Do you have a book inside you?
We’ve had a few authors on the podcast so far – now it’s your turn!
Steph Caswell is an author who also helps service providers to write their own non-fiction book, with her simple step-by-step process.
Listen in to hear Steph share:
- An introduction to herself and her business (00:55)
- Why she feels writing a book is a good idea for coaches, consultants and other service businesses (2:18)
- How soon into your business you can think about writing a book (4:17)
- How long it takes to write and self publish your first book and her best tips for actually getting it written (6:23)
- The books she’s written (9:37)
- The common reasons people don’t finish (or don’t even start) writing their books (14:59)
- Choosing a topic for your book (19:47)
- Why most first time writers usually write too many words (26:05)
- What to do before you sit down and start to write (29:19)
- How to edit your own writing (33:48)
- The role of an Editor (35:29)
- The main differences between traditional publishing and self publishing (38:15)
- The costs involved in publishing your own book (41:58)
- How to find editors, illustrators and anyone else you might need (43:26)
- The final steps before publishing, including how to market your new book (46:16)
- Whether to create a hardback, ebook or both (50:05)
- Her number one piece of advice for anyone looking to write their own non fiction book (55:07)
Write your first book - with Steph Caswell
Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg.
Vicki Weinberg (00:00:22):
Steph Caswell helps coaches and consultants to write their first book, giving them the competence and skills to share their knowledge in a way their readers will love. So I'm so excited to have staff on the podcast today. We've already had a few authors on here talking about their fiction books. Steph specializes in non-fiction and about helping service-based businesses write their first book. So I'm, I'm thinking this is going to be a really interesting episode and I'm so pleased to have you so welcome Steph. Thank you very much for having me. Oh, you're so welcome. Could you start by just giving us introduction to yourself and your business and what you do please?
Steph Caswell (00:00:56):
Absolutely. Yeah, so I I'm Steph and I run Creating Happy Writers, which is a brand or business that works with, like you said, coaches and consultants primarily to help them write their first book. I written five books, all of which are non-fiction. So I wanted to put my expertise is helping other people achieve the same thing. Cause I think lots of people feel like they've got a book inside them and they're just unsure how to go about putting one together. So I thought I'd put my expertise in, in all of that, into helping others to do the same.
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:38):
Well, that sounds fantastic. Thank you. And I was saying just before we started recording that I've started to fail in the last couple of months. It may be, I do have a book inside me, but as you say, it's just so daunting to think about creating a book. And as you know, this podcast is about cause of creating products and EBIT books is when we haven't really touched on. And I think it's one that a lot of people, myself included are a bit scared of because there's just so much like, like anything there's so much unknown unless you've done it. So I'm really excited to dive in and ask you lots of questions. So let's start if it's okay to start with, why do you think writing a book either is a good idea for, for, for consultants and coaches and other service businesses?
Vicki Weinberg (00:02:19):
Why, why is it something that they might consider doing in the first place?
Steph Caswell (00:02:23):
I think it's an opportunity to show your expertise in an area that you feel comfortable with. I think it's something that people only try to do once they've been going for a little while, once they've really established their audience, their niche, I used to be a teacher and I wrote three of my books were for teachers and I wrote them sort of 10 years into my teaching career. And I found that at that point I had quite a lot of knowledge to share and I wanted to do it in a way that people could learn. But also for me, my stylist to be a bit witty of it's, I don't know, just trying to put the fun back into, into teaching.
Steph Caswell (00:03:10):
So I, I thought actually, why not put the two together? And yeah, I wrote those books for, from that perspective. And I think now that I am a coach, I can understand when you've got to niche and you want to reach people, having a book, not only gives you that sense of an authority in your area of expertise, people will look to you and think, oh, okay, gosh, they have a lot of knowledge around a particular subject, but it also gives you the chance to kind of share in a way that other people might not feel that they can do. And writing a book is a real achievement in itself because it's like, you're saying it's, it's quite a daunting process.
Steph Caswell (00:03:51):
And I think it's something that lots of people want to do, but they're not sure how to say and when they do end up writing it and they do put it out there, they then feel such a sense of accomplishment. And I think that drives me to do what I do cause I really want people to succeed in something they maybe thought they wouldn't be able to do before. So I think it's really, really valuable for coaches and consultants to be able to show that showcase what they know.
Vicki Weinberg (00:04:17):
Thank you. And so do you think that someone has to have been doing whatever it is that they're doing for a couple of years before they even think about writing their bit? Or is it something you could do you know when you've been going for, you know, you've set your business up six months ago? What are your thoughts on that?
Steph Caswell (00:04:34):
I think it's down to confidence levels. I would say I wrote to, I ghost wrote two books for an Australian publisher on a more of a personal development vibe. And that wasn't an area that I was doing a business. Then it was just an area of personal interest and they approached me to write about kind of mindset and that sort of thing. And so not necessarily, I just think the thing with publishing these days is even if you self-publish, you need to have an established audience who are going to want to read what you put out there. If you want to be traditionally published via, you know, a, a publishing house.
Steph Caswell (00:05:16):
It's one of those things where they now look to see, do you have an audience that are already established so that you, they know that you've got some people that are going to buy it, essentially because sadly it comes down to whether it's marketable, whether it's worth buying from their perspective. So either way, I think it's easier to do. If you have an audience it's easier to do because you probably know them really well. Like I knew teachers really well, so I was able to empathize with them quite easily. I knew things that they commonly found difficult. So I felt that actually that audience was there already. And I used to do a podcast myself for teachers.
Steph Caswell (00:05:57):
Again, I had listeners and things like that. So it's one of those things that it comes down to confidence at the end of the day. And I'm not saying that you shouldn't, if you're new to your business, I just think for ease, it's probably worth waiting. It may be even a year. If you've built up a bit of a following and you've got, you know,
consistent clients and people like that who are interested in what you're saying, then for sure you can do that.
