Telling Stories, Making an Impact, and Earning an Income with Writing – 254
There has been a lot of talk recently about the importance of video content for Amazon (and other online) sellers. Sure, video is growing in popularity, but the written word is still the foundation of an e-commerce seller’s business. Maybe you’re writing an Amazon product listing or marketing copy for your social media. Perhaps you’ve decided to explore Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Whatever the case, the value of writing strategy cannot be overstated.
Increasingly, the role of books, in both the written and audio format has risen in importance and popularity. In this episode of the AM/PM Podcast, Tim Jordan speaks with Bryan Collins, a non-fiction writer, course creator, and podcaster about top tactics to make sure that you’re taking maximum advantage of your writing to level up your business.
Want to know how to best tell your brand’s story, make an impact in your ecosystem, or just earn a living? Listen in to hear how you can do all three at the same time.
In episode 254 of the AM/PM Podcast, Tim and Bryan discuss:
- 04:00 – Earning a Living Writing
- 06:00 – Everyone Writes
- 07:30 – Why Write a Book?
- 10:15 – Does All Non-Fiction Writing Come Down to Making Money?
- 13:30 – Everybody Has a Book Inside of Them
- 16:30 – How to Monetize a Non-Fiction Book
- 19:30 – How to Get Started
- 23:30 – The First Draft is the Most Difficult
- 26:00 – Knowing Your Subject and Audience Makes Everything Easier
- 27:00 – Is the Ease of Writing (and Publishing) Flooding the Market with Content?
- 29:00 – Are “Books” Written Differently for the Audio Format?
- 31:00 – What Does it Cost to Write a Book?
- 34:30 – What About Printing?
- 38:15 – How to Find Out More from Bryan
Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to our podcast.
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Tim Jordan: For those of you who listened to the podcast a lot, you know at the end of every episode, I pretty much ask all the guests, “What’s one book you recommend?” I read a lot of books. I recommend books. Writing is still powerful in the world of e-commerce. And that’s what we’re talking about today. We’re talking about written work.
Tim Jordan: Hi, I’m Tim Jordan, and in every corner of the world, entrepreneurship is growing. So, join me as I explore the stories of successes and failures. Listen in as I chat with the risk-takers, the adventurous, and the entrepreneurial veterans. We all have a dream of living a life, fulfilling our passions, and we want a business that doesn’t make us punch a time clock, but instead runs around the clock in the AM and the PM. So get motivated, get inspired. You’re listening to the AM/PM Podcast.
Tim Jordan: When I first got started selling stuff online, I didn’t have a clue that you actually could. I didn’t know how to make money online. I knew some people flip some stuff on eBay, and some people had some websites that maybe ran some ads, but as I’ve dug deeper into the world of e-commerce and e-entrepreneurism, I found out that there are a million ways to make money, to add value, to drive traffic, and all sorts of stuff. This world is very, very deep. One of the areas that I became introduced to a couple of years ago was writing and I was introduced to writing through KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing. And I remember when I first saw this, it was like a hack to earn extra revenue, by taking written works that were no longer protected by IP. So, you could take the story of Moby Dic. I think it is a good example. And anybody could take the story of Moby Dick and reproduce that because it has an expired timeline of when that was protecting it to copyright. People will take and put that on Kindle with an e-book and get it to rank and they’d sell it for $9 and they’d make money off that, right. But I remember thinking, Hey, this is a hack, but there must be a way to use technology or to continue to access different audiences, to make money, to monetize, to have some sort of benefit from writing. We have a guest, Bryan Collins. He’s coming all the way to us from Ireland for this interview and his life revolves around writing. We’re going to talk about how you too can use writing to impact your income, your online brands, your online presence, and all sorts of good stuff. It’s been a really, really good, kind of smattering of information and an introduction to this world for myself. I’m pretty excited to learn as well. So thank you, Bryan, for being on that. Did I give a good intro here or did I screw that up?
Bryan: It sounds good, Tim. It’s great to be here and nice to talk to your audience as well.
Tim Jordan: It is my understanding that basically your job right now is teaching people how to build authority or create monetization through the written word. Is that a really good high-level intro?
Bryan: It is indeed. So, I run a site for writers called Become a Writer Today. I also have a podcast where I interview bestselling writers like James Clear and Daniel Pink and deconstruct their writing processes. Now I focus on non-fiction, and I’ve discovered a number of things about writing non-fiction like how successful non-fiction authors earn a living. And surprisingly, it’s not just from books.
