There’s a rather heartless joke in publishing circles that goes “Nowadays everybody thinks they have a book inside them — and that’s often where it should stay”; let’s put this down to bitterness on the part of frustrated editors who’d rather be authors themselves. Actually, almost anyone can produce a good book, with the right encouragement and support. And it can be a very satisfying thing to do — and very good for your career.
You might have been meaning to write your book for some time, but life somehow got in the way, or you’re not confident about your ability to write, or you haven’t quite made it enough of a priority. But you do want to write it.
It might be a novel or a memoir for you to have for your family and offspring and relatives, but equally it might be a work of non-fiction; it might be a book about something you’re expert in or something you know about because you do it for a living. All these ventures will bring great satisfaction and enable you to express your individuality and creativity.
If you’re in business, writing a book on the subject of your expertise can be particularly helpful in promoting your business and your brand. Having a book to your name brings kudos and credibility and makes you more visible and newsworthy, more likely to be invited to be interviewed or give talks. You can become the go-to expert in your field and your locality.
In the course of your work you will have undoubtedly built up expertise and experience, and there will be readers who will benefit from the information you have accrued. You have probably already generated a considerable amount of content on the subject in the form of blogs, articles, notes and website copy.
The steps to take
Once you’ve decided to write a book, orientation of the content is vital. Ask yourself these questions: What is it about? What can you in particular bring to the subject matter? What distinguishes it from other books in the same subject area? Who will get value from reading it? How can you reach these people and touch them with your words and your message? It’s really valuable to think these things through early on in the process.
Next, you can get down to planning. Think about the shape of the book: how would the content naturally break down into sections? Can you summarise the content of each chapter? What would be the best order to arrange these chapters? Does your planned order have a logical sequence, taking the reader on a journey?
Then you get on and start writing the first material. Discipline is needed for writing; ideally, set aside a regular chunk of time each week and stick to it. You don’t have to get finished copy down in the first go — make notes or a very rough draft to start with, and edit it later. Many people think “I just can’t write; I’m not a writer” If you feel this kind of blockage, just think to yourself, “How would I explain this particular thought or idea or incident if I was directly speaking to another person?” and just write that down, or record it on an app for later transcription. Develop the habit of putting yourself in the position of a listener who doesn’t know this subject matter: what would you need to tell them in order to grasp what you’re explaining? If you really can’t fit it into your busy schedule, or feel it’s beyond you, editorial consultants are available to help.
In the old days, you had to find a commercial publisher who wanted to publish your book; that’s still the holy grail of getting a book out, but publishers are now highly averse to risk and want authors who have huge public profiles. Fortunately that’s no longer the only way. It’s easy to publish your own book, and Amazon make it even easier, promoting your title if you publish through them. Print-on-demand means that an expensive print run isn’t needed. E-books are also popular these days and are even less expensive to get out in the market place.
Don’t risk leaving it till you’re on your deathbed and suddenly remember, “Oh darnit (substitute your choice of swearword here) I completely forgot to write my epic novel about a little known cult of mysterious candle-makers in seventeenth century Bengal who discover a long-lost and fabulously valuable jewel under their floor and go on to have amazing adventures and meet challenges and overcome obstacles until they finally get married and live happily ever after and also found the world’s first global candle-making mega-corporation.”
So think about it: what’s the book you have inside you? What’s the book you’ve always wanted to write? Now go for it!