Do you ever dream of becoming a published author?
Apparently many people do, but very few ever achieve it.
I think that’s one of the main reasons why authors are so revered and lauded in our society… to many people it seems like an unreachable goal.
Certainly once I became a published author, I heard it so many times…
“I could never write a book Ed… I just don’t have enough time!”
The thing is, having spent less than 40 hours writing my second and third books, I now know that whatever excuse someone gives me for not writing a book is just that…. an excuse!
(Apologies if you were using that excuse, but sometimes we all need a bit of tough love!)
So, if you want to become a published author, here’s the good news…
- You do not need much money to write and publish a book – it can be self-funding.
- You do not need much time – which seems to be the biggest block people have in their minds, (and in this article I’m about to smash it to smithereens!)
- You do not need to be Seth Godin or Arianna Huffington.
On this last point; I’m confident you already know enough to write more than one book.
I’ll bet just about any business owner on this planet—or at least someone who has been in business more than a few years—knows enough to write ten books!
How to Write Your First Book, Fast!
In this article I’m going to reveal how I wrote my second and third books in less than 40 hours of consolidated effort.
However, before I do that, let me first give you some background on how I got into all this.
Way back in 2003, a business mentor advised me to write a book.
He told me it’s one of the fastest ways to gain recognition as an industry authority, and as a published author with a large following, he obviously knew what he was talking about.
However at the time it sounded like so much work, I did what most people do when they’re assigned what they believe will be a mammoth task.
Eventually though, I did start writing… but I did it as a series of emails, one email a week for 24 weeks… and I did it in a way that I got paid to write them.
As soon as I wrote the first email (chapter), I put it online and made it available on a subscription basis, using a combination of PayPal, and an email autoresponder service.
If you’re wondering, the service I used back then was Aweber, but these days I use the fabulous ConvertKit and also the amazing Kajabi (the latter of which also let’s you sell online courses – it’s amazing.)
Anyway, even though I’d only written the first chapter, I instantly got paying customers by promoting it to my email newsletter subscribers, and also through recommendations and joint ventures.
The result of that was an extra stream of recurring weekly income for me.
More importantly though, in terms of writing a book, it also meant I was highly motivated each week.
Knowing I had people paying to receive the next week’s instalment was a big kick up the arse!!
Quite often I’d procrastinate all week, and then found myself staying up late Sunday evening to write the next instalment which was going to be delivered in a few hours time, early Monday morning.
So every week for 24 weeks I typed out the next chapter and pasted it into the email autoresponder, which automatically sent out the next email in sequence.
I didn’t have to do anything else other then type – delivery was automatic, and this seemed like a great way to write a book.
At the end of those 24 weeks I had 24 quite lengthy emails—all of which simply had to be pasted together, expanded and illustrated where relevant and turned into a book.
Or at least, it should have been!
It was a full three years from me writing the first of those 24 emails to me finally publishing them all in book format.
Three long years.
Now I can cite tonnes of reasons for the delay, but in truth it was mainly just plain ‘ol procrastination.
I got busy with other things instead.
Also I think that because I spent so long writing the twenty-four emails—twenty-four 24 weeks to be exact—I’d also lost my momentum.
(Which is a very big issue that my new book writing technique completely eliminates. I’ll get to that in a moment.)
Anyway, the book was huge for me.
As well as being a powerful marketing positioning tool and sales-lead generator, it’s had loads of extra side-effects which I never foresaw. (For example my book was the reason I ended up being filmed at Pinewood Studios a few years later, but that’s a story for another time.)
My point is it does not have to take you three years — or even 24 weeks — to write a book.
Using the following approach my second book took just 7 days of consolidated effort.
For clarity; By consolidated effort I mean if you cut out the gaps and just add up the time I spent on it — it was equivalent to no more than 8 hours a day for 5 days, or 40 hours in total.
In fact I know it was less than that, but I want to keep this realistic, so let’s say it took me 40 hours!
So, follow these steps and you too can become a published author—probably in less time than most people spend writing a small brochure or report!
Here they are…
STEP 1: MIND-MAP
First of all ‘mind map’ the main points you want your book to contain.
I’m quite a ‘visual’ person and find this is a really easy way to play around with the overall document structure – to add, edit or remove sections until it contains all the points I want to cover, and in the right order.
Then for each each Chapter I’ll add an extra level of detail (or in mind-map parlance, ‘nodes’) which ultimately became sub-headings…
Mind-mapping has been around a long time now, so I’ll assume you’re familiar with the concept or maybe even use it yourself? If not leave a comment below and I’ll do a video on how to do it—it’s quite simple.
For mind-mapping I use MindManager, which is a fantastic piece of software I use, not just for mapping out books but also for planning all of my other video and audio programmes, ‘to do lists’, and lots more.
If you have a limited budget please be aware that although MindManager isn’t cheap, there are plenty of free alternatives. You can even mind-map the good old fashioned way by grabbing a pen and paper!
If you know your subject matter well, mind-mapping your book shouldn’t take any more than a few hours.
After that, the next step is to…
STEP 2: HIT RECORD!
With mind-map in hand, I simply load my favourite audio recording software and hit the record button – then I simply talk through every single point on the mind map.
To do this you’ll obviously need audio recording software. Most PCs have recording software built in, but it’s usually pretty basic.
I pay for the Adobe Creative Suite subscription which includes Adobe Audition—it’s excellent.
Again though, if you have a limited budget, a quick search on Google will bring up tonnes of low-cost or even free sound recording software, like the excellent ‘Audacity’.
And don’t forget, your iPhone can record audio files which you can easily send to your PC.
Unless you use your phone, you’ll also need a microphone to do the recording.
At this stage the quality isn’t important, so even a cheap headset will suffice.
