(Excerpt from Chapter 1)
How You Start Determines How You Finish
To understand why some people write a book that sells and others write a book that merely exists, we must look all the way back to the author’s first steps, as the decisions you make early on have the biggest impact. Most people get an idea for a book and go straight to the step of writing it. This one decision is the main reason why most people who start to write a book never finish, or if they do, they end up with lackluster books. Follow the steps here thoroughly and thoughtfully, and you can write and publish a book that brings you status, accolades, clients, and a lot of money. Let’s do an overview.
First Things First
Taking a few well-planned steps before you sit down to write can make the difference between a book that adds to your career and a flop. People often come to me when they’re stuck with partial manuscripts (what I call “notes”) and have no clue how to finish. Taking a closer look, I can see they skipped some crucial steps that would have made all the difference.
Overview of Five Steps
I created my five-step process to make writing a book so easy and painless that anyone who has information to share and can read and write a basic sentence can do it. No experience required. No special talents—just the willingness to do the steps and to show up over and over until it’s done.
The first four steps that lead up to the writing can be done quickly, in as little as a few hours over a couple of days if you focus. Step 5 takes the longest. I will describe each step in detail so you can perform all the actions necessary.
Do the steps in order. The sequence is designed to make the process as easy as possible. They are the following:
1. Discover your author personality. Identify your author style, the way you process and share information, and learn how to apply it to writing a book.
2. Develop your book concept. Understand your book idea in your own mind—why you are writing it, who will read it, the difference you want the book to make in the world, etc.
3. Test your concept. Discover your book’s role in the marketplace and what makes it special.
4. Choose a best-seller blueprint. All the best-selling books of all time (including present day) were written using one of four basic blueprints that I’ve identified for you. Discover the one that best suits your author personality and your concept.
After we cover the first four steps, I will introduce to you my workflow checklist, so you can plan your work and track your progress. My clients use this tool to help them navigate the process.
5. Write the book. I’ll cover ways to approach writing and provide tips and techniques to help you stay in the flow.
Before we get into the steps, let’s deal with some of the mental blocks that may be bubbling up and threatening to stop you before you even start. As a book writing coach, I’ve heard enough excuses not to write to fill up the stairwell of the Statue of Liberty. While they may seem convincing and rational, they are imaginary barriers that will, if you succumb, prevent you from ever realizing your potential.
Here are a few of the most common excuses people use and some reframes to help you move forward if any of these excuses has a hold on you.
• “I’m too busy right now.” As we covered earlier, time always seems in short supply. You may worry if you take time to write your book, you won’t have time for other important things in your life. Find it. Stay away from “either-or” and “when-I-then-I” thinking. Decide that your life is one big “and” and the time to live it is now. Expand to meet the challenge; reorganize your day if need be. Put time to work on your book in your calendar. To write a book is important, but it’s almost never urgent, and it will never feel convenient. Regardless of what’s going on in your life, find the time and write it. I understand the challenge. Every one of my clients has a big and busy life, and so do I. I had to carve out the time to get this book done just like everybody else. Life doesn’t stop so you can write a book. No matter what is going on, create the time. I am aware that the more established the expert, the less time you have to write, but that is no reason to delay. If anything, it’s even more imperative, because if you’re that busy, it means there is a demand for your book. So get on it.
• “I’m not clear what I want to say yet.” The level of clarity you seek comes through the process of developing the concept and doing the writing. If you wait for clarity first, you will wait forever. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is waiting for the clarity to land on them like a little bluebird that will chirp the book’s secrets into their ears. This isn’t the Disney Channel. This is your business. Get into the action. The clarity comes through the writing every time.
• “I have so much to say, I just don’t know where to start.” Yes, I hear you, and good thing there’s no limit on how many books you can choose to write. For now, just know you can (and I hope you will) write more than one book. Going through the steps here will help you develop and write one concept at a time.
• “I don’t know if I can write a book.” No one is asking you to write a literary masterpiece. Most likely, if you’re reading this, your book is going to be a nonfiction how-to, self-help, pop culture, or business book on a topic in which you are an expert. If you can formulate a basic sentence and follow my instructions, you can write a first draft, and once you do that, a professional editor can help you polish your words so they sparkle. You can do this.
Now … shall we begin?