Vicki Weinberg (00:06:23):
And we'll talk about all of the steps you need. Skyford it's a bit later, but I'm assuming as well that there's nothing to say. You can't start thinking about your book, preparing to write your book, writing your bit whenever you like, really? Because I mean, something that I don't know is how long you, I mean, you're probably going to say how long is a piece of string? How long does it take to sort of have a completed published book, whether that's self-published or otherwise
Steph Caswell (00:06:50):
It's very dependent on you as a, as a person, how committed you are to the process. I think there are easier ways to kind of map out how long that process will take. So for example, I often share with people that if you give yourself a self-imposed deadline, so say for example, you want to get your first draft done and say, for example, in 10 weeks, and that sounds quite daunting, but actually it works to give yourself that deadline because otherwise it can be one of these projects that you think, oh, I'll get to it one day, I'll get to it one day or I'll you've started it. And then you think I'll finish it one day. If you give yourself that self-imposed deadline, it can just really help you to start the process.
Steph Caswell (00:07:33):
So say for example, you wanted to do most non-fiction books are, I'd say on average 50,000 words. My, my three for teachers were a roughly 30,000 words. So if you're self publishing, it really doesn't matter what the length is. As long as you know, you're putting in good quality content. If you're going down the traditional route, they say sort of 50 to 75,000 words is kind of where the average is. So say for example, you are me writing that 30,000 word book. And I knew that I wanted to get the first draft done in 10 weeks time. That means I need to, to write 3000 words a week. And then what I do is I then break that down into how, how much I need to write per day.
Steph Caswell (00:08:15):
And so it just makes the whole thing less daunting because you've given yourself a deadline and you're breaking it down into manageable chunks. And anybody knows that if you're trying to achieve a goal, you know, breaking that down is such a key factor. So I think that's, that's what to, to bear in mind. It's what you can manage for starters, what your, you know, your current schedules like whether, you know, you can fit in writing a book because to write it UN is dedicate time to it probably on a daily basis. Even if you're only writing 500 words a day, it's just keeping that consistency up. So I would say probably if you look going down
self publishing, you could self publish your book within six months.
Steph Caswell (00:09:00):
If you had a real sort of focus on it for a sustained period of time, if you go down traditional route from concept to shelf, they say it's about 18 months to two years. So it's not as quick as self publishing. Some people use their book as part of their sales funnel, which is again, they kind of do an ebook, a PDF kind of idea. And again, that's just based on how much time you can get to it at any one day or month, et cetera. So it's unfortunately a little bit like how long has a piece of string, but it's like, it's your string and you can determine the length of it, I guess.
Vicki Weinberg (00:09:37):
Very helpful. Thank you. And I completely agree that giving yourself deadlines just, just helps just get anything to get anything done. Oh, it just becomes one of those things. It's just always on your, to do one day list and that one day never comes. So before we ask a few more questions about the process, so you've written three books for teachers, staff. What are the other books that you've written? I'm just really? Oh
Steph Caswell (00:09:59):
Yes. So I was, I approached a, I pitched actually to a, an Australian publisher for a ghostwriting contract and it was about mindset. I, I can't obviously say exactly what it was cause it's published under someone else's name because I ghost wrote it. But it's talks a lot about taking responsibility for your life. And I am a massive reader who always read a lot around personal development and growth. And I thought, you know what? I've got so much knowledge from my own learning and my own experience of life in terms of changing career and having to, you know, all that, all that goes with it, but also just from my enjoyment of reading for the last 10 years.
Steph Caswell (00:10:42):
So I pitched to them and they, they took me up on it. So there was one on, as I say, take responsibility. And then another one, which they approached me to write, which is about relationships with not with just general people. It was relationships with your spouse, your partner. And it was just, yeah, which was slightly less in
my comfort zone. But I had to do a bit of research on that one, but again, that went out to, to them about two years ago. So yeah,
Vicki Weinberg (00:11:13):
It's really interesting. And so what, I guess, what, what, oh, I'll, I'll just ask the question. I wondered. Is it, have you had any sort of formal sort of writing excellency, formal writing experience because okay. Where I'm coming from is I think that something that might possibly hold people back or trip people up, as they say, well, I'm not a writer, I've never been a writer. I've never been trained how to write. I don't know. My spelling's not good. My grandma's not good. I'm not saying any of those things apply to you or did apply to your staff, but so were you, so it sounds like you were teaching when you wrote your first books. So did you
have any backgrounds in, in sort of, I mean, obviously you wrote as a teacher, hopefully, you know what I'm getting at. Did you have any sort of formal training in how to write, I guess is the question?
Steph Caswell (00:11:57):
No, I, nothing formal. I think when I first started thinking about writing a book, I sort of did everybody does and goes online and tries to find out lots of information about how to do that, how to structure it. And I read quite a few books about the process, I guess I've been writing fiction for longer. So I I'm currently writing a
children's book. And so I I've always been writing in one way or another. I've had blogs before and things like that. So writing really is of comfortable thing for me. And I know that that's, isn't necessarily the case, like you said, for some people it's actually quite daunting to think about, well, maybe you have kind of those feelings from school.
Steph Caswell (00:12:46):
I know I spoke to somebody recently who was saying to me, I was always told that I wasn't very good at writing at school. And, and she kind of taken that with her into adulthood and that was putting her off writing habits that she wanted to write. And I think that's a very sad that our education system can do that. But also I think that actually you can learn how to do it. There is a process, there are skills that you say, punctuation, grammar and things like that, but that's what an editor is for. And I think that's what people should remember is actually writing. It is one thing. And I always think of them as two separate things, two separate hats, if you like. So writing a first draft is one thing, it's a process.
Steph Caswell (00:13:29):
You just have to get it done because you can't edit a blank page, which is a famous writing quote. So as long as you've got something, you can then Polish it and shape it and make it excellent. But you can't do that until you have that. Normally they're sort of pretty rubbish. Every first draft is, is horrendous. You know, when I look back on some of my first drafts of anything I've done and you know, you just think, good Lord, what was I, what was I thinking? So it's almost like you have to have the thing in its roughest sense to them Polish it up. And I'm an advocate of finding a professional editor editor. I've worked with freelance editors on, on my books because I self published the first three and I hired an editor because I knew that I wanted it to go out and appear to be traditionally published.
