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I speak with aspiring authors almost daily, so I’ve heard numerous misconceptions about how the book business works. These misconceptions cause authors time, money, and aggravation. Here are the 12 wrong assumptions I hear most often:

  1. Now that self-publishing is so easy, there’s no reason to ever go with a traditional publisher. There are a number of advantages to self-publishing your book, but there are also advantages to traditional publishing. A mainstream publisher gives your book credibility and is much more likely to get it placed in brick-and-mortar bookstores. You also have a professional team behind you, and you’re given some money for your book. The downsides are that you make less money per sale, have to wait a while for your book to be released, and have less control over the final product. …


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Outline? Who needs an outline? So you sit down and write your self-help / prescriptive nonfiction book like you write your journal or your Artist’s Way morning pages, letting whatever comes to your mind each day just spill out onto the page.

Weeks go by, and you feel good. Before you know it, you’ve accumulated almost 100,000 words of what you know is gold. (Never mind that the average book these days is more in the range of 50,000–65,000 words or even fewer.)

You finally start reading the gold you’ve written and realize it’s all over the place. You started…


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As a professional book coach, ghostwriter, and editor, I talk with self-published authors weekly who complain about low sales. But there are very specific reasons why most self-published books fail to sell.

Authors need to do more than just write a book and put it out there. They need to learn about the publishing industry. That’s the only way to not only compete with traditionally published books, but also the self-published authors who have taken the time to learn about the requirements of the marketplace.

Here are the top 5 reasons, at least in my opinion, that a self-published book…


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Coming up with a good title for your self-help or how-to book can be quite a challenge. If your title and subtitle are confusing, you’ll lose out on sales. But if they’re boring, you’ll have the same problem. Somewhere in between confusing and boring is where you’ll find the gold.

Bear in mind that if you’re writing a book proposal in the hopes of landing a traditional book contract, your title will probably be changed before your book is in print. Still, the better your title and subtitle in your proposal, the better chance you have of selling your book…


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Have you ever thought about writing a book? If not, it might be time to add it to your business goals. Having written 33 nonfiction books at this point in my career, either as an author or ghostwriter, I can tell you that it not only gives you an extraordinary feeling of accomplishment, but it’s an enormously powerful calling card for an entrepreneur.

Furthermore, the publishing industry had a banner year in 2018, and independent bookstores are experiencing a resurgence. So 2019 is the perfect year to write and publish your book!

But wait — you might be thinking, “I’m…


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Photo by Subbotina (123rf.com)

These six creativity prompts can be used by writers, painters, sculptors, choreographers, or even business innovators. They’re designed to expand the way you think, so they can help when you’re struggling to solve any kind of problem, whether a technological one or an artistic one.

The prompts are designed to be playful because playfulness is the friend of creativity. So let yourself go and have fun as you experiment with these ideas.

Do You Hear What I See? This has been my favorite creativity exercise for many years.

Think of a sound that you love. If this sound were a…


Pretty darn wonderful…

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The Sea Star luxury yacht (Photo by Melanie Votaw)

Anyone who has been to the Galapagos will tell you that it’s the trip of a lifetime. But cruising the Galapagos on a luxury yacht is the trip of a lifetime times ten.

For five nights and six days, I had the opportunity to experience the Latin Trails Sea Star yacht. My companion and I were joined by just 12 other guests, who were mostly Europeans, and enough crew members to make it almost one-to-one.

First, Latin Trails arranged for us to have a day tour of Quito, which included seeing the changing of the guard at…


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Photo by Michal Bednarek (123rf.com)

The self-help books you love are successful largely because they adhere to the top 5 insider secrets I’m about to share with you. These aren’t “secrets” to professionals in the publishing industry, but in my experience, new writers (or those who haven’t yet worked with professionals) are mostly unaware of them.

If you examine the work of your favorite self-help authors carefully, you’ll see that, at least 99.9% of the time, they include the following:

1. Give your book a clear title and subtitle.

While enigmatic titles like The Sun Also Rises or A Handful of Dust can easily sell…


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Photo by Nejron (Dreamstime.com)

Creativity saved me.

There’s no question in my mind. Like many (or perhaps most) of us, my childhood family expected me to conform to their idea of what was acceptable. It was a narrow point of view, while there was a much more expansive soul inside me demanding to be heard.

Thankfully, something in me understood at an early age that I could stay in contact with my authenticity if I expressed myself creatively. So I did. I made up dances, songs, and poems. …

Melanie Votaw

Melanie Votaw is a book author, ghostwriter, editor, and book coach with 35 nonfiction books and 70+ titles edited. Read more at https://melanievotaw.com.

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