Tom started writing poetry around age 10 and his high school English teacher encouraged him to pursue writing because of his talent. He didn’t think anything of it and chose to pursue a business school degree instead.
During Tom’s college years he began to study personal development extensively. That’s when he came across Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad. Before reading Rich Dad Poor Dad Tom believed that money was a bad thing because of how he saw it being used by rich people. After reading the book he realized that money is a tool and it can be used well or poorly just like any other tool.
After reading Rich Dad Poor Dad, he wrote his own manifesto about what it meant to be rich, successful, and have a happy life. He wrote it for himself, but when he showed it to family and friends they encouraged him to try and get it published.
He began contacting agents and publishers with no success. After six years of trying to get his book published, a friend suggested that he self publish his book on Kindle. Before that suggestion he didn’t even know it was possible to self publish.
Tom looked into it and began to study the process of how to self publish his book. It took him a few weeks of research to figure out the process. He published his first book on Kindle and didn’t tell anyone it was published. He was embarrassed that he had to self publish his first book.
A month later Tom was amazed to find that he had sold over 10 copies of his book without any promotion whatsoever. From that point on Tom knew self-publishing was his future.
He loves reading, learning and teaching and his books are his way of giving back to the world.
Seeing the potential for success, he wrote and published more than 20 books in a few years and had his first month of more than $12,000 in Kindle royalties alone just 12 months after he published that first book.
In today’s show, Michael Mackintosh interviews Tom as he shares his story, tips for new and experienced authors, and a new way to get your book published through TCK Publishing.
Step 1: How to Decide What to Write about
The idea of self-publishing and earning a living from your writing is very exciting. The first thing you have to do is decide what book you’re going to write.
Tom has a very simple process for deciding what book to write.
He goes into his room, shuts his door, and removes all distractions. He shuts off his phone and Internet. And he writes down one question on a piece of paper:
“If I had 30 days left to live, and I could only write one book what message would I have to share?”
Then he simply brainstorms the answer and writes down every single book that he could write in the next 30 days. After he comes up with that list he narrows it down to one book.
Tom uses that question to help him focus his mind on one book. As creative people, we have many ideas and it can be hard to narrow them down to one. Asking a question which specifically limits the time you have to finish the book helps you focus on what’s most important to you.
When Tom focuses on how to make money, the results haven’t been very good. But when he focuses on how he can help the most people the money follows.
“You can ask your friends, coaches, and colleagues but at the end of the day you’ve got to be excited and passionate about what you’re writing. Readers won’t be attracted to your writing unless you’re passionate about it.” — Tom Corson Knowles
The Four Keys to Writing a Successful Nonfiction Book
- Find out what inspires you.
- Create your book outline.
- Keep your book focused on the result you want for your reader.
- Keep in mind your customer’s perspective.
Step 2: The Process of Writing Your Book
Once you have your mission statement, once you’re inspired and motivated to share your message with the world it’s very easy to write your book.
How to Outline Your Book Using One Simple Question
The first thing you have to do is outline your book.
Tom asked this question to outline all of his successful books.
“If this book could only have 10 chapters what would they be?”
This is another question designed to limit the scope of what you’re trying to write. A lot of new authors make the mistake of trying to write everything they know in their first book. This is a mistake for several reasons.
- It makes the book unwieldy and unfocused.
- It’s difficult to organize.
- It decreases the likelihood it will actually help someone who’s reading it.
- It decreases the likelihood you’ll actually finish and publish the book.
In the Internet age people are looking for specific answers to their problems. Shorter, more focused books that solve a specific problem sell better than longer books with more general information about a topic.
It’s important when you write a book to always be thinking about the information you have to share in terms of your customer’s perspective. Writing shorter, more focused books allows you to be clear and specific when teaching solutions to problems.
When you outline your book you should have one specific result in mind for the reader. After reading your book what will your reader be able to do that they weren’t able to do before?
Having a single specific result in mind helps you keep the book focused as your writing it.
2 Great Writing Methods
In general, there are two ways to write your book.
- You can record yourself speaking and have a ghost writer write the book for you.
