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How To Write,
Your Own Book
Top 25 Articles from
Includes over 17 hours of free audio inspiration and
interviews for writers and authors
www.TheCreativePenn.com Table of Contents
1. Write a Book: 10 Reasons to Write Yours Now
2. How to Find the Time to Write Your Book
3. What I Wish I had Known Before Writing My First book
4. Piracy or Obscurity: Which is Worse for Authors?
5. What is NaNoWriMo and Why is it so Good for Writers?
6. How to Publish Your Book on Amazon.com for Free
7. Self-publishing Banishes The Fear of Writing
8. What is Print-on-Demand and Why Is It So Important?
9. When is the Tipping Point for an Author to go Digital
10. How to Publish an Ebook on Multiple Platforms Using Smashwords.com
On Sales, Promotion and Platform Building
11. What is an Author Platform and Why Do You Need One Now?
12. How to Discover and Build Your Author Brand
13. Award Winning Book Marketing Plan
14. 10 Reasons Authors Should Have a Blog
15. Twitter: What is it and Why Should Authors Use It?
16. Authors Should Podcast: 5 Reasons You Should Start Now
17. Would You Rather Be a Best-Selling Author or a Best Writing Author?
18. How to Feature on the Most Influential Websites in the World
19. Book Trailers: 11 Steps to Make Your Own
20. The Author 2.0 Model
21. 7 Weekly Tasks for Writers
On Inspiration and Creativity
22. The Law of Attraction for Writers and Authors
23. Authors: 5 Ways You Can Be Your Own Alchemist
24. 15 Ways Modern Art Galleries Can Inspire Writers
Free Audio Interviews For Writers and Authors
25. 17 hours of Audio inspiration and information on writing, publishing,
sales and promotion...for your book. Links to all free audios available on The
Creative Penn. Interviews with authors, book marketing experts, publishing pro-
fessionals and much more, designed to help you on your journey.
About Joanna Penn and The Creative Penn
2 Write a Book : 10 Reasons Why You
Should Write Yours Now
Studies have shown that 82% of people want to write
a book, but few of these actually ever achieve that goal.
Here are 10 reasons you should overcome your blocks and
actually write your book now.
1. Fulfil a life goal. If 82% of people want to write a book, how many of these consider it a life goal
worth achieving? In these days of digital printing, print-on-demand and small print runs, you can
achieve your goal of writing a book even with a small budget. So state your goal, and get writing
2. Status and confidence. Authors are generally respected. People look at you differently when
you say you are an author. This will also give you confidence. If you can write a book, and achieve your
goal, then you have will have become a more interesting and accomplished person in the process.
3. You don’t have to do it alone. If you want to write but you are unsure how to, there are plenty
of blogs, courses and tips online to help you. If you have the raw material, you can find a freelancer to
help you write or edit it. If you need a community of people to discuss your ideas with, there are groups
online and locally you can join. Writers are everywhere. Start to share your ideas and you will find the
support you need.
4. Be immortal and leave a legacy. A print book will contain your words after you are gone. The
internet will become ever more cluttered, but print books are difficult to throw away so they carry on
giving for a long time. With new technologies, you can even write your own family history and print a
few copies for your family. It doesn‘t have to be a blockbuster novel.
5. Learn about yourself and open the door
to new opportunities. Writing a book can reveal
many things, and you can discover a new self in the
process of writing. It can open your eyes to new
ways you can improve your life and other people‘s.
You may end up speaking about your book, appear-
ing on TV and loving something you didn‘t even
know about before. Take a chance
3 6. Say something important. Maybe you are passionate about a cause, maybe you have a story
that needs to be told. Your voice is important and your words can be heard if you get them out
there. Write your story and inspire others. You don‘t know how your words can help other peo-
ple in their own lives. As Seth Godin says, ―The book you write will change your life‖.
