Behind the Scenes of Writing, Designing, Editing and Publishing My Latest Book on Amazon

By Nate McCallister
Last Updated on August 11, 2021

It is finally done. The book I've been working on for years, Evergreen Affiliate Marketing, is officially live on Amazon.

The process was both one of the most fulfilling yet difficult things I've done in my entire life. Even as a full-time blogger who is no stranger to writing, this process was different. 

There was so much that went on behind the scenes of writing the book that I felt like sharing it would make for an insightful blog post.

The image below is a rough timeline of all of the things involved in the process of the book (dates are not perfect, sorry about that). If you're serious about seeing this process, definitely open this up on a desktop browser (it's wide and won't show well on mobile) and click on it to expand it to full screen. 

Book Writing Process Mindmap

Learning, Testing and Documenting

I believe that a good book is earned long before any of the words are written on paper. My goal of writing the greatest book on affiliate marketing required me to have a massive amount of experience and exposure to the process and all of the nuances involved. 

Common business logic is "focus on one thing and do it very well." That's awesome advice usually but for writing this book, I had to break that rule and go a mile wide and an inch deep rather than the other way around.

For this reason, I adopted a "do it in the name of research, even if it isn't the most profitable thing I could be spending my time on."

This was an awesome and liberating way for me to stop overthinking the things I did. I was able to go outside of my traditional comfort zone from a business standpoint because I knew that new exposures (good, bad or ugly) would make my book better and would help my readers better understand the true nature of the topic of the book, affiliate marketing. 

So, I started intentionally dabbling like a curious student rather than a "must win as fast as possible to pay the bills," entrepreneur. 

Although I'm more comfortable (and profitable) when I focus on my blog writing, I went well outside of that. 

  • Running 10s of thousands of dollars in ads on many different platforms.
  • Promoting products in as many niches as possible. 
  • Creating video and audio content more than I normally would.
  • Experimenting on social media channels I wasn't used to using.
  • Interviewing experts (almost always informally). 
  • Hoarding data and quotes that I knew would add value as potential references to the book.
  • Religiously documenting everything that could be in any way valuable. 
  • Reading the clickbait books on Amazon about affiliate marketing I wouldn't normally have cared to spend time on (I wanted to know where the bar was set).

When I stumbled across something that I felt was extremely valuable and would make a great chapter, I started out by creating a blog post on it. 50% of these I published on this site or my sister sites and 50% were just saved in draft mode for future recall in my book. 

This process is called, "blogging a book," (I didn't coin that term). It's really a genius approach to making the process of writing a long book seem like many smaller, more manageable steps. 

Outlining

Although I had been writing about the process for years prior, about 2 years ago I officially started with a rough outline of the book and brainstorming titles. The initial outline was done with my rudimentary iPhone's notes app but was later transitioned to the powerful but complex writing tool Scrivener.

Scrivener logo
Scrivener Example

The main folders of my Scrivener book file for Evergreen Affiliate Marketing

Scrivener Folder Expanded

Each section drops down into chapters I could edit one by one.

Scrivener for holding research

I could also store all of my research materials (websites, images, quotes, etc) for easy reference.

Scrivener is an amazingly powerful tool BUT the learning curve is steep. In full disclosure, I had to take a pretty extensive course just to get to a point I felt like I was leveraging most of the important features correctly. It's available on Udemy if you're interested (just type in "learn scrivener fast" into their search bar).

I also leveraged mind maps to better organize my thoughts for the book and the flow of chapters and ideas. The tool I use for mind mapping is called Scapple (which is also what I made the mind map at the top of this post with). This process can also be done with a pen and paper or any of the myriad of other mind mapping tools out there.

The outline morphed regularly all the way up until about 3 months before publishing. I changed chapter names, sections and order over and over again. Many chapters were deleted entirely and many smaller ones were compiled together. 

This process was very tedious. It was hard work to make the book flow logically and in a way that kept readers engaged. This might have been the most difficult part for me.

The Ugly First Draft and Repurposing Blog Posts

Once I had my outline, I started to see what things I had already written about on my sites that I could use as starting points for chapters. Since I had blogged about the process of affiliate marketing for so long, I already had a huge amount of the content written. I'd say about 40% of the things I wanted to include had been mentioned in some form on my sites or as long form social media posts over the years.

However, I had to do a great deal of editing to make it all fit. Things like...

  • Removing or rewording any mentions of phrases like "in this article" or "see my other posts"
  • Removing or redoing graphics and images that wouldn't print well
  • Removing any odd formatting that wasn't consistent with the book style
  • Turning links into references or removing them entirely
  • Ensuring all content was still accurate and up to date (some older posts had changed slightly)

Fortunately, the proofreading on these was minimal since I always do extensive amounts of it before publishing blog content, but I still found a lot of things that needed amending.

