As many of us swelter through the pre-Christmas heatwave here in Australia, shopping, travel planning and events there’s probably not much headspace to think about much else. However, I know for a fact that the next two weeks are THE time when many people decide that 2024 is going to be the year they commit to writing and publishing their book.
In fact, over the past two weeks I’ve had several conversations with people who have decided just this. A couple contacted me mid-year but weren’t ready…now they are. Four other ‘have been thinking about their book’ for some time – two years in one case. Others are just getting a head start on their New Year’s resolution.
I was reminded about the you of launching a book last Thursday when I was involved in the launch of Dr Sang Phan’s memoir, From Vietnam to Australia, at the University of NSW. The photo of Sang below says it all. Earlier on this year I promised Sang and his wife, Kim Chau, that we’d get his book published and launched this year, and we did it.
How to start your book project
The biggest challenge most of my clients face, and pretty much all first time authors face, is not knowing how to start. For some it’s how to start writing about their idea, for others it’s about the process they need to undertake once they have written their first draft. And most people aren’t sure if the concept of their book is any good (if anyone will buy it).
There’s a lot of fear around all the unknowns about the book writing and self publishing journey, and that’s quite understandable. It’s taken me 30+ years in publishing and over 32 books I’ve written to acquire the knowledge and insights about successfully writing and publishing a book. I share much of this knowledge and my insights on my monthly BLOG and in over 180 articles on LinkedIn. So, if you’re the type of person who likes to research things thoroughly you can spend some of the holiday break reading through these.
Don’t start writing yet (unless you already have a first draft)
While I work with people who have an idea for a book through to those who have completed the first or second draft of their manuscript, this advice is for those who have an idea for a book and haven’t started writing.
The most common mistake most first time authors make is to start writing without thinking about their purpose and goals, their target audience and the challenges they face and the intersection between these and the knowledge and insights you want to share.
It sounds simple when it’s presented like this yet 90% of authors get caught up in what they want to tell/share and don’t give any thought to who their audience might be and what they are keen to know about.
It doesn’t matter what the topic of your book is: leadership, HR, heart attack prevention, body image, a memoir, family history, diversity and inclusion, saving the planet understanding why you want to write it, what success looks like for you and how much effort you are willing/able to put in to marketing it are mission critical if you’re going to successfully write and self publish a book that meets your goals.
Here at The Book Adviser we have an 8 step, 12-month program and the first two steps are about goal setting, planning, target audience, content outline development. Only after all this are you ready to write.
The self publishing revolution
Self publishing has democratised publishing in fantastic ways. No more faceless editors hiding behind the standard rejection letter or email. No more giving up the bulk of the sale price of the book to the publisher, distributor, bookshop and more.
But wait. Self publishing requires you to become the publisher, taking on all the aspects of getting your manuscript from its first draft to a printed, published book available for sale and all the marketing and promotion required for the world to know your book exists. It’s a bit like deciding to build a house and creating a rough design plan, then taking on all aspects of getting your plan to fully compliant, design and engineering drawings for approval by council THEN taking on all aspect of the actual build. Yes, this is do-able but do you really want to go on this learning curve? It’s likely to result in some expensive lessons, take longer than you planned and may not be what you actually wanted/needed.
You wouldn’t climb Mt Everest on your own. You’d engage the best guide, support team and train, a lot. You book is the same. There’s much you can and should do…and there’s a whole bunch on unknown unknowns…starting with what you should write.
Using Chat GPT and AI
If you’ve been following me on LinkedIn or my Blog you’ll know I’ve been exploring the opportunity that ChatGPT can provide in the writing process. I am excited about it and have started deploying it across my own writing and with our clients. Just a note, this post is all my own work although the promotion of it across my social media channels has been informed by Chat GPT.
Once you’ve written your first draft you’ll need to revise it several times…and here’s some AI tools that can help you with this. Many of you are probably already using elements of AI. Auto-correct on your text, word and phrase suggestions when you write, using tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway Editor https://www.semrush.com/blog/content-editing-tools/ AutoCrit, Mater Writer, SmartEdit and Pro WritingAid.
I recently worked with Peter Stanford on his book, The Little Book of Chats…written with the engagement of ChatGPT. It was a fascinating exercise and I learned so much, and realised I have much more to learn. Do yourself a favour and buy his book…it’s the best starter pack for how to leverage ChatGPT in your writing.
For all its hype and my enthusiasm embracing it, as a writer I am still passionate about and committed to writing original works, taking true ownership and responsibility for the words I craft, the insights and knowledge I share and the feedback I provide.
Are you ready to commit to writing your book in 2024?
As 2023 rolls through to its end and you turn your attention to 2024, the big question for you is:
Are you ready to commit to successfully writing and self publishing your book?
If you aren’t sure and want to have a conversation with me to gain some clarity on what this looks like for you, what your book idea is, how to think about it, structure it, the audience, your purpose and goal contact me. I am working over the Christmas/January period as I have a manuscript to complete by the end of January and clients who are working hard to have their books ready to launch in the first quarter of 2024.
Watch this space. . . .it could be you by the end of 2024.