The Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing (Nonfiction) | Monika Kanokova | Skillshare

The Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing (Nonfiction)

Monika Kanokova, Community & Content Strategist

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16 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:05
    • 2. Create an outline to help you market your book

      1:13
    • 3. Basic Tips

      6:41
    • 4. Find a team

      2:14
    • 5. Get blurbs

      1:19
    • 6. Make the most out of social media

      4:33
    • 7. Time for spreadsheets

      2:47
    • 8. Collect people’s email addresses

      0:55
    • 9. Create a landing page

      0:50
    • 10. Use social media to the fullest

      0:52
    • 11. Make people talk about your book

      1:39
    • 12. Get to know your readers

      1:22
    • 13. Decide where to publish your book

      2:36
    • 14. Do something exceptional

      1:07
    • 15. Once you’ve published your book

      2:52
    • 16. Final Thoughts

      1:31

About This Class

Do you have a manuscript ready and are wondering what steps to take next and how to self-publish your words? Enroll in Monika Kanokova’s class to learn more about self-publishing your non-fiction book. 

Monika has self-published two guides for freelance creatives and has turned to Skillshare to help others follow her lead to get their manuscript out. 

This class doesn't cover how to write a book, but rather how to publish and market a book and how to establish continuous sales. It’s a hands-on manual guiding you from draft to a finished book. 

