Archive for the ‘General Blogging Tips’ Category

Guest Post Basics – Stick To Your Knitting!

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

One of the best ways to grow a new blog is to do guest posts on other blogs. The two benefits are:

  1. New readers – Assuming some of the readers of the guest post like what they read, they might click through and subscribe to your blog.
  2. Link juice – Google uses links to your site to measure how much “authority” your site has. The more incoming links you have and the higher quality they are (ie coming from sites with higher authority), the better off you will be.

Like likes like

As I discussed in Guest Post Secrets – it’s important to guest post on blogs which write about similar topics to your own. If you write mainly about debt reduction, there is no point in guest posting on a car repair site, if new readers are what you are seeking.

If you have a financial blog, it is important to remember that the vast majority of financial blog readers only want to read financial blogs written by someone in the same country. Americans don’t want to read Canuck money blogs and vice versa. We have different investment accounts, different rules, laws and taxes. Guest posting on a blog from another country is good for link juice, but a waste of time if you are trying to get new readers.

Size matters

Whether you are trying to get new readers, more link juice or both – Try to publish guest posts on the biggest blogs you can. Most big blogs that I know are more than ok with accepting guest posts.

Don’t “start off small” and work your way up – start big and work your way down.

It’s safe and easy for a new blog to guest post or exchange guest posts with another new blog, but guess what? Waste of time. No link juice and very little potential for new readers.

Put together the best guest post you can and start shopping it to the big blogs in your niche.

Easy SEO Tip – Remove Dates From Posts And Comments

Monday, December 20th, 2010

I recently learned of a great SEO tip from Mike Piper, who is a bit of an SEO guru.

The tip is:

Remove all dates from your posts and comments.

Why does this help?

The problem with dates on posts is that if a search engine visitor sees an old date associated with an information post, they might leave thinking the post is out of date.  This can be a problem, especially if the information is timeless or if you keep the post up-to-date.

Most blog posts show the date at the top of the post under the title as well as in the comments.

The other place that a search engine visitor will see the date is in the SERP (search engine results page).  I’ve included an example just below.

Search engine page with dates (Oct 26 - 2007)

You can’t tell Google to ignore dates on your post, but you can remove the dates from your post and comments.  Once the post gets re-indexed, the search engine results page will not show the dates anymore.

Search engine results with no dates. This post was created in 2007.

Remember that search engine visitors provide the majority of your income.

How to remove dates if you are using the Thesis theme

In Thesis there are two or three steps necessary to remove dates from your posts and comments.

1)  Upgrade to the latest version of Thesis.

I was using 1.6 when I tried this, and none of the easy date removal options were available.  You can use css, but it’s better to have the most recent version of Thesis which is 1.8 at the time of writing.

2) Remove dates from posts

  1. Go to your WordPress admin panel.
  2. Thesis
  3. Design Options
  4. Display Options
  5. Bylines
  6. Unselect “Show published-on date in post byline”

3) Remove dates from comments

  1. Go to your WordPress admin panel.
  2. Thesis
  3. Design Options
  4. Comment Options
  6. Comment Meta
  7. Unselect “comment date”

Bloggers – Just Ignore The Blog Rankers – Use Your Own Metrics

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Daniel from Sweating the Big Stuff recently wrote an excellent analysis on various blog rankers.

A blog ranker is a site that attempts to distill various unrelated blog statistics into one magic number, by which blogs can be ranked.  Some well known rank sites are at Fire Finance, WiseBread, MoneyCrashers and Yakezie.

I think this effort is completely futile for a number of reasons:

  1. There are different uses for these rankings – readers might look certain stats when evaluating new blogs to read. Advertisers likely look for other stats. Bloggers will give weight to stats that are important for their own goals.
  2. Lack of data – As Daniel points out in his post, the data collection is not consistent and not updated.  This isn’t necessarily the fault of the rank sites either.

Check out Daniel’s post for all his criticisms of the various rankings. They are spot on. The only one I disagree with is the Yakezie ranking – this is the worst ranking because it includes a 50% weighting for activity. This is silly. If you want to rank community activity, create a separate index – don’t ruin what potentially could a good ranking system by including unrelated data. This is like ranking pro athletes for your fantasy league by their on-field stats as well as their locker-room demeanor and how much they give back to the community. Makes no sense at all.

