How to Self-publish a Hard Copy Book.

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We just did a presentation for the Eat Drink, Blog conference, titled YES! You can self-publish a book! Haha that title cracks us up. 

The content is so good that we thought we should publish it to the site as we know there are lots of you interested in self-publishing a book one day soon! YAY! It’s kind of cook book orientated but what ever your book idea is… this will help!

We published Make it Merry earlier this year. So much good has come from it for our business and our amazing Merrymaker community (who we love!).

Our reason to self publish Make It Merry was because our people were asking for it and this excited us and it seemed like a great challenge. We didn’t want to wait for a publisher, we wanted to do it NOW! 

And now that we’ve done it we know there’s a bunch more reasons as to why you should publish a book and what it can do to help your business.

Why should you publish a book and what can it do for your blog / business?

Boost your brand

Publishing a book will boost your brand. It allows you to showcase your brand in one collective spot. Yes, we create our brand with every Instagram, blog post, Facebook share but a book allows you to put it all in one place for your readers to fully or better understand what you’re all about. And to hopefully fall in love with you even more.

A book will create a long lasting impression because it’s tangible. Your reader can hold it, feel it, flick through it, display it.

A book can infiltrate your reader’s home and their life. Imagine every time they sit down to tea and Salted Caramel Slice they spot your book on the coffee table. Those moments will boost your brand.

When you look at our book, it’s merry-pink, full of delicious photos, and super easy to read and create recipes. This is what we’re all about. When we send our book we add sparkles, wrap them in brown paper and add a cute stamp. This is all apart of the customer experience but it’s also building and boosting our brand at the same time.

Another example is when we were gifted a book written by Lisa Messenger 2 years ago. We’d never heard of her but loved her business advice and how she wrote. From there, we followed her on all social media, bought her next book and are keen readers of her magazine The Collective.  A simple book created fans and customers.

Enhance credibility

Have you ever had a conversation like this: “ohhh they have a book now! They must be doing really well and are super amazing”.

It’s the same for when someone is on TV or in the newspaper, credibility levels shoot through the roof. Even though certain websites have more traction than both of these channels. A little bit weird but definitely true!

Being able to title yourself as an author will position you as a leader in your industry, which is always a good thing. You can grab the attention of high profile influencers in your field and have leverage to work with them.

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Media & marketing tool

A hard copy book can be an amazing media and marketing tool for your business. They can replace other boring and wasteful marketing products, like stress balls, rulers, pens that don’t work and t-shirts that are way too tight. A book can be given out at events, to colleagues and to your readers.

A hard copy book is high value and will rarely get chucked in the bin.

Even if the person doesn’t want the book anymore, generally they will give it to someone else. The book lives on!

It allows the person receiving the book to understand what you’re about and what they can expect from you. They receive all your key messages because you’re the one who created it. You can guarantee they’ll at least flick through the pages of your book which could be the beginning of a relationship or strengthen the one already built.

A hard copy book can increase your social proof. We see the Make it Merry pink book pop up in our notification feed on Instagram and recreations of recipes from the book every day. This is amazing because it’s word of mouth marketing for us and we receive instant feedback from our customers. We all know customer feedback is so valuable, especially when you’ve got your next book or next project in mind.

You’ll see some examples of what our merrymaker followers share of our book above, we then re-share some of this content to create an awesome, happy community.

So our amazing Merrymakers create our marketing tools. It’s great for our business, our community and it’s super fun to share and recognise delicious, healthy creations!  

It doesn’t stop at social media though, a book is a great way to get your face into main stream media. And as we said being seen in newspapers, magazines and tv can really help to boost your brand. Once your book is launched you can send out a press release, along with your book to media outlets.

Last week our book was featured in The Canberra Times, we’ve been reviewed on countless blogs and featured in several magazines.


New opportunities

Last but not least self-publishing a book can lead to new opportunities that weren’t there before. You’ll gain a new audience and have more leverage to be included in certain opportunities. For example, giveaways, bundle packages, events (you could even host your own event, a book is a great reason!) and you’ll have something to send to high profile influencers to get their attention and to start conversation.

Another huge reason for publishing your own book is to get seen by big publishing houses. If your book goes really well a publisher may pick it up to re-publish. We’ve heard this story loads of times and in fact, it’s one of the reasons we wanted to publish our own book.

