How to Write and Publish a Book

(with Lois Hoffman)

How to Write and Publish a Book
Have you ever wanted to write a book but had absolutely no idea where to start or even what to write about? Many entrepreneurs have found themselves in similar positions. In today’s episode, I have Lois Hoffman on the show to walk us through the book writing process step by step. 

Lois is the owner of The Happy Self-Publisher and award-winning author of Write a Book, Grow Your Business, and The Self-Publishing Roadmap. She helps new and experienced writers share their experiences, knowledge, and creativity through personalized writing, marketing, and self-publishing services to emerge as confident authors.

Why should I write a book?

There are numerous benefits to writing a book. In fact, I would strongly encourage all entrepreneurs to spend the time necessary to write a book and get it published. The first benefit of writing a book is the extra revenue stream. Many entrepreneurs will want to write a book simply for another source of income, however, while books can make us money, there are many other important benefits. 

Russell Brunson, a leading digital marketing strategist, has written three books for his business, yet his books don’t make him a ton of money directly. So, why write them? While his books don’t make him a lot of direct income, his books help increase his credibility and promote his software. Russell uses his books as a lead magnet. While he sells each book at only $9.99, each book attracts customers to his main product, his software.

Lois’ books do something similar. She only sells some of them for $2.99. While she doesn’t make a lot of money off of the book sales, she uses her books to help promote her online courses. 

A book builds our reach and establishes our credibility. I like to think of them as a deluxe business card. Instead of giving a potential customer a small card with our contact information, we can give them our book, a book filled with all our great ideas. A book can show our customers who we are before we even have time to have a discussion with them. 

A book opens doors. Many times, hosts of events or shows will ask authors to speak at their shows or conferences. This can help us expand our reach. At Monetization Nation, I love to find published authors to come on my show and share their knowledge.  

A book establishes our expertise. When we see that someone has written a book on a topic, we immediately begin to associate them with it. When we think of Russell Brunson, we think of funnels. Not only because of his business, ClickFunnels, but also because he has written three books on the subject. When we see this, we assume he must be an expert on the subject. A book will also help us stand out from our competitors. 

Now that we know why we should write a book, here are a few tips on how to write one from Lois, an expert in publishing and writing. 

The Thought Process

The first thing we need to start with is why we want to write a book. We need to find our motivation and discover our why. Writing a book isn’t an easy process. It takes a lot of time, resources, and effort. Many authors struggle with writer’s block and it takes a really motivated person to push through it. What’s the driving force behind why we’re sitting at the computer every day?

The second thing we want to know is our vision for success. What are our financial and heart goals? What kind of impact do we want to have on our reader or industry? Knowing this is crucial. Once we truly understand our goals, we can effectively evaluate where we need to spend the extra money, effort, and time. Do we pay for a professional editor? Do we pay for a professional designer to create our cover? If we’re just writing a book to write a book, the answer to those questions is likely no. 

Once we know our motivation and vision, we can determine our target reader. Who do we want to read our book? Often our target reader is our target audience. 

“You don’t want to write this book for everyone, just like you’re not marketing your business to everyone,” Lois said. “When you can pick out a specific target reader, you’re writing just for them. You can write all of your content, all of your chapters, like you’re talking to just that specific person.” 

To help us find a target reader, we can look at the customers who interact with our brand the most. Who is active on our social channels? Who buys our products? Who opens our newsletters? Then we can dive deeply into who those people are. What are their demographics and psychographics? “Without digging too deeply into that, you’re really missing a lot,” Lois said. “Get to the heart of what somebody needs, what problem you’re solving.”

After we’ve identified our target reader and what they need, we can determine the type of book we want to write. The key here is to start with our audience first. 

The Writing Process

As we begin to write the content of our book, we should start with a brain dump; we should start by simply getting all of our ideas out on paper. Lois likes to sit down with a timer set for 20 minutes and write for the entire time, no matter what ideas come to mind. The brain dump doesn’t have to have an order or make sense. The idea is to simply get our thoughts on paper. 

We can do this exercise a couple of times and then start to look for recurring themes. From here, we can begin to organize our ideas into different sections and eventually into different chapters. Having a layout and direction of where we want to go with our book before we start writing is a great idea as it can help prevent us from getting off track. 

