Ebooks – the new dimension to publishing and marketing

Sunmakers ebook creation epub e-bookThe world of ‘the book’ is changing fast.

Not so very long ago, the accepted wisdom for publishing was that if you got accepted by a publisher, it would be 18 months before the launch of your book. Now, you can now get your content sold through Amazon or Apple (and other book websites) within 48 hours of you finishing your writing.

There are interesting implications to this. The new keywords associated with this kind of publishing that we need to have in the forefront of our minds are: speed, accessibility, low cost and volume.

Speed: your book can be on the Amazon Kindle store within 48 hours.

Accessibility: anyone can download your ebook, anywhere in the world.

Low cost: you can spend as much or as little on producing your ebook.

Volume: with no stock limitations, you can sell as many as is possible.

The old values no longer apply.

Your book does not have to be timeless. It can be bang up-to-date right now, for now. You simply replace it when it becomes out-of-date with a new book.

Your book doesn’t have to be the complete works, your life’s work, the be-all-and-end-all in the chosen topic. It can just be as long or as short as is needed to provide the information it’s supposed to provide.

There are no printing or other costs to cover so the price can be whatever you like, or rather whatever you think the target market will respond to to get the volume of sales you’re after.

This all means that ‘the book’ does not do quite the same job as a book of old. Yes, the book, any good book, properly targeted and marketed will help position you as an expert, but the new dimension is that they are able to serve a new role, that of content marketing.

Businesses used to do this with brochures, pamphlets and websites. All of those still have their place in the marketing mix, but not quite in the content marketing role that they would have been used in the past. People don’t value brochures unless they have glorious photos of desirable cars in them. Otherwise they’re regarded as litter. People don’t value pamphlets. They’re free, temporary and make are more likely to lower to perceived value of the offer they’re supposed to promote. With websites, people bore of reading lots of text on screen. They scan read to get the ‘gist’ and the data they want. Text on a website won’t massively increase your Kudos.

Books are still the best physical marketing tool and should be used to replace brochures and pamphlets and compliment your websites. But a book has to have over 100 pages to have a spine worthy of being called a book. A book needs a fair amount of content.

The new dimension in content marketing is using an ebook to replace the specific brochure or pamphlet.

The ebook has a similar Kudos to a real book. The fact that it can be bought, stored and read on a Kindle or iPad is real new bonus in making it feel like a valuable item.

A lot of people have been doing a similar thing for years of course, sending out ‘free reports’ and downloadable ‘ebooks’. But these have been just PDFs. I say ‘just’ PDFs when in fact a pdf is can be a very attractive document. It can be beautifully designed and branded. But people don’t like reading on their computer screen (either a laptop or a desktop) so ended up printing out the PDFs, using up paper and ink. Later, people stopped printing them because of that and therefore stopped reading them.

The new concept of ebooks designed for e-readers is the new dimension. Of course a pdf can be downloaded and read on any e-reader too, but the user can’t control it in the same way as one designed for the e-reader. An ‘ePub’ ebook has what’s called ‘reflow’. This means that the reader can chose the type of font and size for the text and the book ‘reflows’ accordingly. An ePub file has only the ePub default design (no clever columns or typography can be used). It can have pictures (in black and white on standard Kindles and colour on iPads and Kindle Fire).

You can price your eBook at whatever you want. You can put a high value on it or undercut similar offerings in the bookstores. You can even give it away for free. It’s up to you and the purpose of your material.

An ePub eBook allows you to get your timely content to your target market in a way in which they want to receive it.

It could make all the difference to your business.

Get in touch to see how your content could benefit from being turned into a book, or a suite of books as ebooks or physical books.

I’ll show you how it’s done.

Call today on +44(0)1865 779944


Book Ayd to speak at your event.

How to start writing

I wanted to write a piece about how you start writing since so many people ask me it. I’ve got loads of tricks and techniques that I use to share but I wanted to make it hard on myself, to deprive myself of the usual tools and see what obstacles I face to better describe them.

I settled into a cafe with only my laptop and no internet access. The modern equivalent of a blank piece of paper. So what have I got…

First of all, I haven’t got that much time as I’d like as I’ve a meeting in an hour or so. But that’s fine. We can all write a 1000 words or so in an hour and that’s all I need. But so far I haven’t written anything as I’ve just checked my emails on my iPhone, and Twitter.

Bereft of any ideas I open up a document I previously wrote and scan read it. Some of it looks quite good, but I start to fiddle with it. Then I think maybe it’s not quite what I’m after, it’s not really the topic I was planning to write about.

So I look around the cafe for inspiration and find none. Then my hour’s up and it’s time for my next meeting.

So what went wrong?

First of all, an fixed hour slot is probably too short. Also, if the writing slot is a sudden decision then it will take time for the brain to warm up and get in gear. I’d found a good location and deprived myself of laptop internet, but there was still the iPhone and therefore the temptation to check extraneous messages on that. This is no good. If you’re writing, you’re writing, not checking messages. It keeps the brain off message. The final mistake was opening a previous piece of writing and entering ‘edit’ mode. Editing is a totally different process.