Steph Caswell (00:14:18):
I wanted to have the same quality as if it had gone through a publishing house where you've got editors, you've got structural editors, you've got line editors, all these people that do improve readers, et cetera. So I had a hired an editor and I, and then I had it pre Fred as well. So you shouldn't shy away from it because you're worried about things like that. And actually I think you should just embrace the journey and it sucks sometimes, you know, it's one of those things when you're a creative person, you know, it's hard to almost allow yourself to suck at something, but if you do, you can then Polish it and shine and shape it at the other end of the, of the experience.
Vicki Weinberg (00:14:59):
Well, thank you so much for that. And I think that I really botched how I asked the question, but I was basically just trying to just smack dispel the myth that you have to, you know, have gone to uni and studied English, or had some kind of background in copywriting or whatever, to actually write something, because I'm with you on that. You can, you can write a book and call yourself a writer and it doesn't matter where, you know, you can, you can do that. You can choose to do that. And I I'm completely with you as well. It sounds like you just need to get some words on the page and, and take it from there. And that's the, and I imagine that's probably the hardest thing getting started. So I guess while we're on, on the subject of things that perhaps people struggle with, what are some of the things that you hear that maybe either stop people from even starting their book or perhaps, you know, chip them up halfway through, prevent them from finishing?
Vicki Weinberg (00:15:50):
What are some of the common things that, that you hear about and what can we do to get over them?
Steph Caswell (00:15:55):
I think the biggest thing as with a lot of things in life is mindset. People are battling with that inner critic, that inner voice who, when they sit down to write, they, you know, that that inner critics on the shoulder, and it's sort of saying, who's going to read your work. You don't have enough knowledge. You know, what if it, what if it's all full? What if you get terrible reviews? And that's a voice that I would say, all the people that I work with and myself have to baffle with listening to and Elizabeth Gilbert is, is a great writer. And she wrote a book called big magic, which is an excellent book. If you are somebody who battles with your inner demon and your creativity, but she was on a podcast.
Steph Caswell (00:16:40):
And she was saying, you know, what she does is she accepts the fact that this inner critic is going to come along for the journey. And she said, they can sit in the back seat, but they're not allowed to tell you the routes. They're not allowed to comment on your driving. If you like, you know, your writing, they can come along because you've got to embrace the fact that they will just be there. Anyway, you can't silence your inner critic because it's just part of who you are, unfortunately. So it's about almost saying to them, okay, you can come, but you need to shush. I'm not listening to you. I, you know, and it's, it's that constant battle really that I think a lot of people struggle with and it can put them off even starting, just because every time they sit down to start, they think, you know, this is, this is silly.
Steph Caswell (00:17:26):
What a silly idea, who, who thinks I can write a book. I guess the other thing people commonly struggle with is how to structure it, how to put a book together. When you have a wealth of ideas and knowledge, how can you almost sculpt it into something that is a journey? And I always talk about the reader's journey and the reader has to go on a, when they read your book and as an author and as a coach, and you have to know
where your reader is at the start, and you almost have to hold their hand through the book. And at the end of it, you need to think, where do I want that person to be by the end of it? How do I want them to be feeling, what do I want them to have learned?
Steph Caswell (00:18:06):
What do I want them to take away from it and do so it's, it's worth thinking about it in terms of starting with your reader in mind. And Stephen Covey always says about, start with the end in mind, always think about where do you want them to, how do you want them to fail? And another way to battle that I suppose is also to think just right, for one person, when you're writing your book, write to some people do ideal client work. When they, when they set up a business, a service business, and it's almost like, think about your ideal client, who are they? And they often become your ideal reader and then just write to them. So rather than thinking, oh my gosh, this book could be read by hundreds of people.
Steph Caswell (00:18:46):
Thousands of people don't put that pressure on yourself, just think, okay, I'm going to write to this one person. And if I can change one person's life for the better, by what I'm putting out there that can help with the battle of just getting started. And essentially you just have to write, I know it sounds such a trivial thing said, I don't mean it to sound trivial, but what I tend to do is I put a timer on my phone for half an hour or whatever, and I will just set the time and I just go, and I know that a lot of what I'm writing, isn't going to go in, be in the final draft. But like I said, unless you have something to work with that final draft won't happen. So put a timer on, just set yourself half an hour and just type type type.
Steph Caswell (00:19:27):
And if you're not sure if something, I just write X, X, X, if I don't know, I don't think, oh, I know how to word that. I don't know. As long as I get the general gist, if I can't think of the right word or I can't find the right quotes, or I just fit three Xs, and I know that I can come back to it when I'm editing and sort that out. So it's just about releasing some of that pressure you put on yourself.
Vicki Weinberg (00:19:47):
That's really good advice. Thank you. And I was going to ask about some of the things that might trip you up as we go, but maybe, maybe the best way to approach it would be to talk about sort of from the beginning, you know, how you go through the process and then I'm sure that will lead to some more questions. So maybe we could start with, how did you even choose the topic for your book? Because I think some of us can actually struggle even to define like a niche, you know, as a coach or consultant or any kind of service business, plenty of a sort of do different things, or have you buried customers, how would you even know what to write about?
Steph Caswell (00:20:23):
I think the place to start is definitely with your first book is an area that you feel comfortable and competent
to write about. I think if it's a, an area that you, you coach regularly and then all the better, but sometimes actually, you know, working with a client or working with a, you know, a group of people can get an idea flowing in your mind for a book. So I think that the way to, to, to do that is, is just to think, right. Think of your big niche. So I'll give an example from my book. So I chose a niche of newly qualified teachers and for non-teaching people that's abbreviated very excitingly to .
Steph Caswell (00:21:03):
If I say that, that's what it means to newly qualified teachers. And I knew that that was a very broad audience. Okay. And QTS, and what they need to know is varied. So for example, I know that they'd need to know about how to communicate effectively with parents. I know that they would need to have good behavior management. I know that they need to be able to understand planning and assessment and all these other things that, that newly qualified teachers need to know. So basically I start with a mind map. So I just put, for example, and in the middle, and then I just brain dumped everything I could that I knew and NQT would want to, or need to know in their first year of teaching.
