Is there a book inside you?

Back in March, I was part of a panel of nonfiction authors at the DSM Book Festival. As we were fielding questions about our writing process and how our books came to be, it became evident that there were quite a few ways to become an author of a business book.

In previous columns, we’ve explored the marketing and sales benefits from being perceived as an authority. Being the author of a book has always carried a great deal of cachet and earns the author some amazing opportunities to build on that esteem. Authors are often invited to speak at conferences, be guests on podcasts or write articles for trade publications, which leads to greater awareness and interest in your company, product or service.

Of course, before you can take advantage of all of those opportunities, you have to actually write the book. Fortunately, there are many ways to accomplish this goal.

You can interview your way to a book: Many authors build the content of their book by interviewing other people about their experiences, beliefs or habits. As the author, you need to make sense of the information you’ve gleaned and give it context and structure. But the bulk of the writing is done for you.

You can write your book in bits: Think blog posts, short, focused emails, or even voice memos. I have a client who wrote a book on podcasting over the course of a year’s weekly newsletter articles.

You can convert your book from another format: One of my books was a direct lift of a two-day workshop that I taught. We filmed the workshop and transcribed the entire thing. The transcription was the basis of the book’s outline and much of the first draft. It could be a speech you’ve given, a class you’ve taught, or manual you’ve written.

You can divvy up the work: Imagine authoring a 25-chapter book and only writing a chapter or two. You could share the writing duties with other people with an expertise that complements yours. By being both the writer and the editor, you can protect the book’s overarching message without having to write it all.

You can talk your way into a book: Build an outline and then talk it out. Just riff on each chapter’s topic until you run out of things to talk about. Transcribe your improvised musings and then clean it up a little. It will probably need some reorganization and editing, but you’re naturally going to hit the highlights.

Ghost your way to a book: Many books are ghost-written. A good ghostwriter will work with you to build an outline and then extract each chapter’s content from you from written or oral interviews. It’s your expertise and thoughts. Someone else is simply capturing your best stuff and putting it into a book format.

Last but not least – you could just write the book: Many people shy away from writing a book because it feels like such a daunting task. But when you break it down into manageable bits, it’s very doable.

Decide on your core message or topic. Build a mind map or an outline that guides your reader to the learnings you want to share. Most writers do best when they write at a particular time of day or in a specific place. You may have to experiment a bit to find your rhythm, but you’ll get there.

I don’t know any authors who regret the early mornings or the lost weekends as they reflect on their book’s creation. And I know many authors who have leveraged their book to be one of the most productive marketing tools they have. Why wouldn’t you want the same?


This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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