How to Write a Book
How to write a book
So you want to learn how to write a book? Then maybe I can help! I've been a full-time professional freelance writer for over 20 years now, and I've written over 60 published books, mostly non-fiction. Titles I've written range from Living & Working in Germany to Stress-Busting, Start Your Own Home-Based Business to The Internet for Writers.
I'm also the author of the top-selling CD course Write Any Book in Under 28 Days, which is aimed at anyone hoping to write a book in the shortest time possible. The course is crammed with hints, tips and advice for book writers, both fiction and non-fiction, but at its heart is my unique five-step method of outlining and blueprinting. Thousands of buyers of my course have used this method to help create books of their own.
Below you will find an edited excerpt from Module 1 of Write Any Book in Under 28 Days. As well as being (I hope!) interesting in its own right, this should give you a flavor of the course content. For more info, please visit the Write Any Book in Under 28 Days website. Don't forget to check out the testimonials page!
Getting an Idea for your Book (1)
Maybe you already have an idea for your book. If not, here's a suggestion for you.
Start by thinking about your job (and if you're a student, a carer, a home-maker, a full-time parent or an unpaid volunteer worker, that counts just as well). Think about whether there are there aspects of this which would be of interest to ordinary people, or people who do similar jobs to you (or would like to). Remember, you don't have to be an 'expert' now - you can always research what you don't know later. But clearly it helps if you already know something about your subject. And by the very fact of doing a certain job, you already know more than the great majority of the population about this subject.
However, suppose your job doesn't suggest many ideas - or you simply don't find it interesting or exciting enough to inspire you. Try thinking about jobs you have done in the past. Think about your hobbies and leisure interests, from baseball to gourmet cookery, astronomy to foreign travel. Could any of these provide the inspiration for a book?
And think about experiences you have gone through in your life. The topics below (an expanded version of the list in Module One) have formed the basis of many thousands of books already. How many of these could you write about from experience yourself?
* Getting Married
* Having a Baby
* Bringing Up Children
* Living With Teenagers
* Dealing With Bereavement
* Being A Student
* Shopping for Bargains
* Coping With Divorce
* Buying/Selling a House
* Learning to Drive
* Buying a Car
* Extending Your Home
* Making Your Own Clothes
* Designing a Garden
* Getting a Job
* Starting Your Own Business
* Managing Staff
* Negotiating a Payrise
* Employing People
* Managing Your Time
* Travelling With Children
* Investing Your Money
* Overcoming Disability
Books for Writers on Amazon
Getting an Idea for your Book (2)
Remember, the experience itself is just a starting point. From the list above, take ‘Being a Student’, for example. Here are just a few ideas for books which might derive from this:
* Leaving home: a guide for young people
* Study skills for students
* Improve your memory
* How to work your way through college
* Cooking for cash-strapped students
* The Internet for students
* Making the most of student life
Hmm. I might have a go at one or two of these myself! Seriously, the point I am making is that most people have the seeds for hundreds, probably thousands, of books within them already. All you need to do is spend a little time thinking about your life – things you do now and things you have done in the past – and consider how your knowledge and experience might be of interest to others.
And here’s a further idea to make your idea even more attractive to potential readers and publishers: develop your own technology around it! And no, I don’t mean you have to produce some clever gadget to accompany your book. By technology I mean a plan or system around which you can structure your book (or part of it).
An acronym is a good example of what I’m talking about here. For those who don’t know, an acronym is a word made up from the initial letters of other words or phrases. It acts as an aide memoire for the words concerned, and in many cases forms the basis for a set of guidelines or instructions. For example, advertising copywriters are often taught that any ad they write should meet the AIDA requirements. These are as follows:
1. ATTRACT the reader’s ATTENTION
2. Arouse INTEREST
3. Create DEMAND for the product or service
4. Prompt the reader to ACTION
Acronyms aren’t the only example of a technology you could invent for your book. The truth is, ANY original idea can work as long as it is snappy, easy to remember, and preferably contains at least a granule of truth! One example is Declan Treacy, the writer and entrepreneur behind ‘Clear Your Desk Day’. Treacy’s Big Idea (in a nutshell) was to tell harassed executives they could handle incoming paperwork more efficiently by assessing each item as it came in and allocating it to one of four categories: act on, pass on, file or bin. From this simple concept he created a world-wide best-seller, an international business organization and a highly paid career lecturing on the subject of managing your paperwork.
More books for writers
Getting an Idea for your Book (3)
Or, if you want another example, take Stephen Covey. His book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was based around a system for developing personal effectiveness through seven ‘habits’ or principles. Covey’s Seven Habits have been widely adopted by consultants and trainers, and were even incorporated by Microsoft into some of their software. Covey’s book has been translated into 32 different languages and has sold over 6 million copies to date. First published in 1989, it is still riding high in the best-seller lists today.
All very well, you may say, but I’m not an international business guru – maybe I don’t even want to become one. It doesn’t matter! Whatever area you plan to write about, create your own technology around it. Say you’re going to produce a book about bringing up teenagers (a subject I know nothing about, by the way). A few moments’ thought gave me the acronym RAILS, made up as follows:
Give SPACE (or SUPPORT)
An acronym can also help provide the title for your book. In the above example, one obvious possibility would be Keep Your Teenager on the RAILS. I must admit, I can easily imagine this climbing high in Amazon.com’s Top Sellers list! I don’t think I’ll be writing it myself, even so – but if any reader wants to pick up the idea and run with it, I’ll be happy to settle for 10 per cent of your royalties!
Finally, suppose you want to write fiction rather than non-fiction. The same principle applies – use your own experience as a starting point, and build on this using your imagination and research. For example: a friend of mine writes detective novels from a police perspective; I believe they’re called police procedurals by those in the know. He doesn’t have a police background himself and wrote his first novel entirely from his own imagination, aided by a little research from books. He particularly treasures one glowing review from a police magazine which congratulates him on the authenticity of his characters!
Of course, the real point is that people are the same the world over, whatever the occupation they happen to work in: some are conscientious, others slapdash; some are sociable, others solitary; some court trouble, others aim to avoid it. The same would doubtless be true in medieval times, the present day or the far future. All writers have to do is start from their own experience of the world and the people in it, and extend this.
So why do YOU want to write a book?
There are many reasons people want to write a book. What's YOURS? Vote from the options set out below...
What is your main reason for wanting to write a book?
More Websites For Book Writers
- My Writing Blog
This is my blog for anyone interested in freelance writing. Why not subscribe and get my posts sent by email as soon as I make them?
- My Writers Circle
This is my free-to-join writers forum. It has over 8,000 members from all over the world, and is a great place for getting feedback on your writing or asking any questions.
- Write Any Book in Under 28 Days
This website includes full details of my CD course 'Write Any Book in Under 28 Days', the essential resource for any aspiring book-writer!
- Nick Daws' Homepage
This is my writing homepage. You can find out more about me and my publications here.
- Write Street
This is the writing portal of my publishers, WCCL. As well as details of all their products and publications for writers, you will find book recommendations, quotes, articles about writing, and much more.
This is the world's first Internet radio station for writers. Listen to great music and interviews with top writers. Check out the podcasts page as well.