Perfect for everyone who is keen to explore the world of self-publishing and wants to learn how to use social media to establish continuous, organic sales.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Monica and I'm a freelance community strategist. When I decided to go freelance in 2014, it wasn't something I had planned and so I needed to figure things out rather quickly. That led me to write the guide for people in the same situation as me wondering what to do to set up a freelance practice. Then about six months later, I had this month where, no client called me up and no one seemed interested that I had all this time on my hand and so I tried to figure out how you can use your creativity and monetize it using the infinite, endless resources. So there you go. I wrote and self-published two guides for creatives and freelancers. Here in this class, I would like to share my approach to self-publishing with you. In this class I will talk about how to write a book. We all know it's very difficult, but this is a class about how to publish and market your book and how to establish continuous sales. It's not a class explaining all the possibilities and tactics that are available, but rather, it's a hands-on manual to really give you step-by-step ideas, what you can do, and that is explaining the things that have worked for me. It's a class that I hope you can use, at least partly, when you are planning to self publish your own book. I have divided this class in three parts. I'll explain how to prepare for your book's launch, how to launch your book, and then I'll also talk about how to establish continuous sales. I'll share resources with you and if you upload your project into the project gallery and share a little bit more about your own book, then I will give you tips and help you out, when I see something, I'll just tell you there and really tried to be hands on as I was with my other class that I did for Skillshare on how the freelance. I believe writing a book is a dream many of us carry and this is a class that will help you realize it. It's the sort of information I wish I had before I started out and so I really hope it's going to give you what you need for your own book. Thank you much for enrolling and I can't wait to see your project. 2. Create an outline to help you market your book : The project brief is fairly simple. In this class I'll focus on publishing non-fiction books, and use your project brief is a quick Q&A that will be the base to help you market your book. You can write this down even before you start watching this class, and I will explain how and why throughout this course. Just take a pen, take a notes pad, take minutes and post it, write notes, and maybe pause me as much as you need. Take the note pad and explain in three to four sentences, who do you write for? Who is your ideal reader? Who should be reading your book? Then once you note this, what problem does your book solve? What is the itch that you're scratching with your book? What is the benefit that your reader will gain from reading your book? When you have these things, then you can already write down your ideas for how you wants to market your book. How do you plan to spread the word about your book and maybe this is something you might know in six months or maybe in a year, but if you already have one, please share the link to your book, I would love to check it out, maybe even read it, and just share it here because other people will appreciate it as well. 3. Basic Tips: Writing a book is one thing, a very difficult one as we all know. But creating a marketable product and I'm talking about your book as a marketable product, which might feel a bit strange. Creating a marketable product, one that people talk about, and that actually brings leads back to your book is a completely different one. As I already said at the beginning, write for a target group and what do I mean when I say you should write for a target group? It simply easier to explain what your book is about, when you know who you are writing for, it will be much easier for these people to recognize that the book is for them, and spread the word about your book. When you also know what your readers will gain from reading your book, it will be easier to make them curious about the whole content of your book. If you're solving a problem many people face, something very specific. If you can say what it is, it would be much easier and it will be much more likely for these people to buy a book. Once you have written a book, you must decide on the title, when choosing it for your book, you have two options. You can either choose a tittle that is simultaneously a statement that makes people feel a certain way and helps them communicate what you're about or what you want them to feel, and what you want them to communicate, then you have the other option, you can choose a tittle that is something people would eventually Google. When writing my first book, this year will be different, I chose a title that rules a statement. I believe, and I still do so, that when you choose freelancing, you really choose a new way of life, you choose something completely different and so making a statement and saying, "This year will be different." Was something I thought, and I've chosen the title with social media in the back of my head thinking when someone takes a picture of this book, it helps them communicate what they're about to do. They're going to change the entire life. On the other hand, when choosing a title for my second book, when deciding how I'm going to call a second book, I took my creative side business, and I did so because I wanted to have a title that some people might even maybe Google, and that would be a title that really shared the philosophy of the book. The question is what title of fits your book? Take a piece of paper, write down different key words, think about how you want people to feel when they see your book, or what do you think they might Google when they are looking for your book. When you write the description of your book, don't forget it's your sales copy. The text should not just sound vivid, but it should also be felt with keywords because when people look for your book when they search something, you should give them the keywords that they're probably going to search for. They say that Amazon is the second biggest search engine on the Internet, and I don't know where it's coming from, but I believe it that it's true. Don't forget your keyboards are how