How to Write That Book You’ve Been Meaning to Write

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How to Write That Book You've Been Meaning to Write

If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, you dream of writing a book on your area of expertise. The thing is, while many have this dream, far fewer actually realize it, and that’s a shame.

What’s stopping them? Usually self doubt and time. They aren’t secure in their ability to write a great book (or set their sights so high they’ll never reach their goal of creating a bestseller) or they simply don’t have (or make) the time to dedicate to the project.

Having published my own book (and with more books in my future), I have a thing or two to say on the subject.

How to Write That Book

Examine Your Reasons for Writing a Book

Before you can actually start writing a book, you need to understand your motivation for doing so. Are you looking to become a rich and famous author? If that’s your m.o., you might need to let that dream die. Few authors become rich or famous, so you might be setting yourself up for failure from the start.

On the other hand, wanting to establish yourself as an expert in your industry is a great goal. People are impressed with authors, and being able to hold up your book after you speak at an event or in a sales meeting could just be your ticket to more business.

Going to the great effort of writing a book shows potential clients that you’re serious and professional. People like surrounding themselves with success, and publishing a book indicates that you are successful.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to write a book, know them before you embark on this journey.

Acknowledge Time Constraints

So you’ve established your goals and you’re ready to write. Only you have an incredibly busy month ahead of you. When can you fit it in?

The honest truth is: you might not be able to. Rather than forcing the writing (creativity doesn’t work that way), find time in your schedule when you can dedicate 15 minutes, an hour, half a day, whatever you’ve got, to sitting down at your computer to write. If now isn’t a good time to get started, wait until you have more time and mental headspace to begin.

Set Deadlines

Most people work well under the pressure of deadlines, and they’re great for book authors. Start with the big one: when do you hope to have the entire book finished? This could be anywhere from six months to a year. Be realistic, given your schedule, but also slightly aggressive so you don’t have time to slack off.

Then break that time down into smaller deadlines. Chapters usually make good deadlines. It may take you writing the first chapter to see how long it takes you to then set deadlines for completing subsequent chapters.

And if you miss a deadline? Don’t be hard on yourself; just get back on track.

I’ve Written My Book … Now What?

You thought writing it was the hardest task, but now you’re about to embark on another adventure! If you plan to publish your book (and I assume you do), you have two options: self-publishing or the traditional publisher route.

With self-publishing, you handle everything on your own. You hire an editor and a cover designer, and then upload the book to Amazon and Nook. If you want a hard copy book, you work with a book printer like Lulu. You also market the book yourself. You will spend quite a bit to get this book available for purchase. So why would you want an option that involves so much work? You are going to do most of the work regardless of which route you take, and by self publishing, at least you get to keep more profit.

If you want to pursue the traditional publishing route, it is much more competitive and difficult to break into, and there’s a significant time delay for when your book is actually released.

In traditional publishing, typically you work through an agent who will require you to put together a book proposal, (think business plan for your book.) Then they shop your book around to publishers, trying to stimulate interest. If one is interested, they will negotiate a book contract and a modest advance. First time authors don’t typically get too much $10K-$20K, and you will not get the second half of your money until all the edits the publisher requires are made on your manuscript.  You may be asked to heavily edit the book or even significantly rewrite part of it.

But traditional publishers will get your book into major bookstores. Depending on the size of the publisher, they may also use their internal PR team to set up interviews for you, but this will only be for a short time. They won’t do all the marketing for you, most of that will still fall to you.

The drawbacks to traditional publishing are that you give up a hefty percent of your book royalties, and it’s a harder game to win. Still, having a well-known publisher on the spine of your book will give you some credibility that self-publishing might not.

Writing and publishing a business book can be so rewarding, and yes, it’s worth the time investment, stress, especially if you are establishing a brand. If you’re serious about writing a book this year, start researching options now.

Woman Writing Photo via Shutterstock
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Melinda Emerson Melinda Emerson, known to many as "SmallBizLady," is a Veteran Entrepreneur, Small Business Coach and Social Media Strategist who hosts #Smallbizchat for emerging entrepreneurs on Twitter. She is also the author of, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months.

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