Writing and Publishing Nonfiction: The Complete Course

FREE

For those who follow the blog, you’ll know that I had been releasing the Writing and Publishing Nonfiction course module by module. This post provides all five modules of the course on one easy-access page.

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In this five-module multi-media course, learn about writing and publishing nonfiction books in the spirituality, New Age, occult, metaphysical, or mind-body-spirit categories. Through audio lectures, handouts, and workbooks, this course is a wealth of resources and information that the aspiring author must have in his or her arsenal. Learn how to get started on your book writing aspiration, how to establish an author platform, how to finish your book, how to prepare a book proposal, all about both traditional publishing and self-publishing, and how to promote and sell your book.

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Overview

In this workbook-centered course, I’ll cover the writing and publishing process of nonfiction books and impart what I know about both traditional and independent (self) publishing. The focus will be on nonfiction under the Spirituality category. That includes books on New Age, New Thought, alternative religions, and esoteric or occult topics. However, the core of the course content applies to any nonfiction book that is seeking either placement with a small to medium size publisher or through print-on-demand channels. We will also cover basic legal knowledge, from author-publisher contracts and entity formation for independent publishers to intellectual property law, which every author should be familiar with.

The course material will be multi-media in format, but focused on the workbooks that will guide you from outlining your idea for a nonfiction book to querying traditional publishers, preparing your manuscript for independent publishing and even marketing and promotions.

Course Objectives

  • To provide an aspiring author with insights into publishing nonfiction books in the Spirituality category and the day-to-day logistics of finishing your manuscript
  • To provide an insider view of both traditional and self-publishing
  • To provide an aspiring author with the beginner tools needed to complete a first manuscript and take it to publication, either by traditional or independent channels
  • To get personal and share my thoughts and experiences from an insider’s perspective
  • To be realistic, and give you real information and hard numbers, not the glossed-over, polished, and exaggerated fluff you often get from would-be insiders

BW Old Chunky Necklace

About Your Instructor

benebell wen is the author of Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth (North Atlantic Books, 2015) and The Tao of Craft: Fu Talismans and Casting Sigils in the Eastern Esoteric Traditions (North Atlantic Books, forthcoming September 27, 2016). Wen has also served as the editor-in-chief and managing editor of various literary journals, assisted authors with line-editing, formatting, and releasing self-published books in the categories of spirituality and religion, and has represented independent artists and writers in both the traditional and self-published categories. Wen is also a full-time practicing corporate attorney who specializes in business organizations, business law, corporate mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, and intellectual property law.

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Key:

  • AUD = Audio File (M4A)
  • ESS = Informal, blog-style essay (PDF)
  • WBK = Workbook (DOCX, PDF)
  • HDT = Handout (PDF)
  • WEB = Website Reference (LINK)
  • VID = Unlisted YouTube Video (LINK)

Note: Whenever possible, work off the DOCX file, not the PDF. Sometimes the conversion from my original DOCX file to PDF causes the PDF to look a bit wonky. The PDF is provided here just as a backup, in case you want a quick view for reference (since they load more efficiently on a computer or smartphone than DOCX files).

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Module I: Introduction

Let’s start at the very beginning.

Module 1 is an introduction to the world of publishing nonfiction books in the New Age and Spirituality category. Let’s start by talking about you and what you want. Workbook A covers the elements of successful nonfiction and walks you through prompts to help you establish a strong foundation for your book. We’ll talk about what it is exactly you want to say through your book and who you want to say it to, or your target audience. We’ll also cover current trends and together, reach important deductions about the authors publishing in this market category. Even at this early stage, you need to be thinking about your author platform. Workbook B will help you brainstorm and build your author platform. Handout 1 dovetails on Workbook B that walks you through the process of structuring, preparing for, and organizing public speaking engagements to help you establish your author platform.

There are four audio files that consist of lectures (total play time just shy of 40 minutes), two workbooks, and supplementary handouts. Follow the work in the order noted below.

