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An Income Workflow and Roadmap for Book Production
There are efficient ways to get things done, and time-wasters.
An overall schedule, roughly based on Stephen King’s “On Writing” is:
AM – Writing
Aft – Marketing/Business
PM – Reading
You read in order to train and inspire yourself to write. Evenings help to prime your muse, and the early am, right after sleep, is the best time to harvest that inspiration (and keeping a notepad by your bedside to keep track of ideas that wake you up in the darkness.
Two points to review:
Books as Idea Containers
Multiple Eyeball Publishing.
Books aren’t just print or ebooks or audio. They are all of them. And they are videos and courses as well. Maybe even movies and Broadway productions, but that might be extreme hoping.
You actually want to publish in all possible versions to all possible outlets simultaneously. If you want to practice leaving money on the table, just stick to Kindle ebooks. That Amazon route requires you to regularly produce content (a new novel at least every three months) and probably run advertising as well to keep your books ranking. In short, you are feeding the beast.
The alternative is to work the long tail and get your books selling in hundreds of local ebook outlets, indie book stores and libraries. More eyeballs seeing your books will result in more sales. Being on a single outlet who only shows the topselling books will not get your book notices. Have your books show up where the others aren’t can get you sales that the others don’t know they are missing.
For example, Kobo sells better in Canada (and a few other countries) that Amazon. European countries are still starting to find ebooks, and there are a lot of indie ebook companies starting up out there (as well as in the U.S.) Another place is to get your books into libraries, and there are companies who will lease your book to them and then resell your book regularly as they can lend them only so many times. And this includes your audiobooks as well.
Warning: This is a roadmap for prolific authors. If you love to write, you shouldn’t hold yourself back because Amazon won’t reward you for being prolific. This system is tested and works. You won’t find this being written up elsewhere, as most people are stuck on how “hard” it is to get their first book out.
This particular book and this particular chapter in it are designed to let you soar your production and ignore the also-rans around you that are drinking the Kool-Aid.
What we will be covering here can open your eyes or make you throw this book across the room.
You can produce four books a week and have the weekend off. You will be producing these in about 7 formats and publishing them as close to simultaneously as possible.
This makes you income as you put your books onto every possible marketplace you can so that they will sell your books for you.
While everyone else if fretting and worrying over their Amazon sales, you can be everywhere else in addition to Amazon, and be hauling in nets of income, fishing in waters where others haven’t even heard of.
It begins by working out how to create all possible versions of your book simply and efficiently, then working out how to send your book everywhere others aren’t. This diversifies your income and makes a sudden drop by any one outlet to be an inconvenience, not a disaster.
I’ve gone over a rough version in this book of all the various types (ebook, print, audio, video, courses) and the big names of outlets, aggregators, distributors, and wholesalers.
The trick is to get these produced in a simple format that doesn’t duplicate your efforts.
In “Backwards Book Publishing” I covered that non-fiction should best be done from the course backwards. You talk the book, transcribe/edit the text, marry the text with the images to have the videos. That results in your text, audio, and video in the same effort.
It’s efficient, effective, and way more profitable than ebooks only.
This Barebones Production Workflow Is:
1. Outline your content.
2. Create a presentation based on your outline, include images that help get your points across.
3. Talk your presentation and record your content.
4. Edit your audio into shape (removing the ah’s, uh’s, dead spaces) and submit to a transcription service.
5. Extract the slides as images and combine these with the audio as a video.
6. Send out for transcript. At this point, you could upload the video as a private version to YouTube and Google will transcribe it for you, without punctuation. But it’s free. Otherwise, I recommend Trint.com as most cost and time efficient for the money you invest. See that book above for a discussion on transcription services.
6. Split the video into lessons in editing your videos for the course.
7. As you edit the transcript, you’ll build your text-based book versions.
The reason for doing this is that speaking your book is 3-5 times faster than writing. And editing your transcript saves you a draft overall (which I’ll get to later.)
As you start this workflow, your audio won’t match the book and might have to be re-edited. Maybe not. Those might be bonuses which make the audio even more authentic.
At about 150 words per minute, a 15K-word book like Chris Fox’s non-fiction books will wind up roughly 100 minutes or 1 hour, 40 minutes. Since print books are somethind around 300 words per page (Amazon says 250 words is a “page” on Kindle), then this is roughly a 1:2 or 3:5 ratio wpm/words-per-page. Shorthand is to say that 2 minutes of talking equals one print page. 15K-word book gives you 50 pages in print.
