Rachel Rofe’

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How to publish a book.

The other day I posted this on Facebook:

Since then, I’ve been feeling really inspired to write up a post showing more people how they can get their books written and published.

This is a big topic, so I’m going to do my best to mention everything here. If I forget anything, just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to make this an ever-expanding resource.

I guess what you should know, before I begin, is that I currently have 40 or so books out under different pen names. I have several #1 bestselling books on Amazon and regularly sell a lot of copies of books per day.

That said: I think I’m pretty well versed in creating and publishing high-quality books in short time spans.

There’s a lot here. Here’s the Table Of Contents:

Creating your outline
Writing your book
Proofreading your book
Publishing your book
Promoting your book

So let’s get going…

Creating Your Outline.

Before you can publish a book, you have to write it and the first step is to outline your book.

There are lots of ways you can outline a book. I’m going to explain how to do it for 3 types: generic non-fiction books, original non-fiction (like biographies), and for fiction.

For a generic non-fiction book:

First, write down the main points you want to communicate in your book.

So for example, let’s say we’re writing a book on “how to publish a book”. Here’s what I think of right away:

  • Creating the outline
  • Writing the book
  • Proofreading the book
  • Publishing the book
  • Formatting the book
  • Promoting the book

I generally like writing a book with 8-12 chapters. So to get inspiration for more topics, you can go run a search for books on “how to write a book” (results here). Alternatively, you could search “how to publish a book” (results here).

Then you look through the search results. For example, one of the first books that come up when you search Amazon for “how to write a book” is this one. Click on that, and then the “Click to Look Inside” button:

how to write a book

Once you do that, click Table Of Contents. Here’s the first page of what comes up:

You could go through the titles and see if anything else strikes you as important to include.

You want to publish a book with great content so do this for 5-10 different books.

Then go through the reviews on Amazon for each book. See what readers wanted/didn’t want.

By the time you’re done, you should definitely be able to choose 8-12 of the best chapters to include.

And as a disclaimer, I’m not saying you should go copy other books. That sucks. But this is a great way to get your mind going and get some fresh perspective on something you’ve probably been thinking about a LOT.

For a non-generic nonfiction book (like biographies):

Begin with the end in mind.

“What do I want to communicate in this book?”

Then create your chapters with that in mind.

So for example, let’s say you want to write your life story. There’s a LOT you could include in that.

So maybe you decide your outcome is to show people they can persevere through any circumstances in their lives.

You’d go through and make your outline considering what you want people to get out of the book.

“What are the most important elements that’ll best help people ‘get’ my message?”

In doing this, it will help you realize what makes sense to include and what doesn’t. So maybe you’ll mention the story about when you won the spelling bee, but not the delightful family picnic that was memorable but not necessarily helpful to your outcome.

Choose your best 8-12 points and then you’ll have your outline.

For fiction books:

Write down a general synopsis of what’s going to happen in your story. This would be a couple paragraphs to a page in length.

Your outline would then be a section-by-section breakdown of the synopsis.

Writing Your Book.

There are many ways you can write a book. I’m going to list my favorite:

a) The “normal” way. This tends to be pretty overwhelming for people, but for some, it’s the only way it’ll feel right.

If you’re going to write a book yourself, work from an outline and schedule yourself to write a chapter every 1-2 days.

This might sound like a lot but if you’re writing via stream of consciousness (no editing or censoring yourself), it’s very do-able. Just aim to get your rough draft done.

We’ll go over proofreading in the next section.

(If you go this route, here’s a great book to prod you on.)

b) Record and transcribe. If the idea of writing everything is overwhelming but you know the content needs to come from you, then simply record everything you’d write.

Literally take your outline, get a recording device, and just speak everything you want to include in the book.

Then get it transcribed (here are some resources) and cleaned up.

You can expect to pay a transcriptionist anywhere from $20 – $100 per audio hour. So if you talk for 2 hours (around a book length), you’ll pay $40 – $200.

For cleaning up the book post-transcription, you can either do it yourself or hire someone.

A good cleaner-upper will be able to take on your voice and do an exquisite job of sounding like you. Simply forward them your emails, Facebook posts, blog posts you’ve written, etc.. and they’ll be able to understand and then take on your voice.

c) Hire a ghostwriter Option 1: More Expensive/Less Headache. If you want to publish a book but don’t have the time/desire to deal with much else, then go this route.

When you hire a ghostwriter, you’re basically paying someone to write your book for you. When you publish the book, YOU still get the credit for being an author. They get paid for writing the book. Many NY Times bestselling authors have their books ghostwritten.

Why do ghostwriters do this? Well, they get paid for it.

Some of the really good ones ask for credit on the books too. But most people are happy to just get the upfront money.

You can hire people to write your books in many places. Some options are posting a job on elance.com or guru.com or checking out my resources.

(Hiring people is a little bit of an extensive process, so if you go that route, I recommend my Outsourcing A Kindle Book course.)

