The number of self-published titles in 2012 went up 59 percent over 2011 and 422 percent over 2007, according to U.S. ISBN data provided by ProQuest, an affiliate of Bowker. In fact, the number of self-published titles in 2012 jumped to more than 391,000. E-books continue to gain ground on print books, comprising 40 percent of the ISBNs self-published in 2012. That’s up from just 11 percent in 2007.
Do you want to get in on the action? No better time to start than now. If you prepare, you can start writing your nonfiction book in November during National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), and have that first draft finished and ready for editing in December. That means you can have a nonfiction book in your hands early in the New Year, and 2014 can be the year you call yourself a nonfiction author.
How to Become an Indie Nonfiction Author in 2014
Here’s a plan to become an author in the next six months. It consists of 12 steps you take during NaNonFiWriMo and in the months after.
- Evaluate your book idea. Choose a market to target and determine if it is large enough to justify writing your book. Study the competition, the other books that have already been published on your topic, to ensure your book will be unique and necessary in your category. Then write a preliminary pitch, summary and list of benefits for your book—so you know exactly what you are writing about. (Find out more about this process here.)
- Brainstorm your idea. Consider every possible topic that might go into your book. Put them all down on paper.
- Create a table of contents for your book. Organize your mish-mash of ideas into the structure of a book—chapters.
- Flesh out your table of contents: Break your chapters into subheading. This should be easy if you had enough topic ideas during step #2.
- Create a firm writing schedule for the month of November. In other words, block out writing time for the next. Firm is like rigid—unmoving. That means a schedule you can stick to no matter what. If you fail at “no matter what,” have a fall-back plan for making up the lost time.
- Write your first draft in 30 days. Take the Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) Challenge! A nonfiction book is usually about 50,000 words. This is about 1,667 words per day for 30 days. Do some test runs now; determine how long it takes you to write 500 words. Then you’ll know if the schedule you crated in step #5 is realistic. And on November 1, start writing. Finish writing your nonfiction book on November 30.
- Edit your first draft in 30 days. Take four weeks (December) to do revisions on your draft. Maybe also enlist some readers to help you in this endeavor, so you can implement their feedback before the end of the month.
- Hire a professional editor. This is a very important step. You need a developmental editor and a line editor at the least. One makes sure your book makes sense, isn’t redundant and doesn’t have gaps. The other makes sure your writing is strong. Some writers need content editors. You will also need to hire a proofreader when the editing is done. Since you will likely go through two to three rounds of editing and a round of proofreading, you will need to allow a minimum of six to eight weeks for this process, if not more. Sometimes editing of a full-length book takes six months to a year.
- Hire a professional cover designer. This is also very important. Don’t design the book cover yourself unless you are a designer of books. Be sure the designer knows how to design ebook covers. This shouldn’t take too long if you like the first design or two you receive.
- Hire an ebook conversion specialist. If you plan to have an ebook, you will need this step. You can do this yourself, but it is time consuming. Better to let the experts do it for you, and the turnaround shouldn’t take more than a few weeks.
- Hire an interior book designer. Your cover designer likely can do this, too. Don’t skimp here either and do it yourself unless you are a book designer or you possibly use Word templates like those provided by BookDesignTemplates.com. Book design can take a few weeks to a month or more.
- Publish your book. At this point you can upload your design or document and your cover to your distributor of choice, such as Amazon’s CreateSpace or Kindle or Lightening Source, for example.
When Will You Hold a Book In Your Hands
A client of mine recently told me he wanted a book in his hands by January 1. His book wasn’t written yet. He did plan to write his nonfiction book in a month. Despite the fact that I lean toward seeing everything from the positive side, I said, “No way.”
If you follow these 12 steps, when will you hold a book in your hands? I can’t tell you exactly.
Do some “experts” claim you can go from first draft to published nonfiction book in a month? Yes. Will it be a good book? Maybe, but I doubt it. And they probably aren’t talking about a full-length nonfiction book but more likely a very short ebook, which takes less time to produce overall.
Let’s break this down: You can easily get through steps 1-5 before the start of the WNFIN challenge, or November 1. With steady work, you can finish steps 6 and 7 before the end of the year, or December 31. Steps 8 through 11 put you at the mercy of other people’s schedules, those of publish professionals who work as freelancers or contractors and may have other books in the queue they need to finish before taking on yours. (So be sure to schedule with them early if you are on a deadline.) There are other factors…for instance, if you don’t like the cover design and it has to be redone three times (or more), this extends the design period. Also, the editing process can be short or long depending on your writing ability and the state of your manuscript (and how many rounds of editing you need or how many editors). Given all these factors, it’s difficult to predict when your book actually will be ready for publication.
However, if you are ready to hand your work over to an editor on January 1, it’s possibly that by May 1 you could have a printed book in your hands. (An ebook gets done more quickly because it does not need an interior design.) It’s also possible the process will go more quickly…or more slowly. But you will likely call yourself a nonfiction author in 2014. (Figure, on average it takes somewhere between three to six months.)
If you want to learn more about self-publishing and live in California, join me at the Self-Publishing Bootcamp sponsored by the California Writers Club of Sacramento on November 2. To get more information and register, click here.