7. Start a new career. If you have always wanted to be an author, then writing a book is the way
to start this career. Many people talk about being ―an author‖, but you do actually have to write
something to become one It may take a few years, but you can have a career as an author, or a
freelance writer. You can also become a speaker about your book topic, or use your book as the
basis to a consulting or training business.
8. Grow your business. If you market your books to a
wider audience, it can be a means to attract new people to
your business. They may read your book and then want
your professional services to help them in their business.
The book then functions as a giant business card.
9. Demonstrate your expertise. You may have spent
long years gathering your expertise in a subject. You have
notes and seminars, training programs and articles. You
may even be a speaker on your subject. Having a book
further elevates you in people‘s eyes so you are perceived as
Image: Flickr Creative Commons Reini68
10. Use as a product to sell. You can create another stream of income by writing a book and selling
it, either on the internet or in bookstores. You can create spin off products relating to the book that
your market may be interested in. This can also be used by fiction authors. For example, if you are an
author of historical romance, you could also write a book/ebook on ―How to write historical romance‖
that you can sell to other authors who want to write in that genre. People pay for information so what
do you know that others want?
So pick up that pen, or sit down at the computer and get writing
4 How to Find the Time to
Write Your Book
Many people say they are waiting for the right time to write their book.
―If I take a year off I could write it‖ or ―When the kids have left home and I have more time‖
But by focusing on the time involved, you are creating a block in your
mind. Life happens, but you can still fulfil your dream of
writing a book.
There is a myth of creativity, that you need some perfect space and
perfect time to create, that you can‘t do it where you are. But what you
write is real life, so you have to be in real life to create it in words.
That perfect time may never come, so just start where you are, one tiny
bit at a time.
Only you know the detail of your life, so only you can make the decision on when to
write. But you need to make a decision about when and where you will write. Here are some ideas.
- Get up an hour earlier and write before the household gets up
- On the commute (train/bus)
- On the commute while driving. Buy a small voice recorder and speak ideas into the
- For 2 hours every evening, instead of watching TV
- Saturday mornings when the kids are doing sport
- At weekends when I am not doing household chores. I will get a cleaner to do the household
cleaning and use that time to write.
- Take a lunch hour at work several times a week, find a room and write then.
- Organise working 4 days a week and use the 5 for writing
Find some way of earning money that is not selling your books until you make it,
otherwise your writing becomes stressful and there is pressure to write the next piece that will make a
few dollars, as opposed to focusing on your book every morning and night in between working.
http://www.TheCreativePenn.com In Stephen King‘s On Writing he talks of when he was working in a commer-
cial laundry and his wife Tabby was working second shift at Dunkin Donuts
while they tried to raise two kids. He wrote short stories when he could and
sometimes got a cheque in the mail. But he persisted – and you can too.
(By the way, On Writing is an excellent book for learning more about how a
successful writer does it)
“Write at the edges of the day.”
Toni Morrison, author of ―Beloved‖
My personal story:
I once decided that I needed time to finally write the book that was on my heart. I was a miserable IT
consultant, surrounded by other miserable people and wanted to change my life and help them too. I
had some money from the sale of my house, so I took 3 months off and tried to write every day.
I had my desk all set up, even some ideas ready to go but it didn‘t work. After 3 months, I didn‘t have
anything to show for my time off, and I went back to work disheartened at my inability to write. It was
4 years until I decided to try again because that book was still burning on my heart and I was still
unhappy at work.
I finally wrote ―How to Enjoy Your Job‖ in 9 months of evenings,
weekends and days off. I also made a switch to 4 days per week
and spent the other day researching and writing. Working as well
enabled me to write without guilt, as well as providing me with
inspiration for my material. It grounded me in real life, and also
helped keep my focus on what I wanted to change with the book.
So you can find the time – you just need to re-prioritise
What will you give up to write your book?