Steph Caswell (00:21:44):
And then I looked at them and I thought, okay, which one do I feel the most confident with? And for me that was behavior management, because it's just something that I've always found I can do quite well and confidently. And I thought, you know, what, behavior management in a costume underpins, everything underpins the learning and depends your relationship with parents and with children. So I thought, you know, what if I start there with behavior management, so it was almost going from a big, broad niche of newly qualified teachers to thinking about them as an audience and what they'd need to know. And then from all the things that they could need to know, I then niched even further down and just focused on behavior management for a whole book. And that's, I think is the way to do it.
Steph Caswell (00:22:27):
So you might have several areas that you feel that you could write a book about, or that you can talk competently about. And I think it's about choosing the one that excites you because writing when you're not feeling passionate and excited about the topic is like pulling teeth, but also that you can really niche down into just one topic and it can cover a whole book. And I think if you try and cover too much in one book, two from too many areas within your target market, your, your audience, it just becomes very fluffy and Willy and it's not very detailed and helpful. So yeah, I think that's the way to start is just to try and think of the big picture.
Steph Caswell (00:23:10):
I call it big picture thinking and then really try and pull out. Okay, well, which one of these smaller areas could I focus on? And that's, that's quite useful.
Vicki Weinberg (00:23:19):
That's really useful. Thank you so much because that was something I was wondering wherever you go broad and try and cover lots of stuff. Cause you know, lots of things or wherever to go deep on one topic. So that's really useful to know that. Cause I guess that if there are other topics interest you and excite you, you can write these books down the line. Yeah,
Steph Caswell (00:23:37):
For sure. I mean, I, where my other two books for newly qualified teachers are about working with a teaching assistant because I know that that that's quite challenging for some teachers to manage another adult in the classroom. So that again is a book in itself. And also the third one is about special educational needs. Cause
I used to be a special educational needs coordinator. So I had that knowledge and I know that that's a very vast field for entities to try and wrap their heads around. So I was thinking, right, okay, how can I make this? This is what you need to know and not sorts of worries. So again, it's yeah. I just took three small areas and
made them into three books, which is probably why there were only certain thousand words rather than 50 to 75,000 words.
Steph Caswell (00:24:21):
But actually that works better because I felt that then that was a very focused topic for people to choose.
Vicki Weinberg (00:24:28):
And I guess it's better as well that a book is as long as it needs to be, because you could have presumably put in an extra 20,000 words, but then it would, it may have just been filler. And I think as a reader, I've certainly had the experience of reading a book before where I felt it could have ended three chapters earlier, or there was a lot in there that was repetitive or I've certainly experienced that reading and I'm with you that I think that a book is, I guess a book has to be as long as it has to be. And there's no point stretching it to meet this words, target. If the content just doesn't allow for that.
Steph Caswell (00:25:01):
Yeah. I think what you're, what most people tend to find is that they write much more than that to start with, but once they've edited and cut things out and, and that's why an editor is worth their weight in gold is because they look at it from an outside perspective. They haven't got the emotional attachment to it because writing a book, you do get emotionally attached to your book. So it's almost like it's your baby and you need someone else's perspective to be like, listen, I don't think we need that chapter there. Or, you know, I think you can cut this out and they're quite ruthless, but they're looking at, at it in a way to keep it tight and together and not, you know, a lot of fluff. And like you say, filler, because actually that's what some books are like, but non-fiction is easier to two to refine, I think, than fiction because fiction is, you know, it's a very different head on your shoulders than writing on fiction because you're just trying to get people information.
Steph Caswell (00:25:55):
You're just trying to get them from a, to B, this is your problem. This is how you can solve it. And this is how
you'll be at the end essentially is how a lot of nonfiction is structured.
Vicki Weinberg (00:26:05):
Okay. Thank you. And then we will talk a bit more about editors in a moment. So do you have a few more questions on them? I'm really interested that you've said that often people write too many words because in my mind I was thinking or 50,000 words is loads. How would you ever write that many words? So it's so interesting that in your experiments, people write way over that. Yeah, I'm ready. Oh, that surprised me. I have to be honest.
Steph Caswell (00:26:27):
Yeah. I think what happens is once they get into the process, because once you get over the hurdle of starting and you actually think you suck, you know what, I'm going to write each day. And I'm just what I always advise people to do. And what I do myself is I just, I never read what I wrote yesterday, because what happens is you then start editing self-editing, which is obviously an important part of the process, but you never actually moved further forward because you then look back at what you did yesterday. And you're like, oh, actually now I'm going to be right that, but I'm going to be right that, but I just plow on, I read the last bit of the last chapter. So I remind myself what I've just said, where I'm up to. And then I just plow on until I get to the end of my first draft and I never read the whole thing until it's finished.
Steph Caswell (00:27:10):
And sometimes that's how that extended amount of writing happens is because people just keep going and keep going. And then actually they end up with more than they thought they were and then they can cut it down. So yeah, that's my big tip is never read what you did the day before. Otherwise you ended up thinking, well, I'll just spend a few minutes just, you know, altering that sentence or, and it's just really then difficult to keep up
Vicki Weinberg (00:27:36):
That that is really interesting. And actually I have got a bit of a writing background. I've worked in various roles, wherever item has a big part of it. And I remember one thing that I was taught because not everything sticks, but something that really sticks is me is I was always taught not to edit as I went so to write and then come back and edit because you needed two different mindsets of writing and editing and yeah, that's something that's always stuck with me is not to sort of write to sentence and then go back and edit it and watch it, love a sentence, go back and edit that. And is that how you would suggest people write as well? Just get the word.
Steph Caswell (00:28:08):
Yeah. A hundred percent. I think that's how I started was to, to try and edit as I went and I never got anywhere. So I, I absolutely wholeheartedly agree with that. And I think that the creative brain, if you like has to just be allowed to be creative. If you start stepping in with the analytical side of your brain and your
thoughts, then it just interrupts creativity. I think if you can just say right. Okay. I know for the next 12 weeks on, we're just being creative mode and allow yourself to be in creative mode. And I will write things sometimes I think this, like, this is like just, I hate it, but I just keep going.
