How To Start Writing A Book: Freelancer’s Guide
I'll let you start. Tell me about the book that you'll never write. Go on, I'm listening.
The fact is, most of you have a fantastic book idea in your head right now, but you'll never write it down. And you know it!
I've spoken to hundreds of you, and you have the most incredible ideas and stories stored away in your cerebral attics. You know those things have an expiry date right?
Unfortunately, your book idea will likely never see the light of day.
So keep going. What's the title of the book you'll never write? What does the cover look like? Who do you admire the most to ask to write your foreword? How many book readers will miss an opportunity to walk with you along your intellectual journey?
When asked on the radio show you won't be on, "why did you write [insert book title you'll never use here]?" What will you not answer?
I don't have this problem. You see, a few years back I wrote two books, did dozens of podcast and radio interviews, and got one of the people I admire most in life to write a foreword for me. All the while raising a family, keeping a full time job, and spending less than $2,000 for all my costs.
I don't say this to brag, but to show you that the book you'll never write was within reach all along. And all the excuses you used to not write it, fallible.
As you've surely realized by now, there are no shortcuts in life. But, writing a book is one of the best assets you can create for yourself, your brand, and your business.
First steps to writing a book
If you had asked me even a few months before I began writing, I would of claimed madness. I can't write. I can't publish a book. I can't navigate the wild topography of book publishing.
Rubbish. You can. I could. I did. You will. You just need a few tips when writing a book for the first time. A little guidance along the way.
A literary escort.
Here is exactly how you can write your book in 12 months or less. Here's how you can reach thousands of readers. Here's how you can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
The best thing anyone can do for their brand, their freelance business, and themselves, is to share their knowledge with others.
What was your book title again?
The steps to writing a book are easy, once you know what they are. Writing a book for the first time is daunting, but I'm here to tell you there's help.
The internet is a wonderful place, with tons of resources available to a soon-to-be author such as yourself. Instead of trying to do it all on my own, I sought out a program that would guide me as I wrote my first book.
If you're looking for a fast-tracked way to writing your book and achieving best-seller status, there's no better option than the Self-Publishing School (SPS).
Invest in yourself, and your book-writing journey, by tapping into the knowledge of industry experts who are ready and willing to help you along the journey.
Yes, SPS costs money, but it's a small investment in yourself to achieve a lifelong goal that many people will never accomplish. And, they're offering a completely free video series to help you kickstart your book writing journey. What do you have to lose?
I've gone through the SPS program, beginning to end, and it not only helped me write my books, but achieve Amazon best-seller status, and keep me accountable through a group of like-minded authors who were all in the same boat as me: first-time beginner author.
"But Glenn, I can't write, I'm not a writer!"
You don't need to be an amazing writer to be a good author. There's a reason most writers use ghostwriters and rely heavily on editors, because it's called best selling author, not best selling writer.
- How to position and outline your book
- How to write effectively and quickly (there's a secret!)
- Getting help editing your book
- The book launch blueprint that will get your book on Amazon
- What tasks you need to execute before and after you publish
- And much more
The SPS program also provides you with an accountability partner. Through weekly meetings, you and your partner will help eachother stay on track when writing your first book.
For me, this was a game-changer. It's like having someone to go to the gym with. If you go alone, it's so much easier to just sleep in. BUT, if you have someone depending on you, you're far more likely to go and crush those squats!
The same goes for writing your first book. You need someone to keep you on track, and SPS does that.
Other resources from SPS that helped me publish my book were book cover services, mind mapping tools, tax guidance for new authors, creating an author website and email list, and writing tools like the amazing software Scrivener.
SPS provides you with a bunch of free resources as well, like a free video series on how to get started. Sign up for the free portion, which will help you get the ball rolling when writing your first book.
You need to invest in yourself before you can expect to achieve meaningful results in life. Whether that's reading books, taking courses, getting a coach, or attending events. You need to invest in yourself, and for me, the investment I made in the SPS program was game-changing.
The only 2 tools you need: Steps to writing a book
The steps to writing a book may seem obvious: write, publish, make it rain!
Writing your first book isn't about making money. It certainly didn't rain for me or my peer, more like a drizzle!
BUT, the biggest value that writing a book brings is it acts as your business card. It will open doors for you and bring clients to you that you never thought possible. Trust me!
So what are the steps to writing a book for the first time?
You need to become very clear on exactly what you're writing about. Spend a few days reviewing Amazon, seeing what's already out there in your niche, and getting very specific on the topic you'd like to write about.
2. Chapter outlines
Once you have your topic in mind, start writing out how you'd like to organize your book. Outline about 10-20 chapters you see as the framework of your book. Again, review Amazon, see how other authors did this, or didn't do this.
Also, review blogs and media websites in your niche that you can draw ideas from. What are the hot topics? What are people already writing about? What value can you bring to the conversation through book writing?
3. Set your timeframe
Decide when you want to publish your first book, say 12 months down the road, and work backwards. Give yourself hard deadlines to follow for all phases of the writing process.
4. Invest in yourself and become accountable
Either find a community of beginner writers, or get yourself an accountability partner. Ideally you'd have both, which is why I recommend the SPS program.
Find someone who you can report to regularly on your progress who will hold you accountable.
Spend a few days digesting a book, online videos, blogs, or course material, that will help you start your book writing journey. Invest in yourself, and the process will be much quicker and ultimately more successful.