All of these reasons and probably many we didn’t mention make the work, effort and investment of creating a hard copy book most definitely worth it.

Now, how do you self-publish a book?

Step one: validate your book idea.

There’s no point in creating a book that your people don’t want or won’t buy. You need to get feedback from your prospective customers so you can better understand their needs. You can do this through a survey, a simple question on Facebook, email or keep an eye on what you’re people are saying.

For us, we had constant emails and comments asking when a hard copy book was going to be available. We then posted a couple of ‘in the making’ shots of our book and our audience got really excited.

Step two: what is your book about?

If you share recipes then a cookbook is an amazing idea. People love hard copy cookbooks. But if you’re a food reviewer maybe you look at doing a local guide for your city or amazing foodie pics from around the country. Or if you own a restaurant you could share your business journey or kitchen hacks. 

Options are endless and this is where you can get creative. We’d suggest spending a couple hours brainstorming book ideas and the kind of content you want to include. It’s then about refining the content, cutting out what you don’t need and keeping in what you do.

Our book, Make it Merry, is a collection of our favourite recipes that are quick, easy and delish to get you healthy and happy.

Step three: create the content!

Our book is a collection of recipes that had already been published to our blog. Because it was our first book we chose to repurpose blog content. If you’re a blogger we’d recommend that you look at past blog content to see if anything might fit in to your book. Choose to use existing content, choose new content or use both. At this point you’ll also need to arrange an ISBN, this needs to be added to your book.

When we create anything we find that it’s best to plan out your project according to your launch day. Then work out every single thing you need to do in order to create your project. Grab a calendar and start batching your to-do items in to your calendar.

We actually do this for our entire lives. On certain days we cook and photograph recipes, up to 5 at a time. Then we have writing days, editing days, filming days, meeting days (yes, we batch our social outings!). This way you don’t waste time and you know exactly what you need to do in order to get your project finished.

Recently batched Nashville, series 3 in 3 days. Y’all we LOVE Nashville!

Step four: edit and edit again and again and again. 

This isn’t online. You can’t forget the butter and quickly go back and edit the recipe. Once it’s final, it’s final. We’d suggest getting a real life editor to look at your work but if this isn’t viable, find a smart colleague or at least someone who is a grammar fanatic to edit your work.

You can trade swap or cook them dinner (everyone loves dinner). Editing is also important not just for picking up mistakes but to make sure your book flows, and doesn’t have any unnecessary content. Deleting words is a good thing.

Step five: promote the process. 

While you’re writing, creating content and editing be sure to promote this through your social media channels and website/blog.

You could show behind the scenes shots of recipe development, meetings with people who are featured in the book, photo shoots, flat lays of printed pages, content sneak peeks and any thing else you think is going to excite your audience and make them think ‘I can’t WAIT for this book to be launched.’

Promoting the launch day is a great idea because it will keep you accountable and get them counting down the days with you.

Step six: design your book. 

Make sure you find a designer you love. Our designer is amazing and does all of our design work and this makes it easy to manage this relationship. If you don’t have a designer… find one, there’s a lot of them! Look at other people’s work you like and ask them who designed it.

We’d suggest creating a vision board for what you want your book to look like, we do this all the time with secret boards on Pinterest. This will allow your designer to understand what you’re after. The less time it takes to design, the less investment for you.

Once the design is finalised, another edit round (or several) is required to ensure your designer hasn’t accidentally deleted something and that all full stops, commas, etc are in the right places!

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Step seven: print your book!

This was the big unknown for us! We’d completed all previous steps before with our eBooks but printing our own book? Like where do you even start with that?!

Well for us, it started with google, like most new things.

We googled how to print a book, book printers Australia, book printers China, off shore printing and everything else with the word printing after it.

We got a bunch of printing quotes ranging from $13 000 to $30 000, but the best deal came from Canberra, which we thought was kinda cool because we like to support local and we liked the idea that we could go in to the printer feel the paper (everyone likes feeling paper don’t they?!), see the book and pick up proofs.

Well you would think anyway. We ended up getting some pretty bad advice from our printer and this meant we weren’t 100% happy with our final product.

Also there was a mistake in the one of the books that we oddly gifted to our Mum… so she found it! Yeah… cray – zy.

