book writing

The art of compartmentalising (or how I finished four books in a year)

The art of compartmentalising (or how I finished four books in a year)

During the last year I've helped four separate books come to life: a business book and three memoirs. My involvement in these has varied from drafting and re-drafting all 80,000 words to heavy editing and rewriting. In three cases I've assisted with self-publishing while the other book will be trade published next month (more on that next time).

While I've thoroughly enjoyed working on each of these books, the challenge has been that I needed to work on all four at once. They were all at different stages at different times, but none of them could be left completely alone for very long. In addition the books were all quite different from one another in terms of their content, style and tone.

Moving between them without losing too much concentration was not always easy. The secret to my success, I believe, was that over the years I've become quite adept at compartmentalisation of my time and focus.

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Hiring a ghostwriter? Here's what you're paying for.

Hiring a ghostwriter? Here's what you're paying for.

One of the first questions I get when someone enquires about my book writing services is, understandably, 'How much will it cost?' To which I respond, 'How long is a piece of string?' Well, not really. At least not in those words, though the sentiment is the same.

While I completely understand that a potential buyer needs to have some idea of cost, the challenge for a ghostwriter is that we can't afford to lock in a price that is unrealistic, and there are *a lot* of variables that determine how much work will be needed to write a book.

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If you want to convince me, show me the evidence

If you want to convince me, show me the evidence

One of the great things about writing a business book is having the time and space to explore an issue properly. You have something you want to say, or an experience you want to share, and a book allows you to do this in a way that feels 'complete'. It allows you to present a well-rounded argument.

If you're being honest with your readers, your case will be built on a solid foundation of evidence. You won't present an ideological view that you then back up with evidence that supports your case, no matter how tenuous, while conveniently ignoring anything to the contrary. That is the domain of neoliberalsclimate change deniers and anti-vaxxers

Rather, you will use real evidence. But what is 'real' evidence?

In the context of a business book, as opposed to an academic dissertation, there are two main forms of evidence.

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The power of a 'go to' routine

The power of a 'go to' routine

I've been a self-employed, home-based, full-time writer now for something approaching a decade. Which likely makes the extroverts amongst you a bit jittery. But it's a way of working that suits my particular personality quite nicely, thanks.

I'm often asked how I manage to work at home and not become distracted by other things around the house – housework, hobbies, even just the television. The answer is actually very simple: I have a routine, and I stick to it.

In fact the routine I use is more or less what I've been using ever since the first day I started working from my home office. Back then, I realised that if I was going to make the work-from-home thing work I would have to be disciplined about it – especially as I am someone who generally dislikes routine. From the very first day I was at my desk by 8am and it has been that way (give or take 15 minutes) ever since. 

The routine I use is built around my energy levels.

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Don't kid yourself. There are no shortcuts to writing a good book.

Don't kid yourself. There are no shortcuts to writing a good book.

They pop up now and again, either in my email inbox (as uninvited guests) or floating around social media. ‘They’ are the latest wonder solution to writing a book. ‘They’ are usually accompanied by a very long sales-pitch website featuring long lists of benefits, numerous glowing testimonials and, right at the bottom, an ‘order now’ button and a money-back guarantee. Either that or a great ‘limited time offer’.

The promise is to help you get a book written, easily and in quick time, by following a secret formula or revealing some other shortcut such as recording yourself speak and having those recordings transcribed. A bit of tweaking and … voila! It’s a wrap!

Unfortunately it is not that simple, and it can’t be. Not if you want to write a good book.

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

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

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.

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?

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Introduction, preface, prologue or foreword. Say what?

Introduction, preface, prologue or foreword. Say what?

Most book writers like to start at the beginning. It is, after all, a very good place to start. (Thanks, Maria.) However, like many aspects of writing a book, working out where to begin isn’t always as simple as it seems.

First-time authors often get stuck at the introduction. Until they have to write one themselves, most rookie book writers have never considered that introductions ain’t introductions. Some books have an introduction, but others have a preface, some a foreword and others still a prologue.

What’s the difference?

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