So what should we do?

To be productive with writing we really do need to be in a different zone. It’s not something you can do with one eye on something else. Here are a few more clues:

  • Plan your session in advance, preferably the day before. This creates space in your mind and prepares it. Eg. “Tomorrow between 9 and 12 I will be writing”.
  • Allocate 3 hours to your session
  • Write a short list of topics, themes, titles or whatever beforehand to be your triggers during the session. I keep this list in my notebook so whenever I think of an idea for a  blog, chapter or section, I record it there. Then, when I’m faced with that ‘blank piece of paper’ I have my trigger list to choose from
  • Accept no distractions for the first hour. Internet off, phones away.
  • Don’t do research or reading in this session. Just write, leaving a gap or note of a fact needs to be checked. Leave all that checking and referencing for a separate session.
  • Choose a topic from your trigger list and write about it. Don’t worry about how much or structure, just write. Start your writing with a warm up without worrying. Think of it like stretching before doing circuit training or running. The stretching is preparation for the exercise but also has its own benefits to the point of the exercise.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book: www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.

Turning Points and the Reveal – Applying the techniques of fiction in your non-fiction

Dorothy, Wizard of Oz

Dorothy starts out on The Hero's Journey

If you’ve studied storytelling, either in books, in plays or in cinema, you may have noticed the concept of Turning Points. It’s the point in the story where something suddenly changes and the course of the narrative has to continue on a new path. It’s different to the Reveal, where the story opens up and even diverges.

In plays and films, the narrative is usually split up into a three-act structure. So in a 90 minute film, these acts often consist of 30 mins each. If we take an archetypal story like the original Star Wars (or equally The Wizard of Oz which is almost exactly the same story) we can see how the story divides up into three clear parts, the three Acts:

Star Wars:

Act 1: On Tatooine (From R2D2’s arrival with Luke to blasting off from Mos Eisley with Han and Chewie)

Act 2: Escape from The Death Star (From learning about the Force with Ben Kenobi to Ben Kenobi’s death with Darth Vader)

Act 3: Attacking the Death Star (From arriving on the Rebel Base on Yavin to the Awards Ceremony)

The Wizard of Oz:

Act 1: Arriving in Munchkinland (From Dorothy running away until setting off on the Yellow Brock Road)

Act 2: The Yellow Brick Road (from meeting the scarecrow to arriving at Emerald City)

Act 3: Defeating the Wicked Witch (from meeting Oz to the journey home)

The Acts contain a whole section of the story, perhaps as in these examples, set in one place or with a particular problem or set of characters. But the start and end of each Act do not reveal the Turning Points that I want us to understand. Let’s look in more detail. Each Act is split into chapters:

Star Wars Act 1 has four chapters:

1. R2D2 and C3PO escape from Darth Vader on Princess Leia’s ship with the stolen plans

2. R2D2 and C3PO are captured by the Jawas and sold to Luke’s family

3. R2D2 escapes and finds Ben Kenobi who rescues Luke from the Sandpeople

4. Luke, Ben and the droids go to Moss Eisley Spaceport and meet Han Solo who takes them to Alderaan

The Wizard of Oz Act 1 has four chapters:

1. Dorothy runs away from home and meets Marvel

2. Returning home in the storm, Dorothy’s house is lifted off and lands in Oz

3. Dorothy meets Glinda and the munchkins

4. Dorothy gets the ruby slippers and is threatened by the Wicked Witch of the West

So those are the chapters within which are the turning points that take the stories up a level, change what we expect, raise the stakes or the threat and mark points of no return. These are different from the Reveal that adds to our knowledge in the story or opens it up. Let’s see what they are in those chapters of our stories:

Luke, Leia and Han

Luke follows in Dorothy's footsteps...

In Star Wars Act 1 there are two turning points within those four chapters:

1. Reveal: Darth Vader and his Stormtroooers board Princess Leia’s ship and search for the plans she hides in R2D2. The Turning point comes when C3PO decides, against his better judgement, to use the escape pod.

2. Reveal: R2D2 plays part of the message from Princess Leia, Luke realises the droids were involved in the Rebellion.

3. Reveal: Ben Kenobi reveals that Darth Vader killed Luke’s father and asks Luke to join him on the quest. Luke refuses. The Turning Point comes when Luke discovers his Uncle and Aunt murdered. Now he must join Ben.

4. Reveal: We are introduced to the dangerous world of Han Solo. The Turning Point comes when we learn that Alderaan has been destroyed by the Death Star and a tractor beam pulls the Falcon in. Now they can’t simply deliver the plans to the Princess and have no idea what to do next.