I will say that one feature I like from the blog rankers is that you usually can sort the table by a specific metric.  For example if you want to sort by RSS, you can do that.

What ranks should bloggers look at?

Bloggers should stay away from arbitrary 3rd party rankings – you just don’t know if the data is accurate or if the ranking formula matches the stats you are interested in.

All the rankings are based on basic measurements like traffic, links etc. My suggestion – pick your own direct metrics and just monitor them – Is RSS important to you? Then keep an eye on your RSS number. Is search engine traffic important? – fine, monitor that.

As for comparison – how helpful is it to see your rank on a list with 599 other blogs? I think you are better off comparing numbers (including $$) with similar blogs. If you have been blogging for 12 months and are pulling in $300/month, that’s great.  If your friend who started at the same time is making $600 – that number is relevant. Comparing numbers with a blogger who’s been at it for 3 years or in a different niche is pointless.

My suggestion for the Yakezie group

From Daniel’s post, it appears that the Yakezie group came up with their own ranking in an effort to woo advertisers. This is a worthwhile reason, but advertising deals for individual blogs take a lot of effort.

I suggest that you guys look into setting up a CPM ad network. The Canadian financial blogs have such a network, and I can tell you that it works quite well. Having one person negotiate with a company to sell impressions for a CPM network is far more efficient than individual deals or even group deals.

Big companies don’t want to work with little websites – it’s just too much work. This is why affiliate programs like Commission Junction are popular – a big company can work with one company (CJ) and CJ will provide an interface to hundreds or even thousands of blogs.

If you have a group of small blogs with one representative, then you have a lot more leverage with companies who wish to reach a larger, specific audience.

Nobody will get rich off it, but as I wrote previously – if you write about topics that aren’t good with Adsense and affiliates, it’s hard to make any money. A CPM ad with an Adsense or affiliate backup is a win-win situation.


  • Blog rankings are probably useful for someone – but not for bloggers.
  • Understand why you are blogging and what stats you want to improve on.
  • Monitor those stats and compare to your peers.

Setting Your FeedBurner Feed To Report Feed Clicks – Pros and Cons

Monday, December 13th, 2010

FeedBurner has an option where you can choose to track any feed clicks originating from your FeedBurner feed.

To select this option:

  • Log into FeedBurner
  • Choose your feed
  • Analyze
  • Configure stats
  • Select Item link clicks

But is this a good idea?

Pros of tracking feed clicks

If you have this option selected, you will be able to monitor clicks on feed items.  For example if someone is reading your feed and clicks to get to your site, then you will be able to see this in your Google Analytic stats.  The source will be “feedburner / email” or “feedburner / feed“.

Here is a link with more information on tracking feed clicks.

Cons of tracking feed clicks

The bad part of this option is the link generated for your feed item.  In order to track the clicks, FeedBurner has to add a bunch of extra stuff to the post link.

So what?

The problem with longer urls is that other bloggers will frequently use this modified link when linking to your blog.  I don’t think there are any SEO issues, but it sure looks funny.

For example this link was in a newspaper newsletter –

The actual post link is just

Everything in the long url after the basic post url is for tracking feed clicks.


I don’t have my feeds set to track feed clicks.  I like having the feed url show the proper url and I don’t see the value in tracking the feed clicks.

Bloggers – Make Sure You Are Using Full RSS Feeds

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

RSS readers, such as Google Reader have become a popular way to read blogs. Rather than guessing when a blogger has updated, you can just tune into your RSS reader and read whatever posts are available. Or you can opt to have the blog updates emailed to you.

Bloggers have the option of providing a full feed to RSS readers or a short feed. A full feed means the entire post will be available to the reader and the surfer doesn’t have to visit the actual blog site to read the post. A short feed means that you can only see an excerpt of the post on the RSS reader or email and have to click through to the blog site in order to read the entire article.

It is a royal pain-in-the-a$$ to click through to the site, which is why I don’t bother subscribing to any blogs that don’t provide full feeds.

Set your blog to provide full feeds!

