warehouse and you don’t get a dime. The bulk of the advertising, as well as the expense of it, falls on the lap of the author. You typically get a portion of your royalties upfront and can use that money to hire a marketing firm but still, the responsibility of getting the word out there falls on you as the author. A dirty little secret of the book publishing industry, right? Below are four actions we take in every one of our book launches.
You’ve got a social network right? I mean who doesn’t have one these days? USE IT! You don’t have to be that super annoying friend with the multi-level marketing scheme that’s constantly plugging a product you don’t care about, just drop simple updates on what you are doing. “Hey, guys it’s been a long day of writing, 20,349 words and counting.” Something simple like this gives them just enough information to get them curious but not so much information that they feel imposed upon. Start out slow, with an update every week or two as you are writing your book (it takes longer than a week or two by the way). Then once you have a finalized first draft you can up your game a little with a post a week. Snap pictures of the proof copy, if you order one, and show all your mark-ups. Don’t give more information than you need to until you have a firm date settled on for launch. Allow your audience to ask you questions!
You’ll have some friends that show more interest than others into what you are writing. When you’ve gone through a proof or two and you feel you are nearly ready, approach a handful of these friends and ask them to give your book a read through before you publish. I know you may be hoping to squeeze pennies out of all your friends at first hoping every one of them will buy your book, but giving away a few copies will be better for the long game. You’ll get helpful feedback and hopefully, your friends will give some reviews and on launch day you can ask all of your “Launch team” to post on their social profiles about your book along with their review of it which automatically extends your reach. I know I just bashed multi-level-marketing schemes, but the fact is they work, so tapping into some of the less obnoxious elements they use can come in handy.
Especially if your book is non-fiction; Facebook groups are a valuable asset. Ask yourself if your topic is something other people might want to discuss or you can build a community around. Chances are the answer is probably yes! If you are writing fiction consider creating a Facebook Group or page around yourself as the author. The group can be a place where they learn what you are up to and talk with (or nerd out with) other fans of your work. Launching a Facebook group at the same time as your book can be a great way to stir up buzz. This also creates an audience for promoting future books and speaking events if that is a goal for you. Here is a really great podcast with Nona Jones, of Facebook, on how best to utilize Facebook groups.
For my book the Conversation Journal I launched a Facebook group for parents who want to have conversations with their kids. The group is designed to help and encourage parents as they are going on this journey. I share relevant content on this topic as well as experts and freebies that keep the book in mind.
I know we are struggling authors and we want to make money off of our work, now I’m telling you to give it away for free? Yes, yes I am. Not all of it, but a portion of it. Drive people to your website with a free offer of chapter one or a simple Google app-based quiz that supports your topic. Freebies serve two purposes, to inform the world about your book with a sample and to build up a contact list. Don't forget to use a tool like MailChimp to capture the contact information of the folks utilizing your freebies. I’m going to give another link to a Carey Nieuwhof Podcast because the dude is great! He launched his book I Didn’t See it Coming in August of 2018 and his rollout and promotion were superb. In this podcast, he details the steps he took, some really great advice here folks!
Now you have read about our four go-to actions and you are thinking “But I just can’t”. You don’t have the time, patience, or know-how - that’s fine! That is what we are here for, if you want to work with us we’d love to help you position your book for a successful launch. Click Here to contact us.
I’ll be honest with you, Jason and I owned a marketing company so I have a bit of design knowledge and skills already. They are rusty from lack of use in the past ten years, but it doesn’t ever entirely go away. That being said I believe with these four tools anyone can design their own beautiful book cover with little with very little learning required.
Let’s start with the simplest one and one you probably already have access to already if you use Google, and that’s Google Draw. I used Google Draw to create the first draft of all the illustrations in the Conversation Journal. Remember that print and digital are very different quality when you design so make sure you set your page size based on 300 pixels per inch (best quality for printing). If you are making a 6x9 book your Drawing will be 1800x2700 pixels, pretty simple.
The next tool we use is a web-based app called Canva. Canva is great for just about everything you might want to create and design. You can do your entire promotional packaging using Canva, web ads, social media items, cover and much more. There are quite a few FREE elements but they’ve also got a great option to buy elements if your design skills are lacking. Plus they’ve got hundreds of great templates to help you with the layout if that’s not your jam. I personally hate layout design so Canva has been a great tool for searching ideas for me.
The next tool we use is Inkscape. It is a free tool that is very similar to Adobe’s Photoshop. There are a web-based app and downloadable software. Jason starts his designs out in Canva and then refines them using Inkscape.
The last tool we love is UnSplash. They’ve got amazing quality royalty free images. We used paid stock photography when we were running our marketing company and let me tell you these free images are just as awesome, if not more so. You don’t have, but you can always drop a call out on the inside of your book with photo credits.
