How to write a book

Word count: 868 words

Reading time: About 3 minutes

Does the idea of writing a book seem impossibly delicious and ridiculously improbable? I’m here to tell you, you can do it! You can learn how to write a book, if you do it with me.

When I first dreamed of writing a book, I had no idea what to do. I knew how to write, of course, but I was so naïve I didn’t even know the standard word count required (it’s 60,000 to 80,000 words, by the way).

From my experience as a newspaper editor, I understood how to work with printers and graphic artists, but I certainly didn’t know the ins and outs of shopping carts. I also had no idea how to chain my butt to a chair for the necessary amount of writing time.

Well, I learned. It was hard. It was lonely. And I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I struggled with maintaining my momentum – a slippery beast. I had to sever my habit of editing while I wrote. And I had to figure out how to write AND do my “day job” at the same time.

But, I finished. And 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better, has sold extraordinarily well – better than I ever expected. Now, I’m thinking about doing another book; this one will be a memoir, not related to writing.

Do you want to join me?

Loneliness and lack of knowledge are two challenges that can turn your writing-a-book dream into a nightmare.

Take a look at what Ernest Hemingway had to say about writing-related loneliness, on the occasion of his 1954 award for the Nobel Prize for literature (for The Old Man and the Sea):

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing.

I’ve posted before about the perils of writing groups, and I share Hemingway’s view that they can sometimes distract and discourage rather than help. I know I used to belong to a business website that had me posting a dozen times a day and breathlessly awaiting responses from others. When I finally noticed how much time it was costing me, I left the group.

Here’s the problem with associations like that: They’re too big, too diffuse. They don’t direct their attention at a specific enough goal.

So, I’m doing something different. I’m creating a small, highly focused group that will concentrate on just one objective: Writing a book. While the program is likely best suited to those who intend to self-publish, even those who want to find a conentional publisher can use the group to produce a manuscript.

Here’s what I promise you:

  • Personal attention: There will be no more than 25 people in the group, maybe far fewer. You can’t join simply by paying the fee – you’ll have to fill out an application form, convincing me you have the necessary time/commitment to succeed.
  • Vital information: There will be at least one webinar per month (for every month EXCEPT August), perhaps more if necessary. These webinars will present tried-and-true tips about writing and self-publishing and will allow you to ask me any questions you like. If you aren’t able to attend, you’ll be sent a recording.
  • Group support: You will have access to a membership forum where you can ask questions of me and other writers in the group at any time. You’re also welcome to email me privately.
  • One-on-one advice: You’ll receive two one-on-one coaching sessions with me, each 45 minutes. You can schedule these at your convenience throughout the year. (I like to use Skype or Facetime so you can do this from anywhere in the world.)
  • Accountability: We will all be required (I’m including myself in this) to commit to producing a certain number of words each day for five days per week. I will expect you to email me, five days per week, the number of words you actually wrote. (Participants can have three weeks of “writing holidays” per year.) I will record our results on my website for everyone to see.
  • Individual support: You will be assigned a “writing buddy” from the group and you will be expected to email or phone this person at least once a week for mutual support.
  • The secret sauce: You will have access to the names, emails and phone numbers of my own copy editors, graphic artists, printers, web developers and shopping cart providers.

By the way, anyone who is writing a thesis — and looking for a good accountability lever — is also welcome to apply to the group. (I will need at least two thesis-writing applicants for this to work.)

In addition to writing my own book, I’m going to be devoting considerable time to managing this group. As a result, it can’t be inexpensive. But the current price is the lowest it will ever be, because the program is new.

Write A Book With Me will start in mid-October. Registrations will close at 4 pm Pacific, Friday, October 4 and the price will be $1,195.

You probably have some questions so check out the FAQ on my website, and listen to the recording that’s available there, as well.  Alternatively, you can also ask me any questions you like in the comments section below. (If you don’t see the comments box, click here and then scroll to the end.)

If you’ve been putting off writing a book or thesis then now’s the time. Let’s spend the next year helping each other write.

Have you ever tried to write a book? How did it go? Do you have any questions about my new program? Ask them here.We can all learn from each other so please share your thoughts with my readers and me by commenting below. (If you don’t see the comments box, click here and then scroll to the end.)