Tim Jordan: And I’m interested to hear what those other ways are. So, give us the history. How did you get started into this?
Bryan: I always wanted to write. I always wanted to earn a living from the written word. I thought it would be a fiction writer. And I figured the first way to do that was to study, to become a journalist back… when I was 18 and had more hair. I’m 39 now. So that was back in the early two thousands. I didn’t spend much time paying attention in college. And when I graduated, I found it really hard to get work. And I was actually unemployed on and off for a few years. My son was small at the time. I nearly gave up on writing and just said, I would do something different altogether, but I still wanted to make a living from writing. So I took a series of courses in writing fiction, and entered a few short story competitions. Got shortlisted, didn’t really get anywhere. After a couple of years, I kind of got sick of this and said, there must be some better way that I can earn a living from written words. I failed as a journalist. I failed as a short story writer, what could I do? And then I started coming across content marketing, copywriting, and blogging. And I read sites like Copyblogger back in 2011 or 2012. And I set up my first site, which has since gone, but it was a technology site and it was all about how to use technology and apple gadgets. I kind of wanted to set up the Irish version of Lifehacker. What I found was pretty hard for a lone Irish journalist in his bedroom, or washed out journalists to compete with Lifehacker. So I decided, well, what do I know about? And that’s writing. I created a new site that offered advice about the craft for new writers and to my surprise, I started getting traffic and then I started getting questions from readers. And then that led me down the rabbit hole of how do I pay for web hosting and how do I pay for having an email list? And then I started to discover all the different ways that writers can earn a living online, and while I was doing this, I was slowly acquiring skills on the side. So many that I was able to use to get a job as a copywriter for a British software company. I suppose I found a backdoor into writing when I’d given up.
Tim Jordan: That’s interesting that you started off with, Hey, I couldn’t find a job. Like maybe this wasn’t what I planned to get into. And it just kind of evolved. And I see that so many times with entrepreneurial minded people that they end up in a position with maybe an extra expertise that they never would have expected. It kind of found them, which is cool. That seems a little bit like your journey as well. Talk to me about reasons why people should write, because writing, at least the people that I talked to, seems ominous. There’s so many things to do, you know, day to day, there’s only a certain number of hours. There’s only so many skills that we can learn in our lifetime. Like why is writing important and why, or what, are some of the reasons why people should be writing?
Bryan: Everybody writes whether they like to admit it or not. You’re writing to your business partners, to your customers, to your clients in emails, and documents that you send them. You’re writing. When you put something on social media. You’re writing. If you’re going to create a lead magnet for your business, or even if you’re writing a sales page for your ecommerce store, it’s good to learn some of the basic principles of writing. This is because it can clarify your thinking and it can also help you express yourself. And if you want to earn a living from doing something online, if you can translate the features of a particular product that you could be selling into how it can solve problems for your customers, and you’ll sell more of those products and earn more of a living. I suppose that last part that I’ve described as a specific type of writing, which would be copywriting. But copywriting is one of those secondary skills that can translate over into everything that you do for your business. Because if you can convince somebody that what you’re doing has value, then you know they might want to work with you again on a promotion, or perhaps they might want to partner up with you on a business project, or buy one of your products or courses or services.
Tim Jordan: I think we know the value in copywriting. Let me ask you a more specific question. Why should everybody write? Why should everybody write a book, right? Because I know that’s one thing that you really talk about a lot is it’s not just about client emails and it’s not just about good copywriting on your website, but like intentional writing, writing to be read, writing to put together a message or a cause, or to educate. Why do people need to be considering doing something like this, even if they’ve never thought about it before? And what are some of the reasons why people would actually dive into that intentional writing for publication?
