Confessions of an HR Pro: How I Wrote My Book On A Low To No Budget
How I wrote my first book using YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.
Many of you have asked me how I went about writing and self-publishing my book, so here is my blog on just that. First, let me start off by saying that I wanted to write this book for a long time and it was in my head for over 5 years. Putting fingers to keys began during my year of yes which started in September 2019.
Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. My first prompt to get writing came from Paul C Brunson on LinkedIn Live where he shared various ways to create multiple streams of income and when he talked about writing a book he mentioned crowdsourcing, i.e. asking others from your niche to contribute. So I wrote a list of all of the people I wanted to be a part of this project, scheduled a Zoom call, told them what I wanted them to do and asked them to be a part of it and most of them said yes. I shared my chapter list with them and asked them to confirm which chapters they wanted to share their stories on and when I needed their contributions by and that was phase 1 complete. Thank you to everyone who said yes to sharing their stories and allowing me to share your voice.
My next inspiration came from Cher Jones on her LinkedIn Live show “Just Ask Cher”. In this particular episode, Cher shared a website called Publishizer which she had recommended to another client as a way to get recognized by book publishers. So I decided to give it a try. Let me say that working with Publishizer is hard work. The process: submit your book proposal in writing along with a video saved to YouTube, meet your advisor (my advisor was from Spain so there was a 5 hour time difference). Your advisor helps you complete your proposal to the point of approval. Once approved your first milestone is to get 500 people to pre-order your book (Publishizer provides email templates and videos to show you how to do this but they do not do it for you, they just encourage you to keep moving). When publishers express an interest in your book proposal you will receive an email notification but you cannot see who is interested until the end of the pre-order campaign. At the end of the campaign, the interested publishers are revealed and you then have to contact them directly (Some publishers do reach out to you on LinkedIn before the campaign is complete). Once you request your payout Publishizer charges a 30% fee on total funds processed through the platform + PayPal fees of 2–4%. So think carefully about your pricing.
After reviewing proposals from several publishers I realized that this route was not for me it would cost me at least US $5,000.00 — $10,000.00 alone to work with a publisher and I did not have that kind of extra savings lying around. So I took to the Universities of YouTube, Instagram and TikTok to figure out how I could make this book happen on a low to no budget.
What did I learn?
Let’s talk ISBN numbers & Barcodes — If you want your book to be recognized and picked up by bookshops and libraries you need to have this number and a barcode to make it easy for stores to record it as stock and for people to purchase. Bowker is the best place to do this and they have bundles where you can purchase ISBN’s and barcodes together. You will need a few ISBN’s and here’s why.
Let’s talk about Self-Publishing — After watching many YouTube and TikTok videos I decided to self-publish using Amazon KDP. If you have an Amazon account it is very easy to set up your KDP page. When you take this route, be sure to register yourself as an author on Amazon. Using Amazon KDP takes all the hassle of keeping stock as well as shipping out of your hands and they print on demand. Amazon requires an ISBN number for paperback, hardback and audio versions of your book. You do not need to purchase an ISBN for the Kindle version of your book. While Amazon assigns free ISBN’s it is recommended to get your own so that you have full rights to your book. You can track your sales and download reports. Be sure to set your pricing carefully as Amazon does take 40% of all book sales and they also have the right to lower your price at will. You can purchase your own stock at the author price they offer and up to 999 copies at a time.
Let’s talk about formatting — I wrote my book in Microsoft Word and learned how to format it using a TikTok video that I watched a few times. I edited my book using Grammarly and also it helps to have English teachers in your family. On the night of my uploading my book to Amazon, I realized that the version I was using for the paperback would not work for the Kindle version and so I learned how to format my book using YouTube. It’s helpful to use Kindle Previewer 3 so that you can see what your book will look like across mobile devices.
Let’s talk cover design — I designed my book cover using Canva Pro. I could have paid someone on Fivver or Upwork to create it but my mission had changed from write and publish a book to write and publish on a low to no budget so that others will feel empowered. I know many people have a love-hate relationship with Canva but I absolutely love it! They have lots of templates to choose from and you can design your own. Thanks to YouTube I learned that you can download the book cover template from Amazon and upload it into Canva. This helps you to see where your design area lays. To match the template from Amazon back to Canva, open the template in Adobe, click on the properties section and use the dimensions specified in there to create your template in Canva. Upload the PDF to Canva and place it on your Canva template. It should fit perfectly with a drag or two. Once you are done designing your cover, you can delete the template from your design.
Let’s talk about marketing your book — I learned a lot about marketing my book by watching lots of TikTok videos and Instagram Live sessions by Publishers. There are so many to choose from. Tell the story of your process to your audience. Writing and selling a book requires the know, like and trust factor just as much as marketing your business. If you are like me, an unknown with a desire to share a story, you need to share your story. For me, I shared the process with my #hrcommunity on LinkedIn and Instagram. The support has been tremendous. Always prepare your audience for what is to come. Let them know your why and how. It also helps that I am always talking about HR and self-care in HR so when my book came out it was not new to anyone that this is what I would write about. I planned a book launch in my home country. Due to Covid restrictions, it had to be small and that was perfect for introverted me. Share photos on social media of persons with your book, share reviews and keep on sharing. Once you write a book the work has just begun. I am learning that now.
I was inspired to write this book to share the other side of HR, the side that no one else sees but us as HR professionals. I was inspired by amazing female authors like Luvvie Ajai Jones, Minda Harts and Dr. Joy Cox to name a few black female authors whom I admire to get it done. Luvvie was sharing her journey as an author writing her second book “Professional Trouble Maker” on Instagram while I was writing Confessions of An HR Pro. I was inspired to try some of her suggestions especially when it came to making time for writing and having someone to hold me accountable to write (thanks to my husband and daughter for being my accountability buddies).
Now that I have put this book out there, I must admit that I have been struck by the writer’s bug and I am looking forward to writing the second installation of Confessions of an HR Pro with a twist. It is possible to write a book on a low to no budget and have it be successful if you put your mind to it and want it bad enough. If you have held back from writing because of fear, ask yourself which is worse, fear of a few bad critics that never wrote a book themselves or someone who needed your voice never hearing it? For those of you living in countries like the US and UK you have a huge advantage over a Caribbean writer of someone picking you up and publishing your book and giving you a deal of a lifetime, don’t block your opportunity.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to have learned from so many and to finally put my thoughts into writing. Where this goes, I have no idea, but at least I tried. If you have a copy of my book please leave a review on Amazon and if you do not have a copy, whether you are in HR or not, you can still gain something from it. Happy reading.
Formatting your book for Kindle — Who wants to write a book on YouTube
Learn more about Amazon KDP with Stefan James
Format your book in Microsoft word — @snowy_Kun on TikTok
Making your book cover in Canva — @jennifersinger001 on TikTok
Writing coach — Natasha Hope @natasha_hope on Instagram
Julie Turney is an HRforHR Coach, Founder & CEO of HR@Heart Consulting Inc. A boutique coaching firm where she helps HR Professionals to build their resilience agility and find their “HR Voice”. Julie is also the author of the book Confessions of an HR Pro: Stories of Defeat & Triumph, Host of The HR Sound Off Podcast Show, and she is the lead organizer of DisruptHR Caribbean (Barbados, Trinidad & Jamaica).