Why you should write a book

Maybe you run a small business selling widgets or a service; maybe you’re a young professional looking to earn some attention; or maybe you’ve mastered your field and want to start reaping the rewards of having so much knowledge. No matter what your situation is, chances are, being an author will help you.

Being an author adds credibility to all of your projects—it automatically makes you look like an authority. You can say: As I wrote in my book, The 7-Day Greener Lawn… You can also add Author to your bio on social media, your website, for any speaking engagements, and so on.

The good thing is… becoming an author is easier than ever.

You don’t need to write 60,000 words and fill 350 pages; you don’t even need 35 pages. Honestly, ebooks can be pretty short and they bring all the same benefits as regular print books. Writing an ebook also means not needing a publisher to sign on.

(Even if you write a full, print-ready book, you can self-publish through sites like lulu and createspace.)

Basically, you should write a book. It will help your career, it’s fairly easy to do, and there’s close to no cost.

Where do you start, though? Well, you start with an idea. You don’t need to know everything there is to know about the topic, you just need to know enough. You need to know more than average guy. Either that, or have a relatively unique opinion.

The topic should be related to your field or product. For example, if you’re a professor, perhaps the book can be on pedagogical practices, outlining the best and worst classroom exercises and sharing insightful teaching experiences. Or, perhaps your company sells computer security software. You could write about the importance of cyber security, and 5 top tips for protecting yourself from electronic attacks.

Back when I taught teenagers how to be more social, I wrote a book on the topic. The Teen Game Manifesto, I called it. And though it didn’t turn much of a profit, it added credibility to my seminars and increased the perceived value of the things I’d teach. By writing the book, I immediately increased the dedication and reach of my clients.

My most recent ebook, Design a Landing Page in 4 Steps, is not a masterpiece. It’s a short, detailed guide on how to make a landing page from scratch. (A “landing page” is a long, single-page website that talks about a product or service—it’s basically a long ad with graphics and interactive elements.)

My books: The Teen Game Manifesto (2011), Torch (2014), Designs 2014 (2015), Design a Landing Page in 4 Steps (2015)

The ebook isn’t going to make me a million dollars (it is free, after all). But it does add some credibility to my design business. It might also earn me some email subscribers, which roughly equals street cred.

Are you convinced to write a book yet?

If so, you might be wondering where to actually start—or maybe you’re still intimidated by the idea of writing a book. Relax, it’s easier than you might imagine.

The writing part is just a matter of writing what you know. There shouldn’t be too much research (except some fact-checking) or painstaking process. List all the subtopics that fall under the topic you want to write about. Then, in no particular order, go down the list writing what you know about each one.

This strategy is particularly useful for large-scale, informational projects. If you’re writing about a process, however, write out the steps, then drill in on each one. Again, the order in which you write all this doesn’t matter so much; you can go back and edit later.

The hardest part, I’ve found, is not writing a whole bunch of words, it’s writing all those words in an appropriate tone.

For my first book, I wrote and re-wrote it 3 times before publishing it. The first version sounded way, way, way too formal. The second draft sounded like some punk kid. By my third try, I finally reached an appropriate middle-ground.

Take a look at your audience; if you’re writing for professors, maybe be a bit more formal, minding your ‘p’s and ‘q’s. If you’re writing for average users, you can afford to be a bit more casual. For me, a majority of my writing is aimed at designers, so I can use my natural voice—the one I use when I talk to friends about design.

Find your topic, list the subtopics, find your audience, determine your voice, then just start—maybe you want to create a Word document, or maybe you’d prefer a simple writing environment like OneNote or Draft.

Two important things to keep in mind throughout the whole experience: you don’t need to write the whole thing in one sitting, and you don’t need to write it perfectly the first time.

Aim, instead, to make a bit of progress each day. Keep a calendar (I’ve included one for the next 12 months below) and mark off the days as you write. Just write 500 words a day. If that’s too much, no problem. The idea is to form a habit, and if it’s too hard to do consistently, you won’t form one. Go down to 350 words per day and then slowly work back up to 500. If 500 is too easy, and you find yourself blowing through it, move up to 750 per day.

June Calendar (download below)

June Calendar (download below)

Try doing this for a week—you might finish a small ebook in that time. Then try for two weeks. Then a month. Write a little bit every day until you form a habit of it.

I find that using a calendar makes this way easier. I actually use two calendars to get this done: a digital one on my phone where I schedule writing time in advance (if I don’t set aside time for it, I never do it—I usually end up watching TV or playing basketball instead).

My second one is a monthly calendar that I print and tack to a bulletin board on my wall: I put a big red X on each day I write. Between these two methods, I make sure I have the time to write and I get to see the streak I’ve accumulated. You can download a 12 month calendar with this button:

Writing a book will take a bit of daily dedication, but you will see an improvement in your career, sales, signups, and potentially happiness when you finish it. Plus, the writing habit you form will become an invaluable asset; as you learn more and as your career shifts, you’ll be able to produce more books, blog posts, and journal entries.

Thanks for reading!

 

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