self-publishing success for indie authors


Non Fiction Writers Conference Notes

I recently attended the Non-fiction Writers Conference (#NFWC), an online seminar of non-fiction luminaries organized by Stephanie Chandler. Unfortunately, being in Taiwan I couldn’t stay awake for all the sessions, but I still learned a lot of things.

Stephanie Chandlers
Stephanie Chandler

Stephanie Chandler

Stephanie Chandler

Here are some rough notes of my favorite lessons.

Mark Coker, Smashwords

We are entering the democratization of publishing. More free tools are opening doors and making it easier to self-publish.

Publishers are losing their monopoly. Writers no longer need a publisher to publish, sell and distribute a book. Often, as a self-published author, you can outsell, outdistribute and outcompete mainstream authors – there is a competitive advantage.

  • Faster time to market.
  • Total creative control.
  • Lower expenses.
  • Better distribution.
  • Ebooks never go out of print.
  • Total promotional flexibility.
  • Earn more per book.

You have the ability to produce a high quality book as good as anything mainstream published, and you can sell it for much, much less. Ebook buyers are price sensitive.

Dramatic growth of self-publishing is the advantage (platform building, sales) that indie authors have. Much easier to hit bestseller lists at lower price points.

Ebooks are going global.
45% of ebook sales were outside the USA.

Unless you make an emotional connection with readers, you aren’t going to get the viral…

David Newman at

Your book is a business unto itself. Your book market plan is really your “YOU” marketing plan.
Everything you do needs to be built into your book and thought leadership platform.

You’re NOT a nobody, you cannot do this book launch alone. You need groups of people.
You need endorsements; a group of rockstars who are in a position to endorse your book. If you’ve written in some genre, identify the “usual suspects” who usually review or endorse books in that genre.

Everybody is approachable.
How you can share the platform your book is going to create with other people: “Hey I’m writing this book and I want to make it more than just me. Can you give me 500 words to showcase your expertise?” Changes from MY book to OUR book, makes it much easier.

Would you be willing to donate a bonus, and send one email during book launch? Mutual opportunity. Why would someone want to help you? Get them involved.

Offer incentives for bulk order. Do something special if they order 5 or 10.

You don’t make money with the book – you make money with the extra businesses.

Writing a book is like pointing an aircraft carrier in a certain direction – everything goes with it.

Conference, coaching, live event, video training program, podcast, services… build your empire around this book. Why’d you write the book – not as a hobby, not on a lark, this is your heart and soul. You need to be surrounding that book with everything else.

If you’ve written a good book that’s central to who you are, what you do and who you do it for, you need to market your book as if your life depended on it.

This is job 1. This is the air you breathe. Most authors lack a sense of urgency.

You need to BECOME the media, not pitch the media

Become the ringleader, the curator – become the center of your readership. Interview others. Create the news. Focus in on the people you admire. Make it the best thing on the entire subject that’s ever existed.

Stop focusing on marketing you hate – only do what is easy and enjoyable.

The only things you need to do: identify the top 10 publications, blogs, newsletters, associations, that target your same relevant target market. Offer to write an article. Borrow their platform. Why would you just write on your own blog when you could write on another platform that’s 1000x bigger than yours and connect with new people who aren’t already following you?

The magic secret: Linkedin Groups. Very targeted groups. 800 pound gorilla. Start to engage with those communities. Post on Sunday night and Wednesday night, as late as you can. Don’t spam: Spark human-to-human conversation. Be radically helpful and radically generous.

In literally 30 days or less, go from zero to hero.

Pitch: “I have a book coming out, all it needs is a blurb from you and it will live happily ever after… the timing would be perfect to promote any projects you have coming out in Q3.” Casual. Like a friend. Charming. Fun and happy. “If you’d be wonderful enough to… May I send you an electronic PDF to skim quickly, and if it catches your fancy, a kind word or two.”

Make it easy, make it beneficial for them.

Judy Carter (professional speaker)

People who you’ve never heard about, people you’ve never heard of, are making $10,000 as keynote speakers.

Speaking mistakes to avoid:

1. You’re no good. If you put yourself out there too quickly, it’s not cool.

2. Speaking is a giving profession – you have to have content, and stories.

Bullet points, a plan, steps… illustrate your points with personal stories.

You need a fantastic heart story. Something that says you’ve been through it too. Your conversion experience (“I used to be poor and hungry and sad… but I figured it all out and now I’m rich, happy and healthy… and you can be too.”)

Your signature heart story is what’s going to get you on TV.

A great industry for  older people – experience people, magnificent story. I wrote this book because I had to learn what I wrote.

From mess to success. Story needs to start with the mess, get to the success.

Your success depends on offering the big 3 things that people want:

To be wealthier, healthier, and have better relationships.

Make them richer, feel better, getting better relationships – and people will listen to you. That’s what you need to write about.

Open your speech, talking about THEM. Show appreciation to the MC and know their names. Something you observed about the room or the experience. Get the numbers of people who hate speeches before hand… ask them what frustrates them. Learn the challenges they are really facing. First 20 minutes, talk about their problems. You don’t go to the dentist until you have a toothache.


Putting it all together

You can publish a non-fiction book and make a lot of money.

But you need to put out a high quality product; you need to offer a fix for the big issues that everybody wants to improve; you need to partner with a bunch of other people and make a “group project” by getting others invested in your success; you need a personal heart story about what you went through (and why you are uniquely qualified); you need to identify with your target readers and really understand their wants, needs and fears – you need to identify possible sources of resistance or objections, and overcome them.


Got some other important tips for nonfiction writers? Share them in the comments!

Written by: selfpublish

Derek is a book cover designer finishing a PhD in Literature. These days he spends his time building tools and resources to help indie authors publish better on his blog, Read More


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