A ghostwriter can create an outline for you, but personally, I like to take the time and create the outline myself.

Here’s how I work with a ghostwriter:

1.  Give them the outline.

2.  Make a quick Screencast video explaining the outline. Maybe the bulk of it is pretty self explanatory but there’s a specific point you want covered in Chapter 7. Explain that.

(Your thoughts can be a lot messier when you’re communicating them to a writer versus going the recording/transcribing route.)

3. Forward the writer different things written in your voice, just like I mentioned with the “record and transcribe” section. Forward them emails you’ve written, Facebook posts, blog posts, whatever. This way the writer can mimic how you sound.

Ghostwriter costs run the gamut. Variables include how quickly you need the book back, what your subject is, quality and experience level of the ghostwriter, and a whole lot more. You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to thousands of dollars for a book.

I went this route with one of my books that sells 10-20 copies a day. To be honest, I still haven’t even read the entire thing. I skimmed it, spot checked it, and knew the content was phenomenal… but I haven’t read the whole thing.

d) Hire a ghostwriter Option 2: Cheaper/Faster/More Time Involved. There’s another, cheaper route that takes a little bit more time than Route 1. Basically, you can break up the chapters in your outline into different “extended articles”.

The benefits of calling these “extended articles” and not “chapters” is that they don’t seem as intimidating to a writer.

When a writer gets an assignment to write 10 “extended articles”, each article seems independent of the other articles. It’s not a big deal. It’s just writing a few pages on a topic.

However, if you ask that same person to write a book, they get intimidated. All of a sudden they feel it’ll take way longer and they’ll need to charge 2-3x as much. Just saying the word “book” freaks some people out.

If you go the extended article route, then you can hire the same writer to write all the articles. Or, you can hire different writers to write different articles. This will get your chapters back much quicker, but you’ll need to do more clean-up work.

So here’s how this works: you’ll get back a bunch of extended articles. You’ll then hire a proofreader/cleaner-upper to make everything sound like it’s in the same voice. (You can find these people on elance, guru, or in my resources).

Then you (or someone else) adds an intro and an ending.

Proofreading Your Book

If you’ve hired a ghostwriter via Option 1, you shouldn’t need to have the book proofread.

If you’ve gone any of the other routes it’s probably a good idea to have an extra set of eyes on your book.

A good proofreader will make sure:

  • All grammatical errors are fixed
  • The book is in your voice (assuming that’s what you want)
  • Everything sounds consistent
  • All unnecessary words are taken out (for example, a lot of people overuse the word “that”. It’s often not needed. And the more clear and concise your message, the more people will be able to glean from it.)

A good proofreader also reads the book with the end in mind. What’s your outcome for the book? Is this book delivering that? Before you publish a book, you definitely want to have it proofread.

There are some proofreaders you can hire right here.

Publishing Your Book

You can either self-publish or go with a major publisher.

Because I know marketing, I’ve always gone with self publishing. I love this route, though for my upcoming Radiating Royalty book, I’ll probably work with a traditional publisher.

Since I haven’t done that yet though, I’ll just speak about self publishing.

So you’re going to want physical and Kindle versions made for your book.

Physical books still sell, though Kindle outsells them something crazy like 3 to 1.

To get the physical versions made, I use CreateSpace.com.

You pay $25 (I think) and they’ll list your physical book for you on Amazon.com.

You just upload the book (make sure it’s formatted correctly) and either upload your cover or use their free cover designer. They even provide a free ISBN number (the bar code on the backs of books).

(Formatting can be a huge pain, but I use John for it. He formats them perfectly for $50. No-brainer.)

To get Kindle versions made, go to kdp.amazon.com.

It’s free to list your book.

Kindle is awesome, just a PAIN for formatting. I’ve gotten many a bad review because of books looking like crap on Kindle, so I had a tool created to alleviate that. You can get it right here.

After you have your book set up on both CreateSpace and Amazon, just send Amazon a support ticket and ask them to merge both your books onto one page.

Presto… you published a book and you’re listed on Amazon. :)

Promoting Your Book

There are lots of ways you can promote your book once it’s on Amazon.

One great way to start building up momentum is to have “free days” using KDP Select.

Basically, when you use KDP, you promise to ONLY put your book on Amazon for a limited time (no Barnes & Noble, no Apple, etc).

The benefit to you, among other things, is you can offer your book for free for a few days.

When you offer your book for free, Amazon will publicize it for you. You’ll get lots of downloads, which hopefully translates to more reviews, which boosts you up in the search engines.

You also start to get featured on the bottom of other books in your niche, like this:

Publish a book on Amazon - Featured

This is definitely one of your best strategies to get more exposure on Kindle.

My partner Mario also put out a course on how to rank #1 on Kindle. I won’t mention everything in the course here since thousands of people have paid for it, but I recommend it if you want to get as much exposure as possible.

Using KDP Select is an excellent starting point either way.

