Benefits to writing a book

A personal benefit that I love is that you consolidate your own knowledge by writing the book. It helps you sort through what is important and what is useful. It helps you identify what you know and hone your message so you can talk about it to others. You get to share your expertise and help other people to replicate what you have done.

It is an open and verifiable way of demonstrating your knowledge and abilities. When you establish your expertise it increases your authority. People are always impressed by anyone who has a published book. It lifts you to another level in their estimation.

You don’t have to be a world authority

Bear in mind, you don’t need to be the most knowledgeable person on a particular topic, you just need to know something that other people need to learn about. The world doesn’t mind if there is more than one book an a particular subject either, so just because somebody has written about something doesn’t mean that you can’t either. Take diet books as an example, there are thousands of them and no sign that they are going to stop being written. Diet books are a good example of the fact that everyone has a different take on a particular subject too, you have the low carbs and the low fats and the curious food combinations and the exercise lovers to name but a few. Whatever you write about, it will have your take on the issue and it will inevitable be unique.

Your book is a marketing document

A book is a great marketing document. Aside from establishing your expertise, it is always out there, like an advert, telling people you exist. In ebooks you can make it explicit in front notes or end notes or both, that you are available for work, and you can link to your website as well which makes you very easy to get hold of. This will drive trade towards you.

You can use your book more actively as a marketing document by sending print versions (you can get Amazon print on demand, that will print hundreds of author copies at cost for you), to key contacts. People loose business cards and contact emails, but your book will most likely be put on their shelf and be around for much longer.

Your book is a source of passive income

Once an ebook is published, it is out in the world till you take it down. It can therefore keep earning you income for years. How much it earns  is down to the effort you put into marketing it and how much you diversify around your book. Opportunities to diversify are surprisingly wide from translations, to audio books, to print, and pushing it out to other countries. Once you’ve exhausted that you can also turn your book into a webinar which will earn you additional income.

Finally, a book provides a springboard into other activities. If you have written a book, you are more likely to be invited to deliver talks or courses on the subject. It also helps you develop your material for those talks and courses because you can take them straight from your book.

How to write and publish

For most people writing a book might seem like an insurmountable challenge. But believe me, it is easier than you think, especially in this modern era of the ebook.

There was a time when publishing a book was hard. You needed to find an agent and somebody willing to publish your book, and that was no easy task. Then you had to produce a novel sized document covering everything you knew. Once you’d finally finished, it would take 18 month to a year working its way through the editors and publishers. Finally you’d have a finished product that would hit the books store with some degree of fanfare. It would be publicised for a couple of months, earn you a couple of thousand if you were lucky, and then sink without trace.

You don’t have to worry about any of that anymore. As an indie green you have the option of becoming an indie author. You can write your book and publish it within a couple of months of conceiving it. It has become extremely easy to self publish and there are a multitude of authors and organisations who are available to support you.

The first book I found that made me realise writing a book and self publishing it wouldn’t be impossible and was in fact a good idea was Successful Self Publishing by Joanna Penn. You can get the free ebook here: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/successfulselfpublishing/

It’s useful because it walks you step by step through the publishing process which can feel rather daunting so it’s helpful to have this to get you going. Joanna Penn also has a book on marketing for indie authors that is also hugely helpful.

I highly recommend joining the Alliance of Independent Authors – ALLi https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org

They have a number of self help books on all aspects of self publishing and they have a list of useful resources such as reliable editors, proofreaders and cover designers. Their Facebook group is also tremendously helpful with loads of people ready to give advice and support.

Using the right software will make your author journey much easier

You can get away with using Word for producing your book but I highly recommend Scrivener – https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview. 

Scrivener has been developed specifically for writers. It has something of a learning curve that at points almost made me loose the will to live and decide to give up. Fortunately, I discovered Joseph Michael (https://josephmichael.net/scrivener-coach/) who has a free webinar on how to use the software and got me on track in under an hour. Once you’ve figured Scrivener out it works like a dream. Now you’d have to rip Scrivener out of my cold dead fingers before I’d give it up. It’s fantastic for storing your research, having the perfect layout for your books – both fiction and non-fiction – keeping track of versions, producing the output for Kindle and ePub at the touch of a button, and tons more. I don’t only use Scrivener for creating books. I also use it for funding bids, research papers, organising my blogs and it’s a great way of laying out my pages when developing websites. Seriously, get this software.

Your book doesn’t have to be huge

The average ‘How To’ ebook is between 12 000 and 20 000 words long. This may sound quite short, but if you pack everything in concisely, you shouldn’t need more words than that. If you look at early self help books like Dale Carnigie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, it’s about half the size of a modern day self help book yet, to a large extent they rehash the same material and I have felt that many of them suffer from book bloat. The books feel padded out to give the impression of value for money. If you are producing an ebook you don’t need to worry about a page count, just put down the required information and then stop. I prefer just getting the facts without the additions so I prefer the shorter ‘How To’ books. It’s very difficult to gauge the length of an ebook anyway, I have a feeling that the page turn give you an impression of length, so when I’m reading something on my phone (which I do a lot on trains), the book feels very long just because of the turns.

Either way, if you think of only having to hit 20 000 words for a book it suddenly feels more manageable. If you write 2000 words a day, you can have the basics all written out over a fortnight. Polishing and adding in references comes later and will take a little more time.

Remember, you are writing a book around an area you already have expertise in, so you should be able to sit down and let it flow. This may sound daunting, and one way to help get the book planned quickly is to produce a mind map of what you are going to write. It works, even though I am not a fan of mind maps. Sketch out everything you know about your subject. If you really know your subject this will take you around half an hour and helps group sections that work together. Then use each of those bubbles as chapter headings. When you write down everything you know under each chapter heading, you discover you have enough information for a book.

Chandler Bolt is very useful for advice on how to self publish non fiction. You can download his free eBook called Published, here: https://self-publishingschool.com/author/chandlerdboltgmail-com/

He also has a free one hour taster seminar that covers much the same ground as the book and is very helpful for his description of how to use mind mapping to get all your chapters and subheadings worked out, and how to go from blank page to published book in 90 days. I found it takes a little longer than that, but it depends on what you are producing.

Don’t forget the marketing

Once you’ve written your book you need to market it, or else, with the millions of books available on-line, your book will sink without trace. There are lots of books and webinars on how to market and promote your books, I recommend you start with Joanna Penn’s book, and the free books from ALLi. If you want more indepth information try Jay Boyer https://jjfast.com, he runs free weekly webinars on all sorts of topics around self publishing and on-line marketing (they’re webinars aimed at selling you courses, some of which I have signed up to and were great, but they have loads of free useful information as well). It was one of Jay’s webinars that introduced me to the concept of short books for Amazon, around 15 000 words. They’re really popular and usually are titles something like, a quick guide to… or short lessons in…

This is just a quick run through of book writing. I felt it was important to spend some time showing you how easy it can be, to convince you to do it.