Posted on

How Much Time Per Week Should You Devote To Writing?

The title of this post makes it sound like I have an answer. Which I do. However, you’re not going to like it because it is one of those “depends” kind of answers.

Throughout each one of my books and the majority of my posts, whenever a set of steps is provided, or advice is given it is followed or preceeded by a disclaimer that strongly suggests readers should be adjusting this instruction to meet their own personal needs.

Too often we listen to podcasts, read books, watch interviews where some “expert” tells us what we should be doing. Now I’m not saying that we should be closed off to these opinions but we must first recognize them as an opinion based on one particuarl person’s exeperience. He or she does not live our life and therefore is not qualified to tell us what to do and when to do it without knowing all of the variables that exist within our daily lives.

Therefore, rather than tell you or even suggest how much time you should be devoting to writing. The goal here is to equip you with a set of steps you can take to properly anaylze your week and assess when and where you can fit some writing time.

Step 1: Identify any repeated tasks or responsibilities that you have for each day of the week (i.e. Work from 9 to 5, bring to the kids to and from school, etc.).

Step 2: Draw 7 columns (or use a spreadsheet) and label each column a day of the week.

Step 3: Begin writing down your day to day actions for each day of the week and write down the times. Note: it is appropriate for times to be approximate and to be wide ranges because you want to include everything you do from going to work to watching tv. 

Step 4: Look for gaps in your day where you could fit in at least 15 minutes of writing (preferably 30 minutes or more if possible). If it is a location other than your home, identify a method to ensure you have your computer or whatever equipment you may need.

Step 5: Based on this schedule insert your writing sessions with specific times and desired durations. Time ranges are appropriate as well. In other words, if you know you have at least 30 minutes sometime between 5PM and 7PM, but the specific start and end time for your writing session will not be consistent, then just write 5PM to 7PM for 30 minutes. Highlight each writing session.

Step 6: Bonus Step – Based on the time and days, if you have a smart phone, set reminders for each of the times to prompt your writing session.

Notice that at no point during any of the steps provided was there a minimum amount of sessions suggested. Personally I have four to five each week and each ranges from 30 minutes to an hour. This works for my life but it may not work for yours. Maybe you can fit in more or less. It doesn’t matter as long as you identify times in your life when you can realistically sit down and write.

Once you have these times, outside of staying disciplined and sticking to each writing session that you have set for yourself, your next focus is going to be calculating how many words per hour you can typically produce.

If you’re consistently struggling to stick to your writing sessions then I encourage you to take a look at a book I’ve written titled The Persistence Formula. This book aims to help people who struggle to follow through with taking action to achieve their goals.

To calculate your word output rate you need to track your time and your total words produced per session. Do this for at least two weeks.

To clarify for every writing session you should be tracking the exact amount of time you’re actually writing and how many words you’ve produced within that specific amount of time.

Note: this is easier to calculate if you have a session for an amount of minutes of which 60 is a multiple (i.e. 15, 20, 30, and 60 minute sessions are ideal). 

For the purposes of clarity let us take a look at a hypothetical example.

Joe Smith can fit three writing sessions within his week. One session is 30 minutes while two sessions are each an hour. For the next two weeks Joe is going to track how many words within each of those writing sessions he can produce.

Week 1

Session 1 (30 minutes) – 402 words

Session 2 (60 minutes) – 943 words

Session 3 (60 minutes) – 928 words

Week 2

Session 1 – 463 words

Session 2 – 1002 words

Session 3 – 917 words

Now for the number crunching. First, calculate your hourly rate for each session so in this case Joe would just double his amount of words for each of his first weekly sessions. Second, now that all  sessions are equated to an hourly input amount, we add up all of the hourly word count numbers and divide by the number of sessions (in this I example 6).

More specifically…

804+943+928+926+1002+917 = 5520 (total words produced in 6 hourly sessions)

5520/6 = 920 (total hourly word rate for Joe Smith is 920)

Why do you want to know this number?

Put simply, knowing this information can help you determine how long it is going to take you to chip away at your book. When you’re equipped with this information you can plan a little bit more effectively. The combination of your hourly word output rate and your book outline will position yourself to stay motivated as you tackle each section in an objective, manageable way as opposed to the perspective of writing one daunting book.

Lastly, if you truly want to ensure accuracy of your hourly word output rate then continue to track your words written for each session and keep a spreadsheet documenting this information.

Overtime as you write more consistently you’ll notice this number will likely increase.

Happy writing!

 

Posted on

When Your Hard Earned Kindle Reviews Disappear

I was literally in the middle of writing a post that shared the results of my very successful book launch for The Kindle Publish Launch Formula.  In fact, I had approximately 350 words completed which included the general outline that I was then going to go back to and fill in.

