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Find Your Pace and Finish Your Book

It is hard to believe that I now have three books (and many more to come) live on Amazon generating a pretty solid supplemental passive income. If you knew me a few years ago you would understand why. You see I had a reputation for being the guy who had ideas like crazy and talked about them at length but never followed through with any of them.

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I’d have cool scenes in mind, creative stories, and a new business idea each day. The problem was I had zero follow through. This is not an uncommon problem. Many people have a great idea but they don’t do anything about it. I believe two key reasons people do not do anything (or enough) when they have the idea is because they often aren’t sure how to begin and if they are able to start they become overwhelmed with all the work that comes with making the idea a reality.

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Now I’m not going to say these are the only reasons people struggle to follow through with taking action, but I do assert that they are extremely common. I believe the best way to combat these problems within the writing world, is to take the time to identify your pace. Then you can take a more calculated approach to writing your book.

Such an approach can help take the pressure off and ease the feeling of overwhelm that inevitably comes with writing a book (or anything of decent length). If you’re overworked already and now you’re adding the task of writing a book to your schedule follow the guide below to help enable you to follow through regardless of how limited your time is.

Phase 1: Explore Your Pace

For the first two weeks of writing your book put zero pressure on yourself to maintain any sort of set schedule. Instead write as much as you can without it hurting the other aspects of your life. In other words, do not neglect your children or your job just so you can get an extra 500 words done.

Take note of two things: the amount of time you were able to devote to writing and the amount of words you were able to write. Once you have these figures, now you need to reflect on how it went. For example lets say you were able to write for a total of four hours for the entire two week period and that writing time yielded a total of 3600 words. Take that information and answers the following questions:

Do you feel as though the amount of time devoted and words completed was a challenge to achieve or was it easy (or was it somewhere in the middle)?

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In addition, you should be reviewing how the blocks of time worked out for you. Did you sit down for one 4 hour period or did your schedule obligate you to write for small 20 to 30 minute intervals sporadically throughout the week?

Before moving onto the next phase you want to take your answers to the questions offered above and determine a weekly minimum amount of writing time as well as a minimum amount of words completed. It is imperative that you do not set minimums that are too difficult. Remember you can always go over but should never go under, so do not set yourself up for disappointment.

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Phase 2: Establish Your Pace

First, you’re going to write down your weekly minimum amount of time and words. For example, based on the first two weeks you believe it is realistic to write for a total of at least 120 minutes (divided into 30 minute blocks). You also were able to determine that you easily write approximately 900 words per hour. Therefore, your minimum amount of words for the week is 1800.

For the next week you’re going to write for at least 120 minutes and produce approximately 1800 words in that time. At the end of the week you’re going to assess how you did. Was it way off, spot on, or somewhat close? Whatever the result, adjust accordingly to ensure realistic attainability.

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Phase 3: Pace Yourself to The End

For the next month, continue to approach each week with the time/word minimum that you have established and adjusted to meet your specific scheduling needs. Be sure to follow some additional rules below to prevent yourself from falling off pace.

  • Make time the overriding factor. In other words, if during one of your writing blocks you’re unable to hit your word minimum, do not feel pressure to keep writing. Likewise, if you hit your minimum before the time is up then give yourself the break.
  • If factors change within your day to day schedule and/or you’re consistently unable to meet your time/word minimums for whatever reason then make adjustments at the end of each week. As soon as you allow yourself to deviate from your plan during the week then you’ll decrease the need to achieve your weekly goals.
  • Have a total word goal to strive for. For Kindle eBooks 20,000 words typically covers 60 to 90 pages (depending on bulleted lists, formatting, etc.) Knowing your total can help keep you motivated over the long term.

To close, I just want to point out that a true writer writes even when he or she doesn’t feel like it. The key to making this happen is to find your pace and finish the book. Once you finish your first book, you’ll be amazed how easy it becomes for each book thereafter now that you have proven to yourself that you can follow through.