people are going to find about your book. Whenever I write texts, I always like to ask a question first because I want to set the reader into a certain setting. I also want to make sure that people find out immediately if my text, whatever I'm writing is relevant to them or not. When you sit down to write your description of your book, have the ideal reader of your book in your mind, write as if you would be talking to a friend. Don't talk about yourself, talk about the hypothetical situation your readers in. Try to explain what problems you're solving for them, and try to explain how your book is going to help them achieve whatever they are trying to achieve. When you think about the Internet, it's an extra ordinarily visual place and given, you might not have the budget for print advertising, social media might be your first start. When you think about how to spread the word about your book, you should think about what you can give to people for them to be sure about your book, about whatever you're doing, and what would make them take a picture of your book. Whenever you go on Instagram, and Facebook, and Pinterest, it's very likely that what captures your eyes are pretty images, and think about how you can use this piece of knowledge to your advantage. Personally, I have decided to hire illustrators for both of my books. It was very much for me to be able to take pictures of my book repeatedly, even if you're taking a picture of the same thing over and over again. They are those clothes in the second book in my create a side business, and they're designed by Sarah who may just, gave us learning that were illustrated by someone just metaphoring. Hey, this is really cool and I would like to identify with this image and then they post it on Instagram as you can see when you go to the hash tag SMARTCREATIVES. You should first before you decide what you want to do that is visually, you should go on Instagram and a research a little bit, what your target group shares and how they arrange their Instagram images so that your book, your content, your illustrations, fair to defend that setting. Consider how your book cover fits that set up, so that then give you a designer your briefing, you should be able to give them some screenshots of the books you found and found interesting, the books that your target group shares on social media and to send it to your designer, so that they know what you like, what inspires you, and what other people share when they share images on social. 4. Find a team: When you make a book you don't just wants to make a book, you want to make a wonderful book and to make a wonderful book you need to find the people to help you do just that. Once you think about the things you are good at yourself, you also need to think about the things you aren't. It might be that you'll need a designer and definitely an editor or everyone needs an editor and maybe also an illustrator. I have worked with a designer for the interior of the book and not just for the cover design, because I wanted to have not just the print book but also an e-Book and I just thought someone else is better and faster at this. If you create an e-Book, to me it was important that the e-Book works with every single platform. So the main formats are ePub and Mobi. Mobi is for Amazon and e-Pub is compatible with all the other platforms. As already described before, I just tried to make the book very visual to be able to take pictures of that. I hired an illustrator. I found a [inaudible] , the illustrator who designed the first book in [inaudible] and I just sent her a message and I was like hey, this is my budget. Would you be up for this project and describe the project?Then Sarah comes to illustrate our design, [inaudible].she was recommended to me on Twitter and first I interviewed her for the book and then while we were talking Diana my designer said to me, she was like you need a very clever design who is just very smart, it is Sarah.So I talked to Sarah and asked her with the same pitch, this is the book, this is how much budget that I have and if you would like to do this project it would be really cool. So it's like try to look for people online. You can even look for illustrators on Instagram. You can look for them on the [inaudible]. As I said, there are different platforms that people showcase their work.You might not have the budget to pay everyone but this is weird if something comes in because of kick-starter you can present your unfinished product and then get the necessary funds to get people, pay people to have those people [inaudible]. 5. Get blurbs: When you look at the back cover, many of this feature what others have said about their book. Think about whether you knows anyone in your industry who could give you a blurb. Having blurbs will give you credibility. So choose wisely. We want to have talked about your book, then publishing this year will be different. I didn't even know what a blurb is and so I didn't have any but when working on creating a side business, I made it my business to approach both leaders within my industry who have a large following of creatives and freelancers. I was lucky enough to get a blurb from Sean Blanda from 99U or even Paul Jarvis who you might know. The blurbs I received came people who I've been in touch with for a while. So it's not people that just reach out to and even if it were, it was people who was talking about something else. If you know you're planning to write a book about a certain topic, make sure to identify people within that industry, and just start talking to them even before you try to approach them about the blurb. Just have a conversation with them, be helpful, be kind. People will help you in return and usually, I say just pay it forward , do something. If they need something, just give it to them and try to be very helpful. 