Posts tagged Write a “how to” book
As a writer your job is to communicate your opinions to your readers. But communications requires two agents: yourself as writer and your reader. It all happens in the interaction between the two of you. If either is missing, there is no communication. You’re just shouting into the night. Besides, it’s hard to put that much energy into something with no return.
Like this tweet? Get the complete collection from Amazon “101 Writing Tweets: 101 Tips and Tweets about Writing How-To Books for the Kindle” by Glen Ford
One of the biggest problems that writers face is the MS Word automatic spelling checker. It sounds strange but that particular product encourages a major mistake in writing. The whole process of writing includes many modes of thought. Unfortunately, our brains are not wired for multiprocessing. Every time we change modes we need to stop and then switch. The result is a delay, slower completion times, and higher energy use.
In order to be efficient as a writer, you need to let the words flow quickly. If you are trying to compose, write, and revise all at the same time you are going to exhaust yourself very quickly. And your writing will show the effects. That’s why you need to design your book before you begin to write. You want to feed the subject of each paragraph to yourself as you prepare to write each paragraph. However, that still leaves the revision process being included with the writing which will also slow your overall progress. The solution then is to avoid designing while writing, write as fast as you can, and don’t try to revise. Instead return later to do any necessary revisions. You’ll find your speed and energy levels improve. And by giving yourself a day between writing and revising, you’ll find that your revisions will actually improve your writing rather than simply being another way to say the same thing.
Like this tweet? Get the complete collection from Amazon “101 Writing Tweets: 101 Tips and Tweets about Writing How-To Books for the Kindle” by Glen Ford
Akk … I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since I last posted. It’s been busy so I’ve totally lost track of the time.
Ahh … what have I been busy at?
I’ve just released a new book “Writer’s Block Demolition: Finding the Time to Write, Keeping Writing, and Finish Your Book” which has hit Amazon (in print last week, on the Kindle on Sunday).
To support that book, I’ve been putting together a new FREE product.
Plus I’ll be giving away copies of the Kindle book.
So keep an eye out on this spot for announcements this week!
I normally try to stay out of the whole traffic and marketing field. Instead, I focus on planning for success in writing books and eBooks. But I answer questions from my clients. (Yes, I really, really do that… me, personally).
And anyone who is writing books or eBooks is going to get into the problem of marketing those books. So I get these questions about how to market ebooks. Sometimes effectively disguised as planning for marketing and sometimes not so effectively disguised.
Today, I got an email from a client in South Africa. (You know who you are and no one else needs to know.) And frankly, it ticked me off. :mad: Not at my customer, but at some of the pseudo-gurus who’ve sold him a bill of goods. You’ve seen these [watch the language - ed.} or at least their headlines ... Make Money Quickly By Writing an Ebook. Books Make Money! Wealth! Fame!
Borsht! [okay, I'll let that one through, but watch it - ed.]
Can you make money with books and eBooks? Yes, you can. Especially with eBooks, now that Amazon and the Kindle are doing the marketing for you. Pick your keywords right, price your eBooks low (in the 2.99 – 9.99 $US range) and you’ll make some money. How much depends on a number of different factors.
And if you’ve got an existing business, you can use books and eBooks to make even more money. They can help you to sell product or services. In fact, they can create a reputation for you that draws high value to your business, while it’s gaining you new customers. So you end up winning both ways.
There is no question that writing books and eBooks can be the basis of a valuable business.
The problem is the promises that are made around that business. “I can show you how to make $10,000 a month in 30 days”. “I can have you selling $100,000 a year in 2 days” Right, we’ve all heard the claims. And in 30 days, they’ll have shown you how. Or sent you the eBook, which will take you about 2 days to read.
The result is that people like my customer end up putting the comma in the wrong place and end up believing that they can make a living on the internet. Which is fine if you have a job and aren’t looking for a way out of the dole queue.
The thing is you can make a living on the internet by writing books and eBooks. It is possible to build a real business. In fact, there are several ways you can do it. However, building a business on the internet is just like building a business anywhere. It takes time, energy and money. If you don’t have the money, you need to put in the time and energy. If you don’t have the time and energy, you need to spend money.
There is no free lunch.