Here’s your course outline:

HDT Introduction PDF
AUD Current Market Trends M4A (10:18)
AUD Why Write and Publish a Book? M4A (09:46)
WBK Workbook A – Examination of the Seed DOCX | PDF
AUD What Are You Sharing? M4A (06:44)
WBK Workbook B – Establishing Your Author Platform DOCX | PDF
HDT Handout 1 – Brainstorming a Speaking Engagement DOCX | PDF
AUD Birthing a Book: My Story M4A (10:20)
HDT Note Taking Template (Cornell Method) DOCX | PDF

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Module II: Completing Your Manuscript

Module 2 helps you grow your seed of a book idea and walks you through the process of nurturing that seed to full bloom, achieving a completed book manuscript. Let me tell you how I managed to stay on track and finish my books while working full-time and tending to family responsibilities. Let’s talk about the daily grind. How do you structure the chapters of your book? How do you schedule your weeks to make sure you get your target writing done? What are some of my personal tips and tricks? The handouts in this module will help you to track your progress. Also, how can you tell if a work is in the public domain? What exactly constitutes fair use? I’ve got handouts for both questions.

There will be four audio lectures (for a total of about 35 minutes play time), two workbooks for you to complete, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below.

Here’s your course outline:

HDT The Logistics of Writing Your Book DOCX | PDF
AUD Does Word Count Matter? M4A (09:43)
HDT Manuscript Progress Log DOCX | PDF
AUD Basic Theory: The Form and Function of Nonfiction M4A (08:38)
AUD The First Sentence M4A (09:59)
WBK Workbook C: Profiling Your Book and Getting Started DOCX | PDF
WBK Workbook D: Outlining Each Chapter DOCX | PDF
AUD Making Time to Write & Tracking Your Progress M4A (04:27)
HDT Getting Started DOCX | PDF
HDT Flowchart for Determining Public Domain Works DOCX | PDF
HDT The Basic Considerations for Fair Use DOCX | PDF
HDT Sample Permissions Query Letter DOCX | PDF
HDT Word List DOCX | PDF

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Module III: Traditional Publishers

Module 3 accompanies you from drafting your book proposal to querying traditional publishers. We’ll cover the big publishing houses (and how you’ll need a literary agent if you want to approach these publishers) and also the small to medium publishers (where you won’t need a literary agent).

There will be 5 audio lectures (total run time about 40 minutes), 3 workbooks, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below.

Here’s your course outline:

AUD Preliminary Notes for Module III M4A (04:43)
HDT Who are the traditional publishers? DOCX | PDF
AUD The Book Proposal M4A (04:18)
WBK Workbook E – The Book Proposal DOCX | PDF
HDT Log of Publisher Queries DOCX | PDF
HDT Sample Manuscript Submission in Standard Format PDF
AUD The Submissions Process M4A (11:39)
HDT Template for Submissions Query Letter PDF
HDT My Query for Holistic and Publisher Responses PDF
HDT Book Proposal for Holistic Tarot (Sample) PDF
HDT Evolution of a Manuscript PDF
HDT Traditional Publishing Timeline (Query to Release) PDF
AUD Revisiting Why We Write and Publish M4A (08:07)
HDT Theoretical Earnings Comparison Chart PDF
WBK Workbook F – Publishing Contract Review LINK
AUD Traditional Versus Self Publishing M4A (09:29)
WBK Workbook G – Deciding Between Traditional and Self DOCX | PDF

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Author Publisher Agreements: Understanding Your Publishing Contract

If you’ve just received a book deal offer from a traditional publisher and you are not represented by an agent, then you had better get your hands on this document.

Read more about the workbook here.

This workbook is a 50-page, 19,000+ word checklist, term by term explanation, sample contract term negotiation and counter-offers, and tips written by a corporate contracts lawyer to help you navigate the author publisher agreement. Please note that this workbook is for educational purposes only and since I do not know your case-specific situation, the workbook cannot constitute legal advice. It is recommended that you seek legal or professional counsel for case-specific matters.

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Module IV: Independent (or Self) Publishing

Module 4 will cover basic pointers for self-publishing. There will be 5 lectures, 1 workbook that you should complete, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below. I’m also providing a few unaffiliated external links, so you have someplace to start shopping around for printing presses, getting price quotes, etc.

In the previous modules, the lectures were provided as audio recordings, but my laptop went kaput and I’ve been recording the audio with an app on my laptop. I don’t know how to do it with my desktop, so instead of mp4 files for download in Module 4, we have text–the audio lecture transcripts I would have read off of.

