Have you ever noticed that the word “author” is part of the word “authority”? I think we can all agree that writing a book is one of the best things you can do to boost your authority, credibility, and name recognition for your business. Many people trust published authors simply because they believe only the most well-known experts can get published. That used to be true, but that’s no longer the case.
But the book writing process itself feels like it can take forever, and for me, the thought of writing an entire book just feels overwhelming. How do you organize it? How do you remember all of the things you want to say? How do you make it interesting enough?
You can just sit down at your computer, start writing, and hope that it flows from your fingertip the exact way you want it to. Better yet, you can take a more systematic approach and map out the flow of your book so you don’t get off-topic too often or include irrelevant information. The last thing you want is to end up with a book that is confusing to your reader.
I’ve created a workbook to help you focus on the pre-writing process. In it, we’ll walk through the steps one-by-one, so you’ll know what you’re writing about and how your chapters will flow smoothly. You can also brainstorm some title ideas and identify if this topic is of interest to your target audience.
Think of the outline of your book as your roadmap to a final destination: getting published. If you want to reach your destination in a decent amount of time, you’ll need to follow your map. Your outline will remind you what topics to write about, which case studies to include, and how each chapter ties into the next.
If you choose to write your book without an outline, you may find yourself writing chapters that aren’t entirely relevant to your overall title or goal. You may find the writing process slow because you’re flying solo without a map.
It may feel like this is a lot of prep work, but you can do this over one or two days, and it will save you a ton of time during the actual writing process. So set aside a day, two half-days, or a few hours spread over a week and commit to completing your outline by the end of the week. Just getting started on the process means you’ve already made progress!
Don’t let your dream of becoming a published author slip through your fingertips. Get out a notebook or purchase my workbook and let’s get started on planning!
Congratulations, you have a book idea! Or 10 ideas. Don’t worry, that’s normal. Most of my clients have more than one idea for their book, but we always work together to pare down those thoughts into a single, cohesive core idea. Don’t open your laptop and start typing until you have your core idea in place. Once you do, the chapters should come to you with ease.
Writing your book should be an enjoyable process. If you’re driven simply by the desire to make money or become known, chances are high that you’ll produce an inferior book that could harm your credibility and even stunt your business growth. So instead of just picking the first book topic that comes to mind, it’s best to think about it methodically, so you know this is a subject your target audience needs at this time.
The first exercise in the workbook is a simple brain dump. If you didn’t purchase the workbook, just get out a piece of paper and write down every idea that is swirling in your head about what you want in your book. Don’t overthink it, don’t edit yourself; just get the thoughts out of your brain and onto paper. Writing it all down on paper will help clear your mind and help you regain focus, knowing that you can revisit your great ideas when you need to.
The next exercise involves narrowing your focus down to five topics. What topics do you genuinely enjoy talking or writing about? Think of your past coaching experiences; what topic relates most to your experience and expertise? Circle the topics that are contenders and cross off the ones you don’t enjoy or don’t support your professional expertise.
Next, examine which topic(s) relate best to your Zone of Genius. This term is from the book The Big Leap by Gay Hendrick, referring to the zone of experience where you excel the most and enjoy the most. Why write a book if it’s not an enjoyable process? You may have a ton of knowledge about a few different topics, but if they bore you to tears, you’re never going to do your write your best book. Find something that makes you feel excited about writing for multiple hours.
Just because you can write a book about a particular topic doesn’t mean you should unless it falls into your Zone of Genius.
If you’ve noticed that I focus a lot on how you feel during the writing process, I know that you need to feel confident that you can portray your knowledge about your chosen topic clearly to your audience. You need to feel positive that your subject is aligned with your primary business message to attract more of the right people into your circle. You need to feel excited when the process is over to actively market your book to make sales. Feelings are a sensible place to begin choosing your book topic.