Editing and Proofreading

I pride myself on being a great proofreader and editor so I wanted to leverage that and reduce the chances of errors in the final print edition by editing everything myself first. 

Yes, this wasn't the most productive use of my time, but this book is my baby. I wanted it to be just right.

To do this, I ran every chapter one by one into a tool called ProWriting Aid. It's a premium tool that shows a ton of awesome things like the reading level of my writing, common usage errors and more.

Prowritingaid
Prowriting Aid Example

I ran each chapter through ProWritingAid and manually checked all recommendations. Most I kept but many I ignored because they weren't aligned with the tone of the book (it gets a little robotic if you blindly accept all suggestions).

Prowriting Aid Use

The main things I was concerned with were readability (below 9th grade was goal), plagiarism (accidentally not citing sources) and basic spelling and grammar issues.

Once I was finished with this, I hired a professional editor named Lois Stuck from Reedsy.com. She was fantastic, I can't say enough good things about her. 

Lois Stuck

We worked together for about a month back and forth until we were both happy with the results.

I will be working with Lois and other editors from Reedsy for the foreseeable future. The experience was just A+.

Cover, Graphics and Illustrations

I'm proud to say that I did about 85% of all the design work in this book. I did hire a designer/typesetter to ensure that everything would look great on print, but I handled:

  • Color palette selection
  • Cover and spine design (done with Canva and BookBolt)
  • 3D versions of cover for promotions (easily done in Placeit)
  • All of the graphs (but all were edited for print) 
  • All of the cartoon illustrations (Canva and iPad drawing apps)

You'd be amazed at how much you can really get done with Canva. It was so critical to my process.

Canva_Logo
Canva for Book Covers

I built my cover inside of Canva. I used inspiration from some of my favorite books and just kept tinkering with it and asking for feedback until I got something I loved.

Canva Graphics Folder

I ended up creating about 60 different graphics for the book inside of Canva.

For the actual design formatting, my designer's name is Imran Allam and she did a fantastic job. I found her on a platform called Reedsy, which is basically like Upwork but totally focused on editing and publishing.

Imran Designer on Reedsy

Publishing to Amazon

Fiverr gig for Amazon KDP cover

The final step after reviewing the final copy from the designer was publishing it to Amazon. I admit, I was a bit rusty on this step since it had been awhile since I did it. 

Iram sent me .ePub (for ebook) and PDF (for print) files for upload. All I had to do was write the descriptions and fill out the basic submission questions like keywords, pricing etc. 

I had some issues with the final cover upload, so I hired someone on Fiverr to make sure it was correct. They knocked it out in about 12 hours for just under $20. Total steal (although BookBolt can easily do this once you get the hang of it). 

The Website and Social Media

I built a simple website at EvergreenAffiliateMarketing.com to use as the home for the book. I used Thrive Themes (as always), Thrive Leads and WPX hosting

I'm giving away my 3 favorite chapters of the book on the site as well as hosting a page for additional resources for the readers. 

Website for Book

A simple landing page for the book to drive leads and send traffic to the book directly on Amazon.

My strategy for this book is to send 100% of my traffic to Amazon. There is no way to purchase the book directly from me, everyone is redirected to Amazon. 

Although the idea of having this as my own sales funnel was tempting, I want to get this book to as many people as possible and Amazon KDP is the undisputed best way to do that.

Book lead page

I also built a Facebook group for readers to discuss the book or ask me general questions. Links to both the downloads page and the Facebook group are included throughout the book. 

The main purpose of the book is not to earn a bunch of money on Amazon sales (although that would be nice). The goal is to use it to simultaneously grow my authority in the highly competitive affiliate marketing space AND my email list of aspiring affiliate marketers. 

What's Next?

For the rest of the year, I'll be focusing on promoting the book. This includes through podcasts, webinars, paid promotions on Amazon and in person at conferences and events. 

The audiobook version will be released Winter 2021 and I'm extremely excited for that. 

If you're interested in reading the book, get your copy here 🙂 

Resources Mentioned

Reedsy - Where I hired my editor and designer

PlaceIt - What I used for my 3D mockup

Canva - What I used for my cover design and almost all graphics, cartoons and illustrations

Scrivener - What I used for compiling the book

Scapple - What I used for mind mapping 

ProWriting Aid - What I used for my own pre-editing

Fiverr KDP Repair Gig - What I used for simple cover formatting

BookBolt - What I used for some research and design

Thrive Themes - What I used for creating my evergreenaffiliatemarketing.com website

WPX Hosting - What I used to host my evergreenaffiliatemarketing.com website

About the author

Nate is the founder and main contributor of EntreResource.com. He is a lifestyle entrepreneur who spends his time building businesses and raising his four kids Sawyer, Brooks, Van and Lua with his beautiful wife Emily. His main interests include copywriting, economics and piano.

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