A Book is a Project

It's time to see your book on the bookshelf!
Rare book collection at Panoply in Lambertville, NJ | Photo credit: Laura Pedrick

There’s an old adage that says the best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, and today. If you’re inclined to write a book, now is always the best time to get started.

The problem is…days, weeks, months, and maybe a couple years go by and you don’t find time to work on it. So now when you think of the book, you feel guilty so you avoid thinking about it and check Facebook instead. Work-related, of course. How do you break the cycle?

Listen, if you want to write a business book, I’m thinking you know how to do a project. A book is just a big project. That’s all. It has phases and milestones and due dates, all that stuff. You break it down and chunk it out and eventually it gets done. Takes about a year. It’s that simple. Finishing is not easy mostly because you have to find some way to maintain the energy for the project over a long period of time—but the actual process is pretty simple.

So simple, in fact, I can explain it in 10 steps. I’ll assume for now you’re self-publishing. All the cool kids do it now because most of us want to retain ownership of our content. And I’ll bet you do too. (Book to online course, anyone?) Here we go.

  1. Figure out what the book is about and what your main point is (aka the controlling idea). Decide the one main thing you want the reader to walk away with. Write all that down. That’s your North star.
  2. Decide what “buckets” of information are needed to support your main point, and the order in which they should occur. This is your working Table of Contents.
  3. Fill up each bucket with relevant content making sure whatever you put in there aligns with or supports your controlling idea.
  4. Reorganize as needed (aka structural editing).
  5. Smooth as needed (aka line editing).
  6. Get some other people to give their perspectives on your main point and include them in the book to gain access to their audiences.
  7. Hire a professional copy editor to go through and make sure that everything makes sense, is consistent, and is formatted correctly using Chicago Manual of Style. Send manuscript to the proofreader. (I have a copy editor who proofreads too but sometimes you want a pair of fresh eyes at the end.)
  8. Hire a designer to do a book cover and layout the book interior. DO NOT do this yourself. It is a nightmare. Have the designer lay it out both for print and digital (ebook) formats. (They are different.) Get the PDFs.
  9. Open a KDP account (kdp.amazon.com) and upload the book cover and PDFs as directed.
  10. Bonus: Find a studio that specializes in audio books and record your book and put it up on Audible (audible.com).

So, if you were stuck on any other kind of project key to business growth, you’d experiment with different approaches until you found one that worked or you’d hire someone to help you. Right? This is no different.

If you need help, here’s who you are looking for. Google “ghostwriter non-fiction” and “developmental editor non-fiction.” Be sure to get references because approaches, training, and skill levels vary wildly.

If you’re going this way, let’s hop on the phone for a 30-minute consultation, complementary. Grab a time on my calendar here. Even if we don’t end up working together, I can help removed some friction.