And unless you’re insanely lucky, and very well connected — as well as talented — it’s going to take time to build your business. It isn’t going to happen overnight. You need to build relationships with your customers. You need to build relationships with your affiliates. And you need to build a relationship with your traffic sources. And building a relationship — any relationship takes time.
And it takes skill and knowledge. You need to know how to go about it. You need to create a system. You need to practice the system. Even if you buy a system for selling ebooks, you’ve written over the internet, you need to make it your own. You need to make your mistakes. Is it hard? No. But it takes time to learn how to write and market eBooks over the internet.
And that takes time, energy, perseverance and money. Not hype.
(I did tell you I was ticked about this … in fact, I’m so ticked I’m going to make my customer’s email the inspiration for this week’s blog posts. More coming soon!)
Welcome to a five minute presentation by LearningCreators. This is the first of three presentations on this topic. So what’s the topic?
It’s probably the most common problem my customers complain of … Finding the time to write.
Everyone has a slightly different cut on the problem … “I don’t have the time to write because I work all day” or “I have to get my kids to school and soccer and football and … ” or maybe it’s a matter of “I don’t want to start because I’m not sure people will want to read it”.
But there’s one common theme throughout this …
And that tells me there’s a problem.
You see there’s a problem with problem solving. And providing excuses is a symptom of that problem.
In order to solve any problem, you need to be solving the real problem. You need to solve the problem that’s underlying the stated problem. You need to drive down to the core of the issue.
In North America especially, we have a tendency to state problems in terms of one particular solution. And we have a tendency to focus on symptoms and panaceas rather than looking at actual causes and actual solutions. But that doesn’t help to cure problems. In fact, it leaves us chasing solutions to one symptom after another.
And that means if you look around you’ll find all kinds of “solutions” to the time problem. Everyone has a solution to finding the time to write.
For some gurus it’s “Figure out why you want to do this and that’ll carry you through”. All you need is to do is build up your desire.
And then there’s the new agey gurus “Visualize the result if you do it and magic will happen.” They believe that if you dream it hard enough the universe will just magically make it happen.
And then there’s always the disciplinarian in the bunch who says, “Shut up, sit down, write. And stop cryin’ about it.” They don’t exactly give you a lot of latitude in fixing the problem. But that’s okay ’cause they don’t exactly give you a solution either.
The problem with all those solutions is they don’t seem to work.
You try one solution after another and they just don’t sustain you. You still haven’t got the time to write.
So you go on and you try someone else who says basically the same thing in different words, and guess what. It still doesn’t work.
So you start thinking it’s your fault… or you give up entirely. Well, guess what?
It isn’t your fault.
You have a problem and no one has bothered to help you solve it. You need to know the real problem if you’re going to solve the problem. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
So what’s the real problem?
You want to write a book or create a course or whatever … but … it never seems to happen.
Well duh … I know it sounds really silly and simplistic. That’s because it is.
No one said the problem had to be hard. It just has to be the real problem and not a symptom or a solution.
The problem isn’t that you don’t have the time. The problem is that you want to write a book or create a course and it isn’t happening. You can’t seem to build the energy to start and finish it.
One potential solution is that you need to find the time. But it’s only one solution. And that means that even if you find the time you’ll may never actually finish your book. Why? Because you’ve fixed the symptom not the problem.
We need to get further in behind the problem . We need to explore the situation a little deeper.
It turns out that how much writing you do is a combination of five elements.
- Your desire to write
- The amount of time you spend
- How hard it is to write
- How quickly you can start
- How effective you are at writing
You can combine the last three together to make things a little bit easier to understand and work with.
We call the result the Work Equation.
The amount of work you get done is proportional to
- The effort involved in writing
- Your desire to write
- How much time you have to write
If you aren’t writing, you’ve allowed one of the elements to overload the function. Something — we don’t know what — is out of step with the rest of the function. The result is that you aren’t getting anything done. And you aren’t going to get anything done until you get all the elements into alignment.
So what’s the solution?
Well that’s the topic of our next 5 minute presentation. I hope you’ll join us again in for the next presentation. I hope you’ve found this presentation has helped you get a better handle on your own problems finding the time to write. And that you’ll join us for the rest of the presentations.
Next Session – Due Thursday!