In The Wizard of Oz Act 1 there are two turning points within those four chapters:

1. Reveal: Miss Gultch wants to take Toto away and Dorothy runs away from home.

2. Turning Point: Dorothy lands in Oz and finds herself in a world of colour

3. Reveal: Dorothy learns there are good witches and bad witches and the Witch of the East is dead.

4. Reveal: there is an even worse Witch. The Turning point comes when Dorothy can’t get the Ruby slippers off and must ask the Wizard of Oz for help to get home.

So how can we apply these concepts to our non-fiction books? A way to think of it is like this (the numbers are just for convenience here as an example):

Let’s assume your book will have a total of 40,000 words. Let’s split it into three Acts’ or Parts of 10,000 words each. Each Part has four chapters of 2500 words each. Each chapter has at least one major Reveal and alternative chapters need a Turning Point.

So our structure could look like this:

Part 1: 10,000 words
Chapter 1: 2500 words, Reveal
Chapter 2: 2500 words, Reveal, Turning Point
Chapter 3: 2500 words, Reveal
Chapter 4: 2500 words, Reveal, Turning Point

With Parts 2 and 3 following the same structure.

You might be saying that I’ve just spent a proportion of this book going on about the non-linear nature of our books and yet here I am comparing them to a story narrative that is clearly linear. The truth is that both work but the ultimate method is to get them to both work at the same time. So the book can be dipped into (unlike a story) but if it is read from beginning to end, the Reveals and Turning Points are there to drive the reader on.

Let’s summaries the difference between the Reveal and the Turning Point in the context of our non-fiction book:

The Reveal is a startling piece of information that opens up the material. It adds depth and detail, drawing the reader in. This is the facts and examples that they learn from. It’s you showing the many ways of doing things.

The Turning Point is the shocker, the twist that closes down the material. It’s the part where you tell them there is only one way of doing things. It’s where you catch the reader out by showing that things are not as they seem.

You need just one Turning Point per 5000 words. Too many Turning Points can get tiring and confusing. You need at least one big Reveal per 2500 words. There’s always room for more Reveals.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book: www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.

Are you an expert?

I was surprised to be asked at a networking meeting, “what do you mean by ‘expert’?” I hadn’t been asked that question before. My answer was, and I stick by it: Someone who has information in an area that is of interest to others and is able to express that information.

Note that I’m not including highly skilled people in this category. We can’t include people who, may be brilliant at doing unless they’re brilliant at explaining what they do to. To be our kind of expert, the expertise needs to be conscious. There needs to be a understanding of the subject rather than just the craftsmanship. If someone is brilliant at tennis then they are exactly that, brilliant at tennis and they probably win a lot of matches. They are not nessesarily an ‘expert tennis player’ – that’s something different. The expert tennis player may not win a lot of matches, but does know a lot about tennis.

I imagine you’re pretty good at what you do. To become the expert that can write the book on that expertise you need to be able to think about what you do in a different way. You need to be able to step out of the ‘doing’ and see the holistic big picture. It might not be easy. Which bits of what you do should you include? Which bits are so obvious they can be left out?

This is why you should be using some of the elements of storytelling to create our expertise material. Sometimes the reader needs the how, the why, the detail and the backstory but sometimes they just want to cut to the chase, get involved in he drama and delight in the thrill of the plot.

Putting your expertise across is a journey you will take your readers on. We need to make sure it’s an interesting and worthwhile journey that gets them from where they are to where they need to be in the most exciting and compelling way.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book: www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.

The Window of Opportunity

Recent books I've designed

Books are magic. I’ve discussed that in some detail here. I use the word ‘magic’ in it’s right use, I believe, meaning ‘something that has an extraordinary effect whose mechanism we don’t understand’.

That’s how it is with books. If someone is an author, we think of them as the authority on the subject. We think of them as something special. We will pay more for their advice.

The reason we respect authors and their books is because we know deep down that it’s an amazing thing to get published. Aside from the actual writing, you have to be picked up by a ‘publisher’ who, in recognising your talent and greatness, verifies and validates your work. A published book has been approved by several experts who know a good book when they see it. A published book has gone through a process of peer review. Only the very best get published. A published book is a proper book. An unpublished book is like an unsigned rock band: if they were any good they’d have got a deal.

But there’s a problem. Now, almost, anyone can get a book out. It requires a little bit of skill and knowledge, but not much. Anyone can get a book ‘published’. All that requires is the tiny bit of know-how. It’s shockingly easy.

So what does that do to the magic of books? What does that do to our admiration for the published author? Does it mean that there’s a window of opportunity that having a published book still counts as cool, but in a short while when more people realise how easy it is, that glory will be undermined. So you’ve got a book out? So what?

We call it democratization. A leveling of the playing field. Now, more people can get into the previously invite-only members club of publishing. So what will happen next? Will the magic be undone?

