I’ve just finished writing and publishing the second edition of my bestselling book The Rich Recruiter. I wrote this book between 2013 and 2015 and published it in 2015. I have written two books in total and published four books. I am constantly asked how to write and publish a book, so that gave me the idea for this article.
In this article, I am going to tell you how you can become a best selling author.
Pick your book’s direction
There are a few ways of coming up with a book to write:
- Identify a gap - books are like products, so producing a book on a topic that doesn’t already exist increases your chances of becoming a bestselling author. So you can go searching through book categories in Amazon to try to find market gaps.
- Go niche - let’s be honest if you’re writing fantasy, children's book or thrillers, you’re competing against the likes of Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, 50 Shades of Grey, etc. So unless you’re confident that you’re going to become the next massive author, you’re slimming down your chances of being a best selling author by competing in these categories. Be careful with general business books too. You’ll be competing against Donald Trump, Alan Sugar and Richard Branson. So you need to go super niche, if you’re writing a business book, niche down to a category such as HR.
- Write for you - I wrote The Rich Recruiter, because I originally wanted to document my time in recruitment as a reminder for me. I had worked so hard to accumulate all the experience and methods that I didn’t want to forget it all. There wasn’t a book available with everything documented. This is why I decided halfway through writing the book that it might actually help someone. It was at that point I decided to write with the view to publishing it. There wasn’t a book like it on the market. If you can’t find a book you want, that’s a good enough reason to write it.
- Be different - I believe one of the reason’s The Rich Recruiter is successful is because I wrote it truthfully. Rather than writing an academic book, I wrote the truth. Therefore, it was different. Be different.
Just start writing. This sounds pretty obvious, but from the amount of people who I’ve spoken to who want to write a book, but haven’t even wrote a sentence is probably 99 percent. They overthink, they let life get in the way, they suffer self doubt.
Just start writing. Even if it’s just a page. If you can only write one page a night, or 500 words. That’s better than nothing. You’ll soon get into the flow of things. One page a night will turn into a chapter a night. Remember your book doesn’t need to be 600 pages long. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is 163 pages and has been read by over 62 million people. Think quality not quantity.
Getting your book published
There are many ways to get your book published.
Traditional publishing - In traditional book publishing, a publishing company buys the rights to the author's book. They create the book and put it in retailers for sale. The retailer takes cut of the sales, the publisher takes a cut, the literary agent takes a cut and so does the author. It is notoriously difficult to get published this way. When Tim Ferriss wrote his first book, The Four-Hour Workweek, he was rejected by 25 publishers. The 26th publisher only offered Tim a contract, not because they thought the book was good, but because they believed Tim would do everything to make the book successful. Harry Potter was also rejected by 12 publishers.
I was rejected by a publisher, so I made a decision to self-publish, which I’ll discuss next. The reason I went down the self-publishing route was, because my book wasn’t a book that could be unique like Harry Potter. Someone could have easily written my book it was just a matter of time before someone did. I had to act fast. In fact, the major decision that made me self-publish wasn’t the rejection, it was the fact that once I learnt that it can take two years to publish after the contract is signed I thought it would be too late. Remember, books are a business and being the first to market is the most important thing in business. It is more important than being better. You could produce a better tasting coke drink than Coca Cola, but Coca Cola was first to market and that defines their success.
Self-publishing - is when you publish your book yourself. This isn’t a new concept, but in the past you would have to bulk buy large amounts of copies to sell. If you didn’t sell them you would have lost your money. Thanks to the internet, digital readers and print on demand you can now self-publish your book with absolutely minimum costs and zero risk.
There are different self-publishing routes, but I personally chose Createspace, which is an Amazon company. Createspace enables you to sell your book on Amazon, and since millions of people go on Amazon to buy books, it made perfect sense to me. As this is the method I have worked with, the rest of this article will show you how to use Amazon’s Createspace to publish
How to self-publish
At a very high-level these are the following steps to publishing your book:
- Pick your book topic - make sure this topic is something you want to write about, because you’ll eat, sleep and breath it.
