10 Dec How to Write a Book
table of contents
Your Table of Contents (TOC) is an important first step in getting this book done. This is going to serve as your guide during the entire writing process. Again, this does not have to be perfect, it just needs to be done.
Let’s go back to the first statement in your synopsis.
The bold one, your promise to your ideal reader.
If I am promising the following:
This book puts the brakes on the excuse train and shows you how to write your damn book.
Then I’m going to need to back it up. What needs to be true for my ideal reader to write the damn book? What does she need to know? What are the steps she needs to take?
Write out this step “brain dump” style.
You will have an overwhelming amount of stuff pour out. Some of it you won’t even use. Just get the flow started.
Option A: The Old-School Method. This is a traditional outline. Use Roman numerals, bullets, numbers, or mind-map it.
Option B: The Organized Chaos. Take a Post-It pad. On each sticky note, write down something your reader needs to know and/or each point you want to make. Stick it on a wall. Ideally, you’ll reorganize these stickies under each chapter to optimize your book’s flow. Need to move them around? Do it.
Option C: The Writer’s Way. Write a few sentences that will describe each chapter.
Continue with one of these methods (or your own) until you’re tapped out.
Then organize it by chapter if you haven’t already done so. Which piece needs to be included where? You may find you don’t need to use all the specific points or you can combine points. The goal is to get everything out of your head where you can visually start assembling it.
When you get your info out of your head, look at it, is it already separated?
If not, can it be? When you are writing down everything they need to know, my guess is you’re writing down the process you are taking your clients through. When I brain dumped Everything You Need To Know To Write Your Book, I realized that it could be separated into three different sections.
Why do you want to write a book?
What do you bring to the table?
Who is it for?
What’s the book going to do for your reader, why does she need it?
WRITING THE BOOK
Table of Contents
What’s important to include
Taking what you have – Repurposing content
Adding what you don’t – Brainstorming
How to lay it out
When inspiration strikes
GOOD INFO TO KNOW
How long should it be
Editing while writing
How to cite
After it’s organized and you start flushing out the chapters, you’re going to have more ideas pop up. When this happens, acknowledge the idea, write it down lest you forget it, then get back to your book. Add those pieces in later if they fit somewhere. If they don’t, don’t force it.
On repurposing content
This can be time consuming, but helpful for your process
If you’ve been in business and have been blogging or posting online about any piece you’ve previously written down in the step above, repurpose the content for your book if it’s about the same subject. If you’ve started your book and have 20 Google docs of notes written on the subject already, repurpose that content.
Sift through what you have already written, copy it, then paste it in your document under the appropriate chapter. You do not have to smooth it or write anything else. Just plug what you have under its related chapter. You can edit it later.
A note about stories
Stories sell. They draw us in. They make us feel. They develop common ground with our reader.
Whatever your subject matter, weave in a story or two throughout the book. Maybe it’s your story, maybe it’s a client’s story. Maybe you have a story for each chapter. If you’re anything like me, this part may not come as easy. Don’t worry about that now. But as you’re writing, you’re going to have a client story pop into your head. Write it down (some quick details if you’re thinking about a specific scenario) then move on. We’ll weave those in later.
two things to note:
There is a law called the Right of Publicity. This law protects individuals from the use of their identity from another person. Right of Publicity is truthful information, where defamation is untruthful information being disseminated. I advise authors to change names AND enough details surrounding their description that the client cannot claim you violated Right of Publicity. It is a good rule to follow regardless of what your state says.
Storytelling is an art form. One that I have not mastered – thank goodness for my business bestie, Kamee with Momtrovert, who literally weaves words into gold. However, it doesn’t mean I stop trying to educate myself and if you want to try your hand at storytelling, Nancy Duarte @ duarte.com has broken down the science and did a fabulous TEDx that you can find here.
write write write write write
Your book is organized by chapter and you have all the specifics and points you want to hit. If you haven’t already organized the specifics under chapter headings, do so now.
Then just write. Your material is already there—just support it with your personality. Do not worry about nice writing, being clever, or humor. Just write conversationally.
If you are really struggling with this, you do not have to actually write it out. Speak it instead! On average, a person will speak 130 words per minute. If you imagine writing (speaking) a 30,000 word book at 130 words per minute, you’ll have your book out of you in under four hours. Grab your phone, open up your memos app, hit the little red button and start speaking out chapter one. There will be umms, and likes, and whatever other weird words you say every two sentences when you’re talking to yourself. Don’t worry about that. What would you tell someone if you were talking to them about each point under chapter one? Tell your memo app the same thing. If it is easier to talk with someone while you record, grab your bestie, pour a cocktail and start the conversation.
There are so many ways to get your book out of you and on to paper and call yourself an author. You would be surprised how many people don’t ‘write’ their own book. Some of us are really great at speaking to crowds. Some of us are really great at Facebook Live, and some of us are really great at telling someone else what we need to happen. And yes, some of us are really great writers. Whatever your lane is, stay there. Work with your flow to get this material out of you from chapter one all the way to chapter twenty-five (or however long your book is).
If you have recorded your material, there are great resources to get that material transcribed. There are great transcribers on Fiverr who will transcribe your audio file very quickly at a great rate.
It’s really difficult for an author’s job to be done. You can rewrite something numerous times and still not be satisfied. Some of us are like that. Either way, once you’ve written the first draft, then you go back through and edit it. If you are not an editor in real life (and even if you are), you will need to hire an editor. You’re too close to the project to be objective. Hire someone to help your book be its best.
After you’ve been through your book twice, your book is pretty well flushed out. But there are things that are good to know. A few of these have come from questions I’ve received over the years. The rest are odds and ends that you may not have thought about.
Writing a book is easy once you have your writing system down. Mindset, time, motivation… those are different stories that have not been addressed here. If you need more help, reach out to me! I have a host of ways to help you above and beyond giving you a system.
Make sure you read the next article in this series. It contains some really helpful things you didn’t know to ask.