Book DescriptionIntroductionChapter 1Chapter 2Review

youcanwriteabookfrontcoverfnl150A complete guide to every step of writing and publishing a nonfiction book, especially for business owners and professionals who want to leverage being a published author to gain instant credibility and enhance their marketing strategy.

The authors are published authors and professionals who speak directly to the non-professional writer who wants to accomplish writing a high-quality book in a short time frame in the most affordable way possible.

The book goes on to show exactly how to pre-market your book so you can take advantage of the benefits of being a published author even before the book is released. Positioning your book in the marketplace and promoting your book on social media are steps which Bingham and Orenstein help with so your efforts are efficient and effective.

Order You Should Write A Book directly from:

Youcanwriteabook logo

Barbara Bingham and Jeffrey R. Orenstein, PhD 

You Can Write A Book:

How to Write What You Know and
Self-Publish Your Way to Success

© Suncoast Digital Press, 2014

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-939237-13-2



This Book Is For You If…

Welcome to the world of nonfiction book (and especially eBook) writing. By picking up this book, you have already demonstrated an interest in riding the crest of the first great marketing wave of the 21st century, the self-publishing revolution. If you are a professional, entrepreneur, author – or anyone who wants to control his or her own destiny – you will find this book’s steps, process details, and encouraging style to be immediately useful, practical and valuable. This book is for the goal-minded person ready to act and accomplish writing and publishing a book, so the content is high-value how-to information, not just interesting ideas about writing and self-publishing; you have here material to use, not just read. Perhaps best of all, you will find that there is no actual mystery in the process of book writing despite the mystique that surrounds published authors.

You are invited to watch this two-minute video introduction by one of our authors, Barbara Bingham. (In the eBook version of this book, this is one of the dynamic elements. In this print version, we have embedded this QR code for your convenience.) If you don’t want to view this using a smartphone free App, the next time you go to YouTube, look up the Suncoast Digital Press channel where you will find this clip and several short videos which are directly related to this book.

Even if you’ve never written any book before, this book will guide, teach, coach and empower you to write and publish your book. It is intended for those who are willing to invest in themselves, see their book project all the way through, and follow our steps for putting it to work tirelessly for you 24/7 to build your personal brand, create a passive income stream, and/or leave a legacy.

Professionals who have used our steps and processes report that, as published authors, they have more professional self-confidence and the enhanced credibility they garner helps to build trusting relationships with their clients and prospective clients. The new selling is now connecting. Writing a book will help you connect, perhaps better than any other strategy, with your target market. As you follow our guidance, you will not just write any book in order to create an information product and become an “infopreneur” – you will learn how to utilize state-of-the art technology to deliver an impressive and valuable package of your best ideas, and become a recognized authority in your field.

Who has the time or budget these days for expensive display or broadcast advertising, awkward elevator speeches, or short-lived tri-fold brochures? With your own published book, you will have a highly effective tool to attract the kind of attention you want from the media, the marketplace and your peers. You will have a tangible and magnetic product to use in attracting people in your chosen target audience to your web site, to your speaking engagements and to your business.

In addition to leveraging your book to help your business, if you so choose (and you do retain all the decision-making power when you bypass the outdated methods of traditional publishing houses) you will learn how to make your own Agreements with Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other top on-line booksellers. The Internet allows you to easily promote and sell your book in order to provide you with a passive income stream and get your message out to the world, and you’ll find out how to do that right here in this book.

Why This Self-Publishing Book Is Different

You could stock an incredible bookstore just from the books written by some of the authors who have chosen to self-publish their books. You probably recognize a few of these famous self-publishers: Margaret Atwood, William Blake, Ken Blanchard, Robert Bly, Lord Byron, Willa Cather, Pat Conroy, Alexander Dumas, T.S. Eliot, Benjamin Franklin, Zane Grey, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Rudyard Kipling, Louis L’Amour, D.H. Lawrence, Rod McKuen, John Muir, Anais Nin, Thomas Paine, Tom Peters, Edgar Allen Poe, Alexander Pope, Beatrix Potter, Ezra Pound, Marcel Proust, Carl Sandburg, Robert Service, George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, Gertrude Stein, William Strunk, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoi, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman and Virginia Woolf.

There are many other amazing authors who have chosen to self-publish at some time in their careers. You would do well to be among this honored group.

Ben Franklin, using the pen name of Richard Saunders, self-published his Poor Richard’s Almanack in 1732 and continued to produce the almanac for another 26 years. Many of his famous sayings came from theAlmanack. Because of the success of his writing and publishing business, Franklin was able to retire at the age of 42 and focus on becoming one of the world’s greatest scientists and inventors, culminating his life as a statesman and one of the key founders of the United States of America as a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

While a lot has changed in the writing and publishing world since Ben Franklin’s time, this is not simply a book of updated theory – it’s a practical handbook of state-of-the-art specifics. We’ve used ourselves and our own books as guinea pigs, refining our craft and sharpening our expertise. We are able to let you know what works and what doesn’t. It is not only our synthesized story, but the story of many of our clients and professionals just like you. It is the distillation of many decades of collective experience in the fields of writing, publishing, business coaching, teaching and marketing.

As the Pew Research Center study published in a landmark April 2012 report, “The rise of eBooks in American Culture is part of a larger story about a shift from printed to digital material.” As part of this wave, more and more professionals, entrepreneurs, executives, professional speakers, coaches, consultants and others who communicate their expertise as an integral part of their business are realizing that the discipline needed for writing, publishing and marketing a book is a great way to organize their own thoughts on a subject. It is also a superb vehicle for demonstrating their expertise and authority in their chosen field, and for becoming a go-to expert for present and future clients.

What Pew reported as “The rise of eBooks in American culture” has put successful self-publishing within the reach of far more people than ever before and simultaneously made it both practical and respectable. The publishing and book marketing paradigms have shifted and they are not going to shift back. There has never been a better time to be an author. It has never been easier to reach those who can benefit from your ideas.