- mindmap the chapters - this gives you structure and your book structure, which in my opinion makes it easier to write. While you don’t need to (and your shouldn’t) stick to this structure rigidly, it gives you a direction. As you write you’ll add more chapters, change them and even take some away.
- Write the book - this will be the longest part of the process, but if you love writing it’ll be the most enjoyable. Keep writing and rewriting the book until it’s how you want it. Remember it’ll never be perfect, that’s an impossible goal. Don’t delay publishing by being too fussy. Wanting it to be great and wanting it to be perfect are not the same thing.
- Title your book - If you want your book to be found and bought you need to be clever with your book’s title. Searching for books online is the same principle as searching for websites and information on a search engine like Google. Your book’s title and subtitle need to have keywords that the consumer will search for. You need to think like a marketer not like an author when it comes to book titles.
- Edit and proofread - It’s damn near impossible to correct all your own mistakes and grammar. Therefore, I recommend you get a professional editor to enhance the writing of your book. They’ll make your book read and flow better. Then I recommend getting a proofreader to correct all the mistakes you’ll overlook. Once you have had it edited and proofread you should then get it proofread by friends and family. Then proofread it again yourself.
- Format your manuscript - once you have completed your manuscript you’ll need to turn it into a book. It’s likely you’ll have used a word processor like Microsoft Word and wrote your manuscript in the default A4 style. You’ll need to turn this into a document that’s suitable for book printing. There are two ways to do this. One way is to outsource it to someone. I have done this, and although this is supposed to save you time I personally found it expensive and they made so many mistakes in the book by not paying attention to the flow of bullet points and paragraphs. The second way is to format it yourself. This is my preferred option because it’s free and you can do it exactly how you want to do it. All you have to do is go to Createspace and download the interior template for your book size. Then copy and paste your manuscript into the template. Yes this is a lot of work depending on the size of your book, but it’s great experience. You’ll have a rapid correction process rather than back and forth chat with the formatters. That is unless you can find a great person who will do a top professional job.
- Book Cover - the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” while a very true philosophical statement, life just doesn't work that way, especially consumers who will judge your book by its book cover. Actually let’s be honest, if someone produced a terrible book cover and I mean terrible, can they really care about their writing. A book is like your baby, so surely if the author cared they would make an effort with their book cover? Well the consumer seems to think so, so your book cover needs to be great or at least good. Unless you’re a graphics designer or a skilled creative, hire a professional. Make sure you get them to create a book cover that’s the same trim size of your book.
- Get an ISBN number - an ISBN number is a unique number to your book. You can get free ones from Createspace or you can purchase them. The details of ISBN numbers is out of the scope of this article, but buy one. They’re cheap and it gives you more control. Stick the ISBN number on the inside of your book.
- Upload it all - now you have a completed and formatted manuscript, your book cover and your ISBN number you’re ready to upload to Createspace. The steps are very easy, so just follow them. It couldn’t be easier. At this point you might want to look at the pricing of books and the blurb that helps sell the book.
Great books don’t make best sellers, but great marketers do. Okay so that’s not entirely true, but it doesn’t matter how good your book is, unless enough people read it to spread the word you won’t be hitting best seller. Different books have different audiences, so find out where your readers hangout and go there. Are they on Twitter? Are they on Instagram? Experiment with your marketing and find out what works best for you, once you find out what works, focus on that.
Don’t try to be a bestseller
In know what you’re thinking, “What hypocritical madness is this?”. Being a bestseller is just for your ego, it doesn’t mean anything. Instead write a book that you’re passionate about. Writing a book is a journey of self discovery and passion. You shouldn’t write a book just to become a best seller, because all the people who are writing out of passion will beat you to that place. Be passionate and have fun. If you become a best seller, that’s just a bonus, but it should never be the motivator.