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The Triple Threat Approach To Writing 1000 Words In An Hour

For us busy folk time is a currency we just can’t seem to get enough of. With that said how can maximize the limited amount of time that we have when we’re able to sit down and write.

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Before I break down my approach to writing (particularly for my ebooks) I want to point out that this article is operating under two primary assumptions. First, that you’ve been able to carve an hour out of your day. If you struggle to do this, we’ll discuss ways to cope with this issue in later articles but for now it is assumed that you’re willing to take an hour out of your day (or at least a similar block of time). Second, you know what you’re going to write about. If you sit down at your computer without any idea you’re going to waste a lot of time. Check out this article on capturing ideas so you have them when you’re prepared to write.

Lastly, this article is for those of you who struggle to get the most out of the writing hour. If this is not a concern for you then stop wasting your time reading this article and go write. If this is an issue for you then follow the steps below and as always be sure to tweak and adjust these steps as needed to make them work for you.

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Step 1: Brainstorm – grab a sheet of paper and write everything you can possibly think of when you think of your idea. Don’t worry about organization just get everything out of your brain and onto the page. This exercise should last four to seven minutes.

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Step 2: Outline – Review your brain dump sheet and identify four to five topics that connect to form one overall message. For each topic, list one to three key points you want to make within that topic then order accordingly.  This exercise should last eight to eleven minutes.

Step 3: Write – Using your key points as your guide take 40 to 45 minutes to write 200 to 250 words per topic. If this 1000 words is a portion of a book then use all 45 minutes. If it is an article then use 40 minutes for writing the article and the last five minutes to develop a catchy title.

Thats it. This article is intentionally short so you can go test out the three steps.

Before you do I have a challenge. Leave a comment below right before you begin trying the three steps then leave another comment immediately after you complete the three steps to let readers see how it turned out for you.

Happy writing!

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How I Capture My Ideas When Inspiration Strikes

man-814697_1280We’ve all been there. We’re driving down the street, singing in the shower, or laying in bed at 2AM when we find ourselves suddenly and almost randomly inspired. This genius idea has been bestowed upon you and you’re just hoping that you remember this amazing idea when you have the opportunity to write it down.

Fast forward a few hours later and when you go to write it down, just as easily it has entered your brain it seems to have escaped.

Unfortunately, this problem is not 100% avoidable. However, there are plenty of methods that you can implement that will minimize the amount of times you find yourself ill-prepared to capture your amazing, life changing idea when it strikes.

Before you review the strategies it helps to try and identify any common areas or times that you find yourself most creative. For example, during my commute I come up with a ton of book, blog, and business ideas. Sometimes, I’m feeling so inspired that I intentionally shut off my audiobook or music and drive in silence. This seems to help me land on some sort of idea. It isn’t a necessity to have this time or place but it certainly helps to know and therefore prepare yourself accordingly.

Regardless, the key to capturing your ideas can be broken down into three phases.

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Phase 1: Record the idea.

This phase is crucial, possibly the most important of the three because it allows your brain to let the information go without losing it. To do this, you want to focus on surrounding yourself with resources that help you record your idea. Here are a few examples:

While in the shower, place your iPad in the bathroom. If it is a fairly up to date iPad then it is voice activated, so if you find yourself thinking about something you want to recall later, simply say “Siri, set reminder…”

While in bed, keep your smartphone next to you where you can either type in a reminder or verbally set the reminder. Alternatively, if you prefer to keep your phone away from you while you sleep just leave a small notebook and pen within reach.

When driving, if you have a fairly new car then activate the bluetooth that is hooked up to your phone where you can set a reminder.

Anywhere else, just keep a small notebook and pen or a smart phone with you and you’ll be able to get everything recorded. If you don’t have a smartphone just text the reminder to yourself as reference.

Moral of the story: take advantage of the technology around you to help record your ideas. Do not rely on your memory.

Phase 2: Place idea in your idea database. 

