How To Write A Book Without Going Out Of Your Mind (slide deck)

Want to write a book? I’ve written many books, both traditionally and self-published. Her tips will help you to become a confident author. Write every day: same time, same place. Separate writing your book from editing it. Before you know it, your book will be done.

You can see the notes and the transcript for the deck at this link.

, and on Twitter: @angee

Blogging To Books: Can You Turn Your Blog Into a Book?

Blogging To Books: Can You Turn Your Blog Into a Book?

You’re blogging. You’ve got a blog, and would like to turn it into a book. I’m coaching two writers who are doing that.

One writer’s been blogging for over a year. He’s using his blog as the basis for his book, revising and updating posts. The other writer hasn’t create a blog yet; he’s blogging his book as he goes along.

Over the past weeks, I’ve received many questions about turning blogs into books, so let’s look at a couple of options.

1. You’ve got great content, which would make a book.

Gina Trapani of Lifehacker was approached by literary agents on the strength of the Lifehacker blog:

That’s the power of a consistent blog that builds its readership over time: instead of my pitching a book to an agent, and agent came to me. Since that initial contact by David (who did become my agent), SIX other literary agents contacted me asking about a Lifehacker book.

You don’t have to wait around for literary agents. Compile some of your content into an ebook. Ebooks are forever:

Trading hours for dollars, no matter how profitable those hours may be, is a dead end. The words you write are paid for and done.

When you self-publish, on the other hand, you’re investing in your future. You may make just a few dollars initially, but if you write good books, in areas which are selling, your income will steadily rise. Your books will sell for years.

Consider this: your enthusiastic readers, if they love your blog, will be only too eager to read your book.

As Gina says in her articles, find a theme which will work as a book, then use your blog posts to create your ebook.

2. You want to write a book, but… it’s scary.

I love writing books. Here’s why: I’ve been doing it for years. It’s natural to me. If you do something often enough, it becomes easy. In a sense, of course. Writing is a slog, but once you know what you’re doing, you can have a lot of fun with it.

That’s a clue: writing your first book is scary. I’ve told the story many times: when I wrote my first novel, I sat at my typewriter day after day, with tears running down my face. My hands shook as I rolled two sheets of paper, with carbon paper sandwiched between them, onto the platen.

All these years later, those memories amaze me. I was a real glutton for punishment.

If you’re scared too, why not sneak up on your book? Blog. In New Blogger? Why Free Services Are Good For Newbies, I said:

… your blog helps you to write every day – this is a wonderful habit… and it’s harder to develop than you might think. Of course, on the other side of the coin, you have those writers who don’t want to write “for free”. If you feel this way, consider that you can DO STUFF with your blog — why not turn it into a book, or a series of books?

Writing a blog post is a lot less scary than sitting down at your computer, and thinking to yourself: “OK, Self. Let’s write a book.”

Try it. Blog. Sneak up on your book, by blogging. Before you know it, you’ll have a mass of material which will make a wonderful book, or ebook.


, and on Twitter: @angee

4 Ways to Finish Writing a Book, Even If You’ve Been Procrastinating for Years

Write a book

Do you have a partially-completed novel or nonfiction book cluttering up your hard drive? When I’m coaching writers, they’ve usually got a book or two that they’ll finish “one day.”

Don’t feel bad, it’s common. With 280,000 novelists signed up for NaNoWriMo this month (good for you, if you’re one of them), thousands of uncompleted novels will never see the light of day.

I’m guilty of starting more books than I finish too. I tend to start a new book whenever I get an idea. Then a client needs help, or something else happens, and I don’t get back to writing that book. Procrastination wins again.

Over the years, I’ve learned some fast and dirty ways deal with this habit. Here they are.

1. Carve out what works, and then publish

This is as fast and dirty as it gets. It works a treat on both nonfiction, and fiction. If you’re writing a novel, your book becomes the first in a series. (Be sure to warn readers that they’re buying a serial, or part-work, otherwise you’ll get lots of nastiness in the reviews, and rightly so.)

Let’s say you’ve completed 40 to 70 per cent of your book. You lost inspiration. You’re sick of the sight of it. You hide it in an Archive folder, and shudder whenever you think about it.

Stop shuddering. It’s time to rescue the beast. All you have to do is find a section of material which is publishable as-is. Ebooks can short, so if you have 150 pages, you should be able to publish at least 120 pages as a single ebook, or a couple of ebooks.

