Posts tagged writing a book
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!)
I was speaking to a colleague in a different industry who was considering writing a book. She asked if I could give her some tips as an expert. I was somewhat taken aback. After all, I had never thought of myself that way before. Even after a half-dozen or so books, (real books not the extended report types that masquerade as eBooks), I realize that I’m still not comfortable with the concept of being an expert writer.
After recovering somewhat, I realized two things.
The second thing I realized was, even as a newly promoted “expert” (hold on, my fingernails need buffing here ) I need writing tips. After all, I keep forgetting some of the things I’ve learned.
So in this blog entry, I’m going to review two tips that I believe are critical even for the expert to remember.
1. Follow the system
As a new writer, you will hear the command “use a system when writing a book”. You’ll hear in a million different ways from a hundred different writers. Some of whom sell a real system for writing a book and some of whom — well, my mother taught me to say nothing about those people. A system must help you to start, write and finish your book. Or it isn’t of much use. Cool. That’s great advice for a new writer.
But what about us experts?
Your first book, you may be able to bull through without a system. Or you may be smart and learn a system before you try. Your second and third books, you’ll most likely use the system. And probably improve it. Or more correctly make it your own. But somewhere around the fourth or fifth books an interesting phenomena takes place. Trainers know it as the “Expert Phenomena” or “Sliding into the abyss”. You see you’ll start believing you are better than your system and you’ll stop using it. Or at least cut back. The result is that the system won’t give you the result you are expecting. In short, your book will take longer to write and will be much harder to write. All because you got lazy.
It’s a normal problem. Expect it. But don’t fall prey to it. Learn to recognize the signs and then force yourself to follow the system.
2. Selling your book begins before you write
When writing a book, there is a tendency to fall in love with the idea behind the book. It’s the writing and the idea that you are in love with. It’s the writing of a book and the concept that drive you.
Unfortunately, that drive doesn’t affect the reader.
A book which languishes on the shelves — electronic or physical — is a sad and lonely thing. And a waste of the writer’s time. It doesn’t matter how much you love your book or the idea behind your book. What matters is the reader’s desire to read that book. Creating that desire begins even before you design the book. And it continues long after you finish the final edit. (And the formatting if you are self-publishing).
In short, you need to develop a marketing plan — including verification of a market — before you begin to write. And you need to be prepared to market that book after you’ve written it. That can mean internet traffic generation or it can mean book releases and signings. However, you do it, it will take time and energy. And you need to include that effort in the allowance for writing a book.
All it really takes to have an idea is to open one’s mind to the possibilities. Ideas are everywhere. All it takes is to look around you and listen to what is happening in the world.
Of course, that doesn’t help when you need to write your next book!
It may be true that your next great idea is just sitting out there. But that doesn’t really help when you’re up against the hard wall of writing a book. Even if all you have to do is listen to the muse. It still doesn’t take away the shakes. And it doesn’t make that blank computer screen suddenly filling with words.
So how do you come up with a great idea?
In this blog entry, I’m going to give you a 7-step process for coming up with a great idea when writing a book. It works well when you don’t have anything else. And it works well to cross check ideas you develop on your own. But the best way to get ideas is simply to pluck them from the ether. That’s right to keep your mind open and look for ideas as you go through your normal day. To help you with that, always keep a small notebook with you. Dollar stores sell a clone of the Moleskine notebooks for around two dollars. Or of course, you could always buy a real one for considerably more. In any case, these are perfect for recording your ideas as they occur. You could also try carrying a small MP3 recorder. You’ll find that these ideas are much better than anything you can force.
However, I’m going to focus the on coming up with an idea when you don’t have one.
1. Start with what you enjoy
There’s an old saying that life is too short to do things you hate. Writing a book is like that. And if it really is something you hate, you’re unlikely to be successful in writing. Even writing an eBook on a topic you dislike can be setting yourself up for failure. On a big piece of paper, make a list of ideas based on what you love to do.
2. Start with what you know already
It’s always easiest to create ideas for writing a book around what you know. After all, you can take the idea down into details without having to do any research. Make a list of ideas on a big piece of paper.
3. Think like a journalist
Journalists ask six questions called the “W”s. These are “Who?”, “What?”, “Where?”, “When?”, “Why?” and “How?”. On a big piece of paper draw six questions labeled the same way. Now draw lines from each asking specific questions about your subject area.
4. The Amazon cheat
Amazon has a menu of different topics on its book pages. Each of these categories breaks down further into yet more categories. Spend some time looking through these. Pick ones you like and add them on a big piece of paper. See if any of them give you an idea. Add the idea to the paper.
