This is a guest post from author Kim Lambert. Whether you are looking to write your first book, or you are looking to increase your production and your list of books available, Kim provides some great tips (and inspiration) to help you get started writing your nonfiction book. By asking yourself some specific questions, creating a rough outline of topics, and just sitting down and writing, you too can write your book fast.
So, you’ve decided that you want to write a book. Upon considering what topic you might choose, you’ve decided to write a non-fiction book, based on what you know best – the area that you work in, or that your business is in.
That’s all good, now, how do you go about writing it?
Most of us, even if we know enormous amounts about a topic, find ourselves with a conspicuously empty mind, when confronted with a snowy white empty page, or a new Word document. About then, you start to wonder if this book writing was such a good idea after all. Surely it shouldn’t be this hard! You know so much, where has it all gone to hide?
Take a deep calming breath, and be reassured – it shouldn’t be that hard at all. You just need to know how to approach it, to get from total blank, to total book.
Before you try to write the actual content of the book, you will need to work out a few things. These are:
- What you want to achieve from the book, for you
- What you want to achieve from the book, for the reader
- How big you want this to be – is it a “one problem, one solution” piece – short and targeted, or is it a comprehensive overview of your area of knowledge?
- Is it going to be the first in a series (go on, you know you want to do it!)
Write some notes about your answers to those, so that you can come back to them, to remind you of your target.
For a first book, I would recommend a “one problem, one solution” type book – it can be shorter, so long as it is excellent information that solves that problem for the reader – and a series of those, on different problems, which are all in your area of specialization, makes for easy authority for you!
Once you have your precise ‘problem’ chosen, you can start to create your book content. Relax, don’t panic, we are not back to that blank page emptiness here – we have a method!
Let’s start with some questions – the ones that your clients / friends / workmates (depending on your circumstances) ask you, to be precise. What are the questions that you most often get asked, about the ‘problem’ that you decided to solve, with your book? Write them down – you should end up with between 5 and 10 questions.
Because people ask you these questions all the time, you know the answers, right? OK then, for each of those questions, jot down some short points that describe what you would cover, when you answer that question for someone. You will probably end up with between 3 and 10 points for each question. Those points are memory joggers, for you, for when we get to actually writing. In an average day, you probably answer some, if not all, of those questions many times over. So you almost certainly have a head full of detailed answers.
Writing Is Easier Than You Think
Now for a perspective moment – some facts and figures to help you see how easy this is going to be.
- One typed page (on A4 or Letter sized paper) equals two pages in a trade paperback sized book (about 6 x 9 inches, or a bit smaller)
- Most people with solid knowledge of a topic, can easily write one page of information about one small aspect of their topic – I bet you have already thought about lots, when writing those dot points!
- A “one problem, one solution” book, can be as short as 20 pages, but is best if it’s between 60 and 100 pages – even if you go for the 100 page end, that’s only 50 pages of typing – remember point 1 above!
- Writing one A4 page (which is about 300 to 400 words) generally takes someone who knows their topic, and has a ‘starter question’ about 15 to 30 minutes.
- Do the sums – if you wrote down 5 questions, and 10 dot points about each, and now you write one A4 page about each of those dot points, then you will have 50 A4 pages worth of writing – that’s a 100 page book once it’s formatted for publication!
- If you write for 30 mins a day, just the expansion on one of those dot points, then you will have that book done, in 7 to 8 weeks’ time!
Is this starting to feel more possible? Maybe even to look a bit easy?
It should be – because it is!
Remember – you don’t need to write the book in the order that the information will be presented in – just write the bits that are clear in your head, when they are there, using your written down questions and dot points as ‘writing starters’. Once you have all of the bits written, an editor can help you get it all in the right order, and smooth out any ‘lumpy bits’ – your job, as a new author, is to get that content, that knowledge, out of your head and into words.
Now – go back to that blank page, look at your notes and questions, and start writing!
(and, if you have issues with typing for whatever reason, you can always talk to a recorder, and get it transcribed – an hour of talking is about 40 pages of text!)
I’d love to hear about the books that you write, and how this information helps you!