The easiest way to start writing your first book is to choose a topic you’re comfortable with. You can literally write a book about anything, so go with what you know. If you’re passionate and knowledgeable about a topic, you are 100% qualified to write a book about it.
However, to avoid the hassle of writer’s block or the risk of writing random chapters that don’t flow together, you need to go into more detail with your book outline.
Take your top 5 ideas from the last section and start breaking each topic down into subtopics. Be sure the subtopics are relevant to the overall theme of the book. How many subtopics can you come up with for each idea? That is probably a clear hint as to which topic you should take on.
Also, remember your primary audience or target market. Which of your top 5 ideas will appeal to them? Are these topics that your social followers, clients, or email subscribers have asked you about? Are these topics related to ideas you’ve written about in the past? Do these ideas complement your overall message to your customers?
It’s OK if you diverge your interests and write about something completely different, but unless you’re branching into writing fiction, the topic should still be related to your overall business message and mission.
Be aware of what’s being published in your industry by investigating the marketplace. Look at Amazon and Good Reads to see how many other books on this topic exist. How will your book be different from your competitors’ books? What gaps can you fill that other books seem to have missed? Look at book reviews for this answer.
Finally, analyze your data and choose your laser-focused topic. When you find your sweet spot, you’ll feel excited to get writing because you know you’re passionate about the topic, there’s room in the industry for your point of view, and your audience is interested in this topic.
The most important words of your book are the ones that appear on the outside cover: the title. You don’t need to decide on your finalized title right now. Your title is vital that so it’s worth thinking about up-front. Identifying your book by giving it a name can help set the direction.
Titling a business book is different than titling a fiction book. You can be a little more creative with fiction, but keywords play an essential role in a business book. When people search for their problem online, you want your book to pop up in search results, so make sure you get this one right.
Start off with a brainstorming list again or a brain dump. Just start writing down titles that appeal to you. Don’t worry if they’re boring; start with simple titles that describe what your book is about. You’ll get to fancy it up as you go through the exercises.
Go through your list and switch out some adjectives or find a way to make your title more memorable. I like to use WordHippo.com for this.
For example, Dale Carnegie wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People” in 1936, and it’s still in publication today. Do you think if his book were titled “How to be a Leader,” it would have been as successful? Possibly not.
As you go through this title process, check if your title is already taken. Instead of feeling defeated, consider it an opportunity to make your book title even better. The last thing you want is confusion between your book and another with a similar title. Your credibility is tied to this book. Don’t risk giving it away by choosing a title identical to that of another author.
Another tip for choosing a book title is to clarify who will benefit the most from the information in this book. Are you aiming at beginners or those more advanced? Think of the books in the For Dummies series. While you may or may not like the use of the word “dummies,” it’s clear that this series of books is for beginners with zero experience.
If you still don’t love any of your own title creations, consider using an online title generator. I’ve included some in the next set of exercises that you can try. Or ask your VA to use the title generator while you’re being creative and compare notes.
You may now feel ready to ramp up the writing process, but before you can move on to the content of your book, keep on expanding your outline. While you may get flashbacks of your younger school days, outlining is a tried and true practice for keeping your message on point.
How often have you sat down to write a simple blog post about one thing, then by the end, you realize you’ve gone off on a rant, or you’ve added some of your pet peeves into the post.
The point of your book is to show yourself as the expert, teach your readers something valuable, and guide them toward their next best steps with your programs. Confusing them with unrelated subjects won’t win them over. So, craft the smaller lessons your readers need to achieve their desired outcome.
Now that you’ve chosen your book topic let’s hash out the overall talking points of the book. These will become your chapters. Mind mapping is a visual way of organizing your thoughts digitally so you can see each chapter heading and all the talking points to include underneath each heading. Most mind mapping software will offer a free trial. A large, wall-mounted whiteboard works just as well as a simple notebook. Find what works best for you.