When best-selling authors are cutting out the “middlemen” (large traditional publishing houses or seldom-reliable book agents) and going directly to their readers via independent publishing, it is safe to say that the day has passed when self-publishing was equated with the infamy of paying a “subsidy publisher” or “vanity press.” Today, self-publishing has come of age. One reason why more than 75% of the books published in the US today are self-published is that the author gets to keep significantly more money from each book sold. Besides skipping the huge percentage traditional publishers keep, an independent author has the right to sell his/her book for any price, and in fact can sell it through their own web site or channels which allow them to keep 100% of the revenue.

Self-publishing is an exciting alternative to the millions of rejection slips unpublished authors collect each year. Repeated rejection can ruin the hopes and dreams of even highly qualified authors. For the person who wants to write a quality book with the help of a professional editor, choose their own publishing package and marketing plan, and complete their project in less than half the time of those outdated publishing houses, we have great news! There is finally a readily available and affordable opportunity and this book will show you exactly how to capitalize on it. 

How To Leverage New Technology: Authority Marketing

Through the past several thousand years, the book has become the ultimate symbol of authority. You have a book inside you. You know how to do something better than anyone else in the world. If you doubt that, just remember that there is no one better at being you, and you are uniquely experienced and uniquely qualified to share your experience-based knowledge, lessons, perspectives and wisdom.

If you are a professional in private practice or an entrepreneur, you feel you have a product or an idea or a vision that stands out among your competitors. How do you let the world know about your unique qualifications? A business card won’t cut it. Even if people don’t throw it away, it does not do justice to your specialness, your distinct brand which should stand out in a crowd.  And everyone’s got a website with an “About” button.

What works today, superbly, is to put your ideas in a book. Consider this example: You’re a brand new home health care company. Your research tells you there are a significant number of people out there in the position of needing to learn about and hire a home health care provider. Often that person is caught unprepared and suddenly needs answers and guidance.  You have the expert answers they are desperate to know. You have high-value information. Write it down. People will seek you out before contacting others who many offer practically the same service or product, but lack your status as the person “who wrote the book” on the subject.

If The Message Is Important, The Medium Is Important

In this book you will learn how to present what you know – the latest thinking, proven principles and examples from your own real-life experiences – in a clear, interesting and accessible fashion. Don’t make the mistake of imagining that your knowledge of the topic of interest to your niche market is already dispersed and widely available. You are the owner of substantial intellectual property which could be organized into a unique book and viewed as a valuable asset by others who want or need a fast way to know what you have learned.

But you may be thinking, “Am I really an authority? Sure, I can do the self-promotion and social marketing to position myself as a guru, but am I just using technology to fool people?”

We can help you to resolve this issue. When you present yourself as a professional with something valuable to say, and your medium is a high-quality, well-written book, you have the opportunity to connect in a profound way. This book is written to help you choose the ideal topic, start and finish a book, and have it published. Your book will become not only a reputation-builder but also a tangible information product you can sell via the Internet and social media to a large target audience, or give away as one of the Attraction Marketing strategies you will learn later in the chapter on marketing.

While there are many actions you can take to help establish yourself as an expert, writing one or more books is considered a necessary step toward attaining “authority” status. In an article in CIO magazine about the top ten gurus in Information Technology, every one of the IT professionals had written at least one book.  Remember, historically and today, a book symbolizes authority. It is a fact that one press release announcing your book can impart “instant credibility” in the view of media contacts, professional peers and your target readers.

Authoring a book also gives experts and entrepreneurs fresh visibility and credibility – a reason to be news.  Book authors have “most-favored” status with media producers, meeting planners, and keynote speaker booking agents. Whether it’s through a press release to the media, an update on your social media profile, an announcement in your company newsletter or blog, or an email to friends and family, you will have some exciting news to share! And having a book gives you an unequaled promotional piece – brochures are tossed while books are saved and often shared. (Digital libraries are growing rapidly as eBooks are even more easily saved, stored, and shared than printed books.) The only potential downside to becoming a published author is that, indeed, you will become more well-known. Therefore, paying close attention to developing a well-written, professionally-edited book, as we will show you exactly how to do, is critical.

You want to enhance your credibility, not destroy it with a thrown-together, amateurish attempt – there are enough of those on Amazon already! By following this book and investing a little more effort than most other people, you will end up with a book you are proud of and which has strong appeal to others. You will be more known, and more respected than ever before.

How To Tune In To Your Own Inner Author

This book is essential for business owners, attorneys, doctors, ministers, educators, speakers, professional coaches, therapists, thought leaders – anyone who wants to share their expertise and capitalize on their experience by attracting new clients, or new personal or business community members in the process.

Others who find this book useful are retirees who want to share their life experience and wisdom as a way to both be actively engaged in a rewarding project and also build their legacy. In thirteen chapters, we walk you through everything you may need to employ to start, finish, and publish your book. We assume you have a good command of English, can dedicate time to focus on your book, and are in touch with personal goals for your book which genuinely excite you. For many people, the compelling reason for writing a book has nothing to do with book royalties…they have simply gotten to the point where it is harder to keep their message inside than to share it with others.  It is true that for nearly every author, the personal satisfaction achieved by writing, completing and publishing a book dwarfs all the business and financial rewards.

The hard part, as in swimming, is to take the plunge. The water looks so cold! Can it be warmed up? Yes, we’ve taken care of that and you can now accept the invitation to jump in. Not only are you going to get off to a good start, you will be able to use this book as your guide at each step of the way.

After just one chapter, Chapter I: Your Inner Author: Your Connection to the World, you will wonder why you waited so long to write your book. You will start to see exactly what you already have at hand, and what you need to gather to get started.

