You know you’ve got a book in you–the tough part is getting it out, on schedule. Am I right?
My PR firm Write2Market has helped many executives author their first books through our content marketing practice. In fact, we just exercised our book muscle and published a book this month.
However, when it came to writing my own first book, I was just like you: total procrastination. Then, I remembered the part I’m always doing for others–the process. Here’s the process you can use to produce your own book in less than six months.
1. Commit to the book writing process.
There are a lot of reasons to write a book. Most of them have nothing to do with the book as a process. Like running a marathon is not about one day of triumph, but more about many days of training, writing a book is not about the book, but about the book production process.
2. Admit to your secret.
If you burn to write a book, you’ve got a secret to share with the world. The fact is, it may not be a pretty one. The messier, the more interesting! Scribble it down right now: what’s the secret burning inside you that you have to share? Start by sharing it with yourself in one sentence. This is the beating heart of your book.
3. Turn your secret into a series of small surprises.
I’ll share a secret of mine–business books all follow a similar pattern. This pattern uses your “secret” and turns it into a spectrum of small surprises a reader can enjoy as a series. The spectrum of small surprises are your chapters. What do you want the reader to change about her life because she read your book? One way to phrase this is, “she goes from this state to that state.”
Ask yourself, what are the top 10-15 she needs to know in order to change her life from this to that? These sign posts are your chapter headings.
When I wrote my first book, How You Rule The World: A Female Founder’s Survival Guide, I wanted to share how different it is to build a business as a female founder. My secret was that it is actually a different journey than the one the guy entrepreneurs around me were on. I quite hated admitting that to myself, much less sharing so much of it–but I really felt compelled to for all those other female founders. My chapters were about how you can teach yourself to grow in the absence of cultural support. For every obstacle I had, including internal ones, I wrote what helped me move forward, hoping it would help my readers, too.
4. Plan your escape to authorship.
This is how you reach that destination called “author”–one programmed hour at a time. For some, it’s 5:30 in the morning with coffee on the porch. For others, it’s 8:30 in the evening. If you prefer to talk instead of write, by all means dictate your book. The point is, pick a time, and make it sacred. For my first book, I wrote on planes. That guaranteed me about twelve hours a month.
Put the appointments for each chapter on your calendar, at the same time, in the same place, and in the same way. Just like you make sure the air filter gets changed or the rent is ready, you’ll make sure your chapters get weekly time.
When you get stuck, go back to the chapter headings–the reader’s journey from here, to there. Remember the book is about the process, not the product.
To write a book in six months, you’ll want to do at least five fresh pages a week, which will mean a chapter every two weeks, and thus 12 solid chapters in 24 weeks (just at six months).
If you write a page a day, or five pages in one weekly session, it’s all the same–figure out what works for you and do it. Most writers stop because they confuse their job. They get caught up in the product–”this is terrible!” Instead, they should focus on the process–”I did my pages today!” A great product comes out of a great process–your daily writing time is just part of it.
4. Review and rework.
When you have the length you want–about 12 chapters for most business books but this is more personal preference–it’s time to edit it. Editing should go much like the writing–reserve time for review and refinement instead of fresh work.
5. Push print.
Finally, you’re ready to lay it out and publish it on any platform you like. For my first book, I used Amazon’s self-publishing platform.I asked a Write2Market designer to help with the cover. Amazon is terrific for a first book–it allows you to evolve the content by uploading new versions. For Write2Market’s book just released last week, The Content Marketing Field Guide, Write2Market did the content and published it with a local printer. We self-publish it on the agency’s blog, chapter by chapter, and got feedback along the way as we wrote it. It has already gotten over 500 downloads using this “share it as you make it” approach.
There is no one right way to do your first book. There are productivity tools, workshops, outsourced services and work-arounds you can use to make this process go faster or take less of your time. You can hire firms, like my Atlanta PR agency Write2Market, to interview you and do the heavy lifting for a price. However, the fact remains that this essential plan will help you go from agonizing over your book to proud authorship in less than six months. I hope you enjoy the journey. When your book is out there, let us know about it at FemaleEntrepreneurs!
This article was originally written for Inc. See the original.