Not everyone aspires to be an author, but in a world where every business is (or should be) a publisher, it makes sense to consider writing a book as a means to establish your authority and draw in new business. But before you get all tweaked just thinking about coming up with an idea, creating a pitch and shopping it around to publishers, lets look at a few shortcuts to make this the easiest process ever.
When most people talk about publishing books, they think of bookstores, publishers and hundreds of pages of content. But not all books have to go that route. In fact, a lot of great books are very short, around 15-50 pages, and they include a lot of graphics filling those pages on top of that!
So instead of looking at this as a 10-15,000 word project, we’re now down to 1,500-2,500 words for the entire book. Maybe even less. How’s that for reducing the anxiety level?
How hard is it to write 1,500 words? Consider that most blog posts are 600 words or more, you’re looking at about two blog posts total. In fact, if you’ve ever written a detailed how-to blog post, you may have broken the 2,500 word mark in that post alone. So we know it’s doable.
This is the most difficult part of the process. That’s right, coming up with the idea is actually harder than developing the content!
But what if you already have the idea? And not just in your head, but written down somewhere? Chances are, you do!
When I’m looking for book ideas–especially ebooks–the first place I look is to my old blog posts. Maybe I have a series of posts that can be combined into one complete ebook. Or maybe I have a post that can easily be turned into an ebook by adding some additional graphics and illustrations.
The idea is there, and its yours for the taking. Literally!
The “Writing” Process
The first draft of the writing process is easy. Just take your post, series of posts or content from all variously related blog posts and paste it into a new document as your rough draft content.
Pulling from a single post or series of posts is the easiest and can produce a great ebook in a very short about of time. However, if you think you might be in the mood to publish a full-length business book, you’ll need to do a bit more work. You still will likely have the bulk of the content for this longer-form book written, it’s just spread out over months or years worth of blog posts. You just have to comb through them all and find what’s relevant for your idea.
As you copy/past old blog content into your new book draft, don’t be concerned about how accurate it is, how it reads, or even if everything in the post is relevant to what you are trying to write. Just copy content over as a first step.
The next step is organization. Putting together an outline for your long-form book is a good idea so you have a road map to work from. Then scan through each post and put the content where it best fits according to your outline.
Now you need to start trimming, editing and rewriting. This will take some time but, for short-form publications, it’ll go quick. The long-form book will take a bit longer, but with most of the content already written, you just need to clean it up.
The one thing you don’t want to do here is copy over your posts and just string them together to call it a book. You’ll want to write new intros and conclusions to ensure your content flows from one chapter to the next, or between blog post content that is united together into a single chapter. Don’t be afraid to cut out the fluff. There will likely be a bit of repetition, so be generous with the scalpel. The idea here is to tighten up your work to make a solid book with a beginning, middle and end.
It should go without saying that you’ll want to get at least one other person to review the book to provide feedback and check for spelling and grammatical errors. The longer the book, the more careful you need to be, so the more eyes on it the better.
Regardless of where you’re going to publish your (e)book, you’ll need a cover. This isn’t the place to go cheap. Despite what we are told, we do judge books by the cover. If the cover looks low quality, then the reader will determine that the content of the book is probably low quality as well. Splurge a bit and hire a designer, if necessary, just make sure the cover looks great!
How and where you publish your book will depend on what you ended up writing. Most ebooks make for great downloads from your website. You can use them to build subscriptions to your blog or newsletter, expand your sales reach, etc. You can also publish your ebook on Amazon, charging a small fee.
If you go with a long-form book, the idea of looking for a publisher may seem daunting, and with how things are today, publishers are not always the best route. Many credible authors are now self-publishing because they can do a better job getting the book out there than the publisher can.
When self publishing, the goal is to make the book perform just as a book published by a big publishing house. Take the time to get it on Amazon and maybe even iTunes and Barnes & Noble. The cover needs to be a step above what you would do for an ebook. And again, have double–if not triple–proofing done before you go to print, because once it’s printed, you can’t take it back.
Whoever said publishing a book has to be hard? It certainly doesn’t have to be. Typically, the writing is the longest and most difficult part of the process. But here we have made that (almost) the easiest part.
If you’ve ever had an inkling of an idea to write a book, you have the world’s easiest process at your fingertips. No more excuses for you.