In Chapter II: Defining Your Aim, Target and Hit Topic, you will begin to have a perfectly sharp image of your target reader. People may write a book for any number of good personal reasons – fame, income, therapy, recollection and/or validation of their lives. But what they produce will have a validity of its own to the extent that it’s useful to somebody else. You will learn that books that are too general (a book on fishing, for example) may be interesting to read but will not help anyone to learn how to (actually) do something, such as catching a spottail bass.  To discuss one’s enjoyment of fishing may feed another’s imagination for the moment, but to clearly write about the intricacies of fishing, the best equipment, locations and techniques (of course with many fishing tales included)  allows the reader to feed his appetite for both sport and sustenance.

The crucial thing to remember, as you jump in, is that it’s true that any number of books have already been written on a given topic – but not your book. You are going to personally select the aspect of the broad topic which you know well and want to write about, and you are going to share your unique take on that aspect. There are two essential elements of a nonfiction book: subject and theme. The subject is what your book is about: the issue, event or person it deals with. The theme is what you want to say about the subject – what you bring to the subject from your experience, perspective or new ideas on the topic.

As in the example of writing a book about fishing, if you’re an experienced angler you have plenty of original material and you own the intellectual property rights to all of it.  Your knowledge and perspective and unique problem-solving experiences while, say, fishing for spottail bass in Florida, are book-worthy. But where do you start?

Think back to a time when you did not know what you now know about your subject. How did you get to here from there? What steps did you take, what mistakes did you make, and what lessons did you learn? What chance events helped you, or was it a mentor? Of all the many things you’ve learned since the time when you were clueless but curious, which are most important?  You can’t tell your reader everything you’ve done, but what are the absolute gems they almost certainly don’t know but could really benefit from knowing?

There Is No Reason To Hold Back

Writing is not always easy. But it is both satisfying and practical. As John Grisham wrote, “Writing’s still the most difficult job I’ve ever had – but it’s worth it.”

Don’t have time to write it? You can dictate it or have a ghostwriter do it for you. And you don’t need 75,000 words, you can do it in 20,000 words. If you want to write less and still tell more, add some photos and dynamic elements such as video or audio. Are you unsure if your writing is polished enough for the public? Your editor will make you look good. Any other nagging concerns stopping you from starting?  Make this book your constant companion and we’ll walk with you through the whole journey. You know what to tell yourself: “Just do it!”  Or as another inspiring quotation tells us, “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

What To Do With Your Book Or Ebook Once It Is Done

Publishing a book and/or eBook and marketing it to your chosen reader so it does not languish in digital anonymity are not easy, which is good for you because not just anyone can make it happen. Fortunately, good writing, the steps of independent publishing, and book marketing can be learned. This book provides practical techniques and tips to learn the craft of book writing, to understand the evolving world of self-publishing and marketing, and to empower you to put what you learn to work for both personal satisfaction and professional advancement. Chapter XI: Marketing: The Book/eBook Success Secret is power-packed with everything useful about today’s marketing strategies – hundreds of specific tips and tools it would take years for an individual to assemble. 

How To Use This Book

As a tool designed to teach nonfiction, business-oriented writing and self-publishing, this book is organized into self-paced chapters. Such a format constitutes a practical way to learn the craft of nonfiction writing and independent publishing and fit the project work into your busy life.

The body of each chapter is written to explain, to answer questions, and to make some recommendations about techniques that work. We have stayed away from jargon and stuck to the workable, proven and practical. At the end of each chapter, you will find a summary of key points and key distinctions.

Because we know that people have different learning styles, levels of interest, and spare time, we have put a lot of emphasis on self-paced learning. As the renowned 18th century philosopher and prolific author Jean Jacques Rousseau observed, “However great a man’s natural talent may be, the act of writing cannot be learned all at once.”

If you are like many very busy and successful professionals, you know that you should have a book for professional advancement, but also know that you have very little time to write it. This book will still come in handy for you because it provides you with a comprehensive tool for everything involved in writing, publishing and marketing a book or eBook, all in one place. For the person who would rather not invest the total time themselves, this book provides the necessary background to understand the process when you retain somebody to write your book for you, and to manage the project to a successful conclusion.

It is time to begin your journey to becoming a published author. Your whole life has prepared you for it. Let’s get started.

chapter one

Your Inner Author

Your Connection to the World

Awaken The Author Within You

For how many years have you had thoughts to write and publish a book? Do you have compelling, personal goals in mind which you can achieve by becoming a published author? Do you want the fame and increased business that comes from being published and becoming an in-demand authority in your field?

Yes, there is very probably an author residing within you. If so, you are in good company. A widely quoted survey by the Jenkins Group, Inc., a Michigan publishing services firm, found that 81 percent of Americans feel they should write a book.

Quite a few Americans have actually realized their publishing dream. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2011 reported that there were 288,355 new titles and editions published in the USA.

A recent survey we conducted showed that most people believe that everyone has a book in them. Is your book ready to come out? You are the sum of your experiences, relationships and education. You may need to simply shift your thinking from wondering if you are capable of being “an author” or if you could dare call yourself “a writer” to simply asking yourself “What would I like to say, and to whom?”  Some of you already have written articles, blogs, journals, speeches or training material, or you have good ideas and dreams of writing and would love to see yourself one day proudly holding a published book with your name on the cover.

If you are reading this, the chances are good that you are one of the vast majority of Americans who has the true author’s passion but is not yet published. Perhaps you have had others tell you that “you should write a book!” And you’ve told yourself that, yet put it off. This book is going to help you change that – you absolutely can write, finish and publish your book. Also, if you are a professional or entrepreneur, you are always on the lookout for a great new marketing tool. A self-published book or eBook accomplishes both goals, and can be completed in less time than you may imagine

You will notice this book thoroughly covers more about eBooks than most self-publishing books. Why the focus on eBooks vs. traditionally printed books? Although publishing your book as an eBook avoids the major cost of production, printing, inventory and distribution, it is by no means the only reason to create a digital (electronic) version even if you want or need some quantity of traditionally printed and bound books. The fact is, more and more people are choosing to read books on screens instead of paper. Recent statistics show:

  • EBook sales have jumped from 323 million in 2008 to 9 billion in 2013.
  • E-reader sales in 2013 are expected to top 14 million.
  • Barnes & Noble will generate 1 billion dollars in revenue in 2013 from digital books.

