UPDATED ON 06/11/2015
“We don’t need more messages or products or services. Instead, we need better messages, products, and services. Specifically, we need those that wow.”
Former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing and author of “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World”
I love Hyatt’s quote because it shifts focus away from the writer to the vision of how your book will meet and then exceeding your reader’s needs. Most authors fail to accomplish this goal, but you if you use these five steps you are bound to make an impact that will “wow”!
These steps are not magical. They work because they create a system and structure that will help you reach your goal.
Here are five steps that can help you start moving in the write direction. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist temptation for adding a pun. I promise that I don’t do it often.)
Step 1: Choose your specific writing location(s) that is dedicated solely to you writing your book.
This will help you develop your writing system and discipline by giving you a designated work space. It can be inside your home, in the corner of your favorite coffee shop or even on your favorite park bench. Just choose a space that helps you get in your “zone.”
Step 2: Schedule writing “appointments” in your calendar that are set aside specifically for you to write.
It helps if you set smaller benchmark goals by setting a goal date to complete each chapter of your book’s outline. You can add these smaller goals to the timeline you create for your Publishing Plan when you complete the book planning stage in your first few writing appointments.
These appointments can be as short as 30 min. or as long as 2 hours. Using this system, most authors can complete a rough draft in 6 weeks if they dedicate a total of 3 hours per week to writing. Within 12 weeks-or 90 days-of using this system, you can finish your entire book.
Even if you decide that you prefer to set aside a couple weeks or a few weekends solely for working on your book instead of breaking it down over 12 weeks or longer, there is still magic in designating writing appointments to set aside time for your book. Trust me, doing it in this order makes things simpler for you down the road.
Step 3: Organize your thoughts around your book’s vision.
Sometimes the hardest part about writing is finding the words you want to use. Fortunately for you, the first sentence I challenge you to write summarizes your entire book’s message and serves as a guide for everything else you write in the book and even guides major publishing and promotion decisions.
You may remember hearing this sentence being referred to as a thesis when you were in school. Click here for a step-by-step guide to writing this important message-defining sentence.
After you have your book’s message defined in a single sentence, you are ready to organize your non-fiction book ideas into a table of contents that will structure your writing process and outline a plan for how you will publish and promote your book. The PLAN Your Book e-guide in your free Author Info Kit will show you how to explore all your writing and publishing options, set your publishing goals, and create a plan that will help you reach your goals so you can start writing. Get your free Author Info Kit now so you can use the checklist and other planning tools it includes to help you stay focused during your writing appointments.
Step 4: Commit to keeping your writing appointments throughout your research, writing, editing and rewriting stages.
Remember, if you dedicate at least 3 hours per week, you should be able to complete the first draft within about 6 weeks and then spend another 6 weeks polishing it by editing and rewriting. However, if you still have a lot of research to collect, it may take longer. Even if you are an expert on your topic, you will still benefit from reading other books on your topic so you will know what potential readers are comparing your work to, so you will want to consider the time it will take to read these books while planning your book.
Learn specific tips for successfully writing and editing your memoir, how-to, self-help or other non-fiction book as part of the WRITE Your Book e-guide in your free Author Info Kit.
Step 5: Have members of your target audience and professional editors give you feedback on your book.
Use the feedback to rewrite your book again and again until you’re sick and tired of it and ready to self-publish or pitch to a literary agent. Just to be clear, when I say “feedback” I am referring to both the general commentary you receive from members of your target audience and the detailed recommendations you receive from professional editors.
To be more specific about how often you should edit and rewrite: your book should go through at least three rounds of editing and revision before it is published, but it’s more likely that you will go through five or more rounds-even if you are a well established author. Don’t hesitate to sneak in a few rounds of self-editing along the way.
These steps will give you the system and structure you need to complete your book, but if you want to publish your book these steps are only the beginning of your overall process. Knowing whether you want to go the traditional publishing route or use self-publishing may influence the decisions you make while you write your book. This is why it is so important to pause before you write to research your options, set your goals and draft a plan that will get you where you want to be. This is also why I recommend that you start your book claiming your free Author Info Kit and scheduling time in your calendar to dedicate towards planning, writing, publishing and then selling your book.