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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
- 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).
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:
|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|
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|
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|
|AUD||The Submissions Process||M4A (11:39)|
|HDT||Template for Submissions Query Letter|
|HDT||My Query for Holistic and Publisher Responses|
|HDT||Book Proposal for Holistic Tarot (Sample)|
|HDT||Evolution of a Manuscript|
|HDT||Traditional Publishing Timeline (Query to Release)|
|AUD||Revisiting Why We Write and Publish||M4A (08:07)|
|HDT||Theoretical Earnings Comparison Chart|
|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|
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.
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.
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|
|AUD||Why Self Publish Your Book|
|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)|
|HDT||US Copyright Office Online Registration of Copyright|
|WEB||Electronic Filing of US Copyrights||LINK|
|AUD||Optional. Publishing Tarot or Oracle Decks|
|WEB||Optional. Tarot Deck Creators Facebook Group||LINK|
|AUD||Understanding ISBNs, Bar Codes, and LOC Listings|
|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|
|AUD||Where To Go From Here|
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*).
|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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