It’s really as easy as 1-2-3. Crafting the book you want to write.
And it’s not.
The process of writing a book involves a complex variety of tasks. Each author approaches this process differently and recognizes those tasks, differently. Regardless of how you go about crafting your book, there are three things you have to do, and you have to do them before you start.
The 1-2-3 of it works as follows.
- Research your topic thoroughly. If your expertise solves a common problem, there may be dozens, maybe hundreds, of books in your genre. This should not discourage you. Each of us has unique perspective on solving problems and yours could be exactly what thousands of people need and want, despite the offerings of others. By researching the marketplace, you put yourself six months ahead in your writing. You know what’s out there, and therefore you will know what to avoid or share, and you will know how to craft your work to be successful. You also learn a bit about your topic and your genre, with an opportunity to build your content into a stronger, more purposeful message.
- Understand your audience. The story of the famous writer who said, “I don’t care if anyone reads my work, I write to please myself,” is full of… bull. Pure and simple. We write to solve problems, reach people, share insight, help make changes in the world; I’m sure you could add reasons to this list. And yes, we do care about whether or not our writing reaches people. Considering your readers is a favor to them, and a treasure to you. If you can honestly say you write to please yourself, I say, fine. You are excused from the rest of this post and from all other writing instruction. The rest of us want our words to make a difference. So, we will carefully consider who we want to read them; where those people hang out; how they consume their business advice (print or online or both?); and where they purchase the content they read. It’s important to have that vision before you put fingers to keyboard.
- Understand commitment. Writing a book is a big commitment. It can take one year, two years, three years, or ten years. It can demand eighteen hours a day or ten hours a day; seven days a week. It can be something you do in the wee hours of the morning, because you still have a nine-to-five job, or something you do during your commute home at night; with your laptop balanced precariously on your knees, as the train or bus rattles along tracks and roads, making sure to hit each bump and turn just as you’re hitting your stride. I will say it’s hard to create a book if it’s just something you do now and then, or in your off time. Maybe it helps if you think of writing a book as being similar to building a house – and you are the carpenter. First, there’s a basement, then a foundation, and then a certain number of rooms, each of them a part of the whole but able to sit on their own; your house must have an attic, and a roof – with protective shingles. The house has plumbing and electricity and air conditioning/heating. Outside, there is landscaping, to make everything pretty. Each item contributes to the overall whole – some contributing minor necessities, perhaps, but necessities nonetheless. Your book has all of those things, also. And, just as building a house takes time, so too does writing a book. The commitment involves effort, time, and yes, money. If you’re not prepared to devote energy to all of those things, perhaps you should pause in your quest to write a book.
If you’re determined to get that book out, the one that’s been pounding against your soul for the last 10 years, take some time to consider these three important tasks. You can begin your quest by jotting down an outline and taking time to consider the ideas for your book. You can begin the thought process before jumping into the three tasks here.
We’ll explore some other important tasks that also play into the writing of a book, beyond the three listed here, in future posts.
In my experience, the questions about how to do this – never stop, and although they are mostly the same (different people ask the same thing, in different ways, at different times), they are also different. Each would-be author worries about the process and the result, in unique and special ways. It’s my desire to bring clarity to the process.
Stay tuned for more insight into the fun and frustrating job of writing a book. Send your questions along, in the comments.
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The world needs good writers. It needs good books, whether only in digital form or in audio or in print; good books will never go out of fashion, despite what some pundits say.