Bryan: It’s a good question, Tim. So I’ll leave it aside. The people who took a public domain book and knocked it up to publish it on Kindle for a few dollars. There’s usually three reasons why people write a book. They want to tell the story. So it could be something that’s happened in their personal life or in their career. They want to make an impact, which they have an important message, or they have an important idea that they want to share with the world because it will help them help other people, or they want to earn an income, which is that they believe their idea for a book will translate into sales or what helped them with a different part of their business and earn money. All three of those reasons are valid for writing a book. It’s good to figure out which one is most important to you before you decide to write your book. So, I’ve interviewed a number of best-selling non-fiction authors, and I’m surprised to find that they don’t rely on their book sales to earn a living. Although some of them do quite well. They actually rely on their book as an almost lead generation magnet into their business. So, people buy their book for a couple of dollars. And that’s at the top of the New York times best seller, that’s not quite your money job. Their book is actually a lead magnet for their courses, for their products, for their consulting, for public speaking gigs and for whatever opportunities they have going. As far as the other two reasons that I mentioned a story that you want to tell, well, think of the business biographies that you’ve probably read or listened to on a service like audible, pick the book about Pixar or the book by the Disney CEO, Bob Iger. They are certainly not writing those books to make money, but they are writing a book because they want to tell a story about their personal life. And then the third reason to make an impact. Perhaps you have an interesting take on building a business that you want to tell other people about, or perhaps you’ve got an interesting insight into productivity or body hacking or whatever it is. And you want to get that idea out into the world. So other people can understand your point of view. So, those are usually the three reasons why people set out to run a non-fiction book. And if you get that right before you sit down to work on your first draft, then you’ve a much higher chance of going from the first page to the end of publishing something on Amazon that gets good book reviews, and it helps you achieve your goal for this particular project.
Tim Jordan: And the first part you mentioned is pretty easy to understand. It’s what you want to monetize, right? So, not necessarily sell the book, but create a lead magnet to whatever you said, coaching, consulting your agency, whatever it is. The other two to make an impact or tell a story. Those aren’t necessarily tied to monetization are they? Like this is a bigger cause or a different reason, or is it still all about monetization?
Bryan: To tell a story tends to be a creative goal. So a lot of writers are all right, because they enjoy the process. They enjoy sitting down in front of the blank page or opening up the writing app. Spending a couple of hours in deep work are in flow state and they like telling stories. And typically those writers tend to gravitate more towards fiction, but that’s edge. You can make a living from writing nonfiction, you could write literary nonfiction or personal essays, or so. In terms of making an impact, making money, it could be a secondary side benefit, but a lot of business owners, when you read their biography, they’ve set up seven and even eight figure businesses that were already quite financially secure, but they want to help other people achieve what they’ve done. Perhaps they’re thinking about legacy and paying something back based on their experiences, but what’s worked for them.
Tim Jordan: And of course, all of this, we’re talking about nonfiction, like we’re talking about non-fiction books, but do you see any of those three categories being more likely to be more massively read? If I’m doing something that is a lead magnet to my consultancy or my agency. Yeah, I’m putting good information in there, but people also see a sales pitch, in my opinion, is it more likely to, if I just want to mass viewership that I would be more likely to get that if I’m telling a story or if I’m just giving back, like trying to make an impact, or do you think that all three of these different types of writing, or reasons for writing are just as likely to be successes or failures?
Bryan: That’s a good question. So I would say when you’re writing your book, usually one of these traits tends to be more important. So, if you want to make an impact, you’ll figure out what’s the message they’re trying to get out into the world. Whereas if you want to make money with your book, you’ll probably spend a bit of time thinking about how your book fits into the rest of your business. So, are readers clicking through to a landing page or a squeeze page and going into your email funnel, or are they requesting for help from you as a consultant or a coach? And if you’re telling stories, you’re probably not too concerned with making money, but maybe you want to just build an audience. And that could be something as simple as getting people on your email list. I interviewed one nonfiction author, who’s 700,000 followers on Twitter. And he puts jokes up on Twitter about what it’s like to have three kids. They’re quite funny jokes, but readers love us. And they click through to his weekly newsletter. And in his weekly newsletter, he just sends longer entries based on his jokes about his family life with three kids. And then he also has a book about being a dad to three kids. And for him it’s about a readership as much as it’s about earning a living.
Tim Jordan: I think that deep down, everybody thinks it would be cool to have a book, right? For whatever reason, whether it’s telling your story or making an impact or using it to monetize. Everybody thinks it would be cool, but very few people actually do it. And I think one of the biggest hang ups that people have is they have to ask themselves, do I have something worth writing about, and I think that’s probably a question you come across a lot and you have to address with a lot of people. Do you think that everybody has something worth writing?
