How do I: write a book

open-book-5218061_1280Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

After writing over 7 books in three years, I want to share some thoughts on how I write a book as I continue to write more.

Research

Start by looking at what is out there. I prefer to find a topic that has not been writing about much (think niche topic) instead of adding my own take to the crowded mass market of books.

What is available today from Amazon, Google as well as podcasts among many other sources of information?

Consume it. Study it. Research your topic or idea thoroughly.

Note that my MBTI scores for consuming data and research is close to the highest it goes.

Read

Note that I personally write non-fiction and typically read non-fiction too. The best writers are heavy readers too. Keep consuming a variety of content. Feed your curiosity.

Identify

What is the topic you seek? Do a gap analysis of your research.

Find out what is missing. Why is it missing?

Does it really matter to your audience/readers and not just you? You can definitely write for you based on your curiosity and own interests, however, blogging might be more successful than book writing in that case. It is easier to reach an audience.

Draft the keywords based on the topics that matter.

How many people on LinkedIn have these topic keywords in their profile? Is there enough people that care about the topic to have it as part of their profession?

Who is the audience beyond who you are interviewing? Identify your audience so you know who you are writing for.

Goals

What are your goals for this book before you start writing it? Imagine the end state with goals.

What do you want to do with the book?

What do your readers want out of the book?

Is anyone interested?

What is in it for the reader?

WIIFM (or you)?

Is this a readers’ book or writers’ book? Be careful since there is a big difference between the two. One may feed your ego while the other might sell if it has value for the readers.

What are the calls to action? What do you want the reader to do at the end?

Take the big hairy audacious goal (B-HAG) of creating a book and break it apart into smaller groups of finite, tidy, achievable goals (F-TAGs) as steps/tasks in your book process.

Reverse Engineer YOUR Book Project into a PLAN

Envision your end goals for this book. Based on these end-state goals, how do you get there?

Reverse engineer the book and its marketing.

What are those steps and tasks in reverse order? Break down the tasks and steps that need to occur.

Where are the gaps? What is missing in the plan? Do a gap analysis.

What do you need to learn (more time spend) or pay someone to do (more money spend)?

A book project is still a project. Treat it like project manager with specifications, timelines with deadlines and budgets.  Prioritize those tasks.

Set realistic time-based milestones to avoid delays. How long will it take you to do each part? Be realistic to include sleeping, eating, and bathroom breaks included. Oh, and much of the other things you need to continue doing too. Drop the time-wasters that do not add value to your life and you will find time to do this book project even it’s 30 minutes daily.

Strategize

Since plans fail often and then iterate, have a strategy.

What is not going to change whether this is your first book or your Nth book? What is going to change?

What will you do and what will you not do?

How are you going to engage and retain your audience in each chapter?

Promote before release to hold yourself accountable once you have a clear idea of why, how, what, and when you are delivering.

Have difficultly aligning the ideas, events and characters?  Try mind-mapping them for better clarity.

Interview

Use (true) stories throughout your nonfiction book.  It does not need to be your own personal stories that you experienced as long as you don’t plagiarize. Plenty of authors use other people’s stories with great success if told with clarity.

If you are writing fiction, you have the creative freedom to change reality into your own.

Groups

Utilize groups for many things. Groups for encouragement and ideation like virtual groups. Groups to interviews. Groups for feedback. Group-based (heavy user vs. light user) for tiered pricing. Groupings of professionals (such as editors) as backups when you need to scale up or if some are not available at the moment you need them. Start a group with people who have a common goal and are not competitors.

Writing

Make it a daily habit of writing every day. If you don’t have the focus or ideas flowing on your project, write something else like a blog or journal that day. Exercise that writing so you can build on it.

Keep your goals in mind. Then make it happen by doing it.

Start with an outline to organize your thoughts first for you and then ultimately for the reader.

Do you need a timeline? If so, build one for yourself. You don’t have to present the book in that sequence though.

If you are not sure what to add or how to structure it yet, create a mind map online.

Provide value to your readers in every chapter, not filler. Writing is not about word counts.

Go do.

Editing

Editing is often clarifying and simplifying. Editing is about keeping which words count.

Read it out loud. If it is hard to read, edit to make it easier to read aloud and understand with better clarity. If the book was a long speech, could you read your long script so it flowed nicely?

Use Grammarly to assist your editing beyond spellchecks and grammar checks.

Cut out the fluff. Details are good if it helps bring out clarity and context as needed, but not if it brings out ambiguity and confusion.

Confusion is rarely a goal whether you are editing for the engaged reader nor for the successful writer.

Feedback

Don’t write, edit, and publish in a vacuum. Writers are often blind to their own edits.