There are two reasons why bloggers set their feeds to show short excerpts:

1) They want the visitor to come to their site.

This is not a valid reason. Yes, I understand we all want more visitors, but trust me – there are a lot of people just like me who won’t read anything you have to say, unless they can read it all in their RSS reader or email.

2) They aren’t aware that their blog is not set to long feeds.

This is very common. I have often emailed bloggers to ask them to set the full feed and they frequently aren’t aware that their blog is on short feed.

If you are a blogger and you aren’t sure about if your site is set to short or long feed, do the following:

  • Check the setting in WordPress or whatever system you are using. In WordPress go to (Settings/Reading/For each article in a feed, show [select Full text])
  • Subscribe to your feed and check it regularly. You should always subscribe to your RSS feed, email feed, newsletter (if you have one). That way you can make sure your content is being delivered without issues.

How do I get readers to visit the site?

One suggestion is to include links in each new post to related older posts on your site.  This will varying degrees of success, but it will get some RSS readers onto the blog.  This post on Canadian financial advisors is a good example of how I tried to include a lot of related links on the post.  At the end of the article I added several more links.

You can measure the success of these links by looking any increase of traffic on the linked posts in the day or two after you publish the post.

Self-Publishing Company Comparison: Amazon CreateSpace, Lulu or Lightning Source?

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Welcome to my “Write a book” series.  Here are all the articles:

This article will compare the book costs and overall costs (including distribution) for three of the biggest self-publishing companies – Amazon CreateSpace, Lulu and Lightning Source.

Ok, so you wrote a great book and were rejected by every publishing company in North America.  Or maybe you would rather self-publish your book and do your own promotion and maintain more control over the book.

The question now becomes:

Which self-publishing company do I use?

Lulu and Amazon CreateSpace are probably the best known self-publishing companies, but there are many to choose from.  Lightning Source is another option, but it is not a publisher – in fact it is a printer and you have to set up a publishing company (easy) in order to get an account there.  Lulu and CreateSpace are also technically not publishers.

Most of the self-publishing companies you will encounter (such as Lulu) use Lightning Source as the printer for your book.  Needless to say, having an intermediary company involved will cost you money, but it should also be a bit easier to get your book into print.

How self-published compensation is calculated

In order to analyze the self-publishing options properly, we need to understand the costs involved with self-publishing – printing and distribution.  Note that the distribution costs are only applied to books sold through a distributor such as  If you buy the books directly from your publisher and sell them yourself – then you are the distributor.

To calculate the book profit, you simply subtract the printing cost and the distribution cost from the retail price (set by the author).

Example:  An author has a book with a retail price of $10, the distribution fee is set to 40% and the printing costs are $3.50.

The profit  = Retail price – distribution fee – printing cost = $10 – $4 (40% of $10) – $3.50 = $2.50 per book.


Using a self-publishing company

If you use a company such as Lulu, they will be the printer and you will be the publisher and author.  However, they will only provide limited service unless you pay extra money.  Things like formatting, editing, book covers can be obtained from Lulu, but you have to pay for them.  They charge more per book than Lightning Source.

If you wish to outsource any aspects of your book creation process, it is not hard to find someone on eLance or oDesk for this purpose.

Using Lightning Source

If you sign up with Lightning Source then you will be the publisher.  This sounds a lot scarier than it is.  Here are the extra steps you need to do compared to using Lulu:

1  Get an ISBN – I had no problem getting these.  These are free for Canadians, so I got 10.  🙂

2  Set up a publishing company.

Lightning Source only deals with publishing companies, so you have to pretend that you are one.

Instructions on how to set up a publishing company:

1)  Think up a company name.

Yes, that’s it.  Just come up with a name.  Alan Sheppard recommends setting up a website which I did, however I’m not sure if that is necessary or not.

In my case, I came up with the name Money Smarts Publishing, set up a website and that was that.