Bryan: Everybody says they have a book inside of them. Only a few people actually sit down to write the book in a smaller amount, actually finish the book. You can write a book if you know why you’re going to write a book in the first place, and you can write a book if you’re prepared to do the work. What I would say is if you’re going to write non-fiction, figure out who is the target reader or audience for your book on how your book helps them, or what does it help them achieve in some way. Can you help your audience achieve something that they’ve tried to do over the past few years through your stories or through your message or true to weight as you’re going to make an impact. If you want to call yourself an author, you need to write a Rom book. It doesn’t have to be something that you’re going to do over and over and over. But if you want to earn a living from writing as a career, then perhaps you’re going to write several books. So it really depends on how long you want to spend writing and how you approach the craft. Some authors I’ve interviewed take part in an interview like this, and then they send the results to an editor or a ghost writer who turns it into a book on their behalf. Other authors like to go out and write the books themselves. Some authors go for the write, fast publish often model, whereas other authors publish any one or two books during their career. So all different ways to approach writing a book. And the other thing is a book these days, it doesn’t have to be 120,000 words. Some of the best selling books on Kindle are 20,000 words, 30,000 words long, which if you’re blogging or creating content regularly, that’d be two months work. If you write 500 words a day, we do that for five days a week. That’s 2,500 words. If you do that for a month, that’s 10,000 words. If you do that for two or three months, you have the first draft of a book, and then you can take that and you can give that to an editor and you could have a bulk, you can call yourself an author within a couple of months. So it doesn’t have to be something that takes over your entire life or huge project. That means you’ve got to take a sabbatical from your business.
Tim Jordan: Man, I’m writing down so many questions on that. No, I’m going to have more questions to end of this than answers, but that’s all right. We talked about monetization a little bit because right now you’re talking about time. You’re talking about two hours a day or 25,000 words a month or whatever. And all of us that are listening are very entrepreneurial and we need to stay laser focused on the things that are going to provide an ROI or provide value, right. It doesn’t even have to be necessarily money, but money helps. Right. And if we’re thinking about the actions that we take every day or every week leading to some sort of income, the question has to be asked, like, is it always possible to monetize on writing? And is it as simple as I think it is, maybe you’re saying, Hey, you either sell a book or you create some sort of lead magnet or traffic. Like, are there any other ways to monetize what I’m thinking about, or can you just break it down and give a very, very basic overview on like, this is how you monetize on writing. So we can think about it like, is this worth our time?
Bryan: I can give some ways that authors monetize on their books and then I can cover monetizing on writing, which can be--
Tim Jordan: Yeah, well, let’s stay away from monetizing writing. We know that a really good copy is good on listings or on websites. We know that, but like, let’s talk specifically about a book.
Bryan: So there are a number of ways that authors monetize with a nonfiction book. I suppose the most obvious way is through book sales, a non-fiction book retails for between five and $10. If you have that book in multiple formats, a workbook or it’s a business book, an audio book available, and more stars than just Amazon invest some advertising through Amazon ads, and also through Facebook ads. You can easily earn a thousand, $2,000 a month, which can be a nice side income until you get the rest of your business up and running. Now that might not be enough for many people. I know it’s not quit your job money, or it wasn’t quite your job money for me. So there are otherwise non-fiction authors, monetized books. If you’re a public speaker, you can sell your book as part of your public speaking package. So, some of the public speakers I’ve talked to, when they’re landing a public speaking gig, they work it into their contract that the person hiring them also has to buy so many books and give them away to everybody in the audience. Well, the public speaker I talked to said that if he does two or three of these gigs a year, it’s enough to pay his living expenses for the year. So, that’s the second way you can do it. The third way is if you’re selling an online course, this is something, you can treat your book almost as a lead magnet. So, you talk about some of the big ideas in your course in your book. People read the book and even if you feel like you’ve given everything away in the book, you’d be surprised because people consume information in different ways.
Bryan: Sometimes they want more so they could go from your book to an email list and end up by an online course, which you can sell for obviously far more than five or $10. You can sell that for a couple of hundred dollars. The fourth way you can monetize your book is by offering some sort of consulting. So I’ve interviewed a number of B2B consultants. And for them, they’re not writing a book for book sales, it’s a credibility builder, so that when they’re pitching a client, they can say I’m a wall street journal, best selling author of X that demonstrates that they’ve got credibility and expertise, and then they can earn money from consulting with businesses or with their ideal audience. The fifth way is if you have a series of books that you’re going to write, so one book is only just one small step towards building a five figure income, or even a six figure income from your book sales each year. So, those are some of the common ways that non-fiction authors can earn a living from their books.