5. START WRITING!
Rev is an app that allows you to record yourself speaking on your smartphone, and then for a fee, will transcribe that into a document. So, you can have all your resources open on your computer, your chapter outline, and then you simply speak all the topics you want in your book.
Walking the dog and have some book ideas? Open up the Rev app, talk about them, and then get your document within hours. It's like having a book writing assistant, but much cheaper.
Then, you get a nicely typed up document that you can then work with and edit. This saved me MONTHS of writing. You can talk a lot faster than you can write!
Scrivener is hands down the best drafting software I've ever used. It's simple, easy on the eyes, and was designed to allow you to organize your book and export it into multiple formats.
For a small fee, you can use Scrivener as the software you use to write your first book. And, it's super easy to import all your Rev documents into Scrivener.
Got your book writing toolbelt all ready? NOW WRITE!
6. Drafts and editing
This is the bulk of the work. Write your first draft of your book, get it professionally edited. You can easily find editors on Upwork, and also get your friends or industry peers to review the book to provide honest feedback.
7. Formatting and book covers
You now need a book cover. This is actually one of the most exciting steps to writing your first book. I suggest doing this early on in the process as it really gets you motivated to write.
I suggest using a service like 99 Designs, which will farm out your request to top designers in the field, all of whom will submit individual book covers to you. Once you have chosen your favorite, you can then work directly with the designer to refine and edit the cover. It's an amazing service!
8. Publishing your first book
You can now upload your book to Amazon as an eBook, and CreateSpace (also owned by Amazon) to generate your physical book. It's as easy as that!
You should promote your book as widely as you can amongst your personal network. But, there are a number of other strategies and tactics that are beyond the scope of this article for promoting your book to other groups, mailing lists, and setting up discount promotions on Amazon.
I learned how to do all this through SPS, and it helped propel my book to best-selling status. I even sold over 1000 copies in one day during my Amazon promotion!
10. You're an author, act accordingly
Now, you're an author. You need a website, to be active on social media, and to use your book as a business card with potential freelancing clients.
"Janice, can you tell me about your expertise in the field of commercial real estate?"
"Well, aside from my professional work as an XYZ, I also wrote a book on this topic, here's a free copy!"
You'd be amazed at the power of writing a book will do for your brand.
Obviously these are condensed steps, and each one involves a tremendous amount of work. But start building a brainstorming document with all these milestones, and the associated tasks so you can keep yourself on track.
How long does it take to write a book?
According to science, the average book length is about 50,000 words. It can be much shorter, mine were, but let's just take this round figure to explain how long it takes to write a book.
That's about 200 double-spaced pages. Again, according to science, the average person types about 40 words per minute. So, if my calculator watch still works correctly, it would take you 1,250 minutes, or about 21 hours of straight writing. Ouch!
Unless, you're typing skills are like my Great Gam-Gam.
Alright, let's quadruple that 21 hours to account for research, brainstorming, editing, editing, editing, and formatting. This gives us 84 hours, so let's just round up to 100 hours even.
100 hours doesn't seem like a lot when you consider you have written a book in that time. That's two hours a day for the next two months. Or, one hour a day for the next four months. There's no excuses!
For the next 50 days, if you woke up at 5am instead of 7am, you could be finished your first book.
Science is so cool!
***CAVEAT: No science was used during the drafting of this section. Apologies to all savants.***
The worst thing about writing a book for the first time
Hands down, the worst thing about writing a book for the first time is getting started. This is why education and accountability are so important. This is why I love and suggest the Self-Publishing School.
This is why you need to tell a friend or family member about what you're doing, so someone else knows, and will ask you regularly about your progress.
Ask a professional peer, "Hey, do you mind being my accountability partner while I write a book? I'd like to schedule a quick 30 minute meeting with you once a month so I can update you on my progress."
You can even sweeten the pot and buy them lunch. #BusinessExpense
Just get started! Open up a document and start listing out the steps and action items you need to take to starting writing your book. How long will it take you? What is the topic? What's your title? What are the chapters? What similar books exist on your chosen topic?
Write it all down, and set aside an hour or two a day to getting the ball rolling. When you finally have a book published and have new clients approaching you because of it, you'll be so thankful you wrote a book.
Best books on writing...books
You must be willing to invest in your own education before embarking on such a significant journey as writing a book. Here are a few resources other than the SPS course, that can help you along the way.
Bird by Bird is the best inspirational book on the craft and joy of writing I've ever read. If you're looking for a shot in the arm of pure motivation and hilarity, read Bird by Bird, you won't regret the $10.
To help you along the way of writing your non-fiction book, this guide by William Zinsser will be an invaluable companion in your journey.
"Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental priciples as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sold, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers."
The is a complete guide to writing creative nonfiction. The key here is figuring out your angle, and how to be creative. Because book publishing has been democratized with ebooks, you need to figure out how you can creatively stand out from the crowd. This book will help.
The is a complete guide to writing narrative non-fiction, and provides a step-by-step plan on writing a book. If you're bootstrapping your book writing process, this is a wise investment.
Start writing a book: Final thoughts
Writing your first book isn't all that hard. You know all the steps, you have access to professionals, you just need to set aside the time.
It's easy to see why writing a book could be a game-changer for your freelancing career.
Remember, it's not called being a best writing author, rather, it's best selling author. Writing skills have little to do with actually writing a book, and if it did, then there are millions of great stories out there that would never get told.
Which brings me to my final point: How about your story? Will it be one you won't tell?
So...what is the title of that book you're going to write anyway?