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Picking Your Niche and Your First Book Topic (that won’t bore you in two months)

If you’ve been paying attention to the Amazon Kindle world then you may have noticed that self-publishing is becoming a more viable option for authors. You also may have noticed that there are some independent authors (authors without a publishing company) that are making a very decent income off an eBook based business model.

What you may not have realized is that many successful self-published authors don’t initially earn a significant amount off their royalties. If you’re a newcomer with an email list of zero then you before you can begin earning a real income you need to grow your following.

To do this you need to start with the right niche and create topics that solve problems within that niche.

In other words each and every book you write should be a lead generation tool that brings readers to a lead magnet that captures their email on your subscriber list. If you can’t focus on one niche (which I’ve learned the hard way) you’ll have a hard time doing this.

The following ten steps are going to help you figure out what you should be writing about and will help you narrow down your first book idea and begin by creating a writing schedule.

I want to preface these steps by warning you to not allow a lack of expertise to stop you from choosing a focus. You’ll see criteria below, but be advised that expertised can be developed if you have a passion or a genuine interest in the topic. Your skill can be obtaining valuable information and presenting in a clear and concise manner. Over time, if you do this enough, you’ll naturally become an expert.

Regardless, follow the ten steps below to help narrow down your brand focus. Yes you are creating a brand. The idea is to grow an audience that associates your author name with a particular focus. For example, my focus has become self-publishing/writing. I have other strengths and these strengths caused me to become distracted which made it difficult to grow a following.

I currently have three books available on Amazon that have a lot of common ideas but don’t necessarily appear to be focused. Check out my author page to see what I mean.

As with all step by step guides, be prepared to adjust these steps to meet your specific needs.

I am not going to be one of those mysterious Internet personalities that claim to know the perfect sequence of actions that will yield success for everybody.

View these steps as a guide and plan accordingly to address the variables in your life.

Step 1:
Brainstorm everything you’re interested in – do this for at least 15 minutes and write everything down that pops in your head even if it doesn’t make sense.

For this action you can use a piece of paper (the bigger the better), a white board, a word document, or a journal if it makes sense.

Set a timer to 15 minutes and just start writing and try as hard as you can to avoid not writing (this will get very difficult after a couple of minutes).
Step 2:
With your list pull out at least 3 viable ideas. A viable idea meets at least two of the following criteria:
-You’re interested/passionate in this topic
-You’re knowledgeable about this topic
-There appears to be brand potential.

In other words you can easily think of multiple related problems/pain points that require a solution. For example one of your potential topics is that you’re considering is Fitness for Men 40 and over then one pain point may be finding time to exercise. You could write a book that focuses on strategies to stay in shape in a small amount of time. Additionally, you  may also know that muscle soreness becomes a serious concern after 40 and therefore you write a book that aims to help readers minimize their muscle soreness when exercising. Lastly, motivation to exercise might be a common issue. You can write a book that helps solve that problem.

The key is to choose a topicthat you won’t get bored with or lose interest so you can write about it consistently over a long period of time with enough varied ideas to keep your readers coming back for more.

Step 3:
Assess whether or not people are interested in this topic by doing a keyword research, via Google Keyword Planner. Don’t worry too much about competition just focus on the potential audience size. Anything with 5000 or more searches per month per keyword is adequate (though this is subjective).
Step 4:
Based on the results pick your topic. Find a balance between which one interests you the most and/or you’re most knowledgeable combine with a high amount of potential interest by searching comparable book’s best seller ranking on Amazon.
Step 5:
Now that you have your general topic utilize the Keyword Planner to pick your next book idea. You may have to play around with this tool to get a sense of what people are looking for. Once you have the idea you’re ready to build the parts of your book.

Step 7:
Brain dump all potential topics within the book. Same drill as step one only this time you’re focused on one book idea.

Step 8:
Highlight all the ideas that you want to include then order these ideas in a sequence that appears to be beneficial (as you write your book you may find that it makes sense to change it so don’t stress too much over this process).

Step 9:
Based on sequence identify chapters and chapter topics.

Step 10:
Create your weekly word goal. In other words, how many words do you want to type for this book each week.

For example, as a father of two an entrepreneur with many projects time is slightly limited. Therefore I allow myself up to 3 days to not write. I understand this isn’t typical and goes against the common advice of writing everyday, but it works for me and my schedule and I’ve been able to stay consistent.

This leaves me with four days that I allot one hour per day to writing. Generally speaking I average about 1,000 words per hour which means my weekly word goal is 4,000 words.

I recommend you begin writing for an hour and track how many words you typically cover. Then based on that number you can begin to create a consistent schedule for yourself.

