5 Pain-Free Tips to Write Your Book

5 Pain-Free Tips to Write Your Book

You’ve started to write your book. Relax. Writing is fun, if you just focus on the words. You do it day by day, and word by word. You’ll be amazed at how soon all those words turn into a book.

These tips will help.

1. Stop Thinking, Start Writing — and Keep Going

You have doubts. Do you have the time to write? What if... you think. Stop thinking! A book is just a book, a collection of words. It’s no big deal. In my ghostwriting life, I write books for clients, and the writing is pain-free, because I’ve learned to ignore my doubts. You can too.

Your doubts arise from your inner editor. He usually sounds like someone in your life who told you you couldn’t do something or other. He’s not only an idiot, most of his kvetches are recordings. They play over and over, until you give up the mad idea of writing a book.

Some writers picture the inner editor, then imagine locking him inside a box, or a bottle. Don’t worry, you can’t kill him, and once you’ve got a book, he comes in handy during editing.

2. Schedule Your Writing: It’s an Appointment

Here’s the solution if you have “no time.” Schedule the time, even if it’s only 20 minutes. If you write 250 words in 20 minutes, your book will be done in eight months. A timer’s useful too.

Try this. Write your book on your phone. Writers do it for various reasons, the primary one being that your phone is non-threatening. Try Drafts.

3. Write to Yourself: You’re Just Thinking on the Screen

“Writing a book”is scary. Don’t think about it. Instead, write to yourself. Just write down whatever you’re thinking — even if you’re whining: “I’ve got no time. I need to finish the presentation and rehearse it, and if we don’t get the contract I’ll get fired. This is a stupid idea…”

I’m serious. Write your whining — the exact words. Why? Because you’ll get sick of it. Whining isn’t pretty, and when it’s in your head, it tends to play on an endless loop of worries. One of the big benefits of journaling is that it gets all that junk out of your head: it’s healthy. So is writing what you’re thinking. You’ll delete it later of course, but writing it down externalizes it, and as we’ve said, you’ll get sick of it. Which means you can write your book.

I teach this trick in my book coaching practice; it works.

4. Map It: Create Lots of Circles

Early in your writing process, you’re exploring possibilities. Try grabbing a large sheet of paper, A2 size. I like Levenger Oasis pads. Brown paper’s fine, if that’a all you can find. Now grab some marker pens, and make a largish circle in the middle. Write “my book” in the circle. Make smaller circles and ovals all over the paper. Your creative self thinks in images; this is why you’re creating all the circles.

Write words in the circles and ovals — any words which occur to you. Write first thoughts, don’t think about it. Pin the paper onto a board or to a wall.

5. Outline It as Soon as You Can

Outlining a book too early has pitfalls, the big one being that you can choke off your creativity. Your paper-with-circles helps to avoid that.

With both fiction and nonfiction, I like to write a few thousand words just to get into the book. Then I create my “circles” diagram. Shortly after that I draft a preliminary outline.

You don’t have to outline, but it helps you to see where you’re headed at a glance. If an outline makes you uncomfortable, don’t bother with it. All that counts is that you keep writing.

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, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Earn while you learn, with Angela’s Writing Classes..

My Writing Journal 3: Blog Posts, and Presentation

My Writing Journal 3: Blog Posts, and Presentation

 

Here’s my writing journal entry for the day. You can find all the entries here.

Writing journal entries…

Woke early, fiction and nonfiction again.

1,400 hundred words of my historical romance novella this morning, in just three timer sessions — AND got the next three scenes  planned. The end is in sight. The story’s running longer than I wanted, and I need to investigate the main character’s arc (I think it’s OK, but it needs tuning). Very pleased with how it’s going, but it’s running long, so I’ll need to trim some early scenes.

I’ve had lots of email queries about 5AM starts. You get used to them. I woke at 4.30 this morning, and tried to convince myself to get up, but I waited until 5. Here’s something that helps too. I’ve found that if I have more physical exercise during the day before, getting up early is easier. Which reminds me that I haven’t done any yoga in weeks. My back needs it.

On to the nonfiction book for the client. Two timed sessions, for 900 words. The end is in sight. I’ll try to do a little more on it later.