Sorry about the title … somehow I’ve messed up my SEO so I need to fix it So I apologize if the following blog entry uses some pretty iffy grammar and spelling! The good news is that I’m still not going to write anything whether how to book or blog entry or article without providing you some useful information! So there mighty Gods of Traffic!
Anyway, a question that often comes up is “Why do I NEED a system in order to write a how to or non-fiction book? After all, I write articles and blog pieces all the time.”
Having to write a non-fiction blog entry is entirely different from having to write a how to book. With a blog entry, my own excepted, it isn’t usually necessary to spend a lot of time organizing one’s thoughts. After all, in 200-400 words you really can’t write a great deal of how-to information. Just knowing what you want to say in general terms is good enough to fill in 2 to 4 paragraphs. After all, you only need an opening, 2 to 3 points you want to make and a closing. And boom, you’ve got 400 words with just a little bit of writing. For 200 words you only need one point!
Not so when you write a how-to book!
To write a small how to book (such as a non-fiction eBook), you need roughly 60 pages or 15,000 words. That’s roughly, 150 paragraphs to write a non-fiction book.
That’s at least 150 points that you need to make in order to write a small how to book. And given that we have a cognitive limit of 5 to 9 that makes the chance of organizing the points to write a non-fiction book entirely in our heads highly unlikely. Like no chance!
Secondly, to write a how to book is a long task (even our system doesn’t change that) and whenever you are doing a long task it makes sense to break it into controllable chunks. Why? Because then you can look for ways to improve it, and manage it, and understand it. And most importantly, so you don’t waste any time when you write your how to book.
And any system you choose to write a how to book should have these features in order to give you the benefits. A system to write a non-fiction book should
- help you to organize writing your how to book before putting words to paper.
- help you to write your non-fiction book quickly without wasting time going off into unprofitable directions.
After all if a system can’t do it’s basic functions it isn’t a very good system!
Okay, we’re almost finished.
So far we’ve covered the cost of producing different types of information product, we’ve covered the reputation value and we’ve covered the training value.
Today we’re going to discuss a type of value we as internet marketers like to discuss … money. Bucks, dollars, lira, pounds, pesos … $$$$$$$ (got the pic?)
So how much is a customer willing to pay for a product?
Frankly, that’s a question that has stumped many a marketer. The answer is typically “more than you thought!”. And there are a number of factors involved. Like, how good your sales copy is, did you position your information product as a system or just a book, are you targetting the affluent or the rest of us … and so forth.
However, once you’ve established a price you should get a relative price that looks along these lines (for comparable amounts of information, well presented and professional in appearance):
So for example (and these numbers are made up but reasonable), a multi-DVD set which has been repurposed into a book and into an audio set might sell for:
- Live Seminar (1 day) $1500
- Video (4 DVDs) $297
- Audio (4 CDs) $97
- Book (200 pgs) $49
Did the relationship surprise you?
It should have … and to be honest it was a bit of a cheat. You see the relationship between live, video and audio is reasonably stable (and in that order). This corresponds to our previous discussion of value in terms of training quality.
However, books have an established market. And the price needs to correspond to that price point which your customer has established in their mind. That’s why the ending dollar amount of $7 is not as key. People are used to the $9 ending point.
So if I redo the prices (still being reasonable and still providing the same information) I might get the following:
- Live Seminar (2 hrs) – $250
- Video (1 DVD) – $97
- Book (60 pages) – $19
- Audio (1 CD) – $7
Notice that the relationship between book and audio switch places. Why? Because people expect a book to have a minimum cost which is higher than that of the audio.
Now how much is your information product worth?
In real terms you’ll need to estimate that based on your knowledge of the market. And don’t forget that some products will be worth more to you without a dollar figure. HUH???????
Remember that even FREE live seminar can sometimes make you more money than one you charge for! So when you are predicting the price for the purposes of determining what formats to use for your information products, don’t forget to figure in giveaways. For example, by providing a FREE live seminar you may get a large, interested and active audience (you might not but that’s another issue). Just perfect for background to create a DVD set for you to sell at the back of the room. In this case, the dollar values are all messed up because you traded dollars today for dollars tomorrow.