So now that you have a long list of reminders and notes containing the ideas that you have had the last few days it is time to get them down on an easily accessible list. I recommend you do this once per week.  Personally, I do this every Sunday night. I sit down to set my goals for the upcoming week. Before I write down any goals, I review my ideas. I either incorporate them into the goals if appropriate or I add them to my idea database.

For me I keep all of this content in Evernote.

I love it because it is easy to use, and woman-792162_1920provides a ton of options such as saving articles at the push of a button from any device, easily searching and finding your notes, reminders, and much more. At the time I write this article I can tell you that I am not an affiliate, rather I am just a guy who uses it multiple times per day with multiple devices and loves it.

Phase 3: Regularly refer to your idea database.

Whether you decide to use Evernote or something else I strongly recommend that your database be something you can access from multiple locations/devices. For example, I might have an idea that I type directly into Evernote with my phone or iPad, but then on Sunday night when I check out with my computer it is there.

I often just look over my database (and goals) multiple times per day. I find that it helps keep me motivated and creative.

Work on these three phases and you’ll be an idea machine and a much more productive writer!

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Being A Perfectionist Is Just Procrastination

I average 20,000 words per month while working a full time job, maintaining this blog, running my side hustle (see The Amazon Sales Formula) all while being the best dad and husband I know how to be.

You’re probably thinking I’m full of myself for starting a post with such a statement but in all honesty it is simply to prove one point.

I get things done.

Again, you’re still probably thinking I’m a bit conceited but hear me out.

I am able to get things done because I refuse to let small details prevent me from moving forward. Every first draft I write is pretty weak. It has even gotten to the point where I couldn’t finish my first read over before sending to the editor. At times I’m literally embarrassed at the content I create. However, I know that once I send it through the editing and revision process I’ll be able to create something that is valuable and helpful to many (not all) readers. smiley-452694_1920

Moreover, I believe that most of what I and others create will most likely not be gold at first. It will take some adjustments and some tweaks no matter how much of a perfectionist you are. For this reason I say focus more on getting the first draft out of the way.

If you identify yourself as a perfectionist then I hate to break it to you but you’re creating a permanent excuse that enables you to produce content at a snail’s pace. You might disagree with this and maybe you’re right. But before you ignore this article, I urge you to ask yourself the following questions.

Are you a perfectionist? If yes, then move on to the next question. If no and you’re not happy with the amount you produce then you may want to check out my book The Persistence Formula.

Are you happy with the quality of content you produce? If yes, then move on to the next question. If no, then I recommend you focus attention on methods to help spark your creativity in addition to reading authors you’d like to emulate.

Are you happy with the quantity of content you produce? If yes, then ignore this rant of an article. If no, then you need to ask yourself what you can do to step up your game. The reality is, you’re busy so your time is limited as it is. So you’re focus should be on taking advantage of the time you have. In other words, if you’re busy then you don’t have time to be a perfectionist. Get the draft done as soon as possible then either edit it yourself (though I would not recommend being the only person to edit your draft) or outsource that process. You can find some high quality yet affordable editors at elance.com and/or fiverr.com.

If you find yourself struggling to complete your writing or maximize the small amount of time you have available to write then check out the three strategies below. Bare in mind the strategies focus on helping people who struggle to produce because they are a perfectionist.

Track Your Words Per Hour

Strategy #1: Identify your current words per hour pace. Give yourself challenges to beat the current pace by five words or so. Time yourself and constantly assess what your speed is. Track the data. Focusing on improving your words per hour will help you avoid editing your words as you write them.

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Strategy #2: Verbalize your words into a voice recorder first then transcribe those words as you listen to your recording. Just focus on writing everything you say in the recorder and only go back to edit once you’ve typed everything you just recorded.

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Strategy #3: Incorporate more personal stories within your work. Obviously you only want to do this when it is helpful and valuable for your readers, but when it is this can be a great way to get yourself into a write zone. Use that momentum to continue writing.

