Let’s face reality:
Writing is not easy.
Even when you’re just starting out with your blog, developing content through writing can be very challenging.
Writing a book is quite HARD.
Okay, I know.
(Been there, done that)
But in this guide, I am going to walk you through my process of writing, publishing and producing my first book ever.
(Simplified step-by-step process).
At the end….
You’ll be fired up to take the dust off your dreams of writing, publishing, producing and promoting your book.
It’s a DIY process.
Do it yourself.
And the best part?
You’ll be inspired, motivated to start right away.
I also talked to one of Nigeria’s finest graphic artist and book production specialist to share his experience producing books for the high and mighty globally.
Gosh!!! It’s so hot.
I promise it’s the best guide in the world.
Let’s get started:
Before I go any further into my simplified book making process, let me quickly outline the steps I used in knocking off my first book ever:
- Get A Clear Concept for Your Book (why do you want to publish a book)
- Develop An Approach for Your Book
- Start Writing, Planning Book
- Book Production Process
- How to get ISBN for Your Book
- Tips On How to Promote your Book
Before we dive right in, let’s take a little…
WHY DO YOU WANT TO WRITE A BOOK?
Now permit me to start with this:
The deepest part of my being seeks expression.
In simple terms, I feel have a responsibility to fulfill.
And like Robert Kiyosaki once put it: it’s more of a spiritual thing.
An inner longing that just tells you are responsible for certain thing(s).
Kiyosaki termed such philosophy as spiritual money.
And what’s this?
It’s a sense of responsibility you feel and know when something wholly depends on you (and you alone).
That nobody else would do that particular thing except you…
NO OTHER PERSON ON EARTH!
That’s a huge responsibility right?
But real: in every sense.
Only you can feel and touch it.
So how would it feel if the whole world is in earnest expectation of what you have to offer or a responsibility placed on you and you’re not yet fulfilling it?
Did I just say ‘YET?’
You’re not even started at all.
How do you think they will feel especially when you keep postponing it every time?
That’s the way I want you to feel right now because you owe the world something.
And you know what?
I don’t know about you right now, but I get haunted:
(Not by witches and wizards from my hometown O)
If I don’t do what I know I ought to do.
You know that feeling: like Ojuju (masquerade) is pursuing me in the dream.
It’s more of an abstract assignment I just need to do.
There is an inner longing to do this work and I feel a sense of responsibility that I am the very person to do it.
No one else in the whole wide world (www).
In my particular case:
Writing a book.
And you know what?
If I don’t do it, peace seems to elude me.
Like I said earlier, it’s more of a spiritual assignment.
Now let’s get down to brass tack:
WHY WRITE A BOOK ON WEB DESIGN?
Okay, let me start this way:
It was a book that encouraged professionals to write and produce books, resources and professional materials of high quality.
The key thing…
…ensure content is highly relevant, valuable to their target audience.
(More specifically: To your audience).
And not only that:
The book also taught how you could profit from your work as a professional.
I felt it was no ordinary book.
It was a proven, powerful system put in place to help folks in and out the literary world.
Your association inspires your work.
Just to mention, I have also gotten great inspiration reading books by great minds – one of which I reviewed here titled: Small Money, Big Business.
I was very inspired and motivated to do something with the knowledge I had gathered.
My excitement, inspiration motivated me to take action.
(Not allowing analysis-paralysis to kill me).
I HAD A LOT OF BOOK TITLES
Before this period, I had quite a handful of book titles I planned to write.
(Some of them I had written beautiful brief introduction on).
But GUESS WHAT?
They only remained titles (+ their brief introduction).
(And I kept tweaking them once in a while.)
And even romancing them?.
None of them titles saw the light of day.
NONE (in caps).
Despite all my romance…
…all nah wash…MTCHEEEEEW!
But something struck me after reading the blog post I mentioned earlier…
I TOLD MYSELF:
You can do this.
I felt a strong urge that I could do this.
More than the urge and feeling, I wanted to write (start and finish) – hold myself accountable, responsible.