Similarly, books are often given out as free samples (e.g. opt-in and bonuses) as are MP3s. Once an audio is given out for free, the physical version (a CD) has little if any value. But of course, building a list is often of far more value than the audio.
Despite the difficulty of identifying a price point, the price is a major component of the decision to create an information product in one format or another.
We’ve now finished the discussion of the various elements involved in the decision. It’s now time to discuss the decision itself. Which we’ll do in the next web entry.
During this bit of familial nonsense, we ended up calling the police with respect to the theft of property (remember that he was renting and that there was no in-common involved). The phone call was less than satisfactory.
Let me be clear to begin. I believe that the ultimate answer was correct and that the constable was correct. Not in the path he took but in the end place.
The point is that when we callled, we got a very disinterested voice at the other end. He asked a number of questions and then said … “This is a civil matter, we can’t get involved. You’ll have to call your lawyer.”
Now I want to be clear that if we had pursued it as a theft (which it was), then we would have ended up with a number of angry relatives. And the end result would have been worse than the theft.
The key, though is that the constable came across as unwilling to bother taking the report — in other words, do his job.
On the other hand, I had a GPS stolen from my car. Not cool. So I called the police to report the theft. The constable took the report and then explained to me that there wasn’t much point in proceeding. That they would never find the thief nor the GPS and that outside of CSI & television, cars aren’t a good base for fingerprinting (too many hands touch). Again no help but this time the reasons were given and explained so that I agreed with his reasoning.
As entrepreneurs we are going to face this situation — both with ourselves, our partners, our employees and our suppliers.
Of course, I’m going to encourage you to ensure that your employees and suppliers do their jobs. After all, if they don’t you won’t survive!
But, more important, is to always appear to be doing the best possible job.
There are always going to be issues where the client isn’t going to get the solution they want. Either because of laws, or ramifications or just physical impossibilities.
Be the second officer … explain why it’s a bad idea (or … or … or ….) and help the client to understand why. Sell the client on not proceeding.
That way, you’ll be perceived as doing your job — and satisfying the client — and not just as avoiding work.
As entrepreneurs we need to ensure that our employees and suppliers understand how important this attitude and behaviour is. To the company, to the client and ultimately to themselves. In effect, selling isn’t just to yes, sometimes you need to sell no.
On the other hand is ourselves and our partners … especially when we’re solo.
Not only do we need to sell our clients on no, but we also need to make sure that we do our jobs — and maybe more — when there is no one there to push us.
Sometimes that is easier said than done.
That’s a big part of why so many internet marketing gurus push the “fix yourself” button so often. Personally, I’m not a motivation kickstart kind of guy. I’m self-motivating and generally my bulls**t meter screams when I’m in some sort of “Get Motivated” type of presentation.
But the sad truth is if we don’t do it, it won’t get done. So we need to keep motivated.
To do that means we need to know ourselves. Do you need to be externally motivated? Do you need to be helped over the rough spots? Then you better find yourself a good coach and/or motivation guru (or both). Are you self motivating until you collapse? Then you need to identify the warning signs and how you will overcome collapses — which may mean a coach and guru or a beer and wings with a friend. In case you are wondering, I want to be clear that a coach can and should be used for more than just motivation but I’m focusing on this aspect for this discussion. In fact, you may find you need different coaches for different aspects of your business life.
In any case, the time to discover that you need motivation is not when you are sunk in the roots of despair.
As an entrepreneur one of the risks you must manage is the risk of your demotivating … and like all the other risk events, management means a plan to avoid (or encourage), and to overcome (or exploit). The one must occur prior to the event, and the other be ready on a moment’s notice if the event occurs.
Okay, up to this point I’ve kind of kept to just how to books. After all, my book and course focus on how to books.
How to Write Your How To Book in 24 hrs or Less
… sort of obvious eh?
But what is a how to book? It’s just a particular form or media to carry learning content.
In other words, we happen to be using it to teach but we could as easily be using another format for teaching the same material.
In fact, we often want to.
Two principle reasons … other forms are easier to learn from and easier to generate. Duh? So why are we even bothering with books? The answer is twofold. First, some people need to have it in writing in order to learn (actually a small but important percentage). But more importantly from the entrepreneur and consultant’s point of view, people value books more. Publish a book and gain instant credibility! A book needs to be one of the cornerstones of your expert marketing effort.
