It is a new year. Does getting published ever cross your mind? Do you have a specialty area that is unique? Do you have a philosophy or technique that works and seems to be catching on? People get published for many reasons. Some of those reasons might be to educate others, leave something behind, give something back to their profession, communicate a unique view or new information, gain credibility in their field. Whatever your motivation, if you are thinking about writing a book – you have a book in you. And, as I said, it is a new year .
The first thing I hear from people regarding writing their book? I don’t have time. Of course not. No one has available time. You have to MAKE available time for it and that will happen as you solidify your reason for wanting to create this. Adults do many things for their development or career. They get additional education or credentials. Most people don’t have time for that. But they make the time because it is tied to an objective. Dave Stein, ES Research, recommends sole proprietors less than $1 million, who want to be more than $1 million, write a book. There are plenty of reasons for academics and corporate professionals to write a book. Here are some tips to get started.
Define your purpose
Write it succinctly. Post it on a mirror or desk or wall as a reminder. You are defining the reason why you want to do this. It may take some thought; some brainstorming may help.
Set your objective
What do you want to accomplish? You are looking for a measurable goal and then a time table to get started. Identifying your topic will be the main task here. And don’t stress it, because during the writing process you have the opportunity to refine it.
Develop a plan
Now that you know what you want to do, it is time to figure out how you will do it. This becomes not just something to do when you have a free moment. This will be something you schedule, just like other work projects. If your purpose is compelling, you will prioritize it accordingly.
Engage your support group
Sharing your vision with family, friends, and maybe even peers will help. Invite people to encourage you. You will be making some scheduling investments (some will call them sacrifices). It is good for others to understand what you are wanting to accomplish.
Now, when to do it? Here are some ideas that have worked for others.
- Write nightly when the kids go to bed. At least a paragraph each night.
- Spend Sunday evenings at a favorite book store.
- Head to the office a little earlier to spend some time making progress. Spend a few lunch hours a week with a sandwich at your desk writing.
- Visit the library after work two evenings a week. Every week. Find a coach or other authors that can provide some accountability for you in this area. My public library has a group of writers that meet weekly. If yours doesn’t have it, start it.
- Schedule Saturdays. Think of it as a class you are attending or a standing commitment.
Elaine Biech is a prolific writer who has published dozens of books in the learning and performance field (I was a contributor to The 2013 Pfeiffer Annual Consulting and The Book of Road-Tested Activities). She runs a consulting business and works way more than full time. How does she do it? She gets the concept together and goes away for two weeks and writes it. She goes grocery shopping when she arrives (same list each time, she simplifies). She stays in, she writes all day. She has a business purpose; she schedules it. One of my dreams is to get a book contract and head to a cabin in the mountains or on the beach and write it! Even focused time for a long weekend gives a huge head start on a manuscript.
What type of book
Another idea. Think out of the box as you think of writing a book. There are many types of books. One author-one topic is the most common book type. But don’t limit yourself. Writing a multiple contributor book can be a great way to get started. An example of this is Fortify Your Sales Force: leading and training exceptional teams. Thirteen people contributed a chapter to the book, all sharing information and experience on a related topic to developing a sales force or sales team. The contributors have experience with companies like Motorola, Kraft, Ricoh, Trane, United Airlines, Abbott, RR Donnelley, P & G, Shell Oil, Grainger, Walgreens, Chanel and more. It gets readers attention, and it gets publishers attention. And when you put all this talent together and create the book, you are the editor. Make that the Editor! So, instead of writing the entire book, you write a chapter or two (showcasing your specialties) and then you manage the project and deadlines of getting the other contributors onboard. For me, this approach was a good way to get my foot in the publishing door.
You as an author
Many people have the book in their head and they just need help getting it out and on paper. If you present on the topic, a transcribed recording can go a long way in developing the first draft. A writer or instructional designer can assist you in taking a presentation or workshop and getting it into written form. If you find people saying, “This is great stuff, when are you going to write a book,” it may be helpful to get some help. After that initial draft of the content, it is a more manageable task of taking it to the next level.
Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t feel you are a good enough writer. A development editor or writing assistant can help with refining, adding transitions, and organizing content. It is still your content and message. It is still your book, you are just getting help with moving it along.
There are several resources that may be of interest to you if you are doing this for the first time. You will find like minded people in the Linked In group “Publish Your Business Book.” And, Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents and Writers Market are both updated each year. They list publishers and more and the industries they specialize in.
And, when you decide you are serious, read Robert Mager’s, The How to Write a Book Book. This book helps us to overcome many of the excuses we use for why we think we can’t write a book.
What is your excuse?