On a course, the standard is 3-5 minute videos, so a hundred minutes will give you 20 videos or more. Depending on your structure, if you do 5 videos per module, then you have 4 modules. The more precise strategy would be to build the videos as four acts, then record short intro and summary videos about half the time of the main acts. So: 5 videos per module. But you’ll have to work your book into these formats so you aren’t doing an uninspired drudgery of going back to record the small bits for each module. Consider the modern TV “beat” method of having a teaser, then four acts, then a cliffhanger for the next episode. Makes your non-fiction quite more engaging when you think and write it through in those models.
The point is to have your text, audio, and video all ready at the beginning so that your content shows up in all possible outlets in all possible formats. After that, you can figure out how to launch it.
A sidebar here: if you are completely unknown as an author, and just learning your craft, you’re probably going to want to work with Short Reads (covered in my two books “How to Write Less and Profit More” and “Writing Serial Fiction in the Real World”, available in the book library.) Publish 4 to 8 short stories and/or short reads and then collect these up into a bigger book which can be profitably advertised. It’s possible to write a short story/read every week, and then release/launch a collection every 5th or 9th/10th week. If none of your stories sell, then you’ve had that much practice. If you shoot at 10k words per story/episode, then you’ll wind up with a novella in the collection. In four to five months. you’d have a 80K-word book, or about 266-page book. If your short stories aren’t selling, you can revamp your stories and start a new series. Rinse, iterate, repeat. Better than writing an 80K novel and burning a third of a year with nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, if those short stories/reads do sell, then you have some income while you write the rest of them. And getting feedback from your readers meanwhile. I’ve gone over this several times in various books and blog posts, but it bears repeating as Conventional Wisdom Kool-Aid drinkers ignore this workflow.
At this point you have all the versions, now it’s time to work out a publishing sequence. What follows is mostly for non-fiction, but can be adapted for fiction, especially if you sell your book as a video as well. I mean, why not?
Back to the beginning:
0. Have a site, domain name, and a blog. Simple is best. Get a Blogger blog and Gumroad to get started. Cheapest and most stable. Set up a landing page for your book as somewhere to send people. Just blank is fine for now. We’ll build this as we go. (There are some great themes for Blogger these days…)
00. Get an email service. A lot of people like MailChimp. Regardless, you’ll be paying something per month or per quarter just to be able to broadcast to subscribers. Gumroad will allow you to email your customers directly, but you’ll want to be able to set up a sequence of emails in an autoresponder sequence (like a free ecourse) as well as the occasional or regular email broadcast.
I. Building Your Book
00. Build an empty book in Calibre and enter all the metadata, as well as getting the cover made. This includes both long and short description, also you keywords, title, and subtitle. Update your site landing page with this data.
0. Storyboard your work. Take some looseleaf notebook paper (the ones with the pre-punched holes so you can put them into a binder) and draw a box on the top half. Then sketch into it your idea of what picture represents what you’re going to talk about.
Below that, you outline what you want to say about that picture.
1. When you have all the storyboards in place, go through them once or twice to tell that story. At first you stop and add or rearrange the pages so they make best sense. Once you have it all in order, then time the next run-through. Now you know approximately how many minutes/words/pages you’ll have as a result. Trim or expand or simply record.
2. Edit your recording to take out the uh’s, ah’s, and deadspaces.
3. Make a presentation out of your storyboards. Get the images you want there.
4. Export these slides as images.
5. Combine with the audio into a video editor and tweak until the video comes out the way you want it.
(An alternative is to simply screen capture your recording the presentation, then edit the video. Extract the audio to upload for your transcript.)
6. Upload your audio to get your transcript. Draft One.
7. Open up LibreOffice and convert your transcript into a book. Put in the headings and bullet points and dress it up so it reads well. Add in all the links and correct the grammar and typo’s -> Draft Two.
8. Create your PDF and use that to proof your book. Tweak, re-export, re-proof. Final Draft, print copy is now ready.
9. Output with Calibre to epub and check this with its editor. (Or use Writer2Epub plug-in for LibreOffice.)
10. When you’re happy with the result, have Calibre create a mobi version.
– – – –
II. Publishing and Producing Your Book
1. Publish your courses to Udemy, Skillshare, and the other course marketplaces. Create any needed PDF handouts to match the videos, and link to your site for more information. If you have a built-in LMS (Learning Management System) on your site, great. Build your course there as well. Or build it there first to get the bugs out.
2. Publish your audio to Author’s Republic and CD Baby. Integrate Gumroad on your site so you can sell your digital versions there – starting with the audiobook.
