What’s the best way to write a book?

Simple: Just start writing.

Well, okay. There’s a little more to it than that. When someone asks me how to go about writing a book and I sense they’re serious about it, I do offer a few suggestions. Here’s what I tell them.

First, write about what you know. I’ve spent many years working with businesses, helping them improve the effectiveness of their business, marketing, and the sales process. Essentially, I write about what I’ve learned along the way, my ah-ha moments from working through various challenges my clients experienced. I also draw ideas from watching the world at large and how things are trending.old typewriter copy

Second, write a little every day. I don’t have the time to sit at my keyboard for eight to ten hours straight. But I can and do set aside Saturday mornings for writing and, because I’m an early riser, it’s easy for me to spend an hour or two getting a couple hundred words down before the sun comes up or the phone starts to ring.

Third, write something else first. For example, when I wrote How to Give Your Business an Extreme Marketing Makeover, that book followed another project – a mini-course and workbook by the same title. Once I had the workbook in hand, it was easy to transition to the book. My newest book, How to Close More Business in Less Time, contains new ideas that didn’t make it into the first book, as well as dozens more I’ve accumulated in the past two to three years.

Fourth, write the way you talk. For whatever reason, people who are eloquent speakers choke when it comes to writing. Perhaps there’s still some old school influence at work that makes them feel they need to use vocabulary they’d never naturally use when speaking with someone.

I write the way I talk. That comes naturally to me. For people who have a hard time with it, I often suggest using dictation software that allows them to speak as it magically turns what they say into text. I use it periodically when I have many ideas that I want to capture quickly and my fingers can’t keep up.

Fifth, write fast. People try to write the perfect sentence, the perfect paragraph, and the perfect chapter in a single sitting. I’ve never been very good at that. I find the best strategy is to get as many ideas down on paper as quickly as possible and then go back and review what I have written. This allows me to rethink my ideas and find a better way to express them.

Finally, hire a good editor. Although I used to think of writing a book as strictly a solo activity, more and more I’ve come to realize it’s a team effort. The key is to find an editor that helps you express what you are trying to say more clearly but without changing the meaning or your style.

Way back when I sent a draft of my first book (no longer in print) to an editor only to see you come back sounding like a medical textbook. In her mind, she thought formal writing was more important than conversational writing. The key is to come to an agreement ahead of time regarding exactly what you want the editor to do. This time, for How to Close More Business in Less Time, I found an extraordinary editor. You’ll find her name in the acknowledgments of the book.

There are many other ideas and tips I’d like to share about regarding how to write a book. But this is a blog post. I desperately try to limit myself to fewer than 650 words and I’m at the finish line!

Maybe I should write a book about it. Or better yet, I’ll open the door to as many comments as you’d like to post – right here, right now!

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2 Responses to What’s the best way to write a book?

  1. I think non-fiction needs to be more friendly and approachable. So many non-fiction books make me snore. And I often don’t finish them. Your style is fabulous, more conversational, easy to read. Even someone that doesn’t understand sales and marketing can learn a lot with your books.

    • Gil Effron says:

      Thanks, Karen. No two people are alike. We each have unique skills and abilities. My writing is what it is. I can’t write technical material. But others can. Yet we all have a great deal to say. One answer is to find a good editor and allow the editor latitude in how they approach things. You may have heard me say this before, writing is much more of a team sport than most people think.

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