Checklist: 5 Steps on How to Start Writing Your Book

If you want to write a book but don’t know where to start, here’s a checklist to get you started.

If you’re a coach or consultant, writing a quality book is a great way to position yourself as an expert in your niche.

Being a go-to person in your industry means you can attract higher quality clients and ultimately, charge and earn more money. And who doesn’t want that?!

But getting started on your book can be so overwhelming.

Maybe all you need is just a list of what to do, and when, so you aren’t flying in the dark anymore, spending thousands of hours googling what to do next, and probably getting completely overwhelmed by the plethora of information you find.

In this blog I explore the first five steps in the book writing process, so you can begin with ease!

In this article, we will cover:


Step 1. Vision and objective

how-to-grow-business (9)Before you even start writing anything, it’s extremely important that you get clear on your objectives for writing the book.

Just saying “I want to share my story” isn’t enough. If this is something you have said, you’ll probably still be saying it in 12 months’ time, with nothing put to paper. It’s too much of an abstract concept to make most people take action, especially when the going gets tough part way through!

If your objective is to make money from book sales, I am sad to say that you will likely be disappointed.

Yes, you can make money from book sales, but probably not enough to live on, and only if you are constantly marketing it anyway. It’s certainly not ‘passive’ income for 95% of authors.

If you have a service to sell – ie. You’re a coach, consultant or speaker – your objective would be related to sales. If you are charging $3,000-10,000 for coaching, this is where you make the money with books.

So, let’s say you’re writing a book to attract higher paying clients.

First, create an overall goal – in this example, you might say “attract four high ticket clients per month”.

Then, a vision – so, finishing a sales call and making your offer and the client saying “Yes! I want to do this! Let’s get started!”.

Close your eyes, picture this call. Picture yourself smiling (or whatever). Hear what the client says, what you say, what other sounds you can hear, what you are doing, your body language and theirs (if you’re on a video call), and actually picture yourself going through the process of taking their payment etc. Who would be the first three people you’d call or message after the client signs up? How do you feel? Create a well-rounded scene of how reaching this goal plays out.

For the purposes of this exercise, this is your vision.

From there, work backward on your strategy for achieving this vision.

Step 2. Create a strategy

StrategyNow that you know your end goal, how will you use the book as a tool for growing your brand/business and achieving that goal?

If I followed on from the scenario above, that strategy might include creating a sales funnel, where you sell (or give away) the book as a lead magnet, so that you can build your email list.

In this case, the book would be at the start of the strategic path.

Or, maybe you have a free lead magnet (of some other type, something smaller which didn’t take you so long to write!)… and then the book is a paid upgrade once they’ve consumed your free lead magnet.

Or perhaps you can run a webinar/masterclass, and the book is a free giveaway to those who stay until the end? (And of course, your webinar is structured in a way which keeps them engaged until the end). Or you give it to those who apply to work with you and book a discovery call.

If you’re working with a business mentor, it’s important to discuss this with them. This is something I also do with my clients when they work with me one-on-one to write and publish their book.

It’s important not to try and do too many things at once in your business. Just pick one thing at a time and make that work, before you add something else.

So if you are writing a book this year, make it your only project for now, on top of normal, business as usual stuff. Don’t try to create and release an online program at the same time!

Release the book, spend time growing your audience and using the book to build your brand.

Don’t expect that you’ll write it, and suddenly the sales will come flooding in. It doesn’t work that way.

Be strategic!

Step 3. Decide on your genre and book style

Book StyleI mostly work with people who write self-help, business books or memoirs, as these naturally lend themselves to the objectives of coaches, consultants and speakers.

Self-help books

With self-help, you’re teaching the reader a specific set of skills and taking a practical approach ot helping them learn something, achieve something or solve problems.

In a self-help book, the language can be very informal, and you need to decide in advance if you are going to let the reader ‘choose their own journey’ or if they need to read from cover to cover.
Also, you decide on the level of starting knowledge you assume your reader has, and then start the book as appropriate. If it’s very basic, you need to go right back to basics. Or maybe you decide your reader already knows a certain amount, and you start there.

Business books

A business book will be similar in approach as self-help, but the differences will be mainly around topic, writing style and language, which may be more format.

For example, a book about accountancy is more likely to fall under ‘business’, whereas something around personal growth would be ‘self-help’… even though the person reading the accountancy book is trying to help themselves understand accounting better. The genre doesn’t matter THAT much ? it is more about which category you’re going to list it on Amazon than anything else.