Record your book: 3 ways to speak your book instead of
http://www.TheCreativePenn.com What I Wish I Had Known Before
Writing My First Book
1. Writing is a journey, but a book is a goal. You can
make it. You can hold your book in your hands. It is achiev-
able. But it is not just about just writing, you actually have to
set a target and then make it happen. Make your goal SMART
– Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based. So
don‘t say ―I will write my Lord of the Rings style trilogy epic
in 6 weeks‖. That‘s not going to happen.
But you can say ―I will write 1000 words per day on my genre novel and I will finish the first draft in
3 months‖. When you write that first book, you struggle because it seems endless…but you can make it
2. You need to know about publishing options before you finish your book. I knew nothing
about publishing while I was writing my book. I thought once I wrote it, I could just find a publisher.
Imagine my surprise when I found out how long things take, and how small the industry is here in
Australia compared to the US and UK I also found out that I should have sent a query letter and a pro-
posal as opposed to a completed book (for non-fiction at least). If you know your options, then you can
set things in motion before you finish the manuscript. It will also keep momentum going on your road
to publication by whatever means you want.
3. Publishers want a “platform” and a marketing plan as part of your query/
submission. If you are not an established author, this is even more important. I have lots about this
on the blog – but I will particularly point you back to How Gary Vaynerchuk got a 10 book deal with
4. There are other methods to publication other than the traditional route. Don‘t be dis-
couraged and don‘t give up Free your creativity Use your energy to get your words out there Self-
publish, publish an ebook, write a blog, write articles, do a podcast, use print-on-demand. There are so
many options and adventures to be had with your creativity.
5. Promotion can be done yourself, with time and no money. Suck up all the knowledge you
can and do it yourself. Don‘t have your finished book sitting sad at home – get it out there You can
even make it onto Oprah with a self-published book now. My story is not quite so ‗big‘, but I made it on
Australian National TV with my self-published book ―How to Enjoy Your Job‖. I didn‘t have the budget
for a publicist so I spent 9 months learning about marketing. A great investment ( I also share every-
thing in the Author 2.0 course – click here to learn more)
6. Writing and publishing books is addictive You might think you will only write this one, but
soon you have loads more ideas for more books I have now written 3 non-fiction books, with my first
novel currently underway.
http://www.TheCreativePenn.com Piracy vs. Obscurity. Which Is Worse
I am an evangelist for digital publishing and getting your work
out there on the internet. But I keep getting the same question
over and over again when I talk to people about it.
“What if my work gets pirated?” Kirk Biglione and I talked
about this in the last podcast as well, so here are some important
points to remember:
Image: Flickr CC Nick Humphries
Yes, piracy happens. People may steal your work and try to sell it, especially if you are not
releasing your books in a format people want. iTunes and the music industry did not collapse when
music went digital but those who didn‘t make their work available were pirated anyway. JK Rowling
didn‘t release Harry Potter in ebook format so it was scanned and put online very quickly. If she had
released an ebook version, there would have been less to pirate
Most people prefer to buy ebooks rather than take stolen copies. Your reading public
are book lovers and voracious readers. Most people are law-abiding citizens. Some people will abuse
the privilege but most are honest and want to compensate you. Trust your public.
Obscurity is a greater threat to authors than piracy. This quote is from Tim O‘Reilly,
from O‘Reilly Media and is absolutely true. It is better to be pirated and out there in the public get-
ting some eyeballs than it is to have your unpirated, unseen manuscript sitting in a drawer where no
one can find it or you.
Some authors are allowing piracy deliberately in order to promote book
sales. Paulo Coelho, author of many books including the worldwide hit ―The Alchemist‖, leaked his
ebooks in Russia on piracy networks deliberately. His sales went from 1000 to over 1 million per
year. He says ―Don’t be fooled by the publishers who say that piracy costs authors money―.
