So you want to write a book. All you have to do is crack open a new Word doc and just start typing, right? Erm….no. Failure to take time to plan out your book and execute to that plan can make it tough for even the most experienced editor to fix it later.
Here is how you can proceed in a way that will allow your book to unfold in a good way and that also will save you money down the line when you do engage an editor.
- Take the time to figure out what the book is about before you start writing, meaning, what the controlling idea is that will provide the spine for the book. For example, in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell the controlling idea is, “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.” (h/t to my mentor, Shawn Coyne for isolating that. Read his detailed post here.)
- The entire book is then governed by the controlling idea. It’s the North Star. It provides a way to gauge not just what content goes into the book but more importantly what needs to be left out of it! Let it guide you.
- Use the controlling idea to write a one page outline/synopsis of the story you want to tell. Typically there will be three main sections. Think: three-act play.
- Explode that outline/synopsis into a working table of contents composed of buckets of information you think people need to grok your controlling idea.
- You’ve got your North Star, synopsis, and table of contents in place—congratulations! Now it’s time to begin filling up those buckets in the table of contents with words.
If you work consistently, you’ll get your draft done yet this year and you’ll have the great problem of finding an editor you like to help you polish it up and get it to the next level. So, open your calendar, block out the time, and get started!
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
This post was first published on my LinkedIn profile on Aug. 6, 2018.