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Step-by-Step to Finding Your Money-Making Book Idea

Use this self-publishing process to make your book idea a reality in less than six months

How does an extra $1,000 a month sound? How about an extra $2,000 a month or more?

Self-publishing is one of the most passive forms of income I know and so easy to set up. I average an income of $200 a month on the books I’ve written and can publish a new book in as little as two months.

That means five or six books a year and a consistent income stream every single month.

The potential in self-publishing contrasts with the fact that just one-in-five bloggers use the income stream. Everyone has a book idea in them but not everyone is able to get that idea out and reach their goal of publication.

Finding the perfect book idea and taking it from idea to published book means a months-long process and beating the self-defeating voices that snag even the most experienced authors.

I’m going to share with you the process I’ve used to self-publish ten books, a process that you can use to have your book making money within a few months.

Setting Your Book Up for Success

Before we get into planning and organizing your first book, there are three tools that will help set you up for success.

First, you need to set a strict schedule and plan for your book. More than researching your topic or learning how to market a self-published book, setting a schedule is one of the most critical steps you’ll need to take.

Without a schedule, it’s too easy to let life distract you from writing. You’ll put off writing the difficult chapters and won’t be able to get back into it when you do have time. Months will go buy and the whole project will just become a forgotten folder in your computer.

We’ll cover how long each step in the self-publishing process usually takes and how to build a schedule that works for you.

You also need to learn the process of self-publishing from idea through writing and launching your book. Self-publishing isn’t just creating a compelling story or writing out how to do something. It’s a business and to be successful, you need to learn how that business works.

Without understanding the process of self-publishing, it’s just too easy to get lost in all the parts. Learn the process and how to work everything in order in your schedule and you’ll be one step closer to a best-seller.

Finally, a positive mindset is a must when starting any kind of a project like this. I know, that sounds like generic advice but developing the right attitude will help you beat all the self-defeating voices in your head.

Every that’s ever created something special has had to deal with those voices at some point. You’ll get to a point in the book and think, “Who am I to be writing this? It’s not like I’m the most successful person in the field,” or those voices will question whether anyone will read the book and whether all the work will be worth it.

No one that lets those voices change their path has ever been successful. That doesn’t mean you won’t fail. It just means that you have to take a risk, you have to put yourself out there to succeed.

Of the ten books I’ve self-published to this point, four average less than $100 a month in income. What sucks even more is that I thought a two of them were my best books, well-written and with information readers couldn’t get anywhere else. But they just haven’t done much.

If I worried about rejection or failure every time I set out on a project, I wouldn’t average $2,000 a month self-publishing. I wouldn’t have five websites that get over 50,000 visitors a month and I’d be stuck in a 9-to-5 with someone always telling me what to do.

Plan out your book. Take the time to learn the material and give your readers something special and you will be successful. You’ll reach hundreds of people a month with your book and can cultivate that relationship into a six-figure business.

How to Find the Self-Publishing Writer in You

One of the first questions you might be asking is, what should you write about?

how to find book ideaAny business idea or project always needs to come from two places to be successful, something in which you have experience and something you are passionate about. If you can make a business out of those two things, you’re almost guaranteed to be successful.

  • What are your credentials in and in which fields have you worked?
  • What are your hobbies? When you talk with your friends, what topics often come up?

If you don’t think there’s a book anywhere in the answers to those questions, you obviously haven’t been on Amazon lately. Do an Amazon book search for any of your answers to the questions above and you’ll find lots of books already published.

Writing a book isn’t just about the ‘what’ of your book’s topic but it’s just as much why are you writing it.

You’re not writing your book to educate readers. You’re not writing it to give them information about the topic.

People don’t buy books for the information, they buy books for the transformation.

That’s why you’re writing the book, to transform your readers.

Once you know the general topic on which you want to write, it’s the transformation that needs to guide your book.

  • What do you want readers to be able to do after reading the book?
  • How will readers’ lives be different after reading your book?

Answering these two questions will not only help you in planning out your chapters but will help separate your book from the millions on Amazon. Developing your book around that transformation will give it special purpose and serve your readers.

That transformation, thinking about it and using it throughout the entire self-publishing process, is extremely important and we’ll come back to it often.

By now, you should have a few ideas for your book. In fact, you might have ideas for several different books.

There’s one last trick you can use to develop your book idea and make it excellent.

  1. Go to Amazon and do a book search for your topic or idea.
  2. Click through each book that seems closely related to your idea
  3. In a spreadsheet, note the chapter titles and the transformation the author seems to be getting to in the description.
  4. Read through the reviews for each book, both good reviews and bad. What did readers appreciate seeing? Did they have unanswered questions or wish something else was added?

This kind of research is a gold mine for your book. What are other authors talking about and is there anything readers are expecting but not getting? Are most of the books targeted to a specific reader group? Can you target a different, underserved demographic?

After all your research is done, you’ll be ready to start planning your book.

The Importance of Planning in Self-Publishing

A lot of new authors just jump right in with a blank word processing document and an idea for their book.

That book never gets finished.

A detailed plan and schedule for your book not only helps keep you on pace but makes writing your book a hundred times easier. Without a good plan, you’ll get writer’s block and will worry excessively about the different pieces in the self-publishing puzzle.