To do this I had to log into to my KDP account to take a look at my current results.

Like an abrupt smack in the face, I saw that all my reviews were gone.

Gone.

Instead of 10 beautiful full stars. I saw a link that said, “be the first to review this book”. How can that be?

My stomach dropped to the floor and I did what I always do when I encounter an obstacle. I found my wife and explained what happened.

Visibly annoyed, I made it clear to her that I needed to be brought to a better place before attempting to address this concern.

She effectively did this by saying “Mike, obviously, there is some misunderstanding or error somewhere. When did you become a guy who panics before obtaining more information?”

That is why I married her. She called me out and kept me honest.

I pride myself on being able to view everything as an experiment. If I don’t like the results I simply adjust the actions until desired results are achieved.

So why was I acting out of character?

As I reflect on this experience I realize that I was particularly emotional about this because of the topic it was concerning; reviews.

Within the very book that this was happening to, I implore writers to ensure that they obtain reviews in an honest and ethical way.

Now all of a sudden I went from 10 reviews to 0 in a matter of minutes.

I couldn’t help but feel dirty.

What had I done wrong?

Had the KDP rules changed?

Did I reach out to people and offer them a free copy in exchange for an honest review? Yes. It was always and still is my understanding that was acceptable. Prior to my launch, I asked supporters to leave an honest review but to state that they received a free copy to enable providing an honest review.

If it isn’t clear, the theme of that last chapter was honest.

I stand by this. I only ask people who I know are going, to be honest, and then I strongly implore honesty.

These people have provided less than stellar reviews for my previous books.

Now, unfortunately, I can’t tell you this story has a good ending. In fact, it doesn’t really have an ending at all.

All I can tell you is that I have since reached out to KDP support on two separate occasions and at the time of me writing this post I have not heard back yet.

There is a moral to this story, though.

Right now I have two choices. I could choose to be stressed out and anxious over this.

Or, I could focus my attention on resolving this issue and when in a period of waiting for Amazon’s response I can focus on other ways to be productive.

So on that note, I’m going to work on my self-publishing course that supplements that the book. A blog post and some course work completed.

Not a bad panic mode to be in.

 

Posted on

Create An Idea Generating System

If you haven’t gathered yet from my previous posts, I am a huge fan of creating systems for everything.

If it has to happen more than once, whatever it may be, then I am encouraged to approach it in a way that I can define my steps, fine tune the steps, and complete the related task efficiently.

The other added benefit of establishing a systematic approach is that it promotes viewing things as an experiment. In other words, take strategic and thoughtful action, observe results, and adjust accordingly until desired results are achieved.

Rather than blaming yourself for poor results you have the luxury of blaming your system. This can pay divdends when you begin feeling down on yourself as you inevitably slip up on your writing productivity.

Why am I talking about all of this?

Simple, because I believe as writers we need to create a system that helps us easily and quickly generate ideas. Once we have the ideas we then need to develop a method to effectively filter these ideas so that our chances of creating content that is helpful and valuable increases.

As a result, I am going to share a two part system with you.

1.) Idea Generation

2.) Idea Filtering

It is important to point out a couple of thoughts before sharing. First, it is helpful to have a general topic to implement these systems within. For example, when I generate ideas for books that I want to write, because my target audience is comprised of writers, I’m going to focus on topics that potentially align with the needs and wants of writers. Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that this should not be a limiting attribute throughout the process. When in doubt record the idea. We will determine the value when we filter the ideas.

Second, each part of this system woaks for me when I need a jolt of ideas. This is in no way a guarantee that they will work for you. In fact, I would argue that it is likely that this system (as is) will not work for you the same way it does for me. Therefore, you need to be open to adjusting each system to make it fit for your lifestyle and schedule.

I believe in providing step by step instructions because there is tremendous value in carefully laid out steps for a person new to a process, however, do not feel married to these steps. Adjust them and tweak them as you need to.

Make each step work for you.

Part 1: Idea Generation (a.k.a. Brain Dump, Brain Storm)

Required Supplies: Writing utensil and a large piece of white paper (think poster board for sizing). Secondly, a timer. I recommend your smart phone.

Step 1: Take 15 minutes or more but not a second less to write down any and every potential subtopic you could write about within your general topic.

In my experience, I often hit an idea lull after 5 minutes or so. If you encounter such a lull do not let it stop you. Continue to write as many ideas as possible. Do not worry about them being good or bad. Do not even worry too much about whether or not these are relevant within your overall topic. For now just write it down.

The Idea Filtering System

Required supplies: a writing software, preferably a cloud based software (i.e. Google Docs, Evernote, etc.) and a highlighter.