Piracy could be seen as marketing. Many authors now give ebooks away for free and it is a
recommended strategy to gain more readers for a print copy, or at least for a second book. In this
podcast, Kirk Biglione and Brian O‘Learydiscuss the findings of a piracy investigation showing a cor-
relation: ―Sales grew after free content was distributed, whether it was pirated or deliberate―
However, if you find your work has been pirated, address it immediately. You can monitor
your web presence through Google Alerts which will send you an email daily of any mentions of you on
the web. Set up your name, your book names, your company name and anything else you want to
monitor, and act decisively.
Related article: Creative Commons: What is it and how can it benefit you?
http://www.TheCreativePenn.com What Is NaNoWriMo And Why Is It So
Good For Writers?
National Novel Writing Month is held every November. The aim for everyone
participating is to write a 50,000 word novel within the month and
even if you don‘t make that, it is a time of mutual support for writers. If you
join the website, you can track your word count and be part of a global move-
ment. There are groups that form to keep each other motivated, and many
people complete their novels or at least get a good way through them.
There is NaNo Q&A as well as a radio station, plus competitions between countries on word count.
There is even a post-NaNo page ―I wrote my novel, now what?‖(that will be publishing then)
It is such a great idea because it gives you a short period in which to really focus on your
Work In Progress. Don‘t think it just has to be a novel either, you can write whatever your book pro-
ject is. You can also connect with other authors who are writing in this time. Tweet with NaNoWriMo
or join theFacebook page.
My commitment… what’s yours? I have been pining for time to write my novel for
months now. Ideas have been floating around but every weekend I get caught up with blog writing,
tweeting, planning seminars and talks – and then there‘s the day job… you know what I‘m talking
about So I am going to scale back other activities in November and concentrate on writing my
novel. If I can get 50,000 words done on it, I‘ll be stoked. So I am committing to be a part of it.
Over my NaNoWriMo experience, I did regular videos with Lessons Learned
about writing my first novel. Here are the links to the posts containing text
Day 1 update and lessons learned—Off to a great start
Day 5 Update—My writing sucks
Day 11—losing track of my characters
Day 18—I moved house and am behind, but it‘s a thriller
Day 26—Made the mistake of editing whilst writing
NaNo Roundup post—20,033 words and feeling like a winner
See you for NaNoWriMo next year?
9 How to Publish Your Book on
Amazon.com for Free
Amazon.com is the biggest bookstore in the world and sells
billions of dollars worth of books each year, and your title can be on
this global bookstore next to established authors.
If you are a published author with a contract, then your publisher will need to arrange distribution on
Amazon. But if you are a self-published author and you own the rights to the material, it is within your
control and easier than you think. If I can do it, so can you
The key is to use a service that you can load your book onto easily
and that has distribution with Amazon.com and other online
bookstores. These services use print-on-demand technology,
which means the book is printed when ordered and shipped
straight to the customer.
The important thing is that you can do it for free, but you
can also pay extra for services. These services may include
cover design or marketing packages. These are assisted publishing
services, which can range all the way to ―vanity publishing‖ sites
which will do all the work for you but will cost you thousands.
The process works as follows for all the major self-publishing sites:
1. Upload manuscript. Take your final edited manuscript in Word/PDF format and load it onto
the website of the service you choose . You also load the front and back cover as pictures. Some sites
have specific software so you can format the book, for example, picture based books.
2. Create associated information page. You write your blurb text, anything you want added to
the website page for your book and decide your price. The publishing site will add their commission
(because you pay nothing up front) and the total price is calculated.
3. Order and Review. You will then need to order one of your own books to sign off that you are
happy with the final product. Make any changes and then authorize distribution. You can order copies
of your own book for the printing price and only order one at a time if you like. This saves a huge
amount of money for upfront printing.
4. Distribution. Once approved, the files are distributed to the electronic bookstores including
Amazon.com. You will see them within a few days/weeks depending on the service.
10 5. Build your Amazon site. You will need to make adjustments to your Amazon site. Upload
images and get testimonials as well as completing your Author Profile. You can then promote the book
and drive people it online. You may also want to register for the Amazon Affiliates program which pays
you a % of sales you recommend.