Steph Caswell (00:28:48):
I just think to myself, don't worry about it. Now I'm going to come back to it with a different head on different hats on where I am in analytical editing mode. And, and also that space and time away from your first draft, those early chapters can do wonders because when you come back to edit them and you haven't seen them for a while, you're like, oh right. I can see exactly what needs to go. Whereas if you're always write, edit, write, edit, you're always so close to the creative process that it's just stifles it. And it's, it's really hard to get away from it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:29:20):
That really makes sense. Thank you. So is there anything you need to do between choosing your topic and knowing what you're going to write about and actually sitting down and starting writing?
Steph Caswell (00:29:30):
Yes. Yeah. Well, I teach people to do, is it goes, I go from the division for their book. So we start off with where, you know, knowing when you want to publish, knowing how you want to publish, knowing who your audience is, who your reader is and the journey you want to take your reader on in a broad sense. So without a deadline, I find that people don't accomplish what they want to do. So as part of my role, I, I, I'm a bit of an accountability person. So I'll sort of say to them, look, you know, where are you up to? How you on that word count are you do think, and I obviously deadlines can move and things like that.
Steph Caswell (00:30:11):
But I think it's worth before you even start having that umbrella picture of what your deadline is and what your thoughts are because you have to get in with editors pretty early. So you probably need to approach an editor as you're starting to write a first draft, really, and sort of say, listen, I'm writing, I've got a deadline of this. Have you got any availability? Because sometimes you finish and you're like, oh, I need an editor. And they're like, oh, I can't see you for another couple of months because I've got people on my books and that can be quite frustrating. So I encourage people to think of all the things that they might need an illustrator for cover design. And also if you want anybody to contribute to your book, I recently contributed to somebody's book and that she approached me before, you know, just as she was starting and said, listen, I'd love for you to, to write a piece in here about, you know, your, your experience of being in teaching.
Steph Caswell (00:31:03):
And so she asked me before she'd started. So she knew there were people who were going to be doing certain parts of the book. So it's about having that bigger picture thinking. And then I then go into planning and outlining and I go, like I explained before that mind map and I just get down all the ideas that I possibly
can once I've worked out my topic, I do another mind map around my topic and think, right, okay. So for behavior management, for newly qualified teachers, what are the things they're going to need to know? And I just dump everything on a piece of paper. And that then helps me look at possible chapters because I know that, for example, in, in that book I wrote, I was talking about, well, what is behavior?
Steph Caswell (00:31:47):
Why the children behave in different ways? And so I knew that actually to explain behavior was going to be important, but I also knew getting a good relationship with parents about behavior is important for people, because if you don't have a good relationship with the parent and you're constantly having to tell them their child isn't behaving very well, it can be very stressful. I also knew that another area for that for teachers would be their own mental health and wellbeing because managing behavior can have a detrimental effect on, on teacher's wellbeing because it's, it's hard work managing 30 children. So I sort of thought, okay, what am I potential chapter headings here? And then when I had my chapter headings, I then thought, okay, within that again, like really refining it down.
Steph Caswell (00:32:31):
So within mental health and wellbeing, that chapter, what kind of things do I need to talk about? And again, bullet points or just jot down, okay, they're going to need to know who they can talk to. If they're struggling, they're going to need to have some wellbeing habits in place to look after and protect their mental health. They're going to need to know that it's okay to struggle with behavior management. So it's almost like you go from very big picture and you just keep going down and down and down until you get to your chapters and you think to yourself, okay, what's going to be in this chapter. And again, you just jot down ideas and then those ideas tend to be your subheadings. So you'd have a chapter title of mental health and wellbeing for teachers.
Steph Caswell (00:33:14):
And then you would have within that, all those things that you thought they'd need to know, tend to become your subheadings within your chapter. And then you can flesh out the content of each subheading. And it, that just means that it goes from this massive 30,000 word thing into being, what am I focusing on in this chapter? What am I focusing on in under the subheading? Because then it means that you're just focusing on a chapter. You're just focusing on a subheading. And it, if you just keep doing that, eventually those 30,000, 50,000 words will come because you're doing those small incremental bits that add up to the whole thing. Does that make sense?
Vicki Weinberg (00:33:50):
It makes real sense. Thank you so much. So yeah, so you structure it and then you get, and then you get writing. So once you've, you've written your first draft, however long that takes you at that point, do you edit yourself? Do you give, do you go through and give what you've written a rough edit or a first edit, or I don't know the terminology, but
Steph Caswell (00:34:11):
Yeah, no, absolutely. A hundred percent go back and self edit and parts of I'm not an editor. So I only have sort of various tips that I tend to give people that I work with around self editing, but as a writer, I kind of know what sorts of things I would do. So I tend to give people that advice, but self editing is really important because what tends to happen is a, an editor will take your work on. But if they think actually there's so much work to be done, they'll probably send it back to you. Say, listen, you need to look at this yourself and think about the structure, which is why w the way I teach it is in a very, I teach in a very structured way about structure, because then it allows people to, to, to map out and write their book in a way that makes the most sense to the reader.
Steph Caswell (00:35:03):
And it starts with the introduction to the topic, and it ends with the summary, and then, you know, what they can go on to do next. And then if you don't have that structure in place, an editor will go back to you and say, you know, you need to look at your structure. So definitely worth self-editing and then an editor will then take it on and, and work with you to Polish it and make it as great as it can be.
Vicki Weinberg (00:35:30):
Yeah. Thank you for . That was going to be my next question actually was exactly what an editor does. So I'm assuming that editors will sort of have an idea of what, if you were going down the publishing route, would they have an idea of the kind of thing publishers are looking for in terms of how books are structured, or are they mainly looking at the grammar and your spelling and
Steph Caswell (00:35:48):
How you read things out confusingly there's different types of answers. So what freelance editors tend to do is they'll tend to have different types of editing that they do in a publishing house. You have structural editors, you have copy editors, you have line editors. You also have people who check it for to make sure that you are, you're not going to offend anybody by what you've said and things like that. So in a publishing house, it's very different. It's very controlled, but a freelance editor in my experience of working with them is that they will, first of all, do a structural edits. So they'll look at the structure and think, does it flow as a whole thing? Does it make sense?
