Writing and Self-Publishing Ebooks


It was July 30, 2010 and I sat across from Mark LeBlanc, a business consultant and former National Speaker Association National president.  He looked at me with his hound dog eyes and said, “You need to write a book. And you can do it next month”  It wasn’t a suggestion.  It was a “demandment.”

I stared back at him, thinking: I have no time.  I have no money.  I have no knowledge.

I had no time.  I worked two part-time jobs and had three teenagers at home, one of whom I was homeschooling.

I had no money.  We had a failing technology business.  Later that year we would be filing for bankruptcy.

I had no knowledge.  I didn’t know the first thing about self-publishing.

So with those thoughts swirling in my head, I said: “I think I can do that.”

I don’t know where those words came from, but if Mark thought I could do it, then I believed I could.

Three months later, I had self-published my first book, Small Talk Big Results: Chit Chat Your Way to Success.  And now, three and half years later, have a total of 5 self-published books and one co-authored book published by McGraw Hill (Diane’s Amazon Author Page).  I bring in passive income of about $1000/month from Amazon sales.  And, the increased credibility has led to speaking engagements (and back-of-the-room book sales) and media interviews.

I learned that I didn’t need much time because I could use content I already created.  Four of my books were originally blog posts and one was curriculum for a class.  After the first book, I published my books in less than a week, including both print and ebook formats. For the last book, which I published only as a Kindle ebook, the total time was about 5 hours (and that including cutting and pasting content from my newsletters, writing an introduction and a conclusion, and formatting).  For that first book, I carved out time from 5:15-6:15 AM Monday-Friday, about 20 hours total, to massage blog content and add a few chapters.

I learned that I didn’t need much money.  My first book cost about $800 to self publish and that included buying a block of 10 ISBN numbers for $250, and hiring out editing, formatting for both print and ebooks, and cover design. Most of the subsequent books cost $30 or less because I did everything myself.

I learned that I didn’t need much knowledge.  I still haven’t read a book on self-publishing. For the first book, I googled “how to self-publish” and learned as I went along.

If I can do it, you can do it.

You don’t need a lot of time. You don’t need a lot of money. You don’t need a lot of knowledge.

I can’t do anything about your time or money situation, but I can help with the knowledge, at least to give you an orientation to self-publishing, with a focus on ebooks.

Click here for a 2-page overview “Writing and Producing Ebooks for Speakers.”  (applicable to non-professional speakers, too!)Self-publishing ebooks

And, then . . . Just do it!

How to Self-Publish a Book: A Short Course of Why, What and How

Maybe you want to write the next great American Novel.  Maybe you want to write a book to gain credibility in your field.  Or, maybe you just want to write down a family member’s stories so that future generations will not forget.   You can do all that and more by self-publishing!

In  preparation for a short educational presentation on self-publishing that I am giving on Saturday for the District 6 Toastmasters Spring Convention, I prepared a 3-page handout:


The handout gives some facts (like only 1-2% of manuscripts are accepted by traditional publishers), some ideas (why, what and how) and a page of resources with links!

I’ve blogged before on my self-publishing experience:

My First Book Adventure . . . Part I Pre-publishing

7 lessons Learned in My Book Launch

Self-publishing continues to evolve and become less expensive (although there are plenty of expensive options even in self-publishing) and easier (although the choices multiply!).   Here’s to self-expression through self-publishing!

Talking to People About Your Business: Why and How I Wrote My Book

On 3/14, Tanya Smith and Tai Goodwin interviewed me on their BlogTalk Radio show, Your First 20 Clients for a segment, How to Talk to Strangers (and Friends) About Your New Business.

This blog post is the ninth and final in a series based on that show (I transcribed it one question at a time).

Today’s question is from 47:19 to 53:15 in the hour-long audio of the show.

Tanya:  So, what prompted you to write the book in the first place, Diane?  Why did you decide that this was a book meant for you to put out to the world?

Diane: Well, this is kind of funny, but it was because someone told me I should write a book.  (laughter)

I had a meeting with another speaker, Mark LeBlanc, who lives in the Twin Cities area.  This was on July 30th of last year.  And, he said, “You should write a book.  In fact, you should write it next month.  And get it published.” Read more of this post

7 Lessons Learned in My Book Launch

For those of you who like details (and maybe are considering doing your own book launch), let me summarize what I have done in the past 2 weeks:

1.  Had an online Virtual Book Party and Giveaway (11/15 – 11/30)

2.  Had a 1-Day Amazon Best Seller Campaign (11/30)

3. Used Targeted FaceBook ads (Pay Per Click)

Both #1 and #2 were shared via email (about 80 emails for #2) and via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  I also created a Facebook Event for the Book Party and Giveaway.  The one day campaign was not started until about 8:30 AM on 11/30. Read more of this post

1-Day Amazon Best Seller Campaign: 11/30/2010

It’s the last day of my Online Virtual Book Launch Party and Giveaway and I have a valuable offer that includes a special free gift for you. I also have a favor to ask.

Here’s the short version, with pictures:  Why Buy Diane’s book by Midnight

Here’s the details:

First, the special free gift . . .

A Special Report eBook: “Dealing with People Who Drive You Crazy!”

Read more of this post

Book Party and Giveaway!

And the winner is . . . Chuck Carstensen (comment #26 as selected by random.org)!

Click here for 11/30 Last Day Special

To celebrate the launch of my new book,

Small Talk Big Results: Chit Chat Your Way to Success!

I’m hosting a virtual book party including a prize giveaway THROUGH 11/30!

Giveaway:  “Chat Pack” (book, Altoids Breath mint tin, $10 Coffee Gift Card) Read more of this post

Tell Your Story! for Yourself, for Others, for Posterity!

When I was in high school, one of my English class teachers gave us the assignment to write our own obituaries.   We were to write it as if we were predicting the future by telling about a past that had not yet happened.

I wrote about my 97 long years, telling about how I made my first million before I was 30, wrote the great American Novel and found a cure for cancer.   Well, life hasn’t quite turned out as I planned.  I’m still working on that first million, my writing consists chiefly of emails and text messages and I’m hoping I don’t get cancer!

As I read obituaries, I often wish I knew more about the person.  How did their lives matter?  Whom did they touch?  How was the world changed because of their presence? I wonder, what were the stories of their lives?  Did their stories die with them? I wonder if those stories are lost forever.

What about your story?

Read more of this post

My First Book Adventure. . .Part I (Pre-publishing)

I only decided to write a book a couple of months ago.  I didn’t take a class on writing or publishing.  I just decided to learn by doing.  So, in month 1 (August) I wrote the book.  In month 2 (September), I started getting the book ready for self-publishing.  It should be ready by the end of the month to publish both in print and in digital (e-book) formats.  It has been quite a learning experience.   I might read a book or take a class on how to do it next time.  Or not.  I have detailed my steps so far, including costs below, for those of you who might be considering self-publishing (or have advice to give me!). Read more of this post