The beauty of a headset is that it leaves your hands free to operate your keyboard and mouse during recording – which is helpful because you’ll want to scroll around your mind-map while you’re talking.
MindManager has a great presentation mode for doing that — it gives you recorder style play/forward/rewind buttons to go through each point one by one. I suspect most mind-mapping software have similar features.
And because it’s so important I’m going to repeat this point —if you want to create a book super-fast, do NOT worry about getting the audio word perfect. If you say something wrong just keep recording — and correct the mistake by restating what you just said.
Mistakes can be easily fixed ‘post production’ – in the next step…
STEP 3: GET IT TRANSCRIBED
Or, if you don’t speak clearly or simply want someone else to help, then at this stage you can pass the buck.
Send your audio file off to be transcribed and typed up into a Microsoft Word document.
Simply upload your audio files to them, and in less than a week they will email back the raw transcriptions.
Now it depends on how fast you talk, but for me, one hour of audio comes back at between 20-22 pages of A4 text at 12 point Times New Roman. Three hours of narrative produces enough pages for a decent size book.
STEP 4: CHOOSE A TITLE AND GET THE COVER DESIGNED
No doubt you already know what your book is going to be called. Either way, you need a catchy title.
If you’re not sure what to call it, simply browse Amazon for inspiration. Check out the list of best-selling books in your category to see what type of titles sell best. Obviously don’t copy any titles, but you may be able to create a variation on some of the ideas you see.
Once you’ve come up with a great title, next write a subtitle that explains more about what the book contains.
The subtitle should be ‘plain English’ — something that succinctly alludes to the main benefit(s) someone will get from reading your book.
Quick tip: Review your mind-map to decide what the best bits are, then work them into your subtitle.
Once you’ve got a title and subtitle you can outsource the cover design.
There are loads of book cover designers out there, only a quick Google search away. Also try sites like UpWork and also check out ‘design auction’ sites like 99Designs which let you run a contest and choose your favourite design.
Choosing a title and outsourcing the cover is fun, but it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) take long.
I’ve seen some wannabe authors spend months ‘working on’ their book covers, but don’t fall into that trap because if you’re following this process then at this point all you’ve got is a probably fairly rough transcription of an audio recording that’s not good enough to print as a book!
What you need to turn that rough stone of a transcription into a highly polished diamond is…
STEP 5: EDIT THE TRANSCRIPT
Turning your raw transcription into a finely polished diamond of a book is where the rubber meets the road. It’s the key part of the process.
Yes, the book cover is what will initially grab people’s attention, because as we all know, most people ‘judge a book by it’s cover!’
However, it’s the quality of the written words inside the book will largely determine your success as a published author—at least in terms of the book elevating your status to that of a ‘revered expert’.
So how did I turn all three of my books into highly-polished ready-for-print manuscripts?
Well, I used…
MY SECRET WEAPON!
My ‘secret weapon’ is the single most important factor that helped me become a two-times published author in less than 7 days.
My secret weapon was… a book coach!
That’s right, I hired a coach.
Just like a professional golfer hires a coach to improve and maintain their game… I hired a coach to help me write my book.
What does a book coach do?
Well I would imagine not all book coaches are the same, but I can talk from the experience I had with my coach.
My coach helped me formulate a solid concept for my book, and then acted as a weekly ‘accountability partner’ to make sure I kept on target with my weekly writing goals.
She helped me get all three of my paperback books ‘out of my head and into print’, and also made sure I didn’t allow too much ‘geek language’ to slip into any of my three books undetected.
This was really important for me, because I’ve been doing Internet Marketing for so long I have a tendency to use jargon and obscure acronyms when taking about my subject matter.
That’s not good, because my books are targeted at non-tech small business owners.
So my coach would read through my book as I completed each section, and ask me to explain any parts of it where I’d used too much technical language. Then she got me to put my explanation in the book, instead of my original tech talk!
This meant all three books were suitable for my target audience of non-technical business owners.
Chances are you may be so close to your subject matter that you may also use ‘industry jargon’ that may not be easily read by whoever your target audience is. Having a book coach is a good way to make sure you write in layman’s terms.
I can’t express enough how biog a role my coach helped me in becoming a three-time published author. If you want to put your book publishing on the fast track, email me and I’ll let you know who I recommend.
STEP 6 & 7: TYPE-SETTING & GETTING THE BOOK TO PRINT
Type-setting is where your plain text is turned into a proper book design.
Now type-setting is a huge subject. There are so many nuances to it. Which is why it is CRAZY that I taught myself type-setting in order to get my first book ready for print.
I say crazy because that one decision delayed the launch of my first book again by months!
I used Adobe InDesign, which is an amazing piece of software, but if I did it all again I would 100% outsource typesetting.
(For clarity I’m talking about typesetting for a proper printed book, not a digital-only ebook. I’d go down a different route if I was producing an ebook only, for devices like the Amazon Kindle.)
Although I saved money doing all the typesetting myself, I lost months that I could otherwise have spent promoting the book and getting traction with it.
It also cost me ‘hard money’ too, because of ‘lost opportunity’.
In the time I spent learning and then doing the typesetting I could instead have done more paid consulting. The cost of typesetting would have been a small fraction of what I could have earned if I’d instead used the same time for paid work.
I was a control freak and I paid the price. Don’t let them same happen to you.
Take my advice and outsource the typesetting and also the subsequent steps involved in getting your book to print.
And yes there ARE more steps to get your book to print, but I’ll cover them in a future article.
For now, you just need to…
If you dream of becoming a published author then I hope this article has shown you what’s possible, and given you am easy to follow system you can use to make it happen, fast!
Start mind-mapping your new book today, and take the first step to becoming a published author in less than 40 hours.
P.S. Let me know when you publish your first (or second or third) book—I’d love to hear about your success as a fellow author.