Steph Caswell (00:36:29):
The way it's structured from start to finish, then they will then do like, copy, edit. So they'll look at your chapters, they'll look at your copy and they'll make suggestions about maybe cutting this out, you know, say, look at almost the larger chunks. And then the line editing is when they look at punctuation, grammar and things like that. So it starts off again with a very big view of your book. And then as you go there, then refine it down to work. And then they look at the, the minor detail
Vicki Weinberg (00:36:59):
That's really useful. Thank you. And does it generally work that they will make some changes, then they'll come as in, do they switch, make suggestions for you to change things? So it's not that they're necessarily doing it all. They they'll come back to you and say,
Steph Caswell (00:37:14):
Yeah, definitely. And also with copy, they'll say like, so for example, obviously there's quite a lot of terminology in my books that teachers would understand, but my editor would say to me, I'm not sure what this is because she wasn't a teacher. So I was using phrases that teachers would know. And she said, if, if that is what teachers know, then leave it in. But for her, because she wasn't, it kind of stuck out as a little bit odd. And then when I said to her, oh, no, that's a term that we use in teaching. She was, oh, then that's fine. Just leave it. And so they won't ever change your book for you. They will just go away and say, these are my suggestions. And essentially if you're self publishing is up to you, whether you take their suggestion a little bit different in traditional publishing, but in, in, in the cell function, if, if you feel really strongly about keeping something that they think you should get rid of, essentially, it's your decision at the end of the day, because if you want to end that it's your book, then, then you can keep it.
Steph Caswell (00:38:07):
And they will only make suggestions. They wouldn't say to you, you have to take this out. They would just suggest, or, you know, options that you could consider.
Vicki Weinberg (00:38:16):
Okay. Thank you. And this is probably a good point to ask actually. So what do you believe are the, what are the differences between publishing traditionally and self publishing and, and what are the benefits of each, would you say?
Steph Caswell (00:38:29):
Well, traditionally published work is still kind of the pinnacle. I've self published all my nonfiction. Oh, well, I had a publisher for the ghost write and stuff, but obviously, because it's not my name, I, I tend to forget about that. But with, in terms of, for my children's book, for me, traditionally published is like the pinnacle that's the, the, the, the achievements. So it just depends on you personally, traditionally published, you get, obviously all the marketing team behind you, you get, you work with an editor. The difference is that when you approach a traditional publisher, they will not ask to read your manuscripts.
Steph Caswell (00:39:11):
They want you to pitch an idea. And that's what some people get confused about. Because in fiction, you have to submit your first three chapters and a synopsis of your story. And then they'll consider whether they want to read the rest in nonfiction. They will, they ask you to pitch just the outline and the overall idea of your book. They don't want to read the actual manuscripts. So if you do want to go down traditional publishing
route, I would pitch first before you write anything. Because what they'll do is they'll say, yes, we like that. And then they'll commission you to write it. So don't feel like you have to have a book ready if you want to go down the traditional route. But as I said before, they are looking for people who have an audience to sell to, because there's just not the money in publishing anymore to take on somebody who's an unknown.
Steph Caswell (00:39:57):
So, you know, if you've got, you know, 20,000 followers or something on social, and you've got a huge email list of thousands of people, they'll probably listen to you. If you're somebody who's only got a few hundred followers, a few hundred people on the email list, it's unlikely that they would be interested unless you've got a very unique twist to your tail. Whether you know, I'm going to use stupid that whether you're a celebrity, you're a celebrity, you can go to a publisher and be like, ah, you know, I'd like to publish your book. And they're like, oh, okay. You know that they'll, they'll think of it differently. So it's just about whether you've got the audience, essentially self publishing. You get more royalties if you self publish.
Steph Caswell (00:40:39):
So you get more money per book sold, traditional publishing, you have to pay, they'll pay you in advance for your book. So say for example, 20,000 pounds, you then have to pay that back to them before you start to see any royalties. So it can be a long time before you start to see any money coming in from your work. So that's something also to consider self publishing. You get royalties immediately. So if you publish to Amazon, Amazon keep a percentage. Is there a fee if you like for putting it out there, because it's free to publish on Amazon, but they keep it as part of your selling profits. And then you then get a much better return on your royalties than you do.
Steph Caswell (00:41:26):
Traditionally, it's a difficult one, because if you haven't got, if you've got money to spend, you need to put money in for yourself, publishing aside for your editor for a cover designer, for somebody to format it for Kindle, unless you're somebody who's good at formatting, which I was not. So I got somebody to, to format it for me. So you're having to outlay a lot more when you self publish, when you're traditionally published, they will pay for all that for you. So you don't have to consider that, but you don't get the return unless you're somebody of massive following.
Vicki Weinberg (00:41:59):
Okay. That's really helpful. Thank you. And so what kind of costs are you looking at to self-publish your own? But, and again, I know that this probably varies greatly, but I guess just a ballpark would be sort of useful for, for people listening.
Steph Caswell (00:42:15):
I would say to be on the safe side, I would probably put away between 500 to a thousand pounds to publish because an editor, a good editor, a good editor, and they are worth their weight in gold. I will say that. And
it's worth paying for somebody who has that experience because you won't believe the difference from what you give them and what it comes out. Like, it's just incredible. So yeah, they're normally five to 600 pounds might be more. And then you've got the cost of a cover design as a couple of hundred pounds for design work. So yeah, maybe you're looking more towards the, the thousand pound mark to have ready.
Steph Caswell (00:42:56):
Some people publish without an editor and some people publish without a cover designer. That's kind of why self publishing has had a bit of a bad rap over the last 10 years or so is because people are not putting out quality stuff. So it's just about trying to be as professional as you can be and thinking if this was traditionally published through a publishing house, you know, it's going to look a certain way. So you want to aim for it to look as good as you know, or near enough as it would as if it was traditionally published so that you've got credibility
Vicki Weinberg (00:43:27):
That's really helpful. And where would you go about finding editors and copy designers or illustrators or, or whatever you, you need to sort of actually be to bring your book to life? Where do you go about finding these people?
Steph Caswell (00:43:41):
Sometimes it comes from recommendations. So if you know other people who've done self publishing, then you, I always say, go with recommendations, like with anything really isn't it that if you know that someone speaks highly of an editor, you can look on social on Instagram. I I'm friends with quite a few editors and things like there's, there are a lot of people out there. And again, it's like when you're choosing to, to buy any kind of service, you need to look at their reviews and, and see what people are saying. And the same with cup of designers there are low. And what I love about it is there's loads of small businesses. You can support by going and finding freelance editors and freelance cover designers. And the fact that, you know, you've got someone else, a little bit of business out of what you're trying to do as well.
