How to write a book

How to Write a Book

On April 1st, I am going to start to write my next book and I thought it might be helpful to share with you the seven-step process I will be following. April 1st is a key date because it is the start of a 100-day project that members of The Strategy Lab are participating in to reach whatever 100-day goal they have set.

My goal is to write a book.

Do you want to know exactly how to write a book too?

Here are the 7 steps I will be thinking about over this 100-day process:

1. Start with a Chapter Breakdown

When you write a book, it’s helpful to start by thinking about the main outcome you want your reader to experience and the number of chapters needed to deliver that outcome. When you create a chapter breakdown, you should list all of your chapters and then map out 3-5 bullets that outline the information you will share in each chapter. It is also helpful if you write 1-2 paragraphs to capture the intention behind each chapter as a starting point.

When you write a book, it's helpful to start by thinking about the main outcome you want your reader to experience. Share on X

When you do this, keep in mind that you are creating an outline that is not set in stone. You don’t need fancy chapter titles, and you don’t need to stay married to the topics or order of the chapters. It’s simply a starting point for your idea.

Books are meant to be written and then edited. It is the process of writing that allows you to figure out what needs to change and what ideas are good, and which need to be cut from the final manuscript.

2. Start Before You’re Ready

A couple of months ago in Thought Readers, we read the book Write Useful Books by Rob Fitzpatrick. It is a super helpful book on how to write a book and Rob was generous enough to let me interview him for our community.

During that interview, Cass Bald on my team asked him questions about an idea she had for writing her own book. Fast forward a couple of days later and she sent me a photo of her book outline and let me know that she had already written 5000 words.

I exclaimed, “5000 words! Wow! That is amazing!” and to be honest, I felt like a complete schmuck until she responded and said, “It’s 5000 words, not 5000 great words.”

She had embodied the principle of starting before she was ready and just capturing and gathering words that made sense. You will never have the details completely sorted out so you’re better off starting before you’re ready rather than waiting for the perfect time because that perfect time doesn’t exist.

3. Get Reader Input

You’re writing for a reader. Thus, it is a smart idea to engage a few people who you expect are the ideal reader for your book and to ask them questions about what they’d like from a book on the topic you’re writing about.

Readers often have a unique perspective that is very different from yours as an expert on the topic of choice. They can help you to identify blind spots and shine the light on opportunities. They can also help you to see where what is clear to you isn’t clear to them.

Readers often have a unique perspective that is very different from yours as an expert on the topic of choice. They can help you to identify blind spots and shine the light on opportunities. Share on X

Consider your readers as part of your research team. They can guide you and help you shape a book that will be valuable to others. Be careful not to engage too many people for reader input or you may feel like you’ve lost the ability to narrow down the focus. A few ideas and suggestions are helpful, but don’t let readers make your book bigger than it needs to be by piling on too many ideas.

4. Think About Courses

If you’re writing a business book, consider how you may translate the material into a course, online program, or workshop. If you’ve already done courses, online programs, or workshops on this topic, consider how to use that material as part of the framework for your book.

Person writing in a jounral

Often a writer works too hard to come up with new ideas when the truth is a very small percentage of people have been exposed to your current ideas. Take those ideas, build on them and expose them to a much larger audience through writing your book.

The book and the companion course, online program, or workshop is a great way to build a revenue stream and brand around your big idea. A great example of this is Alan Weiss’s Million Dollar Consulting book, now in its 5th edition and his Million Dollar Consulting for the World online program.

5. Consider Publishing Options

In September, Alan Weiss and I have a book coming out called Masterful Marketing and it’s published by Bloomsbury in the UK. Last week, I was approached by a hybrid publisher who wants me to write my next book with them, for a 20-30K investment.

There is a cost to writing a book, both time and money, and you have to decide whether traditional, hybrid, or self-publishing is for you.

If you want to get your book to market fast, you want to maintain control, and make most of the royalties, then you may want to consider self-publishing. If you plan to write an evergreen book that can stand the test of time, then self-publishing is a great idea and can become a strong revenue stream for your business. In Write Useful Books, the author shares his self-publishing revenue model which is quite powerful.

I also have colleagues who earn over $50,000 a year on books in royalties off of Amazon.

6. Add Resources 

Almost every book has the capacity to lend itself to a bunch of online resources. When you write your book, instead of trying to keep all resources listed and current in the back of the book, consider having a living resource page on your website where readers can go to get more information.

This could include download sheets, links to recommended reading, service providers, etc.  Whatever makes sense for your topic can be placed here.

You can have all of this information available for readers to access with or without an email address and it is a great way to provide value beyond the book.

7. Make Your Book Recommendable

At a recent event, I ordered five books from Amazon from conversations I had with other participants. When someone we know, like, and trust recommends a book, often we buy it—even if we don’t ever read it.

Your book won’t be perfect, but write a book that is worthy of being recommended by others.  Provide so much value that you make your readers look good when they tell other people about your book.

Anyone can cobble together enough words to write a book but it takes time, dedication, and discipline to write a book that is good enough for your reader to talk about.

If you do this well, you don’t need to do as much to market your book because your readers will do it for you. That is the ultimate prize (and recognition) any author can ask for.

Interested in joining our 100-day project in The Strategy Lab? Click here to become a member.

Oh, one last thing—writer’s block and resistance are real and hard to overcome. If you have any words of encouragement for me on writing my next book, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

 

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2 thoughts on “How to Write a Book”

  1. All the best with the writing Lisa. It’s habit. I recently did an early morning writing practice with an accountability partner for a few weeks. Showing up is half the battle. I came to relish my creative time and miss it.

    1. Thank you, Natalie! So far I have managed to work on my book 13 days in a row and I am enjoying the challenge and how good it feels each day that I can track as a success. The accountability certainly helps. I hope you can get some creative time back in your life.

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Lisa Larter Bio Image of Lisa x400

Lisa Larter

Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.

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