I know a lot of writers, from nascent to part-time to full-time. Some of them are also authors. Of those who are not, I’d say most of them dream of writing a book. In fact, I know plenty of people who don’t consider themselves writers who also dream of authorship.
So why aren’t they writing those books they dream of?
Fear of not being good enough, yes. But mostly fear of commitment.
Recently, I’ve been posting a lot on Facebook about creating a legacy. One way to do that is by writing a book. But the reason why so many potential authors don’t write that book is that they are afraid of the commitment to the project. They’re afraid that
- it will take too much time
- it will be too much work
- they won’t know what to say
- they won’t have enough to say
- they’ll have too much to say
- it will be a waste of time
Well, that’s all malarkey! Those are all false, manufactured and mythical obstacles. And I’m going to bust each one in this post.
Myth #1: Writing a book takes too much time
I have four published books under my belt. Two of them I wrote the bulk of in about a weekend. Yes, you can take days, weeks, years, even decades to write a book if you want to. I have a novel I’ve been writing, off and on, since 1992! And I started my next book (Public Speaking Super Powers, due out in August 2018) back in 2010. But, not all books require a large time commitment.
Home Sweet Home Page (I’m working on the second edition now) was the result of Donna Kozik’s Write a Book in a Weekend program. She teaches a method for writing a book that makes it very easy to produce a decent, focused, quality short book that markets your business in about two days writing time.
Another way to write a book that can seriously cut down the time it takes to produce it is repurposing content. 57 Secrets for Branding Yourself Online was created by repurposing blog posts and took me about a weekend to write.
There are ways to write good, quality books in under a week. So don’t tell me you don’t have enough time!
Myth #2: Writing a book is too much work
Writing a book that takes a lot of work to produce is a choice. For example, the process I’m using to write Public Speaking Super Powers is a lot of work. I interviewed 80+ speakers. I’ve gotten those interviews transcribed (which was a journey in and of itself!). I’m now reading, highlighting, organizing and processing the information from those interviews into my book. I’m guessing that this process, from the time I started reading to the time the book heads off to the editor, will take me about eight to nine months. That’s a lot of work!
But not all books are like that! My first book, Bonkers for Bundt Cakes, took a couple of weeks to compile, edit and design. The real work wasn’t the writing … it was the recipe testing! (A tough job, but someone had to taste all those cakes!)
Like I said earlier, 57 Secrets for Branding Yourself Online took about a weekend to write and maybe a week of pulling all the blog posts I wanted to use together.
Several factors determine whether a book is “too much work” or not:
- How much time you have to devote to the project
- What process you use to create the book
- The return on time invested (ROTI) you are seeking
If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to your book project, even a simple book can be seen as “too much work.” If you use an intensive process (like the one I’m using for Public Speaking Super Powers), the project could turn out to be “too much work” for you. And, how you calculate your ROTI will also affect your perception of how much work it takes to create your book.
In summary, you choose how much work you want to put into your book by choosing the process with which you create it. You can choose a quick and easy process, a long, laborious process, or anything in between. You’re the author; it’s your choice!
Myth #3: You won’t know what to say
This one is just silly. If you have a dream to write a book, then there is a book inside you wanting to get out. In other words, you’ve got something to say or you wouldn’t want to write a book.
That said, there are ways to make sure that you know what to say. Once I’ve finished debunking these myths, I’m going to share several book-writing processes that will help you determine what you want to say in your book.
Myth #4: You won’t have enough to say
Books come in all lengths. Did you know that Amazon has a special place for short books of only a few pages? I talked about how to create one of those in this video, which also addresses the issue of time.
You only need to say enough to get your message across. Again, using one of the processes below, especially one that uses an outline, will help you say enough to create the book you want.
Myth #5: You will have too much to say
Oh, don’t you wish you had this problem? When I started working on Public Speaking Super Powers, I realized that there was a wealth of information I could share that wouldn’t fit into the book I had planned. To address this issue, I have a series of spin-off books, reports and sequels planned to use that content. You can never have too much to say … just too much to fit within the confines of your envisioned project.
Myth #6: Writing a book will be a waste of time
This, too, is a choice. A book can only be a waste of time if you choose to make it so. Therefore, before you embark on your book writing project, you need to do some soul searching and answer these questions:
- Why do you want to write this book?
Knowing your “big why” will help you navigate the project and make sure that it accomplishes your goals for it.
- Who do you want to write it for?
Knowing who your ideal readers are will help you include the right information, develop a compelling title, write it in the proper tone and voice and market the book effectively. If you are not sure how to do this step, I have a short video workshop that will walk you through the process.
- What goals do you want to accomplish with this book?