 

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Two Free Facebook Groups Writers Need To Join!

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The legend himself, Jim Rohn.

One of Jim Rohn’s famous quotes, “Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high” illustrates why it is imperative that authors surround themselves with likeminded, productive people.

Many would agree and I can speak from experience when I say there are a significant amount of benefits of surrounding yourself with people who either are headed where you want to be or are already there. Doing so can expose you to positive habits and strategies, helpful resources, and advantageous networking opportunities. All of which can help bring you closer to achieving your goals.

Despite this, it seems many people do not take action on this. I could explore in greater depth as to the reasons people do not take action when it comes to expanding their network (or anything for that matter) but I prefer to focus on a two quick solutions that can easily enable you begin surrounding yourself with people who will help make you more productive by granting you access to the benefits listed above in addition to many more that I’m sure  you’ll learn about along the way.

The additional perk about the two groups I’m going to show you is that you can utilize them at your convenience in the comfort of your own home. Which means if you’re like me and you have a full time job and a family to care you can still take advantage of these groups.

Facebook Group #1: Authority Self-Publishing

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I found this group because I have been an avid Steve Scott follower. When I was in the process of writing my first book The Amazon Sales Formula I came across Steve Scott’s ebooks that focus on developing productive habits. As I became a fan of his work I quickly learned that he also offers a ton of valuable content for writers. I still struggle with the thought that his podcast Self-Publishing Questions is no longer. However, I was recently brought back to a state of joy when he and two partners created the Facebook group Authority Self-Publishing.

I use this group for motivation but also for advice questions. The image below shows a question I posted. I received three comments that gave valuable instruction which did cause me to adjust my marketing strategy. The second image below shows a post I made when I was feeling down about my first negative review which I wrote about in the article The First Negative Review. You’ll see that I received 19 likes and 18 comments. It was this support combine with my wife cheering me on that brought me from feeling discouraged to writing over 2000 words that same day!

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Facebook Group #2: Pat Flynn’s Kindle Publish Facebook Group

Pat Flynn's Kindle Publishing Facebook Group

Most entrepreneurs (particularly internet entrepreneurs) are well aware of Pat Flynn, but in case you are not he is basically the “it” guy when it comes to blogging and generating income online. He is best well known for his blog The Smart Passive Income. This guy is great because he somehow has scaled his audience without hindering his friendly, happy go lucky image. More importantly, he focuses on providing valuable content for free.

The Facebook group does just that. Valuable content at no charge from many great writers. Before these two groups I was paying $47 per month to be a part of a writing Facebook group. The group was phenomenal. I received tons of great strategies and met some great people, but why pay for it if you can get the same thing from the two groups above.

Go take action. Join these two groups.

I’ll see you there!

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5 Strategies To Use When You Don’t Know What To Write About

education-548105_1920Inspiration. We have all felt it before. All of a sudden we’re hit with the topic that we want to write about. If we’re smart we have a system to capture that idea whenever we’re not in front of our computer. If we’re lucky we’re in front of a computer ready to turn the idea that has magically bestowed upon us into a collection of words that offers valuable content for our sacred readers.

Inspiration. We have all felt it before. All of a sudden we’re hit with the topic that we want to write about. If we’re smart we have a system to capture that idea whenever we’re not in front of our computer. If we’re lucky we’re in front of a computer ready to turn the idea that has been magically bestowed upon us into a collection of words that offers valuable content for our sacred readers.

This post is about every day that isn’t like that.
The reality is there will be many days that we do not feel inspired. So what do we do now?

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A “wannabe” writer stops writing, loses momentum and eventually begins again months later only to go through the same cycle time and time again. You on the other hand, the real writer, combats the lack of inspiration by implementing one or more of the following strategies. I want to preface these strategies by giving you complete permission to adjust these in any way possible to make them more effective for you.