But that’s not the topic of this post. (Do some hunting … I’ve discussed it before and will again later.)
The point of all that is that some of the other types of learning content are like articles and blog posts. Short and quick and easy to get out. And really, really hungry for topics!Man they just chew topics like CRAZY!
So how do you come up with topics for these topic munchers. Now I’m not talking about the alternative forms of the material. That’s where the book is repeated in book, webinar, video and audio formats. I’m more talking about the small “articles” you’ll need around the topic for marketing purposes and blogs.
First start with your topic …. say writing how to books (self serving ain’t I?).
Then ask 7 to 9 questions about the topic that you think you’re audience might like to know. Of course, asking your audience is the best way to create this list. And easier too! But you can create your own list by adding words and deleting words. Start your questions off with How, why, when, where, what, who. Try to concentrate on the things that would be important to your customers/audience. Things like money are always important.
So let’s say I make up the following list …
- How do I write how to books?
- Why should I write how to books?
- When should I write how to books?
- Where should I write how to books?
- What topics should I write how to books about?
- Who should write how to books?
- How can I make money writing how to books?
- How can I make a difference writing how to books?
Once you’ve got that list, you’ve should be able to pick out at least 5-7 which are suitable. By suitable I mean small and reasonably tight. After all “How do I write how to books?” kind of covers the whole topic! But doing a short summary might work.
Now take that list and come up with some related questions your audience might have about the topic. Keep in mind Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
So for example, if I take “How do I write how to books?” and expand on that I might get
- How do I write well
- How do I develop topics
- How do I determine chapters
- How do I create a content map
- How do I determine what my audience really wants
- How do I make money with books
- How do I edit books
I could go on but you get the idea. By the time you finish the second level you’ll have at least 49 topics. Now expand on those and you’ll be somewhere in the area of 343 topics.
See … there’s lots of topics. And I haven’t even mentioned the lists (top 10, 7 ways to, the 5 things you must know).
Of course, there’s one problem with this method.
Okay, two problems; the amount of work involved, and the fact that you may or may not hit the problems your reader is interested in.
If you ask your audience – and they bother to tell you — you’ll get a much better list of the problems they’re encountering. Address those problems and you’ll have a much better list of topics.
The key is getting audience involvement.
So over the last two weeks I’ve talked about the four types of books and why the Content Mapping System works for them – or doesn’t.
While the system isn’t a panacea and it doesn’t work for all books, it does work in most cases for how to books and why to books. In short, most non-fiction.
This is true because most non-fiction books are fact based regardless of their organization. Even if they are a simple collection, they still need to be organized. If they are a how to, they still need to be organized. So it doesn’t matter if they are sequential, fact-based or collections, they are still a set of facts that need to be organized. And the best system to do that is the Content Mapping System you can find here in video form (for free) or here in book form (not free).
A minor exception to the above rule is sequential based books. With sequential or process based books you need to add pretty pictures. In other words, flow or process diagrams. But the basic Content Map system works quite well and does allow for adding this type of information. (Yes, believe it or not it is a function of the tool. We don’t talk about it very much but it is part of the proper use of the tool.)
The major exception to the above are time based books. These are histories, (auto-)biographies and fiction. Because they are time based they need a tool which is time based … in other words a time chart based system. Sorry but the Content Mapping system just isn’t the right system for those books.
A couple of final comments.
First, an historical analysis is not a time based book. It is primarily a fact based book. Having said that you may want to use a time chart to help document the occurence of the actions which you are analysing. This leads to the second comment.
The system allows you to use pictures and diagrams when they communicate the information better than words. Don’t be afraid to use them! After all a picture is worth a thousand words. This also applies within your book. Sometimes words are not the best tools to communicate with. Sometimes pictures are. Never be afraid of diagrams. And don’t forget to use boxes … those little quick fact summary boxes you see in some books or at the side of articles. They help to seperate the book and to emphasize key facts.
So enjoy the Content Mapping System and learn to write books in less than 24 hours. Just remember that the system doesn’t work for all books, just non-fiction. It works great for how to books!
Enjoy, learn & get earning.
& the LearningCreators team