In this first section of the website, I will provide you with some fantastic book writing tips on what to do when getting started as an author. I will cover things such as book cover design (this is VERY important), sticking to an action plan and also entering your book into awards, once it is completed, of course.
Oh, by the way, in case you are wondering who I am and what I like look, my name is Richard McMunn and this is me with my dog Ben. We like to go walking (and writing) in the Lake District:
BOOK COVER DESIGN
**NOTE** GET THIS BIT WRONG AND YOU WILL NOT SELL ANY BOOKS, REGARDLESS OF HOW GOOD THE CONTENT IS!
It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were all buying our books in High Street stores such as Waterstones. The first thing we are hit with when we enter a High Street book store is the mass of book spines sitting neatly on the book shelves.
The book spine design and presentation was far more important pre-Amazon days. An example of this is the ‘Dummies Guides’. The next time you go into a Waterstones branch take a look at all the brightly coloured spines on the shelves representing the many Dummies guides on sale. The high florescent colouring of their spines was an example of very clever marketing in my opinion, simply because our eyes are drawn more to this colour than others. The Dummies guides design does a fantastic job of grabbing our attention.
Things have now changed, and we are buying more and more books online through stores such as Amazon and the Book Depository. Therefore, because of how books are presented online the book spine no longer has any significance during the buying process. What does have more significance is the actual front book cover itself – get this bit wrong and you will not sell any books, regardless of how good the content is. Out of all the book writing tips I can offer you, this one is vitally important.
During another part of this website I have dedicated an entire section to creating quality book cover designs and the kind of things I will consider when hiring a book cover designer. Read it carefully and follow the tips and guidance contained within it to create truly awesome book cover designs that will ensure your books sell.
WORK HARD, PERSEVERE AND DON’T GIVE UP!
When you sit down to write your first book it is understandably going to take up a lot of your time.
Your evenings, weekends and every other spare minute will be needed to get your book completed, but the hard work and determination will be worth it. When writing your book you will understandably find yourself, on occasions, feeling de-motivated and lacking the desire to write. When this happens stop writing and take a break. I have learnt over the years to only write when I feel that I want to.
Whilst I am no procrastinator, which is probably due to my military background, I do sometimes find it hard to write content. I have learnt not to get down or de-motivated about the situation, and instead I simply take a few days off and come back to it when I am ready to.
It is very easy to burn yourself out as an author, and you will need to plan ahead to avoid this happening. This is why I encourage new authors and self-publishers to have a mentor – a mentor will be able to guide you and offer those all-important words of encouragement when they are most needed.
Another useful book writing tip is that when writing and publishing your book you will need to have plenty of energy, so make sure you get adequate rest and exercise and that you eat a healthy diet. You will no doubt have heard of the saying ‘Work hard, play hard’.
Most successful authors and publishers know how to create a healthy work/lifestyle balance, and this is something that you should try to incorporate into your action plan very early on. Take time out to do things you like doing, and reward yourself when you reach significant milestones or chapters. Finally, like most people I enjoy a few beers at weekends.
However, I find that I am at my most productive when I cut out alcohol altogether. I have also noticed that when I cut out alcohol my turnover and profits actually increase, simply because I get more done! When writing your book(s) I would urge you to consider your diet and alcohol intake – we need you to have as much energy as possible when starting out, and all of these considerations will help. Learn to take responsibility Remember that you are the key to your destiny.
You control your future and therefore you must take responsibility for it. In order to become a successful author and self-publisher you don’t have to be good at everything. Concentrate on coming up with book ideas and writing them; outsource everything else. I understand that in order to become successful I will need to hire people who are better than me at specific jobs or tasks – hence my love for outsourcing, which I will cover in greater detail during a later chapter.
WORK TO A BOOK WRITING AND PUBLISHING ACTION PLAN
Another reason for my success is the fact that I work to a strict action plan. When I write a book I always use the exact same action plan, which will consist of action points such as:
– How many pages I will write everyday (try 3 pages per day for starters at approximately 345 words per page)
– The type of research I will carry out
– The proposed chapters of the book
– When I intend ordering the book cover artwork
– The date I will put the book on Amazon ‘pre-order’
I get asked a lot questions about how long it generally takes me to write a book. This very much depends on my enthusiasm levels, how excited I am about the book I am writing, and also whether or not the book is seasonal.
What I mean by this is whether the book needs to be published and on sale for the busiest time of year for the book subject. For example, if you are writing fiction or a novel then these books tend to sell very well in the build up to Christmas and during the school holidays. My career books always sell very well in January, when people are generally looking to make changes to their lives as a whole.
Despite still typing with only two fingers, I managed to complete the first draft manuscript for this particular book within 17 days. I felt very excited about writing this book, and I found putting the content together quite easy because I know my subject inside out. Other times it can take me longer, but generally if I stick to my action plan I can write a book relatively quickly.
Let’s assume you want to write a book which will consist of 100 pages. Within your action plan I would recommend you set out a minimum number of pages to write every day of the week. If you set out to write three pages every day then you will have almost completed the book within a month. Writing three pages per day is something you can achieve, for sure!
ENTER YOUR BOOK INTO AWARDS
Entering your book or publishing business into business awards can have a massive impact on the number of books you sell.
Apart from receiving free/ invaluable publicity for your book, the recognition itself will drive you on to write more books. To date I have entered my publishing business into four different business awards. The first business awards I entered was the HSBC Bank Start-Up Stars Awards.
As part of the entry process I was required to complete a short questionnaire which asked me specific questions about my business and the books I was writing. Just by submitting the application form to enter the awards made me look at my business and business strategy in a different light. In order to give my business a better chance of winning I decided to make some major improvements to my strategy.
To my surprise I actually won the HSBC Start-Up Stars South East region award, which then meant I went through to the national final at the Savoy Hotel in London. Although I did not win the final, I was voted as one of the best new businesses in the UK. Not bad for a firefighter with no previous experience running his book publishing business from his cellar! The publicity I received following this award was amazing. I appeared in local and national newspapers, and it really gave my ‘brand’ a tremendous boost. It also drove me on to write more books.
After being shortlisted the following year in the National Online Recruitment Awards I then decided to enter awards specifically targeted at book publishers. I joined the Independent Publishing Guild and entered their awards during the same year. Once again, by entering the awards it made me focus on making improvements to my business. In 2012 and 2013 I was shortlisted in the Publisher of the Year category as Best Newcomer. This is what the judges said about my business:
From the above comments made by the judges two words really stood out for me – “helping people”. When writing books, I will always focus on writing high-quality content that is of benefit to the reader. These two words written by the judges just go to reaffirm this strategy – if you help people, the rewards will follow.
In 2014 I was once again shortlisted in the National Publishing Awards, this time in the ‘Worldwide Specialist Consumer of the Year’ category and in 2015 I was shortlisted in SPECIALIST CONSUMER OF THE YEAR AWARD and also the DIGITAL PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR AWARD. Not bad for a former fireman!