Wondering how to write a book that sells and that you’ll be proud of for years and years? The first step is not sitting down to write!
The biggest mistake most would-be authors make is that they get hit by inspiration one day and they just sit down and start writing.
That inspiration can quickly be replaced by giant doubt.
You’ll start and stop writing your book following cycle of doubt and inspiration.
10 years later you’ll still be wondering how to write a book!
How to write a book – step one:
Get clear on your goal.
And, if you’re thinking ‘I want to write a bestseller’ watch this video so you know what you have to do:
Maybe your goal is to sell 100,000 books. Or, possibly it’s that you want to get on a major stage in front of thousands of people.
Those are all goals that are possible, but very lofty.
I’m not cautioning you against those goals because they are reaching high.
My concern is that when you set a goal like that you, the author, become the focal point instead of the reader.
When you set your first goal to focus your book project around, the best thing to do is set a goal for your reader.
Writing a bestseller puts your ego in charge.
When you focus on these kinds of goals and put your ego in charge, the author becomes the product, not the book. And you set yourself up to face a lot of the monsters you have in the closet.
When your book is the product and you focus intensely on a specific goal and a specific reader, you can focus on serving that audience.
You’ll share the most revealing examples and secrets that must be shared for them to get results. You will write a book that needs to be written – not the one that you think makes you look good.
Before you write your book, decide what is the impact you want your book to have on your reader.
What do you want them to know, do, be, have after they’ve read your book?
Step Two – Get Clear on Your Audience
Who is your reader? Not demographically but emotionally. Demographics have value.
When you consider how to write a book for impact, emotions are more important. You need to meet your reader where they are at right now.
Who are you helping and what are you helping them with?
My first book, “More Than Cashflow,” was focused on a new real estate investor who was getting all excited about buying a bunch of properties, and I wanted them to make smart decisions. Mainly to help them make money and minimize the problems.
Erika Cisneros book, Honest Immigration, isn’t for anyone looking to immigrate to the US.
Her book is for those folks who are in the US and want to stay and are eligible to receive a humanitarian visa due to mistreatment.
That’s a very specific audience.
Same with Alec Hanson’s book Bypassed.
It’s for mortgage professionals who are getting left behind by a digital customer. It’s not for every mortgage professional, it’s for the ones who have been in the industry for a while and haven’t updated their website or social media since they began.
Or, they aren’t tech-savvy and haven’t worried about what Google is saying about them when someone searches.
When brainstorming how to write a book, you must get clear on who you’re helping and how you’re going to help them.
If you’re writing a memoir, you still need to do this, and a writing coach will help with all of this.
Also, when you know who they follow, what they books they already are reading, what problems they want to solve, and even where they’re hiding out already, you have clarity of audience.
Step Three-Position Yourself to Be Unique
We have so many cool examples of how to do this, but I’ll use Amani Roberts because we also did an author spotlight video with him, which you can watch here (on his virtual book launch party).
He has the Amani Experience Podcast.
He talks to creatives who’ve left the corporate world to pursue their creativity.
As part of his company, the Amani Media Experience, he leads team building events for corporate organizations, teaching people how to be a DJ.
He’s bridging that gap between creative and corporate and drawing lessons from it.
In analyzing his content and his message with my team, they came up with the idea to write a book about a night as a DJ and the corporate lessons you learn from that night.
With that, his book, “DJ’s Mean Business: One Night Behind the Turntables Can Spin Your Company’s Success” was born.
Another example is from Scott Bradley, author of Screaming for Pleasure.
He has a podcast and goes to a lot of horror events. He’s a guy who knows everything there is to know about horror movies and books.
How do you define him? My team calls him the horror historian.
What makes you unique? Use that in your book positioning.
Step Four – Craft a Compelling Hook
When you write a book, you need a hook that’s only about the reader. It also has to sell the book.
“My book is about marketing strategy” is not a hook.
Using Scott Bradley, who we touched on above, with his great podcast called Hellbent on Horror and his love for all things horror, how do you create a reader-driven hook?
In explorations with our writing coach, he said “horror makes me happy and healthy“.
And it turns out, that’s true. There’s research that backs that up.
Horror allows you to explore and feel emotions that you don’t normally feel. “Screaming For Pleasure, How Horror Makes You Happy And Healthy” was born.
Step Five – Plan Your Content!
Create a table of contents or an outline, making notes of the key points and stories you want to cover.
Judge each of them with the filter of does this support the hook?
If that story, section, or example supports the hook, great. If it doesn’t, save it for a future book.
Yes, it’s true! Once you figure out how to write a book, you won’t want to stop with just one.
And based on this, you create a plan to start writing.
If you struggle with any of the above, it might be time to bring in a writing coach to help you write a book. For many authors, a writing coach is a secret weapon to writing a great book that sells.
How does a writing coach (or a book coach) help you write a book?
What is a writing coach, also called a book coach, and how does this person help you?
The role varies a little bit client by client because everybody has different needs, but at Book Launchers a writing coach always:
- Offers emotional support through the book writing journey,
- Provides a writing plan and accountability to that plan, and
- Guides the author to write in a more engaging, interesting and (hopefully) concise way to connect to their ideal reader.
Generally speaking, if you haven’t already established the foundation for your book (audience, hook, and outline) that will be the first part of the work you do with a book coach.
