Don’t think you can write a book? Don’t worry, everyone can. In fact, I’ll teach you how.
‘Anyone can write a book’ is a favoured marketing line used by writing coaches and similar professionals across the globe to get you to buy their products and services. Now the purists in my field often respond by saying that while anyone can write a book, many of them shouldn’t. To support their argument, they point at grammatical errors, incoherent rambling and covers using Word Art that have all made it to print thanks to the growth in self-publishing.
So the question stops being whether everyone can simply write a book, but whether everyone can produce a great one.
Whether you’re a natural writer or not, I believe you can. However, I don’t believe it just ‘happens’. You need to follow certain steps.
1. Find an awesome idea
You’re highly qualified in your field and have fifteen years of experience, so the subject of your book should be pretty straight forward. But you’ve just started learning about a new area that you’re really passionate about, and what you think you’d like to make that your new direction…
Meanwhile, your clients (aka your ideal readers) are thinking about something else entirely.
The mistake most entrepreneurs make is writing about what they want to write about, rather than finding the intersection between their knowledge, their passion, and their readers’ desires and interests. The issue with this is that if you aren’t addressing your readers’ desires, no one will want to buy your book, and you’ll be left with a very expensive paperweight. However, if you aren’t knowledgeable about your idea, you’ll end up rambling and repeating yourself to bulk up your word count (which will all get cut once you go to an editor). On the other hand, if you aren’t passionate about your idea, you’ll give up part way through.
An awesome idea is one that meets all three criteria.
2. Commit to ONE type of book
There are a number of structures you could choose for your nonfiction book, ranging from the how-to book to the memoir. The issue is that, if you just start writing without being clear on the type of book you want to create, you’ll end up with something that doesn’t have a clear benefit for the reader and which results in repetition and rambling as you try to hit your target word count.
When it comes to editing, this will either result in a very confused editor who doesn’t know what you want to achieve, so only does a spell check rather than reviewing content and structure; or an editor who edits your book to fit one of the four book types, resulting in any content that isn’t relevant to that book type being cut.
Instead, commit to one type of book before you start writing.
3. Plan your book
Book planning is something we feel quite strongly about at Grammar Factory, simply because time and time again we see entrepreneurs getting stuck on their first drafts or submitting drafts for editing that are a mess. The reason for this is that all they’ve planned is their table of contents, which leaves them sitting in front of a blank Word document relying on inspiration to provide the content.
4. Review your draft
The more refined the document you send in for editing, the better the result you’ll get from the process. So, after writing, take a couple of weeks off then review your book. Think about your ideal readers and what you want them to learn by reading each chapter, and ensure that each chapter clearly teaches that lesson. When looking at the book as a whole, are the chapters in a logical order, or do some need to be reshuffled? Does each have one main point, or could some be split? Is there repetition that can be consolidated or rambling that can be cut? In short, have a go at being your own editor before sending it to the experts.
Another idea is getting some industry experts or some people who are your ideal readers to review your draft and provide you with feedback.
5. Hire a team of experts
If you truly want to get a professional result, you need to bring in the professionals. This is the real difference between being one of the people used as an example of why some people shouldn’t write a book, and being one of the people used as an example of how self-publishing can produce high-quality books.
Essentially, you want to access all of the resources you would use if you went to a traditional publishing house – editors, designers, printers and publicists. Then you can rest assured that you’re not simple one of the people who’s written a book, but you’re one of the people who’s written and self-published a great one.