Once you’ve got your cover designed and you want to make marketing and promotional items this guy has some great free templates you can use.
Is your laptop slowing you down? Yeah mine was too, here is the machine I now use that keeps me up and running, and here is my honest review of it.
If you want to read about my must-have tools for self-publishing go back to last week's article here.
So you have an idea and you want to write a book. It can seem like a scary process but with a few tools, you can get it done! That is if you can push past the actual act of sitting down and writing the book in the first place!
The first tool you’ll need before you can go to print is Grammarly. You are going to want to get it grammar checked, poor grammar in a book is more than just a little annoying. People forgive a lot in a blog post because they expect it to be conversational, but in a book, you’ve got to tighten your game and Grammarly can help you do that.
Now you’ve got a written and grammar checked document, and you are ready to go to print. Your next step is Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). They have made the book creation process super simple and easy. They’ve got a host of tools you can use to create and design your cover, even if you aren’t design savvy. The only tool you need is a digital document. I use Google Drive for on the go editing and creation because it syncs up with all my devices, but you can use whatever word processing program you want.
As you are getting ready KDP will give you several different book sizes to choose from. For me, I like the 6x9in paperback. Once you have picked out your size return to your finished document and under the file, menu go to “page set-up” and adjust the size of the page on your document. Don’t want to bother with all that? Download my free 6x9 template and add your content for a simple formatted book.
Want to learn the tools we use to create our covers? Read the article about our top four free resources for creating an amazing book cover on your next week.
Here are some other really great resources to help you out on the journey of self-publishing and launching a book.
Carey Nieuwhof did some recent interviews with Drew Dyck and Margret Feinberg that have some great content in them for aspiring authors and those getting ready to enter the publishing arena.
Dell Gaming Laptop
8th Generation Intel Core i5-8300H Processor (Quad-Core, 8MB Cache, up to 3.9GHz w/Turbo Boost)
8GB 2666MHz DDR4 up to [32GB], (additional memory sold separately)
128 GB (SSD) Boot + 1 TB 5400 RPM [SATA] HDD Storage
15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare, LED-Backlit Display
Be more productive. Windows 10 is the best for bringing ideas forward and getting things done
2-in-1 Media Card Reader
3 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
My Honest Review
This page contains affiliate links. Dell did not sponsor this post. This is my honest review of a product I paid for.
I used to buy a new computer every year. I’d set my budget and save up for the next one as soon as the recent one was purchased. I generally would talk one of my parents or cousins into buying my used one. I had a strange need for new computers. I don’t even think I was buying the best computer when I upgraded I was just buying the better than my current and the best I could afford.
Obviously, this model isn’t sustainable and once I got out of high school and real life hit I realized I could no longer do this. I saved up my money and worked extra jobs so I could get a really nice computer. I didn’t have a computer so I could play games, I had it for creativity purposes. I loved to write and make mini movies with my friends. I was constantly in search of the best and fastest machine to edit and render our silly creations.
I chose an IBuyPower customized machine. It was beautiful! The side panel was a transparent plastic panel so I could see inside and there were lights on each of the different components that could be programmed to light up with use or music. Best of all, it was a shiny royal blue!
That was the last computer I ever purchased for myself. I married Jason a year later and he is THE tech guy in this relationship and he has always picked out my machine for me after Big Blue died. Big Blue lasted several years and was revived a few times before Jason decided I needed a laptop. We had our marketing company back then and so while I used the laptop it wasn’t actually mine so when I left the company after our oldest daughter was born I had to give it up.
I was downgraded to Jason’s old computer that I had gotten him as a gift before we got married. It too had been revived a time or two and was more of a mutant than a machine. I started moving away from PC use altogether because using that old thing was so frustrating. For 7 years I struggled away with it and gave up writing for the most part because the machine made me so angry.
I pestered Jason so much about it he eventually got me a new laptop. It was great for word processing and could manage the kids' homeschool apps. It was slower than I would have liked, but a million times better than the old mutant I had been using.
With 3 kids in public school and each of them having about an hour of online homework to do a day our house was in need of another machine. I wanted to design the Conversation Journal and get back into writing on the blog so my desire was for a machine that could handle some creative applications too.
Jason found a steal of a deal. Dell sent him a $350 off coupon on a nice laptop. We were in the home stretch of paying off our student loans so buying a laptop was not on our radar for real, but the deal was so good we decided to go for it.
Upon the very first startup of the machine the cooling fan was broken and I had not owned it more than an hour before it was being packed back up in a box and heading back to Dell service support.
It arrived back and the sound cards hadn’t been installed properly. They initially wanted me to send it BACK to dell once more which would have meant in the 4 weeks I had owned the laptop I had only used it for two days. Jason posted a comment on Dell’s Twitter feed and they immediately corrected the problem by walking us through the fix. I was fit to throw a fit, but Jason the patient handled it all for me - he is pretty cool like that.