6. People buy the book from the site. When the book is ordered, the request goes to the
publishing service who print it and ship it to Amazon who ship it to the customer. It does take a few
extra days but it means you don‘t have to print in advance or store books which saves you money.
7. Income. You get paid your sales income monthly from the service you publish with. If you are
not in the US, you can use Paypal.com for payments. This is essentially a form of passive income after
the book is on sale, because the money comes in monthly for no additional work.
These companies are all recommended for self-publishing for little cost. All use Print-on
Use Lightning Source if you want to publish multiple books as a
pure self-publisher and you don‘t require additional services. Great
for a small press.
Amazon‘s own self-publishing platform, CreateSpace offers basic
packages plus full services for editing, cover design, distribution and
promotion. Can also be used for music and movie distribution.
Similar to CreateSpace with same functionality. Nice cover design wizard for
ease of use. I have used Lulu.com for my books so far and have found them
easy to use .
Blurb is particularly good for photobooks and you can load a fully formatted
PDF—great for artists and photographers.
http://www.TheCreativePenn.com Self-Publishing Banishes the
Fear of Writing
Warning: Personal, sentimental post
In the last few weeks, I have been considering
writing fiction. Shock horror For a non-fiction
author, this feels like an almighty shift
within me. I wanted to share this change with
you, because I think many writers feel the same
I didn‘t write a book for many years because I was
afraid. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. The
usual reasons. I didn‘t think I wrote well enough.
Why would anyone want to read what I wrote any-
Image Credit: Flikr Creative Commons
way…. You know what I mean
I wrote my first book because it became a burning need to change my own life. I self-published to
get the message out there regardless of what any establishment thought. I wrote the next 2 books and
started TheCreativePenn blog because I wanted to share how amazing the world is for authors now,
and communicate how other people can achieve their book-dreams also.
It has been 14 months since I self-published my first book, and I am about to get the 2nd and 3rd onto
Amazon.com. Wow I couldn‘t write for over 20 years because I was afraid of failing. Now I am writing
every day, and desperate to find more time to write other things OK, so I am not a best-selling author
(yet). But my books help people, I am useful and that is my own success. I get emails from people who
like what I write, comments on the blog and positive tweets. This is much more feedback that I ever
got from my own silent diaries, full of unrequited writing.
Self-publishing has liberated me from fear because it enables me to reach people on my own
terms. I know that on the internet people will find me who want to read what I write. I am also in-
spired by the podcasters I am meeting online and listening to: JC Hutchins, Seth Harwood,
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. I am loving their stories and their success with reaching out across the
world. They challenge me to write and to express as well.
I truly believe that the experience of self-publishing has banished my fear of writing. It
has not made me a millionaire in money, but I am all the richer for the experience. By releasing the
fear and enabling my first book, it paved the way for the next 2, and who knows how many more. I am
34 right now. Prolific writers get through at least 1 per year, so that makes a good 60 more before I pop
To those readers thinking about writing a book – do it now. Self-publish it and get over your
fear. Your next book will be the better for you getting the first out of the way.
http://www.TheCreativePenn.com What is Print-on-Demand and Why is it
Print-on-demand publishing is becoming more common
especially in the self-publishing world, for small presses
and academic textbooks.
Books are printed individually when there is an
order placed for them instead of in bulk upfront. A
print-on-demand publisher will have digital files of your
manuscript and cover, and they will just print the book
out when it is ordered and ship it to the customer.
The benefits of this are:
There are no upfront printing costs for books. They are just printed when ordered. This
means a lower cost of entry and you get paid after the books are sold.
No stock is held so there are no holding/storage costs, and for self-publishers, no depressing
pile of books in the corner of your living room
Your book can be ready for sale immediately anywhere in the world on completion and
upload of the manuscript. You don‘t have to ship and store books at various locations. You can also
publish internationally e.g. have a POD site in India and US to serve different markets.