Email, and posts to Google+.

A quick run through email, with lots of messages from students, and messages about the size of video files, and questions about the closing of the programs which will be withdrawn on August 16.

To save time with emails, I wrote about the questions on Google+. Then spent 40 minutes responding to clients; rearranged some deadlines to meet client deadlines.

Honey and I have breakfast; then off for a quick walk.

A chat with Julia about some projects, and clients’ deadlines, and it’s time to complete a few draft blog posts I created in the library earlier this week.

Writing up draft blog posts, from notes in Evernote.

I complete the three blog posts for clients quickly, and then an article on the clustering pre-writing process for the freelance writing blog. I also published a post on my Just Write a Book Blog about common challenges with writing short stories.

Everything takes longer than you expect. I wanted to work on the Leap into Copywriting project, but I need to make some calls, and return some calls and texts.

I’ve got a meeting this afternoon, so I need to run through the presentation quickly. It’s my standard presentation, but a little rehearsal never hurts.

Lunch, and the presentation.

A quick lunch with a friend, to discuss the client’s nonfiction book I’ve almost completed. She’s handling the editing for me, and wants to discuss book marketing. She’s discovered self publishing, and is both thrilled and terrified. Her longterm goal is to start her own business.

Off to do the presentation. I enjoy driving, because I always seem to come up with ideas. I pull over to make some audio notes in Evernote.

We have a deal… :-)

Back in the office. The presentation went well, and we have a deal. I ask Julia to create the quote, and send them an invoice, an agreement, and the terms of service document. The project is for January, so I enter the dates into my calendar, and make some notes on the meeting.

I should work on the client’s nonfiction book, but I’m tired and need to refuel with coffee and a few minutes of relaxation. I’ve earned a little reading time too, so I open ReadKit to scan some blogs for half an hour.

Then I watch the Adobe Audition CC video overview.  I’m using Audition to tidy up audio files, but I have no real idea what I’m doing. It may be time to reactive my lynda.com subscription.

More work on the video script, and nonfiction book.

Just one timer session on the video script. Can’t get into it today. I did a cluster diagram; need to let it gestate. Needs sparkle, and more emotion. I’m just not feeling it.

Worked on the client’s nonfiction book; another 600 words. The client sent a couple of messages; they’re happy with the chapters, so onward. :-)

5PM — enough for the day. Daily review done; word counts respectable. It’s time to close the office, and get ready for dinner with friends. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Your Book Proposal: Make It Sell

Your Book Proposal: Make It Sell

Authors tend to panic when writing a book proposal, but it’s a straightforward process. Here’s how to look at it: you’re making a publisher a proposition for a partnership.

Your book proposal is a plan for this partnership, and has two basic elements: an appealing description of your book with some sample chapters, and a plan for marketing your book. The “marketing” aspect is more important than your description of the book, because book ideas are everywhere.

In this article, we’re discussing nonfiction book proposals. If you’re writing fiction, you need to write your novel first. You can then shop it around to literary agents with a query letter, offering a synopsis and chapters.  Alternatively, self publish. If your novel hits the Amazon bestseller lists, you’ll get offers from agents.

Tip: DO NOT write your nonfiction book before you create your book proposal and get a contract

Sadly, you can’t get out of writing a proposal for your book if you hope to get a publishing contract. No one will read your book. Literary agents and publishers read query letters. If they’re interested in your enquiry, they’ll ask you for a proposal.

You need to do your research, then write your proposal. Once the proposal is done, you can send query letters to agents and publishers. You’ll know to whom to send your query, because you researched possible homes for your book before you wrote the proposal.

Which brings us to the most important element in book proposal creation: research.

Research: it’s essential, and exciting

You’ve got an idea for a nonfiction book. You think the book will sell.

Here’s how to proceed:

  • Write a short description of your book, and give it a working title;
  • Research similar books to yours online, and offline;
  • Research the audience for your book;
  • Consider how you’ll market the book.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re a dog groomer. You run a grooming salon and boarding kennels. You get an idea for a book “dog grooming the easy way.” Describe the book, and then research, as above.

Here’s why you do all this research up-front, before you start writing. It’s because agents and publishers ask WHY when you send a query letter to them: WHY this book, and WHY now?