Let’s have a look at previous democratisations for the answer. Here are a few:

Photography was the domain of the professional expert from its invention in the late 1800s until around the 1950s. Then it entered the domain of the committed hobbyist who had the cash to invest in it. Then cheap instamatic cameras and Polaroids in the 1970s opened it up to everyman. Now, ridiculously cheap digital cameras in recent years has made everyone a photographer. But there’s still a place for the photographic expert…

Filmmaking follows the same pattern. You needed serious cash to make films, even on consumer Super8 cinefilm up until the 1980s. Then VHS cameras, MiniDisc, digital tapes and then hard drives made everyone a filmmaker. But television programmes and movies are still made by committed professionals.

Graphic Design was one solely the domain of the draughtstman, illustrator or typographer. Their tools were indian ink, marker pens and lead. Desktop publishing became a reality only in the early 1990s when the tools changed to computers and software. The PC became cheaper. Ready made clip art appeared. Everyone can now be a graphic designer. But if having affordable professional tools was the answer, every Church magazine in the land would look like a quality periodical like those on the shelves in WH Smiths. Every PowerPoint presentation would inspire and compliment a speech perfectly. Every poster or flyer produced would be worthy of being framed and have prints sold in those poster shops. But clearly they aren’t.

Just as with photography, filmmaking and graphic design, having the right tools and the right methods does not create greatness in itself. You still have to create a quality piece. Quality work is produced by dedication, persistence, practice, research, willingness to learn, experience and perhaps a few other factors.

It’s likely that the world will become awash with new books written by new authors. But the magic will remain, but change form. Democratisation means everyone can do it, but it also means that we can’t and won’t rely on third party endorsement alone. The democratisation of publishing means we now have the power as writers to publish and as readers to judge for ourselves what is worth reading. The external filter has gone so we have to filter for ourselves.

More television channels gave us more telly. But it didn’t give us more good telly. Self publishing will give us more books to choose from, but not necessarily many more good books.

This is why, more than ever we have to focus on quality. Our books must be brilliant. They must look brilliant. Just being ‘published’ will soon not be enough…

Don’t just do a book – make it a good book.

This article came out of a conversation I had with Howard from www.oxfordcomputerservice.co.uk.

Learn more about writing and publishing your book:

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book: www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.

Secrets of the Wealth Accelerators

Not only is this book packed with business growth secrets, but the story of its conception reveals perhaps the best strategy of all…

I met up with Paul Avins, Award Winning business coach and speaker and author of Business SOS (see here) to talk about a new book idea he had.

The idea was this: to create a book of new business growth strategies with chapters written by different authors. We chatted through the concept for a while and then Paul said, “Oh, and we want the book to launch at the Business Wealth Club Open Days.”

“Which Open Days?” I asked, “You don’t mean the ones on 6th and 7th of September? That gives us…” I looked at iCal on my MacBookPro, “5 weeks.”

“That’s right. We’ll need about 250 books for those events” said Paul.

I took in a sharp draw of breath. “Ok” I said, “How many authors do you have in mind for the book?”

“About, say, 30, each contributing 1500 words or so” said Paul.

“And how many have we got in so far?” I asked.

“None” said Paul.

So we we were going to contact 30 busy experts and ask them to write 1500 words, send a biography and a photo. I was to design the concept, the cover and layout the book. We were then going to publish it and print 250 copies… all within 5 weeks.

Stress is a major component to heart disease and stomach ulcers. A book from nothing to published in 5 weeks? Dear reader, I certainly don’t want to cause you undue stress and tension in this article so I’ll relieve you now and put your mind, heart and stomach at rest by revealing up-front: we did it. Not only that, the result was, even in my biased opinion, startlingly brilliant.

Let me back-track a little bit first. A multi-author book? I probably grimaced when he first suggested it. Multi-author books are often the worst kind of self-published books. Why? Because they’re usually cobbled together because the organiser doesn’t have enough material of their own, the contributions are often rambling, irrelevant, disparate, of varying quality and often, well, pointless.

First of all, Paul wasn’t short of material. He’s got at least 7 books all backed up to be finished up and edited ready for publication. So that wasn’t the reason. What was it then?

The key was this. The secret of wealth acceleration is collaboration. Collaboration and Joint Venturing on a scale hitherto unrealised by most businesses. By pulling together 30+ experts into one place, Paul would not only have introduced them and their material to his own audience, he would have introduced each of them to each other. That was the key to why they would want to be involved. It was a win-win from the start for everyone.

Paul has nurtured a great network of business experts so we weren’t short. They were contacted and given a deadline of a week to produce their chapter. They all did it. It just shows what can be done when you set a goal with a deadline. And these are busy people we’re talking about here, from all over the world. In fact, we got too many chapters in, so had to hold back of a few for volume two.

I was more than satisfied that the content was going to work. The short punchy chapters were all on the ball. They were all on topic and fitted into a number of topic headings. Paul thought there would be seven of those.

“Make it six” I said.


