4 common mistakes when writing a book alone

Writing a book alone is not an easy task. Nor is self-publishing.  But with over 1m books being self-published each year now plenty of people are giving it a crack! Unfortunately there is a wide range of results…some are successful, but many others are a dismal failure. The good thing is that whilst a lot of authors have made a lot of mistakes, many of them have been generous enough to share their trials and tribulations. In other words, you now get the benefit of their experience so that your own book writing and publishing experience is positive.

Many self-published authors have help from experts along the way; some choose to do it entirely alone.  From personal experience, and anecdotal evidence, the ones who write and publish a book with some form of guidance tend to do a whole lot better than those who don’t.  But if you choose to run the gauntlet, how do you avoid the 4 most common mistakes when writing a book alone? Continue reading

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How to organise your ideas for a non-fiction book

So many people I speak with about writing a non-fiction (business, self-help, professional development) book feel overwhelmed by simply starting it.  They can visualise the end product but they freak out about where to begin.  The hurdle seems to be in the organisation of their ideas.

Anyone who seriously considers writing a book to help leverage their expertise and grow their business knows that they know enough valuable stuff for it to work. However, they often don’t know how to distil that ‘stuff’ into digestible chunks of interesting information for a reader. And they often want to include EVERYTHING that they know….which is a big No-No. Organisation of your ideas before you start writing is crucial to completing a non-fiction book as efficiently as possible.

Writing a book without a content plan is like running a marathon without knowing where the finish line is. It’s as crazy as trying to drive from Melbourne to Kalgoorlie without referring to a map. I’m sorry, but this is one project where relying solely on your intuition isn’t going to cut it. You may eventually end up in Kalgoorlie, or at the finish line, but you will have wasted a lot of time, fuel and sneaker tread getting there. Continue reading

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What to look for in a book writing coach

Engaging a writing coach is like hiring a tour guide. They know where you want to go, the terrain you’ll need to cover, how long the road is, and where the obstacles are. Your writing coach has been there, done that, and can offer a close eye on what you’re doing but with enough distance to be objective. And if she’s talented, she’ll shorten the learning curve on your writing career and make the process fun!

But how do you know what to look for in a book writing coach?

If you’re ready to move past the baggage that’s getting in the way of your success, or transforming the writing process into something more enjoyable and effective, then hiring a writing coach is a great choice. Before you make the investment however, there are some crucial things to consider to ensure you get the most for your book writing coach buck. Let’s face it: You’re paying for a high level of expertise and skill, and that doesn’t – and shouldn’t – come cheaply. Continue reading

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Why hire a book writing coach

As with anything you want to learn and then do well, you need expert advice and guidance. Hiring a book writing coach when you want to write a book is like hiring a physical trainer when you want to get fit. Yes, you can get fit on your own by eating well and going to the gym, but do you really know the right exercises for your body type and goals? Do you know the right foods to eat for your metabolism and training schedule? And will you keep turning up to the gym when it’s cold and wet and all you want to do is eat chocolate and drink wine on the couch?

Likewise, of course you can write a book without a writing coach…but will you consistently write for a few hours each week until your manuscript is complete? Will you be able to push through the writer’s blocks on your own? Are you able to make decisions about structure and tone and characterisation without some help? Do you know how to publish and market your book once it’s complete?

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Not a good writer? You can still write a book

I get asked to answer this question SO often: “I know a book would help my profile and open up new opportunities for my business, but how do I write a book if I’m not a good writer?”

Let me tell you a little story to answer that.

When I was in primary school I used any spare moment that I wasn’t dancing or eating or sleeping to write stories at my bedroom desk. I was obsessed with writing. I had worked hard to get my pen license and I cherished the baby blue Papermate that I was gifted when that license was mine. I wrote short stories, essays and even penned a series of poems about Oliver Twist discovering his real parents and a sister!

I wrote reams and reams of words, filling notebooks until my hand ached. I travelled into far-flung places in my mind and created such vivid characters I believed they were my friends.  A couple of my stories won prizes at local library and bookstore comps, and I was a bit of a goody-2-shoes in my English class – an A- was a fail in my books.

This writing ‘success’ continued throughout high school. The most amazing English Literature teacher introduced me to the classics in year 10 and I fell in love with him and Heathcliff (of Wuthering Heights fame) simultaneously. I was the Editor-in-Chief of our school magazine and I actually relished all the essays I was demanded to write. I was no Jane Austen though – my writing was good but not genius, and yet I still dreamed of writing for a living.

Reality hit at university however. Suddenly I was a little fish in a big pond, and whilst I was still getting great marks for my academic research writing, my creative writing floundered. I felt misunderstood and criticised by one of my teachers and I couldn’t get an A no matter how hard I tried.

That teacher crushed my big dreams of being a professional writer.

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How a book can grow your business

Have you ever wondered how a book can grow your business? Is it really worth the time, money and effort? Will you get a return on your investment?

Writing a book is the dream of many – business owner or not – but historically it’s only been the reality for a few.  That is now changing with the advent of self-publishing, making authorship a more realistic goal.  Thousands of first time authors’s books are hitting the shelves as the benefits of writing a book for entrepreneurs are becoming clear.

