By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Podcast.
Have you ever thought of writing a book? A book that could be used to position yourself or your company as an authority in your field? If you have, I’m sharing through this article some of the learnings I’ve acquired and tools I’ve used as I publish The UnNoticed book.
Structuring the Book
Currently, I’m in the middle of getting my book together. It’s going to be a compilation of interviews that I’ve done on The UnNoticed Podcast (where I’ve already interviewed over 70 people). The book aims to showcase all these conversations that I’ve had with brilliant people from around the world, structuring them within the framework of my SPEAK|PR methodology. It stands for storify, personalise, engage, amplify, and know.
One of the things that I learned after taking a book writing course is that when laying out a book, you have to identify its structure first. Without structure, your project will drift apart. It’s similar to building the foundations of a house where you need to have a plan first. Otherwise, you’d just stop building or you’d find yourself seeing walls in the wrong places.
Content and Audience
After structuring, the next thing I did is to look at the content I’ve got and my audience. The audience for my book is the same as my podcast’s — the people out there who are trying to get noticed but don’t necessarily have the resources to hire an agency to do so.
Screengrab from Buzzsprout
The UnNoticed book’s content, as mentioned, is a compilation of interviews that I’ve done. However, the challenge is that some of those interviews don’t necessarily strictly conform to my five-stage methodology. One interview may only cover one area — storification, personalisation, engagement of content, amplification, or quantification. As I’ve featured both entrepreneurs and experts on the show, I’ve also got different perspectives around the same narrative.
Therefore, what I’ve done is to go through the articles that I’ve compiled, sort them out, and determine which place within the book’s framework each article is best suited. To help me organise the content, Alecs, my virtual assistant in the Philippines, made a spreadsheet containing the links, the articles’ word length, and the headlines.
For each interview, we took the transcript through Otter and gave them to a journalist in the Philippines to write up an article for each episode. As a result, I’ve got some 75 articles between 900 and 1,800 words that have all been written consistently over the last year. The first writer did very well but had to drop out after nine months. We had a replacement writer afterwards, which caused a slight difference in styles. Therefore, we’re going back and polishing the articles written during the transition phase.
The book that I’m publishing is a book of articles curated by me. It’s an important positioning because if I were to claim to be the author of all these articles, I’d have a couple of issues.
One is that these articles have all been transcripts of interviews with different people who have different nationalities, skill sets, et cetera. If I said I’m the author, I’d somehow be needing to take their words, re-craft them, and to some degree, deny their personalities. And a big part of this project is to engage other people and allow them to share their expertise.
Curating, instead of writing, is actually quite liberating because I also won’t have to worry about having writer’s block.
A Pilot Project for Learning
I consider The UnNoticed book as a project where I could learn the process and the skills required for writing and developing a book without the need to be the author.
Image from Unsplash
If you think about it, writing and self-publishing have a lot of obstacles. Each one could pull you down. You have to think of the structure, the tone, and the content. There’s also the editing for the length and pacing. By curating articles from interviews, I was also able to reduce pressure points that otherwise I’d crave myself.
So what I’ve been doing is looking at and collating 75 articles and making them into five sections that represent my five-stage methodology. I’m also organising the photographs of the individuals I’ve interviewed, together with their bios and links. The goal of this is to engage with these people and help me promote the book as it comes out.
Tool for Writing
Looking for tools for writing is important because you need to collate an extended number of articles into one word-processing document. Microsoft Word and MacBook’s Pages won’t suffice. I’ve tried Ulysses, which is a good application for long-form documents. However, it is for Apple devices only.
One of the lessons I’ve learned using Descript (the video and audio editing software I use) is that it’s very useful to be able to collaborate with my VA and other people. Therefore I had to look for another software and I’ve found Dabble, which allows shared writing and works both for Macs and PCs.
With this app, what you write on your desktop is automatically sent up to your cloud. I use LastPass to share the login credentials with my VA so we can both access the document on the cloud. The basic version of this software is available at $5 per month. The standard is $10 while the premium (which includes a grammar-checking feature) is $15.
