Writing a Book – 5 Tips From an Expert in the Writing Trench
On Monday, I wrote about two tips from my list of check this tips. Okay, I admit it. Every expert has their favourite list of mistakes made. And the list of tips that have grown from those mistakes. Many of us even have a list over our computers. Just as decoration, you understand. We’d never actually use them. Very often. Hardly very often.
You can find any number of tips for new authors on the internet. They vary from how to write an article (usually masquerading as writing a book), to how to sell a book as an eBook. But new authors aren’t the only ones that face difficulties when writing a book. Experts sometimes need help too.
Of course, it’s hard for one expert to give advice to another expert. After all, who decides if an author is an expert? On what criteria can you make such a decision? Is it even possible to be an expert author? Every book is an adventure. Every author is new to that book and the problems encountered.
However despite these reservations, I’m going to share five of those tips that I wish I followed whenever I’m writing my books and eBooks.
1. A System is there for a reason
I teach people how to teach. I coach it in different words. But that’s what I do. One of the models I use is called the learning cycle. It maps learners against awareness versus capability. An expert is someone who is in the unconscious and capable quadrant. Unfortunately, the next quadrant is the unconscious and incompetent quadrant. As we become more expert and less aware we get sloppy. For writers this means we have a tendency to drop parts from our writing system. We skip over the hard tasks and the boring tasks. Unfortunately, they exist for a reason. When writing a book you need to follow a system. And that means all of it. Don’t innovate. Don’t change. Do that afterwards. When you’re writing a book, follow the system.
2. Marketing is important
Writers seldom love marketing. It requires two different personalities. I’m a writer not a salesman. But unfortunately, if there is no reader there is no reason for the book. And even the traditional publishers don’t really market books anymore. So that means you have to. And as any good marketer will tell you, marketing begins before the product is designed. You need to write with a valid market in mind. And then you need to find that market afterwards.
3. Only your reader matters
A book without a reader is a sad and lonely thing. There is only one thing that should matter to you as a writer — your reader. Not your words. Not your ideas. Not your opinions. And certainly not your editor. Your sole care must be to fulfill your reader’s needs.
4. This is not school – part 1
Indirectly, we were taught In school that there were part marks. That you could pass without doing a perfect job. That for every point you made you received a star. But in the real world there is only one star. When writing a book in the real world there is only one mark. There are no marks for getting it almost done. There are no marks for almost engaging your reader. There is only one mark. And that’s for pleasing your reader.
5. This is not school – part 2
One of those part marks we would get in school was for perfect English. Good grammar, good spelling, good vocabulary, good marks. Good Lord! The real world ain’t like that folks! No matter how good your editor. No matter how careful you are. You will have mistakes. They’re like dust in the air. Irritating but inevitable. And the only mark is for perfection. As for the grammar police — most of the grammar rules are fabrications of Victorian scholars suffering the effects of bad drink and worse food. They simply weren’t true, aren’t true and have little validity outside the scholarly world. There is only one rule when writing a book. Be easy to read. Your best friends are not the spell checker and grammar checker. It’s the readability calculator. And your own heart.