More than the title and brief introduction I had been doing all my years past, I REALLY NEEDED TO DO THIS AND FINISH IT!
Already, I had some small success in my kitty with blog posts I had been writing consistently (starting and finishing)
It was time to scale up.
So, I told myself:
“Sylvanus, if you can start and finish these small worded blog posts (usually within 499 to 999 words); nothing stops you from starting and finishing your book.”
Fear struck…timidity was setting in…
I STARTED JOURNEY ANYWAYS.
STARTING WAS THE BIG DEAL!
Continuing, I gained momentum and motivation.
I was able to finish.
START TO FINISH.
That was a big deal for me o!
A huge milestone.
REAL BIG DEAL (Ofcourse reason not farfetched).
IT WAS SUCCESS FOR ME
(IN BLACK AND WHITE!)
WRITING INSPIRATION AND PRACTISE
I started out writing very few words in 30 minutes –under 500 words.
(Boy! You can’t imagine what you can achieve if you timed yourself)
SMALL THINGS, BIG RESULTS
I started forming a habit of writing regularly (though timed) about anything that came to mind.
Gradually, I built the habit of writing regularly such that if I don’t, I felt something was wrong.
Let’s get into the heart of things…
CONCEPT OF BOOK
My first book ever:
(At least that I started and finished)
The Professional Website Design Handbook: The CorelDraw Approach was conceptualized on the basis of getting an in-depth knowledge based on using CorelDraw for Web Design.
At the time, I searched online for resources that could help one in building a website using CorelDraw but found nothing really meaningful.
No resource as at the time really took the approach in-depth as I desired.
I decided to make one.
The concept of the book would be premised on the capacity of CorelDraw to create unique-looking websites.
If you know me:
I hated using templates, themes or frameworks.
(If I am forced, I try to customize as much as I can to suit my unique needs and objectives).
Another conviction I have about CorelDraw is that it is very flexible and fast in churning out unique designs that meets goals and objectives.
SIMPLIFIED, INTERACTIVE AND FUN TO READ
Unlike most technical-related books, I wanted my web design book to be as simple as possible.
(Even when there were a lot of technicalities to contend with)
More than simplicity, I also wanted it to be fun to read.
I also added stories about my personal experiences in the design space since 1997.
Adding videos and actionable points to the mix would help achieve interactivity…
…and help readers easily understand technical concepts in the book.
This takes us to the approach I adopted for the book.
APPROACH TO WRITING BOOK
My approach to writing would mix fun, creativity and simplicity in explaining technical concepts with the most simple and relatable language.
(Even the lay man would find it easy to understand).
In my plan also, I would be adding videos (in DVD, ONLINE).
These videos would show the simplified step-by-step practicals of the task involved.
In the DVD also, I planned on further simplifying technical concepts using PowerPoint slides shot as videos.
JUST UNDERSTAND SHA!!!
For example, I explained why you need to use Google products to get more SEO juice to your digital marketing campaign….
Just understand –don’t cram anything (LOL).
(Like I always advise my kids: “Don’t cram, seek to understand”)
I have always been a proponent of people understanding the way stuff works rather than jamming their brains with complexities…
(Any word like that?? permit am)
When you understand, application becomes natural and seamless –you have more revelation on how to apply such concepts you’re learning.
This leads us to the next step…
BOOK WRITING, PLANNING
It all starts with writing.
The other day, I was with my sister, Chief (Rev) Mrs. Maria Ojedayo, the Yeye Bobagunwa herself (Oye amori o).
I was trying to shoot a freestyle explainer video for my web design book.
After several failed attempts, she advised I put pen to paper and write a detailed script.
(Expo I could read from?).
Always keeping an open context, I saw great sense in this:
(At least to avoid all the emmms and ummms in the video)
I got down with writing an explainer video for the book and DVD.
Some AD ?: It can help you build a unique, effective and profitable website professionally and in good time also.
See it here:
I decided that whatever I’m going to do, must first start with a well thought idea on paper in writing.