Trello is another way to organize your book outline, especially when it comes to outlining your chapters. Create a board for the entire book project, then create separate lists for each chapter. Inside each list is space for individual cards (think index cards) where you can write out your talking points, then move them around into an order that makes complete sense. Trello is also web-based, so you can make changes whenever inspiration hits.
I know you’re an expert on your subject, but to make your book more intriguing, consider adding real-life stories, case studies, or other anecdotes throughout to further prove your points. In his bestselling book, Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox, Dr. William Davis is definitely an expert in living a grain-free life and its benefits. But his book is made much more appealing with the scattered testimonials and real-life stories of people who directly achieved extraordinary results following his advice. Not only does this help build Dr. Davis’ credibility, but it makes the average reader think they can also achieve the same success.
What personal stories can you include in your book? Who can you ask for a testimonial? Have you ever asked current clients to be a part of a case study? All of these can be accomplished with pseudonyms or anonymously, but asking permission first is a must to retain that coach-client trust that you’ve built up.
In addition to these stories, what other research or statistics can you add? Are there any gaps in your chapters that need to be filled? Are there new advances in your industry or specifically about your topic that can be included? Other experts you can interview to reinforce your point of view?
Depending on your topic, you may want to include research about opposing points of view, especially if you’re debunking methods or opinions that have been long held in your industry. Ultimately, this research should add credibility to your book and support your knowledge about your chosen subject.
You now have a chapter-by-chapter guide to writing your first (or next!) best-seller. The only thing left to do is sit down and write it. There’s no right or wrong way to weave your words together, but there is only one way to guarantee a finished product, and that’s by scheduling time to work on your masterpiece.
All too often, entrepreneurs who work with clients find themselves putting their clients’ work ahead of their own. Don’t let this happen to your book! You need to adopt the mindset that you are your number one client, and your work should be prioritized above other tasks.
I’m not saying you should clear your calendar of coaching clients. It’s about finding a balance between your book project and your clients, plus the marketing and administrative tasks it takes to run your business. But adopting a positive mindset about your own work will motivate you to get it done every morning.
Set your intention clearly around why you want to write this book. This is similar to the question of why you became a coach. Let this “why” for your book be the driving force behind getting this book written.
Look at your calendar and set a deadline for yourself. Work backward, starting with when you want the final book published. Allow time for at least two drafts plus time with an editor and proofreader, plus production time.
If your release date is flexible, consider how much time each day you want to spend writing. Is it an hour in the morning or 5 hours once a week when you’re not seeing clients? There’s no right or wrong answer; just be realistic, especially if you find writing a challenge.
Also, take note of any vacations, conferences, holidays, or other significant events that will limit your writing time. Do you really want to spend time writing when on vacation with your family? Be realistic.
If you find writing difficult, consider hiring a ghostwriter. You supply the ghostwriter with your outline, research, testimonials, etc., and they will craft your notes into a masterpiece. However, be prepared for a few meetings and lots of questions. Sometimes having this objective eye reveals more gaps in your book than you realized, and their job is to fill those gaps. Plus, their only access to your expertise is through you directly.
Another technique for those who don’t care for writing is to record your chapters using your smartphone voice recorder or via Zoom. This option works best for those who are natural-born speakers. Keep your chapter notes nearby to keep you on topic, and then hire a transcriptionist to put the recorded words onto paper. Then you can hire an editor to fine-tune your manuscript.
If you’re overwhelmed with the idea of writing a book, and you’re stuck in a state of paralysis, break this project down into much smaller pieces. Instead of thinking about “writing a book,” think instead about writing half of the first chapter; or giving yourself three weeks to write the first chapter. Break it down even further by word count; consider 1,000 or 2,000 words a day’s work. Once you reach those smaller milestones, you’ll gain more momentum and excitement about continuing the work.
You know that taking action is the only thing that will get work finished, and that includes getting your book from your head onto a printed page. Take action by completing the workbook if you purchased it, setting deadlines, and deciding how you’ll proceed with the writing.Build Authority by Becoming an Author Workbook