Now that I’ve got the machine and the fan works and the sound is properly functioning I love it. I had started designing the Conversation Journal on my old laptop and it was taking forever, I was dedicated so I pushed through. With this Laptop, I have been able to design 4 pages to every 1 on the old machine. It starts up in an instant and I haven’t even optimized my startup (kids running around means my time is limited and prioritized).
Right now Amazon has a pretty good deal on the same machine and it is possible that it may go down a little more for Prime Day. If you are on the lookout for a new laptop I highly recommend this one.
From the Amazon Product Page
Nvidia GeForce 1060
The GeForce GTX 1060 GPU has now come to laptops, powered by the ultra-fast, power-efficient NVIDIA Pascal GPU architecture. These notebooks come loaded with innovative new gaming technologies that make them ideal for the latest high-definition games and open the door to virtual reality and beyond.
Unparalleled viewing experience
Witness everything on screen with stunning clarity and superior color richness thanks to the IPS FHD display with HDMI 2.0 for 60Hz 4K output and Equipped with anti-glare panels to create a wider range of environments.
Read more: Dell Gaming Laptop
Tranturms. Safety. Boundaries
Our Family History With Tablets
In honor of Prime Day, I thought I’d give a review of the Kindle Fire. They are sure to come on sale and you may be tempted to buy one or two for your kiddos. This article will be worth the read before you make that decision.
We've got 5 Young Children
We’ve currently got 5 children under the age of ten. We have used both Ipads and Kindle Fires with our kids. I will be 100% honest with you, we no longer use tablets in this house. I truly preferred the Kindle when we were using tablets, the parent controls are so much simpler to use and set-up. I strongly recommend getting the Disney Circle to moderate your devices, but if you don’t have the Circle the native child controls on the Kindle Fire are really good. If you make the decision that tablets are right for your family, no judgment from me, I would recommend the Kindle over the Ipad.
Now I’m probably going to shot myself in the foot and talk myself out of any affiliate sales on a Kindle Fire if you keep reading. That’s okay with me though. I want to empower any parents out there that are struggling with the Tablet and Device debate with your children. It is fully possible to get rid of devices and still have children that are entertained long enough for you to get done what you need to.
When our first 2 kids were under the age of 4 we had two Ipads. They enjoyed using them all the time and would frequently throw tantrums when I took them away. We were planning on Homeschooling and I got swept up in what the other moms were doing and I felt like I HAD to have some sort of tablet for them. The Ipads were older and needed replacing and after much research I bought the Kindle Fires for them.
They enjoyed their educational programs. They had apps to encourage reading, bible study apps, and math apps. I told myself it was all okay because they only had educational content on their Kindles and they had auto-shut offs set up. They were trained to expect to use the Kindles within a certain window of time every day. They still stomped their feet and got angry when the Kindle’s would shut off. They whined and cried if we missed a day, and they begged bargained and tried to be sneaky to get more time.
We had meltdowns over the tablets on a regular basis at least once or twice a week and when you have more than one kid those really start to add up. We started down the path of minimalism and I regularly looked at the Kindle’s and thought about how much I disliked them. They caused anxiety in me. I tried instituting a system of fasting one day a week from technology and they were like little junkies going through withdrawals, it made me endlessly angry.
Then one Thanksgiving they broke their charge cords for the last time. I had already replaced them many times before and I was done. I told them I wouldn’t be spending any money until Christmas and maybe they’d get new chargers in their stockings. The next month was an interesting one. The first two weeks they were just awful and whined about the Kindle’s every single day at 1 pm and would throw down and cry until 2 pm when the Kindle’s would have turned off. Then all of the sudden they forgot about them. They realized they weren’t getting what they wanted and they moved on. They started playing with their toys more, building and laughing, working together and being kids.
Christmas came and I had the charge cords but I never gave them to the kids. We’ve been tablet free for 4 years now and it has been wonderful. We do have a Switch game system that they got for Christmas last year, but we practice not throwing fits when they are told to stop playing - how do we do that you ask? Jason will randomly tell them to stop for an undefined period of time. They might play for 3 minutes and be asked to stop for 20. They might play for 20 and be asked to stop for 5. It is random and if they throw a fit they don’t get to go back to it.
I am okay with the Switch because we had some strict guardrails in place from the very beginning and because they play together on it. It is a community thing and they invite friends over which feels less like they are isolating themselves and diving into technology without direction.
On occasion, they ask if they can get Kindle’s again but I tell them only the book readers not one with games and they are mostly disinterested in that idea.
But your kids will feel attached to them
Simple & Functional
But they may cause tantrums
But you better have boundaries
Read more: Kindles Tablets and Other Devices we CAN Live Without