The mistake was that there were double ups of a couple recipes but the recipe and picture image didn’t match up… so now when Mum makes our paleo mango raspberry cake… she thinks it should look like banana bread. That ain’t right!

If anyone else has found a mistake… let us know! EEEEK we were so upset when we found out there was a mistake. 🙁

If anyone is genuinely wanting to print a book, email us and we’ll tell you who NOT to print your book with.

The process for printing is that you give them the design, you choose the paper quality, they create a proof (make sure the proof is using the exact paper you asked for… ours wasn’t), you approve the proof and then you go to print! Printing process can take anywhere between 7 days and 6 months if you’re thinking offshore.

If you’re going down the eBook road you can publish a simple PDF using an ecommerce system like Shopify, Woo commerce or Ejunkie there’s also Amazon. Which we don’t understand at all! 

Step eight: launch your book! And sell your book! 

We use a landing page for our book, it covers exactly what’s in it, the benefits you’ll receive from reading and following our recipes, as well as testimonials from key influencers and customers. There’s a lot of science to a successful converting sales page which you should google. But we know that a landing page has definitely improved our sales and gives the buyer confidence in our product.

Our book page was designed/developed and it cost us $1500 and this was a heavy discount as it was mates rates. This was great because we have no idea how to design or develop. 

But now we use OptimisePress which is a wordpress paid plugin. It makes building landing pages ridiculously easy. For example here’s a landing page we created with OptimisePress this one cost us nothing because we were gifted with the OptimisePress program #winning however it did take us a good week to work it out but now we can create landing pages whenever we want. 

Our launch strategy included a pre-sale for 2 weeks where buyers also went in the draw to win one of 40 amazing prizes. We sold 600 books in the first 2 weeks which was amazing.

We sent 4 book emails within those 2 weeks to our newsletter list, plastered social media and published blog posts about the giveaway.

The brands that were on board for our giveaway shared it with their communities and we had some affiliates who also shared the launch.

When you buy our book you receive a free downloadable meal planner and desktop, this is a nice little extra gift for buyers. 

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Step nine: fulfilment. 

We hate that word unless it has an ‘e’ in front of it. We thought it was a good idea to glitter bomb, wrap and pack and send all our own books for that extra special Merrymaker touch.

1 book yes, 2 books yep, 20 books, maybe… but glittering, wrapping, packing and sending 600 books in one weekend is not our idea of fun.

Since then we’ve discovered e-fulfilment. And no, we don’t use it but you should and we will for our next book and any other physical products.

One very important thing to consider is the weight of your book, in all cases try and make it under 500g as Australian postage will cost $3, anything over 500g is $12.

Guess how much ours weighed!?

513g. *sad face*

We also wanted to offer free postage (we hate paying postage) and that’s because the printer told us it would be under 500g, so $3 per book didn’t seem like that much to us. However, when it was $12 a book this kinda sucked a little bit! You can probably understand why we now charge for postage. 

Thanks to Mum and Dad for helping us wrap all those books! You are the best!

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Step ten: don’t forget about your book. 

When we used to launch our old eBooks it would be like hooray we’re done… next project… forget that project that we spent 6 months on.

Why aren’t they selling?!

Hmm maybe because no one knows about them! Once you’ve finished your initial launch, review your optin series, that’s the first lot of automatic emails any new subscriber receives.

Also, work out your social strategy. At the moment we share about 1 post per day promoting our book or program. This is where readers sharing creations and pictures of your book can come in handy. 

So let’s do a quick recap of those 10 steps to self-publish a book….

Validate your idea.
What’s  your book about?
Edit! Edit! Edit!
Promote the process.
Design your book.
Print your book.
Launch your book! And sell your book
AND don’t forget about your book!

This project was probably the hardest thing we’ve ever done with our business. There were tears, hysterical laughter and the best bit… lots of lessons learnt. 

The best part is that hopefully, our lessons learnt will help YOU too.

Self-publishing a book is doable. You can all achieve this. A book can boost your brand, increase your income, enhance your credibility, become your best ever media and marketing tool and create new opportunities.

Above all the most important thing to remember is to enjoy every possible moment of your business journey…. coz it’s your life journey! Hooray!

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla 

ps. check out our book here!

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