EBooks have surpassed printed books and audio book sales on Amazon, the largest bookseller on the Internet. E-Readers like Kindle and Nook are selling by the millions. The Amazon eBook store has, to date, four authors who have each sold more than one million eBooks.

There Are Recognized Experts In Every Field…Why Not You?

Becoming an author has always been a way to make a statement about yourself, your knowledge, and your confidence in your own ideas. It’s up to you to position yourself as an expert, or as someone with something worthwhile to say.  Publishing a book is the fast track to arriving at authority status and can open many doors of opportunity. Your book will:

  • Build relationships and connect you with your tribe (target audience.)
  • Be the foundation product to build into multiple profit-building products.
  • Consistently bring in more and higher-paying speaking and consulting opportunities.
  • Win the attention of publishers and distributors or book reviewers.

For example, a licensed marriage and family counselor reports that she is convinced that being able to say she is a “published author” has helped her professional reputation more than if she had gone back to school for a Ph.D. Her book provided the extra credibility she sought to advance her business. A corporate event planner shared that when she is booking a keynote speaker, she expects the speaker to have a book they have authored to offer at the back of the meeting room. If she were evaluating two possible speakers to hire, the one with the book would win out. They have more credibility, she explains.

Is The Very Definition Of “Reading” Changing?

Notice how the above list sounds more like a marketing strategy than an exercise in writing? Your book and/or eBook will replace obsolete advertising and promotional efforts and will give you a powerful advantage to reach your market. Now more than ever you must engage your prospective and existing clients by standing out, giving value, and developing relationships. People want to feel related, interacted with, connected. People “follow” people they are interested in via social media such as “twitter.” One-way communication has given way to two-way communication. For example, instead of simply listening to a news commentator on television, or a musical artist’s song on the radio, a person can go to a Facebook page, or send them an email, or tweet with them on Twitter – all of which create a sense of interaction and relationship, whether  it is real or only perceived.

People, many of them business people, start a conversation with strangers via a blog post and receive comments and carry on conversations across the globe. “Reading” someone’s blog can mean you actually converse back and forth through your keyboard, or it could mean you watch their YouTube video posts and have a virtual experience of them or what they are teaching. Seth Godin, best-selling author and marketing genius, talks about this sea change of how people now sort themselves into groups who share an attraction for a particular message, largely through the advent of social media. In his book Tribes, Godin urges entrepreneurs to become leaders of a tribe (also called a niche market, target market or target audience.)

Who Has Time To Build Relationships When The Business Is Bustling Or Burning?

Are you satisfied with how much time you spend each week working on your business as compared to in your business? Most business owners are too challenged to step out of the daily demands and focus on strategic planning and marketing, even when they know they are responsible for that role. With their time at a premium, a professional in private practice or an entrepreneur must utilize the most effective (and affordable) tools available.

Now is the opportune time to create a state-of-the-art marketing tool: a book, and ideally, an enhanced, dynamic eBook which will work tirelessly for you 24/7 once you set it in motion via the Internet. Enhanced eBooks which include embedded multimedia components such as video and audio are what are called “dynamic” eBooks.

The eBook revolution has created a practical and effective publishing medium that is well-suited to modern authors in general, and especially to business authors because it excels at presenting information in ways today’s market demands. When you succeed in genuinely engaging your target reader (a task made easier with dynamic elements) it follows that your reader will feel more connected with you, and your relationship can build from there.

Have EBooks Made Printed Books Completely Obsolete?

Many potential authors (and quite a few experienced and well-published authors) are confused about how to define an eBook. Is it a certain size? Do you have to own a Kindle or a Nook to read one? Do you download it onto your computer and then print it out with your printer? Is it just like a book or manuscript but it’s read on an electronic device?

First, a book is still a book, even in the digital age. The final form a book takes can be ink on printed pages bound into what we traditionally call a book, but today books can also be in the form of a computer-generated file that is readable on a desktop or laptop computer, tablet, e-reader or even a smart phone – or all of them. That is what we know as an “eBook.” (The “e” simply stands for electronic, like the “e” in email.)

The eBook revolution has made self-publishing (with and without professional assistance) so popular and accepted that even famous best-selling authors who previously went with big New York publishing houses are abandoning their former publishers. They enjoy the freedom and cost-savings, plus have much more control over their work. Authors as renowned as J.K. Rowling and Stephen King are traveling the self-publishing road and building relationships directly with their readers. More and more famous and not-yet-famous authors are leaving the expense and quick obsolescence of traditional bound and printed books behind and helping to invent the future of publishing. EBooks have already changed the publishing world forever.

Do we recommend an author publish printed, bound books? Yes. In conjunction with publishing your eBook you can have any number of printed copies, and thanks to new Print-On-Demand (POD) technology, you no longer have to order and inventory hundreds or thousands of books to have each printed book be very affordable. These soft-cover, printed books are useful for many promotional purposes including to sell at seminars or trade shows where you meet your readers in person and they can walk away with your (autographed) book. Even if the original plan is to write an eBook, once the manuscript is complete most people think it makes sense to have both versions and in some cases an audio version.

Ben, a professional speaker, always has a stack of his printed book in the back of the room for his audience to purchase after his presentation. He believes the crowd is warmed up and eager to purchase his book then, but may not be as motivated later if he only had an eBook version and they had to go later to his web site or the Amazon Kindle store to download it electronically. It’s a little more trouble for him to carry and sell physical books, but he charges a premium. One reason he says he can do this is that his sales pitch is that you aren’t just buying one book – you get two for the price of one, plus a bonus! This is accomplished by printing inside the physical book the download instructions and special code which allows purchasers of the print book to get the eBook at no additional charge.