“You’ll see…”

I had two challenges to sort out. One of the other weaknesses of multi-author books are in how they portray the authors with respect to each other and to the organiser. Usually, no-one comes of well. I knew that each author had to be treated with equal respect. After all, we wanted them to be proud of the book too and to be able to use it to promote their own businesses. They couldn’t do that it it made them look subservient to Paul or each other. I was also conscious that Paul should be positioned as a key player too, not just someone with famous friends.

The solution was in the design of the chapters. We started each one with a strong biography and photo to position the expert’s credibility. Then Paul wrote a piece about the expert, how he had met and worked with them before. That way you knew there was a personal connection. Then the expert had four or six pages where I could clearly layout their content in a readable way, ending with a call to action or offer.

The other nice touch was to have Paul comment on each author’s material by having ‘post-it’ notes dotted around the book, drawing attention to certain paragraphs and giving an ‘interactive’ feel to the book. When you read it, it feels like a collaboration between the author, with Paul and with you. It feels like having a conversation, of being in the room with the experts. Paul also contributed his own chapter and introduction to the book.

The best bit about the book for me, and the bit I’m most proud of, is the way the design cements the concept of the book being ‘non-linear’. What do I mean by that? Let’s face it, few people will read this book from cover to cover, not initially anyway. Partly because the readership is going to be busy business owners and partly because not everyone will be interested in every strategy at the time they read the book. To put it another way: they’ll dip in and out, reading the bits they want to read in a random order. (I still prefer calling it ‘non-linear’ though).

So how do you enable this ‘non-linear’ reading in a book? I used two design strategies. The first is to design and layout the book more like a magazine than like a typical non-fiction book. People flick though a magazine and their eye catches things of interest. That’s why the headings are all nice and big and bold. The sections are clearly delineated and we have the tabs down the side to help with ‘flicking through’.

The second way is to use the contents page. That’s why I wanted six sections as a six-sided shape is a hexagon. I used the hexagon to create a neat non-linear, sort of mindmap type contents page. You can look at the contents diagram and quickly see, in one glance, which topic area you may be more interested in and then easily jump to that page. You don’t have to scan your eyes down an endless, boring list over a number of pages. The contents diagram lets you know that it’s ok to pick and choose which bits to read in the book.

For the cover we knew a few things: we didn’t want Paul’s image on the front (that could undermine the other authors use of the book too much). We did want movement, acceleration and speed. The image we chose works quite well (I coloured it purple to tie in with the Business Wealth Club colours). I created the title as a strong block. We want it to be punchy enough to become a brand. We thought hard about how to bill Paul on the front too. We knew we didn’t want multiple names on there, but it did need a name. We settled on ‘From the network of’ rather than billing Paul as editor, as he is a contributor too as well as overseer. It also helped re-enforce that these are his contacts, not a collection of unsolicited manuscripts that fell onto his desk. These are freshly commissioned articles, unique to this book.

We did it. A week to get the manuscripts in. Three weeks to design, layout and check. One week to print.

A handful of the book's authors

The book is about new economy strategies and contains 33 expert chapters. But the book ITSELF is a new economy strategy

As Paul says in his workshops and talks, “money follows speed” and for a book that has ‘accelerators’ in the title, you shouldn’t expect anything less.

You can get your copy of the book from Amazon here. Go on, have a look and see if you agree with me.

Learn more about writing and publishing your book:

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book: www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.

Here are the names of the authors featured in the book: Leigh Ashton, Paul Avins, Sue Avins, Bill Belew, Kath Bonner-Dunham, Steve Brooks, Nick Carlile, Marie-Claire Carlyle, Kim Castle & W. Vito Motone, Steve Catchick, Michelle Clarke, Ron Davies, MarcusDe Maria, Bernie De Souza, Gary Fox, Alan French, Dave Griffin, Nick Griffith, Andrew Griffiths, Dave Holland, Ron Holland, Gavin Holmes, Ayd Instone, Jeff Lermer, Joanna Martin, Daniel Priestley, Andrew Roberts, Peter Thomson, Simon Wallace-Jones, Daniel Wagner, Simon K Williams, Simon Zutshi

Just do me a cover…

Recent books I've designed

This is the mistake so many people have made. They treat their book cover as another graphic design job and that gives them three choices:

  1. They can do it themselves. Unless they have typographical expertise and knowledge of composition, layout skills as well as the technical issues involved, the result is likely to be less than remarkable.
  2. They can get it done cheaply. This may result in the same outcome as above, or perhaps give something ok, average or unuseable. A cheap designer is either inexperienced or isn’t prioritising the job as they have better things to do. Even if it’s ‘a mate’, many people run into trouble as the designer has to prioritise paid work, it’s just a fact of life. Either way, there’s a risk that the wonderful expertise promoting work that your book should be, may go out in the world a bit lackluster.
  3. They could spend a lot of money on it.

