writing beside laptop

A book is a great way to set yourself apart from your competitors.  Being an author gives you a certain kudos – as long as you’re working with a good editor/writer who will take your amazing ideas and polish them to a fine shine.

If you’re planning to share your expertise a book is a great way to get interest and attract potential clients.  A book can become a seminar, a speech or an online course – the opportunities are there if you’re ready to leverage them.

However, putting together a successful book requires planning.  I’ve written more than 20 books and have developed a system that doesn’t just work for me, but can work for you too!  Here are the steps I follow:

1: A clear summary

Don’t worry about the title yet, but it is important to know what the book will cover, who your readers are and what will be of value to them.  This will help you to create an overview of your book.

2: A chapter overview

Make a list of what content each chapter will cover and sort them into a logical order.  This can then be developed into key content for each chapter, whether this will be anecdotes, case studies, quotes, models, etc.

3: Develop your chapter ‘recipe’

Every chapter should have a common structure, so the reader knows what to expect.  You can decide what your chapter recipe looks like – whether you start – or end – with a quotation, a summary or bullet list or a story.  And, perhaps, how many words your target is for each chapter.

4: Schedule writing time

If you don’t do this, your book will progress when you have time, but other things will get in the way and it’s easy to find a few months have passed and you haven’t written anything.  Treat it as a project (because it is!) and write regularly.  You’ll be surprised how quickly your manuscript will grow.

5: Work on one chapter at a time

Being a left-brain systems freak, I actually write my chapter recipe down as a series of headings and save it as a template, then I use this template for each chapter, replacing the generic headings with subheadings and filling each section out.  It’s like having a skeleton to flesh out.  It means I don’t ever get blank page syndrome!

When you’ve got a completed first draft of your manuscript, it’s time to talk to an editor who will review it, make suggestions for improvements, tidy it up and polish it up generally.

When your second draft is done and you’re happy with it the last stage before publication is to have it proof-read for typos, spelling and stray punctuation.  Generally, the proof-reader is not your editor – they fulfil different roles and your proof-reader really needs to be a fresh pair of eyes.

Some books go through more than two drafts (the most I’ve ever worked on had ten), but if you have a clear plan to start with and follow the first steps, you’ll be reducing the number of drafts needed.