Here’s your course outline:

WBK Workbook H: Self-Publishing Logistics DOCX | PDF
HDT Template for Self Published Manuscript DOCX
AUD Introduction to Self-Publishing PDF
AUD Why Self Publish Your Book PDF
WEB AuthorCentral (Amazon): Register an Account LINK
WEB Print-on-Demand Publisher: Lulu.com LINK
WEB Print-on-Demand Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing LINK
WEB Print-on-Demand Royalties Calculator [CreateSpace] LINK
WEB Printing Press: Lightning Press [Book Printing Instant Price Quote Calculator] LINK
WEB Printing Press: Heidel Print [Book Printing Instant Price Quote Calculator] LINK
WEB Printing Press (China): Shenzhen Jinhao Printing [Minimum Order Quantity: 500 copies] LINK
HDT US Copyright Office Form-TX (Registration for Literary Works) PDF
HDT US Copyright Office Online Registration of Copyright PDF
WEB Electronic Filing of US Copyrights LINK
AUD Optional. Publishing Tarot or Oracle Decks PDF
WEB Optional. Tarot Deck Creators Facebook Group LINK
AUD Understanding ISBNs, Bar Codes, and LOC Listings PDF
WEB Buy ISBNs and Bar Codes (U.S.—Bowker) LINK
WEB How to Register a U.S. Copyright LINK
WEB About Library of Congress Catalog Listings LINK
WEB LOC PCN: Application to Participate LINK
AUD Why You Need a Copyeditor PDF
AUD Where To Go From Here PDF

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Module V: Promoting Your Book and Post-Publication Strategic Plans

The final module of this course will cover the enormous amount of work that comes after you’ve produced a book and it has been launched into the public arena aka published. If you thought that meant you’re done, then oh boy, you’ve been sadly mistaken. You’ve only just begun. Module 5 is about covering some realities about publishing and selling nonfiction books in the Mind, Body, Spirit category, the nuts and bolts of promoting a book and how to captivate the attention of your target audience. We’ll also cover post-publication strategic plans for actually making some real money off your book (you thought you were going to make money off your royalties? *chuckles to self*).

Please note that Module V is part of the Closed Circuit, and is therefore password protected. For context about what the Closed Circuit is, read here.

ESS The Author Platform and Public Relations
WBK Preparing Your Media Kit
HDT Media Kit Template
ESS Promoting a Book: What Works and What Doesn’t
WBK Drafting Your Marketing Plan
HDT Template Query Letter for Market Exposure
ESS Book Blurbs (or the Author Endorsement)
HDT Log of Endorsement Queries
ESS The Book Trailer: Should You Create One?
ESS Hiring a Publicist: Pros and Cons
ESS The Author’s PR Schedule: Sample Timeline
HDT Self-Publishing: Author Sales Log Debut Year One
HDT Self-Publishing: Author Sales Log Subsequent Years
HDT Traditional: Author Sales Log Debut Year One
HDT Traditional: Author Sales Log Subsequent Years
HDT Traditional: Gross and Net Sales Detail Log
ESS Dealing with Criticism
ESS The Nom de Plume
ESS Where Is the Money?—Optimizing Author Earning Potential
ESS The Dark Side of Publicity
ESS Post-Publication: The Afterlife
WBK Expanding Your Business Model
VID Write and Publish Spiritual Nonfiction: Closing Remarks

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Writing and Publishing Nonfiction: Module IV

writing and publishing nonfiction books

Recap:

Whereas Module III covered traditional publishing, Module IV will address self-publishing.

Module IV: Independent (or Self) Publishing

Module 4 will cover basic pointers for self-publishing. There will be 5 lectures, 1 workbook that you should complete, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below. I’m also providing a few unaffiliated external links, so you have someplace to start shopping around for printing presses, getting price quotes, etc.

In the previous modules, the lectures were provided as audio recordings, but my laptop went kaput and I’ve been recording the audio with an app on my laptop. I don’t know how to do it with my desktop, so instead of mp4 files for download in Module 4, we have text–the audio lecture transcripts I would have read off of.