Ask some people to read a draft of a chapter or two for feedback. Ask to read the finished version for a review. That is what some groups are for. Do not ask family and close friends for feedback because it will be biased based on your relationship with them.

Emotion clouds logic. If it does not make sense, fix it. Do not defend what is not clear.

I am not a fan of overpolishing. No need for 50 drafts.  Don’t waste time in delaying the release of a newly finished book.

The best feedback is respectful of you, but not the work. You are not your work. Unfiltered advice works. You need to know the challenges and suggestions on how to fix them, not how great you are. “It’s good” actually tells you nothing. Ask for specificity so you know where and why you might need to focus your attention on a possible challenge.

If someone actually spent the time to consume your work, listen carefully. Be sure they first understand the context, then the content. You can quiz them on it to check if they got it or not.

As part of the feedback process, I have the text-to-speech function turned on my computer to read the book back to me word for word so I am not assuming what I wrote was there, but rather hear it as written.

Writers assume clarity after a while or get lost in ambiguity. Some writers shelve a book project for months so they can revisit it and find the gaps to fill in their book.

Ask some people to read the finished version for a review. Your followers, even social media is one avenue for this.

Hire

Books don’t get done alone. At least not the books that get done efficiently.

Hire a professional editor.

Hire a professional copy editor.

Hire someone who has extensive experience formatting your book as an ebook, as a print book and/or as an audiobook. This might be a few different people. Do you need to know them? No. Results are what matter.

Design

Hire a book cover designer. If the book has graphics or photos, hire a designer for the layout. Note that the formatting will be different for different types of ebooks and print books.

Marketing

If you suck at marketing, hire a book marketer with a well-proven track record and recommendations. Otherwise, have a marketing plan before you publish the book (to create the buzz before release and possible anticipation after you wrap up all editing and design) and have several marketing plans with different avenues and directions after you publish. Do you need to know your marketer? No. You need an alignment of clear common goals. You will know if and where your marketing will work if the right questions are asked (like “how did you hear about my book?”) and links are tracked.

Metadata

In order for your book to be findable (if no one can find it, no one will buy it), you need metadata which includes categorization for your book. ISBN is part of it.

Publishing

A few years ago, I was asked to write a book for a publisher, however, their contract had no royalties for ebook sales (about 60% of the book market) and they would not negotiate that, so I declined. in my opinion, publishers provide very little value because they do very little today.  This is why I choose to self-publish my books. I have yet to see any reason why I would not continue to self-publish which allows more control, more credit, more royalties.

When it comes to creating a book that you write, it is all up to you anyways, so why fork over the responsibilities unless you don’t want to do it in the first place. Commit or don’t. There is no gray area.

As far as book formats, ebooks will continue to come through. As far as audiobooks (fastest-growing book format due to ease of listening), I will pass for now because I choose to create podcast series instead which are created at a lower production cost.

Print books are great for people who want to hold a piece of you and your writings in their hands. My books will not be in bookstores (for the short time they still exist) because they are not for general audiences. Personally, I don’t need my books to appear on a shelf as just another dust collector. I am totally okay with that. Personally, I loathe paper.

TIPS

You can find few book writers’ tips from a non-fiction writers group

What book writing tips would you like to share?

Are you writing a book?

Schedule a consulting call about your own book project

How do I: batch tasks

What is task batching?

Batching, task batching or batching tasks is simply grouping all of the same tasks at the same time. Doing all of the same tasks repeatedly and/or all together at once. Together is much easier, less time consuming, and more productive than using the typical start-stop-start-stop-repeat model when it comes up for the frequently reoccurring task. We all have tasks like this. It helps maintain consistency when necessary. It may be easier to schedule these batched tasks on a periodic basis.

For example, I write all the edits needed for my podcasts to be released next month within 1 or 2 days of this month. This can be on auto-pilot after you grouped up those tasks for the month and did all the work of figuring it out ahead of time.

You can document the process of said task and then possibly delegate that task too. Sometimes, when the tasks are consistent and exactly the same steps every time, the task can be automated.

For example, after converting them from XLSX files to CSV, I used to clean up the CSV files manually.  Once I figured out all the steps and the sequence of steps to clean it up the CSV, an Excel macro was created to automate the cleanup process. The macro was iterated when there was a new consistent challenge to be fixed repeatedly.

How to record a task and delegate a task

Figure out what is needed to do this task like pre-requisites, the sequence of steps, and the outcome when done.

Creating a written step by step checklist can help remember. Pilots use checklists for regular plane operations before, during, and after flights, as well as emergencies.

Chefs use recipes that are documented tasks and checklists along with their mise en place before they start to cook.