5. Let Google do the work
Google has a product called Insights for Search. On the product is a list of categories. Google uses those categories to organize its searches. Each category breaks down into smaller and smaller categories. Use the categories in the same way as you used the Amazon categories. Put any ideas you get or categories you like on a big sheet of paper.
6. Let your brainwork brew
Find yourself a nice quite room. You’ll need a chair and a table to write on. It helps if the room is comfortable. Tape the pieces of paper on a blank wall. Then grab a notepad, a pencil and a tea (if you wish). Let your mind brew through the ideas you have. Are there any connections? Does one of the “W”s and your other ideas combine to create a great idea? As you see connections and ideas write them down on the pad. Use diagrams to link ideas. Most of all relax. You can’t force the process. Your brain will naturally make the connections to generate ideas — if you let it.
7. Check your ideas
Once you’ve finished brainstorming ideas (which is what you did in step 6), you should have a list of ideas. Some will be good. Some will be bad. Some may even be great. But to get the great out you need to eliminate the bad. Or more properly, the ideas that no one else thinks is worthwhile. Take your ideas and try them against the Google Adwords Keyword tool and the Insight tool you used in step 4. If no one is searching for your idea, maybe it wasn’t so great after all. On the other hand, even an unpopular idea may lead you to a strong idea. So be open to new topics for writing a book about.
Motivation helps you to overcome. It helps you overcome your natural resistance to the effort of writing. It helps you to continue working your way over, around and through the problems you will encounter. It helps you to maintain the energy levels you will need in order to be successful. You’ll never be successful in writing a book or eBook if you aren’t motivated.
Without motivation, you will not succeed.
With motivation, you can achieve anything.
But how can you get motivated?
Everyone is different. Discovering what will motivates you — as an individual — is an important part of the journey of writing a book or an eBook. What motivates you will not motivate me. What motivates me will not motivate you. And because everyone is different, I’m not going to give you a cookie cutter solution.
Instead, in this blog, I’m going to focus on a series of questions you should ask yourself. Of course, motivation is only part of the equation. Finding the time for writing a book — and continuing to the end requires you to balance several elements. However, in this article, I’m going to focus on the first step. Discovering what motivates you.
Maslow discussed motivation in his “Hierarchy of Needs”. And certainly, that model can aid you in suggesting alternatives and levels that might motivate you. In general, you should focus on solving problems or avoiding pain rather than achieving goals. It’s not very positive, however it is realistic. On the other hand, you should also focus on situations that are currently troubling you. Failing that, situations in the immediate past will motivate you more than will situations that may or may not appear in the future.
However, I’m going to focus on a process to determine you motivation for writing an ebook in this blog entry. This is only one of many methods. It involves asking three questions.
Ask yourself, “What is missing in your life?” “What is going wrong?” With this question, you are seeking to determine a problem that writing a book will solve. We all have problems. We all have something in our lives that is out of step with our desires. You need to identify a lack in your life that could be solved by having a book. It could be a lack of money. It could be improving your sense of self-worth. It could be improving others opinion of your skills. It could be achieving freedom in your life. Or spending more time with your family.
After writing your book, your life will be different. Ask yourself, “How?” Picture your life after your book is published. Do you have fame? Fortune? More time for your family? What would your life be like if you had that? This step is sometimes incorrectly referred to as visualization. However, what we are really talking about is creating the vision you may later choose to lock in place with visualization. It’s your target if you will.
With this question, you are going to focus the previous answers. And reinforce them. Now you are going to ask, “Why do you need writing a book to achieve those results?” Done properly, this will help to explain why writing a book is a solution to the motivators that you have identified to this point. With this question, you’ll create a direct link between the problem, the goal and writing a book.
By the way, if you want more information on finding the time to write and motivation for writing a book, we have a product called “Finding the Time to Write: Time Management for Writers“
So you’ve decided you want to have a book. Good for you. Books and eBooks are amongst the best tools for marketing. Whether you are intending to sell them to make money, or giving them away to gain customers. Books and eBooks are amongst the best tools that you can get to build your business around.
But then comes the problem.
How do you write an eBook?
There are a number of different methods for writing an eBook or writing a book. Or more correctly for getting a book. Some are good. Some are not so good. However, for this article I’m going to focus on actually writing an eBook yourself.
Writing an eBook or any long work can be difficult. And working one’s way through all of the advice out there can be just as difficult. So in this article, I’m going to give the newbie writer a hand up with five of the most important tips.
1. Always start with the end in mind
Yes, I know I’ve just quoted Stephen Covey. But the advice applies even more to writing a book or eBook. The effort you are about to undertake will vary considerably depending on the nature of the product. Many traditional eBooks were only 20 pages in length. Or even less. And people do continue to create report-sized eBooks despite the influx of longer Book-length versions. What you are going to use the book for will greatly affect the size and style of the book or eBook. It also affects how much, if anything, you are going to charge. Which in turn also has an effect on the size. Even the format (print or electronic) will be affected by what you are going to do with the book.
