How to Write a Good (or Great) Selling Book – Part 1

I just started my next book. This one will sell well, I know already. How I know that will come out in the process here. This is how I go about creating a good new non-fiction book that will sell 50-100 copies per month at $2.99, leaving me $80-160 per month until Amazon goes under – which nobody is anticipating for 5 years anyway. This book I just started – lets be a little optimistic – will sell 1oo copies per month – I’m pretty sure of that.. I’ll get about $160 per month for 5 years from writing it. It will take me about 5 days to write it and get it online at Amazon (first) and the other ebook distributors in another 2 days.

12 x $160 = $1920 per year x 5 years

= $9600 if I can trust the math in my head.

This is just Kindle sales, so, in 5 days I’m going to give myself about $10,000. That’s making $2,000 per day. As a rule you should estimate that your time is worth about $1,000 per day when you write. I usually go toward $2,000 – but, I’m getting greedy (or smarter) as time goes on. I have about 15 ebooks written at the moment – and 2011 will bring another 20 I think.

So, I’m paying myself, over the course of this year – $2,000 to write for these 5 days. If I want to make $80,000 this year from new books, I need to write 40 books like this – which would take, ideally – 40 books x 5 days = 200 days to do so.

That’s a LOT of writing – yes?

Here’s the cool thing… I write my ass numb this year – writing 40 books like this and taking some time off in between books – there are 365 days in a year, and I’m going to write for 200 of those days. I have 165 days to screw off or work on something else. In my case I’ll be working on something else.

What would that be like to screw off for 165 days? I’ll never know.

Step 1:

So, the first part of this process is, for me, choosing a book to write, and figuring out whether I can hit about $2,000 income in the first year after finishing the book. You won’t have a good feel for that until you write some books in a niche – and see how sales go. You could far exceed $2,000. For me – it’s good enough.

Part of this step is searching through Amazon for books on the same topic – and seeing whether there are any digital books on the topic or not. If not – and yet there are paperback books on the same subject, and they are selling well – you can do well with an ebook on the topic. You have no competition in the ebook space for the book. Even if you have 1-3 books of direct ebook competition – if you are sure you can write the ultimate book on the topic, crushing the competition, write it.

Step 2:

Choose a title with keywords in it. If I write a book about Thailand – I use Thailand in the title somehow. If the book is about stop smoking – I use those keywords in the title. You want to show up high in the search results at Amazon and other ebook sellers and the best way to do that is to use keywords in your book title. Don’t neglect this part. The easiest way to find good keywords is to use the Amazon search box to help you. Enter “thailand” and phrases using that word in it – pop up below, in order of popularity among searchers. So – if the top phrase was “Thailand Travel” and it fit your book – you would want to use that. If the top phrase was “Thailand Travel Tips” and it matched your book content – USE IT!

Keywords are incredibly important.

Step 3:

Start thinking about a cover. You want to have your cover idea ready to go when you finish the book – so start thinking about it in your off time while you’re not writing your new book. Think about colors, boldness of the title so potential buyers at Amazon can read the title of your book on the small cover shot that sometimes shows up in Amazon searches.

Look at the competition and see what colors they use – and use something more catchy – more bold… more amazing. See my “Kicking Life’s Ass!” cover, that is a dynamic cover that will get clicks. So is anything with breasts on it – as Jeremy Shoemaker from Shoemoney.com found out in tests he’s done on the subject. In fact, there may be NOTHING better that cleavage shots to get clicks – he surmises.

If you are not going to make the cover yourself, then contact someone to make it for you now – as soon as you figure out what you want the cover to be. You want to be ready to publish in 5-6 days, not 2 weeks. An excellent cover will be between $150 and $300. One of the best is – Carl Graves at Extended Imagery for about $300 a pop.

Step 4:

Start researching the topic and find everything online written about it. This is a meta-review of all the material that has already been written on the topic. Use Google. Search on keywords that are the same as what your book focuses on. Open all those sites with information in the tabs of your browser. I had about 40 tabs open when I did this for my most recent book I’m writing.

Step 5:

Look at all the major points in the other writers’ works so you can create a chapter list in your table of contents. I use Word to write my ebooks. I use single spacing. (right click some text, choose paragraph, choose single spacing).

So, on page 1 – have title of book. Page 2 – table of contents with all chapters written out – one per line to make it easy to use as a reference.

Make a new page below that for each chapter – and put the title chapter on the top of the page.

Am I going too in-depth on this? I think so – but, maybe someone needs to see it like this.