Steph Caswell (00:44:25):
I think I love that aspect of it. So yeah, that, that would be, my suggestion is try and find gone there before. I've got people that I know. So, you know, people are always welcome to ask me if they want some advice on who to go to. So yeah, that would be my suggestion.
Vicki Weinberg (00:44:42):
That's really helpful. Thank you. So let's say you've written your book. It's been edited professionally and you've got a cover design. So I guess you're almost there at that point.
Steph Caswell (00:44:54):
Yeah, you are. Yeah. And the, the step then probably before you, you still have load it. If you're going to self
publish would be to get a few beats or readers in to read it fast and give you some feedback because there's, you can't detach yourself from it very easily. You're so close to it because you're writing it like the editor has that kind of bird's-eye view. If you can find some readers, it might even just be friends and family who can read it. And if they're going to be good, honest feedback, people then go to them. You want people who are, who aren't just going to go, oh, well done. That's really lovely.
Steph Caswell (00:45:34):
You want people who are going to say, oh, I didn't really understand that bit. Or I think that it's not as clear because you can get that feedback and you can ask your, you know, you can ask your audience. If you've got people in the audience who might want to read and give you some feedback, you know, if you're feeling brave, it just depends. But I do think before you hit publish, do you send it out to some readers first and get some feedback? And if there are, if there's something that comes up from everybody that they say this chapter, and everyone brings up the same chapter as an issue, there may be, you need to look at it again, but it might just be that some people might say things and you saying, oh, thanks very much, but I'm happy with it as is, but it's definitely worth getting your beta readers lined up as well.
Vicki Weinberg (00:46:17):
That's great. Thank you. And then what are the final few steps you need to do and then to get it published?
Steph Caswell (00:46:24):
Well, you need to think about your marketing. And I think what people forget is everyone's a bit nosy. Aren't they, we all like to, to know what's going on. And if you can take your, your audience on that, on your writing journey with you, by the time you come to publish and sell your book, they're chomping at the bit. So don't tell them about it. Once you've published that, bring them along on the journey and talk to them about it. And, and I often say, you know, if you've got a cover design, put it out on a poll on, on Instagram and say, well, what are we thinking? What are we voting here? So that they feel part of it. Cause then when it does come out, they are going to want to buy it immediately. Cause they feel like they've been part of the journey of you writing it.
Steph Caswell (00:47:06):
So marketing it, you need to think of an advance start to think, okay. If my deadlines this, when do I need to start talking about writing my book, you know, go behind the scenes, you know, have pictures of you writing all that kind of thing that gets your audience kind of primed and ready to buy from you. And it's, you're, you'll be to read is, can give you reviews. So if you can get some reviews early on for your book, that's, that's
going to be really, really helpful. And you'll need to consider that post publication is how you going to get as many reviews as you can, because Amazon's kind of algorithm is to, to promote and get people to see books with lots of reviews.
Steph Caswell (00:47:47):
So you, you want to get as many reviews as you can. So again, you're going to want to approach your audience and say, well, if you read my book, it'd be great. If you could leave me a review and I read a coaching, but recently, and I commented on Facebook on the author and I said, oh, I really enjoyed your book. And she goes, thank you. Have you left me a review? You know? And it was, it's fine. I don't mind because I'm an author. I know how important it is. And I said, yeah, I had. And she was like, thank you so much. So just be cheeky, ask people, you know, if they've read your book. So I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Have you left me a review? Cause that'd be really helpful. And people are more than willing to do that. So yeah, the, the sort of post-publication sometimes you feel like when it goes out into the world, you can sit back and think, oh, I've done it, but actually, you know, you've got some work to do around marketing it once it's ready and Out there.
Vicki Weinberg (00:48:33):
Yeah. The offers that we've had on the show so far, actually talk a lot about how they're constantly marketing, you know, just continually, continually marketing their books. And I guess that's something that you need to just stay on top of and be doing consistently. So yeah, I think getting your book on Amazon is a bit that I'm very comfortable with because Amazon is completely within my comfort zone. Is that where you recommend everyone would publish their book? And I was going to ask, do you recommend, you know, publishing an ebook or a physical hardcover book as well? Because I guess that, you know, they're two entirely different things. Aren't they? The, I mean, getting an ebook together as one thing, but actually having something physical with pages is entirely different.
Steph Caswell (00:49:17):
Yeah. I think your first question about Amazon, I think that's a place to start for sure. There are smaller self publishing, places like Kobo Smashwords, they're smaller apple books and things that you can upload to. But I think sometimes when this is your first one, too many options can feel a little bit overwhelming. So I think Amazon's your best place to start. The other thing to consider, which I haven't done, but I've often thought about is an audio version because you can record yourself reading your book and that's another way to get people to, to listen to your work. So, you know, that might be something to consider.
Steph Caswell (00:50:00):
And then the second part of your question, which I now can't remember, sorry.
Vicki Weinberg (00:50:06):
I was asking whether you recommend doing a physical hardback version of your back as well. Again,
Steph Caswell (00:50:12):
It's dependent, Amazon make it really easy for you. So they do like drop shipping for physical books. And my books are both in Kindle form and in, in paperback. And what happens if someone could order it as a paperback and Amazon print it, send it to them on your behalf. So you never actually have to see any
inventory or, you know, you, haven't got a whole box of books in your, you know, in your loft or whatever. You've got Amazon do that as part of publishing with them. So if you do want physical copies is really easy. It just depends on, I would have both because people are some people like to read on Kindle, other people who prefer a physical book.
Steph Caswell (00:50:52):
And if you are going and doing talks and you're going to events, hopefully once COVID Spanish, if you're going and you're talking at an event, having some physical copies to sell, there is a, is a great way to kind of show off your work. So it's up to you as a, as a, as an individual, but I would recommend having both because it then gives you your readers more of a choice.