2. Always write with a system
Writing is a process. And like any other process, there are two major ways to do it. The successful way and the unsuccessful way. Writing a book length piece — regardless of its form — is not a trivial exercise. It’s not like writing an essay or writing an article like this one. You need to follow a system based on the type of book you are writing. An attempt to just sit down and write will almost inevitably lead to failure.
3. Know your reader
Writing a book without a reader is like taking a trip without a destination. It can lead to some glorious surprises — but more likely to a sad conclusion. There is no point in writing an eBook that no one will read. But to be read, a book needs to interest the reader. It needs to draw them into it. To accomplish that, a writer must know before they start what will interest the reader. And then they must write that book. Not the one they started to write.
4. Have a writer’s hole.
Every writer has a set of conditions that help him create. Every writer has a set of conditions that prevent her creating. Most writers have multiple sets depending on the task. You need to have a place for each of the tasks in the process. It’s easiest if they are all the same place, but they key is that you need to be able to start immediately without any inherent delays.
5. Have a set schedule
Motivation is probably the biggest issue that a writer has. With motivation, they will overcome anything in their quest of writing an eBook. However, it is a great deal easier if you have a specific chunk of time allocated for writing. Be firm. No interruptions. No disturbances. No intrusions. This is your writing time and you need to produce.
Why is motivation so important? Why do you — the writer — need to get motivated?
Okay, let’s start at the back end. I’m a little backwards so it’s appropriate. The answer is simple. Writing for the sake of writing is eating the cone and leaving the ice cream. It just doesn’t quite cut it. If you write, you want to be read. And when you get right down to it, reading is a purchase decision. You are buying the information even if the only thing you pay with is your time. And like anything else, people buy because they have an overwhelming desire for the benefits. In other words, they buy because they are motivated. If you know the detailed reason for that, you can write a book that fulfills that desire. Do so and you will be guaranteed an audience.
Okay, so obviously it has an effect when writing your book. It needs to show up in your subject matter. But how does it affect you when you are actually writing?
Have you ever heard the complaint, “I can’t seem to find the time to write?”
I know I do. It’s one of the most frequent complaints I hear.
There are three main reasons that writers have problems finding the time to write:
1. Writing is too hard
2. You’ve filled your time with other stuff
3. You aren’t motivated.
Motivation is one of the core success factors in writing a book. Writing a book is not like writing an article or an essay for school. Those are just sprints. Writing a book is a marathon. And you need to write the way you run a marathon.
No matter how good your writing system is. No matter how simple it makes the process of writing a book, writing will never be a simple task. It’s hard. Welcome to reality. Writers write because they have to. Very few write because they love the act. As Dorothy Parker, the American poet/writer/critic , said “I hate writing, I love having written.”
We always try to avoid doing things that are difficult. We’ll do whatever we can to avoid starting. That’s just human nature. In order to overcome this resistance, you need to have a very strong reason to overcome this. We just happen to call this reason “your motivation”.
Not only do you want to avoid starting difficult tasks, but also you’ll want to stop in the middle. No one wants to continue to bang his or her head against a wall. It tends to make a mess of both your head and the wall. And it leaves you with a headache. If something is hard to do, you’ll want to put it aside.
Knowing what motivates you and then making certain you are aware of that goal, will help you to overcome the difficulties involved in writing a book.
(Unabashed commercial time here: I’ll be writing some more on this topic over the next little while. If you don’t want to wait check out our 2 DVD course “Finding the Time to Write: Time Management for Writers” )
Let’s face it, writng a book isn’t like writing an article. It’s a marathon compared to an article’s sprint. Writing isn’t the easiest at any time. But writing a book is a constant invitation to witer’s block and avoidance.
So how do you ensure that you actually finish?
In this video, you’ll discover five tips that will help you get started and keep yourself going on writing a book.
One of the worst things a witer faces is the empty page. It’s not the half-filled page that causes the sweaty palms and the heart palpitations. It’s the empty one. It’s that blank computer screen. Writer’s block seldom occurs in the middle of a paragraph.
And let’s face it. If you’re writing a book you’re going to be facing a whole bunch of empty pages. One a day to be precise.
So how do you get going when writing a book?
In this video, I’m going to share five tips that have served me well when I need to get going on writing a book.
Okay, I admit it. I’m getting a little silly with the titles for my tips. But they really do make sense. So work with me here.