Once at Ben’s web site, in order to obtain the eBook version, the customer enters their contact information and then Ben can stay in touch with those customers in the future. Prior to this strategy, Ben usually had no way of knowing who attended his speech or who bought his book in the back of the room. Ben has two other books and, not surprisingly, the customers who come to the web site to get their free eBook see the video trailers for Ben’s other books and often decide to purchase those as well. Again, Ben offers both print and electronic versions of all his books because he has discovered that, at least in his target market, the two versions sell equally well.

At this time we would agree that most authors should consider offering both versions, and in a later chapter, we will show you a simple way to accomplish that. It is called Print-On-Demand and uses slightly modified files similar to the ones which you need for producing an eBook.  Only a few years ago an author who was not being published by a big publishing house would have to order hundreds or thousands of books from a “vanity press.”

It is not an overnight process but if you follow the right route to publishing success, you will arrive at the wonderful day that your book is published sooner than you ever imagined. We know that writing a high-quality book is a big task, but we’re here to give you the guidance and technology that you need to start and finish your book and join the elite club of successful professional and business authors.

This self-paced book is the only handbook you need to actually get those great book ideas out of your head and down on paper (or its electronic equivalent) and then to get your book published and in front of those who can benefit from your ideas. It’s easy to give readers the choice of printed or electronic versions, but remember that first you have to write the book!

“But I’m A Lawyer, Not A Writer.”

As writers and editors who have dealt with many business and professional writers, we know there is an author in almost every professional or entrepreneur, even those who have convinced themselves that writing is something to be feared rather than embraced. Together, we can not only help you find your voice as an author, we can work with you to make your message clear and your book a success.

If you have written articles for industry publications or to offer on your web site, you have a good start to either creating a book which includes your previous writing, or developing a book one chapter at a time just as if you were writing a series of articles. You are about to learn how to start, outline, finish, title, publish and market your book. Following our steps, you can do it all yourself, or you can learn how to choose the right editors and publishing partners when you need help or want to accelerate the completion of your book project.

We are strong advocates of the eBook revolution and encourage and teach authors how to capitalize on the many benefits of digital publishing. More than just an electronic version of a book,  we think that to catch the wave of successful publishing you should produce a book which, at least to some degree, is state-of-the-art and enhanced with elements which today’s technology allows. More and more, eBook readers are expecting a multimedia experience, not just words on a page. This book will help you understand which elements are best suited for your particular book and show you how to incorporate them. To produce a great eBook you have to master the several non-compatible major iterations of dynamic digital technology or delegate this to those with experience.

Note that while embedding dynamic (multimedia) elements does not add much cost to the eBook formatting process, author royalty revenues may be reduced if booksellers such as Amazon charge a fee to the author (not the customer) each time the dynamic eBook is downloaded. This is because that download uses the bookseller’s bandwidth, which means the more multimedia content in the book, the higher the charges that may be incurred. A simple way to avoid this is to upload your video, for example, to YouTube or Vimeo and/or to your own web site and put a hyperlink in your eBook. (The downside to this is that the reader has to be connected to the Internet for the link to work.) Take advantage of the fact this eBook is enhanced with several video links and click on them, as you were invited to do at the beginning of our Introduction. 

Key Distinctions For This Chapter

Connecting vs. Prospecting    Advertising your products and services to get in front of your target prospects is no longer enough for successful marketing. You must also motivate people to join you in communications which will build connection and trust. An excellent and proven enticement is a targeted, content-rich book or eBook, and the best vehicle to get your message out there is the Internet and social media duo.

EBook Publishing vs. Traditional Print Publishing    An electronic version of a book (an eBook) is created, published and transmitted via digital processors (computers, etc.) One main differentiating advantage this provides is that distribution is significantly faster and cheaper. Rather than wait for a publisher to print and ship books, you can have a self-published eBook up for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other online bookstores the same day you finish proofing and formatting your manuscript. Also, an interested reader does not have to make a trip to the book store or wait for an ordered book to be shipped to them — they can download an eBook and be reading it within minutes of their decision. Be that as it may, printed books are still widely popular and should not be ignored as a second version to offer the readers who prefer that format.

Authority/Guru/Tribe Leader vs. Writer/Author    As a professional or entrepreneur, becoming a published author positions you as a recognized authority. Your expertise in your field is what’s important in order to write a book, not your previous experience as a writer or published author. Your knowledge, published in an engaging way, builds connection with your target audience, your tribe. The reader values how your book makes a difference for them personally more than if it simply shows literary prowess. 


By following this book, you can write, edit and publish a book and you can leverage it to significantly help you professionally. Your book, printed or electronic, serves many purposes but the main focus of this book is to teach you how to use it as part of a modern marketing plan. While we are not abandoning the traditionally printed book, but because of the convenience and new technology that can add video, audio and other enhanced elements to your manuscript, state-of-the-art eBooks have several significant advantages.

  • They can “sing and dance.” In other words, because they are digital files, they can incorporate hyperlinks, audio, video, interactive quizzes,rich illustrations, slide shows and other similar multimedia features when the subject matter and the context within the book call for it. Once that is accomplished, you can have these dynamic elements appear on a variety of digital-capable devices like computers, e-readers or smart phones. This makes them superb media for communicating and illustrating ideas.
  • As evidenced by the explosion in sales of Kindles, Nooks and other eBook reading devices, the eBook has become the most popular and convenient choice for millions of readers. People read eBooks on desktop computers, laptops, e-readers, tablets and even smart phones. EBooks fit the modern technology most of us have and depend upon.
  • Because an eBook does not have to be specially prepared and formatted for a printing press, the actual book production process takes hours instead of weeks or even months.
  • Distribution is dramatically easier and far less expensive compared to printed books because eBooks are sent via electronic files to the reader. There is no need for printing, binding, warehousing, packing and shipping, fighting for precious book store shelf space or accommodating publisher returns of unsold books.
  • You can put eBooks on your website, build them into any social media page, tweet about them, write about them in your blog, and use the infinite resources of the Internet to build relationships with your target niche and market your book to them.
  • If you want a few printed and bound copies, the same files that are used to produce an eBook can be easily modified and uploaded to a “print on demand” (POD) service and a few copies can be printed as needed in a cost-effective way. No more do authors have to buy hundreds or even thousands of books to get published by a “vanity press.”