My brother, Mark also toes this line: He believes he always needs to put his thoughts together first on paper.
Videos, interviews, presentations, infographics, graphs, tables etc. must all stem from a clearly thought out write up.
IN WRITING BOOK
I had a clear idea of when I wanted to launch the book.
(Putting myself under big pressure).
Though I had been putting up some things before now, a date would make a whole world of difference:
To keep me on edge.
What did I do?
I set up a landing sales page for my book.
(Designed, developed from scratch by my humble self).
This is why I put up this strategy:
- Visitors, prospects, leads landing on page will see a simple video they’d be expecting in DVD
- These targets would also see sample pages of my book and finally…
- A form to collect interested prospects contacts
And you ask why?
To keep them abreast of developments before launch date.
Apart from the landing sales page, I also set up a Facebook page to drive interested targeted traffic to that page.
I also created Google AdWords ads.
All in conscious effort to drive traffic to the page before launch date.
All this was done for one thing:
VALIDATE THE IDEA (in capitals).
Do people really care about what you plan to offer?
Well…you need to validate your idea.
In my case, I saw a lot of potential buyers and the comments on the idea were really very encouraging.
What next then?
Just keep writing.
I had a schedule.
I had my calendar to mark every blessed day to generate at least 1,000 words.
And not forgetting my timer also.
(PRO TIP: 5minutes for outline; 15minutes to write and 10minutes to edit worked like magic.)
In his book, GOALS! Brian Tracy recommended clear goals, specific tasks, deliberate measures and firm deadlines for your subconscious mind to function at its best.
I experienced this first hand, in clear practical terms.
I was more than set to break every limits or barrier towards achieving my goal.
Talking about limits and barriers:
At the time of writing, I faced all the challenges any average African (Nigerian) faces most especially:
AMIDST OTHERS, POWER BLACKOUT (ALL IN CAPS)
One of my highly coveted mentors, a well established, highly respected graphic artist and book specialist, Mr. Femi Jolaolu, FJ, of Mastas Digital, advices a lot of care must be taken when producing books.
From design to finishing, you need to heavily consider everybody down the line of production.
He sited an example:
“In designing and laying out a book, you cannot put images, text at the edge of a page such that after job is printed, it becomes hell for the guy that’s going to trim.”
You will need to also give room for production errors in your design, He said.
This singular ignored aspect can make or mar your final product.
So now that you have heard from the masters, let’s move to next agenda…
Virtually all my writing was done on Microsoft Word.
(My typing skills had really improved).
I also edited book using same facility.
For the book’s cover design, I used CorelDraw.
I also started designing the inside page layout with text from Microsoft Word in CorelDraw but as I moved on (fully aware how temperamental the application could be), I knew I had to move to a more stable tool.
Instability is one of the downsides of CorelDraw.
(Though this is being addressed in recent versions).
You could be working and some spanner may fall within CorelDraw’s engine room and…
Application would just freeze.
You can’t save and nothing happens unless you forcefully exit app.
Imagine you hadn’t saved your last task that probably took you through a puzzle to unravel and hours of labour to fix.
You’d probably lose everything on that particular task.
Apart from the fact that CorelDraw could be very unstable, its NOT suitable for publication of this magnitude.
Volume I mean.
In simple sense, when pages of a book or publication start exceeding 12, I recommend using another application like Adobe InDesign.
PRO TIP: You could consider structuring the look and feel of your book’s inside pages in CorelDraw and replicating that in Adobe InDesign before you start laying out all your pages.
TURNING TO ADOBE INDESIGN
Considering the volume of the pages involved (over 160), I didn’t need a magic wand, prophetess or a pastor to see into the future.
I moved to Adobe InDesign.
Adobe InDesign is the world’s best and preferred application for book work and editorial/publication design –I BEAT MY CHEST ON THAT, ANYDAY.
(I can also put that in writing? as my friend Prasad, GM, Deekay Group, would say)
I have used the application for years from my full time work in the print media till date.
Any other word to qualify the app?
(If there’s anything like that)
IT WAS PHOTOSHOPPED: EDITING IMAGES
This is a popular cliché these days.
Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop for short, seems to be a cliché these days.
It’s a common thing for people to see a seemingly perceived grafted photograph and say:
“It was ‘photoshopped.’ ”
I recall years ago, at a former work place, we were at work one certain Sunday and a client was around to approve a job before production.
As we moved along in the work, we approached a gridlock.
And unfortunately, the app we needed was not installed on the system.
Already getting frustrated considering that production schedule and delivery was almost getting to deadline, the client, in desperation said: “Where are we going to get a ‘Photoshop’ today when all shops are closed.
EVERYBODY BURST IN ROOF-TREMBLING LAUGHTER.
Back to business.
I used the Photoshop app to edit images (clean up, trace, distort etc) to meet with my desired goals for individual pages.
GETTING ILLUSTRATION FROM VIDEO
I wanted to get unique images to use as illustrations for the book.
What did I do?
I got screenshots from videos I shot and used where it applied.
BOOK PLANNING FOR PRODUCTION
The first and most important thing in book work is getting your dummy right before production.
I took a little time to cut out tiny pieces of paper folded in sections of 16 pages/segment.
In all, I had about 11 sections to make my book.
With the dummy, I was armed with a guide for layout, planning and final production.
Now, in simple terms this planning majorly will help ensure that the pages back each other correctly.
Page 2 would have to properly back page 1 perfectly.
In technical terms, we call it perfection.
The dummy (like a mock up of the book) is a rough miniature version of how the main book will look like.
The dummy also shows “the end in mind” for all involved in production.
A dummy could show if final book work would be saddle-stitched or perfect-bound.
Saddle stitched finishing is usually used for small volume publications.
But for book work of this volume of pages, my best bet is for it to be perfect-bound.
BOOK PLANNING IN CORELDRAW FOR BOOK MASTER COPY
After getting my dummy right, I started planning the sections in CorelDraw After planning the sections of 16 pages, I had 11 files to print out.
After the print out, it was time for finishing.
This is the finished book.
How to get ISBN for Your Book
In this chapter I will explain how you can get an ISBN for your book. An ISBN helps give your book international recognition and acceptance.
Some concerns hovering around the whole essence of acquiring an ISBN would also be laid bare here.
Without further ado, let’s get started…
Before, I explain the detailed steps to getting an ISBN for your book, let’s take this important points:
1. What is an ISBN (International Standard Book Number)?
An ISBN is a 13 – digit number that identifies a book for purposes of commerce and supply.
The ISBN is a unique international identifier for monographic (book) publications. It is a 13 – digit number e.g. 978-0-306-40615-0.
2. What are the advantages of ISBN?
Global ordering and distribution of books is mainly executed by ISBN. Compilation and updating of book trade directories and bibliographic databases, such as cataloguing of books-in-print. It is needed for the running of electronic point of sale systems in bookshops.
3. Which Materials should have ISBN?
Monograph (books) E-publications.
4. Where to put the ISBN?
The thirteen (13) digit ISBN number is divided into five parts separated clearly by hyphens or spaces e.g. 978-0-356-42615-0. This number should be printed on Verso each publication title page. Base of the title page. Base of the spine. The back of the cover in nine-point or larger. The back of the dust-jacket and on the back of any other protective.
5. Do books need an ISBN if they are not going to be sold?
It is desirable that ALL books are identified by ISBNs.
6. Does a change of format require a new ISBN?
Yes, different formats need different ISBNs.
7. I am revising a book. Does it require a new ISBN?
A significant change of text requires a new ISBN. If revisions have been made it should state on the verso of the title page that the book is a revised edition and the new ISBN should be printed there.
8. Does a reprint without change of text or binding require a new ISBN?
No, not if there is no change of text, format, or building that would justify a new ISBN.
9. How are ISBNs allocated to multi-format/multi-volume works?
An ISBN must be allocated to the whole set of volumes of a multi-volume work, as well as individual volumes of the set.
10. Do I need a new ISBN when I am reprinting a book with a new title?
Yes, a new title requires a new ISBN.