Tim Jordan: Which is a wide around, which we could dive really, really deep in all those. But let’s talk about actual steps to getting started like this all sounds good. All right. But what is the actual approach to begin getting started? Can you give me a very high-level overview. Bryan, I want to write a book. How do I do it?
Bryan: So you want to write a book. You’ve already figured out why you’re going to write a book. The next thing you should do is identify your target audience. And if possible, get on the phone with them for half an hour, speak to them, interview them, figure out their pain points. And that will give you some interesting insights that you can use for the language in your book. Now, when it comes to the actual writing of the book, I always recommend that non-fiction authors outline our work in advance. So if you’re writing a 2000 word chapter, you could create a series of bullet points or using bullet point software like dying list or using index cards. If you have about 10 to 15 bullet points of what the chapter is about, what the key takeaways are and what ideas you want to get across. When you sit down to write that first draft, you won’t be looking at the blank screen thinking, what am I going to say? Because you can follow the bullet points and go from the start to the end of the chapter. Even if the chapter is not very good, don’t stop to edit yourself or to fix it or to clarify your thinking that can all come later during the editing process, your job is simply to hit a target word count for today to get the first draft of that chapter onto the screen. When you’ve done your half an hour writing or your hour writing for today, going on, which was your job or your business or whatever it is you need to do. And then the next day, repeat that process either aiming to finish a chapter, or to hit a specific word count each day. You should have a target word count for your book and mind based on the particular genre. So if it’s a business book, 30 to 60,000 words is a rule of thumb. So that’s a couple of months, maybe three or four months, depending on how much you stick to that writing routine. But once you have that first draft ready, find yourself an editor using a service like Readsy and get in touch with them to figure out a date that you’re going to send them that draft. And they would help you turn that draft into something that you can use, into something that you can publish.
Tim Jordan: And you called that – you said that was Readsy?
Bryan: Readsy is like a crowdsourcing service for finding professional book editors, book cover designers, and so on. There’s other services you can use too, but that’s what I’ve been using lately for non-fiction books. You can also find an editor on Upwork and so on, but I would say find an editor who can help you because they will find and fix hours in your manuscripts that you will have trouble fixing alone. A couple of other techniques you can use to write your manuscript faster, too, transcribe or using speech to text software was one option. So you can use otter.ai or dragon anywhere, and you can actually dictate the draft of your book and then clean that up. Or alternatively, if you’re more of a budget last time, you could use a service like rev.com. So if you have your bullet points dictate into your phone using the rev app, when it costs a dollar 25 per minute, they’ll give you back a fairly clean draft, assuming you’ve spoken in clear and concise sentences, and often that can be enough of a first draft to work with. So, those are some of the strategies that I used to get that first draft ready because the first draft solves the hardest.
Tim Jordan: And you said that was called rev.ai?
Bryan: Yeah, rev.ai is a powerful transcription service. So a lot of business users, small business owners use it to transcribe meetings. It’s reasonably accurate, but you can actually use it to transcribe yourself speaking into your phone or into the web browser, a set of Apple AirPods. Rev is a transcription service rev.com. And that actually involved someone like you or me listening to the audio recording and typing it up. The advantage of rev.com is that you get a transcription that’s 95% or more accurate, but the disadvantage is at a dollar 25 for a minute. You’re going to need a larger budget. I think otter.ai costs. I think it’s $9 per month for 600 minutes of transcription. But the takeaway here is to get from the start of your first draft to the end of your first draft, as quickly as possible. And then you can get it together in the process because then you’ll have something to work with. And once you have something to work with, you’re already halfway there because the first draft is always the hardest part of your manuscript.
Tim Jordan: Yeah, that makes sense. I’ve always found that everything I do once I get started, it seems to flow, but those first few steps, and I guess in this case would be that first draft is tough. So, how much work is it to write a book? Like we’re talking about time, but is it as simple as just time or is it a ton of actual laborious mind-bending stressful work because you’re the way you’re describing it. Now I’m telling myself, oh, this is great. I can get one of these transcription services, get some bullet points. And everyday when I’m driving to the office. While I’m driving, I can say what I’m thinking about that bullet point. Is it that easy or does it need to be more focused, like actual dedicated time. And I guess the other question is, are there a lot of people that attempt this and fall off because they realize, Hey, this is more work than I anticipated?
