I often find myself struggling with simply getting started on a book project of my own. I can dig into the editing of someone else’s manuscript with no problem; after all, they’ve already overcome their own overwhelm and written the whole book.
Plus, I’m still struggling with the idea of self-publishing my work. I’m a traditional publishing hold out, which explains why I have at least three or four proposals completed but the nonfiction books that go with them still remain unwritten. My booklets, short versions of the books-to-be which I sell from my online store and at the back of the room when I speak or teach, easily could be printed as books; in fact, my local Print on Demand publisher (yes, I have one right in my town) has encouraged me to bite the bullet and spend all of about $500 (without layout costs; I become the designer) to go ahead and become a self-published author. But no…something keeps holding me back.
For those of you who would like to become a first-time author by starting and completing a nonfiction book (Of course, you want to do that during Write Nonfiction in November, right? That’s why you took the challenge!) and self-publishing it, Julie Salisbury has some encouragement to offer you and some great tips on how to overcome that overwhelm that keeps your hands hovering over the keyboard but not actually typing a word. Julie is the founder of “InspireABook, Be the Author of Your Dreams,” a workshop program designed to inspire, motivate and assist first-time authors with transforming their writing into a finished book. She created this program from her own experience and uses it herself. I hope you’ll find her tips useful in moving through whatever blocks you might have about getting started, completing, or publishing your nonfiction book.
You, Too, Can Become a First-Time Author
By Julie Salisbury
Author and Founder of the InspireABook Program and Workshops
There are some myths about being a first-time author I’d like to blow apart. It is not just for the elite, you do not have to face hundreds of letters of rejection from publishers, you can afford to self-publish, and you do have time to write it in your busy schedule! I can show you how easy it can be and share a unique method to create and organize your first book.
We all have a story inside of us worth telling whether it is about your travels, your memoirs or a business book to support your business. How many shoe boxes are full of photos, letters and research material and book ideas hidden in the closet or under the bed? How much writing already exists that you have used in newsletters, promotional material and blog submissions that you could turn into a book? For business people who already give workshops, seminars or speaking engagements the material is already written! So why not turn all that material into a book? Because most believe it is beyond their reach to achieve that and they don’t have time to do it!
I know this because I recently self-published my own first book, successfully sold it into all the local bookstores, and received credibility and respect as a first time author. Since publishing my book my business has blossomed, the local media here in Victoria B.C. the capital of Canada, jumped at the opportunity to report on a local author. I have been interviewed by Shaw TV Daily show (and it’s already been repeated three times) Local radio shows including CFAX1070AM radio who have interviewed me over six times and the local press have run several articles. In fact it has had such a huge impact on my life, my mission and purpose now has become to inspire and motivate other people to tell their stories and become first time authors.
Why is it that so many people feel overwhelmed by the challenge of writing a book? First, understand it IS a time-consuming process and it does require lots of research and quiet reflective time, a precious commodity so few of us have. It actually took me 18 months to write my first book, but now I have developed a method to make this process easier, and my second book will probably only take a few months to complete. Let me tell you about it.
I realized when I started my second book that the mobile binder system provided the perfect way to capture my inspirational moments and organize my research material. By this I mean a briefcase-style binder that I can take with me. Inside, it has templates you can follow for your book layout, a unique “mind-map” system to organize the flow and outline of your book and dividers delineating each chapter of your book-to-be. This system can also be used to perfect your book proposal before you submit it to a mainstream publisher. It helps shows the publisher you have carefully thought through your proposal and that you understand who your reader is and why they should read your book.
With this system, I realized that I no longer had to start my book at chapter one. I actually started it 2/3rds of the way through, simply because I had lots of research material already collated for that particular subject. By the time I had written about my current situation, my mind had already worked out how the chapter before led up to this time and how the chapter following would be formed. I was no longer restricting my imagination and inspiration to just focus on that one story at a time, because all the stories were linked! I didn’t need to write all the chapters at once – just scribble a note to myself and put it in the relevant research section for later!
I had these inspirational moments on the bus, walking the beach, standing in line at the grocery store and even in the shower. I just wrote myself a quick note so I didn’t lose the idea and then filed it away in my book-building binder. I call these “inspirational bundles” and use clear pockets to keep each “bundle” of notes together. Eventually these will inspire my chapter titles for my book.
The other key is giving yourself the reflective quiet time to start writing, and to do this you must commit to taking yourself away from your normal environment where you will be distracted by the normal routine of life (family, emails, TV, constant interruptions). I strongly suggest you start by choosing a writing retreat for your vacation or a weekend workshop or writing group that meet on a regular basis. If you don’t have to time for any of these, the least you should do is take your laptop or notepad/binder to your local coffee shop twice a week to work on your book. Here in Victoria, we have a large book store called Chapters that has a wonderful coffee shop on the premises. Authors can work on their book while being inspired by other authors surrounding them!
Would-be authors are also put off by what they think is an expensive venture. However, with self-publishing, you can control the cost. You can print just one book if you like and buy your books on demand, which averages $6.50 a copy plus an initial set-up cost (starting around $550, or you could opt to buy your own stock for back-of-room sales and reduce the cost per copy to $6. If you retail your book at $20 that means you net $14 for each sale! That’s a much better return than traditional publishers will give you (An average royalty is around five percent which would net you $1.50 per book. You need to sell nearly 10 times more books to get the same return!) There are lots of options depending on how many books you want to print, how many pages your book is and how it will be bound. These examples are taken straight from my quotes from Trafford Publishing, a Print on Demand Publisher, based on approximately 200 pages and a full-color cover.
There are many things to consider when choosing a printer/publisher including the quality of their print and paper (do you get bleed through on the print to the reverse page?). Most important is the level of service they are offering you; some allow free uploads (i.e. no set-up costs). But remember nothing is free, and there is usually a catch, like signing over the rights to your book or only receiving a small royalty for each book sold. What other services do they offer? Do they offer educational programs to help you produce a professional looking book? Do they give advice on layout and design, and what distribution services do they offer (i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, online book store, ISBN No. Barcode and copyright)? Is your book printed locally or is it shipped out to a third-world country where print and paper quality can be an issue. All of these things may factor into the cost.
As you can see, there’s no reason to feel overwhelmed by the thought of starting to write your book, finishing it, and even self-publishing it. If I can do it, you can do it, too.
About Julie Salisbury
Julie Salisbury is the author of A Seven Year Journey Around the World, Discovering My Passion and Purpose, Julie is an entertaining inspirational speaker and story-teller. She is a radio talk show guest on many shows and has been featured in the international press.
Her creation, InspireABook, is the simplest book-building system in the world and is presented in a beautiful briefcase-style workbook with templates and worksheets to guide you through the simple process of organizing your book. The workbook is supported with live and recorded teleseminars, workshops and writing retreats. If you would like more information on the InspireABook workbook system, writers retreats, online classes, or telephone coaching or want to jump start your book project with a writing retreat, go to www.inspireabook.com. Contact Julie at that web address as well.