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4 Lessons Learned From Writing and Publishing My First Book (Second book in the works!)

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4 lessons from book
My first book, The Lifestyle Business Rockstar, was a self-publishing experiment I did two years ago. More than the profit, for me it was all about  learning the ropes of getting a physical book out on the market.

Needless to say, I learned a lot. At first I was very much focused on the writing process. It wasn’t until I was on the last few pages of writing that I realized that I had at least a hundred other things I needed to do to publish that book such as getting illustrations, working with an editor, formulating the best title, interior layout and oh, the small task known as….

…marketing the shit out of the book!

I never set out to write an NY Times bestseller. Not that I didn’t want one, but I was realistic about my current reach and the fact that this was my first book.

But after the entire creation process (that I probably spent more than six months on), I was really drained and wanted to move on to the next project. So I simply launched my book to my newsletter list and hired a publicity assistant who would help me get booked for interviews on blogs, podcasts and even live radio shows.

I thought that would do it. I thought that my sales would soar.

Now I did of course have sales but not really anything to speak of (the most sales came as I launched the book, and I haven’t really felt the need to revisit these numbers, but perhaps in a later post ;)).

The book was released two years ago and since then, I’ve wanted to write another book, partly because I learned so much in the process that I wanted to apply what I’ve learned. In the end of this post, I will reveal the topic of my next book, but for now let me guide you through what I learned the hard way with my first book.

As I’ve said, I hired a publicist who helped me with an outreach campaign- booking me left and right for interviews and such. To be honest, I thought this would be enough to jumpstart the sales.

I have to admit that while she did her job, I apparently didn’t sell the book that well since I couldn’t see the results in the sales whenever I had done an interview. So after 3-4 months, I cancelled the contract.

What I missed here was clearly a well-defined campaign where I start the promotion even before I release the book. That means my outreach campaign should have started even before I finished writing the thing.

Get help with the marketing strategy

While I did have a publicist, there was really no one helping me with the marketing and strategy of the book launch. I self-published so I basically had to do everything myself. I only get help with very specific tasks in the creation process like getting an editor and finding an illustrator.

So you see, I had help with the creation process, but no strategy was made for after the book launch.

I’ve learned my lesson. For my next book, I will most likely get an experienced publisher who can help me put a marketing strategy together. While we haven’t signed any papers yet (as I want to have the final draft done before I sign anything), I am currently talking with a company.

Spend more time optimizing for Amazon Kindle

I was so focused on getting the book out that the Kindle version was out of scope for the initial release. It probably took a couple of months before I got around to getting the Kindle version launched. And let me be honest, I haven’t used all the promotion tools that the platform provides.

If you release a book today, you cannot afford not to have an Amazon strategy which, of course, includes your Kindle release.

Have a clear goal and outline before the actual writing process

I did know the topic that I wanted to write about and I even knew several of the main points I wanted in the book, however I started writing before I had the full outline. That might be a valid process for some but in retrospect, I would like to have had developed the structure first. If you read my book, you might disagree and tell me that there is a clear structure. However, I feel that some of the content was out of place and the whole book didn’t feel seamless.

For my coming book, I have developed a clear model to help people transition to the end goal that I want for my readers.

Write more books

After my first book, I thought that was it. I could tick that off my list. But as someone who reads a lot of books, at some point I just got the urge to write again.

It wasn’t something I expected as I felt that there was a lot of work in the first one. But despite all the media of today with blogs, social media, newsletters and not to mention the television with all the streaming services, I still absolutely love the good ol’ book.

While I mostly read books from my Kindle these days (and I know a lot of people listening to them as audiobooks), I still love getting information this way. My current passion is space operas (recently read a lot from Dan Simmons hand).

So what’s my next book about?

I’m glad you asked 🙂

I’m sure most of you know that I’ve spent 15 years in the IT industry. Of those years, I’ve worked more than six years with e-learning for corporate clients. And so a couple of years ago, I created my own online courses in both English and Danish. 

For my next book, I wanted something really hands-on on how to create and profit from online courses.

A lot of the information currently available is often written by people who have online courses but don’t have a technical background. They are often great marketers but have someone else set up all the tech stuff for them.

While the book is not only going to be about technology (also getting the right idea as well as sales and marketing), I feel like I can give some solid advice on the whole process.

The book doesn’t have an official title yet so I can’t share that particular information, but I’ll probably write about the process at some point in the future.

So there you have it, my current project revealed!

Did you self-publish a book? Did you go through an established publisher? I would love to hear your experience in the comments! 🙂

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6 Responses to 4 Lessons Learned From Writing and Publishing My First Book (Second book in the works!)

  1. mikes says:

    we self-published and had a pretty good Amazon strategy. I learned a LOT from people who did it before me: Jack Canfield, Ken Blanchard, etc… the best advice they Ever gave me: “Mikes, when you writer ‘your’ book, Don’t do it alone!”
    We hit #1 on Amazon in 2012 but like you described, after a TON of sales in 2 days, it shelved off pretty quickly.

    you are 5000% right on with “market the shit out of it”.
    but that can be difficult for people.. if they are not Living Their Ass Off. 😉

    Live the Dream, Rasmus.

  2. Donna says:

    Oh man, I can so relate to this post – I self-published a book in 2014. I thought the writing was the hard part. Hahahahaha! Then I thought the formatting for the various formats (ebook, real book, Smashwords, Amazon) was the hard part. Hahahahahaha! Then I realised the hard part is marketing the shit out of the book! Compared to that, the writing is the ridiculously easy part. Still, all good learning for the next book next year. 😀 x

  3. Hammo says:

    Great info and I’m learning that writing a book is different to selling a book.

    It’s still on my list of thing to do, but I’ll start small and write a few easy books first then later I’m going to tackle the important one I want to write.

    Your advice is invaluable. I’ll be checking back to see how you went on with the second book. Please keep us updated.

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