Recently, I’ve started to help others write their book and self-publish it on Amazon. However, before I start working with someone, it helps to get clear on what they want before we start.
These are some of the questions I ask, before we even start putting pen to paper.
1. Who are you writing the book for?
Before you start to write your book, you need to be really clear on who are you actually writing it for.
Self-publishing was known as vanity publishing for a reason. It used to be that some people would write a book, order a few copies to give to their friends and they were happy with that.
There’s nothing wrong with writing and publish a book that you want to share with just a few friends, however, if you’re writing a book that you want to sell, then you really need to be clear that that’s what you want to do.
Once you know you’re writing a book that you want to sell, then you need to create a book that people will want to buy!
2. What kind of book do you want to publish?
Is it a reading book, textbook, children’s book, biography, journal… etc. There are loads of books out there, so before you start, know exactly what kind of book you’ll publish.
Knowing the type of book you want to publish affects not just who you might want to sell the book to, but also how wide your audience might be. For example, if you want to write a crime thriller then your audience is quite large, whereas if you want to write a textbook for a specific course or subject, then your audience will be much smaller.
3. What is your goal for the book?
If you want to write a book to make money, then you’ll need to write a book that a lot of people will buy. This means that you will have to think as much about how you will market and sell your book as what you’re going to write. Your goal may event be to be in the bestsellers lists, in which case how you launch your book will be important.
Alternatively, if you want to raise your profile among your peers, then the fact that you’ve actually written a book, and can bring copies of it to your events may be sufficient.
Once you know what your goal is, you’ll know whether seeking an agent and publishing house for you book is what you need or whether self-publishing is a better option.
4. Is it fiction or non-fiction?
If it’s a book of fiction, then there are readers for all the different genres of book and different publishers tend to specialize in different genres.
If your book is non-fiction then is there a specific group of people that will want to read it?
Again, knowing the type of book you’ll write will affect who your audience but also which agents and publishers you may want to pitch your book to.
5. How will you write your book?
There are a number of ways to write a book. You might want to use a word processing application like Google docs or Microsoft Word. There’s also a programme specifically created for writers called Scrivener.
Alternatively, some writers record their manuscript and then get someone to transcribe it for them.
6. Who will write your book?
Most books are written by the author, however, some books are written by ghost-writers. These are people who will write your book for you, for a fee obviously, and then you publish the book under your own name. It’s your idea, just someone else does the hard work.
This is perfect for people who have loads of ideas, but aren’t great at telling the story.
If you choose to go the route, make sure that you’re going to make more money from the book than the ghost-writer did!
7. Who will proofread and edit your book?
Trust me, as good as you are at proofreading other peoples books, when it comes to your own, this is one area where you need to get help.
You can use friends if that is their skill, or websites like Upwork where freelancers with the skill to proof-read and edit our book are available. You just have to post a job and choose who you work with.
8. Wil it be print, ebook or both?
Whilst many people still read print books, an increasing number of people prefer to read via some sort of device, however, it really does depend on the book.
Many of the books I’ve published wouldn’t be suitable for ebook, however, my first books were only available as ebooks.
These days companies like Amazon have made it as easy as possible to publish your book, and with a couple of tweaks, your print book could be available as an ebook too.
9. Will your book be available as an audiobook?
When I buy a book, it’s usually an ebook to read on my tablet, and an increasing number of times, those books are also available as an audiobook.
Audiobooks are great for audio learners and those who find reading for a long time difficult.
10. What size will your book be?
One of the things that I do for my clients is create a basic template that will get them started, however, books come in all shapes and sizes, so before we start I need to know what size books they are considering.
Some of my own books come in different sizes, and that is something to consider, especially if you’re planning on publishing notebooks for example.
11. Will your book be in colour?
If you’re writing a story book, then chances are your book is just black ink printed on white paper, however, books like textbooks include pictures and they are best printed in colour.
The downside of this is the cost.
When I looked at printing a coloured journal, the costs of printing it via the “print on demand” route made it nonviable. However, if you have the funds, then getting a printer to publish your book may be better.
12. What sort of cover are you thinking of?
If you’re publishing a book of fiction, then you’ll probably consider both paperback and hardback covers for your book, whereas textbooks tend to be hardback.
Alternatively, when it comes to journals and planners, you may want to consider softback or spiral-bound for your book.
13. Who will create your book cover?
Having tried it myself, I can honestly say, trying to do your own book covers is a big mistake.
Unless you’re a graphic designer, then this is another job where you’ll need to find someone to do the job for you. If you have a family member who can do this, then great. Otherwise, use a website like fiverr or upwork to find someone.
How much you want to spend is up to you, but it’s one of those things where you get what you pay for, and you have to remember that people do actually judge books by their cover!
14. Who will print it?
Unless you own your own printing company, someone else will have to do that and your options are varied.
You can choose to get a printing firm to print your book and deliver it to you for distribution. Many companies have a minimum order level, so you may end up having to spend quite a lot of money. In addition, once you have the books in your hand, you have to get them into the hands of your readers.
Alternatively, companies like Lulu and Amazon do “print-on-demand” books, i.e. they only print the book when someone has bought a copy. This reduces your financial risk, but the books cost you a little more.
15. How will you distribute your book?
Imagine your book is really successful and you have loads of people who want to buy your book, how will you get it into their hands? I’ve bought books on places like Kickstarter, where the person setting up the project is more successful than they thought and suddenly have so many orders that they need to find a distributor to actually get their product out there.
The nice thing about uploading your book onto a platform like Amazon, is that when someone buys a book there, they do the delivering!
16. How do you plan on selling your book?
In order for your book to sell, people need to know it exists, so how do you plan on promoting it?
This is what publishing houses are really good at.
They have the contacts, connections and experience to get your book known and on the shelves.
The downside is that you have much less control when it comes to your book.
If all these questions have left you scratching your head, then don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it seems. I’ve been self-publishing for a while now and have published both print and ebooks, so if talking to someone will help, then you can schedule a call with me via bit.ly/coffee-with-Karen, or message me via my Facebook page.
Either way, I’d love to hear from you.