The presenter was author and trainer Mindy Gibbins-Klein who also goes under the name The Book Midwife, which is a great marketing angle. And like all good entrepreneurs, Mindy has registered the trade mark at the UKIPO (number 2399080)
She started the session by asking the group what book they were planning on writing. This led to the conclusion that as we all have unique experiences, and unique insights on those experiences, we all have something to write about that could be of interest to others.
For those who have decided to write a book, Mindy’s aim is to help them write and publish the best book they can, whilst also finding the biggest market for it.
It was a great workshop, full of practical and inspirational elements. It was encouraging to hear that so many authors procrastinate over their books (particularly their first). In Mindy’s case it had taken her ten years from first starting to getting into print, and this is not unusual. She reviewed the common reasons for failing to finish a book. The most popular is the author’s inability to finish the final chapter or even last few pages. This is often due to a fear of ridicule or rejection from friends and colleagues (and potential publishers) of the finished work.
It is somewhat ironic that so many books take so long to finish, as apparently the whole thing could be finishes in as little as 100 days. In fact Mindy has published her own book (with Bert Verdonck) called ‘Your Book in 100 Days’.
Mindy brought along some great examples of books with a clear title and simple but attractive covers to illustrate how important this aspect of your book can be on sales. It reminded me of Brad Burton’s book, given to me at the last Business Start-Up show in November. It’s called ‘Get off your Arse’, and tells his story of starting up in business, as well as being designed to inspire others to get off their bottoms, and follow their own dream.
It turns out that Mindy helped Brad get this book published in ninety days, after several previous false starts. I should point out that although I read the book with the intention of reviewing it here, the language and style of writing he used rather put me off. Perhaps working at the library has turned me into a literary snob. I suggest you make up your own mind and let me know what you think.
Here are my notes from the excellent workshop:
Reasons to Write and Publish a Book
These divide into emotional drivers or outcomes (such as money or status) or a combination of the two. It is helpful to know what yours are before you start.
There are 5 Easy Steps which must be completed thoroughly, and in strict order
100 hours should be enough time to go through these stages. Although most people take 200 hours, and spread them through several years.
An average book is around 50,000 words which equals around 150 pages. Researching a subject can add time to the process.
Sales of 20,000 copies is a realistic target for success. Very few authors sell more.
Three main publishing options
Traditional Cooperative Self-Publishing (you do it all yourself)
Time 12-18 months 3 months 2 to 3 months
Financial no author inv. £1,000 to £5,000 £1,000 to £5,000
Control publisher author author
Rights they keep you keep you keep
Likelihood of 1% 100% 100%
£10 book – publisher takes £6, from remaining £4, author gets around 20p·
You will be very lucky to find a publisher
£10 book – printing £2.50, shop takes £6.00 leaving £1.50 for author
Are you prepared for all the leg-work involved in finding editors, printers and promoters?
£10 book – pay 80p royalty for publishing and distribution – author buys £4.50 each for their own use.
· Hybrid ‘best of both worlds’, full turnkey solution
· Keep control and rights
· Low cost of entry
· Timescales similar to self-publishing
It is very difficult to do on your own. Get input from someone you trust.
A lot of people start with their stories which is a mistake.
According to Mindy there is no such thing as writers block – It’s Official: Writer’s Block is a Myth.
· Be yourself – don’t edit yourself as you go along – save that to later when you have finished your first draft (ideally).
Editing is essential
But make sure you save this activity to the end, when you have finished your first draft.
People do judge a book by its cover
Make sure your cover is exiting and relevant
Promoting your book
Too many authors think their work is done once the book is written.
Mindy suggests two to four hours a week of promotional activities after it is published.