How I wrote, self-published, and sold my book
Whew. It’s done. My book The Art of Getting Sh*t Done is now available on Amazon and I have to sign then mail out 70 copies that I sold through my pre-order campaign.
How the heck did I do this?
Well, it all started with a choice.
In life you have three options, you can be a Dreamer, a Doer… or both. I choose to be both, I love dreaming big and doing bigger. I have all these magical ideas and dreams but I don’t just stop there, I get it done.
Two years ago in November of 2016 after hosting the very first Get Shit Done Summit, I said to myself “I want to share my story, my journey, my adventures, and misadventures”. I started to write the first draft of The Art of Getting Sh*t Done. I would get bursts of creativity and energy and pump out a few pages but that momentum would die down. Bubbles of momentum continued to go and come until Feb 2018 when I finally committed to finishing the book by any means necessary.
On December 31st, 2018, I typed my last sentence, let out a sigh of relief and was DONE. Then on February 4th 2019 when the book went live on Amazon… I was DONE DONE. This journey was stressful, reflective, nerve-racking, eye-opening, fun, and overall amazing.
STEP 1: MAKING THE DECISION
The first step in this entire process was making the decision to write the book. I knew I wanted to share my story and I loved to read. I was already an author mainly through blogging and the two ebooks that I wrote. Writing a book that would go to print, was my idea of becoming an Official Author. I decided this was my time and that I would share my story in the form of a printed book.
STEP 2: OUTLINING THE BOOK
Now that I decided that I would write a book. The next step was to create the outline. What the heck would I write about? Since this was a non-fiction book I had to choose which adventures and misadventures from my life would I want to feature in the book. I went with an outline that took key moments from my childhood that shaped my perspectives such as immigrating to America and my early experiences with Public school. Then I took a couple stories from my adolescent years such as moving to Baldwin, Long Island and becoming pregnant at 16. Then I focused the rest of the book on my entrepreneurial journey and stories while being an adult.
STEP 3: WRITING THE BOOK
Writing on paper
Although I am a huge techie, this won’t surprise those who know me well. Around 50% of the book was written on paper. I love writing. The feeling when pen and paper meet just creates a spark within my creativity. I tried getting behind the computer and typing parts of the book at first but when I had pen and paper it was full blow pedal to the metal.
Transferring from Print to Digital
Because I wrote most of the book on paper I had to get it transferred to a digital document. I knew I could type it up myself but I knew I didn’t have the time. I already had a VA working on some other projects for me and her strong suit was writing. I showed her a couple pages of the written book to make sure she could read my handwriting. Once she confirmed we proceeded and she typed up all the hand written pages of the book. She did this unbelievably fast. If I were to take this on myself it would have taken at least 2–3 week.
Setting time to write
We are all busy humans. With a family to take care of, and work commitments I had to make time to write. I brought my pen and notebook with me everywhere. When I got a boost of energy I would just open it and start writing. I wrote on bus rides, while at work, on the plane, anywhere inspiration struck I would just start writing. I found this worked better for me instead of setting specific “writing hours”. I did though set “chapter completion dates” so that I could make sure that I wasn’t taking too long to complete a specific chapter. I also wasn’t afraid to make extensions or move dates around when life happened and I didn’t finish in time.
Staying focused while writing
Having the tools and the time is one beast when it comes to writing the book. Staying focused while writing was a whole other beast. I used a tip I learned from Anthony Frasier’s Blog post that talked about a few different writing styles that helped authors to dive into their outlines.
For each of the sections of my outline I made a short summary of what would be discussed in that chapter and the lesson I wanted the reader to walk away with after reading that part of the story.
Each chapter was outlined as:
- Main Point
- Supporting Story
- Lessons to take away/ Ways to implement
Then I created a document that went year by year listing all the stories that I could talk about/mention and selecting stories for each.
Every time I was about to start writing I would look at the chapter summary, outline, and the time line so that before I started writing I knew the end goal and what story I would share to get to the end goal.
In the end the key is to find the most effective writing style and hacks for yourself. It doesn’t matter how it’s written or when. In the end it only matters if the book actually GETS written.
STEP 4: BUILDING MY TEAM
When I committed to completing the book, I knew I couldn’t do it all alone. I knew that I would need to hire various people at different stages of the journey to get it done. Although I read many blogs, articles, and watched self publishing tutorials, it made more sense to outsource parts of the book to experts.