Documentation can happen as a screen capture video for a computer task, even while on a video conferencing tool like Zoom.

It can be a video recorded with you talking through each step, if not on the computer.

Even if you delegate a task, you can check the results on the given parameters that you provide beforehand and have them iterate if needed.

What tasks can you batch together?

 

How do I: know what to say

Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Many people struggle with finding the right words to ask for what they want or need.

They feel ill-prepared, scared to ask and sometimes ill just thinking about how to ask for something. So they don’t ask, however that is not a good idea. Use your words. Learn the phrases that will get you somewhere with your own ask.

Whether we are at home or work, with friends, family, coworkers or bosses, our words can tell a story, have an impact or influence people to do something. Or not.

While I get compensated if you buy this book below, you get to prepare yourself with the words and phrases you need to say to ask for almost anything.

Here is a great resource I found that is very quick to consume and to the point, as the title says:

There is plenty of practical advice provided in this book on exactly how to phrase your words. Start practicing.

How do you figure out what to say in any situation?

 

How I do: launch a podcast series from just an idea

I was asked to write about how to create a podcast series from just the idea. I thought I would share the process I use, the timeframe I do this in, as I do it. Again. I have created a few podcast series over the past few years, so this time I am documenting the process as it happens. Journaling as this journey happens…

Thursday, February 14

Got an idea. New topic for another potential podcast. Not every idea becomes a podcast.

Researched the topic in the early morning before going to work. Looked up how many people do something on this topic via social media and how many people have talked about this already as a podcast via Google and iTunes.

If I was starting another book, I would search the topic in question on Amazon. If zero to a handful of articles or podcast episodes are found, this means a niche has been found. If there are a few thousand people do this, there is an audience. I like niche topics more than overtalked about topics that we hear about too often.

What is the problem you are trying to solve? (what is this for?)

Who is the audience you want to talk with, about and to? (who is it for?) I rarely write just for me, however, it helps to be curious about the topic. So I create for myself first for the level of satisfaction unless I am creating for someone else… and someone else is paying the bill.

Went on Upwork and assigned someone the task of web scrapping 1000 contacts to reach out to people specific to this topic.

Sunday, February 17

With a boilerplate invite message, I invited over 100 of these people (I did not know) via social media to connect and I would send them the interview questions to ponder in advance with context about the podcast idea to be launched.

Why would I give my idea out so openly? The short answer is: who is going to do the work of implementing this idea into reality and follow through? If there was such a person, this would already be available. “Idea theft” is not my fear. It’s an excuse too many people use to not build/create and then share/sell.

Thursday, February 21

A week after the idea was generated. With the goal of scheduling 60 individual interviews for this podcast series to create a weekly podcast lasting 1 year, I already have 15 interviews scheduled. When people accepted my social media invite that showed they were interested in my idea and might want to be interviewed, I emailed my ask (interview them in the coming weeks) with context about the podcast (what’s it for), a little info about me and potential dates to click on so they could schedule the interview with one email. By this day, I had 12 interviews scheduled for the coming weeks of March. 48 more to go.

Why schedule and record 60 interviews for a year?

Weekly interviews equal 52 interviews for a year, however it is recommended to launch with a few interviews day one. And some interviewees may flake out or not respond to approvals. Not everyone is dependable in case this is something not realized. This is also why I have a 1000 contacts to revert back to if needed.

Thursday, February 28

Recorded my first interview for the EIR podcast.

Friday, March 1

Recorded 3 more interviews for the EIR podcast.

Monday, March 4

Recorded 4 more interviews today.  Have 11 more interviews scheduled in March so far. 50 other people interested in being scheduled for an interview this month. Following up on all invites later this week since the goal is 54 interviews recorded, edited, approved and scheduled by April. Still planning to launch in Spring 2019.

Friday, March 8

Have 12 interviews recorded and 12 others scheduled. There are 44 more people interested in being interviewed as I follow up with them each week.

Thursday, March 14

A month after coming up with the idea for the EIR podcast, I have 18 interviews recorded and 6 others scheduled to be interviewed. There are 48 more people interested in being interviewed, however yet to be scheduled. Not all schedules work out for a brief call this month.

Friday, March 22

Interviewed 21 and 13 others scheduled. There are 45 more people interested in being interviewed.

Tuesday, March 26

Interviewed 28 and 9 others scheduled now. There are 32 more people that claim to be interested in being interviewed and following up with them one more time on Wednesday, March 27.

