Toward the end of last month, I thought it might be a good idea to start working on another book that I could showcase at a few different conferences I’ll be speaking at toward the end of the year. The first of these is a local conference called Innovation Expo that I’m speaking at on October 1st. I figured that if I’m going to put the effort into publishing another book, I want to be able to give out a bunch of copies at Innovation Expo (since it’s the largest entrepreneurship conference in the area) and handing out a bunch of books would be a nice marketing hack to make my better known in my business community.
I tried to come up with a timeline of how quickly I would need to write a book in order to get it finished and have paperback copies ready by October 1st. After the book has been edited, it generally takes a good 4 weeks to get the layout, Kindle formatting, audiobook narration, audiobook editing and product listing pages done for a book. It also takes a good editor 5-7 weeks to edit a 200 page book. Based on those timelines, I would have had to have my book in the hands of an editor by July 23rd to hit the publication date I wanted to. It was June 30th when I did that math, so I effectively had 3 weeks to write a 40,000 word book. Ouch. I decided to give it my best shot anyway to see if I could come close to finishing by that date. I ended up writing a complete first draft of my new book, Email Marketing Demystified, in 18 days.
Here’s How I Did It:
Don’t Think of Your Book as a Big, Monolithic Project – I know there are some people that have toyed with the idea of writing a book over the years but haven’t gotten the job. I think this can be for a couple of reasons. First, they think that a book is a big scary project that’s going to consume their life. Really, it’s lots of small back-to-back projects that get completed over three months. The only project you need to worry about when you’re getting started is writing an outline and then writing the first chapter. Worrying about everything else (except for maybe hiring an editor) can come later.
Don’t Try to Write the Perfect Book – Second, I think some that have tried and failed to publish a book haven’t gotten the job done because they want to write the best book they possibly can. This is a bad goal, because everyone’s first book sucks. 40 Rules for Internet Business Success wasn’t the best business book I could have possibly written, but at least it got published. Just do a reasonably good job writing something that people might want to read. If it sucks, then it sucks. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you publish a book you think isn’t 100% perfect? The worst thing that would happen is that you would probably get a few bad Amazon reviews.
Write About What You Know – If you write about a subject that you are intimately familiar with, you won’t need to do a lot of research to write your book. It’s already in your head, you just need to organize it and put it on paper. I chose to write about email marketing, because that’s a subject that I know a lot about already and wouldn’t need to learn a lot of new information to be able to write a book.
Outline First – Before I wrote a word, I spent an entire day outlining the content that I wanted to be in the book. It ended up being a 3 page topic that contained all of the big topics I wanted to talk about, as well as key sections of each chapter. Once I had the outline in place, I made very few changes to it (with the exception of adding a chapter about outbound email marketing at the end).
Forsake All Other Projects – I limited the work on my other business interest to 90 minutes per day. I did all of the stuff that was critical to keep my companies running and let all business development projects slide until the book was finished.
Write Morning, Noon and Night – You can only write for so long before your eyes start to cross and you lose momentum. Recognizing this, I decided I would write during the day in three different sprints. I wrote when I first got up in the morning, later in the afternoon whenever my lunch coma wears off, and around 9:00 PM at night when I naturally have a good amount of energy. There would always be 3-4 hours between writing periods so that my brain had plenty of time to recharge between sessions.
Pre-Write Before Each Writing Period – Whenever I would start one of my three daily writing periods, I would quickly type out the major concepts I wanted to cover in a given section of the book as quickly as I could (just general ideas and talking points, 3-4 words per talking point). Knowing exactly what I planned on writing about ahead of time allowed me to write a lot more words during each writing period because I didn’t have to stop to think about what I wanted to talk about and how I wanted to organize it, because that work was already done.
Write the Introduction and Conclusion Last – This might sound stupid, but you really don’t know what your book is going to be about until you’re done writing it. In order to make sure that your introduction accurately introduces the book and your conclusion accurately wraps up the book, do those two things last.
Save Appendixes and Bonuses for Later – There’s a lot of miscellaneous stuff that goes into a book, such as acknowledgements, a glossary (if needed), a table of contents, your about the author page, bonuses, appendixes, etc. Your editor probably doesn’t need those things to start editing your book, so hold off on those until your book is ready.
Those are the strategies that worked well for me to write Email Marketing Demystified in just 18 days. Hopefully some of these strategies will help you complete a first draft of your book.