Exercise – For me personally there is nothing better than a jog along with some music that will help me zone out. I recommend the following Pandora stations:

  • Ratatat
  • Parov Stellar
  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Jose Gonzalez

Experiment with the music, but the idea is to increase your endorphins while you put yourself into a bit of a trance. It is amazing what great ideas can pop in your head.

Converse – find a friend, spouse, family member, writing partner and just start talking to that person about what you have written about or would like to write about. The key here is forcing yourself to talk for 20 minutes or more. If you can’t think of anything that relates to your writing to discuss then talk about anything. Talk about how your feeling and try to discuss why you may be feeling that way. Many times you can use the source of frustration as a potential idea for something to write about.

Go Outside – this is simple. Go outside and observe what you see in great detail. Try to take it all in. Focus all of your attention on observing as many small details as you can. If it helps verbalize the small details out loud.

Write About Your Block In Your Typical Writing Setting – sit down in front of the computer and just start typing that you’re blocked and that you cannot think of anything to write. Write why you think this is happening and what you could you do to fix it. Try to write as much as you can. The idea is that if you’re in your typical writing position as you type words your subconscious mind will eventually throw an idea your way because you’re used to writing in that particular setting.

Read – if you truly can’t think of anything to write then grab a book that relates to your genre and start reading. Have a pen near by so you can write down questions, thoughts, and comments as you read. Do it enough then all of a sudden you’ll have plenty to write about.

There is plenty of things you can try to reignite your creativity and idea muscle, however, it is essential that whatever you choose if it doesn’t work just continue to search for your method(s).

If you’re looking for more strategies check out this article as well. Now stop reading and start writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The First Negative Review

If you’re like me then you focus a great amount of attention on completing as much writing as you can whenever you have the opportunity. With a family, a full time job that often requires 50 to 60 hours per week, and a variety of additional entrepreneurial pursuits I am forced to maximize my productivity when I sit down to write.

On one hand I am proud of the habits I have created. As a result, I am efficient and extremely productive. On the other hand, every now and again, I can find myself forgetting that ultimately the words I am writing will be read by many different people.

These people will have and are entitled to their own opinions. Moreover, it is very likely, regardless of the quality, that a portion of your readers will not like what you have to say.

When this happens it is essential you do not, under any circumstances allow these opinions to cause you doubt yourself or your abilities. I say this because today I received my first one star review on amazon. In response to a suggestion I make in my book The Declutter Formula one reader was so turned off they felt compelled to leave the following review.

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Negative reviews are not uncommon and are often very helpful from a consumer stand point. When we go shopping online and we see a negative review we look at it as information we’ll either consider as helpful or unhelpful. We rarely look at the poor review and think to ourselves “jeeze that was mean, I feel really bad for the writer (or seller)”.

When the review is a result of your creation though it will hit you straight in the gut. It’ll hurt. Essentially you put yourself out there in an extremely vulnerable way and some person very easily demeans your message. Again, it hurts.

When (not if) this happens to you, it is essential that you refuse to let this negativity hinder your drive to continue writing.

To close I’m going to offer three quick strategies to help work through these discouraging reviews:

Strategy #1 –  Join writer/author focused Facebook groups or attend meet-ups. Tell members your experience and watch the support roll in.

Strategy #2 – Does the negative review offer any constructive feedback? If so, focus your attention on using the feedback to help improve your skills.

Strategy #3 – Read through your positive reviews. As bad as a negative review can hurt, a positive review offers a feeling of joy that is comparable to very little. The same day I received the negative review I also received the review below.

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Regardless of the strategy you choose to utilize to get yourself past that negative review, remember that time is of the essence and what you really should be doing is more writing.

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How Much Does It Cost To Self-Publish Your Own eBook

money-163502_1280As you pursue your writing career (whether it be full time or a side hustle) it is likely that at one point or another you have wondered what it would cost to self-publish a book.

To best answer this question we need to address it in self-publishing phases. Within each phase I will offer a range that you can expect to pay based on what you’re expecting to get back.

