“But I don’t think I’m a good writer” – How to Write a Book When You’re Not a Writer

When I was a little girl I would race home from school to write stories at my bedroom desk. I loved writing. I wrote short stories, essays and even penned a ‘book’ about discovering Unicorns in the forest.

It was literally penned … home computers were rare when I was a young girl. My writing was all hand written in notebooks!

A few of my short stories were published. One of my essays won a contest for my age group.

Mostly though, my writing was not much better than your typical 8-10 year old’s work. But still, I started to dream about writing for a living.

Reality hit in Grade 10 English. I couldn’t get an A no matter how hard I tried. My work felt harshly criticized by my teacher. I was discouraged.

Grade 10 English Crushed My Dreams of Being a Writer

She was grading grammar and structure more than the actual writing, but to a teenage girl, it was enough to make me give up being a writer.

It took decades for me to come back to my dreams of writing a book. Even then, the writing wasn’t easy. And, I spent thousands of dollars to polish the books to the level of a professionally written book. But, the good news is, you don’t have to be a great writer to be a published author. You don’t even have to write the book yourself if you don’t want to.

There are so many options! All you really need is a great idea, a clear goal for writing the book, and the desire (and resources) to create a great product.

 

If you have dismissed the idea of writing a book because you don’t think you’re a good writer, here are seven tips to help you write the book anyway (And make it AWESOME!):

#1 – Start with a GREAT outline.

Whether you’re planning to dictate your book, hire someone to help write it, or pen the pages yourself, you need to be clear on what your book is about, and what you’re going to put in each chapter. This all starts with a great outline.

There are two main reasons why someone struggles to write a book after they’ve started. They either haven’t done enough research, or they are really clear on what they are writing about. A clear outline fixes the second part of the problem and will highlight the work that needs to be done in advance on the research.

I wrote both my books without a clear outline. I probably wasted three to six months of my time trying to figure out what to write about and writing sections that never went in the book.

Save yourself a lot of time and struggle and get clear on what your book is about, who it’s for, and what is going to be in each major section before you start writing.

If this sounds hard to do on your own … that’s because it can be! Get help … there are writer’s forums, coaches for hire, and of course, Book Launchers!

#2 – Don’t write if you hate it.

The cost of hiring a ghost writer, if you get a good one, can be north of $20,000 for a typical sized non-fiction book. I discussed the costs in more detail in this article on writing a book on a budget.

That said, you’re not stuck at your keyboard for hundreds of hours if you don’t want to write the book yourself. You can speak into a recorder and have someone else transcribe it.

Once you have a clear outline, you can spend your time talking through the material instead of typing.

The key, of course, is making sure you’ve got an excellent content editor on your team to help turn your spoken words into something that reads well too.

#3 -Book Writing is a Team Sport

If you want to produce a book that you’re proud of then you need to have professionals on your side. If you only hire a couple of key people it should be a copy editor, an interior designer, and a cover designer. These three people will cost you at least $3,000 to hire, but it will be the difference between a book that looks self-published and a book that looks like it could be sitting on the shelves of your favourite book store. You can decide what works for you and your goals, but my guess is that most people want a book that is comparable to the best selling books in their industry, not something that looks like it was designed at home and printed at Staples.

That take a team. Who should you have on your team, exactly? It depends on your goals, but when you work with Book Launchers, you have the following people on your team:

  • Writing Coach
  • Client Care Specialist (your personal project manager and PR support person for book launch marketing)
  • Content Editor (for Platinum Level)
  • Copy Editor
  • Proof Reader (for Platinum Level)
  • Interior Design Layout Pro
  • Cover Designer
  • Copy Writer.

You don’t need hired professionals for every one of these positions, but someone has to do the work of each of them if you write, publish and sell a book. If you’re not hiring the work out, it means you have to do it yourself or recruit a friend or family member!

#4 – Bring on Some Cheerleaders

Writing a book is a long process. I know there’s some people who teach you how to write a book in 30 days or publish a book in nine weeks, but when you’re trying to create a high quality book that you’re proud of, it can take six to twelve months (maybe longer!).

That’s a long time to stay committed to a project without some support.

My husband is incredibly supportive. He helps clear my schedule when I need time to get things done. He cheers me up when I am down. Despite this massive level of support at home, I’ve still found that I always need additional support in the form of coaches, mentors and mastermind groups. Peers pushing me to be better elevate my performance. The input and commentary of people who have more experience than I do saves me time and money. And, knowing that other people are counting on me to come through on commitments always gets me working over time to meet my goals.

You know yourself best. If you want to succeed in writing a book, you need to surround yourself with the people who will help you get it done!

#5 – Remember, ‘sloppy success is better than perfect mediocrity’

It’s a big frickin’ deal to be a published author. Of course you want everyone to like your book. And, absolutely, you need to work hard to develop your concepts and present them in a manner that is engaging and educational. You should not publish a book that is unedited. Nor, should you settle for something that doesn’t represent you well.

But, at some point, you have to let it go.

It will never be perfect.

Publish it anyway.

#6 – Pursue a bigger goal than just ‘writing a book’.

A book requires a significant commitment of time, money and energy. It’s easy to start and not finish because it is so resource intensive.

Before you start, get clear on your bigger ‘Why’.

Do you have a greater mission that the book is tied to? For example, is your business helping people get in shape? Do you have a message around health and fitness that the world needs to hear? Perhaps you want to help families build more wealth so kids aren’t accumulating gigantic student loan debt before they are even 20 years old. Or, possibly, you want more people to know about your business and you know a book is a great way to spread the word about what you do.

Whatever the bigger reason … just be sure there is a bigger reason. That will get you out of bed on the mornings you have to write before your family is awake and it will keep you going when the editor suggests reworking three chapters when you thought you were done.

It’s also the secret behind marketing a book successfully … if you have a bigger why behind the book, you promote that why and not the book. The book is then sold as a by product of spreading your bigger, more important message.

#7 – Celebrate your successes.

More things in life should be celebrated. When you think you’re not a good writer, but you write a book anyway, you should be toasting yourself at many milestones.

It doesn’t mean you lose momentum … it just means you give yourself a pat on the back and re-engage for the next phase.

Some ideas of moments worth celebrating when you write a book:

  • Completion of the first draft,
  • Finalizing the manuscript,
  • The cover is designed,
  • You get the first proof copy in your hands,
  • The book is on the shelves at the store,
  • You sign your first book,
  • Your first copy is sold,
  • The media wants to talk with you,
  • 1,000 copies are sold.

The list could on and on … grab three that get you excited. Write them down. Write down how you’ll celebrate when they happen. Now … get to work on making it happen. If you need help, let us know.