Books carry legacy. They represent a generation’s sentiment and capture a society’s progress through the author’s thoughts, knowledge, imagination and stories. They give us wings to travel without a passport, open our minds to possibilities never imagined, provoke tears of joy and sorrow, and have the capability of transforming a life. Books provide escape, solace, solutions and wisdom through new perspectives. But despite how necessary they are, a book – a good book – is not easy to write.
Being a book coach is a privilege. I’m privy to people’s inner most turmoils, deepest secrets, greatest fears and most ecstatic highs. I help people unpack ideas, make sense of stories, structure their scribbles and proceed through procrastination. Most importantly, I help birth books into the world every year – important stories that need to be told and read. And these books change lives … the lives of the readers as well as the authors.
Despite almost every person I know saying that ‘one day they want to write a book’, few ever do. Why is it such a common dream but an uncommon reality? I believe the answer is in these three questions (objections!) I'm regularly asked:
- How do I write a book if I’m not a good writer?
- Is it really worth the time, money and effort?
- What if nobody reads it?
Let’s look at each of these to show how you can move from wannabe to published author:
1. I’m not a skilled writer
There’s no doubt you need a reasonable command of the language you wish to publish in, to write a book. However, you don’t have to be Hemingway, Bronte or King to ensure the book is well received. Nor do you need a degree in literature. There are a couple of options you may wish to try if you feel your writing skills are sub-par.
- You could speak out the content into a voice recorder, then have it transcribed. This is a fast way of getting the bulk of the words out, however you’ll still need to do a lot of editing to ensure the content is clean and fluid. This method requires a super tight plan so you don’t spend hours waffling, and also demands a really great transcriber who'll remove repetition, ums and ahs and inevitable swear words!
- Hiring a ghostwriter is another option, albeit an expensive one. You’ll need time for multiple interviews and have confidence the writer can capture your unique voice.
- Hire a writing/book coach to work alongside you through the process. A writing coach will not only help you with writing technique, but they’ll also provide editorial services and accountability to ensure the book gets done.
Remember, imperfectly done is better than perfectly undone, so, regardless of how good you think your writing is or isn’t, the point is that you just have to start. And then you have to be prepared to finish. I would never advocate publishing a book that hasn’t been fact-checked, edited or written to the best of the author’s ability, but in reality a book is never finished … a book is never perfect. There's always another way to write something, another comma to include, or more research to explore. You simply must start then finish writing.
Ask yourself: what can I do to improve my writing skills a small amount each week? Where can I seek help? Who do I need on my team?
2. I’m not sure it’s worth the time and effort
If you want to write because you have stories inside you that need to be told, then yes, it's absolutely worth it. If you write a book because you want to become rich and famous – from the book itself - then probably no! That being said, the upside for many authors, particularly in the self-help, professional and business writing space, is that a book becomes a marketing tool on steroids. There is no doubt that, if proactively promoted, a book can provide a significant return on your effort.
- Writing a book increases your credibility
- Writing a book raises your profile
- Writing a book gives you free exposure
- Writing a book spreads your message beyond usual networks
- Writing a book allows you to raise your prices
- Writing a book opens doors to collaborations
- Writing a book creates a product for a service-based business
Sure, it'll take effort to research, write and publish the book, and you’ll need to find time in your week to get it done, but what you do afterwards will be almost more important than the creation of it. Used wisely, your book can become a life-changer for you.
Ask yourself: what activities am I currently doing that provide significant return on investment (or not)? What could I change in my weekly routine to find a regular window for writing? What am I prepared to sacrifice in the short-term for long-term gain? How much do I want to improve my position/prospects?
3. I don’t think anyone will read it
Writers have a lot of fears. People who want to write a book, but don’t consider themselves a ‘writer’, have even more! The greatest of which seems to be whether or not anyone will actually be interested in reading their book. Stemming from ‘imposter syndrome’, this fear often arises in first-time authors who've a lot of expertise and experience in a particular field but who suddenly doubt their ability. They believe others have everything figured out, but that they're just faking it. They consider their own ideas unworthy, not special enough – in the worst-case scenario they feel that their book will expose them as a fraud. So how do you get over this one?
Ask yourself: are people currently paying for my knowledge and expertise? If yes, then you clearly have a book in you, as long as the book is about sharing that knowledge.
Ask yourself: why are people seeking my help? Why are people looking to me for inspiration? What will happen if I do/don’t share this information?
By focusing on these points, you’ll realise that your words are important and that they need to be written and will be cherished.
If you’re feeling inspired and are looking for some further resources I recommend this podcast: Grammar girl’s quick and dirty tips for better writing. It has great short tips and hints on how to improve your writing. I also love Beautiful writer’s podcast which interviews with best-selling authors about writing, romance, spirituality, business, activism and so much more! Here's another fabulous blog. That should keep you busy! So, if you decide to write a book, I urge you to enjoy the process as much as the outcome. Good luck – Jo.
Who is Jo Johnson?
Jo has been a word-nerd her entire life. She has a big-brand corporate sales and marketing pedigree, but for the past decade has been helping small business owners to flourish through the art and science of digital content marketing and storytelling. She also coaches individuals through the often terrifying, but always cathartic and rewarding process of writing their first book. If you’re ready to see where your ideas could take you, contact Jo Johnson.
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