Once you have your schedule you’re ready to go.

The next video will be focused on Developing your description, picking the right keywords, and selecting the right categories for your book, but none of this really matters if you can’t follow through with writing your book so be sure to get a consistent schedule implemented as soon as possible. Bare in mind that you’ll most likely have to make many adjustments as you get to know yourself as a writer if you’re new to this. Don’t let this discourage you. Just identify a realistic amount of words for you per week then make sure you get that amount every week. Even if it means you write for 10 minutes a day. It doesn’t matter. The key is to take consistent action. After awhile you’ll be amazed at how your progress adds up.

Remember this is one approach. This certainly isn’t the “right” approach and it most definitely isn’t the only approach. As you develop your own approach, if you have any questions in the mean time just send me a tweet @maranimichael or email me at mike@maketimeforwriting.com.

See you soon.

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Six Channels To Consider When Marketing Your Book

The purpose of this post to help light a fire under your you know what if you’re struggling to market your book. Unfortunately, self-publishing consists of a lot more than just writing. More specifically, if you’re planning on going the indie publishing route then you’re going to have develop some marketing skills.

I should note that I am currently a pretty low skilled marketer but the key is I am open to learning new strategies and I refuse to accept that there is a concept out there too complicated for me to learn assuming I’m willing to put an adequate amount of time into it.

I recommend you pick one of the methods below and pursue learning about it further. This article will not walk you through each channel step by step. I could most likely write a book for each if that were the case.

Whichever you pick just be sure to take action.

Learn.

Do.

Repeat.

YouTube Videos

Videos are a great way to offer a preview of all your book has to offer. If you’re writing a non-fiction book that aims to solve a problem you could create short 1 to 5 minute videos that discuss the problem and offer solutions to solving it. If your book offers multiple solutions then you could create a video for each one or you could create a preview video that explains each process. If you’re a storyteller and your goal for writing is to provide entertainment for the reader then you have a few options. You could create a video where you’re explaining how you came up with the story line or provide a character analysis for each main character. These could be separate videos. Regardless of your chosen genre you could also create a video where you talk about yourself. These videos reveal to viewers who you are and what you care about most when you’re writing.

Be sure that each video offers enough information to peak a potential viewers curiosity then it concludes with instructions on purchasing the book. For example you could simply say “For your copy of Insert Title Here go to Amazon and search Insert Title Here.” If you have your own website you can ask viewers to visit a page within your site that links directly to the Amazon page. For example, “To check it out visit www.mywebsitedomain.com/mybook” the page could contain a picture of your book that links to the Amazon title page of the book.

Remember that this is a numbers game. If you only put one video out there then chances are it isn’t going to be discovered by many potential readers. However, if you
continue to create more and more over time you may be able to build some traction.

On the other hand if you have some funding to invest into marketing then I strongly recommend you research different YouTube advertising options. This will enable you to create content and put it in front of targeted viewers. Again, to provide YouTube advertising instruction would be enough content to fill another book.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads are another great way to target potential readers. What makes this channel so helpful is the amount of specific information you can utilize to put your ad in front of the right person. More specifically, you’ll be able to select information such as age, shopping habits, hobbies, location, etc. When you combine all this information into a specific group of people, you’ll be able to see the total amount of potential viewers.

It is also important to note that the daily budget can be capped so you never have to worry about costs getting to out of hand. At the time I write this book, I believe the minimum daily spending limit is $10.00.

Lastly, the remaining marketing channels offered below are all helpful and can be effective, however, if you can only pick one (which I’ll explain later on) I recommend you first utilize Facebook Ads. If you do decide to pursue this channel definitely take a trial and error approach. See the results each day and if they’re weak then make a few adjustments (change your picture, change your copy, etc.). Definitely avoid spending money on something that is yielding poor results.

Amazon Kindle PPC

Amazon Kindler Pay Per Click is another channel that allows you to set limits to how much you’re willing to spend each day and per click. Unlike Facebook, you can target your Amazon Kindle ad to appear when people search particular authors, genres, and even specific books.

This can be tremendously helpful if you have solid understanding of your audience and who they might be reading already. In my experience, however, this method hasn’t created a significant amount of traffic to my books. This isn’t terrible since I’m only paying when a person clicks to view my title page, but it certainly isn’t a channel I would recommend if you’re really trying to pump your sales page traffic.

Twitter Ads

This is a great supplemental marketing channel in that I would only recommend it to support a channel you’ve already begun to utilize. In other words, wait until you feel comfortable with a current strategy then if you have a small amount of additional spending money then you can try creating Twitter Ads.

