How to Approach Self-Publishing a Book
When many people think of writing a book, a novel is what first comes to mind. But many people with little interest in fiction, or even a broader writing career, could benefit from publishing a non-fiction book to bolster their credibility and career.
Most people have an area of expertise, something they could literally “write the book on,” and making this a reality will help clients, customers, potential employers, and other experts in your field see you in a whole new light. And making that book a success will go even further in earning respect and getting your name out there. Self-publishing a book is one of the most accessible and direct ways to turn experience and knowledge into credibility.
Who can benefit from self-publishing a book?
Doctors, business consultants, entrepreneurs, public speakers, chefs, artists and academics are all examples of those who could benefit from self-publishing a book that showcases their expertise and experience. By getting your name out there with a successful book, you’ll find more clients actively seeking you out. It adds an invaluable new line to your credentials, one that will help you be seen as not only proficient in your field, but as an expert.
And while an aspiring novel author might start their research process after they decide to write their book, authors with this background will find that they’ve already been conducting research for years, and that all they have to do is write it down. This means that even a busy professional should be able to finish a book in a reasonable amount of time. So don’t be afraid to get started.
Whether you want to share your knowledge, establish yourself as an expert, or expand your business, self-publishing a book is a great way to bring what you have to offer to a larger audience.
Before you even start writing, try to figure out what your goal is in self-publishing a book. You might be surprised how much this can vary from author to author, and how this decision can shape the writing and publishing process. While some authors want to make their book a true bestseller, others might be content to bring their ideas to a small but dedicated cohort of readers.
Still others may want to sell as many books as possible and get great reviews, but mainly to support the rest of their career, and to promote other services or events they have to offer. In this “book as business card” model, you’re aiming to get people engaged with something else, like classes, consulting, speaking events, seminars, or other services. People will have that much more reason to seek you out if you can say you’ve “written the book” on your topic. In this case, success might be defined as signing readers up for an email list, or gaining followers on social media, where you can continue to promote what you have to offer.
But in all these cases, it pays to publish the best quality book possible and to support it with a well thought-out marketing plan, with results that can be quantified and measured. For those looking to build credibility, writing a well-known bestseller will earn you even more attention and respect than simply having a book published. If you’re just aiming to get your knowledge out there and help people, your efforts will be that much more effective if your book sells widely. Consider ad campaigns that include radio, print, online, and even local or national TV components.
The big takeaway here is that even if you don’t see yourself as a full-time, professional author, you’ll want to write and publish a book of the highest possible quality, with the potential to compete with bestsellers. When self-publishing a book, this means you’ll need expert support with other aspects of the publishing process. It also means you’ll need to write the best book you possibly can.
Writing your book
As long as you plan on employing the talents of a serious editor later on in the process, it’s best not to get too obsessed with perfection as you write the first draft of your book. For first-time authors the big challenge in the beginning will just be getting your ideas “down on paper” in an organized way. Especially if you’re a busy professional with a tight schedule.
The more you can organize your ideas ahead of time, the less time you’ll spend struggling with writing. Try to put together some form of outline. You can start by thinking in terms of sections and chapters, and fill in the details during a second pass. For professionals writing about their area of expertise, coming equipped with their own experience and ideas, this step will be much simpler than for those starting from scratch to research a topic.
Once you have an outline, you’ll want to be as regular as possible about getting the writing done. If you can set aside an amount of time to spend writing everyday (or at least five days a week) then even getting small amounts done will mean it’s only a matter of time before you have a finished book.
There are also shortcuts for those truly pressed for time. You can dictate your text and have it transcribed, or even hire a ghostwriter. If you have more money than time available, these options are worth consideration.
Finally, as you write your book, don’t forget about your audience. Never stop thinking about exactly what kind of reader you imagine reading your book. It will help your writing to know who you’re communicating with, and it will be invaluable to your marketing efforts later on. And if you can’t picture who would read your book, you may need to reframe your idea.
This is where a lot of self-publishers go wrong. As easy as it is to simply get your book published, you’ll need help with the process if want a book that readers will notice, read, and review positively. Self-publishing no longer means publishing by yourself™, and there’s no substitute for expert support when it comes time to edit, design, and market your book. Without quality editing, a professional book cover, and serious marketing efforts, even the best ideas will probably reach few readers.
There are now a range of hybrid and collaborative publishers out there that can connect you to the kind of talent that traditional publishers have long used to publish bestsellers. Succeeding with your book means more readers, more reviews, and more of a credibility boost. So even if you don’t see a future for yourself as a professional author, you’ll want more than just a minimal, bare-bones publishing effort.
Book as business card
Once you make sure you have a quality book that will reach its readers, you’ll want to make it easy for those readers to connect with you and whatever you have to offer. You’ll want to price your book affordably (although non-fiction prices run somewhat higher to begin with) since your goal is to reach people and connect with them.
Your book can suggest ways to connect, including your website, social media, and an email list. You’ll want to spend some real time working on these platforms, and offer content that would be of genuine interest to your readers, perhaps video or audio content that expands on the themes of your book—something to make it worthwhile to seek you out. And from here, you can advertise paid events, services, classes, or whatever else you have on offer.
Books are great path to publicity and credibility, but if you don’t put real effort into your writing, it may seem like a simple advertisement and even backfire. You need to offer real ideas and content in your book, and ensure it’s easy and rewarding to read. And if you’re not serious about the publishing process, potential readers will miss the chance to appreciate whatever good ideas you may have. So even if you see self-publishing a book as just a side project, you’ll want to give it the same love and attention you would if you were trying to start a writing career.