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The Six Most Common Questions About Writing a Book

Is it too hard to write a book

by Yvonne DiVita

In my more than 20 years experience with communication, writing, and reading comprehension, these are the six most asked questions about writing a book. 

Note that I ask at least one woman in business why she hasn't written a book, almost every day. I openly encourage women I meet to write a book, and receive one or more of the questions below, in response. 

I have learned that it isn't because women don't want to write, or often not even that they don't think they can write (although that is a big reason women state as why they haven't become 'the author of'), it's sometimes even more basic than that. 

If you see yourself in one or more of these questions, I hope my answers help you move forward with your book project. 

One. Is writing a book hard?

The answer is yes. And no. The answer depends on what you mean by hard. To some, 'hard' means time. If writing a book is going to invade on her daily schedule, it become too hard to do. 

Rather than think in terms of hard or not hard, think in terms of success.  The time and energy you give your business is necessary for it to thrive. I get that. The time and energy you might have to take away from  your business to write a book becomes a task you cannot achieve - because you are looking at it in the wrong way. 

Writing a book takes as much energy as is necessary. Planning your day to include a half an hour of writing is not so hard. Your book must become your client. When you decide to do that, make your book your client, you find the time in the day to serve that client. You do it because the end result is going to be good for the client and outstanding for you.

Two. How much time does it take to write a book?

This is usually followed by, "I've heard it takes years." Or, "I've heard you can do it in three months. Is that true?"

Both are true. It depends on you and the book. It took Tolstoy six years to write War and Peace. But you're not writing War and Peace. You're writing a business book to serve clients and new prospects. Your book will take as long as you make it take. The timing of writing your book is up to you. At Nurturing Big Ideas we do six and twelve month programs. Some six month programs extend and some twelve month programs finish early. 

In this day and age, it's all up to you how quickly you want your book to be done. 

Not writing war and peace

Three. I was thinking of self-publishing. Will being self-published be a mark against me and my book?

Self-publishing is too often equated with vanity publishing. In the old days of the 20th century - who remembers those? - vanity publishing gave a lot of self-published authors a bad rap. In vanity publishing you find a printer who is willing to print your book and you print off 5000 copies and put them in the trunk of your car and off you go.

It was called vanity publishing for a reason. Anyone could do it. Anyone could throw together something they called a book, with a poorly designed front cover, no back cover design, unedited content, and no throughline. What resulted was a poor excuse for a book and a reason for people to chide others for choosing 'self-publishing.'

In truth, many respectable, talented, well educated people have self-published. There are a few different flavors of it which we won't go into here, but understand that today's self-published author is more informed about what it takes to create a product like a book and they put in the effort needed. 

Today, with Kindle, and audio-books, and more, the fact that an author is self-published is widely accepted - as long as the product is well done.

Four. Why should I write a book?

I try not to bristle at this particular question. The better question is: Why SHOULDN'T you write a book? I covered more of the reasons in a recent post, but here are a few to get you thinking:

  • A book builds credibility and respect. Just the fact that you took the time and effort to write a book brings immediate kudos.
  • A book helps you get more speaking engagements. It helps you get better speaking engagements. Events love authors.
  • A book demonstrates to your current clients, and your prospects, that you have a vested interest in them. Your book is your promise to be the solution to their problems. 
  • A book is the foundation of webinars, workshops, and events you can create to serve your clients.
  • A book is the foundation of masterminds - created to serve clients and prospects, in a peer group learning environment, with you as the fearless leader.

Those are a few of the reasons you should write a book. But the best reason, I tell the women I talk to, is this - your book could be the inspiration for another woman to finally go out and tackle her dream life. Now, wouldn't that be awesome?

Five. What would I write about?

When I first realized women were serious with this question, I was taken aback. "Why, write about what you know!" I spit out a few times.

As I listened better, I learned that the women asking this question weren't worried about having something to say, as I had surmised, they were worried about saying too much.