A few points to note:

With the exception of two resources, I don’t get anything for sharing with you. I just thought they’d help.

I’ve been writing this for 3 hours now and my head is a little foggy.  If you have questions/want me to clarify, post in the comments. I’ll keep editing this.

And if you’d like to share this blog post with other people, that’d be awesome. I’d really love to help lots of people get their genius out into the world. :)

Let’s also stay connected on Facebook so I know what other posts would be of benefit to you. :)

Clip to Evernote

35 comments on “How to publish a book.

  1. Leah Butler-Smith on said:

    Lovely post Rachel. I’ve been working on a few self help books using NLP and dabbled with self publishing with my marketing knowledge so this is grand stuff.

    Love the Digital Age for all the wonderful possibilities its opening up for many creative people who perhaps before would never had taken their craft and shared it with others.

  2. Dr.Mani Sivasubramanian on said:

    Very nice outline of how to publish your book.

  3. Very nice outline of how to publish your book.

  4. Enjoyed the guide very much, Rachel. Nicely done, should help quite a few beginner authors to take the plunge and enjoy the thrill of publishing their own book. Thank you for sharing. I know it’s pretty extensive for an article/short report, but do you have any tips on how to create a work of fiction (novel, novelette, short story)?

  5. Thank you Dr. Mani! <3

  6. Het thanks for this,

    I have a couple questions though:

    1. As per your statement “ONLY put your book on Amazon for a limited time” how long is this limited period until you can publish elsewhere?

    2. Are you allowed to ask for reviews in your book when you have a giveaway promotion?

    Thanks!

  7. Awesome article. Thank you for posting it! I have so many books that I want to get done and these tools will prove to be helpful and also motivate me to get it all done.

  8. Rachel,
    you should take this outline, expand it and sell it. There is a lot of value here.

    Warmest Regards
    Mike

  9. Rachel,
    you should take this outline, expand it and sell it. There is a lot of value here.

    Warmest Regards
    Mike

  10. Rachel,
    You should take this outline, expand it and sell it. There is a lot of value here.

    Warmest Regards
    Mike

  11. Great, easy to understand process for getting your book published.

  12. Great, easy to understand process for getting your book published.

  13. Wow – very detailed post. That should help a lot of people.

    I bought Mario’s course too. It is very good – especially for the price. Thanks.

  14. Rachel – nice post. I hope you don't plan to delete it because I bookmarked it in my notes for Page One Profits (which I bought). I wonder if you have one Kindle format that you could share.

  15. Rachel – nice post. I hope you don't plan to delete it because I bookmarked it in my notes for Page One Profits (which I bought). I wonder if you have one Kindle format that you could share.

  16. This is a great post Rachel! Kudos to you! This is really helpful especially for those who are new to writing a book but with a strong passion for writing. I can relate to that receptionist you are talking about in your Facebook post. That is exactly what I have been facing when I started writing and I don’t know how to publish my book. I’ll bookmark this page and share to others who are also interested in book writing. Thanks!

  17. Bel Esprint on said:

    Awesome awesome post! Man this post finally convinced me to try and write my own book. Thank you Rachel

  18. Looking forward to checking out the course. I’ve known Kindle is ripe for those who have the itch to write…I just needed the extra push to make myself do it. Can’t wait!

  19. Hi Rachel and thanks for this guide and for all the links to optimal resources.
    I’m going to publish my first book/ebook, and the same for a customer.
    I’ve especially appreciated the formatting tool link ;)

    Thanks so much for all your hard work!
    See you soon,
    Alessandro Zamboni

  20. Karen on said:

    Rachel.

    I agree with Mike Grafstein – You should expand this blog post and publish it as an article or ebook. Add some extra detail on the correct formatting for a published physical book and for a Kindle correctly-formatted book. Yes, there are some differences. Does MS Word work or do you need some other tool?

    About promoting a book – KDP Select is a good starting point. What if you don’t have a list – what do you do? Should you use something like FB or Craigslist? What about a simple (non-)video on Youtube? Just a thought.

    Thanks for the good info.

    • RachelR2013 on said:

      Oo, good call. I’m actually planning on creating an entire course, a BIG one, on everything I know about Kindle. I’m thinking it’ll be done within the next 30-60 days. :)

      • Barb Johnson on said:

        This is wonderful Rachel. Thank you. Helps me get my book ideas going. I will definitely check out your course when it’s finished.

      • Barb Johnson on said:

        This is wonderful Rachel. Thank you. Helps me get my book ideas going. I will definitely check out your course when it’s finished.

  21. Sleep Yoga on said:

    Rachel I have also bookmarked it. and also got the how to rank #1. I am going through it right now. It all makes lots of sense -thank you! Jon

  22. Sleep Yoga on said:

    Rachel I have also bookmarked it. and also got the how to rank #1. I am going through it right now. It all makes lots of sense -thank you! Jon

  23. vishal jaura on said:

    testing here

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