Though the platform doesn’t allow you to add any images, it’s efficient in seamlessly compiling content from articles online.
On the Book Cover and Page Layout
I’ve created a book cover using Canva. There are two versions: One has a white background with text in red colour; the other has a red background with text in white. Both have the UnNoticed banner in red and black.
Screengrab from LinkedIn
I uploaded them on LinkedIn to solicit people’s opinions. After 48 hours, I’ve had 2,000 views and 49 comments with a 50-50 decision. Interestingly enough, the split seems to be both by gender and geography — not by preference. But as I’m going to do e-publishing, I may just make two versions.
For the page layout, I am outsourcing it from another person because trying to format what will be a 60,000-word and a 120-page book will take a long time. It required a different skill set. I’ve posted it on Upwork and put a fee of £100 (around $139) though I mentioned that it’s negotiable. Within six hours, I’ve received 14 proposals with prices ranging from $90 to $100.
I chose to reach out to a designer based in Ukraine because I found Ukrainians to have great English skills and to be well-educated and knowledgeable in technology.
A freelancer named Kateryna replied. She has earned over $30,000 on Upwork doing layout and she’s charging $20 an hour. She has a 96% job success rate and has been top-rated by Upwork. She’s done 30 jobs similar to mine and has quoted me $200. Because I required a cover letter and some portfolios, I was able to see her work history. She earned $4,475 for a project for a six-month medical practice. She’s also earning anywhere between $190 to $300 per project. The benefit of working with a freelancer is that they know the answers to some of the questions that you might not even have. For instance, Kateryna asked me if I want e-publication or another type of publication.
She graduated from the National Aerospace University – Kharkiv Aviation Institute and she also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Print Graphic Design. This shows how Upwork is a great platform for bringing the world to your device.
Publishing the Book
I will be using Kindle Direct Publishing to publish The UnNoticed book. Through this platform, you can self-publish e-books and paperbacks for free within 24 to 48 hours. You can also go to millions of readers on Amazon. You can earn up to 70% royalty and keep control of the book.
Image from Unsplash
I’ve learned that I also need to get an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), which is a 13-digit code. To get one, I need to go to the Nielsen UK ISBN Agency, fill out a form, and email it to them. With an ISBN, I can get my book registered.
On Amazon, I’m planning on having a price for the book not because I think it’s going to be massively valuable — but to demonstrate that there’s value to the book. I can also give promotion codes.
Getting Things Started
I decided to publish a book aware that it’s not going to be the world’s best seller. However, what I want is to get started on publishing books.
Most people stall because they’re hoping that what they’re publishing is going to be the perfect book or the one the book that they’d ever put out. I think that it’s a little bit ambitious, just like when you go to the gym or are headed out for a run and you expect to have the ultimate workout or the ultimate time in a marathon on your first outing.
By making a compilation of articles that I curated, I get to support my podcast. I also get to recognise the contributions of my guests to the show. By including their contact details, it allows me to collaborate with them and share the book with their audience.
In the book, there are some great pieces of advice from over 50 experts; strategies on how a person or a company can get noticed for free through storification, personalisation, engagement, amplification, and knowing the numbers. I’m really hopeful that this will be another piece of the overall package that I’m offering to my audience — and to people across the world who want to get noticed.
Image from Facebook
The overall budget for my book will be no more than $500. Once published, I can use it on my platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. I can also reach out to podcast hosts and use this book as a reason to be on their podcasts. While on their shows, I can explain the book, explain my methodology, and gain authority. After all, the word “authority” comes from the word “author.”
The UnNoticed book is going to be my first book and I hope it won’t be my last.
After I’ve shared easy and simple life hacks and tools, publishing a book can also be something that you can do yourself. If you got questions, reach out to me at email@example.com. I’m more than happy to answer your questions about book publishing or any other issues on getting noticed.
This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast The UnNoticed, you can listen here.