Big tip: DO NOT READ the entire document. It’s fatal. You’ll end up procrastinating again.

Read the headings.

For nonfiction, just carve out the section which is publishable, write a short intro and conclusion, and publish. All done.

Fiction tends to be more work, because you’re rejiggering the novel, the character and plot arcs will need work – you’ll need to write new scenes, OR remove a subplot, OR (my favorite) remove a character.

2. Finish it: make it shorter than you planned

With this method, you look at what you have, and work out how you can finish it quickly.

You’re not carving much away. With nonfiction, publish what you have. You may be surprised that when you look at the material with a “finish it, no matter what” mindset, the material works as-is. Remove any chapters you haven’t completed. You may need to add a few paragraphs to the introduction and write a short concluding chapter.

With fiction, the easiest option is turn the book into a novella, or a couple of short stories. Alternatively, write the rest of the material as quickly as you can, and publish.

3. Blog it: use the material to sell something else

Sometimes, neither #1 nor #2 will work. Or maybe they would work, but you don’t want to spend any time on the material. That’s OK. You can use the material to sell something else.

Create a blog for the material, or offer it as a free download to promote your business, or other books.

4. Major surgery: outline, rewrite and complete

If it’s been a year or two, you may find that when you read the material again, you know exactly how to fix it. Or, you feel that this project is worthwhile – the book deserves to be published, no matter what it takes. This is wonderful, because you’ve regained your inspiration.

Start by outlining what you have. Then rewrite, and write fresh material.

Tip: ONE revision only, otherwise you’ll procrastinate again. Do the revision, get a beta reader to read it, and publish it as an ebook.

See how it goes. The book may surprise you.

Try these four methods of finishing a book. They’re easy (well, except for #4,) and they work.

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, and on Twitter: @angee

Writing A Book? Maybe You Need a Ghostwriter

write a book

I run a busy ghostwriting practice, and wish had a dollar for every person who’s ever said to me: I’m going to write a book when I:

  • retire

  • have more time

  • start working part-time

  • start working from home

  • take my sabbatical

  • take a course

If you don’t start writing your book now, it will never happen.

Here’s how I know. None of the people who made comments like the ones above have EVER completed a book.

A friend who’s an editor quit her job last year, just to write her book. After 20 years of reading and editing, she said she’s got all the inspiration in the world. She knows what not to write. :-)

She and her family moved to the Blue Mountains, to get way from the city. We chatted online and on the phone, and finally we had lunch last week.

I didn’t mention her book at all; if it’s going well, I thought, she’ll tell me.

After telling me about the clubs she’s joined, her kitchen renovation, and their new pool, she mentioned her book. She hasn’t started it. Her eldest daughter is on her gap year. So the whole family’s going to the UK for a month in August. She’ll get to the book next year, she says, when she has more time. She knows that the UK will trip inspire her to start writing.

Obviously, my friend isn’t ready to write her book. I wish she’d write it, because I want to read it. I know when to keep my mouth shut, however. We’ve been friends for a long time; she’s edited several books I’ve ghostwritten, so she knows that “next year” is code for “I don’t want to write this and no one can make me.”

A ghostwriter forces you to “write” your book

That’s the big benefit of working with a ghostwriter. Your book gets done. It’s your ghostwriter’s job to get the material out of you, so that he/ she can write it.

Here are some tips to help you to write, if you’re procrastinating on a book:

  • Sneak up on it

Make a deal with yourself to spend five minutes every day on your book. You don’t even have to spend those five minutes writing. Just sit at your desk, and doodle if you like, but carve five minutes out of your day, and reserve them for your book.

  • Play with titles

Titles are fun. There’s a great title for your book somewhere in your subconscious mind. If you find it, your book will almost write itself, because it’s the “hook” that will drag your book into the light of day.

  • Write elsewhere

I can’t write fiction in my office. Usually I prop myself up in bed to write novels. First drafts are always on Rhodia pads, written with a Pelikan fountain pen, with J. Herbin ink. (I’m a fountain pen and ink fan.) For second drafts, I take myself along to the library, or to a coffee shop.

Try several different locations for writing your book. Eventually, the words will start to flow.

The hardest part of writing your book is getting started. So, start. :-)