Day 2 at Darren Stephens “How to Write a Best Seller” Seminar. It was an interesting day with many more practical steps, worksheets and exercises. Many of the participants are starting to complain of information overload and this is my main motivation for writing it all down in this blog post.

Wrap Up from Day 1

The first thing in the morning a number of questions were asked regarding topics from the previous day. Here are a couple of the answers:

  • Your second book (sequel) should be ready 3 months after the first one has been published. This ensures momentum with the buyers and it makes it less likely that the retailers will remove the first book off the shelves.
  • The best time of the year to release a book depends on the niche the book is in. For example if your book is on weight loss then the best time of the year is February when all the people who have failed to loose weight (as part of their New Years Resolutions) now turn to books to find some help.
  • Colour does play an important part and is different depending on the niche.
    • Books regarding Happiness and Joy – Lighter colours.
    • Success / Wealth Creation Books – Darker, Richer Colours with splashes of Gold.
  • You have seven seconds to convince a person to pick up your book before they move on to the next one. The front of your book must have a great headline.
  • Once they pick it up you have a further 14 seconds for them to turn it over and read the back.
    • The back of the book must convey to the reader the benefits that they will get as a result of reading this book.
  • Nielsen Bookscan ( is the company who measures the sales of all books through out the world. They do this via the ISBN number on the back of each book.
Mark Buhagiar and Darren Stephens at "How To Write a Best Seller"

Mark Buhagiar and Darren Stephens at "How To Write a Best Seller"

Flow of Your Manuscript

A regimented and defined system is essential to ensure that your book turns out well. The fourteen steps that follow here are a rough guide to the process. The part I like the most is step six, where you gather your thoughts, resources and other materials and place them into a folder segmented into chapters. As you go through your daily routine, you (and your subconscious) will be on the look out for information that you can add to the book, and once found you can just add that information directly to the folder.

  1. Pick Your Subject
  2. Research and Gather Information
  3. Sort the information you gather into chapter piles
  4. Edit all the material and piece it together
  5. Create a rough Draft
  6. Place this draft into a Manuscript folder with plastic document holders
    1. As you gather more information just add it to the folder in the in the appropriate chapter.
  7. Edit the content.
    1. Write your book the way you speak. Books written in this format outsell most others.
    2. Some people use a Dictaphone whilst others record themselves being interviewed. That audio is then transcribed for use as different chapters in the book.
  8. Add photos and Illustrations.
  9. Send sections to experts for peer review.
    1. Send a letter saying you respect their knowledge in this subject and ask them to review a chapter for you.
    2. Say that you will credit them in the book.
    3. Send a different chapter to five different reviewers
  10. Copy Edit – This is where an editor checks the copy and makes any adjustments
  11. Typeset
  12. Proof Read
  13. Copy to Disk
  14. Send to the Printer
    1. Printer will send back a proof which you will need to sign off on.
    2. Once checked and signed off your books will be printed.
    3. Note: Unless you have forward orders you should never print more than a maximum of 2000 books, preferably a 1000 regardless of the discount. Books are bulky so you will have to store them somewhere but most importantly you need to be selling them. You can always print more once they start flying off the shelves.

What Are People Buying


  • Relationships
  • Parenting
  • Weight Loss
  • Spiritual


  • Business
  • Organizational Skills
  • Sports Related

The Publishing Cycle

There are two models, the traditional way and a more modern fast tracked way.

The Traditional Model

  • Book Proposal (9 Months)
  • Publisher
  • Published Book (6 to 12 months)
  • Distributors

In this model the publishers do not buy your book. It is basically held on consignment. They will return any unsold books to you. You get paid 90 days later and you have a three to four month window to makes sales. If your book does not sell in this time it will be taken off the shelves.

You also have very little control. The publisher has the right to change the cover as they see fit which will potentially adversely affect your branding. You also have no way to generate any upfront income.

The Fast Tracked Way (Darren Stephens Way)

  • Self Publish the book
  • Distributors

In this model you have full control on the look and feel of your book. There are opportunities to generate upfront income via presales and you can add marketing material to your book to generate income from a backend series of products.

“Lacking celebrity status or a proven track record, the chances of landing a book contract with a major publishing house are slim to none.”

Note: “Men are for Mars, Women from Venus” was self published.

3 Key Reasons to Self Publish

  1. Make more money
  2. Get to the printers sooner ( 6-8 Weeks verses 18 months)
  3. Keep control of your work

How to Start to create Your book

  • Think in Sequels
  • Get a book to model from – It should be on the best sellers list and should appeal to you.
    • Look at the binding – Is it hard or soft colour
    • Paper Colour, Texture and feel
    • Type Style
    • Design and layout of the pages
  • You don’t have to reinvent the wheel
  • The ideal length for a “How to” book is 200 to 250 (max) pages
    • Each chapter should be 15 to 20 pages (max)
    • Make it easy for the reader to finish it because people will only recommend a book once they have finished it.
  • Currently 41% of all physical books are sold on the internet
  • 81% of all people have a book in them. Most never get done.

Ghost Writers

A Ghost Writer is a person who will write a book for you which you then publish under your own name. Their name does not go on the book. The pricing ranges from US$5,000 to $US25,000 depending on the type of book, the skill and popularity of the Ghost Writer and the amount of work you want them to do.

You can employ a ghost writer to do a range of things. If you are a person who likes to do everything themselves, then you can just use them to do your final editing. They will ensure that the final product flows well and will also correct any language that may not suite the intended audience.

On the other hand if writing is really not your thing, a good ghost writer can do the research and all the writing if you wish. In this case all you have to do is provide a general concept, and preferably a table of contents. It is also helpful to give them a sample of your writing style. Of course there will be a couple of meetings (usually over the phone). Ghost writers can also produce books from Audio/Video products that you may already have.

Printing and Distributing you Book

You should never print any more than 1000 to 2000 books regardless of the “great deal” that you are getting from the printers. Remember you can always print more and lets face it 2000 books is a pallet load so you also have to start thinking of how you are going to store all of them.

Book stores will not buy your books directly from you. Their relationship is directly with a distributor. Even if the store is an independent they will still only want to get their books from a distributor. So the long and short of it is that you need to get a contract with a distributor.

If a Distributor sees potential in your book, they will put into a catalogue and promote to the book stores. They will not market it any more that this. The responsibility for marketing your book is your own and the bad news is that writing a book was only 30% of the work. The other 70% is the marketing.

From the time your book gets in to the stores you have three months in which to sell it. If it does not sell in this time then it is all over. They will be pulled from the shelves and returned back to you. Book stores can return unsold books for up to nine months. The moral of the story is you need to market your book effectively unless you want to be giving your book away as Christmas presents for the next 20 years :).

Still More to Come

The next installment which covers Day 3 of “How to Write a Best Seller” by Darren Stephens will be out soon. I hope you have been enjoying my little journal. Day three will only be available in the members area, so I encourage you to join especially as you can do so now for free. (Note: I have only made 400 free places are available and as you can imagine a number have been snapped up already.

See you soon.

Mark Buhagiar

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