There are also sub-categories in both these genres:
• How-to
• Lists
• Compilation
• Interviews

There are endless options for formatting self-help and business books. I strongly suggest doing some homework by browsing a selection of other books in the genre you think you want to write.

Look at a selection in Kindle (just download samples) or go to the library. Read through and see what resonates with you and feels good for your topic.

Memoir

Memoirs are great if you’ve had a complicated/interesting life… which led you to where you are now. But only if you have a way for the reader to work with you at the end.

Simply ‘sharing your story’ to help others, but you work in a completely different field, is not really going to work. You are much more likely to lose steam and motivation along the way.

The way people naturally write tends to be in ‘journal’ style, but this is super boring for readers.

Creative non-fiction, which is non-fiction written like a novel, is my preferred style for memoirs. In this style, you are the narrator and central character of the story – and you include a combination of dialogue, action, thoughts, description told through your eyes.

Like with the other genres, definitely do your homework on this. Read the opening chapter of at least ten memoirs and see what draws you in.

Don’t skip this step!

Step 4. Create your outline

Create OutlineI have often seen questions in Facebook groups like “I want to write a book, where do I start?”. And lots of people will helpfully chime in with “Just start writing”.

Sorry, that’s terrible advice.

It’s the one thing which will almost guarantee a rambly, non-impactful book, and many cases of writer’s block!

Starting with an outline is so important!

The way you structure your outline will depend on what kind of book you are writing.

A self-help or business book could happily sit at ten chapters of a few thousand words each. Illustrations, graphics and bullet points change this – so it’s just a guide.

A memoir could be anything from 40,000 to 100,000 words. A rough guide might be 20 chapters of 4000 words each.

But don’t get too focused on word count for now. Just focus on content.

With self-help or business books, it’s great if each chapter can stand alone. This also helps if you use it as a basis for a content strategy.

Just brainstorm for 5 mins – everything you know about a topic.

Just sit and go. Don’t overthink it and write down everything you would teach someone about this topic.

Then spend another 5 minutes re-ordering and narrowing down that list to 10-15 topics, which will form a chapter each.

Flesh them out with 3-5 bullet points to include.

And now you have your outline.

I specialise in helping clients with this, so please feel free to book a call with me if you potentially want help with this stage.

Step 5. Write first draft

Write draftNow that you’ve completed the previous four steps (don’t skip any, as this is where so many people go wrong and miss key foundational pieces), you are ready to write.

How often should you write?

Ideally, every day. I suggest that clients aim for just 15 mins a day, whether you feel like it or not.

15 minutes isn’t very long, and you can’t get a huge amount achieved within that time, but in all the time I’ve been book coaching, I discovered that creating momentum is THE most important thing.

If you are writing for a short block of 15 minutes every day, it’s much more achievable and do-able than bigger chunks of time.

For the period of writing your book, if you can do this first thing in the morning before you check emails or get on social media, you are giving yourself the best chance for success.

If instead, you decide to do a big, three-hour block of time on a Sunday morning (for example), you are setting yourself up for failure.

You might be invited out to breakfast or have to take the kids somewhere… then your writing session is gone, and suddenly it’s two weeks in between sessions.

Then, guess what?

You have lost your momentum (if you even had any to start with), and your book project will keep getting pushed further and further into the distance because you just won’t feel like it.

I’ve seen it too many times before.

The beauty of writing small chunks every day is that if you aim to do this seven days a week (which I did with my first book), and you miss one day, it’s not really a big deal.

The small chunks of time also help you get your creative juices flowing. If you schedule it into a tightly packed day, you’ll also find that at the end of a session, you will often think “ooh, that was a good idea. I can’t wait to get back to it to flesh it out!”

That’s how books are written.

Writing a book isn’t really about talent. It’s about discipline.

Treat it like a job you need to do every day, and before you know it, the book will be done!

What's Next?

If you’re keen to learn more, you will find my 45 Step Book Writing and Publishing Checklist very handy. Just click to access and tell me where to send it!

If you want to write a book and need some support, please contact me at any time. I have different options available to help you, depending on your goals, your budget, and where you are in the process.

I can’t wait to work with you and help you finally write that book this year!

Cat


Download your free checklist here!

If you’re keen to get started on writing your book, you will find my 45 Step Book Writing and Publishing Checklist very handy. Just click here to tell me where to send it!


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