Writing a book is the best thing a thought leader can do to raise their authority in their field. Here is a step-by-step guide to making your book a reality.
Today’s post is by Zach Obront, co-founder of Scribe Media.
Melissa Gonzalez was frustrated.
As an expert in the field of pop-up retail, she worked with companies like Marc Jacobs, Chanel, and Google to create incredible short-term retail experiences.
Those in the industry — including the companies she worked with, her competitors, and her colleagues — knew she was the the person in the field. She was the industry expert.
But when the media was looking for someone to interview on the growing pop-up retail trend, Melissa was rarely the one they called on. In fact, it wasn’t even her top competitor who would be quoted in the media.
It was the people who had written books on the topic.
Melissa decided she needed to write a book. She had the knowledge and the wisdom, but she had one problem: she didn’t have the time.
This is a challenge many thought leaders face. As the experts in their fields, staying on the cutting edge by living in the trenches every day, they don’t have time to write and publish their work.
I worked with Melissa to help her take her ideas and turn them into a book in less time. I’d like to share the process we used with you, in hopes that you use it to take action and create a great book.
Step 1: Positioning
The first step in writing a book, and the most often neglected is to get as clear as possible on your book’s positioning.
Too many authors decide to write a book, and their first action is to sit down and start writing. This is totally wrong, and is a major factor that leads to hundreds of hours of edits and revision.
Instead, before you put pen to paper, spend some time answering these questions:
– What do I want to accomplish with my book?
– Who needs to read the book in order for me to accomplish these goals?
– What information are they looking for that they would buy a book about?
Once you’ve found answers to those questions that align with what you know, you’re ready to move on to the next phase.
Step 2: Outlining
Now that your positioning is clear and you know what you want to teach the reader, it’s time to get clear on how you’re going to teach it.
Most authors over-complicate outlining, but it can be very simple.
To create an outline, imagine you are sitting across the table from someone in your target audience. Lucky for you, they tell you about a problem they’re facing, and it’s the exact problem that your book is addressing.
How would you walk them through solving the problem?
Usually, this involves giving them some context on the problem, and then walking them through each step they need to act on in order to solve the problem. For each of these steps, there are probably a number of things they need to understand and solve in order to do it effectively.
When you put these together, you end up with a detailed outline.
Step 3: Interviews
Once your outline is complete, you are ready to get the ideas out of your head and into manuscript form.
To most people, this phase sounds exhausting. Sitting at a keyboard for hundreds of hours writing their thoughts? No thanks.
Fortunately, because you’ve spent so much time organizing your thoughts, you don’t need to go through the slow, meticulous process of writing. You just need to get your ideas out of your head in whatever way is most efficient. And, for most humans, that’s not typing, it’s speaking.
Have someone you trust (ideally someone in your target audience) sit down with you, a recording device, and your outline, and interview you based on the content. They should ask a question to prompt you into explaining each piece of the outline, and ask follow up questions until they are satisfied that they understand it.
For a full length book, you should spend about 8-12 hours on interviews. For a short book, you can do as little as 5-6 hours.
Step 4: Translating
Once your interviews are done, use a service like Rev.com to have them transcribed, and spend some time arranging the content to fit within your outline. You should create a Word document for each chapter, with the outline followed by the transcript of you explaining each point.
Here’s the beautiful part: Once this is done, all the ideas in the book are on the page. They are your ideas, in your words, in the right order. They’re just horribly written (because they’re a transcript).
At this point, you can edit the text into book prose yourself, but there’s no need to. Your ideas are already there. Someone else can help you clean them up.
Step 5: Publishing
Once your manuscript is locked, it’s time for publishing. This can sound intimidating to many people who aren’t in the publishing industry. They’ve heard rumblings of ISBNs, distribution deals, royalty splits, and all kinds of other jargon meant to intimidate.
The fortunate thing is that in today’s world, publishing is simple.
Amazon’s CreateSpace and KDP make creating a paperback and ebook version of your book simple. If you want to make sure the quality is amazing, hire the best possible team to help you through the publishing phase.
For many thought leaders, the idea of writing a book is a far-off dream that can feel intimidating and easy to put off. But while you are waiting for the perfect time, someone else (who probably knows less than you) is writing a book in your field.
Fortunately, as someone who has already spent so much time developing your ideas, writing a book is not as difficult as you think.
Like anything else, writing a book is just a series of steps. If you follow the process above, it won’t be long until your idea is a reality.
Zach Obront is the co-founder of Scribe Media, where he helps busy professionals write and publish their books. He’s also the author of The Book In A Box Method, a step-by-step guide to exactly how to go from idea to published book.
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