Have you ever dreamed of publishing your very own cook book? Do you believe you have a niche that no one else has? Last month we shared Niamh Shield’s top tips on how she went from food blog to cook book but that isn’t the only way to get your recipes out there. Lesley who blogs at Scottish Mum took the e-book route. Mum of three Lesley who is from Aberdeen, is a passionate cook and decided to go it alone after her readers requested more of her soup maker recipes.
Over to Lesley…
Publishing my two current e-books, was in demand from readers of my blog. I had begun posting recipes of soups for my soup maker, as my machine is on daily, and found myself being repeatedly asked for a book. When I researched the different publishing methods, I found that there was no way for me to produce a book at a reasonable cost, and in a short time-frame, unless I did it myself.
I considered approaching a publishing house, but in the end, decided that I would like to do it myself, as with no outlay, and no previous experience of writing books, I needed a way to show a potential future publisher that there is a market for what I have been producing.
In the end, I had a demand for a product, that I’d created from my blogs and social media. To enhance images for my second e-book, I had to begin improving my skills. Images are an important aspect of recipe book publication. I had been using cheap image manipulation, but then switched to Photoshop as my tool of choice, once they opened up the app to a monthly payment that was within my budget. I still have a lot to learn.
Using our blogs to find what people want is important. We can produce as many e-books as we like, but if no-one wants to read what we’ve written, or the content is thin on the ground, the book will not generate many sales, if any. We’re also our own marketing departments, and it’s worth having a good e-mail list to share your work with.
My first e-book, 60 No Fuss Soups for your Soup Maker Gadget, is currently sitting at 32 independent reviews, and as any e-book publisher will tell you, it’s very difficult to get reviews on Amazon. I chose Amazon as my seller of choice, simply due to the amount of people who use it, and that it’s easier to create a format than other e-book programmes, unless you are a complete computer whizz with images and documents. Most of us aren’t.
Don’t be tempted to get your family and those who are close, to write glowing fake reviews. Customers would spot that a mile off, and Amazon take a dim view of it too. It could lose you the right to publish with them in the future. If your content is good, good reviews will come with time, and will be trusted by other potential purchasers.
For several weeks, my e-book was a Number 1 Best Seller in a lovely category, which means I can now market that book as having been a Number 1. That means a lot, and helps improve the amount of sales it achieves.
My second e-book, 30 More Tasty Soups has only recently gone online. I’ve done almost nothing in the way of publication yet, but there is time. I have three more books in the planning stages. When I have a portfolio of e-books with quality content, I have a plan of action forming in my head for how to progress from there.
My biggest tips would be:
- Find out what you write, that your audience want to read.
- More importantly, find out what you want to write, that people are willing to pay for. You don’t find out by asking. Listen to what your readers say, or ask about. If you don’t have that type of relationship with your audience, it’s time to begin building it. Most of the comments I receive now are by e-mail. People like a personal response.
- Build an e-mail list. I use direct blog subscription and Mailchimp.
- Build a social media following. My choice is Twitter. Yours could be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or a combination of them all. I limit mine as my time is short, and I can’t possibly produce content, blog and be on every social media platform as well. This can take time.
- Don’t oversell. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Constantly barraging followers with “buy my book” type statuses and posts is off-putting in the UK, and will result in a loss of many previously loyal readers. It’s a thing many authors do, sadly. I mention mine a couple of times a month at most, after an initial post. If people like what you say, they will read your content, and if your book is prominently displayed on your blog, and with good keywords, search engines and readers will find it.
- Reply to people who ask you questions. Interaction is key, especially at the beginning.
- Sign up as self-employed with HRMC. When you accept money on your blog, or through royalty payments, you are effectively self-employed.
- Don’t be tempted to pay for reviews, or get close family to add fake ones.
- One book won’t make you a good income, unless you’re very lucky, or a budding J.K Rowling. Most of us are low to middle rate authors, and every sale is a good day.
- Proof read your work once you’ve created a format you can use. It’s very easy to find mistakes. We can’t always spot our own. I tend to leave mine for a few days when I’m finished and then go back and read line by line, as I have no-one to proof mine. If your spelling and grammar is poor, find someone to do it. And there are still likely to be mistakes, somewhere.
- Make your e-book content your own work. Don’t be tempted to copy anyone else. For your audience to be willing to spend money on what you write, your work needs to be unique in order to stand out from the crowd. And it’s a very, very large crowd.
- Choose the categories you put your books into well, in whichever format or selling agent you choose.
Would you, or have you considered publishing an e-book? We would love to hear your story. If you would like to find out more about Lesley you can find her at Scottish Mum, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.