Have 37 people say ‘No’ so far. Thought I would share the fact that the people saying “Yes” [counting recorded and scheduled only as “Yes”. Not counting interested parties] and the people saying “No” is 37 to 37 “Yes”s after a month of work. I hold no emotional attachment nor value to ‘rejection’ since that should be expected as a norm. Just move forward. It is not worth the level of effort to negotiate a “No” to Yes” for this project nor this timeline.

Friday, March 29

Interviewed a total of 35 and 5 scheduled for interviews. There are 30  people that mentioned they were interested in being interviewed, however after 5 follow-ups over 5 weeks…they might not be interviewed. Have a few last interviews scheduled for first week of April and then wrapping up the interview process. Had a few people reschedule several times however if they can’t find 15 minutes for a call within a month, it’s not worth chasing them with more than a few follow-ups.

Thursday, April 4

With all interviews recorded for this project, I am now in editing mode. Bulk review and writing of the edits needed for each episode. These edits will be sent in bulk 10 episodes at a time to an audio editor via Upwork for all audio editing to be done. Seeking an intro and outro (audio clips) for this series for the start and finish of each episode of the EIR Podcast. Need to record a ‘Welcome to EIR podcast’ now that I heard common themes from many EIRs during the interviews.

Friday, April 5

Too much going on to work on this project for now. Vacation is coming up on Tuesday, April 16. Plenty of time to catch up then.

Wednesday, April 17

While on vacation in Santa Rosa, FL, trained two people (Addie and Emmy) to review and write the editing instructions for my podcasts. Walked them through the process with one episode, provided them an emailed template per episode to fill out and gave them most of the episodes to listen and write down instructions in an email. These instructions include links, phrases to start and stop on along with timecodes.

Saturday, April 20

All editing instructions are completed. Still waiting for my intro/outro to be re-recorded.

Tuesday, April 23

Received Intro/Outro. Added this to editing instructions for each episode. Sent first 10 episodes for editing through Upwork.

Thursday, April 25

First 10 episodes edited and received. Sent the second set of 10 episodes for editing. Downloaded images for podcast cover/logo art.

Friday, April 26

20 episodes edited. Sent the rest of episodes for editing on Upwork. Approved the podcast cover art after three iterations and some feedback from a few people.

Sunday, April 28

All 39 episodes edited and sent for approval. This will be my latest MVP (Minimum Viable Product). If I get more along the way, that will be for the next season. Got 2 approvals already. Building the website now and connecting to the distribution for many podcast channels.

Wednesday, May 1

Entrepreneurs understand what an MVP is. So I am launching a podcast series with first 14 interviews approved to date. 4 other interviews need more edits per the interviewee to be approved. Week 1 will have a welcome episode plus 2 interviews to provide content right away based on those first approved interviews. First approved interviews become the first released interviews.

When do I interview these people?

Since I work 10am-6pm EST for a remote consulting client, I schedule interviews between 7am to 10am EST for people in the Eastern time zone and after 6pm EST for people in the Pacific time zone. A few were interviewed during the weekend if that worked better for those schedules.

How long are the interviews?

The actual interview lasts about 4 to 15 minutes. Most calls are 10-15 minutes in duration including the interview itself (when I am recording). I often schedule 15-30 minute calls to work out any technical difficulties.

Changed this to 15-minute calls only since I was not using the second half of the 30-minute time block for calls and saw that as an inefficiency to be eliminated. Don’t need the time break either. I would often have 2 to 4 calls scheduled back to back in the morning or evening. It is a process of batching tasks or grouping similar tasks together back to back. Recording 4 interviews in one day equal 1 month (4 weeks) of weekly podcasts. Get it done. Move forward.

Everything is done in bulk by time blocking tasks daily

As you can see, this is just another exercise in bulk tasking. No start-stop-repeat.

  • Bulk research for idea validation.
  • Bulk invites. Not sending one invite or email per hour/day, but rather 15-50 per hour.
  • Bulk scheduling. Once a day for the month of February.
  • Bulk follow up once a week.
  • Bulk interviewing. Time blocked to 30 minutes per call to record the 5 to 15 minute individual interview. During the last three weeks, I changed this to a 15-minute time block per call for 5-minute to 10-minute individual interviews.
  • Bulk reviewing of raw interview audio to create editing instructions. Insourced this thanks to Addie and Emmy.
  • Bulk editing with instructions with Upwork with an offshore resource using different timezones to my advantage so work gets done while I sleep.
  • Bulk approvals.
  • Bulk scheduling for release after approvals for the next 35 weeks.

And this is how I launched a 7 month-long series of weekly podcast episodes.

Want to listen to this podcast series? Find EIR Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts.

Want a course on this? Want more details, costs, links, and all the tools used? Let me know

Want to create a podcast series? Schedule a call to discuss how

Questions?