6. Make the most out of social media: It's time to talk about social media. Even before you have your book finished, what should you do on social media and how can you implement social media within your product? So before you brief your designer and before you have a finished book. So the first thing that I'm going to say, it's a strategy that is rather new to publishing and comes from my experience as a social media strategy is, first of all, when thinking about social media, you should think of a hashtag. For you to be able to follow up with everyone who has read your book and if you're lucky, also had shared pictures of it on social media, you should think of a hashtag that will enable you to see what people say. It will give you the opportunity to react and talk to the people who read your books. Having the opportunity to see what other people say and who is reading my book is so exciting to me. I can use this and start talking to them just because they read my book or they know how to connect to me and give me a compliment by sharing the book and saying something nice about it. That's so special and I think so need to publishing in general. So then thinking of a hashtag, choose one that is directly related to your book. So for this Year Will be different, I use the hashtag, hashtag T-Y-W-B-D, and hashtag this year will be different. For My Creative Side Business, the hashtags there, hashtag M-C-F-S-B and hashtag smart creatives, and I must say that the F in the first hashtag really confuse people because they didn't know where it's coming from and for me it was like, My Creative Freelance Side Business but the freelance, it doesn't say anywhere in the title but in this hashtag, people just didn't really know what to do with it, so I use the first hashtag. Whenever I talk about the book on social media and don't want to use the entire title and then smart creatives on the other hand was aimed at creating a community of minded people. So whenever someone post an image, I make it my business to talk to them and when publishing my first book, I didn't use the hashtag too much, I didn't want to overdo i but with the second book, we decided to use smart creatives under cover image, so it's in my handwriting on the cover image of the book and then it's also on every single page. If you'd like to know what our community is up to or if you enjoy this class, I really hope you'll check out the hashtags or even use it yourself and as you know, I'll make sure to say hi. I've already mentioned this before, but let me repeat this again. Research what your target group shares on Instagram. It's so important to get this right. For you to be able to brief your team properly, check out Instagram and research relevant hashtags and take screenshots of the things that seem relevant to the people you have writing for and Instagram is generally a handy tool when researching what books people read and what aesthetics they prefer and what hashtags they usually use to have their photos be seen by more people. So again, inspired by the people you consider your ideal readers and try to make your book, fit within the style and aesthetics. A lot of people use, and it is a fashion example, but a lot of people use hashtag outfit of the day. Let's say you've written a fashion book and you see all these people with an outfit, so you can have someone who is ready, nicely dressed hold your book and then your book from within the content is going to be irrelevant to the people who look at the hashtag outfit of the day and you'll have someone wearing an outfit holding your book and it will be within the same context and it will really help the right people discover your book. Think like the people sharing images on Instagram, be very social on social media and use your own hashtag as much as you can. But also because once your reader has noticed that this is what you do, this is the hashtag you're using, they'll follow your lead and share pictures of your work as [inaudible] and off your book, try to build a community starting with the people who already know of you, share pictures of your work on Instagram and Twitter and use your hashtag repeatedly. You'll be grateful you've done, so when looking back in a couple of years and it will be much easier for you to have all of this together and I think that's really exciting. 7. Time for spreadsheets: The first part of this class was all about the small things with a big impact. However, once you are done writing, it's time to prepare for your book's launch in a more serious manner. It's time for spreadsheets. Prepare for press outreach, and do it already while you are working on your book. It pays off to pay attention to PR, just because it will make it easier for you afterwards. So whenever you read an article and it makes you think of your book, write down the author's name and I can personally recommend to start a spreadsheet and write down names of journalists and bloggers that you think might be interested in your work. Google that email address, depth, width, or handles. Save the link that you can refer to when you approach them, and write a short note for yourself about why you think your book is of interest to them. Also, if you are on Twitter or even if you aren't, just join Twitter, follow journalists whose work you enjoy on Twitter and interact with their Tweets. Once they recognize your name, it will be easier to have them open your emails. Connect to the people where you think they might be interesting for you and you're interesting to them. I can also recommend to sign-up for Haro. It's helpareporter.com and follow their daily mailings. I think they send free daily mailings one in the morning, one at lunchtime, and one in the evening, and it's New York Times, as the name already says, it's a platform that connects journalists who are on the look out for experts to people looking for free press. If you want to pay more attention to press outreach, start looking for outlets your idea of readers might be interested in. Ask friends and people who you think might enjoy your book, what magazines and books they read and record all of the information you get in a press sheet. Don't say, "I'll do it later." Always do it immediately because you might not remember once there are more magazines you thought would remember I know it for myself. So always do this things immediately. Once you have your book ready, get in touch with every single person on your spreadsheet and tell them what's in it for them and why you thought they might enjoy your book. Don't try to sell them on your book that won't work. Make a point why it's relevant to them. This is not a class about press outreach, but there are some classes on press outreach here on Skillshare so make sure to check them out. I think that will really help you. 8. Collect people’s email addresses: So another thing that you can do and you should definitely do even before you have your book ready is that, collecting people's email addresses. Sign up for Mailchimp to gather people's emails. If you don't know much about Mailchimp, I can highly recommend to watch their classes here on Skillshare or checkout Paul Jarvis' Mailchimp