A lot of business leaders and entrepreneurs have brilliant stories that deserve to get published in a book. Startup businesses, up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and striving leaders want to learn the secret to success and a lot of these people turn to business books to unlock the secrets to success.
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What’s the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing?
Traditional book publishing
In traditional publishing, a book gets published by an established publishing company. All an author needs to worry about is finishing the manuscript. Once submitted, a team from the publishing company will take care of the editing, book cover design, layout, sales, marketing, and promotion.
Authors who secure a deal with a publishing company usually get a book advance or an advance against royalties. This could either be a percentage of the projected book sales, or an advance on expected royalties. This is an excellent way to kick things off, especially for authors who are yet to finish their manuscripts.
How can a business leader like you get a book published with a traditional publishing company?
Manuscript/book idea submission
This is a tedious process and requires a lot of effort. An author needs to get in touch with different publishing companies in the hopes of submitting a book pitch. Publishers get tons of book pitches daily, which is why a book pitch or query letter should stand out from the rest.
Work with a literary agent
A literary agent represents the business interests of authors. In the most basic sense, they act as the middleman between authors and publishing houses to get the writer’s book published. Moreover, literary agents can also help writers get deals with movie producers or theatrical producers.
Enter a contest
Instead of actively looking for a literary agent or publishing house, another strategy is to get noticed by these people by joining writing contests. Agents and publishers are always on the lookout for the next best-selling book and one of the best ways to get noticed is by participating in these contests.
Utilizing the services of a small publisher is an efficient way to get a book published. However, most of these publishing houses do not have the financial capability to provide book advances. Their objective is to publish potential best-selling books and grow their brand to get more business. It could be a win-win for a new author and the publisher, but at the same time, due to financial limitations, these publishers may not have the capacity to market the book successfully.
Self-publishing, plainly put, is getting a book published without the involvement of an established publishing company. The author is responsible for the overall book creation process, from writing the book, having it edited, designing the book cover, having the pages laid out and formatted, publishing via online platforms, and marketing the book.
There are two options to get a book printed and published. The author can work with a printing company or use a print-on-demand service
Working with a printing company gives the author a lot of freedom and control. As this is self-financed, the authors can choose the materials used and print quality based on their designated budget. Also, this could be a profitable venture as the author has full ownership of the book, hence, the full net profit from the published book.
This is a high-risk, high-reward venture and requires the author a huge upfront investment. While there are book stores that cater to self-published authors, it would require a lot of marketing to reach a buying audience. If the author chooses to put up a storefront, all the legwork such as packing and posting the book will have to be done in-house.
Print-on-demand services like Kindle Direct Publishing are low-risk and more budget-friendly options. Individual copies of the book are printed and shipped per order. All the legwork of printing, packing, and posting is done for the author. However, getting a book published this way has downsides in terms of profit margin and consistency of the book quality.
Self-publishing does not mean an author has to cover the whole book creation process to get a book published. Services can be outsourced to minimize the workload:
It is natural for most business leaders to have book-worthy ideas. The extent of experience and list of achievements acquired through the years make a recipe for a best-selling book. But having prowess in the boardroom does not usually equate to prowess in writing. Not all successful people are gifted to write.
To get a book self-published, hiring a ghostwriter can be extremely helpful. There are a lot of freelance ghostwriters advertising their services on online platforms like Fiverr. There are also self-publishing companies and hybrid publishers that provide ghostwriting and publishing services.
Getting a book written by a freelancer is more economical than contracting a self-publishing company. However, there are risks associated with quality, turnaround time, and security. Self-publishing and hybrid-publishing companies are more expensive, but authors are protected by signed contracts. Furthermore, these companies have established processes that guarantee quality and efficiency.
A professional book editor can help identify what a manuscript is missing, what should be taken out of the manuscript, how to tie everything, and what needs to be re-done in the text to get the best possible version of the book.
While authors can self-edit, it is good practice to have another set of eyes, preferably from professionals, who specialize in editing. After having written fifty to sixty thousand words, by the time you are done, you are so immersed with your writing style it becomes difficult to identify mistakes and rewrite phrases to make them look better.
Also, while there are tools like Grammarly to help correct spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, there are times when corrections are too mechanical that the message the text is trying to convey might get lost due to the changes. Situations like these call for human judgment and intellect to write comprehensible iterations of the text.
Typesetting or book layout design is the process of formatting the text onto the pages of the book to make it print-ready. Best-selling books have one thing in common aside from having amazing content – they all provide an amazing reading experience.
