Whether they realize it or not, almost everyone I know has a book in them. We all have a story and there is something in our story that can help or inspire others. There are things you know that others don’t. You have an innate ability in certain areas that others recognize but you may take for granted. The more challenges you have lived through, the more you have to offer others in similar circumstances.
According to a 2015 poll taken at one of the biggest international publishing conferences, Book Expo America, 90 percent of Americans want to write a book—but how many will accomplish that goal? Will you be one of them? To increase the odds you will get to the home stretch and cross that elusive finish line, you are going to need a plan.
- Decide on your concept. What would you write about? Who would you be writing to? What do you know that other people would read a book—your book—to learn? What problems can you solve? What aspirations can you support?
- Craft your ‘why’ statement and post it in many places to remind yourself about what your purpose is. Your purpose needs to be bigger than you. If you are writing a book just to satisfy yourself, you probably won’t finish it. But if you are writing to help people, every time you falter, you can remind yourself that you must push forward for all the people who are going to benefit from your book. This way, you will be more committed to its conclusion.
- Create your avatar. You will want to conjure up one person that you are writing for. Give your person a name, age, gender, physical characteristics, a job, hobbies, friends and family, etc. The more specific you can be, the better. Then, whenever you sit down to write your book, imagine yourself talking to your person as you’re typing, writing or dictating. You are just telling one person a story. You don’t need to try to be everything to everyone; just write to your one person.
- Schedule time to write. Block time in your schedule and don’t allow anything to crowd into that space. Imagine you have made an appointment with your best client; before you decide to cancel, ask yourself, “Would I change an appointment with my best client for this?” If the answer is no, get writing. If the answer is yes, then give yourself permission to reschedule your writing time.
- Never try to write your first draft and edit simultaneously. This causes a lot of writer’s block because your brain is warring with itself. Writing your thoughts is a right-brain, creative activity, while editing is an analytical, left-brain activity. Get everything out of your head first, then go back to edit.
- Tell everyone you know, and even people you don’t, that you are an author, and also tell them what you are writing about. This will create some accountability for you while generating buzz about your book.
- Select a working title for your book. This may not end up being your real title, but you want to call your book by its name as you write it.
- Create a mock-up binder for your book. Get a three-ring binder that you can slide paper into the front, back and binding and create a mock-up cover, complete with the working title, your author photo on the back with some bullet points about the benefit of reading the book. If you have an image for the front cover, include that as well. Add blank paper and some dividers with pockets to hold the notes you may scribble in random places.
- Do your research. Go to an actual bookstore and see the section where your book will be sold. As a first-time author, the last thing you want is for your book to look different than the other books in your category. You want to fit in and blend. Check things like size of the book cover, number of pages, size of font, type of cover (paperback, hardcover or both). Are there specific colors you see on the covers? Go on Amazon to see how many books have titles and topics like yours.
- Read other books about your topic. Discover what your competition says. You may want to quote another author, interview them or ask for a testimonial later.
- Decide how you will write this book. Will you type it, hand write it, dictate it or have someone ghost write it?
- Create an outline with chapter title and subtitles.
- Write. Whenever you have an appointment with yourself to write, choose one of your sections and bang it out. You do not have to write chapters in order. In fact, you should always save the first chapter for last. The first chapter is meant to summarize the message of your book, something you won’t be sure of until it’s written. It’s quite common for a book to take on a life of its own, leaving you with a different book than you thought you were going to write.
- Brainstorm your wish list of endorsers, and aim high. You will want a prestigious quote for the front cover of your book and a couple quotes for the back. If you get a lot of advance praise, you may use it, but at this point, you are just making a list of who you would want to endorse your book.
This is a beginning step-by-step guide for getting your book published. Don’t die with your wisdom inside of you. You want to write a book because you know it will help people. Take your first steps today. If you would like my support and the help of InsideOut Press on your publishing journey, check out www.insideoutpress.com/writers-group. Our next group is November 25, 2019 from 7 to 9 p.m. Central.