25 Aug 10 Incredibly Easy Steps To Writing Your First Book
Like the idea of writing a book but never got around to it?
Is it on your list of ‘things to do in the future when you’ve got more time’ and your business is more established?
You’re not alone. According to recent research, 85% of entrepreneurs WANT to write a book, but only 5% think they actually will.
That used to be me. I wanted to write a book but didn’t think I had the time. I thought that there was more important stuff to do and, if I’m honest, that there wasn’t enough money it.
How wrong I was.
Three #1 bestsellers and 100,000 book sales later, I can only tell you that I wish I’d written my first book five years earlier than I did.
It transformed my business.
Let me tell you something … writing a book is about the best thing you can do for your business and, even better, it’s never been easier.
With the ever expanding number of self-publishing platforms out there, anyone can now write, publish and launch a book. You no longer need to hawk your book idea around traditional publishers – you can do it yourself and have copies in the hands of your customers in months, if not weeks.
That said, I published with a traditional publisher and the results have been staggering. My first book knocked Sir Richard Branson off the top spot and broke the WH Smith record by holding the #1 position in the non-fiction charts for a record 14 months.
Writing my books has amplified my reach, my profile and my earning potential. It’s presented me with opportunities and media exposure that money couldn’t buy and has made a mockery of my belief that books don’t make you money. Last year I was awarded an MBE for Services to Business and Entrepreneurship and this year I was named one of the UK’s Top 20 Most influential entrepreneurs by The Sunday Times. I’ve been invited to Necker Island by Sir Richard himself and got to speak alongside my heroes such as Gary Vaynerchuk.
Books are the new business cards. There’s no better way to establish yourself as an expert in your field; expand your reach; increase your earning potential and build trust and credibility with your audience.
It might seem like a huge undertaking, but it’s worth it and really not as hard or complex as you may think.
Start by following my 10 Incredibly Easy Steps To Writing Your First Book:
Step #1- Plan The Book Your Readers Need
It goes without saying that you need to plan your book – but here’s where most first time authors fail. They write the book they want to read, not the book their readers badly need.
However, start by outlining what it is YOU want from your book: what are the key objectives? Is it just because you’ve a burning desire to get that book out of your head and into print? If it is, that’s OK, but I’d love to see you do more than that!
If you want your book to position you as an expert in your niche, build out your platform and audience, establish your brand and provide you with the base for your entire business, then you need to get commercial from day one.
Is your aim to reach as many people and get as much exposure as possible, or is it a lead and data generation play?
Whatever your objectives are, now’s the time to lay them out so you can keep them in mind while outlining and planning the topic of your book.
Get on Amazon and head to bookstores to check out the competition and what’s selling. What’s connecting and resonating with your audience? Ask the staff what people are buying; they’re usually more than happy to help. By doing this, you’ll be able to identify the conversations currently going on in your market, possible avenues you can take and issues you can address in your own content.
Don’t just plan to write a book, plan to create a bestseller…
Step #2- Write A Book Proposal
Take your research and write a book proposal… even if you’re planning to self-publish.
Much like a business plan, a book proposal isn’t just for prospective book publishers or agents, it’s for YOU. Think about it as mapping out how you take the ideas in your head and turn them into a #1 bestseller. Why aim any lower?
I actually sought out the book proposals of other #1 bestsellers before I wrote my own. What did they plan? What did they do to stand out and execute their launch so effectively?
Every book proposal should answer the following three questions:
– So what? What makes your book special?
– Who cares? Who is it for and why should they buy it?
– Who are you? What are your credentials to write on this subject?
Break this down into the following sections
- Overview (think of this as your executive summary)
- Proposed contents / structure
- Example chapter
- Author profile
- Audience profile
- Competitor analysis
- Launch and Marketing plan
Getting this in place will be a really worthwhile exercise and it will flag specific areas you need to focus on – it also gives you a document to share with others for feedback.
Step #3 – Get Obsessed About Your Cover And Title
It doesn’t matter how epic your book is if nobody picks it up. Covers and Titles are an art that too few study.
Get obsessed by what sells; what appeals to your target reader and what’s going to make your book leap off the shelf or page. They say ‘you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover’, but the truth is, most people do… so you need to get it spot on.
If you already have an email list or a tribe then you could include them in this process, by asking for their feedback.
You need to tell a story in a second; instantly convey what the book is about and the design and colours should align with your brand.
If funds are limited there’s a number of free resources you can use to design your cover such as Canva.com and Designbold.com, or you can invest some money (I advise that you do) and pay a proper designer to create a cover for you.
Even if you’re going down the official publisher route, be active in this process. Listen to their advice and respect their market knowledge, but remember you know your audience better than anyone.