But all this is missing the point. The cover of your book is not just another graphic design job that needs to be ticked off in the same way that you need a plasterer to do the walls of your house. It’s not someone coming to fix the radiators or make the sandwiches. It’s not like insurance where you get the cheapest quote you can. It’s not even something that the more you pay the better the result. It’s not something you have to get out of the way in order to publish your book.

Your cover IS the book.

You think that the hard slog of writing, the early mornings, the late nights, the rushing to meet your deadline, the painful editing, the writers blocks and the years of research and experience is your book. It isn’t.

The clever title that communicates the message of the book, the relevant and neat typography of the title and subtitle and the metaphor contained within the image or graphics on the cover – that’s your book.

To put it another way: the COVER is your book.

In fact, many best-selling expert authors suggest that the first thing you do when you’re about to write the book is to not write the book but design the cover. With the cover you can gauge interest in the book and take advance orders for the book (i.e. sell it before you’ve written it).

A book with a cover is a real book (even if it doesn’t yet exist as a book). This is part of the magic of publishing and how books are embedded into our consciousness. Today, more than ever, the concept of the cover transmits the Big Idea that can arrest and hold busy minds whose attention is eager to flit to something else.

We don’t have time to wait till chapter 3 before we reveal our purpose to our readers. We can’ even rely on them getting it in the introduction. We have to get it to them right there up front with the cover, through the use of the right words, images and colours.

Once that eye of attention of our potential reader settles on our cover we have only a fraction of a millisecond for the image we have created to inspire neurons to fire in the mind of the observer. If the meaning and significance transmitted is unclear, dull and uninspired, the eye of attention will move on. If on the other hand it shines, causes an itch, invokes curiosity, intrigue, humour or hints at a solution, the image in the eye triggers a cascade of neurons to fire. This in turn makes new connections in the eye of the beholder which shoots a message from the deep unconscious to the conscious that says quite simply: find out more.

That’s the purpose of the cover. It’s a visual consciousness magnetic neural network triggering mechanism. And to create one of those you need more than a ‘graphic designer’.

To create one of those you need more than to just say that oh-so-underwhelming instruction, “just do me a cover”.

People won’t judge you by your wit on page 230. They won’t judge you by your startling conclusion. They won’t judge you by your extensive research and experience in the field. They will judge you first by what they see. And what they see is your cover.

Make it worth seeing.

Learn more about writing and publishing your book:

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book: www.blogtobook.co.uk 

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So you want to write a book – but what’s it about?

Me Myself and I bookSome years ago I spoke to someone who’d been to a motivational seminar. The result of it was that it had inspired her to write a book. That’s great news I thought, a real tangible action that she could follow through.

The next question was of course, “what’s the book about?” She said, “It’s called Me, Myself and I – the story of my life”.

Now I don’t want to sound too dismissive. I didn’t know her that well either. But what I did know was that she was more or less like most of us. Fairly straightforwardly normal. Nothing particularly remarkable had happened to her that hasn’t also happened to me and you.

At this point I think we’d all agree that this was a pretty poor idea for a book. If she was writing this autobiography for her own and her families enjoyment then that’s a good thing. We should all do that in some form, to record and pass on our stories and experiences to the next generation or simply to reminisce. But who else is even remotely interested? Let’s face the facts: no-one.

By the end of this article I’m going to change my mind about that. Let’s see if you do too.

Since then I’ve met a load of other people who’ve been to motivational seminars and have come out with the ‘big idea’ to write a book about their average mediocre lives.

I’ve also met a lot of people who’ve had some wonderful or tragic experiences. On the face of it, these heroes appear to have it easy, they can tell the story of their triumph over adversity, good fortune or hard work. The story is right there for the telling. But they have a little problem in that when that big story is told, there is nothing else to tell. They have become that story. There’s nothing more to give.

And that’s why us ordinary folk have a subtle advantage. But we have to work hard to get a grip on it.

If you’ve ever read any biography of a famous person or seen an in-depth interview (like the ones Michael Parkinson used to do, not the product placement ones we get nowadays) you may have noticed how they work. The story of their life doesn’t necessarily start at the beginning. It is framed up with the main thing that they are famous for. Every part of the biographical detail from then on, every story that follows, adds insight which builds the picture of the famous person and the fame they were born to have. If it’s an actor, they’ll recount the first time they ever acted (probably a game they played as a child). If it’s a comedian, they’ll recount the first laugh they got from their mates or from the school bully to avoid being punched. They miss out most of the missed opportunities and other adventures that aren’t central to the main driving story of their life’s purpose. They don’t recount their holidays or what they got for Christmas unless it’s central to the main thrust. Often they don’t mention their children, who may be in reality the most important people in their lives. If they don’t play a main role in the big story, they don’t get a look in.

It’s the secret method hidden in every kind of storytelling. You only mention things that are relevant. To add drama you may not reveal their relevance straight away and when the reader realises the truth later on, they experience that wonderful payback as they form the thread of the meaning of the story in their own minds as they read. The same is true for films, for sitcoms, for plays, for everything. In fact, it’s a good way of seeing if a story is based unchanged on a real story or not as real-life accounts are full of extraneous detail that have no bearing on the plot.

