How to Write Your Book the Fastest Way Possible
Welcome back to How To Write and Publish your E-Book. I am so excited about what we covered in Step One. We saw an amazing example with Shannon. We talked about all the reasons you guys want to write books, all the things books can do for you, so let's talk briefly just a little bit about that again, so that you at home can get really excited about this process of writing a book, 'cause yeah, it might be simple and straightforward, but it is some work, too, and as I said, most of us are gonna be writing these books in stolen moments, those early morning hours, those late nights, maybe a weekend afternoon, and so we wanna make sure we're doing this for all the right reasons. So why do you wanna write a book? Do you want more speaking gigs? Do you want more clients? Do you want more credibility in your industry? You wanna make some more money? Do you wanna just to have that awesome feeling of finally being a published author? And for me, that was a huge piece of it. I had wanted to be an...
author since I was a little kid. I was a weird little kid. (chuckles) And so, for me, it was really a kind of a lifelong dream to accomplish this task. Hitting that publish button was huge, but what it's done for my business has been even bigger. All right, so, I want everyone to take a deep breath, remember why they're writing this book to begin with. Now let's talk about where we're at in this process. So in the previous step, we talked about how to choose your topic, and build an outline. And we used the book proposal process to kind of hone your topic down, refine it down into a diamond, something you can deliver in eight to 10,000 words. If you wanna write more than that, be my guest, but that's what we're really aiming for, a short, succinct, easy to read, easy to consume, easy to engage with, easy to take action on, non-fiction book. That's what we're doing here. So that's why we needed to get it down to a a diamond of an idea and build our outline from there. Now in step two, which is what we're working on now, we're gonna talk about how to write your book the fastest way possible. You guys all have blogs? You got blogs, yeah. You got podcasts? Who has podcasts? Lacey has a podcast. You have courses, you've done talks, you've done workshops, you have tons of content. Guess what? The fastest way to write a book is not to write a book. (audience laughs) It's to weave together the amazing body work that you have the way that Charlie was talking about in our first guest expert interview. And so that's the fastest way to write a book. Now just to review a little bit from step one, here are the core parts of your book proposal, sort of your pre-writing for this whole assignment, the overview, why it's important. The ideal reader, who do you wanna have actually reading this book, who it's for. The market analysis, what it's gonna get compared with and most importantly, how is your book different. Why you should write it, the author information. The outline and table of contents, what's gonna be in it. And then finally, that introduction, which I asked you to write in step one, so that you were really set up for success, so that you had this beautiful context, the beautiful container for weaving together your work and producing this gem of an idea. But for this step we're really gonna focus on your outline and table of contents, the meat of the book. So you've got that introduction now, you have all this pre-writing done of why the book is important and who it's for, what it's gonna do for people, how it's gonna stand out on the virtual bookshelf, now we need to talk about what's actually going in it. All right? So I wanted to show you the example of the book that I am working on alongside this class, so yes, I'm trying to put together a book and a class at the same time, and I've been on the road for six weeks, this is maybe not the best idea I've ever had. So the book is called Lead Yourself Backwards, and it's based on the keynote that I gave at the first-ever conference that we put on called Quiet Power Strategy: The Summit. I actually had the idea for the book before I had the idea for the keynote, which is not normally how I do things, but switched that around, and so what I've done here, this is just an example right out of my, I copied and pasted straight from my Evernote, and I'm gonna show you a little bit about that, but what I wanted to really show you here is that this is as simple as my outline is, right? So I break it down and there's gonna be six chapters, an introduction and a conclusion, then I go into some specific stories and points that I wanna make in that outline, but this is all it is. This is all you really need. And then I'm gonna show you what I do with this from here, because as I mentioned, the fastest way to write your book is to not write your book, it's to weave together your body of work that you already have. Now as I was preparing this class, I came across a little post on Facebook from a colleague of mine named Crys Wood, and she is a digital publishing consultant and the founder of Paper