You want to write a book. It’s been on your To Do list for a couple of years. What if you could start writing today? You can. Self-publishing makes writing a book simple. Write, and publish.
Worried about how to format and upload your book?
Write a book, and publish it yourself
When I’m chatting with a new writing student and ask him about his biggest challenge in publishing a book, he tells me he doesn’t know how to publish it. My response is: “Did you know that you can simply upload a Word doc to Amazon, and let them do the formatting for you? You’ve created many Word docs. Your book is basically just another Word doc.”
Before you get to upload your book however, you need to write it. Here are some ideas which will get you started — today.
1. What’s on your mind? Find out
Inspiration happens while you’re writing.
Chances are that you’ve had dozens of moments in which you were inspired to write a book about (insert a topic here.) You thought, when reading a newspaper, or listening to a friend, or watching TV — “I could write a book about that.”
Perhaps you made a note.
Then you forgot about it.
Grab a timer, and set it for five minutes.
Write this phrase: I could write a book about…
Then keep writing for five minutes. Stop when the timer sounds.
I’ve given this simple exercise to dozens of students. Many of them did find a topic — or a glimmer of the plot, for the fiction writers — that got them started writing a book.
2. Check Amazon to see what’s selling. What’s popular?
I love Amazon. I spend far too much time (and money) there. I can always kid myself that I’m “researching” while I browse the Amazon book store.
Here’s a fact for you. No matter how old or young you are, or how much education you have, or don’t have, you have experiences and insights which can help others.
Not a nonfiction author? OK — if you’re writing fiction, you have a thousand stories locked in your mind.
Browse Amazon, then do the timer exercise we discussed above.
3. Got a blog? Turn a blog post into a book
I know… I’m always nagging you to blog, right? If you know me at all, I know you’re rolling your eyes because I’m urging blogging onto you again.
Let’s assume you have a blog.
Your blog is your enthusiasms, AND your experiences. Both of which are worth money. So go back to your very first blog post, and read your posts. All of them if you have under 50, if you have several hundred or thousands, check which posts got the most traction. Which of your posts was shared most often?
Any blog can be a goldmine of book ideas.
4. Turn an email message or a Facebook post into a book
In any week, I’ll write dozens of email messages in response to student and reader questions. If you’re a blogger, or answer questions as part of your job, you have a wonderful resource. You know what people want to know.
That’s immensely valuable. I’ve trained myself to go back at the end of the day, to look at all the questions I’ve answered. If I think something is particularly valuable for many people, rather than just one person, I copy the message into Evernote.
Although I’ve never used any of those messages as the seed for a book, I know many bloggers who have. Someone asked them just the right questions about their blog’s topic — weight loss, or online business, stress and burnout, branding — and they used that topic for a book.
5. Use the immense power of magazines: they do the research for you
I’m a big fan of magazines.com. I’ve suggested that website as a source of ideas to my students many times. My theory about why magazine covers are so inspiring is this: they help writers to see their ideas in terms of the audience.
Beginning writers especially find it a real challenge to target an audience. Most beginners write a book, and then go hunting for the audience. That’s exactly backwards. Start with the audience.
At magazines.com, that targeting is done for you. Many thousands of dollars of research goes into every magazine. You can see the results of that research on the cover — the cover is a magazine’s advertisement. It needs to instantly stand out, and be instantly be appealing to their audience.
Kill performance anxiety: just start writing
Every book you’ll ever write has challenges, and most of those challenges are easily overcome. You may never find the “perfect” bestselling topic or genre for you. By perfect, I mean that the book is easy to write — the words flow from your fingertips — and moreover, the book sells thousands of copies.
In around 40 years of writing, I’ve occasionally had a flash of pure inspiration. I got an idea, sat down to write the book, and finished it in a week or two. While pleasant, you can’t count on those flashes.
Choose a book idea, and start writing… today. 🙂
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