The point here is that famous people have a fulcrum to their life story, a pivot or purpose that vignettes are chosen to add colour and detail to the driving plot of their lives.

So what has this got to do with us?

Imagine if you were to write your biography now. Imagine writing it with no major destination, it’s just the story of your life, the story of ‘Me, Myself and I’. You’d have school stories, teenage adventures, college or work anecdotes, family crisis, family fun. There’d be no shortage of material, but without a focus, all those stories would be of little interest to anyone who didn’t know you as there would be no correlation between them other than they all happened to you. The reader would be desperate to link it all but without your help they’d get distracted and bored and would stop reading.

Now imagine picking a point to your life. Let’s start with an easy one. Imagine the point of your life was to have your children, or to do the job you do now, or to have the lifestyle you have now or the particular hobby or interest that you’re so good at. If you wrote your biography only including the stories and anecdotes that relate to that point you’ll have a totally different book to the sprawling, meaningless all encompassing one. If you chose another, a different point, you’d have a different set of stories to include.

This is why I said we’re better off than those who have one big story that’s so big it dominates everything else in their lives. These heroes struggle to tell another story of their lives without the big one getting in the way. For most of us there are dozens if not hundred of stories to tell, all of which have may a strong point. If effect we could write a dozen autobiographies of ourselves, each one different to the last.

The challenge is now to choose which of the possible life purposes are we going to choose for our first book. Notice I say ‘first’ book. They say everyone has one book in them. It’s not true, everyone has dozens of books in them. We just need to decide to begin. It’s actually easier to choose than you may think. You simply chose the purpose to your life that you have the most or best stories to tell. You choose ‘the point’ that the book will make that is the most interesting or compelling that a certain type of audience will want to hear.

If you take this approach, what you’ve really done is the opposite of what most new authors do. You’ve picked a purpose that is powerful, personal and relevant to others, that you have a cache of real personal stories to add human interest which grips and entertains the reader. You then add in relevant research, facts and data about the topic to educate the reader. What you’ve done is given the reader a useful, valuable experience that is unique. It’s your personal take on the topic. It’s that unique personal take which is the magnet that attracts the reader to the content. A personal story with no point is irrelevant and content without a personal take is a textbook which is boring.

So here’s your task. Writing your autobiography is actually a good thing! Why? because by plotting out your journeys, stories and anecdotes, randomly at first, you’ll start to see patterns emerging. By writing ‘Me Myself and I’ you’ll build up a body of work that will become your resource bank of material for your entire writing career.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
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How to write a book the easy way

Some people love writing. Some people don’t. And yet those that don’t, still love speaking, thinking and often reading. I believe it’s not writing that they have a problem with but the method they go about it.

Here are 7 top tips to make it easier, more enjoyable and quicker.

1. Plan your book out in a non-linear way
(See here on how to mess this up)

Non-linear means not doing things in order. This is so important when planing your book otherwise you’ll loose the big picture and the purpose that will drive your motivation. Some people swear by the concept of MindMaps where you write the name of the book in the centre of a bit of paper and have ideas curving off it like tentacles. Each of those tentacles has further ideas sprouting off them. The problem with this is that it requires a set hierarchy from the very start. You need to know what the top level chapters or main headings are to begin with. This is not helpful. A better was is to be far more random to start with (and keep the big all-singing-all-dancing MindMap method for later to create the structure). So start by writing down random ideas that should be included in the book on a big piece of paper. Each of these points re in effect mini-MindMaps from which you can spur off further ideas of content. But this way you have the freedom to not worry about what comes first or what’s more important. This method allows your mind to keep thinking.

2. Research: Not too much, not too little, just enough

Facts should be backed up with references where necessary, but having to have references for everything is tedious and often slows down your writing. There’s a simple way to get around this. You book should have the relevant facts, of course, but the majority of the text should be your own opinion, your own interpretation of the data. People don’t want too much data, they want to know what it means. So get the facts right and then give the readers your take on it.

3. Use your speaking voice

So many eloquent, friendly, passionate, interesting people start writing and turn into robotic bores. It’s as if they think you have to formalise your words and sentences in the written form. You don’t. Write as you speak. It’s not a legal document you’re writing. Your authority comes from the value of the content not the high and mighty way you write it. If you’ve ever found yourself writing in this formal way you’re actually falling calling upon the events of 1066 which shaped the class and power systems in Britain and later her Empire, colonies and the English speaking world. This is still true if you’re writing in the US where you thought you were immune to class struggles – the shadow of the Norman invasion is in your power structures too. When the French speaking Normans took power their formal, latin based conceptual language, removed from everyday life, became the manner in which those in power spoke and wrote. The Anglo-Saxons, mostly who were illiterate, did all the work and theirs was the language of action, and of the present. These modes of speaking informally and writing formally is our default way of communicating today. Use contractions (don’t instead of do not) if you’re sharing stories, make it sound personable. Only switch to the formal legal sounding language if you want to dominate and force something on the reader. Let’s face it, that’s not really the kind of book you should be writing.

