Do you shudder at the thought of a blank page with 50,000 more words to write? Writing a book is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve ghostwritten more than a dozen books now – and counting – and I’ve created a 6-month blueprint. Read on to see how you can get from first word to the end.
Let’s say you’re well known within your networks and industry, well respected and well positioned already with a strong marketing output. You know that a book would position your business for higher quality work, with greater credibility, authority and reputation as a thought leader. Plus, few could argue with the buzz you feel from seeing your book on a book shelf in a book store.
But your time is limited. You spend it on the high-value parts of your business, juggling all the things. You wonder how long it all might take given you’ve already got a fantastic idea for one.
It’s a question I’m asked a lot – and my answer is the same. A lot.
How much time do you need to set aside to write your book?
Generally speaking, I advise authors and book writers that a good six months dedicated to the writing process should result in a manuscript of significant substance. Within this time, I’d be aiming for 50,000 words, which translates to about 250-300 pages.
Six months means that you can spend time on your book while still working on your business. Sure, if you find yourself with some free time where you can simply write and write, you’ll be well ahead, but I find personally that a six-month timeline allows flexibility with life and also caters for your book to evolve as it develops.
Providing some space around the project is what brings your book to life – seeing it evolve and take on a life on its own – so it’s important to create room for this. You may find that a shorter time space feels stressful and unachievable. If that’s the case, you might feel rushed and this will be reflected in the manuscript.
Month 1: Discover your structure
Let’s assume you have your book concept.
You understand what your ‘big idea’ is and you can articulate this in one or two sentences. If you wish to pursue a publisher once you’ve written it, this is a crucial element of the process because this elevator pitch is what the publisher will use to decide whether to list your book.
Next, plan out your book structure and write your table of contents. I put aside the first month for this, and it can be as simple as mapping it out on a piece of paper. Try dividing your concept into clear sections. Many authors use ‘parts’ and then chapters within each part, or ‘pillars’ or ‘sections’. My advice is to keep this simple and succinct. No publisher is going to commission 50 chapters – but potentially break it up with three key parts and up to eight chapters per part.
- Organise any interviews you need to do in the first few weeks, and then spread them out to get them done and written up. One a week is a good guide, depending on numbers.
- Divide your book into parts rather than 50 chapters
- Finish your Table of Contents.
Months 2-5: Write by design
Now, it’s time to write.
My best advice is to create a writing schedule for yourself that outlines the hours and days that you can carve off to spend writing. I suggest a minimum of two hours at a time and pick at least two times a week to write, with another larger chunk somewhere else within the week or weekend. It’s worth noting here that this alone, is hard. Everyone has different demands on their time and it’s not easy – but giving yourself a six-month window from start to finish allow you to DO THE WORK, even if you slip a little.
Depending on your book, you’ll have different types of writing. If there are case studies or interviews, these may be easier to write up so schedule them early. Also, think about when you write the best across the day. Do that – otherwise you’ll end up staring at a blank page.
- Start with the easiest chapters first – and simply write. Don’t worry about word limits
- Work consecutively and methodically through each chapter – this may help to keep your book better organised in your head
- Tackle the trickier chapters towards the end.
Month 6: Review and wrap up
Look at your book holistically.
Look at the word limits for each chapter – are they similar or are some hugely disproportionate? Look at the start of each chapter – is there some introductory text to help readers understand what they will read next. Similarly, consider the end of each chapter. You might like to add in a summary to wrap things up.
My advice would be to wait until you reach month six before reviewing your manuscript in its entirety. This way, you’ll be only editing the whole thing a few times rather than spending your valuable writing time constantly editing. Leave that to the end, along with the introduction and conclusion. Lastly, send it to a proofreader for a proofread. Not an edit – just a proofread, which is less expensive and without structural advice.
- Use the final month to review your book
- Write the introduction, chapter introduction pages (if relevant) and the conclusion last
- Pay a professional to proofread your manuscript when you’ve finished.
Something I find helpful when working with authors is to imagine yourself as the CEO of your book and to schedule a work-in-progress meeting. Set aside an hour once a fortnight to review your book admin, plan out what you will next work on and any other tasks you need to do to get your book finished.
Once you feel you’ve done your book justice, and you’ve had it professionally proofread, it’s time to move on to the next stage – pitching. And that’s a whole other thing!
If you’d like to know more or have a book project bubbling in your brain, feel free to book in a Discovery Call with me.