Many women have several books in them. They hesitate to write any of those books because they don't know which one to put first. Some of them have content from years of writing elsewhere, but don't know how to organize it into a book. Some of them have content from years of contributing elsewhere and have no clue if it's book worthy. 

Now I know that women who ask this question are really saying, "I could write about A, B, or C. I don't know which one to choose."

Those women need a developmental book coach. I know a pretty good one. She's writing this post.

Six. I've been thinking about writing a book, but it's not on this year's agenda. What difference will it make if I  wait a few years to get my act together first?

The first answer to this question is sure, of course you can wait. You're busy. You already have too much to do. You have work, and clients, and family, and so many other things to think about, writing a book is way down on your list of priorities.

However, the second answer is - waiting is not a good idea. Why? Because waiting means allowing dozens of other people to write and publish books about the same topic and create a boatload of competition during the time you're busy with 'other stuff'.

Let's be serious. Business is about competition. Each of us is competing with dozens if not hundreds of other people who do what we do, some better, some not so much better. The book industry is not slowing down! Despite rumors of the demise of print books, and despite the belief that no one reads anymore, books are being written and published by the tens of thousands, every year and successful business people, successful business women, are reading them.

If you're ever going to write a book, now is the time. Now, before hundreds of other books just like yours are published and marketed to your clients and prospects.

I refer you back to #Four in which I show you why writing a book is a good idea. All of those bulleted points serve to put you light years ahead of your competition. You want to be ahead of your competition, don't you? You want to be top-of-mind, don't you? You want to be introduced at your next networking event or conference or keynote speech as "the author of" - don't you?

I believe you do. I believe I have debunked enough of the questions - or are they excuses? - for writing a book for today. Watch our Books & Programs page for my newest book: 13 Excuses NOT to Write a Book This Year - because writing a book is hard and you're too busy and writing a book is for other people, not you. 

In the meantime, get on our mailing list for advice on book writing, reading, and how to make it all work in your busy life now. Smart News is delivered every Friday come rain or shine.

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This was a great article! I am wondering how simple it is to publish an E-book via Amazon? It seems like many writers are going this route now.


How long does a book need to be to be considered a book worth printing? Is there a length of book that I should aim for? Also, how much do ghost writers cost? :)

Yvonne DiVita

@Tiffany, thank you for the comment and the question.

It's both simple and complicated. Truth is, Kindle has never been more popular and turning your document into a 'book' on Amazon is definitely the way to go. There are formatting necessities. And, cover design. And editing. The folks at Amazon want quality content on their site. So, we can definitely help with that, if you have a book you want to get on Amazon (and Goodreads - once you have a book on Amazon, you can create a Goodreads account and start promoting your book there - 85 million book lovers, and counting!) .

Yvonne DiVita

Hi, Chloe, you can print a 5 page book, a 10 page book, or more. The type of printing will be different for smaller books, but one should not worry about how long their book needs to be. It needs to be as long as necessary. As for ghost writers, the good ones charge by the word. Or the page. Rates vary. We should talk.

Britt K

This was a great article. To be honest, I've considered writing a book for a while now and the only things holding me back are barriers that I've created for myself - self-doubt, failing to find the time in my schedule, etc. That being said, reading through your responses have helped me to put some of my concerns to rest.

Yvonne DiVita

Hi, Britt, thanks for the kind words about the article. Barriers we put up for ourselves keep us from so many successes, and writing a book is right up there! I have a new eBook coming out soon that you might like. It's all about the 'excuses' we make to ourselves about not writing a book. Watch my Books & Programs page. It should be out very soon!

I'm here to answer any further questions you might have, also.

Ruth Epstein

I have been thinking of writing a book too and still thinking, that is how far it has gone but hopefully one day will do so. Great post

Yvonne DiVita

Hi Ruth, sorry for the delay in responding. I know you have a book in you. I am going to email you some thoughts on that. Thank you for reading and your kind words. What other kinds of questions or book writing advice would you like to see on this blog?

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