If you’ve put “write a book” on your business plan, here’s how to make it happen: the 10 tips you need. I’ve helped over 30 experts write the books on their expertise – your writing is my area of expertise.
Where do you start with writing a book? Right here:
1. Recognise your expertise
All the years you’ve worked in your field make you an expert in what you do: recognise how much you know and that your readers don’t know all that. Brainstorm everything you know. It may help to scan your Evernote and to turn your blog into a blog book. (If you don’t have a blog, consider starting one: it’s great writing practice.) Also consider what kind of expert you are.
2. Decide what your book’s for
Your book’s purpose in your business will decide everything from what information to include to which publishing route you should go. Explore your book’s purpose, then stick to that – beware the evil secret stretch goal.
3. Narrow it down
Most people plan to include too much in their first book, trying to include everything and write for everyone. Narrow down your scope. Imagine that you’ll write 3 or 5 books: what is this one about? Who is your audience for this book?
4. Map out your structure
To write a good book, you need a sound organising principle. If you already run workshops, map out your book as a two-week course. Plan the structure on paper, not on the computer. As you write, don’t squeeze the content into a shape that doesn’t fit it: step back occasionally to replan your structure.
5. Plan your writing time
To make your book happen, you need to allot time to it and defend the time. Learn how word count works so you can create process goals and measure how far you’ve got. As you write and learn how long a chunk takes you, you can adjust these goals.
6. Include pause time
Include planning time and thinking time in your writing time, and also include non-thinking time. Writing is a creative process, whether it’s poetry or a business book, and you’ll write better if you allow time for ideas to germinate and surface.
7. Keep your reader in mind
This is your area of expertise, not your readers – so you need to include the stuff you’ve forgotten you ever didn’t know. You also need to write in a friendly, human style. Both of these things are easier if you think about what your readers want and remember who your readers are.
8. Write in coaching sections
A book on your expertise means you’re teaching your readers, so treat every subheading in a chapter as a coaching section. Include the four quarters of well-rounded coaching (what, why, who, how), choose your questions carefully, and use great, helpful headings.
9. Keep going when it gets hard
Every book gets hard at some point and every author hits a few walls where they feel that the book is rubbish. When Neil Gaiman told his agent that his work-in-progress wasn’t working, she simply said, “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?”. Trust that this is normal and keep writing. You can keep your motivation alive by deciding what you want to achieve, using process goals, focusing on the process more than the product, and rewarding yourself and getting support. If a section is particularly difficult, you can write it dot-to-dot style.
10. Get the experts in
Unless your area of expertise is how to write a book, get in the experts – not a friend who’s good with words but the real professionals. At absolute minimum, you’ll need a professional editor. Find out about the different types of editing and choose what’s right for you. If you get part way through the book and need help with it, you can get a professional critique of your work so far and guidance on how to move forward. If you want accountability and mentoring through the process, you can get weekly one-to-one coaching with the three-month Springboard programme.