Step 2: Highlight the ideas you like.

Step 3: Categorize each higlighted idea into one of the following three categories: Excited, Neutral, Not Ready. These categories represent how you feel so it is important to follow your instincts as you go through this process. In other words, when you look a potential book idea do you feel excited, neutral, or not ready at the thought of writing an entire book about it? Listen to that inner voice to answer this question for each idea.

Step 4: For now, ignore the ideas that fall into the Neutral or Not Ready category. Narrow down your ideas that fall within your Excited category. To do this, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to assess the demand for that topic. Simply see which topic has the greatest average monthly search volume.

Step 5: Pick the idea within your Excited category that has the highest search volume.

There you have it. You now are equipped to come up with a book idea that hopefully has a decent number of people making related searches each month.

It should be noted that this strategy makes your interests the priority. Some people might disagree with this and only pursue ideas that have a huge potential market. Though I do understand why a person might do this, I personally believe that if you’re going to invest your time into something you should be excited about what it is you’re doing.

I write on a regular basis in addition to a full time job. There is no way I could stick to such a schedule if I felt as though my writing time was a sacrifice. I love the process of writing and genuinely enjoy discussing writing strategies, so writing about it is something I look forward to.

Notice that the previous paragraph was about my personal experience. Remember what I stated earlier about making adjustments to meet your needs. Continue to keep that in mind because just because it was something that worked for me, does not mean it works exactly the same way for you. Adjust and adapt to meet your specific needs. 

Later on in a future post, we’re going to discuss how to take the idea that we just derived and develop an outline to help guide our writing process. I’ll also most likely be writing some posts about how to accurately assess the demand of a topic that take Step 4 mentioned above into much more depth. Additionally, we’ll discuss strategies to use this step to identify strong keywords which will pay dividends later on when we move from the writing process to the self publishing process. So be sure to check in again for more information.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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!

Posted on

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

Posted on

Choosing Your eBook Categories

Choosing your categories is another factor that can play a significant role in your overall ranking. To clarify, you have two subcategories that you can pick when you go live with your book. These categories, depending on which categories you pick, you can help you boost your initial book downloads during your promotion period (which we will strategize later on).

To best explain the strategy I recommend you take when choosing your categories it is easier to understand if we focus on one category at a time.

Category #1 – This should be your niche category. This priority of this category is that you rank well within it. The goal here is to drive enough downloads to this book during the promotion period that you make it to the top 3 in “Hot New Releases”. A secondary goal, which is a bit more ambitious, is that you make it to #1 within the Free downloads (during your promotion period) for this particular category.

This category is going to require a bit more time to identify because you want to find one that aligns to your book topic but is one that has minimal competition as shown by low review counts among books within the same category. If you can find a category that contains books that meet this criteria while still maintaining decent overall rankings then you’ve found a niche with great potential.

More specifically, if the top three books have an Amazon Best Sellers Rank anywhere from 1 to 50,000 and the review counts are 30 or below then you have found your first category. If you can’t find a category that meets that criteria then you want to strive for a category closely related to your book that has as close to that criteria as possible.

If you were curious about which number should hold a priority for category then I would recommend it be the review counts among your competition. Once you find a suitable category select it.

Category #2 – First and foremost, if you find a second category that meets the criteria of top three books that each contain an Amazon Best Sellers Rank anywhere from 1 to 50,000 while the review counts are 30 or below then go with that one. The reason why I designate a different focus for the second category is because it is often extremely difficult to find these niche categories and depending on the topic of your book, potentially not possible.

If you cannot find the criteria from Category #1 a second time then you want to view this category as your experimental volume category. Your focus here is finding a category that the top six or more books in the 1 to 50,000 Amazon Best Seller Rank (ABSR) range. Ideally, if you can find a category with these numbers with a low amount of competition then you’re in good shape. In this case, when I say low amount of competition I’m saying that the amount of books sold within this category is lowest you can find while keeping the Amazon Best Seller Rank criteria as the priority. You find this number out by following the steps below (similar steps also available in Chapter 3):

– Visit Amazon.com.
– Click “Shop by Department”.
– Select “Books & Audible”.
– Click on “Kindle eBooks”
– Towards the left is a column of categories. Select one that is applicable to you.
– Within the category you selected are subcategories with small gray numbers to the right. This number represents the amount of books available within that particular subcategory.

The lower this number while maintaining the top 6 books ABSR range of 1 to 50,000 (or as close to it as possible) criteria the better.

Posted on

The Proper eBook Length

I’m often asked about the optimum Kindle eBook length should be. Unfortunately, a clear cut answer does not exist. However, it is possible to identify a range but before we do it is crucial to express the strong need to focus first on quality and second on length. In other words, depending on your writing style, readers can be entertained or helped with a low or high amount of words if in fact quality content is provided.