In addition, I’m also going to offer what I believe to be the primary phases that require a greater investment compared to some phases that you could possibly skimp on a little bit.

It should also be noted that the assumption is going to be that capital is not as plentiful as you might like. In other words, I’m going to offer a range that I believe appropriate for authors who are new to self-publishing. If this is not the case and you have been able to acquire a solid amount of capital then I recommend you reach out to Archangel Ink. I personally have not used them, however, I know many authors who have and they’re consistently blown away by the work provided and more importantly the results derived from such work. They are on the pricier end though, so again, I recommend this approach if capital is not an issue.

It should also be pointed out that you have some sort of writing software. Whether it be Scrivener or Microsoft Word, I’m assuming you have something already. If not, then I recommend you try Evernote or Google Docs.  Lastly, the prices provided below will be for a book comprised of approximately 20,000 words. If you’re word count is different  then recalculate accordingly (more words equals more expensive except for the book cover and marketing phases).

Either way, I recommend you break your budgeting into the following phases:

  • Phase 1 – Editing
  • Phase 2 – Book Cover
  • Phase 3 – Formatting
  • Phase 4 – Marketing/Promotion

Phase 1 – Editing: When you have completed your first draft you’re now ready to have your book edited. If you have the endurance, particularly if you’re on a tight budget, I recommend that you read your book to yourself out loud. Once that is completed OR if you can’t mentally endure looking at your work for another minute (which I have felt about my own work from time to time) then you need to outsource the editing process. This should be broken down into three sub-phases. First, you’re going to hire an editor for tone and flow of your content. I recommend you create a job on elance.com for this.  Plan on spending anywhere from $10.00 to $50.00. I personally think of the three phases

Once this is complete and you’ve reviewed and approve of the new tone and flow you’re going to hire an editor for grammatical review. This should cost approximately $1.00 for every 1000 words if you use fiverr.com. Finally, the third phase again should cover grammatical concerns. Fiverr.com is appropriate for roughly the same price, however, just be sure to hire a different person.

To sum Phase 1 up, you should expect anywhere from $50 to $100 which yields three pairs of eyes reviewing your work in addition to you.

Phase 2 – Book Cover: This phase is difficult because it is the easiest to cut corners but absolutely crucial when it comes to book sales. The expression “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” exists because most people make that mistake. You need to position your book to take advantage of this mistake. A great cover that draws potential readers in is going to sell. Book covers that look cheap (which occurs too much on Amazon) will be ignored. If you’re really strapped for cash but somewhat artistic then I recommend you look at canva.com first. If the thought of designing your own cover scares you then try fiverr.com again. You can get a decent cover for $5.00, however, you’ll have to take your time finding a seller with great reviews. If you have some extra cash I would allocate it towards your cover. Create a job on elance.com and be thorough in your reviews. Plan on spending $50 to $100 for your cover.

Phase 3 – Formatting: Nice and simple on this one. Find a seller on fiverr.com with a high amount of positive reviews and you’re looking at approximately $10.00 total. Double that if you also want to format your book for paper back print in addition to an ebook.

Phase 4 – Marketing: This phase does not have a minimum or a maximum. In other words, when you take advantage of the five day promotional period on Amazon which allows you to offer your book for free for that period of time then you can literally post a link to your book on a ton of different sites that allow you to post for free as long as your book is free or lower than $2.99. If you need a little bit of a boost in your sales, then you can take advantage of sites such as Author Marketing Club, which enables a variety of ads for the $40.00 range.

The key with marketing is to take campaigns one at a time and look at what it does to your sales. If you’re spending more money then you’re getting back from sales then I recommend you re-strategize.

So to put it all together, if you’re on a budget you can legitimately self publish an ebook $150.00 and that will enable you to create a quality ebook with a professional looking cover and some small additional funds to invest in marketing.

Whatever you spend, keep track of it so you can improve your process for your next book which I know you’re going to write!