There is the ability to change the text and publish changes more quickly. This is particularly
useful for textbooks that are updated regularly.
It is more environmentally friendly as there are only print and shipping costs for actual
sales. No huge print runs so no pulping of leftover books.
The negatives for print-on-demand are:
There are lower profits per book as printing costs are higher than bulk printing, but the bene-
fits of not spending the money up front often outweigh this. You will also need a small print run
if you want to have your book in physical bookstores as they can‘t take POD. For speaking and back of
the room sales, you can order a small print run from the POD printer, but it may be too pricey for full
Print on demand will save you money
Print on demand changed my life (Video)
13 When Is The Tipping Point For An
Author To Go Digital?
An article recently examined whether The Tipping Point has
come for the publishing industry.
It suggests that 2009 is the year that the ebook finally
changes the publishing industry to a digital model,
helped along by the global financial crisis cutting costs and
jobs. When the 1 bookseller Amazon.com acquired the 1
iPhone e-reading application Stanza, it brought ebook reader-
Image: Flickr CC Kosabe
ship to the forefront of news and blog talk.
There are many within the book/publishing/writing industry who have already embraced the changes
and opportunities digital publishing brings. But there are many more who still talk about ―the smell of
a new book‖, who chase the end of the rainbow for the traditional publishing deal and reject self-
publishing as beneath them.
So when does the tipping point come for an individual author to go digital?
For me, it was in April 2008. I had written my first book and (briefly) tried to get a publishing deal. It
was all too slow and being a first time author, I decided to self-publish anyway. Within a few months I
had learnt all about the other options available to me including the digital options that are free or
cheap and that allow me to have a printed book or a digital product online.
With Lulu.com (and many of the other self-pub services) I could load a Word document for
free and see my book on Amazon.com within a few weeks. I also now sell my books in India with
a similar service, Pothi.com.
With print-on-demand, I can sell my books in the US and other countries while holding NO
stock. I don‘t have to pay thousands for up-front printing. I just load my files and when someone
orders, they print it and ship to the customer. No stock, no up-front costs. This still produces a
printed book so it is brilliant for the author starting with little budget.
With ebooks, I can load my book onto a website like Smashwords, for free, and people can
download it for a fee or for free. My work is out there and it costs me nothing to distribute it. I
can even get paid If I want to give it away for free, it could go viral like Seth Godin ―The Ideavi-
rus‖ and bring me massive traffic to my website and global readership for my next book.
With free blog and audio software like Wordpress and Audacity, as well as social network-
ing, I can reach more of the book buying public with articles and audios. I can meet people in
Have you embraced the digital opportunities for authors yet?
http://www.TheCreativePenn.com How to Publish an Ebook for Multiple
Platforms Using Smashwords.com
Ebooks have taken off in 2009. With more ebook readers being
launched weekly, mobile phones with ebook apps and the publishing
world in a spin, you need to jump on the wave
If you have the digital rights to your book, or if you have something you
would like to self-publish, you can publish it as an ebook in a few hours
and have it for sale today It might not make you a millionaire, but you
will be available on another platform, accessible globally, and all for free
Smashwords.com is the best site for ebook publishing. You can
publish easily from anywhere in the world and be distributed on the Amazon Kindle, Sony EReader,
Barnes&Noble.com, the iPhone via the Stanza app and be available in multiple formats. Wow
Smashwords.com is an ebook site where you can buy and sell ebooks in various formats. As an author,
you can load your Word document onto the site for free (Smashwords takes a % of sales), and it will
convert your document into the various formats for you. This takes a lot of time and effort from us
creative types who don‘t want to spend days reformatting.
You set up an author profile, and Smashwords will index
your book for Search Engine Optimisation and allow
customers to sample your text. You can load YouTube
videos, and create coupons to allow special offers for your
The books can also be tagged on social networking sites so it is a great service. Smashwords is develop-
ing new distribution deals all the time, so you load your book once and it can be available on multiple
platforms. The picture above shows one of my books for sale on the iPhone Stanza app.