Vicki Weinberg (00:51:14):
Thank you. I'll be honest. I mean, I'm really aware of the Amazon print on demand service. I don't know if I've ever seen a book that's being printed on demand because as a consumer, you just, I assume you don't know, but that's kind of what my question is about actually is, is it good quality? I'm really curious to know if I'm, as in print a book for you, is it the quality that you'd expect it to be?
Steph Caswell (00:51:34):
Yeah. They give you quite a lot of options in terms of that, whether you want the cover to be glossy or matte, you know, it's, it's, you, you do have quite a lot of input into how as you get to choose the page, color, the font and everything. So it's, it's the, my books are, I think they look lovely. The only way you can, excuse me, is no, is if, if there's, there's no publisher on the spine. So if somebody was really being pernickety about it and wanted to know whether it was traditional or self-published, they would, they could easily identify that it isn't traditional. But I think if you've got an audience and you've got people who want to read your work, they don't care.
Steph Caswell (00:52:14):
It's more often the us that care. Like there are people who they don't think that you should say publish. I think that the only way to be really successful is to be traditionally published and that's fine, but I think actually your readers, your audience, they just want to read your stuff. They're not going to be, they're not going to, if you've got some fans, you've got loyal followers. Yeah. They just want to read it. And I think that's the least of their concerns is how it's done. If they know that you're somebody who's going to give them good quality stuff.
Vicki Weinberg (00:52:44):
Yeah. Yeah. I guess what I was just just bit, you want to be clear on is that when you do the print on spine, you know, this actually looks good quality. It looks like a proper book, which that I know that sounds like such, maybe a silly question, but I guess that that's, I think that's the only really criteria isn't it? That it looks like a book. It doesn't look like some pages that have been labeled to get for work. So that's, so that, that
sounds, that sounds brilliant in that case and yeah, definitely worth doing. And does it take long? I realize I'm asking you lots of technical questions now, but I'm quite, just quite interested. So does it take long to have a book printed and shipped on tomorrow?
Steph Caswell (00:53:20):
No. No. It's it's that they just do it super quick. I mean, I've never even considered her a little bit, but it's almost as if, if it was a normal book it's just done and out there, they must have, I don't know how many machines printing things off. It must be insane, but yeah, it's all very quick. Just like a regular book, you know, I don't think people consider it. Cause when I look on Amazon at mine, because I'm a prime member,
it always says can be delivered tomorrow. So
Vicki Weinberg (00:53:47):
That is amazing. Cause I do remember being told and bearing in mind, this is, this is, you know, at least a year or so ago. I've definitely been told in the past that, you know, I'm not doing print on demand because it takes a long time. So it definitely sounds like they've made some changes and that isn't the case anymore, which I think is good because it makes having a printed book much more accessible because you know, having to find a print, have an order, hundreds of books is possibly a step too far because you know, it's a lot to do. And then obviously there's the extra, additional upfront cost that you have to pay as well. And I appreciate that. There'll be a cost for having your book printed on demand, but at least you've sold the bit, which makes such a difference.
Vicki Weinberg (00:54:27):
It makes it a lot less of a gamble, I guess, as well. You know, if you don't sell hundreds of them, well, you've obviously had your initial outlay, but you're not paying a, you know, you're not paying to have boxes of books at, in your gallery or your loft or whatever. Yeah, for sure. Okay. Well thank you so much. And thank you for explaining the process. I think that's made it so much simpler and yeah, it demystifies a lot of it as well. For me, at least I had, and I hate for everyone else, but I would love to know before we finished AF what your number one advice or tip would be for someone looking to self publish their book. I think we'll stick with self publishing because I do think that for most listeners that are, would it be the route they'd be going down?
Vicki Weinberg (00:55:08):
What would be your number one tip whether it's around starting, how to keep going?
Steph Caswell (00:55:15):
Yeah. Well that's a good question. I think what underpins everything for me is why you're writing it. It's about really digging down and thinking, you know, not, I would say I've never met anybody who sits down to, to write because they want to make X amount of pounds from, from selling their books. I don't think, I don't think those people ever finished because it's, you, you have to write from a place of what you're trying to do to serve the people that you're writing for. And if you feel very passionately about those people and the
change, you can make the transformation that they can go through by reading that suppose you are. And if you sit down and think, well, I'd love to be able to sell, you know, 5,000 copies of a book or it it's not the same.
Steph Caswell (00:55:59):
It's yes. It's, that's a measurable thing to think about once you've published, but actually you've got to dig deep into why you're writing it. And don't feel like if you are not, if don't feel like you should write, because sometimes people are like, oh gosh, maybe I should write a book. Actually, you shouldn't write a book. If it, if it's not something that you actually want to do. So don't feel that, oh, lots of other people I know have writing books, maybe I should write one. You've got to write one because they want to, but B, because there's, there's something in there, there's a gap that you feel like, you know, you're going to fill with this work or that when you work with clients that they are always saying to you, oh gosh, I really struggle with this. And it keeps cropping up. It keeps cropping up and you think, okay, that that's, that could be a topic for a book there and I could then help those people.
Steph Caswell (00:56:45):
So, yeah, that's, I guess that's my tip is just to kind of really engage with why you want to write and, and just feel as though think of the one person don't try and write for everybody. Cause you write for nobody, you know, think of one person and think about the change that you can make for them. And for me that I knew that my reader was a teacher who didn't know how to manage a class and it was causing them anxiety. I'd start with my book and they were feeling worried about it. And I knew that if I could just get one person to go into a classroom for the 30 children and feel confident to manage their behavior, that that was all I needed to kind of just think, yeah, I want that person to be confident.
Steph Caswell (00:57:26):
I want them to stand in front of the class and feel as though they they've got control. And that's what spurred me to write it. Really not thinking about, you know, all the other stuff that comes with her.
Vicki Weinberg (00:57:37):
That's amazing. Thank you so much there. Thank you for everything that you've shared. Yeah. You've given us so much and I really, really appreciate it. Thank you. So Hi, thank you so much for listening as always. I would absolutely love to know what you thought of this episode. Please do remember to rate and review the show and also most importantly subscribe. So you don't miss out on any future episodes. And as a reminder, I release a new episode every single Friday. So take care and look forward to speaking to you again, then.