Every solopreneur has a story hidden within. It may be the story of their struggle to launch into solopreneurism, or perhaps a plan to help others do the same by learning from their mistakes. If you have ever thought about writing a book for your business, the task can seem overwhelming. But, with some guidelines to help you begin and stay focused, you can produce a quality piece of work that adds value to others and can significantly raise your business reputation. Ready to begin? Let’s go!
The best overall piece of advice most every successful writer will share is to start writing. Although hundreds of thousands of books are produced every year, there are many more that stay unwritten. Excuses and obligations come between us and our goal and fragments of book notes get lost in the shuffle. Doubts about our own abilities assail us and we quit before we actually begin. The secret to writing a book is having a process and trusting it enough to follow it to the end.
Let’s take a look at a proven writing process.
Choose a Topic
If writing a book for your business as a solopreneur, you will want to choose a topic that resonates with you as well as with your target audience. A book that scratches where others have an itch will catch on and be imminently useful to a wide audience. Such a work will establish you as an authority on your chosen topic and drive consumers to your business.
Great writing is always about something. Likely, you already have a topic in mind or you wouldn’t be considering a book. Why did you choose this topic? Why and how will it grab readers’ attention? Write the basic premise of your book in one sentence. Then, explain it in a paragraph. Very likely, you will discern some natural steps or divisions in your explanation. This will be the beginning of your working outline.
Construct a Basic Outline
From the explanatory paragraph you wrote above, establish a basic one-page outline. Every story must go somewhere. If you aim at nothing you are guaranteed to hit it every time. If your topic is related to business, most likely it will require a systematic explanation that is easy for readers to follow. This is where an outline is crucial.
After writing out a working outline, construct a table of contents. Each section could be a chapter, or a division with several chapters in each. This is labeled a working outline because, just like your writing, it is a work in progress. As you begin writing you may discover that some sections demand more detail or explanation and will require more space. Change your outline and table of contents to reflect any revisions in the book’s framework.
Go Where the Story Takes You
Writing is a fluid process. As you research, plan, and put your ideas on paper (or a screen), the story may lead you into unexpected areas. Something you had not previously considered may be required for complete understanding. Whatever you discover in the process of writing, write about it. Be sure it is connected to the overall story and helps tell it; if you have any inkling that it could help tell your story, follow the path and write about it.
Later feedback and revisions can cull any extraneous chaff from your story. For now, you don’t know the chaff from the wheat. Sow both together and do the weeding later. Often, one will seem like the other in the process of initial writing. Don’t spend lots of time worrying over whether something should be included. For now, tell the whole story and let the story itself be your guide.
Have a Plan for Writing
It’s vital to have a structured plan for writing, and even more vital to stick to it. Writing when the ‘muse’ is on you, or in your spare time on weekends, only leads to unfinished works and ‘if only’ recriminations. Here’s a suggested writing plan:
- Write Every Day – Yes, every day. Set aside some time each day to write. Productivity must be systematic, not sporadic. Writing is a craft that takes regular practice. Choose a place where you write best and make that your daily writing space. Keep (or take) your materials there, get comfortable, and get to work. Make it part of your regular routine.
- Set Daily Goals – Set a time or word count goal for each day of writing. You may go over your daily goal, but never under. If your time is limited each day choose a time goal. One or two hours a day. Or even 30 minutes. If time is not your enemy, but focusing on writing is, choose a word count goal. Be realistic with these; if you’re new to this, 10,000 words a day may be a bit extreme. Start with 5,000. Or 500. Make it attainable so you can hit your goal each day and gain momentum.
- Set Weekly Deadlines – How will you measure (and spur) progress without a goal? (Aim at nothing and hit it every time, remember?) Set weekly deadlines to complete so many hours or so many words. Again, if time is your enemy, set your goal by hours of writing per week. If focus is your enemy, set a goal of words written per week. And like the daily goals, attainable goals for the week help to build confidence and momentum.
- Re-Write – After completing several sections, take a break. Then go back and look through your early draft. The break is necessary to catch your breath and erase your ‘random working memory’ so the writing appears fresh. With each sentence ask yourself, “How could I say this better? Clearer?” Some obvious things will need to be eliminated, but don’t focus on cutting content yet. Just zero in on the best writing possible.
- Get Feedback Early – As you complete rewriting sections, ask trusted authorities to review them for clarity and content. If possible, circulate each section among a few friends simultaneously. Listen to their comments and advice and don’t take it personally. Make the necessary changes. Early changes now will save time and pain in the editorial process later.
- Re-Write Again – After collating all the feedback from reviewers, go back and rewrite each section incorporating the ideas and changes that best fit your story. Again, don’t take this process personally, and don’t be too quick to cut or change things you feel are vital to the story. Feedback isn’t always precise or accurate; that’s why you seek advice from several different sources. Compare what was offered, use what is best, and discard the rest.
The Importance of an Editor
Don’t skip this step. Every business engaged in publishing content should be concerned with the impact of their communications. That certainly includes a book you write as a solopreneur that promotes your expertise. Your writing often forms a first impression for your audience, and you only get one chance to make that pivotal first impression. Don’t leave it to chance. A professional editor can work with you to make your story more compelling and clear. They can help with such things as pacing, structure, and basic copyediting to produce your absolute best work.
Remember throughout the editing process that the final say is yours. The book is your creation. You have every right to argue against, modify, or reject suggested changes to your work if you believe they are not in the best interests of your story. A professional can provide technical expertise; they cannot look into your soul to discern the unique passion and heart that comes through in your writing. As with any advice, weigh it carefully and choose wisely.
I recommend circulating the editor’s suggested changes among some trusted authorities and friends to get their feedback. Sometimes we can be blind to our own mistakes and shortcomings, and do not readily accept criticism. If several trusted sources agree on needed changes, it’s a pretty good indication they should be made. In a multitude of counselors there is wisdom. Use it.
Get It Out There!
Release your book to the world! Send query letters or copies to prospective publishers, self-publish on Amazon, produce an eBook and make it available on your website, or whatever your chosen venue. But get it out to the reading public and give it a chance to make an impact.
Of course, you must let your audience know it is available once published. Promote the book through email, social media, on your website, and through every possible venue. Consider promoting pre-orders in the run-up before publication, print excerpts on your blog, and run a contest where others promote the book for you and get chances to win a free copy. Get creative and don’t hold back. Once you have chosen a writing process, trust it guide you to excellence, and proudly promote the results to the world! Good luck!