Studies have shown that most everyone has considered writing a book. So what separates the people who dream about writing a book from those who actually do write one? The answer lies in developing a writing plan and sticking to it!
Following are solid, practical techniques to help you make your dream of writing a book a reality:
1. Choose the Right Subject Matter
Start by identifying your target audience. Who do you want your book to reach? Are you writing for your clients, single mothers, consultants, teenagers, retired baby boomers? Knowing your audience will help you make important decisions when building your content. You should always keep your audience in mind as you develop your book.
2. Know Your Book’s Unique Value
Look at any bookshelf in your local book store and you will see that there are multiple titles covering the same subject, which proves that there is always room in the market for another new book. The key is to establish how your book will be different or better than the competition. Determine what unique value you will bring to your readers.
3. Choose Your Process
You don’t have to be professionally-trained writer to develop a book. Here are several options:
- Hire a ghostwriter
- Enlist a co-author
- Dictate your book on audio and use software such as Professionally Speaking to convert it to text
- Get your thoughts on paper and hire a good editor to turn it into a manuscript
- Assemble an anthology of contributions from others
4. Leverage Content You Already Have
Your book may already be further along than you realize. If you have created content for your business, you may be able to use it for your book. Here are some places to look:
- Articles and blog posts you have written
- Handouts you have developed
- Surveys you have conducted
- Case studies and client success stories
- Seminars, videos, and recordings you have made that can be transcribed
- Contributions from others (articles, interviews, case studies, etc.—with their permission, of course)
5. Get Started with an Outline
Everyone has their own unique process for writing, though most writers will tell you that they start with some sort of outline. I recommend using a storyboard process.
Here’s what I do: Start with a blank wall and a stack of Post-It notes. Write each and every topic idea you want to cover in your book on a Post-It and stick it to the wall. Once you have all of your ideas out, move the notes around until they form some kind of logical order. This is a great way to identify your chapters, how much content you have for each, and where you need to add more content. You can transfer everything to an outline or simply work off of your wall of ideas.
6. Begin the Writing Process
Once you know what topics to cover, you are ready to begin writing (or dictating, assembling content you already have, or inviting others to contribute). The idea of writing a book can seem overwhelming, but if you tackle it in small pieces, it can begin to come together quickly.
We are in a technology-driven age and most of us have short attention spans. Approach each topic as if you were writing a short article. To make it easier for you and your reader, break up the text into “chunks.” Use plenty of subheadings and bullets for easier reading. Include quotes from people you have interviewed, provide resources for additional information, and compile brief sidebar tips to enhance the reader’s experience.
7. Make Time to Write
One of the biggest excuses that aspiring authors have is a lack of time to get a book written. Like anything else in life, if you want it badly enough, you have to find a way to make it happen.
You may want to plan your writing time around when you are most creative. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Perhaps you need to get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later. It is important to discover your own unique process. Some writers are disciplined and write during a set time each day. Some schedule one or two days each week for writing. With my busy schedule, I actually check in to a hotel for a weekend and write, write, write! It’s all about what works best for you.
8. Cross the Finish Line
The average book manuscript is between 60,000 to 80,000 words. Two to three typed pages are the equivalent of around 1,000 words. So if you wrote just 1,000 words per day, your manuscript would be done in 60 days!
Once your manuscript is complete, you will begin the editing process. If you are new to writing, it would be wise to hire an experienced editor to help. Of course, you have many options for getting your book into print. Whether you want to pursue a traditional publisher or self-publishing, the options are abundant. A good book coach can also help you make some of these decisions.
No matter what publishing options you pursue, writing a book is a big achievement and can have a tremendous impact on your life. Set a goal to finally write that book this year and you will embark on a fantastic journey.