Let’s take a look at my recent book and compare the costs at Lightning Source,Lulu and CreateSpace.  The Lulu cost calculator is available on their web page on the left sidebar:

My book has the following specs:

  • paper = standard
  • book type = paperback
  • color = black & white
  • size = 6″ x 9″
  • binding = perfect bound
  • number of pages 128  (this includes everything – table of contents, blank pages etc)

The costs are:

  • Cost at CreateSpace – $2.38  (with the Pro Plan)
  • Cost at Lightning Source – $2.82
  • Cost at Lulu  – $7.06

You can see that CreateSpace has the lowest printing cost, followed by Lightning Source.  Lulu has a much higher printing cost.  Lulu charges an extra $4.24 per book compared to Lightning Source (who I use).

Lulu does provide some services which make publishing a bit easier such as providing ISBN numbers and not having to create a publishing company.  In my opinion all the benefits that Lulu offers are provided up front and should have a finite cost.  If their upfront service is worth $300 – then pay $300.  If you are paying an extra $4.24 per book and sell 500 books per year, then after five years you will have paid them $10,600 for the upfront benefit.

Lulu is not a good deal.

Yes, you can change your book from Lulu to Lightning Source or CreateSpace at any time, but then you have to get a new ISBN number and will probably lose any Amazon ranking that you had.  Plus it would be a hassle.

Why don’t I use CreateSpace?

If the printing costs of my book are cheaper with CreateSpace, then why do I use Lightning Source?  Simple – the other big cost is distribution.  With Lightning Source you can set the distribution fee to 20% and still get listed on Amazon.  The minimum distribution fee at CreateSpace is 40%.   For a $10 book, CreateSpace will cost an extra $2 in distribution which you won’t make up with the printing costs.

Why does anyone use CreateSpace?

I asked this question to April Hamilton, who is an indie author extraordinaire.  She explained that setting a lower distribution fee and making your books non-returnable (which I have done), means that a lot of book sellers will not list your book.  It really depends on the author and their books, but in a lot of cases, CreateSpace can be a better option than Lightning Source.  One great feature of CreateSpace, is that you can list a book for free, whereas it costs just under $100 to list a book with Lightning Source.

Another reason for going with CreateSpace is that their printing costs are the lowest.  For an author who distributes their own books, CreateSpace will probably be the best deal.

Check out April’s analysis of CreateSpace vs Lulu.


I think for most authors, Lightning Source or CreateSpace should be their top choice.  Lulu is just way too expensive.

  • If you want your book listed on Amazon and Barns & Noble only,- choose Lightning Source and set the distribution to 20%.
  • If you want a wider distribution and will set the distribution to 40% or higher, choose CreateSpace.
  • If you distribute the book yourself, choose CreateSpace.
  • If you are just creating a fun book, which you will give to your family as gifts – choose CreateSpace.

Anyone out there have any thoughts on self-publishing companies?

Some Interesting Blogging and Self-publishing Articles

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

A few quick links that caught my interest.  One of them is even about blogging.  🙂

Writing A Book: Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Welcome to my “Write a book” series.  Here are all the articles:Create-Space

One question which is becoming more and more relevant for authors: Should I use a traditional publishing company or self-publish?

I’m going to take a look at the pros and cons of both, figure out which type of books are suitable for self-publishing and look at some examples of authors that I think should have self-published.

Traditional publisher


  • Advance payment of royalties – This helps give the author a base hourly wage for their efforts, even if the book doesn’t sell
  • Shelf space in brick-and-mortar book stores
  • Prestige
  • Promotional help (this is very debatable)
  • Help with book editors/proof readers/marketing experience (ie what topics sell)
  • Publisher does all the “publishing” stuff – book cover design etc
  • Motivation – You have the advance plus the editors assigning deadlines


  • Low profit per book ~10% royalty
  • You have to get a deal
  • Once you sell the book to a publisher, you lose control over it
  • Most books don’t get much promotional help
  • Little incentive to promote the book yourself
  • Inflexible for future editions
  • Deadlines which might not be convenient for you
  • You can’t switch to self-publishing later on



  • Much higher profit per book – A smaller paperback like mine (6″x9″, 128 pages) has a fixed cost of $3 for printing and 20% for distribution.  A $10 retail price would mean a $5 profit compared to maybe a $1 profit with a traditional publishing deal
  • Nobody has to approve your book
  • You maintain complete control over the book at all times
  • You can update the book anytime you want.  Since it is POD (print on demand), there are no stockpiles of books which are suddenly out of date
  • Inexpensive – If you don’t outsource anything, the basic cost to list a book is about $100 (including the proof copy)
  • No deadlines, so you can work at your own pace
  • You can always do a traditional publishing deal after you self-publish