Reader experience does not just rely on what’s written, but how the text is presented – fonts, spacing, chapter heading style, margins, side-boxes, footnotes, etc. While these things do not matter much on ebooks, there is still a huge market out there for a physical book reading audience.
It would be best to leave it to the professionals if you are planning to publish a book with printed copies.
Book cover design
Self-published authors need all the help they can get to drive sales. Authors, ideally, should give their undivided attention to writing. Some aspects like book cover design are best left to experts. Not everyone is trained in creating designs that attract readers and drive sales. Would you want to spend countless hours researching trends, design do’s and don’ts, and design fundamentals? Or would you prefer to focus on your content while a seasoned pro takes care of creating a book cover that will appeal to your target audience?
Professional book cover designers can translate your message into a book cover design that can captivate your audience. Whether on shelves or online, an eye-catching cover design will turn heads and grab attention.
How to get a book published
1. Ask yourself why you want to publish a book
Before beginning the long and tedious process of writing a book and getting it published, first, ask yourself why. What is the purpose of your book? What action do you want your readers to take after reading your book? And how would this action from your readers add value to your life, your career, and/or your business?
2. Spend time and money on your book
May it be self-publishing or hybrid publishing, getting a book published requires time and money. The only difference with traditional publishing is the money comes from the publishing house.
Self-publishing requires the author to finance the whole process and cover a lot of legwork. However, compared to hybrid publishing, the investment is not as much. Hybrid publishing is more expensive but it takes a lot of load off the shoulders of the author in terms of legwork. Either way, publishing a book requires an investment of time and money.
3. Immerse yourself in the publishing world
Getting a book published is one thing, but what comes after? To reach your goal, may it be to expand your business, get speaking engagements, earn royalties from book sales, or improve your brand value, you need to immerse yourself and become a part of the publishing community. Be in the know of the successful authors in your genre, publishing companies that specialize in your niche, which podcasts invite guests, which conventions you can join to further your network, and the key people that can help you reach your targets.
4. Do your research and know everything you can about the publishing process
The a to z of getting a book published differs between traditional publishers, hybrid publishers, or if an author were to self-publish. Business leaders have tight schedules and are usually juggling tasks. Engaging in publishing will take time, and will be one of those items that need to be juggled.
5. Determine your book’s audience and genre
There are many genres and subgenres in the non-fiction category. Each genre has its audience with distinct behaviors, preferences, and expectations. Not everyone considers the audience in mind while writing. While it is not a necessity to do this, at the end of the day, it is important to think about who will be picking up the book and reading it.
Is the book meant for a general audience looking to improve their career? Or Is it for professionals in your industry? Does is cater to c-level business leaders? After identifying the audience, what value should they get from the book? Which aspect of their life is the book meant to improve? These questions will help you determine which genre to target and which audience you will be writing for. If done properly, it will be a lot easier to run marketing campaigns.
6. Get it done for you
Back in the day, to get a book published, writers needed to get noticed by publishing companies to get publishing deals. Then came self-publishing, which is perfect for authors who can finance their venture and for those who want more control over the overall book creation and marketing process. And that was it, black and white. Two opposite ends of the spectrum, until hybrid publishing came into play.
Hybrid publishing is an umbrella term used for indie publishing, author-assisted publishing, co-publishing, etc. It has common ground with traditional publishing as well as self-publishing. It can be said that hybrid publishing is the middle ground between traditional and self-publishing. Many authors, especially in the business world, are venturing into this model to get their books published.
Some commonalities between traditional and hybrid publishing are the availability of professional editing services, book cover design, layout design, distribution, and marketing. Hybrid publishers provide these services just like traditional publishing houses. These processes are what self-publishing platforms lack. At the end of the day, no one can tell the difference between a hybrid and a traditionally published book. The only difference is the source of funds.
What’s common between self-publishing and hybrid publishing is that authors finance the book creation process. Authors treat their books as investments when they get them published with hybrid publishers. Furthermore, getting a book published with a hybrid publisher allows the author more control. Authors are treated as partners and cover more footing in terms of creative ownership. Signing a book deal with a traditional publisher means most authors are at the mercy of these big companies in terms of design, editing, schedule, and marketing.
Have a hybrid publishing company like Leaders Press do the whole thing for you.
7. Read similar titles
Successful books are those that stand out from the rest. What better way to find out how your book can offer more value to your readers than by learning how competing titles became successful.
Take a look at the charts and understand how the books are performing. If possible, check the web presence of the book and analyze how marketing was done for it. It’s not enough to just pick a copy and read it. There are a lot of masterfully written books out there that have faded into oblivion because the author, or the publishing company, failed to write a good title, design a highly-converting book cover, and market the book properly.