Defining Your Aim, Targeting and Hitting Your Topic

From Here to There: Which Road Connects You With Your Readers?

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness….Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”  — W.H. Murray

(Journal excerpt during his expedition over the Himalayas)

Because you have already arrived right here, you are actually in a good place and quite far along your road to becoming a published author. Like the clichéd ham and eggs distinction, you are no longer like the chicken who is only “involved” – you are more like the pig who is truly “committed.” Okay, you’re not really like the pig in a literal sense. However, you are indeed committed and moving toward your goal. If you keep it up, you will reach your goal of writing and publishing a book sooner than you realize.

Like most worthwhile things in life, writing and publishing a book is a journey. Your path along this journey will be much easier and faster with the help of this book. Just as you have come to rely on the GPS when you drive, think of this book as your GPS to direct and position you for success with your book.

At this juncture along your road to publishing, you either have a very good idea about your book topic, or you haven’t quite gotten that far yet. Either way, you are making significant progress and the thrill of having a clear topic and title is just around the bend. In this chapter we will help you explore several avenues to end up with a book concept, or with more clarity about the one you have been considering. Once that milestone is passed and you clarify your book topic, type, and format, you will be able to accelerate toward your goal quickly. 

Why Write A Book?

An importantconsideration to clarify and integrate into your thought process is your goal as an author. What do you want to write about, and why?

The best way to find your answer is to start with an honest and thorough self-inventory of your own training, experience, writing ability, time to devote to your project, and the other things that qualify you as an author on a given topic. One easy way to do this is to access the “Author Self-Assessment” tool we have created and put on our web site. If you spend a few minutes thinking about the answers as you complete the form, you will gain some knowledge and perspective about your readiness to write a book, and have a better idea about the gaps which you need to focus on filling to become fully prepared.

Many times clients will tell us they are clear on their book idea and have plenty of information to fill it, however they don’t have the time to actually write their book. Or they simply would rather spend their time doing what they already do best, not going through the learning curve of becoming an author. Because of this, “ghostwriting” services are popular for help with some or all of the outlining, writing and formatting required to produce a professional-looking, quality book. A ghostwriter is someone who writes the book but credits you as author – it’s done all the time and is an option for busy professionals and entrepreneurs who can’t find time to write but still want a book because of all the advantages it provides. If you are considering retaining one, our advice is to make certain that the ghostwriter you retain understands your goals and how your profession and experience need to be translated into a book that will accomplish your goals. Also, make sure that your ghostwriter has writing experience in your genre, probably a business book. A great novel writer is not also likely to be a great self-help or business writer.

Whether you write all, some, or none of it yourself, you and your ideas are the source of your book. Unless you strictly want a ghostwriter to take the time to interview you at length and write your book in a way that is congruent with your goals, you must be self-motivated (and even excited!) throughout the writing process to write a really good book. You need enough motivation and enthusiasm to envision and design your book project, work on it regularly, and see it all the way through. Merely wishing you had a collection of life stories recorded is not enough motivation to get your book written and published. Having an idea for an eBook to sell on Amazon for a great passive income stream is not enough motivation either. Even picturing an ultra-professional-looking book next to your headshot to boost your reputation in your field is not enough motivation.

So what constitutes sufficient motivation? A good way to answer is to imagine when your book completed, published and in hand, what, in that picture, are you most eager to do with your book? Who are you most excited to share it with? What is your intended result? There are many valid reasons to write a book and each one requires you to tailor what you write to your purpose.

For example, are you writing an eBook to impress present and future clients? If so, you should demonstrate your professional expertise and experience and offer a lot of practical real-world examples and experience. Are you writing your book as a professional or entrepreneur who wants to be considered a credible authority on a topic? If so, you will probably want to quote several other recognizable experts who agree with your positions and include a foreword or afterword from one of these experts who gives you some professional weight by implication. If you can picture the reader you are writing for and are excited about accomplishing specific goals, chances are pretty good that you have found your motivation, or what is often called your muse. Find yours and listen to it.

Two approaches to consider when you decide to write a book:

  • Author’s strategy – your desire is to write, get published, and make money from the royalties of book sales. Your focus is on writing a great book which is likely to be widely popular and which will become a best-seller, at least in its category.  You need to first do the math. Remember that many books, especially eBooks, are sold today for a few dollars and the author only gets a percentage (which varies and is set by each bookseller.)  If you spend any time and money promoting your book (which is not really optional) your book sales will have to be quite extraordinary for you to have an income worth mentioning strictly from the sale of your book.
  • Marketer’s strategy – you write a book because you know it is by far the best way to become more well-known for what you want to be known for. Having a book is like jet fuel for every single marketing effort you already have in place, from SEO work on your web site to speaking engagements, social networking, or blogging. You intend to leverage the fact you are a published author in order to achieve your income goals as a business owner or professional. The almost instant credibility which having a book gives you will provide what months or years of other types of marketing strategies could provide.

When does the “author’s strategy” make perfect sense?  When you already have a large following because your name is widely recognized. If you are as famous as Dr. Laura or Tom Brokaw or Stephen King or Michael Jordan, you have plenty of fans eager to buy your book(s). For most of us, it is best to plan from the start to leverage our book and “published author” status to boost our business or other income-producing efforts, and the good news is there are hundreds of ways to do that.