A Smashwords Style Guide is provided which you should definitely read first. Don‘t assume that your
file is ok to load as is. The best file to load is a basic Word document with no formatting. Check the
converted versions and make changes, then reload as necessary. It took me a few tries Once you are all
set up, use the Smashwords Marketing Guide to learn about marketing tactics and promote your book.
To start the Smashwords publishing process, register for an account, and just follow the
Related article: Update on the International Amazon Kindle and what it means for authors
http://www.TheCreativePenn.com What is an ―Author Platform‖ and Why
Do You Need One Now?
The phrase ―author platform‖ has started to become
more of a catchphrase in the publishing and book world,
so I thought I would explain it if anyone is confused.
The author platform is how you are currently
reaching an audience of book-buying people, or how
you plan to do so. It is your influence, your ability to sell
to your market. It is your multi-faceted book marketing
Here are some examples:
Are you already famous? Maybe just in your niche but are you already a household name be-
cause of something? If yes, you have a platform and will likely get a book deal. Think Paris Hilton or
George W. Bush – they don‘t need to know how to write to get published I suspect this category does
not include anyone reading this blog
Do you already have a speaking platform? Can you get audiences of several thousand to pay to
come and see you?
Do you already have an existing business with clients and customers who will buy your book?
Do you have a popular blog or website that reaches thousands of people? Think Gary
Vaynerchuk and Christian Lander‘s ―Stuff White People Like‖.
How big is your email list of people who subscribe to your newsletters or ezines?
Do you have a huge podcasting audience who are raving fans and want to buy your books?
Think Scott Sigler and JC Hutchins.
Can you develop a massive following using web 2.0 technologies? Think Tim Ferriss who
used the leverage of bloggers to promote ―The Four Hour Work Week‖ into a huge hit.
Do you have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, Facebook or mySpace? Can
you convert those into book buying fans?
Have you already had a self-publishing hit book that you have successfully marketed yourself?
Think Lisa Genova‘s ‗Still Alice‘ and Christopher Paolini ‗Eragon‘.
16 If you don‘t have any of these right now, never fear. Most of these people took time to build their
platforms. We all start somewhere
Why do you need an author platform?
If you want to get a publishing deal, you need a platform to prove
your books will sell. Many agents/publishers will not even consider
you if you don‘t have a platform already. If you don‘t believe me, check
out this post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner who says ―you really
need to show that you are willing and able to put the time and effort
into marketing yourself and building a readership online―.
If you are a self-published author, you need a platform to sell your books.
If you haven‘t written a book yet, you need to start building your platform so you have one when your
book is ready.
Book-selling is a business for publisher and author alike. We all need to eat Some of us would like to
eat really excellent food at superb seafood restaurants, and not just mince and beans. So selling
books is important to us all. There are thousands of books published every month. There are mil-
lions of blogs online. What makes you stand ahead of the pack? Why will people buy your book?
How can you build your author platform?
So many ways They all take some time and effort. There
is no magic bullet. You will get there, but only if you get
Start with the free Author 2.0 Blueprintwhich will give
you lots of ideas
17 How to Discover and Build Your
If you think branding is a business marketing term and doesn‘t
apply to authors, it‘s time to change your mind
The internet is made up of many tiny niches and websites, blogs
and books relate to those markets. People find those sites by
searching for specific words and phrases based on what they are
interested in. Your author website, or your book, can be found in
this way too.
Branding is important because it enables people to find you, and when they find you, they
might just buy your book. So who are you online? Which niche do you fit into? How do people find
Creating an author platform is vital for a new author‘s success, and creating a brand is the basis for the
platform. But you need to know what you are creating before you start
To decide on your brand, answer the following questions:
How do you want to be known? What words do you want people to associate with you?
What are your goals for the next 3 years? What words are associated with that?
Will your books be in a particular genre?