Bryan: It’s more work than you anticipated if you are writing a book and you don’t really have a plan for it. So it really depends if you know the subject quite well, if you know your audience quite well. And if it’s something you’re passionate about, you’ll naturally enjoy it. Whereas if you decide to write a book that’s completely unrelated to your business or the topic you don’t know that much about, it’s going to be a bit more of a challenge. Writing a book is work, there’s no line or getting around that, but if you get it right, you can make writing a book much easier and much more enjoyable.
Tim Jordan: So, with the increase of all this new technology, I want to ask you two questions about distribution and writing. Okay. So, let’s keep those separate. So the first question is with this new technology and with the current state of all the tools and resources we have, is it easier to write a book now than it was 20 or 30 or more years ago? We’re not talking about just distribution yet, but just writing. Is it easier to write a book?
Bryan: It’s easier to write a book in that if you need to research something, you don’t necessarily have to travel to that location or to arrange a meeting that takes many weeks, you can talk to somebody over zoom or Skype and interview them that way. Or if you’re researching some statistics or facts, you can check it up online or use a service. You still have to do the work and get the words out onto the page. The software data described a few moments ago. We’ll speed it up a little bit, but at the end of the day, you still do need to do some of the writing or hire a ghostwriter. The distribution of a book is much easier. You can format a book and get it ready for a service, like Amazon using software, like Vellum. With Vellum, you can prepare your manuscript for publication in an hour or two. And once it’s online and Amazon, you can quickly repurpose your book for different media or from different outlets. You can turn it into a course and so on. So, I guess to summarize parts of writing the book have gotten easier and the distribution has gotten a lot easier, but you still need to commit to the book.
Tim Jordan: So, with things getting easier and more people are obviously doing it. Do you think that the ease of writing and ease of distribution is creating a scenario where it’s harder to succeed? It’s more saturated because I’m not saying this is the case, but I would think like, if this gets easier on everybody does it like, does the effectiveness of the book start to decrease? Because everybody can easily write a book now?
Bryan: It’s a good question. One, I’ve wondered about myself. There are certainly more and more books published on KDP every year compared to previous years. But what you find is low quality books tend to sink quite quickly. They don’t sell, they get slated by reviews and people don’t read them. Quality books will rise. People will engage with quality books on book sales, whether audiobooks, particularly for nonfiction, are continuing to increase. Everybody says they have a book inside of them, but only if a few people will actually take that book and turn it into a finished product. And also people can send me information in different ways. I mean, I might like to take a course to learn how to do something. Whereas sometimes I’ve talked to students and they’ve told me to prefer learning something to the written word. So I don’t think the book is going anywhere. It’s just evolving into different formats. For example, for a business book, I usually enjoy listening to the audio version, wherever it’s fiction. I prefer reading the print book or the article on Kindle. So it really depends on the audience and how they like to consume information or when they just want to relax and enjoy it.
Tim Jordan: So, that’s so bizarre that you just said something in an audio book, because as you were saying that I was writing a note to myself to ask about audio books. It just popped into my head because we know people are consuming books via audio more, right. It’s just happening. And sometimes I find it harder to absorb certain types of books. One of the – tell you how big of a nerd I am. My favorite book series in the world is the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and then Brandon Sanderson, massive like massive fantasy book series. Right? Really, really cool side note. Amazon is now doing a movie series on it, which is great. We’ve been waiting for like 15 years for someone to pick it up. But when I’ve tried to listen to an audio book, I can’t do it because the way it’s written, it’s harder for me to absorb audibly than it is visually. Like, I don’t know if it’s just the words or the flow or whatever it is. I’m not sure, but even you kind of alluded to that, you prefer reading fiction books, but you prefer listening to business books or non-fiction books. My question is because we know people are listening to books at a much higher, or an ever-increasing rate versus reading. Should that change how we write? Like, should we adapt the way that we write our books to be more easily consumed audibly? Or is there not really any, am I overthinking that?
Bryan: When I’m taking a book and preparing it for an audio book, I will make some changes. So I’ll change some keywords. Like, as you read this book, I will change it to, as you’re listening to this book. Not every author does that. So it really depends. What I would like to do is when I’m listening to a business book, that’s an audio version. I find I can do that while I’m at the gym or go for a walk or a run and I’ll get your wish. Whereas it is harder for me to find extra time for reading, if I’m just relying on the printer, Kindle books, but then what I’ll do is I still buy the Kindle book as well. But I won’t read the Kindle book, just use it and scan through it to the sections that caught my attention while I was listening to it. And I’ll just highlight them and just pull those out. Or another option is you can use a book. So when we service to get the cliff notes of the book, you’ve just listened to and see if you’ve missed anything that’s of interest. But yeah, I mean, I get what you’re saying, Tim, when people can learn information in different ways, some people do find it hard to listen to somebody, prefer reading it on page or prefer reading it on Kindle. So that’s – find a format that works for you using dash. For me, it’s usually nonfiction, audio and fiction in print.