Take the time to write out a plan for your book! Take your time, at least a couple of days to research ideas and plan everything out.

We’ll first cover the process of planning out the book itself and then how to plan the overall self-publishing process.

Planning Your First Book

Planning the book itself starts with outlining the book chapters. Through your brainstorming about book ideas and research in other books in the topic, you should have a pretty good list of large topics that need to be included.

My suggestion is to step back a little and go back to your transformation.

Think about the transformation you want to cause in your readers and work backwards from there. From the transformation, what does the reader need to know to get there?

This will give you a good list of topic ideas for chapters. You can then go back and fill it in with other chapter ideas you got from the research process.

Most books have anywhere from seven to 15 chapters but aim for 10 to 12 chapters. You might have more than ten or twelve chapter ideas but can you fit some of these ideas together in one chapter?

  • List out all your chapter ideas and the broad topics that a reader needs to get to the transformation.
  • Group the ideas into related topics and themes.
  • Combine ideas and themes into chapters until you have ten or twelve distinct steps.

Your book outline isn’t done yet. That’s just the big picture of how you’ll get your readers from introduction to transformation.

You now need to outline each individual chapter. It might seem unnecessarily detailed and remind you of those hated outlining exercises in school but outlining each chapter will make your book easier to write and much easier to read.

The plan for each chapter of your book should be outlined with:

  • At least three or four steps or ideas important to the chapter.
  • Why the chapter topic is important to the overall transformation and the rest of the book.
  • A real-world example or story about the chapter idea or process.

Breaking each chapter down like this into steps and examples will make writing so much easier. It’s not so easy to just sit down and start writing on a blank screen. Outlining your chapter puts it into manageable chunks that are easier to handle. You’ll be able to sit down and start writing and it will all fit together better once you’re done.

I know some authors that outline each chapter as they come to it. I would recommend outlining everything first though. This will help you decide better where different ideas belong in the book and how everything flows from one chapter to the next.

Planning the Self-Publishing Process

The self-publishing process can seem like Dante’s Inferno, in other words, “abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

It’s easy to get discouraged at some point from writing to editing, formatting and launching your book. If there are over four million books available on Amazon, I’d bet there are two or three times that many that were started and never finished.

The process doesn’t have to be that long or intimidating though. I’ll outline a six-month timeline here, but I know authors that put out a new book each month. I can usually work through the process in two or three months if I don’t have too many other projects running at the same time.

Six months to write, develop and launch a book is a good goal if you are working a full-time job and have other responsibilities.

Writing your book will depend on your level of experience and how quickly you write. Try estimating a schedule but then come back to it to revise the timeline after a chapter or two when you have a better idea of how long it’s taking.

I like to write at least one chapter a week, so I can publish it to my blog and use that as marketing after the book is launched. If you can’t do a chapter a week, try aiming for one every two weeks. That will mean roughly three months of writing for most books.

Editing your book is actually a multi-staged process and will usually take a couple of months if you have people that are willing to edit your book without putting it at the bottom of their to-do list.

  • After the book draft is finished, you’ll need a developmental edit which makes sure the book flows well from start to finish. This will take at least two weeks and you’ll spend another two to four weeks rewriting afterwards to fill in the gaps.
  • After the book has been revised, you’ll need a copy edit which corrects spelling and grammar mistakes. This will take at least two weeks.

Formatting your book can be done in less than a week depending on whether you do it yourself or hire out the process. It’s fairly simple to format your book for Kindle and paperback and you can usually do it in a day yourself.

If you have someone else format your book, make sure you check each final copy for formatting errors like removed spaces and pages with less than a few lines of text.

Creating a cover for your book can take several weeks but is hugely important so don’t skimp on this one. If you’re not graphically-talented then I’d recommend getting help from a professional.

Have your designer mock-up three or four cover ideas. These don’t have to be finished covers but just rough ideas and structure. Put those cover ideas in a side-by-side comparison on Facebook and ask your friends to choose which they like best. Once your network has picked a winner, you designer can finish it out.

It will take around a month to develop your cover like this but you can do it while you’re writing so it won’t mean additional time on your timeline.

Putting together your Amazon book page is more important than most authors understand and can take a week to do it well. Write out your book description and let it set for a day before coming back to revise. You’ll also need to research keywords and categories for your book.

Launching your book is a two-step process between pre-launch and the actual launch itself. Spend at least four weeks pre-launching your book, reaching out to people for launch-week purchases and reviews, and planning other marketing. Your launch will stretch over two weeks of getting those reviews and strategically pricing your book.

Your book doesn’t need to be a three-volume series and thousands of pages. Think of your book as a shortcut to the transformation and try getting your reader there as quickly as possible. This usually means at least 120 pages but no more than 220 pages in a 9×6 format. The entire process can be accomplished in less than six months and you’ll have an asset that is almost completely passive.

Putting together your book idea is the first critical step in making your book a success. Spending the time to plan out and detail as much as possible will help make everything go much smoother later on. The key to avoiding writer’s block and a hundred other self-publishing hurdles is found right here in this first step.

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