Whenever I mention that I write books, I’m frequently asked about my writing process and how I went about producing Connected to Goodness and Compassionate Capitalism.
The most important step when you decide to write a book is to take the time to do what I call a RIC analysis: First, take a look at the Reasons that you want to write a book. Next, consider the Impact that your book is going to have. Finally, review the Capabilities you have, want or need in order to write the book you desire.
Not only will these three steps give you alignment, better preparing you to move through the writing process, but this approach will also significantly help you to avoid wasting time, money and energy.
Putting a RIC into practice
When it comes to the Reasons that you’re writing the book, you need to focus on the message you want to share, and how exactly you want to get it across. The most important Impact to consider before writing includes whether there’s a big enough audience (aka demographic) to support your book. Next, are there clear takeaways that you’re going to provide your readers? What value do these takeaways present? These are important questions that you need to ask and have concise answers for, before starting down the path of writing your book.
Finally, you need to analyze the Capabilities that you have (or need) to write the book, as well as what you need to do to get it published. Every author must determine how they’re going to publish. While today it’s easy to self-publish, first you need to put together a publishing plan using the AAA strategy: getting Alignment, taking Action and then preparing for Adjustment.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
If you’re having trouble answering any of these questions, do yourself a favor and seek out a mentor. Before I started writing my book, I went to the Napoleon Hill Foundation and asked bestselling author Greg S. Reid for advice about doing an evergreen business book, on the order of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. Reid’s input was immensely valuable.
Had I not been humble enough to ask for help, I never would have been able to produce the quality of info in the book I ended up with. Reid shared his situational knowledge from his writing career and the “dummy tax” he paid along the way. As a result, I was able to avoid many pitfalls — simply because I asked for help in an area where I wasn’t an expert … yet!
Elevate your communication savvy.
When it comes to actually writing the book, putting words on paper, your level of success comes down to one key ingredient: awareness. For example, if you’re a leader who wants to write a book about leadership, you need to be fully aware of what you’re teaching others and how your words will empower them. Then, ensure you have a replicating system to capture this valuable information.
When I write my books, I come up with an overarching topic and identify different subtopics that I can use to create chapters. I have an introduction in mind, in which I’m going to give my readers an overview of what I’ll be talking about, and, very important, that I show clear value to them. Then, I map out the structure for roughly 10 chapters. Finally, I write a brief conclusion to remind readers about the topics that are most impactful and summarize my message.
Preparation and education
I know that one of my great capabilities is doing research and then presenting that information orally; so, I teach each chapter to my team, then I have the audio transcribed. That transcription is what I use to start the self-editing process. Others may prefer to just dive in and type the chapters via computer, or hand write first on a legal pad. It doesn’t matter which style you prefer, as long as your process is efficient, productive, and repeatable.
The entire process can be boiled down to five simple things.
- Come up with good ideas or a good story — what I call channeling.
- Capture these ideas when you share them with others.
- Amplify them with edits, additions, adjustments, rewrites and a polish for professional-style prose.
- Put these ideas into a book format that perpetuates these ideas.
- Have a good editor review your final draft before going to press.
Book as a brand
Your book might not make you a lot money. But, its value goes far beyond dollars and cents. It is a platform, a calling card and a source of credibility, that allows you to build your brand. Once you get a following who enjoys your written content, you then can share your value through other media: videos, audio, blogs and even more books.
I love using the traditional format of books to get ideas and principles across, but the real amplification and perpetuation come from what you do with the following you get from publishing a book. This is called marketing and promotion; and is a full topic for a future blog. So, stay tuned.
Remember: Make sure you’re clear on the Reasons, Impacts and Capabilities for writing, while ensuring that you use the AAA Strategy to stay aligned with your goals.