Mellany P. — She was my editor. She is a professional editor and writing coach. We have been colleagues for a few years now and I have mentioned to her on multiple occasions that I wanted to publish a book. Then when the time came for it to happen she was top of mind. WORK WITH MELLANY
Shannon S — She was my VA and typed up the book for me. We were introduced by a colleague of mine who hired her in the past to do audio transcription. WORK WITH SHANNON
Ose — He was my formatting expert. He formatted the book for Paperback print and Kindle ebook. I connected with him on Fiverr.com a freelancing platform. WORK WITH OSE
I could have spent a lot of time and energy learning how to do these tasks but then that would have significantly delayed the book. I didn’t have funds set aside to do all these things before writing the book. I simply inquired about the costs, set up payment plans where needed, and took on extra gigs/clients to make sure I had the income to pay these service providers for their work. I looked at it as investing into my book.
STEP 5: BOOK PUBLISHING CHECKLIST
My final cover design was an elaborate combination that has a yellow background/book cover with blue and black text. This design came a long way from the original blue book cover that had my photo on it and script style black and white text.
As a designer by trade, I decided to design the book cover myself. I wanted to expand on my creativity, but I was also being cheap because I knew other parts of the book I would have to spend money on an expert.
When designing the first cover I was modeling it after a few books I had come across that had the authors image front and center on the cover. After speaking with a colleague and showing her the cover she suggested I removed my image. She stated “Yes these books have the authors face on it, but does that truly impact sales? And is that impact good or bad? Not to mention these people are already well known. You’re just starting out and the story, although your’s doesn’t really need your face flat and center”. I sat on this advice for a while and then started designing versions of my book cover without my image. I started to design some cover variations that focused on making the text pop more. After a few samples I had come up with a design that I instantly fell in love with.
What did I use to design the cover?
For the original design I used Canva.com a free website that allows you to create graphics online. Then after I made the first design in Canva, I finished up the full cover design, that included the book spine and back, in Photoshop.
Shameless Plug I design book covers over at
The ISBN is the barcode on the back of a book. It is required that every published book have an ISBN. These are purchased online at https://www.myidentifiers.com/get-your-isbn-now . A single ISBN is currently $125 and a bulk buy of 10 ISBN’s are $295. It is suggested that people buy the 10 pack because each version of your book will need its own ISBN. For example, you have a paperback book and a hardcopy book. Then you need two separate ISBN’s. Each time your book is translated into a different language, again you will need another ISBN. ( Note the price for ISBN’s change periodically)
I had my book copyrighted also. This means I legally own the rights to the information and my book as a literary work. You can copyright your manuscript online using this website https://www.copyright.gov/registration/literary-works/ . The price will vary between $35 and $55. ( More in certain cases if you have special features in your book )
STEP 6: BRANDING THE BOOK
Branding is simply how people recognize your product/service. I already had a bright yellow book but I also needed to be able to quickly send the book digitally.
First thing I did was get a domain name that would be used to create a page for the book.
Sadly, theartofgettingshitdone.com was already taken. I decided to use the acronym TAOGSD.com (The Art Of Getting Shit Done). This was going well until a friend made an interesting suggestions. She suggested that I check to see if the domain Artofgsd.com was available instead. It was more catchy than Taogsd.com. I searched and artofgsd.com was indeed available. I snagged it and connected it to the book campaign, once the book campaign was over I connected it to the landing page that I created for the book.
For those who aren’t super technical what I mean by “connected it” is that I set up a feature called Domain forwarding so that when someone typed in Artofgsd.com in their browser it took them to the pre order campaign located at https://publishizer.com/the-art-of-getting-sht-done/ . Sending them to “Artofgsd.com” was more convenient and easier for people to remember instead of the long Publishizer link. ( Ill talk more details about this pre-order campaign in step 7)
Facebook page — Since I already have business social media accounts and would be promoting the book on those channels as well as my personal social media, I didn’t see the need to create whole new channels for the book. Except for one platform..facebook. From doing my research I saw that most books did have their own Facebook pages. I proceeded to create a book Facebook page. This page is used strictly to promote the book and share updates.
Hashtag — I didn’t need whole new social media accounts but one thing I did need was a hashtag. This is still a very consistent way that people share/shout out books, entertainers, movies, restaurants etc that they interact with. Most people just use the full name of their book as their hashtag. In the event the full name of your book is already taken, you need to create a variation of you book name and use that as the hashtag. My book title is “The Art of Getting Sh*t Done”. The actual title has a “*” in it and if I tried to put the “*” in my hashtag it would break up the wording. So I decided to use the letter “i” and just spell out the word “shit” for the hashtag which left me with #TheArtofgettingshitdone . When I did my original hashtag research I saw there were already two posts under that hashtag so I created a back up hashtag which was #ArtofGSD. I primarily use the full #theartofgettingshitdone and occasionally #artofgsd. In the end it’s up to you. The two posts that were under the hashtag originally were very long ago and have now been moved to the bottom of the feed as I take over the hashtag with book content.