Continue reading “Writing and Publishing Nonfiction: Module IV”

Writing and Publishing Nonfiction: Module III

writing and publishing nonfiction books

Recap:

Module III is all about the submissions and publication process with traditional publishers.

Coming after this module:

Module III: Traditional Publishers

Module 3 accompanies you from drafting your book proposal to querying traditional publishers. We’ll cover the big publishing houses (and how you’ll need a literary agent if you want to approach these publishers) and also the small to medium publishers (where you won’t need a literary agent).

There will be 5 audio lectures (total run time about 40 minutes), 3 workbooks, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below.

Continue reading “Writing and Publishing Nonfiction: Module III”

Author Publisher Agreements: Understanding Your Publishing Contract

writing and publishing nonfiction books

This post is one of many installments of an independent study series on writing and publishing nonfiction books, with emphasis on publication in the category of New Age and spirituality. For more information, click this link to start at the introduction and Module I. I’ve pulled this particular document out of the series for its own post for SEO reasons. You know. Because I bet a ton of people google-search “author publisher agreements” or “publishing contract.”

Did you write a nonfiction book? Have you submitted your proposal to traditional publishers? Do you know for sure you’re going the route of traditional publishing? Do you have an offer in hand already? Have you published a book already and think you didn’t do a good enough job negotiating your own contract and would like some tips before you sign the deal for your next book?

No matter what stage you’re at, if you know you’ll be encountering the author publisher agreement, then here’s the workbook you’ve been waiting for. From the perspectives and experiences of both an intellectual property lawyer and a traditionally published author, this workbook will walk you through every material clause in the standard publishing contract.

Continue reading “Author Publisher Agreements: Understanding Your Publishing Contract”

Writing and Publishing Nonfiction: Module II

writing and publishing nonfiction books

Modules I and II are being posted consecutively this week working toward the new moon in Taurus so that maybe everything will be aligned just so and this weekend you’ll be motivated to get to work on that book you’ve always meant to write.

Do not proceed with Module II until you’ve completed the audio lectures and workbooks from Module I. I mean, you can if you want, it’s not like I can stop you, but it won’t make sense. Module II will make more sense if you’ve completed Module I.

Module I: Introduction

Refer back to the post on Module I here. You can also download all files for Module I via Dropbox by clicking below.

DROPBOX LINK TO MODULE 1

Assuming you’ve completed Module I, you now have a solid book idea, you know how and where it would be positioned in the current market, and you are prepared to finish your book manuscript.

Module II will offer some insights and guidance for completing your manuscript.

Module II: Completing Your Manuscript

Module 2 helps you grow your seed of a book idea and walks you through the process of nurturing that seed to full bloom, achieving a completed book manuscript. Let me tell you how I managed to stay on track and finish my books while working full-time and tending to family responsibilities. Let’s talk about the daily grind. How do you structure the chapters of your book? How do you schedule your weeks to make sure you get your target writing done? What are some of my personal tips and tricks? The handouts in this module will help you to track your progress. Also, how can you tell if a work is in the public domain? What exactly constitutes fair use? I’ve got handouts for both questions.

There will be four audio lectures (for a total of about 35 minutes play time), two workbooks for you to complete, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below.

Continue reading “Writing and Publishing Nonfiction: Module II”

Writing and Publishing Nonfiction: Module I

writing and publishing nonfiction books

I’m putting together a multi-media web series on writing and publishing nonfiction, placing emphasis on nonfiction in the spirituality and New Age category. I was going to wait until I finished the entire course, all proposed modules, but then I was like F it. Let’s just play this by ear. Throw the spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.

As each new installment is published here, I’ll link everything together so no matter when you stumble upon these posts, you can trace back to the beginning and follow the steps in consecutive order. All installments will be tagged with the “book writing” category, so you can simply click on that category label and every installment will pop up.

This independent study course will consist of a bunch of downloads, some free and some not so free, pretty much depending on my mood that day that I’m putting the installment together and posting it. There may be some jumping around, however. So for instance, the next installment I have scheduled is out of the order of modules and instead, is a single workbook on publishing contracts. Then we’ll get back to the modules, for Module II.

All right. Why don’t you read on to see what this is all about.

Continue reading “Writing and Publishing Nonfiction: Module I”