11. I am publishing a book with another Publisher. Whose ISBN should appear on the book?
In the case of a joint publication, an ISBN is assigned by the publisher in charge of distribution.
12. I am not a Publisher – can I still obtain an ISBN?
Yes, a Publisher is a group, organization, company or individual who is responsible for originating the product of a publication and also bears the cost/financial risk.
13. What are the Publishers’ obligations?
Maintaining a register of ISBN that has been assigned to publish forth coming books. This register should be kept in numerical sequence showing ISBN, author, title, edition statements etc. Forwarding a list of publications with their used ISBN to the National Agency before asking for new assignment of ISBN. Delivering with one month of publication at his own expense to the National Library of Nigeria, three (3) copies of the book.
How to get ISBN for Your Book in Nigeria
- A formal Letter of application for assignment of an ISBN made on the letter head paper of the Publisher/Author or Institution, and addressed to The Director (NBCD), National Library of Nigeria Headquarters, ISBN office, Abuja or processed through any of the State Branch offices.
- A photocopy of Certificate of Registration (in the case of private companies) obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) OR a National Identity card OR valid Driver’s License for author publisher, should be attached for identification.
- Visual proof of the existence of the publication(s) should be shown. The publisher/Author must produce type-set copy(s) of the manuscript(s), or at least the preliminary pages of the publication(s) i.e. preface, introduction, forward, content table, title page, verso, etc.
- Request for a block of ten (10) ISBN should present visual proofs of at least Seven (7) manuscripts or the preliminary pages of the work to be published.
- Evidence of full utilization of ISBN(s) earlier assigned in form of letter(s) of acknowledgement of receipt from National Library of Nigeria of having deposited the required number of copies of their previous publications to the National Library as required by Law i.e. Private Publisher’s -three (3) copies; State Governments and their Agencies-ten (10) copies, and Federal Government and their Agencies- twenty five (25) copies.
- PLEASE NOTE: APPLICATION WILL BE PROCESSED WITHIN TEN (10) WORKING DAYS OF RECEIPT TO ENABLE THEM PREPARE THE CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION (CIP) DATA
- Sequel to the Federal Government’s directive on Treasury Single Account (TSA), all administrative fees charged for ISBN henceforth should be made to; Acct Name: NLN e.Account (Remita)
- Thereafter, present your teller for services to be rendered.
- The administrative fees charged are as follows:
- 1 or 2 Single ISBN = N2,500.00
- 3 – 10 Block of ISBN = N5,000.00
- 100 Block of ISBN = N10,000.00
- 1000 Block of ISBN = N20,000.00
- Restoration of Lost Block of Ten ISBN = N2,500.00
- Restoration of Lost Block of Hundred ISBN = N5,000.00
- Restoration of Lost Block of 1,000 ISBN = N10,000.00
(Credit: National Library of Nigeria)
Tips On How to Promote your Book
Promoting, marketing and sales seems to be the most challenging aspect of book production.
In this chapter I reveal tips on how to promote your book.
1. Guest blog posts
Look for great influencers in your niche. Talk to them about writing for free and pitch your new book for review.
Ofcourse doing this will require you have a website to link to because you will add you bio.
COST: Hardwork + your time.
2. Blog & Podcast Interviews
If interviews wont come to you, go search for opportunities to be featured on one.
But mind the fact that it has to be relevant with what you do.
Reach out to owners of such platform and register your interest.
COST: Some work, time.
3. Make Your Own Podcast and Podiobooks
Podcasts are a hugely growing market, because they offer free content that listeners can search and play at their leisure. There are podcasts on every conceivable topic, including shows focused on telling stories. These are commonly known as podiobooks.
Read your work aloud and record it with your phone or computer, or with a separate recording device if you have one. Once recorded, you can make these available on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and many other sites. Use a service such as Libsyn or Simplecast.fm, each of which supply RSS feeds that can be used to deliver your content to subscribers.
At the beginning and end of each broadcast, tell people where they can find you and your books online.
COST: A website with reasonable size hosting.
4. Create a YouTube Channel
Like podcasting, video is increasingly popular, and covers every topic you can think of. Create a YouTube channel where you can talk about your work, read samples, interview other authors, answer reader/viewer questions, and anything else you come up with.
You could, for example, create a video slideshow to accompany a reading of your work. In the notes for the video, write a paragraph or two about yourself and your work, and then link to where people can find you online.
COST: Free, and you might even be able to monetize the channel and get paid!
5. Join reader groups on Facebook (and elsewhere)
This one is tricky because A) it’s time consuming, and B) it’s completely ineffective if you try to spam the groups with “buy my book” messaging all the time. It’s much better, and more effective, if you join a group as a participant and take the time to establish yourself.
For example, if you write science fiction or thrillers or any other genre, join groups where readers are talking about books, films, television shows, etc. for those genres. Join in the discussion, and become engaged with the group as a fellow fan.
Once people know and trust you, that’s when you can organically interject that you’re a writer. Something like “I used something similar to the cryptex in DaVinci Code in one of my books. It’s not exactly the same, but a similar concept.” If someone asks you about your book at that point, you can put a link to it in the comments. Most groups prohibit out-and-out advertising, but they’re usually ok with linking to something in response to someone asking a question.
The point is, be an active member of the group, not just a lurking advertiser. Promotion can come across as scammy if it’s overdone. Be a good group member, join the discussions, contribute to the community, and the community will be much happier about supporting you.
COST: Just your time, but totally worth it to gain an entire community of friends who share your interests.
6. Go On a Local Book Tour
Contact schools, libraries, book stores and anywhere else you can think of and ask if you can do a reading and signing, with a portion of book sales going to that group. Most schools and libraries won’t charge you a thing, but donations would be welcome and help grease the wheels.
COST: A percentage of your book sales.
7. Promoted Posts on Facebook
If you can manage any sort of budget, even N500 per day, you can get some traction with a promoted post.
Write the post as if it were an ad for your book, including a nice, attention grabbing photo.
COST: N500-N1000 per day (more or less, depending on your budget)
8. Use Your Mailing List
If you don’t have a mailing list, start one, and start offering something to get people to sign up. I recommend offering an exclusive part of book for free.
People can only get access if they sign up on your email list.
Treat your mailing list like distant friends that you’re keeping informed about your life and work.
You can use Mail chimp to build a free list, and upgrade to paid services later.
COST: Free, with some time for good measure
9. Use Instafreebie
Put a book on Instafreebie and start participating in group promotions. You can usually find these by participating in author groups on Facebook (20BooksTo50K is a good one to join).
This will help you build your mailing list, but it will also allow you to promote your other books, if you put an Also By page in your freebie. You can use Draft2Digital to convert your manuscript for free, and add a bunch of very useful promotional pages, then upload the free ePub to Instafreebie to start building your list
COST: Try it out and see if it applies to your needs before investing.
10. Group Promotions
Get involved in group promotions. Again, you’ll usually come across these in Facebook author groups. The idea is to join forces with other authors of your genre, and agree to share each other’s work with your mutual mailing lists and social networks.
COST: Free, with a pinch of time.
NOW, OVER TO YOU!!!
Before I hand you the baton, let me ask you:
Why DO YOU THINK I DID THIS?
- I put this piece together to prove to you that if you set your heart to achieve anything, you can do it.
- To also encourage you to do something:
a comedy (thumbs up to Mark Angel Comedy making us proud)
Whatever that will contribute something positive to our generation and help people get better.
Something that will add value to someone else’s life.
Above all, do that thing that will give you fulfillment and inner peace because deep within, you know you’re heeding to a higher calling.
NOW BACK TO YOU!
What book are you working on?
How do you plan going about it?
What is holding you back?
Do you need help?
Let’s talk right now.
Share your thoughts in the comments section right now.
(I promise to respond to every single comment, so long it’s related and constructive)
TO THE SUCCESS OF YOUR NEW BOOK!