A beginners guide to writing a book
The thought of writing a book is overwhelming for many people, and this feeling many times is what cripples a person’s ability to release their thoughts on paper. In this post, I intend to show you that you can write a book because writing should not be a scary idea if you know what to do. So far, I’ve written three books and hundreds of articles that have been published both in print and on the web.
Initially when I started writing, it wasn’t with the intention to some day write a book. I wanted to write my most profound thoughts on my learning experiences so I wont forget them. From there it evolved to writing so I could share these thoughts with people who wanted to listen. That’s the first lesson in writing, whatever it is you’re saying must be worth sharing with someone who needs the information, and not so you can make a million dollars in sales. I’ve learned over the years that money is never a good motivation for doing anything, and it applies here also.Before we get right into it, understand that some naturally have the “talent”, and can pour out their thoughts and heart in beautifully well written pieces, while others need some help.
The things I will share are simply practical tips to get you started writing, and like everything you have the responsibility to grow in your skills in order for you to deliver quality content to your readers and listeners. If you read my post on why you need more than talent to succeed, you will know that the odds are not against you because you feel like you don’t have the “writing talent” (if there is anything like that). So this is not a Jeff Goins or Michael Hyatt guide to writing, but guaranteed it will stimulate you and guide you.
As I shared my writing, I got compliments from people about my style of writing. These were not folks who were just trying to encourage me (I’m sure this was part of it), but these were people I consider highly objective and forthright. This was how I knew I had the ability to write, and ever since then, I’ve enjoyed writing. Later on, I began to understand the importance of finding my voice. This is probably one of the most difficult aspect of being an author. As a writer/artist/producer, you want your work to have its own identity, or else what you have to say will keep sounding like someone else.
I believe we all have something to share because we all have unique experiences in the world. There are things that we each are particularly good at, and sharing them with the world makes a difference. At the root of your writing should be your desire to serve your purpose in the form of written thoughts and ideas. This means no matter what your purpose in life is, while you may not have any direct contact with everyone in the world, your thoughts, experiences and ideas can be your outreach.
1. Know what you want to write about. The premise of writing a book is that you are sharing your thoughts on something. You must be clear on what it is you want to write about, and you must actually have some thoughts about the subject matter. This is not saying you should be original in what you’re saying, because i’m sure there are many like-minded people out there, but let your thoughts be your own thoughts expressed in your own voice on any subject matter.
2. Choose a writing position. As an author, you are essentially telling a story and the role you choose determines how you deliver your content. In writing a book, you can either deliver as:
Expert: An expert is a person who has knowledge, has applied the knowledge and seen results, and has enough understanding on how to build on concepts and ideas. A person writing from an expert position is beyond the level of gathering and refining information, but pushes for deeper and more provocative thought beyond that of conventional ideas.
Interviewer: An interviewer compiles information from other experts and presents it in a way that makes it palatable to the rest of us.
Researcher: Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great played this role of researcher by conducting a rigorous study into what made corporations move from an average performer in relation to the market to outperforming the market consistently for no less than fifteen years. He put together the collective results of the data, and has since become an authority on corporate strategy.
Refiner: This involves collating ideas from different sources, processing them, and sharing with others on how these ideas apply on a particular subject matter you are addressing. I will argue that many people take this path before writing from the position of an expert.
3. Put together a table of content. After identifying what position you’re writing from begin to outline what specific issues you want to address relating to your subject matter. This many times turns out to be your table of content. The key here is to make sure there is enough separation of ideas so that each thought or topic can be carefully addressed in your book, but also be careful so you’re not redundant.
4. Write sub points for each of the topics. For each of the topics in your table of content, write down bullet points that you would use to communicate your message. As you do this write about one paragraph that summaries your core message for each of the points. This helps you see how clearly your ideas line up, and how you may need to rearrange them for better delivery. Don’t erase at this point, there’ll be time for that later, you’re just collating your thoughts for clarity.
5. Write a first draft on each of the topics. I think this is where many people usually get stuck. The keyword here is ‘first draft’, and it should be a rough draft, it should just be you pouring out your ideas and thoughts in its rawest form. Many people try to edit and do some sentence construction and sound polished, all of that will come later. Your goal here is to rant or vent! Get your true thoughts out, don’t be concerned about how you sound or what you sound life, let your heart spill out on paper and write on!!!!!
6. Review and support. Now that you’ve poured out your heart, most of it will be subjective, and that’s okay because I think it is impossible for anyone to write without any form of bias. I believe it is this subjectivity that helps us connect with people on a deeper level. Go over what you’ve written, and begin to look for supporting points from other sources. This is where you want to try to be objective concerning what you’ve written. You want to help the reader see how you arrived at a point, and why they should accept what you’re saying. At this point, still no erasing of ideas, you’re still fleshing out your thoughts.
7. Draft review. If you’ve made it this far, kudos! You probably have many pages and are surprised at yourself that you could write so much. At this point you will read over your book draft to make sure it has a good flow and it makes sense. As you read you’re trying to put yourself in the position of the reader you’re trying to reach, and you’re constantly questioning your ideas and what you’ve written because you’re aiming for the best quality content to be delivered. I probably read through my book five times each until it just all looked the same to me, and I was unable to notice errors in it.
8. Get an editor. While it is good for you to have an above average command of the English language (if that’s the language you’re writing in), you must realize that there are other people who are experts at what they do. An editor takes your manuscript and either proof reads, copy edits, line edits or content edits. See what the various editing levels mean here. You don’t want to be cheap on this one because it makes a lot of difference to your work. I use Amanda Price of www.rightpriceediting.com.
9. Get published! This guide was written for people who intend to self publish. If you are looking to get a publisher for your book, see what Michael Hyatt says about what you should do in his advice for first time authors. I used Dewalette Creations for the book layout in my books . Tope Adewale is my contact person here and she does an excellent job at a great price. Reach her at topeadewale @ gmail dot com. Also you can get published in an unconventional way with GodKulture Publishing: http://gkscrybes.com/. They provide a range of services that can meet your needs at a decent price also.
Don’t fall for the inspiration trap! Expert writers have built a schedule around their writing, and they adhere to it, and are prepared to capture inspiration when it comes unannounced. If you keep waiting for inspiration before you write, you may never write that book of yours.
I have no affiliate agreements with the people mentioned in here. I have used them, and I can vouch for their work. If you do decide to use them, tell them I say hi, my reward is in the joy they will get from my referral. I’ll love to hear from you, so drop a comment! Be sociable, and share this with others.