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Quick Author Tips for Writing Your First Book

Posted by on 5th Feb 2014 | 5 comments

Over a year ago I launched my first book, which was called “Blogging Tips: Confessions of a Six Figure Blogger“. The book was a huge success and I’m actually working on the updated version for 2014. In addition to updating it for 2014, I’m also going to be re-writing most of the book to make it read better and provide more value.

As easy as writing a book might seem, it’s actually pretty complicated. It’s easy to write blog posts, but a book is a whole beast of it’s own. Not only do you need to make sure all of you content flows seamlessly together and reads well, but you also have to deal with formatting issues and also designing a high quality cover that grabs the attention of people that might be interested in your book.

Michael Kwan, an active BloggingTips.com author, recently launched a book of his own called “Beyond the Margins“, which focuses on how to go from being an average freelance writer or designer and turning your efforts and skills into a real business.

With the success of his new book, I thought it would be a good idea to sit down with Michael and get some feedback on his experience and some advice after going through the who book writing, designing and launch process.

1.) What made you decide to finally write a book?

This is actually my second book, in a way, as I co-authored Make Money Online: Roadmap of a Dot Com Mogul with John Chow back in 2010. That said, Beyond the Margins is my first solo effort and it was largely inspired by that first book. I wanted to have a book where I did not have to share the byline with someone else and I wanted the book to be from my own voice. With Make Money Online, we were speaking from the perspective of making money from blogging, whereas the subject matter in Beyond the Margins is more in my specific wheelhouse as it speaks to making money from running your own freelance business.

After running my own freelance writing business for more than eight years, I’ve learned a lot of tough lessons about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur working from home. In many ways, Beyond the Margins is one of my ways of giving back to the online community, arming those who are thinking about taking the plunge into freelancing with key tips and advice that will serve them well in those tough early weeks and months. Just about anyone can be a freelancer, but you need to get started on the right foot.

2.) How did you decide how long the book should be?

The length of the book came about organically. I lay out a basic outline that I wanted to use for the book, breaking the material into chapters and sub-sections accordingly. I wanted each section to be substantial enough to be useful without being too long as to be overwhelming. You could read Beyond the Margins in one extended sitting if you wanted, but it’s also designed such that you can read it in bite-sized chunks too. The 100 or so pages lend itself to this kind of format: concise and to the point, but with more than enough substance to be actually useful.

3.) What format did you use to write the content then have it published in Amazon/book form?

The core content was written up in Google Drive, which many of us still know as Google Docs. There can be some formatting issues that arise when you move between Google Docs and MS Word, but I really valued the convenience of having my manuscript saved in the cloud with reasonable revision control, plus the ability to track changes and add notes. It also helped when I asked a few colleagues to take a look, since I could simply grant them access to the online document. I didn’t want to have 15 versions of the Word document floating around.

I didn’t format the book into the final versions for Kindle and paperback myself. Instead, I hired a professional to do it for me. All I had to do was export the Google Drive document and send it along. The Kindle version (.mobi) was formatted first, followed by the PDF for submission to CreateSpace for the printed paperback version.

4.) Since launching the book what exciting new develops have come out of it?

Nothing too groundbreaking just yet, but it has been a tremendous learning experience. Having gone through the process of preparing a manuscript for Kindle and Createspace, I know have a better understanding of how to better approach it in the future. I’ve also been interviewed about the book and my work (including this interview on Blogging Tips), which has been thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding.

5.) Do you plan to write more books in the future?

Absolutely. I have several ideas floating around in the head already, some of which are related to the world of freelancing and online entrepreneurship, others approaching different subjects altogether. I’ll have to give them a little more thought, but I have every intention of writing and publishing several more books in the future. The best way to stay apprised of what I’m doing is to follow my blog, Beyond the Rhetoric. You can also find me on Twitter: @michaelkwan.

Special thanks to Michael Kwan for taking the time to share his advice and experience in the world of authorship and freelance work.


Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 15 years of experience and also a blogger at ZacJohnson.com, as well as the founder of BloggingTips.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook

5 comments - Leave a reply
  • Posted by Gokhan on 7th Feb 2014

    I’m hoping to write a book after 1-2 years of traveling. It’s my new lifestyle and willing to make money out of it as well. But since it’s gonna be only in Turkish i’m not really sure how much i could earn from it :(
    Gokhan recently posted..Hindistan / Goa #014My Profile

  • Posted by dungtien on 10th Feb 2014

    Nice review Zac Johnson. I tell you, I’m loving your blog more each day. I definitely will be featuring you in a blog post very soon.

  • Posted by ngoclan on 11th Feb 2014

    Above are some really great tips to bag on. Well I have a blog created too and this blog is simply not read as I have not promoted it the way you have mentioned above.

  • Posted by hoanganh on 12th Feb 2014

    I did not care much about how to design my blog when I started it. I just designed it as I wanted. After reading your post today, I have found that I should re-design some parts of the blog so that it will be more economical.