Specifically, here’s what we expect of writing coaches (so, it’s a good place for you to start if you’re thinking of hiring a writing coach or book coach to create your book).
In addition to working on the above five items, a great book coach will help you write a book by:
Creating a writing plan:
Will you write a chapter a week?
That’s harder than it sounds for some people.
My recommended approach to our clients is to set a standing appointment each week with the writing coach.
And during that call, commit to what you’ll write in the upcoming week.
And use that call as one part accountability and one part review of what you’ve written.
Setting up a Chapter Template:
Writing a chapter can be a bit foreign, and while every chapter doesn’t need to be the same length, a book works best when there is some consistent structure for each chapter.
The writing coach will work closely with the author on chapter one so they can clearly see how to structure the chapter.
Bonus points for having a writing coach that will make sure you start every chapter in a way that engages your reader.
Not all writing coaches will rewrite, but our authors are not professional writers so we’ve found it’s better for our coaches to provide examples.
Typically writing coaches and editors say things like ‘expand on this’ or ‘add some emotion’ but to a novice writer that can feel daunting and unclear.
So, occasionally our writing coaches will rewrite some sections so our clients can see what that means.
One thing we really encourage our writing coaches to do is help make your book interesting by including things like interesting chapter starts:
Most authors start off strong but then veer off.
You also might find that you’re one of those people who thinks of a bunch of details that are far more important than they really are.
(Yes, I’m looking at you Memoir author – more for you in a moment).
Or maybe you’re someone who delivers just the facts, but the emotional engagement is lacking.
A great writing coach is watching for this and is going to hit pause and dig into it a little.
Specifically to help you uncover stories that can bring the reader’s engagement back to a high level.
A book is a big project and it can be lonely.
A writing coach will provide some emotional support as you ride the inevitable wave of ‘my book sucks’ to ‘my book is amazing and will sell millions of copies’.
They also will keep you on your hook!
Because so many non-fiction authors lose track of the hook and start writing an entirely different book halfway through!
Being a great writing coach means asking personal questions to get to the heart of what makes someone awesome.
You have to uncover why they believe what they believe.
Then you need to be able to provide the emotional support required while also pushing them to get it done.
A good writing coach can just push you to get the words on the page.
But if you want to know the real secret of how to write a book that hooks your reader and sells well, it’s this:
You have to have a bad first draft before you have a polished diamond of a book.
So your first goal is to progress over perfection.
Whew, I bet you had no idea how much work a writing coach does to make your book great.
Did you notice what a writing coach does not do, though?
A writing coach does not edit your book, and while they may write out some example sections for you so you understand how to craft certain things in your book, they are not writing your book either.
Your coach is there to make sure your first draft is the best possible first draft.
And the value in that is enormous. BUT …
What if you don’t like to write?
Or, what if you’re not a good writer?
Or, you just can’t find the time?
How to Write a Book without Writing:
There are a lot of good reasons to write your book yourself.
Writing your book ensures that it’s your voice coming through the pages.
Readers (future potential clients and business partners) get to know you, trust you, and want to work with you when it’s your voice.
And it helps you solidify your concepts, collect important business stories, and improve how you explain what you do.
This is all useful in business. It also makes you a more interesting guest for media, podcasts and conferences.
However, you don’t have to write your book to become a published author.
You can dictate your book and then work closely with editors to refine the work.
Or you can hire someone to write your book for you (a ghostwriter).
How to Dictate Your Book:
Once you have an outline of what will be in your book, it should be fairly easy for you to then record yourself talking about each chapter.
Imagine you’re explaining each section to your friend or a client.
Record your voice using Voice Note, Garage Band on your Mac or anything that gets you an MP3.
You can then send those files to a low cost but high quality transcription service like Rev.com or Temi.com.
Once transcribed, read through it, fill in some gaps, and then hire a content editor.
A great content editor will ensure that the material is coherent, complete, and communicates your message in an engaging manner. You’ll spend more on editing this way, but you could save a lot of time and pain if you’re really not into writing.
The cost of transcription will vary depending on the minutes of content created. Editing costs depend on how much work is required to refine the material. But, this is an option many time-crunched authors are turning to.
It’s often easier to talk for 30 minutes than it is to write for the same time.
Hire a Ghostwriter
Alternatively, you may wish to hire a ghostwriter to do all the heavy lifting for you.
A great ghostwriter will write your book for you.
To do that, they will conduct research, interview experts, and spend a lot of time interviewing you. If you want to learn about hiring ghostwriters, this is an epic guide.
This costs money!
A good ghostwriter is expensive (typically more than $15,000 for a standard-sized non-fiction book).
You’re not likely to hire a high quality one on Fiverr. You’ll need to get referrals and check references to make sure you’ve got one you’ll be happy with.
And, for many non-fiction authors, it’s a great option to get a book done.
Writing your book will cost you time and money no matter how you choose to approach it.
Writing it yourself will cost a lot more time and much less money. Hiring someone to help you will cost a lot more money and still take some time.
Now that you know how to write a book, it’s your choice.
If you’re investing time and money in writing a book, make it something you’re proud of.
Know your strengths and your weaknesses.
Make sure you have the right support to keep you moving forward. Most people need accountability and guidance. Many people start a book and never finish.
It can be a long journey if you do it alone.