Step 6:

Start with each tab and look at what someone has written about your book topic. If it’s GOOD – copy the entire part and paste it into your book chapter page in Word. If what you just copied has formatting – like images, tables, and other stuff – links – you should paste that first into Notepad.exe (in Windows) and then copy it again and paste it into Word .

Do this with all the good information you can find on your book. I usually color material that isn’t mine -with a dark red color so I know I need to totally rewrite it to make it mine. If I have relevant information I’ve already written about the subject and I can copy/paste it from one of my websites – I do that in black text. So I can immediately tell the difference.

Step 7:

I finished this part for my new book, and I have 140 pages in Word. I don’t think my book will be that long – there’s no need for it. I want to cut out the fluff and put just the meat – the essential meat – into the book and cut the junk. I might have 100 pages when I’m done.

Start rewriting the chapters so they cover everything that has already been covered – and add other things that have been forgotten, but that are essential in a book about the topic you’re writing about.

This takes the longest time. Still, for me to take 140 pages and make it 100 good pages – about 5 days of effort. It is not hard to rewrite material you already know something about. I know a lot about the subject this book is about – and you probably should too if you’re going to make this a quick project. Otherwise, with unfamiliarity of the subject matter – it might take you another 10-20 days to write the book. Becomes harder to make the money side make sense then. If you have a wide range of topics to write about – SO much the better. If you don’t – you don’t. Just get to work.

Step 8:

If you want to make your ebook unique – create graphics titles for your chapter names. Download “Kicking Life’s Ass!” to see what I mean. You can use any font you want, any size you want, and it will look good because it’s graphical and the Amazon Kindle conversion process doesn’t touch them much. Very few authors do this – but it makes your book a lot nicer than if everything is the same text style.

You should get familiar with a simple graphics editing program like “Paint Shop Pro”. I have used it over the years and now I’m at the point where I can make decent book covers with it – as well as any other graphic I need for any of my websites. You should learn it too.

Step 9:

Finish your title page – I use something like this:

Kicking Life’s Ass!

Published by Vern Lovic.

©2011 Vern Lovic. All rights reserved.

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you are part of the Amazon Kindle program you can loan this book according to their rules. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to VernLovic.com, and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Cover image: JD | Photography at Flickr.com. By attribution – creative commons license.

This works for Amazon Kindle books, but if you send your book to SmashWords – they require specific writing on your title page – follow exactly what they say.

Step 10:

Edit, spell-check, revise. Get ready for prime-time. I edit my own books – but I read over them about 4 times, making corrections each time. Each time gets easier – and by 4 times I’ve caught 99.x% of my mistakes. Nobody has a perfect book – even with traditional publishing and editors looking at your book. If you can edit yourself – do so. The worst that can happen is someone tells you about it. You fix it and re-upload to Amazon, nothing lost – but you’ve just gained.

Step 11:

Go to http://kdp.amazon.com (Kindle Direct Publishing) for authors and publishers, and create an account. Upload your book, cover, create a description, choose categories, choose keywords, all of it. Price your book below what others are selling theirs for – if they are competition for you. I price all my books at $2.99 per Joe Konrath – ebook writer prodigy. You get 70% commission on books sold to buyers in the USA, UK, and Canada, which is from $1.50 to $2 depending on the size of your book file that Amazon has to send to the buyer. They charge you a portion of the commission to send it. So, it pays to have a smaller file, no big photos.

Your description, keywords, categories – should all be focused around some specific keywords – that are also in your title. This helps immensely.

Step 12:

Revise your cover, description, book content itself, and play with price if you want. You can edit your book anytime you choose.

That is pretty much it. You’ll need to be careful to rewrite every sentence of the articles you copy for reference as you craft your new chapters. I usually read over the other author’s work and pick out some good parts that I want to remember not to forget – and just start writing my own chapters. I never rewrite line-by-line. I think it’s wrong. I want the book to be MY writing, not rewording someone else’s material. I’d hate for someone to go through my books line by line and rewrite them. I’d probably find them and hit them with my snake hook in the mouth.

Nothing wrong with reading someone’s stuff and coming up with your own paragraphs about it though.

You can sell your new book on your own website, or with SmashWords, or anyone else – but, the price for your book cannot be more than at Amazon. They want the prices to be the same everywhere. I can live with that.

For selling on my own sites I use www.E-Junkie.com. They take care of payment processing, and sending links to your books once someone purchases one. It’s cheap – $10 for a couple books (per month). You can use their “Buy It Now” buttons and links just about anywhere – Twitter, Facebook, your site, email, etc.

Good luck to you. I hope you get in on the EBook Revolution.

Cheers,

MF

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