  • No advance – If nobody buys the book, then you’ve spent a lot of time for nothing
  • No shelf space – This is not as critical as it used to be.  See the section below “Role of Amazon in book sales”
  • No prestige – This is changing, but at one time the only people who self-published were authors who couldn’t get a publishing deal
  • No help putting the book together.  Editing, proof reading etc.  These steps can be outsourced.  It’s cheaper to pay some money up front and then get higher residual profits
  • More work to set up account at self-publisher and format book and create cover.  Formatting and book cover can be outsourced
  • Motivation – It all comes from you

Why use a traditional publisher?

I think the biggest benefit is the advance, the prestige and the shelf space.


Getting a decent advance for your books means that you can basically just write for the advance and not worry about sales at all.  Of course if sales are not good, then future advances are not as likely.


The prestige of a publishing deal means easier access to media, speaking events and more street cred.  I suspect this advantage is lessening, but I think it still exists.

Shelf space

Shelf space is good promotion.  If you aren’t planning to do any promotion of your book, having it on a shelf is a must.

Why self-publish your book?

Main benefit is a much higher profit per book.  You have to be able to promote the book.  The other big benefit is control.  For better or for worse – you control the whole thing and will be 100% responsible for the final product.

Which kind of books are suitable or not suitable for self-publishing?

If you self-publish then Amazon will be your main sales channel.  With a traditional publisher, brick-and-mortar bookstores as well as Amazon will be the sales channels.

If a good chunk of your audience will buy books from Amazon, then self-publishing might be a viable option.

I think that the younger your audience is and the more tech-savvy they are – the more likely they are to use Amazon to buy books.  If you are writing books aimed at people in their 20s then I’m positive that a large percentage of them are comfortable buying books online.

What if your audience is older?  A book on retirement activities might be popular in bookstores, but I’m guessing that it won’t do as well online.

Of course, this generation gap will disappear over time, but I think right now you have to try to make sure that you aren’t avoiding a big chunk of your audience by picking the wrong path.

Jonathan Fields wrote a really good essay on this topic called A Modest Proposal For Publishers and Authors.  Well worth a read.

What is the role of Amazon in book sales?

Amazon is like a search engine for books – if your book ranks well and is popular, you won’t have to do any promotion – it will sell itself.  Amazon will pair the book with “bought with” selections which will also help.

I feel that more and more people buy books off Amazon compared to the book store.  This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t want my book in a bookstore (I do), but rather that it is not critical.  This would not have been true even five years ago.

I did some Googling to try and find out what percentage of book sales are on Amazon vs book stores and found this very interesting page.  According to their info, Amazon is the largest book retailer – look at the second graph (first line is Amazon North America Media Sales) and you’ll see the comparison between Amazon vs brick-and-mortar chainstores.

That graph is very interesting:

  • Amazon sells more than either BarnesNoble or Borders
  • Amazon sells less than BarnesNoble + Borders
  • The trend is amazing – regular bookstore sales are dropping, but that is irrelevant – Amazon sales are skyrocketing.

It should be noted that these sales include non-book items such as dvds, cds, coffee and brownies which might skew the results.

This type of data tells me that the role of the bookstore is not as important as it was 5-10 years ago.  Yes, bookstores still sell a lot of books, but I’d rather take a higher profit and sell only on Amazon.

What if I sell my self-published book on Amazon and then sold the “print” version to a publishing company so it could be in bookstores.  This would be the best of both worlds.  I would continue to do what I’m doing now – selling the self-published book on Amazon and then some publishing company would buy the print rights and could stock the book shelves.

Not going to happen.  From what I can see, you sell all the rights to the books – not just the worst parts.  🙂

Some examples of authors that I think should have self-published

Art of Non-Conformity – Chris Guillebeau is a master marketer.  One of the best in my opinion.  He just released his book and decided to use a traditional publisher.  As I write this, he is conducting a huge book tour that he organized/paid for himself to help promote the book.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why Chris didn’t self-publish.