Look at some of your competitors covers for inspiration, don’t copy of course, but it’s ok to see what’s currently resonating in your niche and use that as inspiration for your own cover.
Step #4- Get Writing
Ironically, this is where most people start to panic! You did want to write this book, didn’t you?
The secret is that it’s all in the planning – trust me, get this right and it’ll be a breeze.
You can choose to write the book yourself or get a ghostwriter to help craft your words for you. I prefer to write my own, as I’m extremely passionate about the topics I write about, but having help with research and editing is massively useful.
If you choose to write it yourself – pace yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed. Create a plan to write 500 – 700 words a day – whatever you are comfortable with and stick to it.
I invested in myself to work with Tim Ferriss, author of global bestseller ‘The Four Hour Work Week’, ahead of my first book (watch out for a blog post on this incredible experience).
Tim’s advice was: “Just write two crappy pages a day and soon enough, you’ll have a book!”
And he was right. At first you’ll think that all pages are crappy, but you’ll be amazed at how editing can polish up a rough diamond!
NOTE: Resist the temptation to keep going back and editing while you write. Leave that for later on. For now just let everything you have in your brain out, after all you can’t edit anything if there’s nothing on the page.
Step #5- Read It Aloud
This might sound like a silly step but trust me, when you do it, you’ll thank me… you’ll spot so much you want to improve.
You’ll identify sentences that are too long, paragraphs that go on forever, chunks of text that don’t really need to be there, repetitive words and a whole host of other issues that can only be picked up by actually hearing the words aloud.
Step #6- Edit, Edit, Edit
You can do this yourself or send it to an editor to do it for you – you’ll probably want to do both. I would highly recommend giving it to an editor first. It always adds value having a fresh pair of eyes on your copy and they’ll make your writing tighter and more engaging with your target audience. As the saying goes, you can’t see the wood for the trees – sometimes you are just too close to your own copy to see the mistakes.
Most editors will also proofread for you too.
Step #7- Get It Published
Now you’re on the home stretch…
By this point, you should have already decided whether you want to go down the traditional or self-publishing route … Whichever you choose will affect your next steps.
There are many pros and cons for both routes and you really want to understand this fully before you choose which is right for you.
For now, the key things to understand are that, with the traditional route, the publishing company will do most of the promotion for you, but will take a larger cut of the revenue. They will most certainly do all the distribution and make sure you are stocked in WH Smith, Waterstones and Foyles etc.
With self-publishing, the marketing and promotion is up to you, but you also get to keep more of the profits.
Step #8- Launch It To The World!
Your launch is really important, but focus on sustained reach and sales, not just a big bang that then disappears with a whimper.
If you’re going with a traditional publisher, they’ll handle your launch promotion and will do most of the heavy lifting for you, from organising book tours to marketing your book. This doesn't mean you shouldn’t do your own too. You absolutely should!
If you choose to self-publish then it’s important you reach out to influencers in your niche and ask them if they would be happy to promote your book to their audience. Make sure you plan this as far in advance as possible.
In return try and offer some value to them or their audience – maybe you can do an exclusive workshop or give them access to a premium service you offer in return? Remember everyone is busy so there needs to be some benefit for them, other than sharing your amazing new book.
I would advise that you start to build these relationships now before you actually need them, as it’s always better to have created a network of contacts who can help you for the long run, not just a one off promotion.
People are less likely to do favours for someone they don't even know. Especially busy business owners. So get into the habit of connecting with your peers and influencers in your niche early on in your business career; your network truly is your net worth.
At my next Business Bootcamp I won’t just be showing you how to write your book, I’ll also be showing you how to build an online platform and network of influencers who’ll help propel it to #1 bestseller status.
Step #9 – Secure Testimonials And Collect Social Proof
There’s no better endorsement for you or your book than testimonials and social proof. I was lucky enough to have Seth Godin provide me with a testimonial quote for a cover, but I didn’t know him and hadn’t even spoken to him before – I just hustled a way to get in front of him and understood how to ask in a way that caught his attention and appealed to him.
Think about who your book would really appeal to and who would want to support you, then get creative to ask in the right way.
Likewise, readers want to see that other readers they relate to like your book. Amazon reviews can make and break a book, so encourage people to leave you reviews and share your book across social media. Have a clear strategy to drive this ahead of launch and as part of your marketing plan.
Step #10 Take Action!
It might be the final tip, but it’s easily the most important.
You won't become a bestselling author just by reading blog posts.
You won’t become an expert in your field just by writing blog posts.
Writing a book is truly game-changing. I know because I’ve seen what it’s done for me.
I just wish I’d realised that and taken action earlier.
The good news is that you can do this by doing just a little bit every day. It really needn’t become the all-consuming distraction you probably fear it will be.