I keep running into friends who want to publish books. "Go for it!" has been my advice to them, "it's never been easier!" (I should know; I dictated most of my first book and had it published via Create Space in about six months despite no previous experience).
"Where do I start?" they would ask. Instead of repeating myself (and probably leaving out important details), I decided to set up a page to compile the things I've learned and the most helpful resources I've come across. Feel free to bookmark this page, as I will be adding to it.
Before writing the book, check to see if a market for it exists. It might be fun to detail your worm-farming adventures, but finding buyers for such a masterpiece will probably be difficult.
How do you know if people will buy it? One super-easy way is to go to Amazon, and in the search bar type in a 2-4 word description. "Worm Farming Book" yields this result:
Notice at the top left, this page shows "1-12 of 200 results." So there are already 200 books on this topic. Next, look at the Best Seller Rank (BSR) of the top book:
At the time of this screenshot, this book's rank was #91,689 in Books. According the the handy calculator provided by Tom Corson-Knowles, this book sells around 48 copies per month. Not horrible (maybe I should write one of these after all!), but at $5.89 for the paperback, the author is clearing maybe 40-50 bucks a month. By the time you scroll down to the bottom of the third page, the rank of the #36 book is only #1,717,242, or estimated sales of 1 per month. Hardly worth pursuing (unless you are passionate about worm farming and can't help yourself).
Amazon Book Sales Calculator - I already mentioned it above, just want to list it separately here so it's easier to find. Use this tool in the research process of determining whether a market exists for the book you want to write.
Assuming you have done your research and are confident someone will buy your book, the next step is to write it.
Dictation Tools - Most of us can speak faster than we type. So why are you typing your book?
Dictation tools include Google Docs, Pages (Mac), Dragon Dictation (app). No doubt there are many others, but these are the main ones I've used. I also dictate with Evernote. Of these, my favorite has been Pages, because I can easily edit on my iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro without actually opening up a web browser (using iCloud to sync).
If you're self-publishing your first book, there's way more involved than I can list here. Here are my favorite podcasts for the budding writer. I recommend subscribing to these in iTunes, and adjusting the settings to list the oldest episodes first. There's just so much valuable "getting started" sort of content in the beginnings of each one! Once you have listened to the first 3-10 episodes, you need to decide which one to focus on.
Note: My endorsement of each of these folks is necessarily limited by the fact that I don't know any of them personally, and have been boot-strapping my way to this point. In my opinion they each offer tons of valuable FREE content and seem to have a sincere desire to help other writers make a living from their art.
One of these days I will compile these into one Monster Checklist. But for now, here are some checklists that have been helpful to me, in no particular order.
1. Book Ninja Checklist - From Kristen, "The Book Ninja," I found this helpful list. It's a little overwhelming at first, but breaks things down in the order they should be tackled. (Yes, that's an affiliate link, because the checklist includes an offer for training. I have not gotten any paid training from Kristen because my book was already pretty much done when I stumbled upon her. But her content has been very helpful to me, so I am willing to recommend her here.)
Authority Self Publishing Checklist from Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport.
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