Anyone can self-publish a best-selling book in 90 days by following the steps laid out in Chandler Bolt’s book ‘Published’.
Bolt brilliantly debunks all the common excuses why people don’t believe they can write a book, and convincingly explains why self-publishing trumps using a traditional publisher in the modern age.
He then takes the reader through an encouragingly simple step-by-step guide to self-publishing their book in 90 days.
Here’s a short summary of his guide.
Day 1. Decide your topic and create a ‘mind map’
Bolt begins the book by explaining why everyone has a best-selling story inside of them, and how to find yours.
I already had an epic story in mind. My book would explain my journey overcoming tragic heartbreak, learning to truly enjoy being single, and consequently becoming better at meeting women than I ever imagined possible.
After you’ve decided your topic, you’re encouraged to create a ‘mind map’ of everything you know about it on a huge piece of paper. Do this for 20 minutes. If that’s not long enough, reset the timer and keep writing! You want all your ideas on the page. It can be as messy as you want. Check out mine!
Day 2. Organise your mind map into an outline
Next, give your mind map some structure. Group all your ideas into sections and subsections. Determine a chronological order for these ideas and write them down.
Ultimately, you’ll have a list of chapters and subheadings, split into three sections (beginning, middle and end). It should look something like this.
Next 30 days — Write, Write, Write
Now you have the basic outline of your book, spend the next 30 days writing.
To calculate your daily workload, divide the amount of subheadings in your outline by 30. It’s unlikely you’ll have an exact multiple of 30, so determine in advance which days are easier for you to write more.
The only rules of this 30-day spell are ‘don’t judge’ and ‘don’t edit’. Just get the damn words on the page. Everything you know about each subheading.
Find a writing routine that suits you best. I got up an hour early every day and typed like a maniac before work.
Second 30 days — Edit your terrible writing
This should be the first day you’ll examine and judge what you’ve written. It’ll almost definitely be nonsensical, full of unnecessary rambling and littered with spelling errors. This is the stage where most people give up. It’s easy to be demotivated, but the next 30 days is where you’ll amend your atrocious writing.
Each day, edit one 30th of your book, correcting any errors and ensuring everything makes sense.
Final 28 days — Pruning and marketing
Here’s where you’ll start to believe you can actually self-publish a decent book. You have all the words on the page and it sort of makes sense. Congratulations!
Only now, will you decide a title! Here’s a great article on how to do that. I was almost certain my book would be titled ‘Teach Yourself Sexy’, but following feedback from my launch team (more on them later), it was eventually named ‘The Thrill Of The Chase’.
Next, find an editor and a cover designer. As a qualified journalist with a small budget and confidence in my writing style, I found a super-cheap editor on Fiverr and designed the cover myself.
If you’re not a writer by trade, spend a bit more on an experienced editor, who can add some spice to your writing, identify holes in your plot, remove unnecessary rambling etc.
Your launch team
A key part of Bolt’s strategy for creating a best-seller involves assembling a ‘launch team’ to generate a ton of early sales (at a low price), making the most of the ‘Amazon Juice’ that this creates, then bumping up the price thereafter. The concept of ‘Amazon Juice’ centres around the notion that Amazon promotes books with lots of purchases and reviews to a wider audience.
Your ‘launch team’ should be made up of friends, family and people who really believe in the message of your book.
This team will buy your book and leave a positive Amazon review on your ‘secret launch day’ — a couple of days before your advertised launch. They’ll also rant and rave about your book to their friends, families and colleagues while your book is listed at a super-low price.
The flurry of sales and reviews this creates should signal to Amazon that your book is worth promoting to a larger audience. By the time your official launch day rolls around and you’ve raised the price of the book, more people outside the immediate reach of your launch team will see it and be motivated to buy.
Bolt suggests offering your launch team a free digital draft of the book as a way of thanking them. I put their names in the book’s acknowledgements and sent them a ton of free extras on top of that. You should do anything that motivates them to scream about your book from the rooftops. Throw them a book launch party if you want!
My team was fantastic. They gave feedback on the cover. They helped me improve the title, subtitle and a couple of chapters. On my ‘secret launch day’, (nearly) all of them bought the book for 99p and left an overwhelmingly positive Amazon review.
Your own marketing efforts
In the days leading up to your book launch, aim to appear in every media outlet your target audience consumes.
My strategy was to create content for as many men’s dating advice websites and YouTube channels as possible, offering the audience an opportunity to download the first chapter of the book for free.
I emailed everyone who downloaded the first chapter with instructions on how they could buy the book for 99p on the ‘secret launch day’. I’d already built a sizeable list of email subscribers — and they were told about the 99p launch too. One huge serving of Amazon Juice please!
‘Published’ could do with more detailed instructions on navigating Amazon CreateSpace or Amazon Web Services (you can use either to get your book online), but is otherwise an essential idiot-proof guide for self-publishing a great book.
It does a marvellous job of unravelling the myth that you need to be smart or talented to self-publish a good book, and holds your hand throughout the entire process.
Of course, you don’t have to launch within 90 days. I skipped weekends, added a bonus chapter, and reworked a few sections. ‘The Thrill Of The Chase’ was live in about six months.
It wasn’t a best-seller, but it’s still attracting sales and reviews more than a couple of months after being listed on Amazon. That’s pretty cool!
For my next book, I’ll work on creating a larger launch team, as these guys and girls were crucial to the book’s success.