Crane Publishing, and I just loved this 'cause it was exactly what we were gonna talk about in step two, so I was like, "Crys, can I please use this in the class?" And of course she said, "Sure." So her message to authors, people who want to publish or want to become authors, and this was just an update on her Facebook timeline, I loved it. She said, "A little love note about that shortish Kindle book you've already written-- "though you may not have realized that yet. "That 45-minute talk your gave or that class you taught? "7200 words. "Did you teach a three-part series? "21,600 words." She also does some transcribing. (audience laughs) "Your first draft is done. "Somewhere, it's in your stuff, "it's just waiting for you to pick it up and finish it off." Like I said, I have got hundreds of thousands of words in my blog. If I wanna pull together an eight to 10,000-word book in the next 72 hours, I absolutely could. I could start it in the morning and have it ready to publish by the evening, really. It would not be my best work, but I could do it, right? I have, and that's just in my blog. Then we have, oh I think we're up to 40-some episodes of the podcast. Each of those are so many words, so many stories to tell. I have talk after talk after talk that I have recorded and can be transcribed. My program, my signature Quiet Power Strategy business coaching program, is over 60,000 words, 'cause I have all that transcribed and in different files, right? You guys have more books you've already written than you could ever imagine, right? (audience laughs)
Right, we're outa here.
Yeah, exactly. (audience laughs) Let's just shut it down. All right, so here's what I do. Once I've got that outline done, because I know I already have this book written, I start laying it in. So what you'll see is exactly the same outline that I used here, but now there's places on that outline if you guys can read it, they can read it at home, that's what's important, (laughs) where I have links to specific blog posts that I have written. I have episodes of my podcast denoted in there. Anyplace where I know I have that content already, whether it's in outline form, blog post form, transcription form, slides, I find it really easy to write from slides. I could take a keynote presentation, like I could take this keynote presentation, and just write it down in a matter of a couple hours, and I'd produce tons and tons of words. Not that words are really our goal, but words seem to be the scary part, right? So this is to show you that, again, this book is almost already written. That first story in the introduction about alphabetizing a book store? That'll make more sense when you read the new book. (laughs) But I have that story in the transcription from that keynote. It is done. All I have to do is go in and clean it up, all right? That's how this works. It's really easy. Then all I need to do is focus on creating what I'm gonna call bridge content, the things that bridge those individual pieces together. Because like Charlie said in our expert interview, our blog is not coherent. It's not consistent. So even if you're just building a book straight from your blog, the best you could hope for is a set of essays, which is great. That's what my first book is. It's a set of essays. But if you wanna create something that's more consistent, has a solid narrative arc, makes a really strong argument for a particular point of view and message, you're gonna wanna weave that together a little bit better. And so that's your bridge content. It's the introduction and conclusion to every chapter, it's weaving a couple of stories together, maybe it's writing an extra chapter that fills in a hole, but at most, maybe you're writing 2,000 words, 3,000 words? I can write 3,000 words in an afternoon, right? So that's not hard, it's not time-consuming, but it will make the difference between a mediocre, just fast to hit the publish button as fast as possible product and something that can really stand the test of time, but that you can still deliver incredibly quickly. So I wanna show you how I actually do this. And this is something I have never done on Creative Live before, which is actually kind of lay something out for you. I normally talk like big ideas and scary strategy things. All right, so I'm gonna actually show you how I lay my outline out in Evernote. And the reason that I love Evernote so much other than it's on my phone, it's on my tablet, it's on my computer, it that Evernote allows you to create notebooks of notes, which means I can very, very easily, in a tool that I'm already familiar with and does brilliant word processing in a fast way, I can build a book right in my Evernote. So here's what I do. Well, actually, let me show you what it looks like for that Lead Yourself Backwards book, and then I'll show you actually how to do this exact thing. So this is how I actually go about laying this thing out. You saw my outline from earlier. So what I do is for each section of the outline, I create a different note. Lead Yourself Backwards, this first note here, is the book proposal process, the