Becoming an Indie Author: The First Step in Writing a Book

The book is all done – it’s on Amazon and everything. I just need help selling it.

In my days as a branding and business sales coach for investors and new entrepreneurs, I helped a handful of indie authors with publishing and promoting their books. Often they just needed help with the first step in writing a book, but this client was in a slightly different situation. She’d already written and published the book through a ‘done for you’ service, and was surprised to discover that her book wasn’t selling. She believed that once it was on Amazon the sales would start rolling in.

She was mistaken. A month after hitting Amazon, she’d sold two copies.

There are more than 8 million books on Amazon.

Nobody is going to buy your book without you selling it. The problem many authors encounter is that they realize this AFTER their book is done.

Smart authors know the first step in writing a book is creating a plan to sell their book.

Most authors worry about distribution – getting their book on Amazon or in book stores. That is important but there’s so much more involved in selling a book than just having somewhere for people to buy it.

Before you even finalize the subject you are going to write about, you should do some research.


  • Who will be buying your book? This is two parts – who is your ideal reader, and who is already reading books like the one you’ll write?
  • What books will you be competing with? This requires you to research the categories your book is most likely to fit in, and read some of the books that are tops in those categories. Then, you want to understand how you’re different and what need your book will fill that isn’t being filled right now. (This video will help you with this research.)
  • How will you market your book? Do you have a strong author platform to promote your book to right now, or will you be relying on other sources? What book is most likely to appeal to the people in your current platform or in the other sources you are connected with?

My client was in a pretty tough spot. Her book was not unique. It was very much like half of the books in the categories she fit in. It didn’t have any of her personality in it. She didn’t have a unique angle to use to market the book. And, she’d picked her cover from a bunch of templates to save money, which meant her cover didn’t stand out in a sea of thumbnails on Amazon.

She was never going to make her book competitive on Amazon with all the obstacles she faced.

She’d have to go back to the beginning and redo so much to sell anything on Amazon. So, our solution was to find other ways to sell her book so she could reach her business goals. She packaged the material in the book up as part of a workshop she was starting to offer and used the book to sell the workshop. She began focusing on women and immigrant groups in her city to offer the workshop, and after six months she was pretty close to selling 500 copies as part of the package she was offering. More importantly, she’d booked several workshops which made her a lot more money than she’d ever make from book sales.

Her Amazon sales continued to be abysmal, but by focusing on another strategy, she still achieved her business goals with the book. She could have done a lot better if she’d planned how to sell her book before she started writing.

Don’t let this happen to you – set yourself up from success from the start.

Book Launchers clients all begin their service with a platform and promotion planning call. This sets you up to reach your business goals with your book, helps you assess what categories will give you the best chance of success, and uncovers the best angle to take so your book is unique and saleable in the marketplace.

The First Step in Writing Your Book … Research and Consider the Following 8 Questions:

  1. Identify your primary goal for your book? What is secondary?
  2. Get clear on what makes YOU unique? It’s not just the area of expertise you’ll be writing about. Someone else has probably already written a book about the same thing. What experience or stories will you use to market the book?
  3. What Amazon book categories fit your book? How competitive are those categories?
  4. List the books you have read that are like the book you’d like to write. Now, research how they are selling? What makes them unique? How are they the same?
  5. Are there categories that you can list your book in that are popular (high sales volume) but not super competitive (not that many top selling books to compete with)?
  6. What is your current author platform? What will these folks want from a book you write?
  7. List the promotional strategies you’ll use for your book. Will the book you plan to write fit in well with the strategies?
  8. How much money, time and effort are you willing to invest after your book is launched to promote your book?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you’re now in a good position to start writing your book. You’ll be able to write a a great book with a unique angle. Small adjustments to the content will ensure that it fits into categories where your book will sell well and appeal to the audiences you can most easily reach. And, as a result of all this work, you’ll have a basic plan for selling your book – which you can build upon while you’re working on your book.

And, of course, if you want help with any of the steps along the way, let us know! We’re your professional publishing team … ready to help you!

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