6 steps to publishing a book

The owner of the eponymous Orla Kelly Publishing reveals the six things that make all the difference for writing and publishing a successful book.

Have you always wanted to write a book and get it published but don’t know where to start, what are the steps involved and who to trust if you need support?

Publishing a book can be a great way to share your ideas with the world, build your brand, and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

“Ultimately aim for a book that builds your brand, your professional reputation and authority in your field in a way that is natural and authentic and that delivers genuine value to the reader”

Yet, there are many wonderful people who have so much value to share who have not done this for one reason or another.   

That’s why I put together my six top things you need to know that will help you navigate the publishing process and write a book that will be successful both commercially and critically.

After reading this, you will come away with key insights into the process behind successful books and what makes them resonate with their readers yet stand apart from other competitor books.

  1. Positioning your book

As a business professional, reputation and professional integrity is critical.

It is vital that your book really captures the essence of who you are, and not just what you know! It is not just considering what makes your book different – but why you are different – your insights, life lessons, words of wisdom. This makes for a more interesting read and if you can harness the power of story, you make the book more relatable to your reader and not be just another book on the same topic.

Ultimately aim for a book that builds your brand, your professional reputation and authority in your field in a way that is natural and authentic and that delivers genuine value to the reader.

Next you need to consider who this book is for specifically and what will get from reading it.

You should be able to answer this:

My book is for X on how to/how they can X which results in (list benefits)

When thinking of benefits, go beyond the surface level benefits to a deeper level at the core of what the person reading the book really needs-think emotional/psychological-the benefits that aren’t tangible but impact on a deeper level, where things go wrong and the help, guidance, support they need right now.

To do this you need to know your audience and the message you want to deliver. This allows you to position your book so that your message resonates with them, fulfils their needs and sticks in their minds.

Before you do any research ask yourself:

  • What you want your book to achieve?
  • What does success look like for you?

Your book needs to be a win-win for all concerned. You as the author and for your reader as the recipient.

  1. Content

Once you are clear on how your book will be positioned, who it is for, what they will achieve after reading it and what steps you want them to take next, you will be able to come up with content that aligns with your readers needs and objectives.

It has to make sense to the reader. As professionals it is easy to try to throw the kitchen sink and feel you need to cover everything. However, the reader may feel overwhelmed and either do nothing, look elsewhere for information/support or feel that that their specific needs are not being communicated in a way they can understand. Hence the need to write and communicate in a language that your reader can understand and relate to and in a tone of voice that you use in everyday conversation. This way there will be no disconnect between you and your book.

  1. Structure

Your book needs to have a structure that is logical and sequential, especially if there is a process that needs to be followed or if you recommend things are done in a certain way.

Nearly every professional I work with has found that by doing things in a certain way delivers the best results and for anyone reading this type of book, they are looking to gain knowledge, solve a problem, or learn how to do things better and ultimately bring about a positive change or result.

Getting content together does take time to do it right but doesn’t have to be a daunting process when you consider all the options you have for content.

  1. Case studies-change the names/identities and mix up scenarios to protect privacy. This shows real examples of how you work and do what you do best.
  2. Testimonials-great for inspiration on what makes you different and why people should work with you.
  3. Existing talks, training you have given or received that others need to hear.
  4. Areas you are passionate about and could freely talk about without running out of stream or content.
  5. Things you have learned from things going both wrong and right.
  6. Insights or trends in an area that is valuable.
  7. Expertise tailored towards the reader’s needs.
  8. What other books in your field lack that makes yours different-you can always check out Amazon or Goodreads reviews of books and see both good and bad reviews-goo so you know what people really like reading about and bad so your book can be different.

You don’t have to sit in front of a screen typing it all out. Look at the content you have on your PC to see what can be reused and how it can be repurposed for your book.

You also have the option to record yourself talking about the above and getting it transcribed and then move content around to put structure on it, or work with a ghostwriter who will help you formulate your thoughts, interview you and take care of the whole process.

You have lots of options so you need to see what works best for you.

Are you writing a book as a short lead magnet to generate interest and get a prospects email address so you can correspond with them or are you writing a longer book as a stand alone book in your chosen field?

Each will have a different timeframe for completion.

If you are writing a shorter book, you have less content so you need to make sure it is specific and targeted to your readers needs, wants and objectives, tell them who this book is for, what they will achieve and then go about doing so. Don’t exaggerate as you need to stand over your commitment to the reader. No one expects a book to solve their problem entirely, but needs to deliver some positive result so they are confident in your ability to help them to the next level. You have less time to build the know-like-and trust factor and establish yourself as the ‘go to person.’

You can show your authority and expertise in a longer book but again it assumes the reader will read all your book.

Hence the value in the next step I will discuss!

  1. Engagement

After you have positioned and structured your book, there is one part that is so often overlooked and that is engagement. See your book as bringing words to life. A book is not something static but dynamic and you need to make each word count.

Engagement is all about building relationships, showing that you understand your reader, are relatable and that you are a good match for the type of person they would like to work with.

You need to provide areas of open dialogue in your book where a reader has the opportunity to reach out to you, provide feedback, or avail of one of your offerings in exchange for their contact details such as an email address. Any action the reader will take will only be after you have proven yourself to them first. If offering something complimentary or asking them to take a specific action to work with you, it needs to make sense to the reader, be relevant and specific to what they want to achieve or it is a wasted opportunity.

Lay the book out so information is easy to find, easy to read with key points highlighted, key takeaways summarised, keep everything consistent and allow enough white space on the page for content to breathe. Think of the reader experience, visual fatigue, ease of remembering points etc.

  1. Publishing

Readers consume and digest information differently and like to be given choices. Having your book available in different formats, gives them options. Consider having a digital download for anyone looking to access the content immediately.

Paperbacks for those who prefer to read physical copies. If you want a more robust book, consider hardback availability. Libraries in particular prefer these. You can also have a limited run of hardbacks should you wish to give out to your best clients, run competitions etc.

Having your book as an audiobook is great for anyone on the move. You can either record yourself with the right set up or outsource this part.

For book dimensions, always go with what is most popular in your genre-if unsure check out bookstores and online such as Amazon/Book Depository. You have more flexibility when it comes to non-fiction books so pick a size that fits well with your category of book.

How will readers find your book? Are you offering only on your website or do you plan to have your book on online platforms such as Amazon/Book Depository etc? If you want to get your books into libraries and bookstores, have you contacts in these areas? Do you need to outsource any aspect?

Remember in particular for online book publishing, having your book optimised for online search and discoverability is critical-this is down to title, subtitle, keywords, meta data (unseen to human eye), book categories, cover, description, reviews and pricing. Lots to consider!

  1. Results

What does a result look like for you? If you are looking only at direct sales from your book, you need to look at the bigger picture. Think raising brand awareness, showcasing your expertise and areas you offer most value to clients and prospects, ways of demonstrating how and why you are different, all the while keeping the reader at the centre of your book.

How can results be measured? Are you getting more recommendations, more enquiries? Is it becoming easier to win work, make more sales? Learn from feedback. Do you need to tweak your call to action or complimentary offer in the book based on response? Is it becoming clear that a particular aspect isn’t very clearly understood? Fix it.

By now you should have a clear picture on what you need to know no matter what stage you are at in the process of writing and publishing your book.

The makings of a good book and great read don’t come together by accident. Any successful author will admit this. If you would like to work with someone who will ensure you write the best book for you and your target reader, down to content, structure, engagement, publishing and results, or just explore if self-publishing is right for you, I invite you to a complimentary 30 minute consultation via https://calendly.com/orlakellypublishing/book-publishing-consultation

Main image: Photo by Pereanu Sebastian on Unsplash

Orla Kelly
After a career in Environmental Consultancy, Orla Kelly set up a publishing company, Orla Kelly Publishing in 2014. She helps aspiring authors navigate the complex route of self-publishing and is dedicated towards helping clients create books they can be proud of.