Write and publish your book in a year – Step 4: Writing tips

Visit this blog's 'Write a book' category page for previous posts in this series.

What's that? You haven't finished your draft since my last post in this series? C'mon! You can't be serious!

Only joshing.

No one – well, hardly anyone – drafts a whole book in a month. So at this stage on your journey I'd like to remind you of a few of things you can be keeping in mind as you write, and give you a couple of new things to think about.

Recap of the three major questions

Once you get into the swing of writing, it is easy to become buried in what you know and lose sight of what you want your book to achieve. It pays to constantly check yourself by revisiting the three major considerations raised previously:

  • Who is your audience? Who is this book for? Who will be reading it? How much do they already know about your topic?
  • What is your message? What is the single main thing you want to say with this book?
  • What is your purpose? What are you aiming to achieve with his book?

It is often worth posting these questions, along with brief answers, on the wall in front of you so that you can keep coming back to them as you write.

One of the risks of having expertise in your topic is falling back into assuming your audience knows more than they actually do. After all, some of the basic stuff seems obvious to you. Remember that that is not the case for your readers – otherwise you wouldn't need to be writing this book.

There's also the related risk that you'll start going off on tangents, remembering new material that you suddenly think is essential but which didn't make it into your outline. Make a note to revisit these things later. Some of them may indeed qualify to be included in this book, while others really belong in the next book. Don't spend too much time writing up this tangential content until you're clear about which category it fits in to.

Book length: what are you aiming for?

Anyone who has done any bushwalking, mountain climbing or long-distance cycling will appreciate what I mean when I say that knowing where you are heading, and being able to see the end destination, can make the journey seem much more manageable.

So it is with your book. As you write, it helps to have a sense of how long, in terms of word count, your book is going to be. Then you can get a real sense of progress as you note the word count on the bottom of your word processor slowly building.

As a rough guide, you can bank on an average 175 to 250 words to the page in a printed book. In other words, a 200-page book would be 30 to 40 thousand words. Many of the business books I have worked on as a ghostwriter are only 25,000 words long. There are, of course, a lot of business books that are much longer than this, but my view is that in today's environment 25 to 35 thousand words is a good target. (I have heard American self-publishing expert Dan Poynter say that the ideal length for a business book is 144 pages.)

Chapter and session targets

Knowing how long you want your book to be can help you develop more 'bite-sized' target word counts for each chapter and for each writing session. For example, ten main topics/chapters spread over 30,000 words means about 3,000 words per chapter.

Similarly, you can use your book's target length to set writing targets for each session. If you've given yourself a deadline to complete your draft, you can work backwards to calculate how many words you need to write each week, each day and even each hour. Try not to beat yourself up if you don't meet these targets religiously, however they can be a powerful motivator for some people.

Remember the rules of drafting

But remember: notwithstanding the issues I've raised in this article, what you are writing at this stage is only your first draft. Don't allow considerations of audience and language, and the desired length of your book, to get in the way of your primary task – to keep writing and complete a draft.

Happy writing!

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please contact me directly, via our Facebook page or in the comments below.

Image by Jodi: https://flic.kr/p/deC5j4

Posted by