This article is going to be written in two sections. The first (this one) is about the why, planning and writing of your book. The second article will be about promoting the book.
Let’s clear a few things up before we go any further. When I say “a book”, this is what I mean:
- A professionally printed book
- Minimum of 100 pages (about 2-4 hours reading time)
- Professionally designed cover
- For sale on Amazon
- Copy edited
Once you are a published author, you’ll find many things easier. Lead generation is among the easiest thing in the world. Getting speaking gigs happens BECAUSE you are an author. They just let you in.
It’s an instant credibility builder. It makes it easy for people to feature you. What blog or magazine wants to feature someone who isn’t an authority. They’re looking for authors so they look better.
As an author you will find yourself having more conversations with potential clients, you’ll be able to put your prices up 50-100-200% without any trouble at all and no-one will question it.
When a client is on the fence about who to use, they’re always going to go with the person who wrote the book about it. It’s simply the safer decision.
There are many reasons you might want to do this, but the first thing you must do is get super clear on why you are writing the thing in the first place. For me, it was very simple, I wanted more leads.
It’s important to know why you are writing it but you need to suspend that thought for just a moment. I do not want you thinking about lead generation while you are writing this book. If you want this thing to have any amount of value to anyone, it needs to be written with one thought in mind:
“I want to write the best book about ______ in the world”
Do that and trust me – the leads will come.
Why 30 days
Almost all traditional publishers give you a full 12 months to write your book. I think this is flawed for many reasons but the biggest is that it gives you time to do other things and get distracted.
You’re only writing 150 pages (to be cut down to 120ish). Realistically, you could do that in a weekend if you switched your phone off.
If you need to discover the information before you write your book, then you need to write your book about something else. This should be EASY to just brain-dump everything you know.
A side benefit of doing it so quickly is you avoid “writer’s block”.
The only way you will hit the goal of writing your book in 30 days is by getting yourself a good plan together.
Planning The Book
This is really the hard bit. If you get it right, the rest becomes really straight forward. You know you’ve got the planning right when the actual writing part seems like data entry it’s so easy.
You need a story. There needs to be a reason you wrote the book. What’s your “why”?
It shouldn’t be a life story, but a reason. There needs to be some kind of story arc to it.
My first book, Automate Your Business got not only amazing reviews but hundreds and hundreds of positive comments from people saying how it was a great story. It never occurred to me until I wrote Cocktails & Palm Trees years later how important the story was.
The story was super basic. It was our transition from a web design company to a software company with the idea being that I could automate my business and build my own house one day. That was it. Pretty basic but it had a beginning, middle and an end.
Automate Your Business took them on a journey from this old antiquated way of running a business and thinking about it, right up to a semi-automated set of processes. ‘Cocktails’ on the other hand was essentially a collection of blog posts with an introduction saying it would transform your life. The result?
Cocktails & Palm Trees failed in its mission to be a good book, because of that, its reach was diminished massively and it probably transformed zero lives. Fail.
You’ll need to create a good outline for your book, but despite watching countless videos and reading endless articles about how to do this, the easiest way is to just write the table of contents.
What do you want in the book? Here’s what I’d do in order:
- Write a list of everything that I’d want to include in the book. Just brain-dump. Any topic you could potentially write a blog post about, write it down. Just keep going as deep as you can, then move onto the next area of expertise and keep going. Ideally you want 40-50 things at the end.
- From that, create a rough chapter list around the topics you wrote.
- Go through every topic you wrote and put it into one of the chapters. Add new chapters if needed. Add new topics if they come up. You should have something that looks like this if you ran a marketing company for instance:
- Types of marketing
- Direct mail
- Facebook ads
- Twitter Ads
- Joint ventures
- Email marketing
- How to do it
- Writing an ad
- Rules about ad writing
- Landing pages
You get the idea. That’s the level you should be shooting for. It doesn’t need to be making much sense at this point. Just get it down.
Lastly, put it in some kind of order and inject your story arc into it. That is your outline.
Actually Writing The Book
Believe it or not, this is the easy bit. You’ve got your list of mini-articles to write, so crack on. It’s all from your brain, these are topics you know about so just write them.
It goes without saying that it’s not going to be easy to produce that level of writing. There are things you can do to help the situation.
If you have the ability to do this, just do it. Go and book 2 or 3 of those 2 night, all inclusive deals on Groupon or Living Social.
I recommend making the place about 2 hours from where you live. It needs to be far enough away for it to be a bit of a mission. Preferably choose one of these manor-like places where they’re in the middle of no-where. The phone reception is usually terrible which is perfect for writing books.
Don’t stop to do anything
You will be doing the guts of this writing in a 3-4 day window. Your diet can wait. Your fitness can wait. Just sack it off and get your head down.
If you do this right, and you create a good book, it will fund your life for years to come. 5 years after writing Automate Your Business, I’m still seeing very obvious and tangible benefits on a monthly basis.
I’m not going to lie, editing is a bitch, but it’s actually really cool. What happens when you get into a flow state when you’re writing is it’s not your usual self actually writing. It’s a version of yourself which you don’t see very often and because of this, you won’t remember a damn thing you’ve written.
This is why editing is quite cool. You read it back thinking “Damn this guy’s good! He’s got a pretty good point there”.
Be critical. You don’t need to say as much as you think you do. By the time I’ve written this post, I suspect I would have cut 40% of it out. You’ll be the same. Don’t be complicated for the sake of it. Use short sentences and break paragraphs up. They aren’t “proper English” but they’re much easier to read.
Don’t go mad on highlighting. Just fix the problem there and then. If there’s a sentence that’s not reading right, just type it again from a new perspective and see if that helps. English is fairly easy so if you can’t finish a sentence, it means what you’ve got sucks. Just start that bit again.
Interject your personality into this. They are buying into you, your story, your experiences and your advice. They do care. It’s totally okay to go off on a side tangent about something your Mum taught you when you were a kid. It’s absolutely fine to talk about a time you completely and utterly fucked something up. That’s good. Include that.
The more real the book is, the more it will emotionally affect the reader and the more invested they will be in you and your ideas.
Just use Microsoft Word or Pages for Mac if you have it. There’s tons of pieces of software designed specifically for writing books but you’re already writing a freaking book, the last thing you need is to be learning new software too.
I always try the ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ approach whenever I start a new book.
I’ll do my layout as I described above, then I’ll do all my Chapter pages. Put all my headings in, my sub-headings and put in lots of placeholders for things I know I want to include.
I’ll often then do ctrl+a (if you’re a PC person) or cmd+a (if you’re Mac) and highlight everything then make it all a light grey. Then when I start writing a certain piece I’ll make it black.
Don’t delete anything if it stands any chance of being useful. Just keep it either in a separate document, or a space at the end for stuff you might need.
The Pomodoro Technique
I know what you’re thinking “Dinner!”. It’s also a relatively unknown time-hack which forces you to be productive for a set period of time.
You will find this 86 different kinds of helpful if you struggle with phone notifications and distractions. Here’s how it works.
You work for 25 minutes uninterrupted. That’s it, just 25 minutes.
Then you take a 5-minute break. Stretch. Make coffee. Check your phone, whatever.
Then start again. Just use a kitchen timer or your phone (as long as you switch it to airplane mode).
Your mission is to complete as many Pomodoro’s as you can.
Creating your book
The next post will be about creating your book. We’ll talk about designing your cover, coming up with a title, fonts, spacing, printing, colours and more.
If you want to make sure you hear about part two, then subscribe below and you’ll be emailed the second it’s live.