- You can schedule your writing time and write it yourself. Tom suggests scheduling seven hours a week of writing time. It’s important that you treat the scheduled time like you would treat any other appointment. You need to make writing a priority if you want to make writing your career, or even if you want to actually finish your book. Tom also suggests that you work on your book at least 15 minutes a day.
Writing at least 15 minutes every day creates a habit of writing and develops the skill of writing so it becomes easier as you go on.
“Inspiration is not something that comes to you. It’s something you create by doing the work.” – Tom Corson Knowles
How to Finish the Books You Start
There are two big reasons people don’t finish the books they’re writing.
- The first reason shows up when people aren’t on mission. When you’re not clear what you want or why you’re writing a book, it’s easy to quit. The nuts and bolts mechanics of creating the manuscript becomes so overwhelming that you just give up.
The simple unavoidable fact of human life is that we’re motivated by pain and pleasure. If you see more pain in doing something than you see pleasure in achieving your goal, you’ll probably give up.
When you’re inspired you will do anything to achieve your goal.
The cure for this is to be really clear for yourself why you’re writing the book you’re writing. Get clear about who you’re writing a book for and the result you want your audience to have after reading your book.
When you’re clear about those things and inspired to help your audience, the problems that will inevitably arise as you write your book will become manageable instead of overwhelming.
- The second reason people fail to finish their book is they fail to focus their book on one problem for the reader. The longer your book is the less likely you are to finish it, and the less likely it is to be helpful to your audience.
It’s important to keep your book focused on solving one problem for your reader. Writing short, clear, concise books allows you to finish books and stay on message with your audience.
When Tom is working on a project he creates a shiny penny list. Whenever he gets a new idea that doesn’t fit into the book he’s currently working on he puts it on his shiny penny list and continues to work on his project.
Limits Are Your Key to Success When Writing a Book
It’s very important to set limits on your book before you start to write it.
Be specific about:
- Who you’re writing a book for.
- The problem you are solving for your audience.
- What will be in the book.
- What you plan to leave out of the book.
The more specific you are about the book you’re writing the easier it will be to finish your book and the more successful you will be.
How to Avoid Perfectionism and Publish Your Book
Tom uses outside motivation to force himself to get his books published quickly and keep making progress. Tom’s process goes like this.
- He writes the best draft of the book he possibly can.
- He sends that draft to a professional editor and asks for feedback.
- He incorporates the edits he agrees with.
- He allows himself only one more round of editing before publishing the book on Amazon.
- He continues improving the book until he’s thrilled with it.
The truth about publishing in the Internet age is you can always update your book. If you publish your book and there’s a glaring error of some kind you can submit an updated manuscript and it will be live on Amazon usually within 24 hours. Authors no longer have to worry about mistakes living in their books forever.
Another benefit to publishing quickly is that you get feedback from readers. You can spend 20 years editing a book yourself before you publish it, and not improve it as much as you do after one insightful comment from a reader who didn’t understand something.
The Different Routes for Publishing in the 21st Century
Traditional Publishing. This is where you find a literary agent and your book gets bought by one of the big five traditional publishers.
Small Presses/Independent Publishers. There are many of these today. Every small press and independent publisher has its own specialty. Some publish only paperback books. Some of them will only do e-books. Some will do both. You can submit your manuscript to TCK Publishing here.
There are many ways that you can do self-publishing today. You can hire somebody to handle the publishing side of your business. They would take care of the layout and design of your book as well as your cover design.
You can also do all the work yourself. There are a lot of moving parts to self-publishing but there are thousands of independent self published authors working today.
There’s a learning curve to self publishing, but in the long run you’ll make more money and you’ll be better able to handle the changes that are occurring in the marketplace if you learn the skills to handle the process.
The traditional publishing marketplace is rapidly changing. Traditional publishing is shrinking while small presses and indie authors are growing. There are fewer traditional publishers and they’re spending less money on new authors.
Another reason to go the self-publishing route is the economics of an e-book.
Right now, on average, you get paid twice as much in royalties for the sale of a $2.99 e-book as you do from a traditionally published book that costs $25.
When you publish a book traditionally, every time a $25 hardback book is sold you get about $2 in royalties.
When you price your book at $2.99 Amazon gives you a 70% commission or about $2.06 a book.