8. Choose a book title
The book title is synonymous with a product name. Huge companies invest millions of dollars annually just to come up with the names of their products. Why? Product names affect conversion. The same goes for book titles. An example is Alexandre Dumas’ The Mystery of the Man in the Iron Mask which sold 30,000 copies in its time. This is not the original title of the book. The original title was The Mystery of the Iron Mask, and under that title, the book only sold 11,000 copies. Experts say audiences can relate more to a mysterious man wearing a mask, rather than a mysterious inanimate object. Here are some guidelines on how to write an effective book title
9. Create your book outline
Successful and established authors know the importance of writing an outline before starting with the writing process. It helps not just in writing, but in keeping a clear direction for the book, and maintaining a proper flow of ideas. Furthermore, some authors claim that their outline has helped them overcome or even prevent writer’s block.
An outline will help you identify what topics you want to cover, the chronology of your ideas, and the subtopics that you want to dwell on. It prevents scope-creeping, and it helps authors expound on more important topics.
10. Establish a writing calendar
The next logical step in getting a book published is to establish a writing calendar. Why is this important? Most authors, especially new ones, have a lot of things to do other than writing. Not everyone has the luxury to spend hours daily writing and it is essential to determine how long it will take to write the book.
Establishing a writing calendar is not as simple as plotting dates on a calendar. Before even looking at dates, authors need to determine how many words they want for their book. For example, the target word count is 60,000 words. The next thing to do is set realistic goals for writing sessions.
How many words can you write in a session? It would depend on your capacity as well as the time you can allocate. Let’s say you can write around 1500 words per session. That means you need 40 sessions to finish 60,000 words.
Now, how many sessions can you dedicate each week to writing? One? Two? It is up to you. If your schedule can accommodate 2 sessions per week, then you can finish 60,000 words in 20 weeks or 5 months. If not, then it will take you roughly 40 weeks or 10 months to complete a draft.
Now that you have your numbers, you can plot them in your calendar, whatever calendar you are using, and as much as possible, diligently follow your schedule. Use project management tools like Asana or Clickup to plot your writing calendar.
It is never advisable to put arbitrary dates in your calendar. With a tendency to push dates back, the target date of completion will be pushed back over and over until the project gets delayed.
11. Start writing
Most authors prefer to have a designated writing space. Ideally, the space should be comfortable, free of clutter, free from distractions, has proper lighting, and can help stimulate the mind. These of course are just preferences and at the end of the day, each author has their own unique space
Should an author start with the synopsis? The final chapter? While there are no absolute answers here, the most common starting point is the first chapter. And an outline will greatly help in beginning the writing process.
Focusing on just the main topic and subtopics of the first chapter can help prevent an author from feeling overwhelmed with what to write. Certainly, there are a lot of ideas that need to be put on paper but some ideas can be tackled later.
Start with the first sentence. It doesn’t have to be amazing, captivating, grand, or immensely moving. It doesn’t have to be anything but a first sentence. Then move on to the next, and then the next, and just keep on writing without looking back.
12. Attend writing workshops
Authors who choose to write their books can benefit a lot from attending writing workshops. There are a lot of basic and advanced writing techniques that can help writers improve their writing.
You should not just invest in your book, but in yourself as well. Writing is a skill and it can be taught and improved.
13. Do not self-edit after every sentence or paragraph
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, write without looking back. Self-editing while writing is a common pitfall for new writers. Instead of focusing on letting those ideas out, the writer’s thought process gets put on hold because the mind shifts to self-correction. The worst thing that could happen is early writer’s block.
Authors and writing coaches alike suggest that writers do not stop writing until finishing the goal for the day. Once done, it is safe to look back on what was written and start editing. If you need help editing, try installing Grammarly in your browser or try a plagiarism checker application.
14. Do not mind an awful first draft
The first draft is awful. All the time. There is no need to get discouraged by how rough a first draft looks. Sometimes, sentences may even seem incoherent. What’s important here is that, no matter how disorganized the initial draft looks, the ideas are there. When editing, read your work aloud.
It helps to hear yourself and it helps to check if what you have written sounds like you. It also helps because you would be able to identify if what you have written has the tonality that you are aiming for.
Do not be hard on yourself when editing. Grammatical errors, word choice, structure – these can be improved on. What’s important is the content is out of your mind and is already in the manuscript.
15. Get feedback on your manuscript
Even seasoned writers need a set of extra eyes to get feedback while writing. Getting so immersed in writing helps to get some fresh insights on how ideas can be conveyed in a better way or how phrases can be said in ways that readers can resonate more.