Tim Jordan: Can you give me a price range of out of pocket cost to write a book? I’m not talking about marketing, I’m not talking about distributing. We’re talking about, we got to write rough drafts. We’ve got to bring editors in. We’ve got to do all this, this is like if I’m writing a 10,000 word or 15,000 word business book, how much is it going to cost me just to get that thing written?
Bryan: Yeah, it’s a good question. So I was thinking about the intro where you described taking old books and putting them up on Kindle and they’re probably doing that at almost zero cost. But the reality is if you’re going to write a business book and it’s an asset for your business, you need to invest in it and take it seriously. If you’re going to get an editor and your book is 40 to 50,000 words, expect to pay them around two to $3,000. Maybe a little bit more, a little bit less, depending on how much work your book needs and the type of editor that they are. That’s how much I paid an editor recently, and that covers copy editing and editing the book. You also need a proofreader. So, that’s 500 to a thousand dollars as well. And then you’ll need to invest in a good book cover for your book too. Not something to skimp on because your book cover is what captures people’s attention in Amazon and other bookstores. You’ve already got a very small amount of real estate. So please don’t try to design your book cover yourself, which I tried to do with my first book to save money. That didn’t work out. So, for a good book over again, it really depends on the quality of the designer, but 500 to a thousand dollars is a good price range. So, I guess to answer your question, if you wanted to get a book live on budget, that’s reasonably professional. I mean, you could do it for maybe $3,000, maybe a little bit less, I suppose, if you knew a friend who could help, but someone asks, if you want to invest in your book, you’re probably going to go up to $3,000, maybe $4,000. But think of it as an asset that’s going to add to your business over time. You won’t get that money back straight away, but it’ll come back to you in other ways.
Tim Jordan: And what’s the difference between an editor and a proofreader? That’s the first time you’ve mentioned proofreader.
Bryan: So an editor will look at your manuscript and they will say, Hey Brian, when you talked about how to become more productive in chapter two, you also talked about it in chapter seven, you repeating yourself, maybe you should move this around and just have one chapter about productivity. And one chapter about book marketing. Whereas a proofreader will read that and they’ll say, Hey, Brian, when you were talking about how to become more productive, you use B to spell productive instead of the letter P so you made a spelling mistake. So I’ll fix that for you.
Tim Jordan: So an editor is more adjusting. How you tell the story or transfer the information, the information that is transferred, maybe. A proofreader is more like technical grammar?
Bryan: Exactly, exactly. I am just marking the waters, an editor can do both. So this is where you can save a little bit of money, but if you have a bit more to invest in your book, it’s usually better to get a proofreader who’s separate from the editor because they’ll spot mistakes that the editor would have missed. But if we did it on a budget, you could hire an editor, a hirable cover designer, and if a bit more money hired a proofreader as well. But you can also get friends to proofread if they’re egalite.
Tim Jordan: Yep. And we’re talking about you’re saying you should be able to get your first book done for less than $5,000, right?
Bryan: Definitely. Yeah.
Tim Jordan: Pretty easily. All right. So, that lands us with basically written words. It’s not printed, it’s not distributed. We can get deep into conversation. I’m sure about how to market a book and how to get distribution, all that stuff. But essentially the easiest way now to get a book on the market is through a digital book like Amazon KDP, direct publishing. We kind of understand that. And if I sell a book online for $10, Amazon will take a small cut of that, give me some, and that downloads to people’s electronic devices. But what about printing? Are people – I mean, people are, but give me a very, very kind of high level overview of getting your book printed. Because some people still want it on the bookshelf. Some people still want that thing with their own book printed. Do we have to send it off to a printer and have 10,000 copies made? Or can we use print on demand systems?