Who do you admire and want to emulate in writing and also as a brand? Find their websites and
keep screen-prints of what you like and don‘t like. Use them as a model (but obviously no plagia-
rism). If you have a website already, enter it into Google Keyword tool. Are you happy with
the keywords associated with your site? Do you need to change your focus?
What images do you want associated with you and your brand?
You also need to know what you want for your future, because if you can‘t see the brand extend-
ing over multiple books you have hard work ahead I made this mistake after my first book ―How To
Enjoy Your Job‖ when I branded myself with ―career change‖ and a business image. I quickly realised
that I didn‘t want to speak or write on this topic anymore and started The Creative Penn, a new brand,
from scratch. I brainstormed ideas and settled on using my own name and the image of a pen with
creativity. You can still keep more than 1 niche/brand, but be aware of the effort involved
Having a brand doesn’t mean you need an expensive logo or unique design (although you
can do these things). It means you have an image and words associated with you in people‘s minds.
You resonate with something to your fans and customers. People will form these opinions themselves,
but you can control this if you build a brand.
http://www.TheCreativePenn.com Building Your Brand
Once you have decided what you want your brand to be, then
you need to ensure you stay on message, and make sure people
don‘t get confused when they arrive at your site. For example, if
you write a horror book, people will not expect pink teddy
bears and smiley faces on your site. If you write romance, have
a site that reflects that.
Image: Flickr CC Karola
Blog and network on topic and within your brand niche. For example, on The Creative
Penn.com I will not talk about my day job, I won‘t give you cooking or family advice. I also won‘t
review a sci-fi book. I will stay within the bounds of The Creative Penn brand because that is what you
expect (and want) from this blog. I will also only tweet the same topics as it fits with my brand.
Be consistent. Try using the same photo across multiple so-
cial networks so people recognise you. Put your picture on your
key material because you want people to connect with you per-
sonally, not just your book. Try not to jump around too much
with your brand ideas. Think about it, then focus your energy on
developing that brand consistently. The internet compounds
your efforts, so the longer you are in the game, the more effective
you will be.
Find others in your brand niche. Connect with likeminded
people and follow similar blogs. Get to know who makes an im-
pact in your area and read what they are doing. Connect with
them on Twitter if you can. Perhaps interview them for a pod-
cast? Google them and see where they have been posting or ap-
pearing. Do they have video or audio? Which social networks do
The internet is segmented into
they use? Where do they sell books? From there you will also find
people you can network with and who may start following your
Image: Flickr CC LePiafGeo
I speak on this topic and my slidepacks are loaded
Click here for the Digital Marketing and Branding
19 Award Winning Book Marketing Plan
Having your own book is fantastic – but books don‘t sell
themselves. You need to be marketing and promoting your book
whether you are a self-published author, or if you have a contract.
Marketing is your money tree – you need to put effort in for
it to grow
I have been an avid student of marketing and sales for the last year, reading countless books and lis-
tening to audio programs to ensure I knew what I was doing. I have incorporated much of what I have
learned into this blog. At the beginning of 2009, I won an Award for the Best Marketing Plan for self-
published books which included an overview of all the different types of things you can do to market
your book. As this site is all about author education, I am sharing it with you – just right click to
download from the link below.
Click here for the Award Winning Marketing Plan
It includes ideas in the categories of PR, press releases, TV, speaking, networking, book launches,
internet promotion, articles, advertising, joint ventures, corporate sales. It doesn‘t include Twitter as it
was done before I joined up—now I would consider Twitter to be a very important part of a marketing
For more on book marketing plans, check out the free audio with Dana
Lynn Smith, the Book Marketing Maven.
Click here for download of .mp3 file or listen online.
What you should include in a book marketing plan
Advice for authors who are unsure about marketing
Top tips for doing a marketing plan for publishers
How to combine social networking with selling
And much more
Branding and marketing in the digital economy
Book promotion: 5 top tips from being on TV
Press releases: Top tips and a success story