Another thing to consider are the trends of the industry. Price Waterhouse Cooper just did a study and they said in three years people will spend more money on e-books than they do on physical books.
As it stands today, people are buying more e-books than physical books but because of the price differences they are spending less. In three years they’ll continue to buy more e-books and physical book sales will stay the same or diminish.
Setting Priorities for Self Publishing
The first thing you want to do is create an e-book. That’s where most of your money is going to be made.
Next, if your book is selling well enough you can consider creating a paperback book with CreateSpace.
And if your book is selling really well, you can consider creating an audiobook which can be expensive to produce but the distribution costs are very small. And, chances are you will get more profit for every sale of your audiobook because audiobooks are more expensive.
“The economics are behind e-books, not the physical books. First thing you do is focus on your e-book. That’s where most profit is gonna be made and it will cost you the least.” – Tom Corson-Knowles
Where to Publish Your E-Books
Amazon controls more than 73% of the e-book market. Barnes & Noble is #2 in the e-book market controlling 8%. That reason alone would be enough for you to focus solely on Amazon when you begin your self-publishing journey. Every online bookstore has their own process and rules when it comes to publishing a book on their platform. If you have to learn new rules for each platform it makes sense to start with the one that has the widest reach.
Amazon further incentivizes authors to publish with them exclusively because of their KDP select program.
Amazon’s KDP select program allows the author several benefits for committing to publish exclusively on Amazon for 90 days. Amazon allows prime members to borrow a KDP select book for free and pays the author around two dollars for every time someone borrows their book. You’re also allowed to give away your book for free for five days which helps boost your Amazon ranking and helps you get greater visibility and more sales.
It may seem like a bad idea to sell exclusively on Amazon. You are limiting the reach of your book to Amazon’s ecosystem. But the truth is there are many cases where people who agreed to sell exclusively through Amazon make more money than they would by offering their book through other distribution channels.
One of the most successful independent published authors all time Hugh Howey actually lost money when he withdrew from KDP select and allowed his Wool Series to be sold on other platforms.
Tom has found that for his books and those of his clients 10% to 25% of their revenue comes from borrows through the KDP select program.
Tom attributes his success on Amazon to the amount of focus he harnessed throughout the first year. For 12 months he was only concerned with how to publish the best e-books he could on the Amazon platform. He didn’t concern himself with publishing on other platforms, and he didn’t concern himself with paperback books or audiobooks.
Because of his focus, he was able to learn how to use KDP select to make money a lot faster than he would have otherwise.
The History of TCK Publishing
Tom started TCK publishing after several clients asked him for help publishing their books.
The first thing he did when clients and friends started asking for help is create a video course which you can find at ebookpublishingschool.com
Even after people watching the course, several of his students asked him to help them publish their book because they didn’t want to be bothered with all of the nuts and bolts of publishing and promoting their book. Tom started TCK publishing when he couldn’t find a decent reputable publisher to recommend.
His first five clients became successful on Amazon very quickly. One of his clients became a number one bestseller on Amazon and sold 1,500 copies within 60 days of their first conversation about publishing his book.
When Tom’s clients became successful it was clear to him that this was his calling. He got such a thrill from seeing other people be able to reach large audiences with his help.
How to Work with TCK Publishing
TCK publishing is always looking for great books from new and experienced authors
Resources Mentioned in This Interview
Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not! By Robert Kiyosaki – the book that changed the way Tom looked at money.
Wool Omnibus Edition (Silo series Book 1) by Hugh Howey an example of a mega successful self published author.
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler – a great book for fiction and nonfiction writers alike.
Simon Sinek – Start With Why – a video that explains the importance of understanding why you’re doing things in your business and your life.
https://ebookpublishingschool.com/ — go here to get Tom’s free video course that teaches how to format, publish and launch your first book on Amazon in less than four hours.
Doc Orman M.D. – one of the first clients of TCK publishing, Dr. Orman specializes in stress relief.
https://www.tckpublishing.com/submission-guidelines/ – go here if you want to learn about how to partner with TCK publishing.
To learn more about Michael Mackintosh, visit his site at MichaelMackintosh.com