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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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.

Continue reading

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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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How many words should my book contain?

Book writing is a big deal. It’s no simple undertaking. The first question I get asked when someone is considering using my help for their book writing project is ‘how many words should my book contain?’

My answer is always: ‘How long is a piece of string…?’

No, really…how long is it?

I know that doesn’t help you AT ALL, and sounds like the kind of smartypants answer that would have gotten me in trouble at the dinner table, but it’s true.  Your book needs to contain as many words as it takes to cover off your topic properly, without repetition and without gaping holes in the knowledge.

I get asked the ‘how many words’ question almost immediately people engage with me about writing their book.  And it’s normal to wonder. I get it.  Because a book writing project is a big thing. There are a LOT more words in a book than in anything else you’ve probably ever written (unless you were one of those crazy smart people who sat down and wrote a PhD.!) And the prospect of writing a whole heap of words can be daunting.  It’s time-consuming, you’re wondering whether you actually know ‘enough’ and you’re hoping like heck that I’m not going to charge you for editing ‘by the word count’!

It’s just as frustrating for me as it is for you that there is no perfect answer to this million dollar book writing question.

So, will you settle for some guidelines for your book writing word length?

Continue reading

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