Write a Book: Your 5-Minute Plan

Write a Book: Your 5-Minute Plan

Want to write a book? Don’t know how to start?

You want to write a nonfiction book, or perhaps you’re already writing a book. I work with writers every day who get stuck on a book. Either they don’t know how to start, or they pick the wrong topic for them, or they think they need way more research than they do… their problems are endless.

Here’s a big tip if you’d like to write nonfiction: pick a topic you know, AND/ OR pick a topic you LOVE and want to learn more about. It’s essential that you pick something you’ll enjoy writing about.

Next, plan. The biggest mistake I see authors making is that they fail to plan.

Yes, I know, you just want to start writing. 🙂 Please take five minutes to plan. You know the old saying, failing to plan means planning to fail.

So here’s how to plan in five minutes.

Want to write a book? Here’s how to plan it in 5 minutes

Follow steps one to five below. You should be able to complete the steps in five minutes or less.

Why five minutes? Because… five minutes.

No matter how busy you are, you can spare five minutes — and those five minutes will either confirm that your initial idea is great for you, or it’s a complete disaster and you need to pick something else.

1. Choose a topic you know and love.

What will you write about? I’m sure you’ve got endless topics about which you could write, because writers tend to be interested in many things.

Grab a sticky note, and write your topic on it. (Don’t skip this step.)

Next, hop over to Amazon’s Kindle Store, and see whether there are any bestsellers on the topic. If yes, go to the next step. If no, choose another topic, and repeat, until you find a salable topic YOU can write.

2. SLANT your topic to make it your own.

Look at the top-selling ebooks on your topic.

You need a fresh take on the topic. What have the bestsellers disregarded or left out? Check the tables of contents of the ebooks. It shouldn’t take you long to think of a fresh angle on the topic.

3 Create a 2-minute outline: who, what, WHY, when, where and HOW.

Just write down who the ebook’s for, why they need it, when they need it, where they need it, and how your readers will benefit from your ebook.

Big, BIG tip: approach your outline from the point of view of your readers. Your ebook must benefit your readers in some important way… if the topic doesn’t benefit them, rethink.

4. Create your working title.

Try TOPIC/ SLANT + Problem Solved And/ Or Benefit.

Start with your topic, and the slant you’re taking — example: “easy weight loss”.

“Easy weight loss” incorporates the topic, and the slant.

Vital: make sure that you have the benefit in the title.

Visit Amazon, and study titles in your topic area.

Here’s one of my titles Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories. It may not be an outstanding title, but it’s got the topic, the slant, and the benefit.

Just write something — anything — for now. This is simply a working title; you can change it at any time.

5. Your five minutes are up.

And your planning is done. Easy, right? You’ve now got the basic sketch for an ebook, which you hope will sell, and you got it done quickly.

Here’s the benefit of working this way: you’ve got enough material to give you a handle on the project and inspire you. There’s not enough to scare you or intimidate you… Avoid overwhelming yourself with information at this early stage. You want just enough information to conquer your inertia — not enough to arouse your inner editor and kill your idea.

Do another five-minute plan for another ebook, just for practice. 🙂


6. Start writing, but don’t start at the beginning.

You’re ready to start writing… BUT

Don’t start at the beginning — unless you have a great idea for how to start your book. Look for where your energy is… what part of your book do you want to write?

There’s no rule which says you have to begin at the beginning unless you’re highly motivated and want to start there. Start anywhere you like. Keep your slant in mind — everything you write needs to relate to your slant.

Keep writing, and have fun. 🙂

Want to write a nonfiction book?

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Book Marketing: How To Use Short Stories To Promote Novels

Book Marketing: How To Use Short Stories To Promote Novels

Does the idea of book marketing make you wince? You’re working on a novel, or you’ve just completed one. Everyone who’s read it tells you that they love your book. You need to get it into the hands of as many readers as possible, but the idea of selling yourself makes you wince.

As a tribe, authors are shy and retiring. Most are introverts, and extremely reluctant to promote their work.

You’re a typical author, and you want a way to promote your novel that you can do. You’re worrying that it’s impossible.

It’s not impossible. You can promote your novel by writing. You don’t need to dominate social media with “buy my book!” messages, or create a book trailer, or… Whatever. While there are a thousand things you can do to market your book, there’s one way you can do it without hassle — you can write and publish short stories.

Your simple book marketing plan for your novel: how to use short stories for promotion

I spend a lot of time on Amazon. I browse the virtual book shelves because I’m a reader, but I also want to know what’s selling. Over the past 12 months, I’m delighted that traditional publishers seem to be pushing their authors to use short stories and novellas for promotion. Or maybe these savvy authors are doing it proactively.

Either way, you can do what they do.

Here’s a very simple book marketing plan which uses short stories for promotion. Modify it as you wish — make it your own. Don’t forget our fourth step: compile your short stories into a bundle, and sell that ebook too.

A tip: leave your solo short stories for readers to discover. Don’t remove any from publication just because you’ve included them in a bundle.

1. Publish a short story while you’re writing your novel. (Make it low-priced. Or just post the story on your blog.)

You’re writing your novel. Whether or not it’s going smoothly, take a few minutes each day for a week or two to work on a short story.

Use our basic short story template:

Someone — Your Main Character — Wants Something.

He wants to achieve a specific goal. He also has a hidden need. For example, your character, Fred, an accountant, might want a promotion at work. His hidden need is to build his confidence.

Write a page or two so that the reader gets to know and like the character.

Publish the short story while you’re writing your novel.