1. Why is as important as what
No one really likes to write. Writers like to have written. It’s the finished piece that we love (or hate). And getting started — and worse continuing — is a matter of bulling on through. If you are going to be writing a book, you need to be motivated. Highly motivated. Why you are writing is even more important than what you are going to be writing. Because if you aren’t clear on why you are writing a book, you won’t be doing it at all.
2. Signs, signs everywhere a sign
Knowing why you are writing a book is a big part of getting over the hump and getting started. But when faced with the actual trial we have a tendency to forget why. To ensure that you remember your motivation — why you’re a writer in the first place — try putting a sign up. On the sign should be pictures, words and phrases that will remind you. Then put similar signs near your desk. In the kitchen. Near the television. Anywhere you might be tempted to waste time when you’re avoiding writing.
3. A place for everything and everything in its place
And in this case the place we’re talking about is your writing place. Writing doesn’t take a lot of equipment and tools but it does take some. And every writer has a particular environment, which helps them write. Or stops them from writing. By having a specific space where you do your writing, you’ll find you have less excuse to avoid the blank page.
4. Magic, rituals and writing
I know, it sounds silly. But if you need to bend down, touch your toes and then bark three times in order to cause the muses to support your efforts, then do it. What is really happening is that you are putting your brain in the right space to write. If you don’t have a ritual, create one. Even if it’s just grabbing a cup of coffee or tea and arranging it in the same place on your desk. You’ll find it’s a switch that helps your brain to get going.
5. Write what you know backwards
Writing a book is not like writing an article or an essay. With any short piece, you can write without having planned what you are writing beforehand. You probably shouldn’t but you can. With a book, you must have a detailed design of exactly what you are going to write down to the paragraph level. Otherwise, you’ll never finish. So always know what you are going to write, before you sit down.
If you have any other topics you’d like me to cover please add them to the comments below.
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!
One of the basic rules of internet marketing is that you need traffic. Everything starts with the traffic. It’s like a bricks and mortar store. If people don’t come into the store it really doesn’t matter how good your product is, how competitive it is or anything else. Without the foot traffic you aren’t going to sell anything.
And it’s no different over the internet.
In order to have an audience — readers, course attendees etc. — you need the traffic. After all, not everyone who investigates what you offer is going to want to listen/read/watch it. You need enough people passing by in order to get enough people to stick around.
So how do you do that?
One of the best techniques is Article Marketing. Many traffic techniques drive traffic to your site. But it’s often the wrong type of traffic. And that just chews up bandwidth and money. Article Marketing drives high quality traffic — traffic that sticks around and eventually buys.
Now, I’m no slacker when it comes to Article Marketing. But I’m also not the number one author on EzineArticles.com. My coach, Sean Mize is.
I’ve arranged with Sean to make his 6 MP3 audio series Article Marketing Advanced available to you. It will show you how to write articles that drive traffic that sticks, where to post your articles, and much, much more. You can find more information here.
One of the biggest problems that writers face is having to sell their book after they’ve written it.
In fact, selling your book afterward is probably one of the worst things you can try to do.
What? Am I crazy … what in heaven’s name am I trying to spout here. After all, the whole point of writing is to be read and without selling your book you won’t be read!
No I’m not crazy. In fact, you do need to sell your book. But you need to start the process before you even begin to write. In fact the first thing you should be doing is to identify who is going to read your book and why.
Once you’ve written your book (and incorporated your reader’s hot buttons), edited and refomatted your book it’s time to actually get out there and sell it.
Selling on the internet is actually pretty simple in theory. You drive traffic, give them something in return for their email, use emails to build a relationship and then along the way sell your book (or other product including audio, video, CD, DVD, webinars etc.).
In practice, however, building that initial list is a lot more difficult than it seems.
Now I’m the last person to claim that I’m an expert marketer. And while I can speak to it and teach people about it — I think you can do much better than myself (even if you can at least trust what I have to say). Unfortunately, to build my own business I’m sort of forced to become an expert marketer.
So how did I become an expert (internet) marketer?
Well, I started out by taking a number of courses. But eventually I reached a point where I realized I needed a coach. Someone who could help me get ahead using this distribution channel. After a fair amount of research I settled on a chap by the name of Sean Mize. Sean came with three key ingredients … he actually was able to build a business on the internet from scratch (most started from web design companies), he produced his own training materials (most outsource both coaching and course development) and he told the truth (press a button and get tons of traffic isn’t his style). And to boot he was the number 1 author on EzineArticles.com.
So why am I telling you all this?
I’ve arranged with Sean to make his courses on internet marketing available to you my loyal subscriber. The first of these is his List Building MP3 Series. This is a 10 MP3 training course that will turn you into a list building machine. Plus there are bonuses!
If this sounds like something you might need check it out here!