How Self-Publishing a Book Can Transform Your Career - Chandler Bolt

My notes of the Peak Work Performance Summit session with Chandler Bolt, co-founder and CEO of the Self-Publishing School and author of the book Book Launch:

  • Why books are the new business card
  • How writing a book can benefit your career
  • Recommendation for producing work you can be proud of, even when you're not an experienced writer
  • How anyone can write a book without quitting their day-job

When you give someone a business card, most of the time it will get thrown away before the end of the day. But people feel bad about throwing out a book, so every time they see it they will think about you.

The process of writing a book makes you into a different person. It's usually seen as something so complex, but when you've done it you start to think "if I've done this, what else can I do?"

Chandler states that if you have 30 minutes a day, you can write a book in a month. You have to make that leap before you're ready, as the green lights will never all be synchronized.

3 steps to writing a book

  1. Doing a mind map

    Put down the stories, experiences, books you've read, lessons you've learned, all the things you know about this topic. No filter. Spend 30-45 minutes on this.

  2. Create an outline

    Group common ideas, form them into 3-5-7 sections. Then group the ideas into chapters. Now you have a chapter-by-chapter roadmap. It's a messy process, it's fluid, not perfect.

  3. Write the damn thing!

    You can actually repeat these three steps chapter by chapter. Spend 10 minutes mapping everything you think about this chapter, 10 minutes writing an outline, 40 to 60 minutes writing that chapter.

If you're not a good writer, you can speak it out and use a service like REV (about a dollar per minute of audio) that will transcribe it, and now you have something to work with instead of the dreaded blank sheet of paper.

You can get an editor to polish it off. You can find them on freelance sites such as Upwork.

Don't see yourself as a writer, but as a story teller. A good writer can be a terrible author if they can't pass on their story, while everybody has stories.

The marketing starts well before the book launch. Positioning/targetting: going after the right person. Have a really good cover, not only that looks good but sells. Draw in the reader and make them interested. Check keywords and categories in Amazon.

You need good reviews, they work as social proof. You've got to ask for them, don't beat around the bush. Your request has to have a deadline ("review by this date"), let them know it's reversible ("you can always go back and change it later"), have milestones ("I want to have 50 reviews by Saturday, it's our goal for launch week"). That way people feel they can rally behind, there is a deadline involved, and just leave a review you can always change it later. If someone sends you an email saying how much they liked the content, reply back and ask them if they wouldn't mind to paste the content of the email to this link.

Free to Paid strategy: offer a book for free for 2 or 3 days, then switch to selling the book. Thousands of downloads gets you some Amazon juice. It's about leveraging the Amazon ecosystem. Offering it for free doesn't devaluate your work, it's about getting the information out there.

Launch team, i.e. group of people that support your book. Family members, co-workers, friends, people that believe in your cause, customers. 5 to 100 people who agree to read your book ahead of time, share the word about it, leave a review during launch week, support in any way that they can for the 4 weeks leading up to the launch. In return, they get a free advance copy of the book, get to see behind the scene of a successful book launch, surround themselves with like-minded people, they get access to me, they get their name in the book.

Tips on how to make progress

  • Goal setting and breaking it down.

    Instead of once-a-year New Year's resolution, break it down monthly, then weekly and daily.

  • Proactive vs. reactive

    Making your morning time proactive. Not checking social media, not checking your email, being very disciplined with those first two hours

  • Tracking your time

    You can't improve how you spend your time if you don't first track it. Install these two software: Rescue Time which runs on the background on your computer and gives you a weekly report, and Toggl which makes you manually click to change activities. Helps you realize the importance and impact of switching from one task to another.

Review my other notes from the Peak Work Performance Summit.