Good Reads page — This step came after the book was live on Amazon. Good Reads is a social platform that allows you to track and rate books that you read as well as see books that your friends are reading/have read.
Since I know millions of people use Good Reads, I made sure to add my book to the line up so that readers can addd it to their “currently reading” log and then leave reviews.
STEP 7: PRE-ORDER CAMPAIGN
Mellany introduced me to a platform called Publishizer. This is a platform that allows authors to list their book for free and run a 30 day campaign in efforts to crowd source publishers who would be interested in publishing their book. While the campaign runs regular people can purchase copies of your book. The idea is that the more people purchase your book the more likely you are to gain interests from publishers. ( more pre-order the more proof you have that your book is in demand and people are interested in reading it) Before I started writing the book I knew that I would most likely be self publishing the book but I was definitely open to working with a publisher, if they made me a good offer. The way Publishizer works is that the first thing you do is create a proposal . Your proposal is essentially a break down of your book with the following sections:
Part 1: Synopsis (about 250 words)
This is a short Summary of your book.
Part 2: Outline (about 150 words)
This is an outline of all the sections that your book will have. Your table of content plus a sentence or two about that chapter.
Part 3: Audience (about 250 words)
This is where you break down who the audience and target reader for you book is.
Part 4: Promotion (about 250 words)
This is where you talk about how you plan to promote your book, the size of your current audience, and how you will reach potential supporters.
Part 5: Competition (about 250 words)
This is where you list books that are in your field that would count as competition for you.
Bonus: Sample Chapters (about 2,000 words)
You can include a sample chapter of your book. This is just used as another incentive to get people interested in the book.
Part 6: Create Bonuses
The campaign requires all pre-orders to include a “free bonus”. For example my book sells for $20 paperback and $9.99 Kindle but on the pre-order campaign for $20 readers got 1 Copy of the autographed limited edition of the book “The Art of Getting Sh*t Done”, Free eBook copy, Free invitation to the book launch, Exclusive access to updates, and an invite to join my community.
This is just to incentivize people to pre-order. You can have multiple bonuses and various spins on the bonuses. I also had a 10 book and 250 book bonus package that included things like a free workshop, consultation session, acknowledgement in the book, and more.
Part 7: Campaign video
This is a short video pitch that goes over what your book is about. It is at the top of your campaign so potential publishers and supporters can learn more about the book.
Once you complete the proposal you send it in to the Publishizer team. Once reviewed, your campaign goes live and people can now pre-order the book.
Your book doesn’t need to be completed or even started for you to put up a proposal. When I put up my book I was about 75% finished with writing the book.
I know you must be thinking then? What’s the catch?
- 30% of your pre-order funds goes to publishizer. Don’t let this scare you because they are very supportive. I worked with a team member every step of the way. They handle the hosting, email collection, tracking etc. I think it is totally worth the 30% fee. And HELLO the fee is only taken out if you sold books so thats a win win for both you and Publishizer.
- Although Publishizer has the platform and those who are familiar with it will come on and pre-order interesting books, you have to tap into your network and audience to get them to spread the word and pre-order your book.
STEP 8: MARKETING YOUR BOOK
For marketing I sent out various email, social media posts, videos, etc to let all my friends, family, followers, colleagues, and my entire network know that “HEY I WROTE A BOOK GO PRE ORDER IT”.
In planned to launch the Publishizer Campaign on December 13th because that was my birthday and I could use my birthday as the first marketing strategy. In the first week of December I started posting on social media that I had a huge announcement to make but I wouldn’t be making it until December 13th. This got the attention of many as they inquired to see if i was pregnant again, moving again, starting another business or making some other kind of huge life decision. I continued to drop hints, launch polls on Facebook and Instagram stories with the goal of getting the attention of my community.
Then on my December 13th I went live and made the announcement. I got a good amount of people who tuned into the live stream because they wanted to know what this “Big surprise” was.