Let’s look at some key factors that support self-publishing:

  1. Chris is a great promoter.
  2. Chris is doing all the book promotion.
  3. His audience is relatively young and likely tech-savvy – they would have no problem buying off Amazon.

I would love to see the breakdown of his sales by Amazon vs in-store sales.

Four Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss.  Tim has turned his book into a brand.  This example is similar to the previous one.  Tim has been very successful promoting his book, his audience is young so why didn’t he self-publish?

Another two examples are JD Roth of GRS and Trent Hamm from TSD.  They have both written books on personal finance.  In their case, they have large followings (tribes) on their blogs.  I suspect that most of their sales will come from readers or indirectly from readers.  Because their topic is so competitive, I doubt they will get much benefit from being on a book shelf.  They also have the ability to do a lot of promotion for their books.

What do you think?  If you have further thoughts on self-publishing vs traditional publishers then please leave a comment!


Link Roundup – Blog speed, backup and fixes

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

I’ve never done a link roundup on Blogthority, so I thought I’d give it a shot.  If you have any links that you think should appear in future roundups, feel free to email me.

On with the links

About Online Matters wrote a detailed post about website latency and performance tools.  Web site speed is very important so bookmark this one.

Out of Debt Again had a scary experience when she lost her blog.  Luckily she had backups and was able to recover.  It is absolutely critical that you make backups of your blog, even if you have no idea how to restore.  Here are two posts she did:

Being Ruth shows us the two most common fixes for WordPress problems.  Very good easy fixes to remember when things go wrong with your blog.

Money Help For Christians had two very informative posts on:

Jonathan Fields had a great essay on the role of publishers and authors in the new era of electronic media.

How To Write A Book

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Welcome to my “Write a book” series.  Here are all the articles:Create-Space

One of the first steps to writing a book is to decide on a topic.  I wrote a very long post about picking a book topic.  As I discussed, material you have blogged about might make a good book topic.  If you don’t have a blog, then you will have to come up with a topic from scratch.  I would strongly suggest that you blog about your topic for a while before attempting to put a book together.

The reasons for doing this are:

  • See if you really like writing the topic
  • Is there enough material for a book?
  • Is there any interest in the topic from search engine visitors?

The best resource for writing a book and self-publishing is Aiming for Amazon by Alan Shepard.  The link is to a free pdf download of the book.  I strongly recommend it.

Plan the book

The next step is to plan your book.  By this I mean that you should think up all the areas within your topic you want to cover and write them down.  When I did my book, I started with general ideas and worked my way down to specific ideas.  Once you are completed the planning stage, you should have a list of topics to do which are basically blog posts (and can double as such).

Let’s say you want to write about a particular type of investment account – let’s call it an IA account.

Your initial plan might look like this (I’m loosely basing this on my book):

  • Why you might want to open an IA – or benefits of an IA
  • Some drawbacks of the IA
  • How to open an IA
  • Where to open an IA
  • Rules for opening an IA
  • Contribution rules
  • Withdrawal rules
  • Tax issues/rules while money is in the IA

Ok, so that is the basic outline.  You can change the order later on.

Now, look at each topic and start coming up with more specific topics:

ie Contribution rules might have the following sub-topics:

  • What are the contribution rules/limits/penalties for over contributing
  • Are there age minimums/limits
  • Is there any kind of matching grant?

For each rule, you could potentially have an example illustrating the rule.

Don’t worry too much about completeness at this step.  As you work on your plan, you will think of new topics to add to the book.  When you start writing, more topics/concepts will also come to you.  It is also likely that during the process, you will delete sections as well.

Shop your plan around

If you are planning to look for a publishing deal, then this is the time you need to get an agent and try pitching your book proposal to the agent and/or publishing companies.  The reason you need to shop the book now, is so that if you can’t get a deal – you will save yourself the trouble of writing a whole book and then getting rejected.