3. Publish to Lulu. This gives you free ISBN’s for each book. Ebook is for Lulu only, we’ll send to other outlets shortly. Paperback goes to “globalReach” (Expanded Distribution) while you hold on to your hardback until you like what you see in the paperback proof (cheaper, obviously.) Those proofs take about a week or so to get to you, so…
4. Publish to CS as Paperback and audio CD, even individual videos can be sold. DVD if you have the chops to produce one. (No, we won’t publish to Kindle until much later. Follow my logic on this one…)
5. ebook to Draft2Digital (originals only, no public domain.) They have merchandizing capability and specials you can’t easily access otherwise. That gets you to iTunes, Kobo, Nook, and a few others. This also gives you a universal link so that people can buy wherever they prefer.
6. ebook to StreetLib and PublishDrive. These two aggregators gets your book into Europe, as well as most of the rest of the major US and worldwide outlets.
7. At this point, set up your digital sales on Gumroad (epub, mobi, and PDF as a bundle) and link those into your Book post on Blogger. Once you get a few of these, you can create your bundles, and also send people directly to your personal Gumroad site as well. Don’t forget you can set up your audio book on Gumroad for direct sales and then make a bundle with the ebook package.
III. Publishing to Kindle
Finally, your Kindle version is different than your other ebooks.
Because Amazon has set it up that way to make as much profit as possible. There’s all sorts of tricks built into their system which people have figured out almost as fast as Amazon can fix them.
This means you need to make a special edition for Kindle which has an opt-in link that shows up in the LookInside, plus your usual pitch at the back of your book, and a host of other details. Amazon has been dissected to death on how to best create ebooks for it, plus the keywords and so forth. So there is no repeating all those hacks here.
You do this last, so you can take advantage of things like pre-orders and a few other Kindle-centric marketing strategies.
Again, it’s one ebook for everyone else and then a special edition for Amazon. Amazon is priced lower (because they’ll nag you if they aren’t) and you can do all sorts of launch strategies with them. Those books tell all about this. Chris Fox has probably the best book (with his video series as well) about launching there.
The reason I say to do this last is because every where else is pretty much set-and-forget. But Amazon throws your book off another financial cliff every 30 days where your sales tank unless you constantly push traffic to them with ads. So you have to treat them special kid gloves. Of course, they reward you with extreme payouts if you do it just right. And that means people get sucked up in gaming Amazon’s algorithms.
The other alternative is to simply keep cranking out books and seeing which series sells everywhere else as well. I’ve found that the books which sell at all sell everywhere without having to get reviews for Amazon or advertise. Amazon is its own animal. Another author has told me he gets as many sales from long-tail distribution as he does from Amazon. And he doesn’t advertise. He also doesn’t do audiobooks or courses, just ebooks and print books. So there is a lot still to gain here.
You’ll have to approach this on your own. Almost all of the conventional wisdom these days is Amazon-centric. But if you can make as much income from the international book sales not on Amazon as on it, then that’s saying something. Meanwhile, you aren’t running around doing all you have to do in order to get sales just on Amazon. You can then just enjoy writing and work on improving your craft. That’s what passive income is all about – less work, more income, more free time to do what you want.
This strategy says that to survive best, get as many versions of your books out to every book outlet you can find. Publish them all at once, then start on the next book.
The theory of “4 shorts and a collection” is an Amazon workaround. Books sell better when they are advertised (on Facebook and on Amazon) and when you have at least a $3.99 unit price to pay for that advertising. You put up the four short reads/stories once a week or every two weeks as a series. They will tend to promote the other books in that series on Amazon. Then you come out with a collection that initially sells for .99 and then raises slowly. Of course, you build your list and segment that list so the least responsive are alerted about a new release first, then the next most-responsive, and until you’ve mailed your entire list. This is to set up your book for regular sales and convince Amazon its worth their while to promote your book for the next month. Again, see Fox’s book, Launch to Market, for details.
Amazon is a beast and you don’t want to have to be feeding it all the time. That’s just another job with no benefits.
You want to write in genres where you like writing and make income without having to jump through hoops to get there.
If you do decide to create an Amazon solopreneur business like Mark Dawson, then you have that marketing time slot available – afternoons.
IV. In Short:
a. Create your book in all possible formats – text, audio, video.
b. Publish your course.
c. Publish your audio and video’s.
d. Publish your print books.
e. Publish your ebooks.
f. Only then format and publish your Kindle version.
g. Rinse, repeat.
PS. You might also see from this that your Kindle version would then have the links necessary to sell your course, print versions, audiobook, videos and so on. Your best lead generator can then have the most leverage.
This article available as part of an ebook and in print –
Click Here Now to Download Your Copy.