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How to Self-Publish a Book in a Week

Yep, in case anyone is wondering, I do indeed have a lot of creative projects on the go right now. It’s been a study in project management keeping them all going, to be honest, and I’m truly glad that some of them are wrapping up soon.  It will free up creative space to build my new business ventures, and focus more on my podcast.  I’m woefully behind in my reading as well.  I like to stay on track with a book a week on average.  Last year with moving to Spain it was a little lower, but I think I still ended the year at around 40 books.  This year so far I’ve read about 4.  Gah!

One of the projects that is finally coming to fruition and will be going off my To Do List soon is the ebook Casting the Past, which is actually an eBook I’m editing.  There are squidzillions of history podcasts in the world, and mine is just one of them (though I like to think mine’s really great!).  I had this idea to pull together a questionnaire to send to other awesome history podcasters like me, and it would be a way for people to get to know more about their time periods and subjects quickly, as well as the people who bring the subjects and time periods to life.  I ask personal questions, as well as information about their subject matters.

So my title is a bit misleading – I didn’t create the entire book in a week.  I just took it from draft to shelf (like the course I’m building – see how I work that in there?!) in a week.

For anyone else who would like to do some kind of anthology type of thing like this, here’s how I worked it.

  1. To start with, I decided what other podcasts to include.  I wanted it to be indie podcasters.  People who podcast with the support of radio stations, universities, and other community organizations, as great as they might be, don’t have the same challenges as the indie podcasters who are doing it in their basement while their kid is napping.  So that narrowed the field immensely.  There are podcasts I would have loved to include, but they come from a university, or they are a radio program. I also wanted podcasts that were high quality, and had good listenership.  So I went through the iTunes charts in history to find the other indies that were consistently highly rated, and I posted in the history podcasts groups on Facebook to see what hidden gems I might be missing as well.
  2. I approached the people.  Of course, they are essentially giving me content to write a book, and I wanted to give them something back for that.  I also wanted to incentivize them a bit, and so I thought about a really cool tool that Smashwords has, which is the ability to generate multiple coupon codes.  These coupon codes are great for sales, but they can also be a way to track where your sales are coming from.  So what I proposed to each contributor was that I would create a unique coupon code for them, which would also give their listeners $1 off, and then I would give them half the profits of each sale that came through their coupon code.  Which is a win win for everybody.  They have an incentive to sell more.  I have content.  Each month I’ll take a screenshot of where the sales are coming from and send them round, and then pay out the fees to each podcaster through paypal.
  3. I created the questions and gave people a chance to fill them out.  I did it via google forms.  Pretty self explanatory.
  4. Here’s where we come into the work.  I formatted all the answers into a semblance of order.  I added an introduction and divided it up into chapters.  I’m formatting the book so it will be included in the Smashwords Premium catalog (which means more distribution options).
  5. I got a proofreader I’ve used before on Fiverr to go through and catch errors.  Since it’s not a long narrative, it didn’t demand as much editing.
  6. Next up, I assigned the book an ISBN through Bowker.  I’m listed as the editor.  Each participating podcaster is a contributing author.
  7. Cover Art.  I created it myself using Canva.com.  I wanted to include each podcast logo, and I tried to approach some designers on fiverr, but they all thought it would be too much work to deal with the logos, so I just did it myself.  I got free headphones clip art from pixabay.
  8. I made a sales website and included some swipe copy and a shareable graphic (also on canva.com) for each podcasters to use to sell the book.
  9. I uploaded the formatted document into Smashwords.
  10. I made a free mailing list on mailchimp with each podcasters’ email so that I can easily send things out to each of them.
  11. Created the coupon codes and shared the link with them.

And we’re done.  I now have 17 people selling the book, they benefit by getting half the profits, they’re part of a cool collaborative collection of interviews and get featured in this fun book, and I got to build this amazing community of indie podcasters around my book idea.

Seriously, if you’re into history or podcasts, you should totally get the book.  It is full of stories of people who are so incredibly passionate about their subject, and the reasons why their subjects are fascinating and worth the effort.

But if you’re into self publishing your work, this is how it’s done, in a nutshell.  Last week at this time the form was still open collecting responses.  This week, I’ve got it complete, it’s going to be available on March 15 (you can preorder it now!), and I hope it does well, mostly because I think it’s a fantastic bunch of stories of amazing people and amazing subjects.  This is what I’m going to be teaching in my e-course, Draft to Shelf.  How to do this, and move a book from the draft stage to the shelf in six weeks.  I want to give away the first two modules for free, and am trying to figure out how to work the wordpress plug in.  If you want in, just let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Here’s to all the sweet delightful drafts in the world who are waiting to be discovered and turned into actual fully completed books!