So, have you ever been down to your local bookstore and pushed aside a few books on the shelf, making space for your own, imagining it there under the ‘new releases’ sign, or the ‘we recommend’ label…?

Or have you been on holidays and found an idyllic beach or mountain or cabin and said “this is the place I will write my book…one day…” ?

Well why not make that day TODAY?

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7 real fears of wannabe authors (and how to get over them)

When I was putting together this list of fears of wannabe authors, I immediately recalled the quote: “Feel the fear and do it anyway…” It’s a poignant quote, coined by Susan Jeffers in her book of the same name, that is now bandied about loosely and printed on t-shirts and mugs all over the world. But what does it actually mean for you as an aspiring writer or wannabe author who is feeling paralysed by fear? How do you just embrace fear and get on with it anyway?

It’s a big question, that’s for sure, and one that most (if not all) professional writers and authors have had to grapple with. I know I certainly have, and I’ve been writing professionally in one capacity or another for over two decades! No doubt I will continue to be challenged by these writing fears too as I strive to push new boundaries and stretch myself beyond my comfort zone.

The thing about writing fears is that you just get better at knowing which ones are rational and which are not (I’ll give you the hint – most are not!) and you get better at heading them off at the pass so that they don’t sabotage your efforts. Because sadly, the fears of wannabe authors can become so crippling that they stop them from ever writing a book at all.  And that’s criminal!

Part of what makes ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’ a little easier, is when you know you’re not alone in your fears. Regardless of whether it’s a positive or negative emotion, humans love to feel that they are part of a crowd and not the only weirdo who is feeling a certain way.  There is comfort in being ‘the same’.

So just as others have felt as you do, others have overcome the fears and pushed through to create their books or other content. Continue reading

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11 Life lessons I re-learnt from running a retreat in Bali

I’ve been back for 10 days from running my retreat in Bali and it feels like a lifetime.  All the build up, the planning, the anticipation, then the warmth, the joy, the learning, the teaching, the uncovering, the clarity, and then BOOM!

It’s finished.

It’s over.

A bit like Christmas when you’re a kid. Or even when you’re an adult. You have a month or more of excitement, events, preparation, then you gorge yourself, your adrenalin flies and then crash. It’s done.

Why do really great, momentous events have to feel like this?

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Take a bite out of these ideas: BITE conference wrapup

Who doesn’t love a day out of the office, learning, being inspired, catching up with business besties and networking with newbies?

Most small business owners relish the chance to connect with other likeminded souls, as many of us spend our days solo, toiling away in silence, forgetting that there is a brave new world out there that is stretching and changing, (and also often forgetting to eat!).  We can get so consumed by our own thing that we forget to come up for air.

So a business conference, with the promise of great speakers, new ideas (and awesome food), right on our doorstep, is a highly attractive opportunity to break the routine and stretch our pegs.

One such fantastic conference is the BITE Conference – this year held at the Frankston Arts centre.  In its third instalment, BITE Con (Business, Innovation, Technology, Entrepreneurial) has become the ‘go to’ event on the Mornington Peninsula for discovering what trends are changing the small business landscape. The promise is that participants will not only hear about these trends but that they will uncover the latest tactics that will help us compete.  And I reckon it delivered.

This year’s B.I.T.E. Con had an all-star cast of speakers that worked the stage and crowd to share their best ideas.

Here’s a BITE Con wrapup  from each of the speakers:

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Storytelling tips for introverts: an ambivert’s perspective

‘Storytelling tips for introverts’ might sound like a weird thing to discuss. However, as someone who bangs on consistently about the power of storytelling for leaders in business, I’m often asked by my more introverted friends and clients about how they can become more comfortable telling stories to increase the reach of their message and their influence.  They often say “it’s easy for you Jo, you’re an extrovert.”  But the truth is, I don’t see it that way. I don’t think that it naturally goes hand in glove that if you are a particular personality type you are a better or worse storyteller.

You see, I’m actually one of those ‘personality types’ who fall squarely in the middle of the introverted-extroverted spectrum. Most people probably do consider me an extrovert – I’m a party girl, I love being on stage, I talk a lot and I’m not generally awkward with strangers. But there’s also a huge part of me who is introspective, who derives great energy from being alone, and who just doesn’t really like hanging out with people all the time!  And for that reason, I have never been truly comfortable with the ‘extrovert’ tag, but also don’t really identify with true introverts.

For the longest time, the ‘ambivert’ was an unknown quantity. The extremes was where it was at. You were either quiet, talked less and liked isolation or small groups of close friends rather than lots of people, therefore was an introvert. Or, you were loud, confident, energetic around large groups of people and loved the limelight so were deemed an extrovert. Thankfully Carl Jung identified a third type – the ambivert – who sits between the two, and who generally has a good balance of both ends of the scale.

In an article I recently read on Inc. com, apparently us ambiverts tend to be more successful and influential than the extroverts, particularly in the sales arena. Ha! Who would have thought!  Continue reading

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