Once your book is published, even if your original strategy or goal was not about its sales revenue, it may make sense to let Amazon and other booksellers offer your book for sale. After all, with the eBook version, you don’t have to print and keep inventory, advertise to customers, take money or ship one single book! That’s why it’s called a “passive” income stream. Are you writing your book to create a passive income stream for yourself? If so, you need to make certain that you include as many reader benefits and features as you can that will make the book attractive for customers frequenting popular online book stores such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. In a later chapter we’ll show you how to get these shoppers’ attention, starting with your book title.

Who Needs You?

As you are thinking about your book, it is critical to ask yourself who you have in mind as your target reader. Try to envision them as precisely as possible and keep them in your mind’s eye as you plan and write. What topics do you think they will expect and want you to cover as they read your book? What problems do they have for which you can offer solutions? It is true that their expectations, by definition, have been conditioned by what they have read in the past on similar topics. Yet, no one has written your book, with your insights and intentions — you have a different take on the topic and different knowledge to convey. Nevertheless, reader expectations cannot be ignored because they must not only be met, but surpassed, to generate outstanding reviews of your book.

How Will The Reader Use Your Book?

Another consideration as you begin to develop your book in your mind is how your target reader is likely to use your book. Will he be using it as a general introduction to a topic? Will she be using it to acquire the necessary knowledge to employ a professional to accomplish one of her important goals, perhaps to hire an attorney to represent her in a family matter, or to select an accountant to do her taxes? Will he be using your book as a detailed how-to guide to create his own will, or to set up accounting software for his small business? Will she be using your book to avoid mistakes as she makes a big decision in her life such as choosing an investment advisor or seeking a specialist to consult about her particular health issue? Do you picture your reader as having an urgent problem looking for quick answers from an expert?

If you put yourself in your likely reader’s shoes and answer the questions which cover the topics you think he will be looking for, you are preparing yourself to generate and capture relevant ideas which can be developed into a well-received and successful book.

Ask Yourself “What Can I Do To Set Myself Apart?”

Other than being coherent and well-written, the most important thing which impacts the success of your book is how well your chosen topic matches what readers are looking for.  Since common sense tells us, then, to write about highly popular subjects, how would a reader find and decide to buy our particular book among the masses? The answer deserves careful consideration: Your book must be different. It actually is not as challenging as you may first think, given that you, your background, your perspectives and learned lessons ARE unique…no doubt about it. You simply need to spend some time identifying how your book can best be written, positioned, and titled in a unique way. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What can I do with this topic to set myself apart?
  • What makes me stand out in this area already?
  • What do people ask me for advice about?
  • What do my clients love about me?
  • What are my skills I enjoy using the most?
  • What issues are competitors ignoring?
  • Where are the information or solution gaps? 

Three Converging Circles Are Your Keys to Unlock A Hit Topic for Your Book

Your most-likely-to-succeed book topic will be one which you can expertly write about, genuinely care about, and which has a large enough, sufficiently interested audience. Whether writing an article, book, or speech, you probably already know how important being credible is for a nonfiction author. The surest route to credibility is to write about what you know and what your credentials and experiences have prepared you to do. If you follow that route, it is very likely that every page in your book will be effective in enhancing your reputation as an authority, rather than diminishing it.

Within the billions of bits of knowledge in your mind are many topics you could legitimately write about, and within these are ones you actually care about. This is where your motivation really begins to come into its own.

Narrow down your potential topics by filtering out any which bore you. A bored writer bores the reader as well as him/herself. An enthused writer has the energy to see the book project all the way through and will attract and keep the readers’ attention more effectively.

Of course, the real success of your book depends on having a book people want to read. If you want your book to be both satisfying to write and successful in the marketplace (whether it is sold or given away to attract more business), your topic must be something your audience cares about right now. Topics which meet all three criteria are your sure-fire winners. 

How To Choose Your Ideal Book Topic

Now you know the three things that successful writers keep in mind when they choose a topic. So how do you do it? Draw these three circles, fill them in with what you know, what  excites you, and what your market research reveals. Look for the overlap — the center circle sweet spot.


A great topic is one which you are enthusiastic to write about, have the credibility to do so, and have researched the market to know there are readers very eager to read what you have to share. 

Why Two Out Of Three Is Never Good Enough

Many, many people have been thinking about writing a book for a long time. When you are ready to get serious, that book topic that has been percolating in you will naturally be the first one for you to consider. Then it’s time to evaluate if all three criteria for a successful book topic are met by your topic idea. Often this is not the case, at least initially.

Let’s look at a topic which has two out of three of the key criteria. One author started with the idea for writing a book about her experience coaching high-school girls’ basketball. She took the team to the state finals two years in a row, and for years she organized her entire life around her passion for the game, and for teaching young women all she had to share about basketball and life.

However, when she really looked at her goals for publishing a book, her desired rewards for investing herself and her time in writing the book, she found she very much wanted one of her outcomes to be financial success – a considerable passive income stream. Her topic idea covered something of which she had first-hand knowledge and experience, and certainly she had authentic enthusiasm, but her story about a no-name team (the team did not go on to win the state championship) simply had too small a readership potential to reach her goal for book sales revenue. Her market research informed her that, fairly or unfairly, her stories were not about young men’s basketball, and thus her characters were not likely to become NBA stars, and that this would dampen reader appeal. She could not count on enough demand and sufficient market share with her stories, and realized she could only expect some of her local school’s supporters, her friends and family to buy the book.

A coach herself, she accepted the coaching illustrated in this chapter and went to work to fill in the missing piece. To have three out of three book topic criteria present and accounted for became her pre-writing goal. It was a great way to focus her intention to write a book with good sales potential. Now, she is currently in the process of writing her book, with its ideal book topic, on how twelve highly successful real-life women  (including CEOs, MDs, and PhDs) attribute their competitive skills, team building and leadership excellence to early foundational skills and attitudes  they built by playing high school sports. Her own stories and wisdom which she originally wanted to share are also included and fit in perfectly. Clearly, her chances for a successful book have been greatly expanded by this transformation.

