On Tuesday 12th February 2019, I eventually released my labour of love… My first book! It is called, “How to Be an Empowered Expat Teacher: Personally, Professionally, and Financially.” Click here to find it on Amazon! It has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Publishing a book means I can help future and current expat teachers when they apply to teach abroad. I am currently in the process of updating this book and penning a second one, focusing more on being a financially empowered expat… More news to follow in the future! Follow my advice below to write and self-publish your first book. Please note I am not a marketing expert, so my steps below are literally how to write and self-publish your book, not how to create a bestseller… If I ever have a bestseller, I will definitely add how I did to the steps below!

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5 steps to writing and self-publishing your first book

1. Come up with a book idea / niche

My first book is a non-fiction book, so my advice will be from a non-fiction perspective because I think it’s much harder to come up with a fiction / fantasy-type book! A non-fiction book tends to be more straightforward, with instructions / advice to help, motivate or inspire readers, so to help you come up with an idea for your book, you should list all your passions in life.  Then make a list of what you’re good at, i.e. what do your friends, family, and colleagues ask you for help with? Don’t be modest! If the same topics/ ideas appear on both lists, that is a good starting point in determining your non-fiction niche/ speciality. Once you’ve done this and have a few ideas, you should join relevant Facebook groups and carry out some market research by posting questions. You could also ask for some feedback on your ideas. On Facebook groups, you can also see what kind of questions members are posting so you have an idea about what people need help with, because you want your book to have a market of eager readers! 

2. Plan your contents

Deciding on your list of contents is the biggest factor because once you have that, you have a clear defined section to focus your time, research and writing each day. Give yourself time to list it roughly, leave it for a few hours, refine, edit, update, etc. Ask a trusted friend with some experience in your niche/ topic for their feedback too. A good friend of mine says, “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail” and I completely agree. This planning can take days/weeks to do, but once you’ve completed it well, writing the book will happen so easily! When I was writing, I set myself a deadline and got up an hour earlier each day to write. I would grab a coffee and just type. Do not check your emails or social media until you’ve completed your hour of writing. Be strict with yourself and remind yourself that it will be worth it in the end! I just used Google Docs as I could access it anywhere on my phone and if I ever had spare time, e.g. sitting at the hairdresser’s, I’d try to get some writing done.

Books to inspire you to manage your time better: 

  •  The 12 Week Year. This book shows you how to fulfil your goals in 12 weeks rather than 12 months.
  • The 5AM Club. I am currently reading this book at the moment and it reinforces my habit of dividing my time into 20 minute slots to be more productive. 
  •  Time Management by Brian Tracy. This book has 21 proven time management techniques to gain at least 2 productive hours daily, whether it be at home, at work, or in your side business.

Another great free and quick technique to stop procrastination and be more productive with your time is the Marinara: Pomodoro Assistant Google Chrome extension! I first learned about it from Neta in her “No Hassle Tutorials: How to Use the Pomodoro Technique for Time Management” Youtube video- check it out here.

Once you’re happy with it, ask a friend with an interest/ background in English/ writing, to read over it for you to spot typos, etc. This is a BIG job so be sure to reimburse your friend for their time. You could also employ the services of a freelance editor or proofreader using Upwork or Fiverr. I didn’t do this first time round, but I think I will for my rewrite and new book.

3. Making your book a reality

Every book in the world has an ISBN (an International Standard Book Number) because it is used by publishers, booksellers and libraries to order, list and for stock control purposes. I bought mine here at the online Nielsen ISBN Store.

The next step I took was to seek professional help to format my book properly (the hard copy and the Kindle/ ebook version) AND to design my book cover (for the hard copy version- front cover, book spine and back and for the Kindle/ebook version- front and back cover). By mistake, I got my cover designed before getting the format ready, which meant I had to go back to the cover designer to change the dimensions of the book spine as the number of pages increased when I got the book properly formatted. I found a graphic designer called cal5086 on Fiverr who did an amazing job of designing my hard copy and Kindle/ebook covers! Then on Fiverr again, I found a book designer arty182925 who formatted my books perfectly. Both delivered an excellent prompt and professional service and were very reasonably priced. 

I use Canva to create my social media graphics and webinar templates, but there is also a function to design book covers too-  check Canva out here.

I have also read about a Kindle Create function (from a Youtube video) that seems to allow authors to format their books directly there, but I have no experience of it.

4. Getting published on Amazon and Kindle

You need to set up a KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account here to get started. I remember watching a Youtube video to help me, but I can’t remember which one. I found this one here at the time of writing this article, which looks helpful. Please read the Terms & Conditions carefully and remember that in some cases on KDP, you won’t be able to sell your book on other platforms like Borders because KDP retain exclusive selling rights. This article from Entrepreneur provides a great explanation of the whole process.

5. Getting help from the professionals with marketing, etc.!

I did not get any help from professionals when I first launched my book. In hindsight, I wish I had! I have recently discovered the wonderful Dave Gaughran, who is an Irish author and has helped thousands of authors to self-publish their work via his workshops, blog, and books. He has been featured in the Telegraph, the Irish Times, the Guardian, the Irish Examiner, the Sunday Times, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Forbes, and New York Observer, so I think he knows what he’s talking about! You can enroll for free here on his brilliant course, “Starting From Zero,” to learn how to self-publish like a pro and build an audience of passionate readers for your books. I am about halfway through it and I have learned so many tips and tricks that I’ll definitely implement second time round!

So what will you write your first book about? Let me know in the Comments section below!

My name is Sorcha Coyle and I’ve been teaching in the Gulf (Qatar and Dubai) for the past 9 years. I also run Empowering Expat Teachers, whose mission is to empower future and current expat teachers to lead personally, professionally, and financially rewarding lives. If you haven’t already, join the supportive EET FB group here and follow me on IG @sorchacoyle_eet for lots of research, CV, and cover letter tips! Last but not least, I also provide CV and cover letter support to future and current expat teachers with my Teach Abroad Transformation service, which has three different packages (Essential, Extra, and Elite) to suit all needs and budgets. Great to have you with us!