Publishers look for bestsellers, because a bestseller keeps them out of the red. They don’t have a crystal ball, so they don’t know where the next bestseller will come from.

At first blush, the dog grooming book looks like an evergreen title, rather than a bestseller. Some publishers like these kinds of titles, because they have the potential to sell for years. These are bread and butter titles, but many fewer of them are being published these days. The exception? Branded series, like the “For Dummies” series of books.

(I’ve just browsed the For Dummies book website. They publish dog-grooming books, so the topic itself is viable. However, to be appealing to a publisher, it needs more.)

If I were writing a book proposal for the dog grooming book, I’d encourage the author to come up with a element which would make the book timely.

 Your book’s competition: know what’s selling

Your publisher will want to know what competition your book faces. There is always competition, so don’t be worried about this, because competition is a good thing — when there’s competition, you know that your subject area is selling. 

Make notes on which books are your own book’s primary competitors. Look at their rankings on Amazon. If you wish, you can check to see how many copies they’re selling each day. The kdp sales rank calculator gives you a rough guide.

In the image below, I checked the Amazon Best Sellers Rank of EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, which is currently ranked at 1,630 Paid in the Kindle store. The calculator estimates that it’s selling at 55 to 100 copies a day.

amazon rank calculator

Make a note of all competing titles, with their current sales rank on Amazon.

The competition: how is your book different?

In your book proposal, list the competing titles, and write a sentence or two for each book about the kind of readers the book is targeting.

Aim for five to 10 titles. Now think about how your book could appeal to readers. You’re looking for an angle, a slant, to take with your book, which will target a similar audience to current top-selling titles, but will offer something they don’t.

This is the most challenging part of writing your book proposal, so don’t be surprised if it takes time.

While you’re waiting for inspiration, write the book proposal. Here’s a template you can use from the Ted Weinstein literary agency. The template includes everything you need to cover in your proposal.

You’ll notice that the audience, competing titles, and your marketing plans are prominent. This material is what counts, and it will make the difference in whether or not your book attracts a publisher.

Agents and publishers look at many book proposals each week. Make yours shine: show that you know that publishing is a business, and you take writing and marketing your book seriously. Your book proposal will then stand out in the crowd.

I wish you all success with your book. :-)

Here’s a slide deck covering the concepts in this article


How to Write a Book Proposal That Sells – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

 

If you need help with your book proposal

I create book proposals for clients. Contact me if you need help with yours. If you wish, I can also help you to get literary representation for your new book.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Coach: Instant Coaching (Time-Limited Offering)

writing coach

These days everyone from sports people to business people has a coach. Writers benefit from coaching too. A writing coach can help you with your writing challenges, whatever they may be.

I work with writers every day, and until August 3, you can try out coaching very quickly with our offering for “instant coaching.”

Your challenges: writing, selling your writing, marketing, or … ?

I discussed two of my writing students in yesterday’s article on less stress:

I’ve just been chatting with a writing student who thinks that his writing is going too slowly. He’s written the first draft of a nonfiction book, and is frustrated because he thinks he should be moving through the revision more quickly.

Sadly, he’s lost perspective. In the time we’ve been working together, not only has he planned and written an ebook, he’s planning another one. That’s huge progress.

Writing coaching can help

If you can articulate your challenge, coaching can help. Indeed coaching can prevent disaster. One of my students was ready to delete all the files related to a book she’d worked on for three years. I managed to convince her that such drastic action wasn’t necessary. She’s completed a proposal for her book, and we’re shopping it around literary agents.

Another student wanted to develop a money-making blog, but because there were so many large “authority” blogs in her niche, she’d was intimidated. She felt that her blog would struggle: how could she compete?

We decided that she wouldn’t try to compete. She’d be herself. She has a lot to offer, and all that was needed was for her to acknowledge that. I knew her story was impressive, and I could see her getting media interviews and attention. All she needed was someone to believe in her, and help her to develop a plan for her new blog.

Writing coaching helps you to gain perspective. It also offers solutions.

Our new Instant Coaching program is not only fast and powerful, it’s also guaranteed. Take advantage of the offering, it ends on August 3.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.