Bryan: Yeah. Print on demand all the way, don’t get 10,000 copies printed. So if you want to get a print copy of your book, which is a fantastic idea, by the way, if you want, if you’re a public speaker or you just want to reach people who don’t like reading on Kindle. There’s a couple of ways you can do it. You can hire a designer who will lay it out on print for you. Because there’s all sorts of things you think about for print that don’t apply to Kindle, such as the way the words are laid out on the page, type biography and so on. Secondly, you can use software like Vellum, which will prepare your book for print for you. It’s Mac only, but there are workarounds to using it for windows. When you have a file that’s print ready, you can use Amazon, which also does print on demand. And you probably want to print off more than Amazon. So you could also use a service like Ingramspark, which will help you prepare a print copy of your book, which bookstores can order in as well. You’ll need to invest a little bit more in the book cover because when you’re doing a Kindle version, you’re just doing the front of the book. Whereas when you’re doing a print book, you’ve also got to think about the spine on the back of the book. So, there’s that to consider too. Print books also require a bit more proofing and checking because you’re going to have to get the print copy and go through and see, does anything look visually odd? For example, if you have images, it could look fine on screen, but it could look odd when you get the print version of your book.
Tim Jordan: So Amazon, I know you can do the digital version, but when I go to an Amazon book listing and I can order the soft back or the digital, the soft back is probably Amazon printing those on demand and shipping them to me. But you’re saying there are other print on demand services that are more mainstream where even bookstores can order, Hey, I want five copies of this or one copy of this. And those are still being printed on demand and then shipped through the actual physical bookstore. Right?
Bryan: Yeah. So Ingramspark will be the service to use. There’s another service, which I haven’t used but must be quite good called, I think it’s Lulu. I think they’re based in the UK. So they’re worth checking out too.
Tim Jordan: And are most of the prints on demand, are they soft cover or can you get hard backs too?
Bryan: You can get hard back, but they primarily focus on soft buck. I haven’t done hard back yet. So I understand there’s some more costs and issues, but doing hardback, I think they’re making that easier. But it is a bit more work to do than soft back.
Tim Jordan: But the days of having to go out and have a printer, print me out 3000 copies of the book and I stack them in my garage and try to get my friends and family to buy them off of me. Those days are over, right?
Bryan: They are, thankfully. So you don’t have to keep a huge stock of it.
Tim Jordan: That’s awesome. Well, man, I know we could keep going forever. This is a great conversation. If you can’t tell this is something I’m actually interested in, I’m a little more advanced than just, Hey, I’d love to write a book. Like I’m actually planning on writing a couple books and this has been great information for me. If those of you that are watching this on YouTube, you see all the notes that I took. It’s like a whole page of stuff. So hopefully this has been valuable to you listeners as well. Even if you’ve not thought about writing a book, it’s good just to know what’s out there in the world like ways in which people can monetize through different skills or different ways to drive traffic or create sales funnels, things like that. If you have thought about a book, I think that this episode may have given you some encouragement that there is a fairly simple system. There’s not a huge barrier to entry. It’s not crazy expensive to do it. You can take this thing in bite sized chunks and get it done. If we want to learn more, Bryan, about how to write a book, I assume we can go to your website? Do you want to quickly plug how people can get ahold of you or come get information from your resources?
Bryan: If you want to learn more, visit becomeawritertoday.com. I’ll give you a free book of writing prompts that would help you with your book or alternatively, look for the show on iTunes, where I interview bestselling authors about their writing processes. And I also have a course that will teach you how to write your book based on some of the ideas that we’ve talked about in today’s interview.
Tim Jordan: Awesome. Thank you so much for that. And it’s ironic that we’re doing this talking to a guy that writes books, but at the end of every episode, that’s the thing I ask our guests is how you in your entrepreneurial journey, you must’ve learned something, somewhere along the way that was profound and changed the way that you looked at life or looked at business, or where you did things. If you had to go to your bookshelf right now and pull one book off the shelf that you wanted to recommend to our audience and say, Hey, you need to go read this book. What would that book be?
Bryan: Check out the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It applies to creative work, but a lot of entrepreneurs have got takeaway from us about what helps them work on their business and work on what’s most important for them.
Tim Jordan: That was a fast answer. A lot of people go, oh, I don’t know. Let me think about that. Like before I even ask the question out, you’re firing that off. So I love the conviction. That’s good stuff. It probably means it’s a good book. All right. Well, thank you so much, Bryan, for being on. Thank you all for listening again. Make sure to give us the thumbs up. And as they like to say now in the YouTube world, ring that bell if you’re watching this on YouTube, otherwise leave us a review on whatever podcast platform you’re listening to. Thank you all for listening and we’ll see you guys next week on the next episode.