As we begin to write, Lois recommends scheduling a reasonable period of time for writing each day. As we get into it, we will begin to figure out what period of time works best for us. For some people, this might mean one hour in the evening. For others, this could mean three hours each morning. Committing to this goal each day will help us finish the book, even when it gets hard. 

“Know that the beginning you’re going to slide through, and you’re going to push yourself to the end; it’s the middle that sags a little,” Lois said. “Just knowing there’s a middle that sags and having a powerful “why” and vision for success is going to help you get through.”

Lois uses the platform Focusmate to help her stay accountable and productive. This platform lets you sign up for a specific time with another writer to simply write. You log on the platform with another person at this time each day to keep each other accountable, tell each other what you will work on, and then you separate to begin working.  At the end, you can then ask each other how you did. Lois finds this helps her since it gives her a stricter schedule to keep to. 

Another big part of the writing process that many people get stuck on is the title and subtitle. This needs to be catchy since the title and the cover are what readers will first judge our book on. Both our covers and our titles should be simple and clear, and we should focus on the idea we are trying to generate more than anything. The title should be short and easy to read, but the subtitle can go into more depth if needed. 

The Publishing Process

I’ve been working on a book for a couple of years now and I have some friends that have been very successful authors who have told me that I’m not going to make a lot of money from publishing a book through a traditional publisher. I have one friend who sold 150,000 copies of her book, but only made about $150,000 off of it. She explained that to have that much success in a book and to make that little money was very frustrating. 

On the other hand, going through a traditional publisher may make it easier for book distribution and for building credibility. Our book’s primary purpose may be to simply build credibility instead of making money and a traditional publisher can help us do this easier than if we try to publish it ourselves. 

I’ve had a debate about traditional publishers vs self-publishing ever since I started writing a book, and so I asked Lois to share her thoughts on the subject. Should I go through a traditional publisher or publish and market the book myself?

Lois explained that traditional publishing has become much harder. Many publishers have limited resources and so it can be very difficult to actually get a deal. To get a deal with a publisher they want to see that we already have a strong audience; they want to know that the book will sell. Before we even ask ourselves if we should go with a traditional publisher, we should see if this is even an option for us. In many cases, it won’t be since it is very difficult to get an offer. 

However, if we did get an offer, a traditional publisher could make the process easier and potentially give us more credibility. She explained that the main difference between self publishing and traditional publishers is the stigma. There is a stigma that books published through traditional publishers are better. However, that stigma is fading as more and more people self-publish. 

Self-publishing has been the way to go for many authors, especially if they already have their own audience and marketing team. Amazon’s self-publishing tool makes it extremely easy to self-publish a book and distribute it. If we’re writing an ebook, this process can be even easier. 

There are two main players in book platforms: Kindle Direct Publishing and IngramSpark. We can get on these platforms ourselves and as Lois noted, big publishers use the same networks as self-publishers. 

“If you can master the art of marketing your book and use your book as a credibility tool to start other things like consulting or courses or speaking, then you really [can] monetize the book so much better than just selling one copy at a time,” Lois said. 

The Marketing Process 

We should start our book launch early. A big part of launching a book is about generating excitement. Many authors won’t begin to market their book until they’ve published it, but it’s important to start before that. 

“It’s so much easier to sell excitement than it is to sell a product or service,” Lois said. “Start the fire, and then once you get your first readers, your first reviewers, it’s easier to get more people to read [your book].”

It's so much_Blog

Part of our marketing process may include giving our books away for free at a conference or industry event. Lois always makes sure to have copies of her book with her wherever she goes, especially during networking events. While giving away a book for free doesn’t make us money, it can help us develop relationships we can eventually monetize. 

“The book is in service of my business, not in competition with it,” Lois said. “For me, if I spent all my time marketing my book itself, I’m not going to get the value that I get by having that in service of my business.”

The book is in service_Blog

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Lois for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

  1. Writing a book can provide an additional source of revenue, establish our credibility, act as a lead magnet, open doors to other opportunities such as speaking events, and establish our expertise. 
  2. Before we begin writing a book we should determine our “why”, our vision for success, and our ideal reader. 
  3. To help us through the writing process we should schedule in a specific time to write each day. 
  4. Self publishing can be a great option for us if we already have an established audience and marketing team. 
  5. It is easier to sell excitement than a product or service. 

Connect with Lois

To learn more about or connect with Lois:

Next Steps

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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