Got a book in you? Here's how to get it out there without falling into common traps.
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Apparently, eight out of ten adults want to write a book. For business leaders, writing a book about their experience and expertise is a particularly useful way to build credibility, but you don’t want to make the mistakes that most first-time authors make.
They usually waste at least 100 hours of time, and take too many months to get it all done. They also get involved in activities that distract them from their core business: trying to become experts on editing, design, publishing, printing.
You deserve to have your best book out there. You simply need to get it out of your head and into print. Oh, and it should be your very best work, since you are aiming for credibility. Here are my top ten tips to save you time, effort and money when writing a book.
Know why you are writing it.
Yes, we know you want to make money with your book. But how will you make that money? Will you be relying on income from book sales? With an average of £1-5 or $1-5 profit from each copy sold, you may need to sell a lot of copies to hit your goal.
I suggest you have some other revenue streams in mind that will come from having a book: speaking opportunities, partnership invitations, new clients, the ability to raise your fees. Being very honest and clear about your reasons for writing will help you stay on track and create a book that will get you closer to those reasons and goals.
Get help but don’t listen to too many so-called experts. This may sound strange, as you have been told to get advice and help.
Absolutely, but be discerning and know that the more advice you listen to, the more contradictions you will hear and possibly get yourself more confused than before you started looking. Find a source that resonates with you, one that feels like the right one for you.
Then follow that information or that person. Get guidance and input upfront, before you even start planning, and definitely before you start writing. This will save you up to 100 hours of writing and editing drafts. I’m always happy to have a no-obligation chat with aspiring business authors, so just find me.
Set time aside. The average business book takes about 200 hours of time to plan, write, edit and polish. There are many ways to reduce this investment of time, such as getting help from the right sources (see above), following a proven process, program or methodology, being in the right frame of mind and avoiding perfectionism.
Spend time planning upfront. I’m sure you have heard the expression ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. I would support that idea, when it comes to a business book that is meant to boost your credibility and reputation.
Make sure you plan the structure and outline the content very carefully before you start writing. Know what is going in and what is being left out. Understand that your view of how the book should turn out may not match that of potential readers.
Plan your work on the book, as well as the editing, publishing, production, launch and marketing. There is no such thing as too much planning in this case.
Write your first draft fast. The biggest reason to do that is so it doesn’t drag on and become a chore. The more time that elapses, the more chance you will lose your enthusiasm for it and possibly lose confidence.
The topic may have a window of opportunity and you don’t want that window to close while you are still messing about.
Get feedback from the right people at the right time. I have already mentioned getting help from professionals. Now I am talking about testing this out on a sample of readers. Many people worry about sharing their unpublished work with others.
If you can get feedback from people you trust before the book goes to print, this is highly recommended.
Understand your publishing options. There are so many different ways to publish, and so many potential partners. My own bias is towards entrepreneurial independent publishing, where the author has a publisher doing all the essential professional work, and where the investment and profits are shared.
Enlist help with promotion. No matter how you publish, you will need to be involved, probably more involved than you realize, in the ongoing marketing and promotion of your book. Those books that are marketed well sell more than those that aren’t.
Be realistic. If you are running a business, you know things can take time and plans sometimes need to be changed. Be open to suggestions, look at your results and be willing to change tack if required.
Remember this book is your baby. You might think that’s obvious and many people do use that metaphor (it’s why we trademarked The Book Midwife® brand!).
However, most authors focus on the launch and then never do much to take care of their book baby. Nurture it and it will grow up to make you proud.