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 mastermind groups. Groups to interviews. Groups for feedback. Group-based (heavy user vs. lite 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 mastermind 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: manage time

 

Stopwatch

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

Some people I have worked with, as well as friends, are amazed at a number of things I accomplish in short periods of time. They ask how I do it. Time management is the key ingredient. Every task takes time.

Most people have ideas, but few execute these ideas into reality. That is what I specialize in. More on idea validation in a future post.  Taking ideas into reality within a reasonable time frame is time management.

Our time is valuable. The money will come and go. Time does not come back into our lifetime. Use it wisely. Don’t waste it.

Everyone has 168 hours in a week. Whether you are homeless or a billionaire, we all share the same time. You chose what you do with every hour. What do you do with your time is a choice. You chose to focus (or not) on something and spend the time to do something (or not).

You choose where you live, where you work, when you eat, when you sleep, even when you go to the bathroom.

Get rid of time wasters

It amazes me how people waste their time…

Stop standing in lines or waiting

Many people know about Amazon Now beyond books, but now you can order things online, including coffee before getting to the cafe, have groceries delivered and (soon) schedule an Uber to pick you up. There is often a better and faster way to spend more time where you need to spend time instead of wasting it.

I used to spend up to 10% my week researching things like this online and in person.

No excessive entertainment

Everyone has their own priorities. Playing video games to reach a specific goal. Catch up on a specific TV series of TV. Watch hit movies. Doing things that will only slow you down even more and achieve nothing.

5/25 Rule

List your top 25 goals/priorities. Organize them in priority order.

Stop doing the bottom 20. Cold hard stop. Focus on the top 5 only.

Months later, revisit that list of 25 to see if those other 20 are still important to you. Likely not so much.  Refocus as goals/priorities change over time

Use your freedom with purpose

You likely have a lot of freedom in your day to day life. We all have 168 hours every week, not 40.  What do you use your freedom for?

What have you achieved with your own freedom? Are these life goals? Checking off bucket list items? Have you improved the world or your world somehow?

Or are you repeating fairly worthless tasks? Being “too busy” is the biggest cop-out robbing yourself of your own time, your own mindset and your own freedom to accomplish, to fulfill and to satisfy what matters to you.

Stop being a sheep

Paraphrasing General Patton, “You can lead, follow or get out of the way”.

You can follow someone else’s dream (like most people) or you can work on your own dream. Pick one.

Lead, don’t follow. Stop worrying about what others think about you or what other people say about what your doing. Other people’s opinions are their own.

Don’t follow the crowds. The other path will be less crowded for a reason.

Follow your goals to your dream, not the paths already taken by others. Your life is not paint by numbers.

18/40/60 rule

If you read Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Revised and Expanded): The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems, I will paraphrase the author Dr. Daniel G. Amen:

“When you’re 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking of you.

When you’re 40, you don’t give a damn what anybody thinks of you

When you’re 60, you realize nobody’s been thinking about you at all.”

Now imagine living your life from age 18 knowing and believing this. What is possible now? Now that you know this start now regardless of your age.

80/20 Principle

 

Realize what you are in control of

You do not control everything. Realize what you have control over and what you don’t control.

Don’t waste time with what you have no control over unless you can influence those that can make a difference directly.

Do not participate in any drama. It improves nor solves nothing.

If you have to face drama, walk through any drama through all scenarios to their end states. As you envision them, you will see how pointless and baseless most of these are.

There is always what you’re in control of. If some dies, there is nothing you can do except bury them. If you get fired or laid off from your job, you can focus your energy on finding another position.

Prioritize your intentions with focused action.

Is that higher risk? Sure. You might fail a few times, and in the process, you will learn a lot more as well.

Is it more lonely? Yes, that can be part of the point. Less noise. Less distraction if you are self-aware of the distractions around you. Limit the distractions. Have you read Indistractable?

We can learn more from our failures and learn even more overcoming our challenges.

We do not learn as much from our successes, regardless of the number.

Segment your time

Themed days works for you some people like having Meeting Mondays.

Some have a morning routine or a daily routine, possibly for your own betterment.

Are you a giver, matcher or taker?

Have you read Give and Take? Most people are matchers. Yes, Quid Pro Quo. Some greedy people are simply takers who ask for a lot and give nothing back.

A few people are givers. I am a giver… of my time. Because most people don’t do this and are often matchers, they want to match what I do for them in return, but don’t understand how they could possibly match the value I provide them. This blows their mind because they encounter it so rarely. Matchers wait for an ask or sales pitch from a giver (that does not come). Takers mistaken being a giver as a weakness they can exploit, so takers attempt to take advantage of the giver. However, takers find out later being a giver is a strength that they do not have, takers fail to see the long term purpose of the givers actions and it usually blows up in the face of the greedy taker. There are rarely any short term gains, except for the giver.

Get someone else to do tasks for you 24/7/365

Most of us sleep. Why not have tasks done that are non-critical, (not business drivers, but support tasks) while we sleep or anytime for that matter. Use time zones to your advantage.

You could mow a lawn if you have a lawn or you can pay someone to do it faster and better. Time gained, even if the time is to rest longer/more.

This is why I send audio podcasts to be edited to Upwork at night before I go to sleep and review them by breakfast time. I pay a small fee for this. Well worth it.

This is why I send approved audio to be transcribed into text to Rev within 24 hours for a small fee. Not worth my time to try and transcribe it myself. Someone can do this far better than me. Be self-aware of tasks you do yourself and ask yourself why do you do it yourself. Why not delegate someone else to accomplish it and maybe even do it better. That’s ok too.

I leverage global crowdsourced work forces to do task that can do it better, faster and cheaper than I could ever want to do it. It makes little difference where the work is being done as long as it is being done well enough to save you the time and effort of doing it yourself.

Humans vs. machines saving you time

Many of us are using more artificial intelligence (AI) to augment or simply do our tasks for us. Eventually, these will be good enough to do the tasks for us. These are tasks we don’t need humans to be doing so we could focus on more important things. The tipping point for AI to be ubiquitous is not there yet due to quality concerns and luddites.  As I interviewed people on Tagging.tech, many of the AI technologies are focusing on user experience and speed. Since we have no patience, speed for the results are important. However, the accuracy of results still matter, even though humans are not getting any more accurate. Some AI experts claim another 10 to 15 years of development before these can be that good.

Then, what are we going to do with our time? Imagine not being burdened with tasks you don’t want to do and imagine what you could accomplish with that freedom.

Questions?