A book enhances credibility and commands higher speaking fees.
Business leaders, subject matter experts, humorists, psychologists, and diet gurus are all expected to share their knowledge in book form. High-profile CEOs often write books to pass along their business philosophies and practices, to articulate their personal visions for their companies, or to share the hard-won lessons of their lives.
Whoever you are and whatever your pressures, when you are asked whether you have a book out or in the works, if the answer is “No, not yet,” the next question is what’s holding you back? Is it that writing a book is an overwhelming project … you wouldn’t know where to begin … or your plate is so full, you simply don’t have the time. All big projects seem overwhelming when you view them in their totality. Mountain climbers preparing to climb the Himalayas don’t expect to do it all in a single day. They have a plan, and they execute it a day at a time. More accurately, they do it one step at a time, and that is exactly how one writes a book.
Why do you need a book?
Credibility is only one reason. If you do a good job of promoting your book, you may actually make money on it. It takes an enormous amount of time and effort to market a book successfully. When you know your topic and want to share what you know with others, a book is one of the best ways to do it. And, finally, there is no better way to organize information than to write about it.
What it takes to write a book
Desire, of course, means that you want to write this book. Now that it’s beginning to crystallize in your mind, your excitement for your topic is mounting. You can’t think about anything else. You are definitely motivated; but, like an exercise program that starts out with a bang, self-motivation takes work. Here’s where you have to ask yourself if this book is going to be a catharsis of the soul, a hobby, or a profitable venture. That is one powerful test of your idea. Would anyone (besides your mother) want to read it, and would that person actually part with money to own it?
The key to any book is the strength of its concept — its point. If you had to explain what your book is about in one sentence, could you? If you can’t, you don’t have a clear idea of your message. In the early stages of my writing career, when I got stuck on an article, my 12-year-old daughter would ask, “What is it about, Mom, in 25 words or less?” I had to learn to summarize my thoughts.
It may sound like a cliché, but, just as you wouldn’t set out on a road trip without a road map, you don’t start a book without a plan. This is where many first-time authors go wrong. They have the romantic idea that one begins a book by sitting down at the computer and just “letting it flow.” True, we are dealing with nonfiction here; but even novelists, playwrights, essayists, and poets have some sort of a plan. Having one makes all the difference between a tightly constructed book and one that rambles.
Writing a book is a process that requires focus and commitment over many months. That’s called a long attention span. Think of it as tying a knot on one end of a hot pink thread at the beginning of the process and pulling that thread all the way through the planning, writing, publishing, and promoting of your book. The more excited you are about your book and the more determined you are to see it come to fruition, the more likely you are to remain focused on every tiny step of the process.
If you’ve ever tried to diet, you know how hard it can be to maintain your determination to cut calories. Self-discipline is doing what has to be done, sticking with it even when it’s not fun, and reasserting your commitment as often as necessary.
No matter which book you’re working on — first or twenty-first — you need to feel that others are in your corner and rooting for you. Guidance and support from a knowledgeable source is a gift. In the best of all possible worlds, you would have a coach; failing that, you could take a course, join an authors’ group, or read a book. Any of those can go a long way toward eliminating or at least reducing the intimidation factor.
It’s time to take stock.
Do you have a book in you just waiting to be written? If so, why aren’t you writing it? Can you overcome those reasons? How will you benefit from having a book with your name on it? And, do you have the six requirements to do it? If you can answer these questions in a positive way, get started. I’ll see you at your book signing!