Not only do you need to know what goals you want to accomplish, you need to determine if your book can help you accomplish those goals. Depending on the goal, a book alone or with additional add-ons around the book can help. And there are goals that a book cannot help you accomplish.
Different Ways to Write a Book
I hope, at this point, you can see that it doesn’t have to be that big of a commitment to write a book. Much of what determines the size of commitment you’ll need to make for your next book project depends on the method you use to create it and the goal you have for the book in the end. Methods I’ve used include:
Create an Outline and Flesh It Out
Type of Book: Fiction or Nonfiction
This is a great way to approach book-ness one step at a time, fitting it into the times slots you have. The results can be a slim, focused volume that markets your business, or something much longer. Here are the basic, big picture steps leading to a first draft.
- Create the overarching outline. There are numerous ways you can create that original outline. A typical method is to decide how many chapters you want, then come up with a big idea for each chapter. Finally, break each big idea into 3-7 sub-ideas.
- Organize your outline so that the ideas are in a logical flow.
- Flesh out each section of your outline, one sub-idea at a time. Some people start by making the sub-ideas a question and then answering that question in a paragraph or three. I’m confident you’ll find a process that works for you.
- Massage what you have written so that it reads well.
Blog Posts to Book
Type of Book: Fiction or Nonfiction
This is a great way to repurpose content and give it new life. I wrote a book based on blog posts in a little over a weekend. If you’re writing fiction, blogging your book first is a great way to test your story with a live audience. Here are the steps:
- Pull out into a document all the blog posts that you want to include in your book.
- Organize them so that they create a logical flow for your book
- Edit, update and flesh out those that need it.
- Massage what you have written so that it reads well.
- Write one scene per blog post.
- Entice readers to subscribe to this series and provide feedback.
- Once you’re done, pull all those blog posts into a document.
- Look over feedback and edit your draft until you think it is ready for the editor.
Speeches to Book
Type of Book: Nonfiction
This is something I’m currently doing for a book I hope to release sometime in 2019 or 2020. I create a speech for each chapter and give it at my Toastmasters club. This gives me a way to really feel into the content and get feedback, too. Plus I have video content I can use to market the book!
- Create a chapter outline for your book.
- Develop a speech for each chapter.
- Video record and get feedback on each speech.
- Update the written version of the speech, incorporating feedback.
- Pull together into a manuscript and massage until ready for your editor.
Note 1: It is also possible to pull together a bunch of speeches on the same topic you’ve already given and create a book from that. The process would be similar to that of Blog Posts to Book.
Note 2: You can also use this process for fiction if you have access to a place that will allow you to read short stories, chapters and/or scenes and receive feedback on your content. I happen to belong to a Toastmasters club that allows for this and am working on a fiction/nonfiction anthology through by speeches.
Interviews to Book
There are several ways you can create a book from interviews. You can transcribe the recordings of the interviews and use the transcripts as your content. Or, you can do what I’m doing for Public Speaking Super Powers and use the transcripts as research, creating totally original content with the occasional quote from your interviews. The former method is easier, but more like an anthology book. The latter is more work but results in a truly original work. Here are the basic steps to create the first draft:
Type of Book: Nonfiction
- Decide on the method I just discussed you’re going to use. Depending on which you decide, you may interview one person per chapter (about 7-15) or much more (like my 80+).
- Find experts in your topic to interview and set up interviews.
- Record interviews.
- Transcribe the interviews.
- Pull your results together into a manuscript.
- Massage until ready for the editor.
Note 1: You can use the audios you record for multiple purposes. I’m releasing the 80+ recordings for Public Speaking Super Powers as a bi-weekly podcast to build my list, as well as buzz and momentum for the book. You could also use the recorded interviews (audio or video) as part of an online training program based on your book. This was my original idea, but I scrapped it because the content I recorded wouldn’t work that way.
Note 2: Need help finding experts? You can put out a call on HARO. You can search Amazon for authors in your topic and use Google to find their contact information. Or you can go straight to Google and do a search for “[your topic] expert.” With a little creativity and ingenuity, you can find plenty of experts for your book project.
Note 3: Using a human to transcribe your audio recordings can get expensive. If you don’t mind putting in a bit more work — or hiring a VA to put that work in for you — give Trint.com a try. That’s what I’ve been using. It is a service that uses a computer to transcribe your audio. It isn’t perfect, but I’ve found it to be almost as good — and at times better than — a human doing the same task. And it takes WAY less time.
See! That Wasn’t So Hard, Was It?
Now the methods I just discussed are only those I’ve actually used. There are other ways to write a book, as well. But the bottom line is this: If you want to have a book “someday” … start now or someday will never come.