Before you start your book, you need to do some pre-work on your mindset, commitment to the project, and understanding of what's really involved.
Pre-work step 1: Your mindset
I often say writing doesn't have to be as hard as most of us were taught to make it, but that doesn't mean it's always easy. Before you start your book, you need do some mindset work to increase your chances of finishing.
I'd strongly suggest that you write this work down - or record it as a video or audio. Why? Because you need to be able to come back to it.
To do this work, you need to spend some time with these questions:
- What evidence do you have that you know enough to write your book?
- What evidence do you have that your potential readers value your knowledge?
- What evidence do you have that you can use your expertise to help others?
Having answers to these questions will help you quiet your internal critic when you have a rough writing day!
Pre-work step 2: Your commitment
Writing a book takes time. It doesn't take as long as most people imagine, but it's also not going to write itself.
All told, your active time for writing your book is about 65 hours. You'll need to be confident that you can either clear the decks when you need to focus on your book or that you'll be able to work on it little and often.
These are the main steps involved in writing your book:
- Planning - getting to know your reader, focusing your topic, outlining. 3+ hours
- Messy draft - aka, your first draft. 40 hours
- Revision - 2 rounds: big picture and polish. approx. 12 hours
- Beta readers - they'll need a month, you'll need about 5 hours
- Editor - they'll need a month, you'll need about 8 hours
Before you start your book, you'll need to know where you're going to find the time to write it. You'll also need to know how you're going to deal with the inevitable setbacks. You don't want to talk about the book you're writing for months and then never produce the book!
Pre-work step 3: What's involved beyond writing and editing
I wish writing your book was all there was to it, but it's not. Your book is not Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams! If you're not familiar with the film, Costner's character is told to build a baseball diamond in the middle of nowhere for some late-great players to play on: "If you build it they will come".
Since you'll need to do more than build/write your book, in addition to the steps outlined above, you'll need the following:
- a marketing plan
- an audience who are interested in buying, reading, and reviewing your book
- at least one means of communicating with that audience - social media, newsletter, etc.
- an incentive to get that audience to actually read and review it
- a way to produce and share marketing materials (digital ones like social media posts and, possibly, physical ones like branded bookmarks)
- a book formatter - or the willingness to learn how to do this yourself
- a cover designer - or the ability to do it yourself
- depending on where you live - you may need to purchase ISBN numbers
- a plan for where you're going to publish - I recommend using both Amazon and IngramSpark (they distribute the book to booksellers that aren't Amazon).
The next step in the process is described in "First steps to writing your book", but if you want an overview of the whole process, see "How long does it take to write a book?" - that post gives you an overview and includes links to more detailed discussions and the opportunity to download a PDF booklet so you have all of the details in once place!
Need some help?
If you're thinking that looks like a lot - it would be, if you tried to do everything at once. But if you take it step by step and do one thing at a time - in the right order - it's completely doable.
I discuss all of this in detail in my mini-course and workbook, Think Like an Author: Get ready to write your book. If you're ready to write your book, click the button below, and let's get started!