essential class, where he explains everything you need to know about email marketing. So whenever you talk to someone in person and they say, they really like your idea and they would love to read your book once your book is ready, immediately say, "Can I have your email address?" Then, sign them up to this mailing list. Try to collect as many email addresses as you can, give people the possibility to know about it as quickly as possible once you are life. 9. Create a landing page: Before you launch your book, you should create a learning page to give people the possibility to leave their email address with you, if they wish to be informed, once your book's available for sale. Squarespace has some great templates for learning pages that make it easy for people to share their contact details. You can have one on launcher, you can use a Facebook page if you think that's the best way. Have a learning page where you explain who you are, explain the idea of your book and collect people's email addresses and also share your learning page, your owner's page with as many people as you can, so that once people are interested in whatever you do, they can leave their contact details with you, and you can then reach out to them, once you are ready to reach out to them. 10. Use social media to the fullest: Again, a repetition of what I already said. I've already mentioned this before, but I will say so again, be social. Tell people about your work, share your progress, your struggles, your vends, your motivations, and start building a community around your work. The more people know about your book before you even have a book, the more successful your launch will eventually be. Really talk to people and be social. Use your hashtag and let everyone in who is interested in following you on your journey. If you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to either write them here on Skillshare or send me an email. My email address is on my website, or just tweet them to me. I'm [inaudible] on Twitter. Thank you. 11. Make people talk about your book: I can finally talk about launching your book. When you want to launch your book, you of course, want to make people talk about your book. There are various ways to spread the word about your book. You can, for example, organize a launch party in your city and invite press and media and friends and maybe also some people who are excited about your book. However, having a party also means you need a finished book and you need some budget to have a party. I have realized what a powerful tool Kickstarter is because it enabled me to launch books that weren't completely finalized and it also helped me extend the launch period from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. If I would have uploaded my book to Amazon and hoped people might be interested in what I've created, I'd probably not get as many readers as I did. Thanks to Kickstarter's community, it was so out there even before it was finished and people were able to really get involved in what I was creating so that was very wonderful. Also because you have this limited time of how long a Kickstarter campaign runs, people know that there's a very limited time period where they need to collaborate and need to talk about your book and tell other people. I have written an article about how to run a Kickstarter campaign on my blog. There's also chapter about it in my second book. When preparing for your Kickstarter campaign don't forget to mention it on social media, have a mailing list, get people to sign up via your learning page and keep adding names to the list of people, and just know who are your people. 12. Get to know your readers: So if you've decided to launch your book with the help of Kick Stater, then you now have a great advantage to get to know your readers. Kicks Starter offers the possibility to survey your Backers and also send regular updates. You can decide on layout options or your cover with the help of your Kick Starter Backers. You can ask them to help you choose a tagline, you can basically ask them for their opinion on everything and anything which you will help you create a better end result. The more you share with your first readers, the more likely they will share with their friends. So the vote about your book will spread organically. Another great thing about having and knowing your first readers, is the ability to ask them for book reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. You really might consider giving everyone who gives you a review, a little present. On the last page of my creative side business, we decided to say that whenever someone writes on Amazon review and sends us an email with a screenshot in their address, we'll send them a couple of cards designed by Sarah photo books. It's how we hope to get more people to review the book given how crucial reviews are degenerate sales. So what can you do and how can you implement this that when people share a review and tell others about your book, that they'll get something in return? 13. Decide where to publish your book: Then finalizing the print and digital files of the books, I worked with a designer who has done all the nitty-gritty stuff, so, I can't really tell you much about it in detail. So let's talk about what you can do yourself, and where I can actually help you. Even before you can brief your designer you'll have to decide on what platform you want to make your book available. Amazon gives you the incentive that if you launch your book on Amazon exclusively for at least three months, they'll make your book available to more people. They'll make it visible to more people, through KDP Select, which is their program for premium members. You won't be selling your book, but Amazon will rank your book higher if you decide to make your book available for free to their premium users. So what does it mean in detail? Of course, you'll make money when you sell your book to normal users of Amazon at the premium members, and I think that's the majority of people. By that's definitely an option and it's the one that I've gone with. You can also launch your ebook on Kobo, and on iTunes, and on your own website, for example, on Squarespace, you have the possibility to have your own web store. So there are different options. You can also always launch your book exclusively on Amazon for free months to [inaudible] and see how it goes, and if you change your opinion, you can upload your book to other platforms. Now, you might ask