I also sent out newsletters, here’s one of them: https://mailchi.mp/d8aa370dc441/most-ends-lead-to-new-beginnings
The first few days after the initial campaign launch I got a decent amount of purchases but sales died down over December holidays. When the new year arrived I pumped up my marketing efforts since the campaign was coming to an end on Jan 11th. I did a social media countdown to let people know everyday how much time was left to support,
I sent out personalized emails to people in my network. Here is a sample of one email :
Sample email outreach
A friend of mine made the suggestion that I send personalized texts. With texting directly being a tedious act. I thought of ways I could do that same thing but in a more efficient way. I saw that WhatApp had a Broadcast feature where you could send a message to multiple people at once without creating a group text. Since I had around 200 of my contacts, a mixture of family, friends, and colleagues, on WhatsApp I figured this would be a good outlet. I crafted a message and sent out a broadcast. Here is the message:
Good Morning & happy new year!! I am reaching out because I need your help!My book THE ART OF GETTING SH*T DONE is currently on Pre-Order until next week Thursday January 10th. I currently have 26 pre orders. If I get 500 pre-orders by this date then my book will be pitched to over 150 publishers. Each copy is only $20. Can I count on you to make a pre-order at ArtofGSD.com ?
Thank you so much in advance for your support throughout this incredible journey.
In all my marketing/outreach I made sure to include:
- Link to the book campaign
- Price of the order
- When the campaign was ending
This made it super easy so that people could get all the basic info about the book quickly.
In the end I secured a total of 70 pre ordered books!
STEP 9: GETTING THE BOOK ON AMAZON
Formatting for Kindle and Paperback
When getting your book on Amazon you have to get your manuscript formatted to the size of your paperback book and formatted for Amazon Kindle. As I mentioned previously I hired Ose from Fiverr to handle this for me. He has over 1k reviews and maintains a 5 star rating. I reached out to him before ordering. I was able to explain what I needed and he quoted me based on the length and design of my book. Once I paid he returned the formatted book to me in 3 days.
Submitting on KDP
Once I had the now formatted book files, PDF for paperback and Mobi for Kindle. I set up my KDP account. KDP stand for Kindle Direct Publishing, this is a service offered by Amazon. Previously they had a platform called Createspace but that merged with KDP and now everything is done on the KDP website.
It’s super easy to add your book information such as title, genre, categories, prices etc. Then you upload your book cover and manuscript.
Before your book is submitted you get to view and approve an online “proof copy” this just shows you how the book will look once printed and once being read on the Kindle. You can also order a physical proof copy.
I submitted my items Sunday Feb 3rd 2019 and less than 24 hours later on Monday Feb 4th my book was on Amazon.
Normally it can take up to 5 days for your book to get approved. It also can take up to 72 hours for your kindle and paperback copies to be linked. But from my experience the KDP customer service is great, just reach out and they will help you get everything situated. I also ordered some proof copies because I couldn’t wait to experience my book.
THAT’S HOW I DID IT
That was the journey that brought me to this point right here, where I am able to share with you how I wrote, published and sold my book. As of today Feb 11th 2019 I have sold 10 copies of my book via amazon ( 5 paperback, 5 kindle ). I have been featured on 4 podcasts where I have been able to talk about the book and my journey and I know many opportunities are coming my way.
I don’t plan on turning this into a course or becoming anyone’s writing coach. This blog post and maybe a vlog post is what I will contribute.
Reach out to me if you have any questions ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) If I know the answer I will gladly share the information. If I don’t know I’ll forward you to a resource that could possibly help.
I am the execution strategist Getting things done is my expertise… I help dreamers become doers by building customized execution plans of how you can reach your goals based on your current resources and circumstances. Then I work with you to get it done! If that’s you then let’s chat, you can book some time on my calendly.com/georgiebehumble
Getting someone to write my Foreword
My foreword was written by Anthony Frasier. He was a critical part of my NYC tech ecosystem journey and over the years we became good colleagues. I wasn’t sure who I wanted to do my foreword or if I even wanted a foreword. I did some research and decided that having a foreword would be a nice touch on the book. I reached out with a direct email to Anthony letting him know:
- Why I wanted him to write the foreword
- Details about the book
- Deadline for the foreword
He said yes, then I coordinated with him and his team and we got it done!
Setting up a launch party
I love doing events so a launch party isn’t required for a new book. I knew from very early that I was absolutely going to have one. ( Launch party is in NYC of Feb 21st — Artofgsd.eventbrite.com )
I reached out to a co-working space that I had done many events within the past. Pitched them the event details, they felt the event would be a good fit for their community and said yes. I created a landing page and started marketing for the launch party. This event will be used to connect with readers, sell copies of the book, and get more overall exposure for the book.
The book writing journey is over but the book marketing journey has just began. Hopefully a year from now I can write a post called “How to become a best selling Author” until then thank you for reading. I hope this post was helpful and good luck on your book journey!
Originally published at www.gsdwithgeorgie.com.