Another two-out-of-three book topic example is the book a well-respected Dietitian wrote about a very effective and brilliantly simple approach to changing counterproductive habits and eating better as part of a healthier lifestyle. The expertise is there, the market is there, but the book fell as flat as a gluten-free pancake. The author simply did not have sufficient enthusiasm for the topic and it showed in the book. It entered the marketplace with a yawn and still sleeps there, unnoticed.

Still another common mistake is to choose a topic which has a hot market and excites your inner author, but is not something you know more than a few pages to write about. Here, the missing piece can be fixed fairly easily through research, learning, and leveraging the expertise of true gurus. We’ve all seen books which are actually just collected stories and wisdom of different experts, bookended with an introduction and conclusion by the “author” and, when published, took off on the fast track to being best-sellers. If you are burning with the passion to produce a book with a compelling theme or message, or following a hot trend, it is perfectly okay to enroll others and use their credentials to make it a three-out-of-three hit topic.

By listing the many interests you have which excite you, noting your own life experiences and education, and really listening to your target reader, you can fill in all three circles (in the above diagram) and see any topic’s strengths and weaknesses. Then you can work to fill in all three essential elements to provide you with your best book topic choice.

Research shows that there are four categories which encompass the majority of popular nonfiction books: Health, wealth, relationships, and passions/hobbies. Even if the book topic which emerged in your three-circle process is not particular to one of these subjects, you may find a tie-in.  If you decide to write about electric vehicles, for example, it would be wise to tout the cost-savings over time that EV owners enjoy from not having to spend their paycheck at the gas station. If your expertise on your topic enables you to provide people real guidance on how to improve some aspect of their health, wealth, relationships or passion, you will find an eager market. 

Key Distinctions For This Chapter

All Three Topic Criteria vs. One or Two     A book may enjoy some level of success if it is at least what the reading audience cares about, or shines brightly with the author’s authentic passion for the subject, or is packed with useful knowledge, but at the intersection of all three lies the ideal book topic.
Sourcing vs. Laboring     You are the source of your book’s topic, message, tone, scope and purpose. If you choose, others can do the labor of outlining, writing, editing, formatting, publishing and/or marketing. Don’t miss out on becoming a published author because you may not have the time, skills or desire to work through every step yourself. 

Commit vs. Contemplate     When you commit, you start taking actions consistent with that commitment. If you say you are committed but there is no accompanying, measurable action, it is just wishful contemplation. Committed actions produce results.


The decision to write a book is a declaration that you have something to say that other people want to hear. When you start your book, make a promise to yourself that you can and will finish it. In a recent survey we conducted by polling a group of professional speakers, all were in agreement that “everyone has a book inside.” Yet relatively few let it out.

Some people have been going along thinking:

  1. I don’t have a compelling story to share.
  2. I don’t know how to organize and write a book.
  3. I just don’t have time.

Well, just in the US last year, almost 300,000 new book titles were published, all written by people who had the same or similar thoughts, yet wrote and published a book

Remember the famous quote by Woody Allen? During an interview when discussing his advice to young writers, Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” You have what you need to write and publish a book: your experience, motivation to reach your goals, and resources to assist you with any part of the journey where your map isn’t clear. Sometimes the hardest part is the beginning. When you utilize this chapter’s three-criteria tool and discover what you are passionate about, and what your target reader is eager to learn which you already know, you will be off to a great start.

# # #



Extremely Helpful Writing/Publishing Guide
By R. Coker on November 26, 2013

Being a published author has been a lifelong dream since I was a pre-teen with an imaginative mind and a brain full of book plots just waiting to be written. But, as the years have progressed that dream has seemed to get farther and farther away despite my best efforts, so when “You Can Write A Book” came to my attention I was eager to read it and see if I could get at least a few nuggets of wisdom from it to help me make my dream a reality. Rather than just a few nuggets of wisdom I got a whole heap load of advice, tips and tools to help me carefully, precisely and strategically create, manage and publish a book from beginning to end. Barbara Bingham uses a straightforward and easy to understand approach to aid readers in clearly making the whole “write a book” concept not only a reality, but a success as well. Each chapter of the book offers a step-by-step guide to all things writing and self-publishing so that readers have a one-stop resource for the endeavor to reference back at, providing a complete guide that is truly indispensable. After reading the book I put the guide’s steps into action and I already have a great deal of success in bringing my dream to fruition. Overall, the book was well worth the read and I would definitely recommend it to other writers who are looking for help in making their dream of writing and publishing a book a reality.

By Teresa Bueno on October 12, 2013

No more excuses! Barbara and Jeff make it easy to go from someone who should write a book to published author. If you are knowledgeable about anything from beekeeping to pipeline construction, then you already have the basis for your first book and a passive income stream. This book is a step-by-step guide that left me wondering why I waited so long to write my book. You Can Write A Book is a treasure map that guides you around the pitfalls of uncertainty, self-doubt, and excuses to discover and release the author within. Why just buy books online when you could be selling your own?

From Dream to Reality
By Holly on February 9, 2014

“You Can Write a Book” is an encouraging, easy to understand, complete “How To” guide for everything you need to know to bring your dream of writing a book to reality! It takes you through every single step….from your inner author, how to begin to write, the key to a powerful magnetic title and cover design, to what makes a book Dynamic, getting from outline to finish line and the secret of successful marketing. Barbara Bingham & Jeffrey Orenstein left no questions unanswered! They sure knew “How to Write” this one!!

Motivational and Instructional
By Gregory S. on January 31, 2014

Having had the privilege of reading this book myself, I can safely say it would be an invaluable addition to any aspiring author’s collection. Bingham tackles the topic of self-publishing with a tone that’s professional, yet conversational and easy to follow. She addresses the whats, whens, whys, and most importantly, the hows of writing and publishing a book. This book is extremely positive and motivational, and will leave you feeling ready and eager to pursue your own literary dream — furthermore, it provides the tools to effectively make that dream come true.