Influencers

Influencers are established leaders and authorities within a particular market or niche. One strategy you can utilize to help spread the word of your book is to first identify these influencers then reach out to them. People who tend to be influencers usually have a blog, podcast, newsletter, and/or YouTube channel that already generates significant traffic.

Once you have a list of potential influencers then your second step is to begin contacting them. This can be done via a social media network, email, or if possible (and appropriate) a phone call. Moreover, if you’re able to meet this person at a conference then that is best. One great way to set yourself apart from so many people who make a career online in some way is to position yourself to have personal interactions with people rather than just email exchanges. This isn’t always easy to do, but when possible, it can be helpful to have an existing relationship with a person before you contact them electronically.

When you do reach out to influencers you want to very quickly make it clear that you understand his or her audience and that you’d love the opportunity to offer some value. If you’re looking for a free way to do this you can start by offering free guest posts that prove you care about the audience more than your own self promotion. After you’ve established that you understand the need to provide value you might recieve an opportunity to publish a few links to your book.

If you have no idea how to go about identifying who these influencers are do not worry because it is easier than you think. Search the keywords that you’re targeting and see who and what ranks well. Are they videos, blogs, Amazon sales pages? Look through each site and find the contact information. After you Google the keywords, try Bing.com, Yahoo.com, and DuckDuckGo.com. All three of those sites are less popular search engines but they still have millions upon millions of active users and therefore you might find an influencer that doesn’t come through on a Google search.

Fiverr.com

At this point you’re probably thinking that I have some sort of affiliation with fiverr.com since I’ve linked to it so many times throughout the book. To be clear, I am not in any way an affiliate nor am I making a dime from them any time you use them. I recommend them so much because I use them so much throughout all of my entrepreneurial endeavors.

One capacity in which I use Fiverr is to find quick, easy, and affordable marketing opportunities. Just go to the site and search any one of the following:

– Book Promotion
– Marketing Strategy
– Podcast Interview
– Guest Blog post
– Blog Mention
– Twitter Promotion
– Facebook Shares
– Etc.

Be creative too because there is quite a bit more available to help promote your book. One suggestion, however, is that you avoid overpaying for banner ads. In my personal experience they just have never seemed to convert that well. I once paid $40.00 for a banner ad for a site that generate hundreds of thousands of visits per month and there was no apparent change or boost. Some might say that could have been a result of a poorly optimized title page, however, the following day when I had paid $25.00 for an email mention to an influencers mailing list my sales quadrupled for that day. This doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’ll have the same experience, but I think most self publishers would agree that banner ads tend not to be as effective compared to a influencer with a strong email list.

Before you do I just want to add that I may be absent for the next couple of weeks. I am going to try and adjust the way I create and market my content. In doing so I want to build up a bunch of articles so I have a solid buffer and always working a few weeks ahead.

I have come to terms with the fact that in order to do this I need to prioritize. My goal is to be offering at least one post, every other week that is much more in depth and action oriented.

While I iron all this out I’ll go crazy if I try focus on posting so though I’m not saying I’ll definitely be absent, I am saying that I might be (but it won’t be more than a month).

Anyways I digress.

While you cry by your computer waiting for the next post, pick a channel above and take action!

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27 More Sites To Advertise Your Free Book

If you’re like me then you’re open to incorporating a giveaway portion of your book launch. There are plenty of free places to do this throughout the inter web, however, how effective is it?

Below is a table of some great options. Sure it might cost you some money on the front end but if you’re looking to boost momentum for your new book (especially if you do not have a mailing list) then I recommend you check these sites out.

If you’re launching your book but you don’t want to offer it for free click here for 51 more sites.

Enjoy!

Free Book Launches
no Site Cost
1 FreeBooksy $80
2 GoodRiter $20-$100
3 BuckBooks $30-$50
4 BooksButterfly $25-$300
5 BookBub $150-$1000
6 EReaderNewsToday $30-$80
7 FussyLibrarian $8-$20
8 DigitalBookToday $15-$60
9 Bknights $10
10 eBooksHabit $10
11 Reading Deals $15
12 ItsWriteNow $10-$20
13 RobinReads $30
14 eReaderCafe $20
15 Free99Books $0-$20
16 FreeBookDude $0-$20
17 BookMarketingTools $15
18 BookZio $19-$39
19 eBookLister $10-$20
20 eBookHounds $5-$10
21 OneHundredFreeBooks $75-$100
22 StoryFinds $50-$200
23 PeopleReads $10
24 ManyBooks $25
25 GenrePulse $15-$40
26 BookSends $75-$125
27 BoogGorilla $40-$80