Don't Write a Good Book - Write a GREAT Book - Here's How
by Yvonne DiVita - from Master Book Builders
Everyone wants to write a good book. I want you to write a GREAT BOOK!
Your first job is to decide Yes! I'm going to write my book.
I can list a dozen reasons why people avoid or put off writing their books but the top three are:
- No time.
- Fear of failure.
- Fear of rejection.
Which one is your crutch?
No time means your book is not important to you. You're busy with your business and you fail to see how writing a book can be a benefit to that. But it can benefit your business. In a really big way. Read this blog post to find out how.
Fear of failure means you're afraid you'll start and not finish. You'll tell everyone you're writing a book but never produce a book. After all, you're not that good of a writer. (I beg to differ on both points.) Read this blog post to find out why I beg to differ.
Fear of rejection means you're afraid no one will buy your book. You'll put all the effort, time, energy, and investment into the book and it will sit in a dark corner on Amazon where no one will find it or even if they do, they won't buy it. Read this blog post to see why that isn't true.
I will say that if you write it and just let it sit on Amazon, without giving it any love yourself, it might end up in the dustbin somewhere Amazon keeps books that don't sell.
Let's not do any of those things. Let's write a GREAT BOOK that people want to buy and read and SHARE with all of their friends.
GREAT Books are MADE not Born
The first step to writing a great book, as opposed to a good book, is understanding the process of writing and then publishing the book. Since great books are easy to market, we won't be covering that today.
Writing your book requires time and energy. When can you write and how long will you write?
The old advice to write at least 1000 words a day works for some folks, but not many. Today's business professional is working hard already. They're entrepreneurs or small business owners and every day is filled with things to do. People to meet. Places to go. If you work outside of your home, if you have employees, all of that bleeds into the time you might take to write your book. But it's necessary time you can't give up, just to write a book.
Or is it?
Do you have to be in the office at 9 a.m. every day? Can you arrive there at 10 a.m. once or twice a week? Can you work from home once or twice a week? Working from home gives you the added travel time to and from work to do with as you wish. I wish you would use it to write your book.
Are you an early riser? I get up at 7:30 or 8:00 every day. It allows me the time I need to do the work I need to do. However, if I rose at 6:30 just two days a week, I'd have an hour to work on my book. Conversely, you could use your lunch hour to write. Or you could write in the evening, give up an hour of television. The news is too depressing, anyway. Take that time to write.
Finding an hour a week, two hours if you can, isn't that hard. People do it every day. People who are serious about writing a great book.
You have to make the commitment to write a great book. You can't give birth to it until you put in the time and effort.
GREAT Books Require Focus
There are a lot of good books out there. I can't name any because I don't read good books. I read great books.
To make the book you're writing truly great, you have to have focus.
You must have a plan. I prefer to start with a TOC - table of contents. Just write down the main points you'll make in the book and add a few bullets beneath. This is not written in stone. It's fluid. You can change or rearrange as you write. Have a spreadsheet to keep quotes you want to use in the book (and why; even where, if you are able to note that) and stories you want to share. Add people you might like to interview. Having voices other than your own in your book adds to respect and credibility. Never shy away from contacting 'famous' people for an interview or to write your Foreword. Often they are more than willing to help. (you just have to have the right pitch)
You must know what you want to say and how you're going to say it. You must understand the concept of a throughline. Yes, click the link to learn more about throughlines. Tom did a very comprehensive post about it. The words you use, the way you use them - your voice - is a big part of the greatness of your book. Your readers don't want to hear (read) someone else talking. They want you. They want your stories. They want to learn from you.
You must be open to developmental editing. This is editing that assists with the focus and throughline and voice. It's editing that keeps you true to the message. When you work with a developmental editor, you form a strong bond and have a chance to experience a little of what it's like to be in a writer's group, where you open your work to comments from others.
Your editor should be kind but firm. Sometimes, her advice will be hard to take. But learn to take it you must. You are not the best judge of each and every story or word or paragraph in your book.
You must work with a book cover designer to do your cover. And you must review dozens of other books that are in the same genre as yours to get a feel for what's out there now, what's selling well, and to learn what you need to do to compete. Look at color. Design. Font. Word placement. Title. Subtitle. Author's name. Imaging. You want to stand out, but you don't want to stand out so much people grimace and pass you by for more 'familiar' (think comfortable) design. If your goal is to make people feel uncomfortable, so be it. But do it responsibly.
You must have the right title. A title that grabs attention. A title that tells me I should stop and look at this book. The title can be outrageous, or informative, or questioning, or even confusing. In the sense that I stop and say, "I wonder what that means?" It should lead me to the sub-title, where you can use 5 - 7 (sometimes more) words to describe what the book is about. So I then say, "Oh, now I get it." And then I buy it.
GREAT Books Keep the Reader Engaged
To keep your reader engaged, you need to provide value. In every word, paragraph, and page.
To to that, all you have to do is write well.
Write well and tell a good story. Many good stories.
Write well and tell a good story and not ramble on about nothing.
Write well and tell a good story and not ramble on about nothing and don't use mixed metaphors.
Write well and tell a good story and not ramble on about nothing and don't use mixed metaphors and build fiction elements into your writing.
Fiction elements include: mystery; dialogue; characterization; a hero and a villain; a mentor; flashbacks; and more. Stay tuned for my next book which will cover how to do all that in your nonfiction book. Coming out later this year!
An engaged reader is one who doesn't want to put the book down. She also can't wait to tell all her friends about it. She isn't merely interested in that book, but in your next book. In you. In everything you do. She wants to be connected to you. She wants to be part of your community.
That's what writing a GREAT book does for you.
Be better than good. Be great. I know you have it in you. Why not start now?
Be sure to connect with me on LinkedIn. I post a lot of content about writing and publishing there, too.
Email me with your big idea for a book and let's discuss. Be sure to put "big idea" in the subject line.
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