Okay. It looks like nearly everyone with access to a computer is publishing blank journals, planners, and other “low-content” books.
I have mixed feelings about it. Especially when I see ugly, overpriced “composition books” flooding Amazon’s pages.
But… another True Confessions moment, here: I’ve been publishing niche-specific journals since 2006. Yes, back in the days when Lulu was the only game in town, for quality print-on-demand books.
I’ve continued publishing them, off and on, through CreateSpace… which is now becoming part of the KDP process. (But that’s another topic for another day. When I’m not snarling and growling over it.)
My point is: I know a few things about publishing low-content books. They’re fun. They’re easy.
A Couple of Reality Check Notes
- Don’t count on this being your main income stream. If you do something truly unique, it might be your bread-and-butter, but… don’t count on that.
- Also, there are two main paths in the low-content field. One is to publish a bazillion books, and hope you sell a few of each, every month. The other is to create very niche-specific books in categories that have lots of customers, and do this brilliantly. (Which, of course, takes me back to point #1, above: If it’s truly unique – and clever, and gorgeous – it might go viral and provide a very nice income.)
But, no matter which approach you take, the work can be mind-numbing unless you use software – plus some good, reliable systems – to turn out the “guts” of each book. (That is, the interior pages. Often, most are the same set of pages, over & over again, with minor tweaks… if any.)
When I heard that Di Heuser (of PLR Planners fame) had stumbled onto a way to streamline the interior pages – and sometimes the book covers – with something like automation… I was intrigued.
See, I’m not interested in heartless software that will turn out 50 blank, lined journals at a time, with nothing to distinguish them.
But I knew that Di wasn’t the type to promote anything that spammy.
And then, last week, she surprised me by sending me review copies of her latest products, which start with Journal Accelerator. (As usual, that’s not an affiliate link.)
This month, I’m knee-deep in Halloween-ish books, so I haven’t had time to actually test her system. But her videos show exactly how it works in Microsoft Office, and – as soon as I saw what she’d stumbled onto – I laughed.
Di’s system is kind of brilliant. And clever. And it’s a way to turn out planners & journals that are not cookie-cutter versions of everyone else’s.
For around $20, it may be a good value if you’re manually creating printed planners & journals, or customizing planner designs.
Also, her main product could be useful if you’re selling printable planners & journals at Etsy or Gumroad, etc.
(1) Though Di assures me that this system works in OpenOffice and LibreOffice, the demo is in Word. If you’re not using Microsoft Office, you’ll need to make some modifications to the process.
(2) Even if you are accustomed to using Microsoft Office, you may need to go through her videos, step-by-step, v-e-r-y slowly, to follow what she’s showing you.
But, with those warnings, if you’re working on planners and are creating them one-by-one, by hand, this product may save you hours. Once the system is set up, it should be pretty simple to modify each planner, journal, etc., to include the sub-niche specific tweaks.
Di has two upsells.
One ($27) shows you how to apply a similar approach to Photoshop, so you can turn out multiple book covers with just a few clicks. For many people, this is probably a nice, quick system.
For finicky control freaks like me… well, I like to craft each cover by hand, endlessly tweaking the scale, the colors, the saturation, and so on. (Yes, I know I’m spending far too much time on them. I happen to like this part of the process. So there! LOL)
Di’s other upsell ($37) is an expansion of her main product. It shows you how to use Microsoft Office to create journals and planners with multiple sets of pages, at a lightning-fast pace.
For example, let’s say you’re a Girl Scout Leader. You need to plan a meeting every week, and each week the line-up is about the same: Gathering the Scouts, maybe starting with a flag ceremony of some kind, then one of the many songs the kids love, then an activity, then a snack break, then (maybe) another brief activity, then the closing… and so on.
For that kind of planner, I’d probably need four to six pages per meeting. (Including a page where, after the meeting, I’d jot notes about what worked well and what didn’t.)
Di’s system would allow me to create a six-page set of pages, each of them different. And then her system will repeat them – over & over – to fill a journal… with just a couple of easy clicks.
I could even pre-date them, so – in future years – I could go back & easily find the previous Halloween-ish meeting, or the one where we (once again) reviewed how to tell poisonous Florida snakes from non-poisonous ones.
I think Di’s ideas are very clever, and if it sounds like a product that might streamline what you’re doing, I recommend it: Journal Accelerator.
I’ve also been pleased with a few other journal/planner resources, but none are as affordable as Di’s system. That’s why I’m reviewing this system, first.
Di has created a brilliant, inexpensive way to start creating blank journals and planners. Then, you can see whether you enjoy publishing these kinds of books, and if they’re profitable for you in your niches.
In other news… I’ve recently read two books that are helping me with my career as an indie author.
One is kind of essential, and will help you write better book blurbs, sales letters, blog posts, and even craft a better author bio: Story Brand, by Donald Miller.
I suggest getting the printed book, so you can more easily flip back & forth through the pages, comparing different points he makes.
The other is strictly for geeks. It’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger.
Again, I recommend getting the print edition. (As I’m writing this, you can get a used copy for under $5.) The reason for the print edition is… well, some of this book is an absolute snooze. I flipped through a lot of the pages, and that would have been nightmarish on my Kindle reader.
But, I learned things like: The #1 way to get word-of-mouth started might be to create awe among your fans & readers.
Berger talks about that in depth, along with several other emotional triggers that can spark lots of word-0f-mouth publicity via social media… and in real life.
In addition, I’ve been kind of impressed by the free course that just started at Product Launch Formula Masterclass. (Yes, I break out in hives at anything with that kind of name, but his ideas are really, really good for authors. And the classes are free.) Sign up at ProductLaunchFormula.com. So far, he’s not spamming me.
And I paid for the Lifestyle Liberation Academy course collection – it’s a membership site – and, even in the first set of videos, I discovered something that’s been holding me back for over a decade.
Henri’s courses may be too “do what you love, the money will follow” for you, but – for me – he’s saying important things that I needed to hear. Also, he assumes you’re starting with zero knowledge about online business. So, he includes a course about learning to use WordPress. And another about how to publish a Kindle book. And so on.
Anyway, that’s my news. And I’ll be kind of crazy-busy between now & Halloween, because that’s one of my niches.
The difference this year: I’m doing things I love, and getting ready to publish the kinds of books I’d want to read, myself.