yourself, whether you want to launch a book as an e-book only or go for the struggles of creating and print book too. From my experience, having a print book, they'll help you sell your e-books because most people wouldn't take a picture of their iPad and post it on Instagram, obviously, but they might not hesitate to post one when they have an attractive print book. To me, having a print book with a great cover is pretty much the best marketing tool there is. I personally make the most sales with my print book, which is print on demand, printed by Amazon. I would recommend you choose a service that will take care of the logistics, and take work of your shoulders. Amazons creates space and KDP, they very much do just this, and then all you need to do is the marketing for it. I decided to go with Amazon just because Amazon is, when you think of books, when you think of where to buy books, you always go to Amazon, so, I thought it's the least hassle for me, and then I just need to make sure that people find my book on Amazon. 14. Do something exceptional: So as already said, I launched both of my books on Kickstarter, which enabled me to do something special for my first readers. If you do a Kickstarter project, you have everyone's e-mail address, you have everyone's postal address. So you can be in touch with the people directly. I take the time to write everyone a card and say thank you. I also make it my business to read every single book as a present, even the envelopes that I have chosen to use to send everyone a copy of my book are, well, rather exceptional. Really tried to find ways to give something to people that is special, think about what would make you post an image of a book on your social media stream. Then think about what would make you share that image on Instagram and Facebook and maybe also Twitter and do just that. The more you give to people, the more you'll receive and treating your first readers nicely is important if you want people to help you spread the word about your book. So make something that will warm their hearts. It will most certainly also warm your heart. It at least does mine. 15. Once you’ve published your book: The more people know about your book, the more readers you will get, and the better your book is, the more people will recommend it to others. I once asked a friend what it means to do good PR and he said to me that you have to repeat yourself over and over again and always say the same thing, but in different words. It's the same thing with you doing your PR for your own book. You always have to mention your book just in a different context and differently. If you've published your first book, you will have to become your book's first ambassador. Let as many people know that you've written a book and just when it's interesting to them, just mention it. Another opportunity to get more exposure for your book is when you start guest blogging. You eventually offer free content to other people who will have something to share with their readers and you'll get more exposure for your own book, for your own personality. However, when you approach someone who you would like to share your content with, you should always say this is the benefit for your readers. If it's not interesting to their readers, they are not going to share it and if to share interesting content with their own readers because otherwise, they become irrelevant. So try to make it as relevant for their readers as you can. When you want to share your guest blog posts with people, try to find people who are on the same mission as you are, who have the same target group and who are just trying to be helpful to the same kind of people. Whenever you pitch a guest post to someone, make sure that you tell them how their readers are going to benefit from reading it. I've mentioned is when I was talking about a Kickstarter project, but once your book is actually ready and available on Amazon, you should reach out to the PR list, to your press outreach list one more time or maybe even two times because not every outlet writes about Kickstarter projects, but many outlets write about new books. It's being said that one needs to see something seven times before seeing it for real. That's an advertising wisdom. You just have to make sure that the same people see your content over and over again, they'll probably not notice. We've been talking a lot about online, but it's also important to get more offer and exposure because the more you get in front of people, the better it is. If someone offers you to speak at a conference or at an event, just take it because the most people will connect to you and to your books when they see you, who you are, who you are as a person. If you know people who have a store and they could sell your book potentially there, try to talk to them and try to get an agreement. I have my book in a couple of stores in Vienna, and It's just great. It's a great feeling to have your book in an actual bookstore. 16. Final Thoughts: If you've watched this class very slowly, you've by now written a book, congratulations, or you'll say you've written one book in a year, or maybe in six months and published this. Truth is once you publish your first book, it's time to start breaking your second book because books are out of books. That's the best thing that every writer is going to tell you, because once you have your second book, you can cross-reference through your first book and grow your community from giving them, more books and more information and more of what do you have to say. Amazon notifies every reader that bought your first book about audio upcoming releases. I'm also excited to see your book on social media, if you have followed my [inaudible] with Pinterest and Instagram, and if you have ever hashtag, don't hesitate to share your successes of your project here on Skillshare in the project gallery. If you have any questions, just reach out to me. Add me on Skillshare our via email. I'm usually pretty good with responding to all the questions. I'll make sure to follow up with everyone who shares their project into Project Gallery and give them tips. Also, feel free to give your tips to other people, and just look for other people's projects. Last but not least, don't forget to share the link to your book once you have published it so that we can read it or just check it out and write your review in Amazon, which is very important. Thank you so much for watching. I hope to see and read your book very soon. Thank you.