Skip to main content

Agonizing over writing a book? Turn that energy into becoming an author. You know you’ve got a book in you–the tough part is getting it out, on schedule. Am I right?

Write2Market helps many executives author their first books through our content marketing practice. (In fact, we just exercised our own collective book muscle and published a book this month. Did you see the Content Marketing Field Guide?)

When it came to writing my own first book, I was just like you: total procrastination. Then, I remembered the part we’re always doing for others–the process.

Here’s the process you can use to produce your own first book in less than six months.

1. Commit.

There are a lot of reasons to write a book. Most of them have nothing to do with the book as a process. Like running a marathon is not about one day of triumph, but more about many days of training, writing a book is not about the book, but about the book production process. The biggest thing you have to do to write a book in the next six months is to commit to the process. Got that done? Great, that was actually the tough part.

2. Admit to your secret.

If you burn to write a book, you’ve got a secret to share with the world. The fact is, it may not be a pretty one. It may not be totally baked. The messier, the more interesting! Scribble it down right now: what’s the secret burning inside you that you have to share? Start by sharing it with yourself in one sentence. This is the beating heart of your book.

3. Turn your secret into a series of small surprises.

Business books all follow a similar pattern. This pattern uses your “secret” and turns it into a spectrum of small surprises a reader can enjoy as a series. The small surprises are your chapters. What do you want the reader to change about her life because she read your book? One way to phrase this is, “she goes from this state to that state.”

Ask yourself, what are the top 10-15 she needs to know in order to change her life from this to that? These signposts are your chapter headings.

When I wrote my first book, How You Rule The World: A Female Founder’s Survival Guide, I wanted to share my experience building a business as a female founder. My secret was that it felt like a different journey than the one my guy entrepreneur friends were on. I quite hated admitting that to myself, much less sharing so much of it–but I really felt compelled to for all those other female founders.

My chapters were about how you can teach yourself to grow in the absence of cultural support. For every obstacle I had, including internal ones, I wrote what helped me move forward, hoping it would help my readers, too.

4. Plan your escape to authorship.

Make a weekly appointment with yourself to write. This is how you reach that destination called “author”–one programmed hour at a time. For some, it’s 5:30 in the morning with coffee on the porch. For others, it’s 9:30 in the evening when the kids are asleep. If you prefer to talk instead of write, by all means, dictate your book and get it transcribed. The point is, pick a time, and make it sacred.

For my first book, I wrote on planes.  That guaranteed me about twelve hours a month. Put the appointments for each chapter on your calendar, at the same time, in the same place, and in the same way.

  • To write a book in six months, you’ll want to do at least five fresh pages a week, which will mean a chapter every two weeks, and thus 12 solid chapters in 24 weeks (just at six months).

Hint: most writers stop because they confuse their job. They get caught up in the product–
“This is terrible!” Instead, they should focus on the process–”I did my pages today!” A great product comes out of a great process. Your daily writing time is just part of it.

5. Review and rework.

When you have the length you want–about 12 chapters for most business books but this is more personal preference–it’s time to edit it. Editing should go much like writing. Reserve time for review and refinement instead of fresh work.

6. Push print!

Finally, you’re ready to lay it out and publish it on any platform you like. For my first book, I used Amazon’s self-publishing platform. I asked a Write2Market designer to help with the cover. For people writing their first book, either be a marketing or a business book is important to find the right premier reseller who is in the financial business.

For Write2Market’s book just released last week, The Content Marketing Field Guide, Write2Market did the content and published it with a local printer. We self-published it on the agency’s blog, chapter by chapter, and got feedback along the way as we wrote it. It has already gotten over 500 downloads using this “share it as you make it” approach.

There is no one right way to do your first book.

There are productivity tools, workshops, outsourced services and workarounds you can use to make this process go faster or take less of your time. You can hire firms, like Write2Market, to interview you and do the heavy lifting for a price. However, the fact remains that this essential plan will help you go from agonizing over your book to proud authorship in less than six months. I hope you enjoy the journey.

This was first published on Inc. See the original article.