First Things First

*I've included this page under Author Help as well as Go for the Gold. Whether you self-publish or go for a traditional publisher, you should do your homework.
Before you go any further: 

Put your sneakers on, grab a notepad, go to your local bookstore and check out the competition. Why? To find out if you are reinventing the wheel with your book.
Is your masterpiece unique or is it a cookie-cutter version of several other published books nobody is buying?

Michael Hyatt, former CEO for Thomas Nelson Publishers, gets to the crux of the matter for every author when he says, "Differentiating your book from others is critically important." 

Questions to answer:

1. How many books can you find in your genre? 
   (Are there many other books on your subject?)

2. If so, is yours like the others or is it better or, at least, 

3. If you book is like the others, what can you do to make it better so people will want to buy it?
If you have difficulty answering these three simple questions, you have some rewriting to do with your manuscript. Don't be discouraged, just get to work looking for a new angle, a new approach no one else has thought of. It's there, just keep looking until you find it. Then get to work.
The challenge is coming up with that new idea, that new approach to a familiar subject no one else has thought of.
Here is my suggestion: Plagiarize.  I'm kidding, of course, but I hope you read my page on plagirising because every writer plagiarises to some extent—we can't avoid it. (By the way, it can be spelled with an s or a  z—our friends, the Brits, prefer the z.)
 I also encourage every non-fiction author to write a book proposal. If you self-publish, you don't necessarily need a proposal but I urge you to write one anyway. It will give you focus as a writer like never before.
 A good book proposal requires you, the author, to visit a bookstore, Christian and/or secular, and determine which already published titles are similar to yours. In other words: Check out the competition.

Your assignment includes: recording the titles, the publisher, the date of publication and a short synopsis of at least three books.
Have no doubt, there are others like yours out there.

Then you should be ready to explain what sets your book apart from those already in print and answer the question, "Why would anyone choose my book over the others and buy it?"

Note: If you are seeking a contract with a traditional publisher and your book is non-fiction, you will definitely need a book proposalIf your book is fiction, you will need a completed manuscript before seeking representation from an agent (some agents require a fiction book proposal). Either way, you should try to secure a professional literary agent to pursue a traditional publishing contract.
CONCLUSION: Even if you plan to self-publish, I challenge you to write a book proposal. It will tell you whether your book is worth writing and it will light a fire under you to get busy and get published.  It will also give you a sense of purpose as a writer you never had before. Take the time and make the effort to write a good book proposal. You will be glad you did.
Reminder: With Personal Coaching Service (only $45) I will help you tweak your query letter, then read your completed book proposal and offer suggestions. Or I will help you self-publish your book, in which case, a book proposal is not necessary.
A one-time investment, no other charges.
Now, learn why you need Your Own ISBN to be a self- publisher. 

You are on the First Things First page.


Updated July 9, 2017