Write a Book
Write a book? Has that thought been nagging you lately? Is it on your bucket list or just a recurring want-to-make-it-happen idea? If you’re serious about writing a book, there’s plenty of different ways to approach this task. Here we explore eighteen different ways to write a book…
1 Do the Hard Yards
The typical way to write a book is to do a lot of research, read a lot of articles and other books, talk to a lot of people, then sit down and write a lot of words and put some structure around your big idea. This is hard work. And, it’s why so few people write good books because it takes an effort that most people are not willing or able to make.
The rest of the methods here are shortcuts to writing a book…
2 Interview Others
A really easy way to write a book is to go and interview the experts on your topic and transcribe what they say. Here’s the seven steps…
- Identify your topic
- Identify the experts in the field
- Contact those experts to arrange an interview
- Record the interview.
- Transcribe the interview
- Edit the transcriptions
3 Blog it
To write a book based on a blog follow the famous example set by Chris Anderson’s best seller The Long Tail. This started as an article in Wired magazine. It received such a strong response he then started blogging about this to create the book. Seth Godin employs a similar strategy… write a series of blog posts on a consistent topic, then edit and compose them into a book. And, eventually, my blogs here will be published as a book too.
4 Talk it, don’t write it
Most people are not natural writers. So, if you want to write a book and find writing difficult perhaps you could talk it instead of write it. Deepak Chopra wrote many of his books this way. On his numerous flights he would simply pull out his voice recorder and start talking. He’d then send off the recording to be transcribed and simply edit the results. This particularly suits trainers and speakers who are comfortable in presenting ideas verbally.
And, if you have a Mac, Mountain Lion comes with Dictation software built in. It’s not quite the same as speaking freely and transcribing and it might be a good place to start. To write a book based on this example, use your mouth not your fingers.
5 Run a workshop
This suggestion also suits trainers and speakers. If your art is running training programs, simply design and run one. Record yourself in action and again have the results transcribed. If your training design is clever, this will translate very easily into a highly readable book. This is a great way to write a book AND create a product that cross-promotes your training programs. Plus if you’re recording your event in video you can also turn this easily into an online course too. Then you can use the book to promote the online course.
6 Create a Visual Model
A visual model or diagram is a simple way to map out an idea. For example, Stephen Covey’s famous book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ could be represented as a model or diagram with seven parts. This becomes the framework for the book. The opening chapter becomes the introduction. This is followed by seven chapters on each of the seven key points. And, you sum things up in a final chapter. Done.
7 Create a Mind Map
If visual models are not your thing then perhaps mind maps are. Grab a big piece of paper, a whiteboard or some mind map software like MindNode Pro and start mapping out your idea. The key advantage of a mind map, and particularly the software, is that you can re-organise the arms to shift, sort and redefine your chapters and book sections. Once you document all your points on your map, write a page or two about each one. Al Gore’s current book The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change visibly shows a mind map throughout the book. Whilst I don’t know for certain, it’s more than likely he wrote his book using the mind map technique. To write a book this way, simply write a paragraph or two for each element on your mind map.
8 Post It Notes
A similar approach to mind mapping is to grab a bunch of post-it notes. Write a single idea on each one and then arrange them in groups on the wall. Then, to write a books simply write a paragraph or a page about each post-it note idea. And, make sure you take a photo of your wall as post-it notes tend to lose their stick over time and you don’t want to wake up in the morning and see you notes all over the floor in a tangled mess.
9 Write a Super Big List
Some books are merely big lists. For instance, Upgrade Your Life by Lifehacker’s Gina Trapani has 116 hacks or tips for being more productive in your life. What are the 116 tips, tricks, suggestions and applications of your big idea? To write a book based on a super big list, start collecting ideas. You might first publish 20 ideas in an ebook. Then add 20 more… Then your final book can be the ultimate collection of your ebooks.
10 Hire a Ghost
If you want to write a book and don’t want to write at all, then you could hire someone else to write it. This is called ‘ghostwriting’.
11 Create a Questionnaire
Dale Beaumont wrote a series of best selling books called the ‘Secrets Exposed Series’. He didn’t write a word in them. Instead, he very cleverly created a list of questions and asked others to write down the answers. Even smarter, he was able to turn this into a publishing model where the writers paid to be in the book.
12 Have others pay to write a Chapter
Like the previous point this is also a publishing model and you’re not really writing a book – it’s more like you’re the editor. Simply organise a number of people to write some chapters around a common theme. This is a common academic practice where an editor sources articles on a particular topic and compiles them into a single published edition.
13 Write a Story
Two of my books were stories. My first book, ‘A Home-Office You Love’ was written as a tale of the ‘Design Coach’ helping a client design their home-office. Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson launched this trend of embedding a message in a story narrative way back in 1982 with The One Minute Manager. My other story book was The Cuckoo – a classic children’s story. And, even if your entire book is not a story, please ensure you include lots of them in your book to make it appeal to the human beings who read it.
14 Ask Questions and Provide Answers
If you’re short of ideas, then this one is for you… Simply go and ask your customers and clients what they want to know. What are their problems? Either share your answers or source people who can provide the answers for you. This is a great strategy for building your network and positioning yourself as the go-to person in that industry. To write a book of questions and answers is a great follow-on from creating a compelling FAQ section on your website.
15 Review Other Things
Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten wrote a book about other books they liked. In fact, 100 other books they liked… The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. You could complete a series of product reviews in your content area and publish this. This could easily start as a series of blog posts. And, remember to pick things that have a reasonable lifespan. For instance, if you review the latest digital cameras or apps it’s likely that your book will be out of date before it’s printed.
16 Collect Examples
Similar to the previous example, take a look in your marketplace and identify the best practice examples that others can learn from. You could compile this list yourself. Alternatively, ask your clients which examples they admire and compile a combined list. You could then share them as simple examples or turn them into case studies by adding a comment, a lesson or the key to success. To write a book of examples, start collecting them today. Big tip: grab a ring binder or similar and fill it with plastic sleeves. Then fill the plastic sleeves with your examples and you’ll have a book building in front of your eyes.
17 Model Your Hero
In contrast to creating a book around multiple examples, create it around one. Carmine Gallo has created two great books by studying Steve Jobs. We rapped his first one: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. And, his other book is The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs. He even followed this up with a third book. This time on Apple, not Jobs. It’s called The Apple Experience. Who is your hero? Either individual or organisation. Do a deep and detail case study on them to share their secrets for success with the rest of us. If you ensure that your hero is well-known and respected you can piggyback on their reputation with publicity for your book.
18 Expand Your Manifesto
A manifesto is a public declaration of your intent. It’s a neat summary of your big idea. I assist clients to write a manifesto to clarify their focus and amplify their brand voice. It’s also the starting point for their content marketing output which can be the source of a great book. To write a book based on your manifesto simply define the key chunks of your idea and make these the chapters. For example, if your manifesto was like the Ten Commandments from the Bible then you could simply write a chapter on each of the commandments to create your book.