4. Write in short chunks

Readers don’t want great big sprawling chapters. If they wanted a long drawn out mystery they’d be reading a novel. If we make each of the points we make into a neat, digestible section which has a middle, beginning and end of its own where the point is clear. The reader will not only be able to read it and digest it easier, you’ll find it more satisfying to write.

5. Time

Everybody has time to write if they really want to do it. The problem comes when you leave your writing till the gaps in your busy schedule. Let’s face it; there are no gaps in your busy schedule. Writing has to be scheduled in just the same as everything else. The mistake people make is putting their writing time in the wrong place. If you get tired on an evening and all you want to do is unwind, relax, watch television, have a glass of wine, deal with the kids and their problems, eat and/or cook supper, go out or whatever, you’re not going to do any writing. Find the slot where you feel like doing it. It might be first thing in the morning, instead of jumping straight into emails or admin, do something creative. Save those mindless administrative tasks for when your creative brain has had enough and use it’s power when it’s fresh and ready to go.

6. Space

The rule is simple. Don’t write in the location where you would normally do non-creative tasks like administrative work. Find another desk in the same room, a different room, outside, another building, a coffee shop somewhere, anywhere that works for you. If that means getting a laptop, iPad of even a good old-fashioned notebook, just get hold of them and get on with it. It’s often better to have the tool you use as an exclusive creative tool if at all possible (i.e. not the laptop that you do your accounts on for the same reason as having a different room.) It’s all about doing the right thing to create that right state of mind.

7. Just do it

When you’re in your writing zone, just write (don’t edit). If you can’t think of the perfect bit to write just write any bit. It doesn’t matter. Compare it with exercises or circuit training. You wouldn’t stand there and worry about what order to do the exercises in, it doesn’t really matter, just pick one and get started. The act of writing inspires writing. Even if what you’re writing doesn’t feel particularly good or relevant to your main purpose, just do it.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:


We all hate textbooks so why do people write them?

textbookThere’s a place for textbooks. They belong as reference material for classrooms and courses. They don’t work in isolation. They supplement other learning materials such as lectures, seminars or workbooks.

But as far as we’re concerned as experts who write, they are irrelevant. Unless you have been commissioned by a major publisher, who has the infrastructure to get the book to market and you have been paid in advance to write it, there is absolutely no point in writing a textbook.

So why does everyone do it?

When experts begin writing their book, either to pitch unsolicited to a publisher or with a view to self publish, they begin in couple of particular ways.

Here’s the wrong way. We can call it the linear method or ‘the brain dump’.

Linear authors start by writing everything they think they possibly know about everything they know. It’s so unstructured that they try desperately to think of a start, to give them something to hang onto. Since there’s no plan, defined topic or target market in mind they have no choice but to try to start at a beginning. Such books begin with variations of “I was born at an early age in my home town” and “In the beginning…”.

This linear way of starting kills the motivation to write really quickly. The actual ‘beginning’ of any story is usually very boring. Boring to write and boring to read. It’s also out of context. The reader is given no clues at that point as to what’s going to happen. That’s why most fiction and all movies start well into the story. The action has already begun.

Good authors recognise that they’re not telling the entire story of everything, they’re just telling one story that sits within a bigger story. A James Bond film doesn’t start with him being born. It doesn’t start with him sitting in the secret service offices waiting for the phone to ring. It starts at the peak of some action.

“But I’m not writing stories! I’m not writing fiction!” I imagine I hear you cry. I doesn’t matter. The same rules apply. Any writing needs to engage the reader enough so that they don’t stop reading through boredom.

The only book that’s allowed to start at the beginning of all creation is the Bible. And even with that the writers wrote that very first bit of Genesis last.

This linear way of writing is bad for the reader but it’s worse for the writer. It will almost always create ‘writers block’ which we can define as boredom, lack of confidence and lack of inspiration. If those blocks are overcome the result is a textbook.

These textbooks start tediously at the beginning with simple introductory concepts and then get more complex and more tedious as it progresses. Then at the end when it delivers the most complex, in-depth material, it stops. Then there’s an index (which is totally useless as you can’t dip into such a book as you would have had to read everything up to that point for it to make sense.)

These boring textbooks are often written by lively, passionate, friendly, talented people. So why do they leave out all that passion and emotion when they write?

The solution to all this, to write an engaging book, perhaps one that can be dipped into and most useful of all, one that you can actually write AND finish, is to write a non-linear book or write the book in a non-linear way.

Have you ever read a textbook? Probably not. If you did it would only have been because there was a gun pointed at your head.

No-one reads textbooks. So don’t write one.

We’ll look at the alternative method in my next post.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see: