People ask me ALL THE TIME “Hey, DJ – how did you publish your book(s)?” The answer is that I self-published my books! Self Publishing is of course, not as easy as hitting publish on a blog… but the tools and methods I'm going to tell you about today come pretty close.
My Self Publishing Journey
It wasn't by magic that I self-published two books in 2020. As I say all the time – you will not rise to the occasion. You will only rise to your level of preparedness. My journey to self publishing happened over time, even if it looked so explosive.
The best way I can start my story is in 2017. I had dabbled in writing short stories and even won several NaNoWriMos (November National Novel Writing Month – where you are challenged to write a 50,000 word manuscript in one month). When I learned mid-process that I could not publish my first ‘books' (Star Wars fan fiction can't be published as it turns out).
I had been working as an IT Consultant for more than a decade, capping an IT career that started in 1997. It was when I started teaching the company with which I was working 20 years later that I found the vision. What was I teaching them? Everything I'd learned about what works and what doesn't. I wasn't teaching the technology. I was teaching a framework. A Methodology. I decided that for NaNoWriMo 2017, I would write everything I was teaching and hope to sell it to a publisher somehow.
A few days before I started – I was suddenly let go from that position… because of a blog article. Enough to scare anyone from ‘putting yourself out there' yet I decided it was the perfect opportunity to re-set and write my first book. It was in that process that I found the following is what I needed (and, you need as well).
Find Your Why
There is a reason that people look at you differently when they know you've published a book. It is not an easy process. Think of it as a crucible; those that come thru it can be trusted. To go thru the rigors of Self-Publishing you have to have something driving you forward. That something is having a REASON to do it. That is often referred to as Finding Your “WHY” or purpose. For me – everything I do filters thru a purpose statement: “Leave the World Better Than You Found It.” It is what drives my podcast of the same name. For me, I had finally gotten out of debt and generally much happier about my life because I had made some key changes in how I approach working in Tech. “WHY” for me was to equip others to follow my path. To change their family tree, so to speak.
Learn How to Write a Professional Book
The worst thing you can do as an aspiring (or professional) Author is to assume your skillset is adequate. By what felt like a stroke of fate, in the midst of finishing up my first manuscript, I found my friend Chandler Bolt. He had an approach that I found compelling. I didn't know how to go beyond a draft – then I found an online course that taught me how to not only write the book, but find an editor, formulate a compelling title, get a good cover designed, write a good description – but also some great ideas about the creative process.
Where I landed to do this was Chandler Bolt's Self-PublishingSchool.com where you'll learn How to Write a Book or Novel, the Creative Writing Process and more that we'll discuss next. By the way – sign up for their list and subscribe to the podcast! Tell 'em I sent ‘ya and enjoy all the free content… but what I really wanted and needed was a full structure. Their full online course is worth FAR MORE than they charge for it. It was like going thru an entire year of college, except I can actually use what I'm learning.
Part of Self-Publishing School, selfpublishing.com has additional FREE guidance that is worth diving into. Also grab their Book Templates to get started! The site also has additional writing help available for topics like writing a Children's Book, or Crowdfunding for Authors, something I'll be doing myself very soon.
Learn How To Self-Publish Your Book
Now to the area where I was dragged kicking and screaming. After learning from a Virtual Mentor of mine, Michael Hyatt, that getting traditionally published these days is substantially difficult and a lot of work… I dug in deeper and found that there were far more reasons to learn to publish myself than to go the traditional route. I found that I really wanted to use the book to build my platform, but also I liked the freedom. But it was the fact that a shocking number of books I had ordered in the past few years were not only self published, but done as “print on demand” (the book is not printed until the order comes in). To figure out what may work best for you, check out this article at selfpublishing.com.
Not to beat the drum to death, but Self-PublishingSchool.com's guide to Self-Publishing on Amazon is a game changer. Picture that information multiplied by about 10 and you'll have an idea of the SPS course's guide to all the things you need to do to make it happen. It is possible and practical!
Learn How To Market Your Book
The days of a book showing up on the shelf and selling are long done. You need strategies. I won't get too much into this here except to say that I can't imagine launching my books without the help of my launch teams. This is something that traditional publishers don't really have and I have heard stories of people being more successful self publishing than traditional for this reason. You can pivot faster and embrace new strategies more effectively. Having a community support is also a plus.
Marketing is not my forte. But using the strategies I learned at SPS – I was able to put some things in place that generate sales for me every month, even after a year of being published (this is slightly abnormal in a good way). Things like keywords and good ‘copy' (words on the sales pages and back of the book) are far better than they would have been without their guidance!
Get A Coach and/or Mastermind
To wrap up today, I'll simply say this. Don't go it alone. My writing coach, Scott Allen and the Mastermind from Cliff Ravenscraft were vital to me going from draft to pages in hand. While communities are good, the reality is that accountability and having people invested in your success just as you invest in theirs is, in my mind, a vital step of being successful.
Speaking of coaching…
To book your call with me, head here: https://11talents.co/CDJ30
If you prefer to just get a copy of the book without meeting with me, just fill out this form and let them know DJ Eshelman sent you in the “Referred By” field.
What I Published in 2020
Okay, great… so what did I Self Publish in 2020?
DJ's First Book
Be A Citrix Hero: Rescue Your Users from Poor Performance & Advance Your Career
Available at Amazon or buy direct from DJ!
A fun story behind Be a Citrix Hero – it was written second! This book was taken from video lessons that I had taught to a membership in 2019. With the advice above, I was able to transform this into a category best-seller at Amazon that continues selling well today! It was launched first on Amazon Kindle, then on Amazon Paperback. I later expanded worldwide using a service called Lulu.
The Big Project
So, what about the book I started in 2017? Well, fortunately I was able to make this into a much bigger project. While Be A Citrix Hero was crowd-sourced for editing, I paid a professional editor for Just Do THIS and I'm glad that I did. It was published to Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover (sold directly by me), and Audiobook (read by me)!
Learn more about this project at https://methodologybook.com.
Since launching Just Do THIS I have launched three online courses of my own, including a signature deep dive into the concepts that helped me to be successful as an IT Architect and Consultant.
In a future post I will be sure to outline more of the journey here. It has been both wonderful and miserable – as any learning journey should be. But if you have a notion of publishing a book – I can tell you that there are many rewards. I don't dream any more about ‘if'. I dream about ‘next'.
Speaking of – I will be taking a break from publishing content for the IT world soon and focusing on serving Christians that are on a journey toward self-employment or having a ‘side gig'. If you'd like to learn more – I'd suggest bringing that up when you book your complimentary call with me at https://11talents.co/CDJ30!