Are you one of those people who has a book inside of you? Have you started writing it any number of time, but just can’t seem to get it done? Here are some ideas that might let you succeed.
- Identify your subject. What is it that you want to write about? Though this should be easy, it’s not. Many authors start writing before doing this important step. The result? Rambling thoughts and text, with no coherent flow. Focusing on one theme can be a challenge. But when you know what you’re writing about, and have a burning desire to share your message, the writing comes easily.
- Determine why your book is different and what market need need it fills. Once you’ve gotten your subject in focus, it can be disheartening to find out how many similar books to yours have already been written. As someone once said, there’s nothing new under the sun. Now what? Quit? No. What you need to do is figure out what unique twist you’re going to bring to your subject. You need to create a “hook” that will attract and provide value for your readers.
- Look for several books that appear to be similar to what you want to write. Try to find books that are relatively new. Comparing your book to something out of print is like comparing the features of a new car against a Model-T Ford. For each book you examine, determine points that the author failed to hit home on. Look for topics or viewpoints that your book will have that will make it better than, or at least different from, the other authors.
- Create an outline and table of contents (TOC). This step is critical to organizing your writing. If you’ve never done this, go to the library or to a book store and look for a book in the “Xxxx for Dummies” series. Check out the TOC. Look at the level of detail. You almost don’t have to read the book to know where the author is going. That’s what you need to create. Though it may take some effort up front, this document can be used to guide your writing, and to show to an editor or publisher. Take some time to write a short paragraph description of each chapter, heading or subheading. When you actually start writing your book, all you then have to do is flesh out those paragraphs.
- Write the first few chapters. Many, if not most, editors or publishers will want to see this, to get an idea of your writing style. So why not take advantage of this idea for your own use. First of all, you’ll find out if you can really write. Second, this kind of preparation will show an editor or publisher why your book needs to be published. And if you track how long it takes you to write these chapters, you’ll know about how long it will take you to write the whole book. If your calculation for completing the book turns out to be years, you might just be a little concerned. Writing a book takes discipline and dedicated time.
- Develop a marketing & selling plan for your book. Unless you’re writing a book for your friends and family, you probably would like to sell it to lots of people. That doesn’t happen by accident. It takes understanding who your audience is, where they’re located, why this book might be of value to them, whether they read printed books or electronic books, newspapers or magazines, are tech savvy, etc. This is called marketing – asking lots of questions and collecting information. Then you need a plan for how to penetrate that market. What platform do you have for advertising? Will you do any public speaking, book signings, and so on? Do you need to hire an agent or a publicist? How big is your budget?
- Don’t expect to get rich from writing your book. Unless you’re already a household name, you have a great platform, or you have a super niche, you’re not going to sell a ton of books. So why put in the time, effort and money? First of all, remember that you’re writing this book because it’s an itch that needs scratching. You really want to do this. Next, having a book, or even better, several books, establishes you as 1) a published author and 2) an “expert” in your niche. Most people are impressed when someone waves a book around. So, if it’s in you, let it out.
If after reading all the above, you still want to write your book, start with the first step, and follow through to number 6. Remember, it takes discipline and dedicated time to write. It also may take finding a place to write, anywhere from a quiet room in your residence (away from distractions), to the local library, to a coffee shop. When you see that first book in print (even if it’s electronic), you’ll be glad and proud that you did it.
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