Assuming quality is the first priority I would suggest that a non-fiction be approximately 15,000 to 30,000 words. This is not a rule, rather a common range among helpful non-fiction books. If you are writing fiction then unless you’re selling a quick read, I would suggest a 30,000 word count minimum. Assuming you don’t have too many images or tables and your font is standard, it is reasonable to estimate that 250 words will generate a Kindle page.

When considering what your book length to aim for keep in mind that more pages has greater potential to earn you slightly more income. Again, it is imperative to reiterate that excessive words purely aimed at increasing the word count will not be helpful for you or your reader.

The greater revenue potential is caused by the Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP), which is the amount of pages read  by customers who borrow your book from Kindle Unlimited (KU) and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). Each page read equates to a fraction of a penny so a book with a low amount of pages is less likely to derive significant royalties through this source. Conversely, a novel that is 100,000 words and can successfully hook readers until the end can offer great additional royalty potential.

Before closing, I’d like to add that for me personally the only time word count matters is when I set a goal to complete a certain amount of words within a writing session. Most of my writing sessions require 1000 words before stopping, however, I would not continue within one particular section of a book until I reached that number. Moreover, if my writing session brought me to my book’s conclusion then I’d shift focus to hiring an editor rather than adding more words to meet my 1000 word writing session quota. In other words, I never focused on adding words for the sake of increasing my word count.

Posted on

Four Approaches To Design Your Book Cover

There are a variety of approaches and methods to design your book cover, so if you attempt the upcoming four options and you do not meet much success then keep going. Do not quit. There are plenty of options that can come from a simple Google search, so just keep pushing ahead, step by step.

Option #1Canva.com. If you’re on a budget and/or have a creative eye Canva.com is the most user friendly design platform to help a novice designer create his or her own book cover. It offers both free images and images for $1.00. It is free to sign up so the only expenses you will have will be based on the amount of premium images, designs, and fonts that you pick, but each cover will not cost you more than $5.00.

Option #2Fiverr.com. You’re probably beginning to see that I use and recommend Fiverr quite a bit. That would be an accurate observation because I use it all the time. Quite honestly it is the first site I go to when I’m unsure about a specific task that I need to have done. It is always relatively cheap, quick, and hassle free (I’m not an affiliate). Do a search for “Kindle ebook cover designers” and you’ll see a great deal of options. To avoid multiple purchases, be sure to hire work from a seller who offers free revisions and be sure to specify that it is for Kindle. You want to be sure that the image is the standard dimensions.

Option #3Etsy.com, Elance.com, Upwork.com, 99Designs.com. These options are helpful because they allow for greater customization. Typically the designers that you find in these platforms are a bit more skilled than the average designer that you might find on Fiverr, but this will cost a premium. I personally have one designer that I occasionally turn to and she charges me $35.00 for a book cover. The nice part about paying a little more is that it justifies your right to be a little more picky and detail orientated when you review your first drafts.

Option #4Archangelink.com. Essentially if you just want an awesome cover produced by professionals check out Archangelink.com. A bit pricey at $199, but if you can afford it I highly recommend it. I know a lot of authors who use Archangel Ink for a variety of services they offer and it just seems like these authors always end up selling a ton of books. Sure, the cover isn’t the only factor, but if the successful authors are using them and you have the budget, I recommend it.

Between these four options you should be good to go but I want to caution you that you should avoid beginning this process before you complete your title and subtitle. I remember when I first started self-publishing I got so excited about a book idea that I had that I started to have my cover designed prematurely. Needless to say, I ended up with a cover with an outdated title and subtitle. This isn’t a big deal if you’re using canva.com and paying only a few dollars, but any more than that is inefficient business.

With that being said let us take a minute to recap what we have covered so far. At this point we should be comfortable following the steps to creating a book title and maintaining certain criteria when developing the subtitle. Remember there is nothing wrong with looking at other books to help you develop an understanding of the appropriate format just be sure to avoid doing what everybody else is doing. Your goal is to stand out and peak a potential reader’s curiosity. That is going to happen with a creative book cover and a strong title subtitle combination.

Once you feel like you have a solid foundational understanding of the outside of the book along with your completed draft, there are some additional components that can be placed in your book to help grow an audience and increase the income potential. Beyond these items we’re also going to cover some typical book components that most readers scan right over and first time authors might forget, but are still very important to include.

Posted on

Two Free Facebook Groups Writers Need To Join!

220px-Jim-rohn
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

Authority Self-Publishing

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!

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 3.11.28 PM

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 3.38.45 PM

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!