Welcome to Top 10 Tuesdays! In this extra post each week, my goal is to introduce you to some of the finest bloggers around, my fellow winners of a 2011 Top 10 Blogs for Writers award.
This week, meet Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com: Adventures in Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing.
It’s said that 80% of people want to write a book, but very few of these actually achieve that goal. As a small business owner, your time is precious but producing a book is definitely worthwhile and there are ways to speed up the process.
(1) Understand why you’re writing a book. It’s critical to look at why you’re doing this and what you want to achieve. Do you want printed material to give to existing clients locally or sell at the back of the room when speaking? Do you want to sell your book on Amazon.com? Do you want people to read it on the iPad or Kindle? Is it to boost your credibility within the industry? Is it to raise your profile internationally? Are you writing it for extra income or for marketing purposes?
These answers will help you determine your criteria for success and also guide decisions around topics and publishing options.
(2) Decide on your topic.
It’s time to brainstorm book titles as well as sub-titles for your book. For example, you might have a business in real estate but that’s too generic to write a book on. Be specific about your niche, for example, “How To Buy Your First Apartment in San Diego”. This book title identifies the ideal reader and will also come up in specific search rankings on Amazon and Google.
You might have several possible book topics in mind, but it’s important to start with one or you’ll be overwhelmed.
(3) Gather your materials and structure the book.
Most business owners will find they already have reams of material that they want to be included in a book. This might include notes from seminars they’ve taught, workbooks, handouts, ecourses or other material. Also consider audios of sessions you have spoken at as these can be transcribed and used as part of the mix. Collect all your materials and decide which fit your specific book topic. Come up with chapter titles for each section.
For example, our real estate book might have a chapter on the best locations, getting finance, mortgages, legalities etc. Structure the book so it’s a journey through the material and put any extra aside for another project. This is where you’ll identify the extra chapters that need writing and what just needs editing.
(4) Create the book.
You don’t have to write the book, you just have to create it. Some very successful authors actually speak their books. They record their thoughts and then have a transcriber create a document for them to edit. You can also hire a ghostwriter to work with you if you have more money than time.
When I wrote my first non-fiction book, I collated all the material into one master Word document under the chapter headings and then filled in the blanks. Then I printed, read, edited and rewrote several times. It’s important to use a professional editor if you want a quality finished product. You’d be surprised how much you’ll miss if you do it all yourself!
(5) Publish the book.
If you want physical books to give to clients or sell at the back of the room, you’ll need to do a small print run. You can use a freelance book designer to create a professional cover and layout, or you can do it yourself if you are happy with a more amateur product. I’ve used both options and it depends on your aim for the book.
These days you can use a print on demand publisher like CreateSpace which will mean lower upfront costs and also enable distribution through Amazon.com and other online sales. You might also consider producing an ebook that is available for sale on Amazon.com and the iPad. These options are all available to the independent publisher and will mean your book is more widely read.
So don’t be daunted by the process for creating and publishing your book. If you break down the steps you can achieve your goal in less time than you expect!
For more help with your first non-fiction book,click here for your free How To Be An Author workbook. (no signup needed)
Joanna Penn is the author of Pentecost, a thriller novel, out now on Amazon.com. as well as three non-fiction books. Joanna is also a blogger at TheCreativePenn.com : Adventures in Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing. Connect on Twitter @thecreativepenn
Image: Flickr CC Athena