If you are self-publishing, then this might be a good time to show the book plan to other authors/bloggers/friends/neighbours – anyone who you think might provide some good feedback on the book.  I didn’t do this step with my recent book, because I had a very clear idea about what the book would be about and the content that would be in it.  I can definitely see for future books however, that I might look for guidance if I’m not so sure about the content.

Start writing

Once you have your book organized and all the various sub-topics are clear, then you can start writing.  I just started at the first sub-topic and kept going until I got to the end.   I didn’t try to finish each topic/chapter perfectly – if there was a point I wasn’t clear about then I’d mark it in red with a note to do more research.


If you have sources you want to refer to, then put them in the text as you write.  Sources should be footnotes.  I put links right into the text, but they can be footnotes as well.

I put the links “as is” in my text and I even referred to them as links

see the following link:

which doesn’t make a lot of sense.  At the very least I should have called them “urls” – not links.

JD Roth of GRS used an interesting approach to documenting links in his book, he created tiny urls for all the links and published those.  I like the idea, but I’m not sure that most readers will have enough faith to type out those urls and visit the site.

What I’m planning to do for future books is the following:

  • Create a link page on my main blog for each book:
  • For every link I want to refer to in the book – I’ll put a link name, description and clickable link.

For example let’s say there is a document on the Government of Canada website which shows all the RESP promoters who offer additional grants.  In the book, I’ll say something like

To see the list of promoters who offer additional grants please visit, scroll down to the “Additional grant promoter list” section and click on the link provided.

Of course they will still have to type in the url to the book links, but that is a lot shorter than a lot of the urls I included in my book.  They can also bookmark the link page as well for easy reference as they read the book.

Layout the book

At some point you need to layout the book into chapters and then include various sections such as a table of contents, title page, index etc.

When I wrote my book, I created the chapters after writing all the text and doing some editing.  I would suggest putting the material into chapters as soon as possible so that you can more easily reference the chapters appropriately.

Alan Sheppard’s book has some great advice on this step.  Another thing to do is to look at some books from your bookshelf and see how they are formatted.  How did they format their chapter pages?  Do they have an index?  Where do you put the acknowledgements?


This was a long step.  My approach was to read through the book and see what I had to fix or complete.  Anything that is not complete is marked in red so I can find it easily.  JD Roth recommends reading your material aloud, which I have to admit I’ve never done.

I gave copies of the book to a number of volunteers to get their thoughts.  Some people did some actual editing, some people just gave their opinion of the book and some didn’t say anything at all.  🙂

The final editing step was to hire someone to do a proper grammar check.  The person I hired cost $200 and spent 8 hours going through the document with a fine-tooth comb.

Alan Sheppard recommends putting the book aside for a month and then re-read it and edit.  Repeat until you don’t make any major changes.  This advice is ok, but I had the feeling that I would never finish, since I always see things I’d like to change.

Format for publisher if self-publishing

Regardless of who you use for self-publishing, you will need to format the document to certain specifications.  I don’t have any advice on this step since I hired someone else to do it for me.  I don’t regret outsourcing, but I don’t plan to do it again, since it made it really difficult to get small changes made near the end of the project.

Proof copy of your book

I won’t get into how to register with a publishing/printer company since Alan Sheppard does it so well.  Plus the company website will have instructions for this step.

Once your book is uploaded and processed, then you will have to order a proof copy.  This is a real live version of your book and will be mailed to your house.  The idea of the proof copy is to be able to verify the actual book.  You should take a good look at the cover and take a good read through the book and make sure you are ok with the results.  If you want to make changes, then you will have to submit a revision which costs money.  I had a problem with my cover and it cost $40 to submit a revised copy.  I should point out that the cover problem was plainly evident in the uploaded files so the problem was that I didn’t look at the book cover file close enough before uploading.

Once you are happy with the proof copy, you approve it and then that’s it.  The book will be available for order at the publishing company and the book info will be sent to Amazon.  It will take a while for it to show up on Amazon – anywhere from 5 days to 5 weeks according to Mike Piper who has published quite a few books.


At this point the book is “live” and all you have to do is promote it – which will be the topic for another post.

Stay tuned – the next posts in this series will be:

  • Traditional publishing vs self-publishing
  • Picking a self-publishing company – Lightning Source vs Lulu
  • Promoting your book