How to Write a Book

Yesterday I finished the final corrections on my most recent ghost-written book, which, I have to say, turned out to be a wonderful project, working with great people who communicated clearly and paid quickly.  Best of all, they have more books they want me to write!

While writing a bio for the Loft today I started counting up how many books I’ve written and realized it is close to a dozen.  Three of them I can name: Beautiful America’s Oregon Coast, Beautiful America’s Wyoming, and a forthcoming book on writing successful fundraising letters from Atlantic Publishing.  The rest of them are ghostwritten projects on subjects such as global warming, Voodoo, your digestive system,  public speaking, marketing ebooks , dementia, and more that I can’t think of at this moment.

I wrote several of the books in very short periods of time, and I’m not kidding when I say that.  Three of them were 50 pages, single spaced (the web standard, unlike the traditional double spacing on manuscripts), and I wrote each of them in five days.  Yes, five days.  Let me also add that I started cold–with no knowledge of the topic beforehand.

So I’ve learned a little bit about writing a book along the way. 

These days, everyone needs a book.  If you want to speak to promote your business, you’ll find that everyone will ask you if you have a book.  If not, they won’t be interested.  A book is a sign of credibility.
So, if you have a non-fiction book you want to write (fiction is a whole different story), here are some tips:

1.  Gather your information.  If it is your information, say, from your business, go find all those scraps of paper and throw them in a box.  If you are working on an assignment, go look around the web or wherever you’re getting your info and get your sources lined up. 

2.  Organize it.  I know, duh.  But you’d be surprised how many people launch in before completing this vital step.  I’m a big fan of keeping organization as simple as possible.  If you simply made piles of papers that were all on the same topic and paper-clipped it together, I’d consider you organized.  Don’t get bogged down in this step. 

3.  Write an outline.  Come out from under your desk where you are cringing in horror at the thought.  Its not that bad.  Again, it can be a very loose outline.  It actually should be a very loose outline, because it will probably change along the way.  Take a legal pad and write the numbers one through ten (as a rough starting point), leaving room in between, and then beneath each number, the letters A through E.  Now take your piles of paper and assign each one a number, in order if you like but it doesn’t have to be.    Now you have 10 topics.  Go through your stacks of paper and organize the info into five sub-topics, which you write in the A through E slots.  Now you have your chapters fleshed out.

4.  Assign research.  Go through your research and make notes as to where it fits on your outline.

5. Write a rough draft.  And when I say rough, I mean rough.  Write fast, and don’t worry about writing pretty.  Get the information down on paper.  When you get to the end, stop and then go fix yourself a martini.  Because guess what?  You have a book.  All  that is left to do is….

6. Rewrite it!

Woo-hoo!  You’re done.  Wasn’t that easy? 

A couple notes:

Please, please, please make careful notes for your research and be sure to cite your resources.  Plagiarism is not cool.  You also need to rephrase and rewrite things.  Don’t take anything verbatim unless you have permission.  I know you know all this, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of it.

If you are having issues getting your book written, even with this stellar run-down, I can help you.  I’m in the process of setting up my coaching website, and one of my packages is going to be a Book Writing Boot Camp.   Email me at the address listed on this blog, or leave a comment.

By the way, stay tuned, because tomorrow I announce the results of my survey and the lucky winner of a free coaching session.

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