Vital: create a signup page for a mailing list, and add a link to the signup page in the back or front matter of the story. Any reader who signs up to your list after reading your story may well buy your novel… they like you. 🙂

2. Three weeks before your novel’s publication day: post another short story.

Happy days. Publication day is in sight. You’ve got your cover, and someone’s proofing the final copy of your novel.

Write a quick short story that has some relation to your novel. Maybe it’s set in the same location as your novel, or is a prequel. It doesn’t matter how slender the connection: write the story, and publish it.

Don’t forget to include the link to your signup page.

3. Publish another short story (or novella) a month after publication day.

Publication day has come and gone. For better or worse, your novel is now available for readers… It’s time to write another short story, or a novella, to kick your novel along.

Your novel will appear on various “new” or “just released” lists on the ebook retailers for around four weeks after publication day. This gives your novel a little boost. Then a month after you publish, it drops off those lists.

This is the danger period — kick Amazon and the other ebook retailers back into life with your new short story. It will appear on the “new” lists and gives your novel a boost.

Again, don’t forget to add the link to your mailing list signup page to the back matter.

4. Three months after publication: compile your short stories into a bundle, and sell it.

It’s three months since you published your novel. You’re hard at work on another novel.

Take a few hours and write another short story. Add all your other short stories, and bundle them into a collection. Publish it.

Of course, you’ll let readers know that they can read a novel you’ve published. Add the novel’s links on the various ebook retailers to your signup page.

Remember to use social media to promote your short stories — and your novel too, of course

We’ve talked about writing short stories. Don’ t forget to promote each story as you publish it.

You’ve now got quite a collection of books you can promote… You have the short stories you’ve written, and the bundle, and your novel too.

You’re doing a wonderful job of promoting your novel, and you’re doing it in the way you do best. You’re writing. Kudos to you. 🙂

How To Use Short Stories To Promote Novels

Discover how to write and profit from short stories

Want to write short stories? If you answered yes, that’s excellent… Here’s why. Today, you can make money writing short fiction. Discover how, with Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories; it’s now available at ebook retailers.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Self-Publishing: Create Professional Ebook Covers Fast

Self-Publishing: Create Professional Ebook Covers Fast

Cover design is one of the biggest challenges authors have with self-publishing. Authors can spend so much energy and money on their covers, that the ebook that they’re writing takes second place.

Here’s a tip…

Self-publishing secret: the cover hooks them, the content sells them

Yes, your cover is important. Your content is more important however. You need to get a process in place so that you don’t spend too much time worrying about cover designs, especially if you’re publishing consistently.

Over the past year, many more authors have started self-publishing short fiction: short stories and novellas. And why not? Writing short material boosts your sales, and if you’re a new author, you can learn how to write fiction by writing and publishing short stories.

I’ve just published Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories, and the most popular questions I received related to ebook covers.

If you’re publishing a couple of short stories a month, payments to designers add up fast. In addition to money, time is a concern too. Good designers are booked up months in advance. So, if you wait for your designer to get to you, you’re losing money because you’re not publishing regularly and consistently.

The solution? It’s time to take courage, and learn how to create your own covers.

Let’s look at a couple of ways to create professional ebook cover designs quickly.

1. Canva to the rescue: a great cover design in minutes

Canva to the rescue: a great cover design in minutes

As you can see from the image above, Canva.com offers lots of templates for ebooks and blogging. Click on the Kindle Cover template. Canva creates an ebook cover for you instantly.

You can upload your own image to use on the cover, or you can choose an image from Canva. The image in this cover below is a free image.

You can upload your own image to use on the cover, or you can choose an image from Canva

Alternatively, if you already have a cover image you want to use, you can upload it from your computer.

2. Picmonkey: upload your own image, and create a free cover

I love Picmonkey.com. It’s a fast an easy way to create a cover image. Click the Design image at the top of the page, and choose custom. Enter your cover’s dimensions.

For your book cover designs, Amazon recommends these dimensions: “a minimum of 625 pixels on the shortest side and 1000 pixels on the longest side; for best quality, your image should be 2500 pixels on the longest side.”

When your image is created, click the Overlays icon, and choose an image from your computer.

As you can see in the image below, you can resize your image, fade it, and can change the blend mode too.

Picmonkey: upload your own image, and create a free cover

Tip: once you’ve edited the image, click the Combine Elements icon on the top of the page to ensure that you don’t mess up your image when you begin adding elements, such as text, to it.

Once you’ve finished editing your cover, save it, using the “Sean” option, so that you get the best image quality possible.

Creating images for a series? Create a template

Make notes while you create your cover image, so that you can create similar images in future. Make a note of:

  • Where you obtained the image, and any image license restrictions;
  • The fonts you used;
  • The cover dimensions.

Save a copy of the original image file too — this means that you can revise the cover if you need to do it.

Canva will save your cover image, so that you can use it as a template for future covers.

Picmonkey however doesn’t save anything. This means that when you close Picmonkey, if you don’t save your image, it’s gone for good. In addition, Picmonkey only saves flat images; you can’t save any of the image’s layers, and can’t go back to edit the layers later.

To create a template in Picmonkey, save versions as you go: a version with just the image, then another version with elements which won’t change from book to book — the author name for example.

Yes, you can design your own book covers

Creating your own book covers isn’t difficult. Yes, you’ll get a better cover from a pro designer, but you can learn to create your own. When you publish regularly, knowing that you can create your own covers saves hassles.

Once you’ve created several ebook covers, you’ll be able to create a new cover in just a few minutes. And of course, since it’s an ebook, you can change the cover at any time. Self-publishing has many benefits, and easy editing is one of them. Have fun. 🙂

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.