Ready to write a book? You’re not alone. You have a lifetime of ideas, experiences and stories to share. The challenge is where and how to begin. It can be daunting.
I heard once that there was a book inside each of us. That’s very true. The task is to tease it out, then get it into a form folks want to read. Your story is worth hearing. Don’t think so? Please keep reading.
I’ve been a writer all my life. I’m a prize-winning journalist and multiple prize-winning author. However, I didn’t even begin writing books until I was almost 60.
It wasn’t until I had amassed enough road rash that I felt I had something to say. Many of us bloom best late in life, when the perspectives we’ve gained gather power, gravitas and value for others. Here are six ways to get started.
Hiring a book coach can be expensive, but the value of having one is that you have someone guiding you through the entire process from soup to nuts.
I did that with my first book, which went on to win three prizes. A number of the best ideas in that book came through brainstorming with my coach. He pushed me to make an outline, to be highly disciplined in my writing every day, and held my reluctant feet to the fire.
The discipline paid off. One example of a book coach is Robin Colucci, who has worked with a very broad variety of writers and is a ghost writer herself.
There are a number of excellent books on writing and self-publishing that should be in your library. Colucci’s book How to Write a Book That Sells You is one gem. So is On Writing Well by William Zinsser, which is a superb treatise on how to write.
You can also look at Do I Make Myself Clear by the inimitable Harold Evans, one of the best editors and writers over the last 50 years.
The other is Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual. Dan left us a few years ago, so it hasn’t been updated for a while, but it stands as one of the best and most readable books on how to get yourself in print without battling the big boys for attention.
There are plenty of books on how to write. Writers read. The more we read the better we get at writing.
Visit a bookstore and browse the section where you want your book to be displayed. Look at the designs, covers, the back-cover copy.
Buy those that are best sellers and find out why they gained that status. This is one of the best ways to get inspiration on how your book might look, sound or be displayed.
Writers’ groups are a great way to gain supporters and ideas. Here we have the Colorado Independent Publishers Association, or CIPA. It’s full of writers, editors, copywriters, book designers, publishers – everything and everyone you could possibly need to get a book completed.
There may be something similar near you. Check out online, at universities and libraries. Ask around. Having others support your efforts, especially to read your manuscript, makes this effort so much easier.
I have three more additions to your library that will support your writing discipline: the great Stephen Pressfield’s books The War of Art, Do the Work, and Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t.
Pressfield, who is a highly successful novelist and screen writer, put together these three small gems that have a tendency to cut through excuses and denials.
Another book that I have found hugely useful is The Message of You by comedian and speaker Judy Carter. Even if you don’t want to become a speaker, and you might, the exercises she recommends to help you put together a keynote are perfect for helping you find the theme of your life.
Your book needs a message – the message of you – and Judy’s book teases it out of you. You will be delighted and surprised at how so much of your life has a lesson for so many others. What a gift!
She’s funny, fun and direct. This is the book to help you get off the ground, especially if you are stuck at the starting gate.
You may wish to subscribe to some writers’ magazines, but my experience of them is that they are too full of ads telling you to get your Masters in Fine Arts before you attempt to write a book. Nonsense. There is no reason you need an MFA to write. Just do it. Now.
You may be charmed to find out that your life story has far more to it than you ever imagined. There are people out there waiting to read it. What are you waiting for? Do the Work!
Have you ever thought about writing a book? What is stopping you? Have you written a successful book or memoir and have an experience to share? What is your best advice on just getting it done? Please share your tips and tricks with us here so we can be inspired!
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