Feedback can help authors understand the audience better. Similar to market research, companies get a temp check from their target consumers. It would be beneficial to understand how readers may react to what has been written.
This way, authors have a better perspective when it comes to rewriting and editing.
16. Do not get discouraged by rejection or feedback
The purpose of getting feedback is to help an author with the editing process and make better iterations of paragraphs and chapters. At the same time, not all feedback is valuable. This is why writers should choose who they get feedback from.
Ideally, while still in the writing process, writers can get valuable feedback from fellow authors, editors, or people belonging to the target audience.
Think of it this way, if you are writing a book about international trade, would it be beneficial to get feedback from someone not familiar with that industry?
Some people are straightforward and can be harsh in giving feedback. It is only natural to feel a bit disheartened with negative feedback. At the same time, it might be helpful to understand where the feedback came from. Why was it negative? What was it pointing to? Did someone take offense at what was written? Do any of the statements need to be fact-checked? Is there a way to improve the language?
17. Write a brilliant synopsis
A lot of authors find it difficult to write a proper synopsis. There is so much that can be included it is almost impossible to determine which ideas to leave out. Which are the most important and unique salient points that readers would find valuable?
To begin, the first two to three sentences should capture the overall essence of the book. What problem or question does your book address? Why is it an essential reading material for the audience?
Next, showcase what readers can achieve from reading your book. What solutions do you offer? What life-changing lessons are you providing?
Finally, establish your credibility. Why are you the best person to talk about the topics discussed in the book? Who are you? Why are you the expert? You start selling the book by selling yourself.
18. Professional services
Editing, book layout design, book cover design – these are better left to the experts. Hybrid publishers usually provide these services. That’s an advantage that these companies provide compared to if an author chooses to self-publish.
It is common practice in self-publishing to contract professionals to help finish the book. However, talking to different people for various technical needs raises the complexity of the process which in the end may affect the quality of the book. If the layout designer is not coordinating with the book cover designer, there is a possibility that the two design elements may not complement each other.
Moreover, each of these contractors has their schedules and it may be challenging to fit everyone’s schedule in your working calendar. Whereas, a hybrid publishing company that employs project managers, writers, editors, and designers can seamlessly process your manuscript.
19. Market the book in advance
Marketing does not start once the book has been published. Marketing should start months before the launch date. Sending out advanced reader copies to get reviews helps in getting higher conversions during the launch week. It also helps in building hype around the book.
Pre-selling also helps as it can build anticipation. Utilizing incentives during pre-selling encourages readers to grab a copy even before the book gets released.
When working with a hybrid publisher, it would be best to ask about what type of marketing is covered in your book deal before signing the contract.
20. Build an online presence and get your book published
While printed books still have a bigger market share, most readers purchase their books online. The best way to widen your reach as an author is by building an online presence.
Utilize various social media platforms, reach out to podcasts and do some appearances, Write blogs about your book, build a funnel for sales, join online platforms to get your book noticed, and submit your book to review platforms and independent bloggers.
It is not enough to just get your book published. There are no guarantees that people will take notice of it and start recommending the book to their peers.
21. Build your writer’s network
A writer’s network is more than just getting inspiration to improve one’s writing skills. A book is an investment and a product and it needs exposure. The author also needs exposure especially if there are more books along the way.
It also creates new opportunities. Networking with other authors can help you pass leads and get leads in return. Which podcasts offer guesting to authors like you? Are there organizations can you tap to get speaking engagements? Which conferences should you attend to get more exposure?
Having a network of authors with similar interests can help you improve your chances of getting known in the publishing world.
How do I know which one is right for me?
Deciding which path to take to get a book published entirely depends on what your goals are. Why do you want to publish a book in the first place? Do you have business-related or personal goals? Are you intending to publish a legacy piece? Is the book meant to increase your brand value? How about generating leads for business growth? Are you looking into getting speaking gigs in the future? Or are you planning to get published because you want to establish/strengthen your authority and credibility in your field?
Traditional and hybrid published books offer better distribution and sales. Furthermore, having labels of established publishing brands on your book cover helps in brand image, authority, and credibility. They may however be more costly. Self-publishing can be costly too, however, you have more control of the financial flow. Self-published books also have opportunities to become best-sellers, but let’s admit it, working with established companies can help guarantee sales which is the main requisite for best-seller status.
If your main goal is to become an established best-selling author, the best way to go is to work with a hybrid publisher. Some of these companies guarantee a USA Today or Wall Street Journal bestseller status for your investment.
Learn more about getting your book published by watching Episode 1 of Leaders Get Published Podcast: How to Get a Book Published