pre-writing that I've done ahead of time. I actually went and wrote an overview for this. I outlined my ideal reader. I talked about what books it might get compared to, what makes it unique, why I should write this book, okay, that was more of a thinking process for me, and then here's that table of contents, all right? And so I've got all this in here. So from there, I take that table of contents, and like I said, for each section I create a new note. So here's the introduction, or how to alphabetize a bookstore. That's the introduction to this book. I write it, it's in the notes right there. Here's chapter one, Filling Your Air Sandwich. Again, I write the chapter, it goes in there. And this particular chapter was kind of picked piece-meal from a couple of different blog posts and then also from that keynote that I talked about earlier, so there's some transcription stuff in there, and there's some previous writing. And then I just keep going, and as you can see, a lot of these are empty, and that's okay, because those empty ones, that's my to-do list. I know anytime I go back into this book, I can pick up the book wherever I want to pick it up. I can edit an old chapter or I can write a new chapter, right? And so I've got these last two empty chapters plus the conclusion that still needs to be written. That's all there is to it. The reason this works so well is because you break it down into manageable chunks. Again, you don't write a book from start to finish. You're going to write it in small essays. You're going to write it in whatever questions are inspiring you right now, whatever messages are inspiring you right now. And so setting it up this way allows you to do that really easily. Plus, this is available anywhere, so if you find yourself on the subway,, or in the passenger seat in the car, and an idea strikes you, you remember a story, "Oh, that story would go great in my book," you pick up your phone that has the Evernote app in it, and you just start writing again. This way, you've got it organized, you know exactly where you are in the process, you've got a great place to just kind of copy and paste stuff. So that's the other piece of this puzzle is that once I have that whole outline in individual notes and I do go in and do it first off, right, I start off with all those different notes, and all those empty notes, then I can take those past blog posts or transcriptions that are transcripts that are in my blog or wherever that are in my outline, I just copy and paste it into those notes. Then, I can see again, exactly where I need to write bridge content. My next step from here is actually, once I've got this all written in and kind of roughed out, is I will copy and paste it into a Google doc. That I don't have here. You guys can do that. It's copying, it's pasting, Google doc. The reason I do that is because it's so easy to share from there. And so the next step and what we'll talk about in our actual next step is editing and formatting your book, all right? For me, that's always a process of sharing. I might share it with my assistant, I might share it with my team, just to get some additional feedback, and I'm gonna share it with my editor. So first I compile it and then compose it in Evernote, then I copy and paste it into Google docs to make it easy to share. From there, I put it into whatever program I'm going to use to actually publish the thing. That's steep four, we'll get there, don't worry. But let me show you how to actually go about setting up a new notebook as well. So this is the notebook area, and this, again, this is the web app, you might have the app on your computer or on your phone, and it'll look a little bit different, but the idea is you go in, create a new notebook, name your notebook the new book, create notebook, boom, there is it. Add your notes, and fill out your outline right in Evernote. Questions about that? (student speaks off-mic) (audience laughs) It's very simple. The reason, we can go back to the keynote now. The reason I show this to you is because any time I've talked to someone who is successful writing and publishing books, they have a very similar process. I talked to Natalie MacNeil, who is a multiple-times published, traditionally published, author for my podcast a couple of months ago, and she talked about her exact same process. I don't remember if she used Evernote or not, other people use Scrivener as well, if you're familiar with Scrivener. I can't ever seem to get my head around it. That's why I use Evernote, but she uses the exact same process. She breaks it down piece by piece by piece. You can break it down even further. You know, if your chapters are maybe going past the 1500 to 2,000-word mark, maybe you break it down by sub-heads. So you've got your chapter, and then you've got subheads under that, and you break those subheads down. But like I said, anyone I know who is successful writing and publishing books has a very similar process in terms of taking an outline and breaking it down piece by piece and writing from there. Please, please, please do not try to write your book from start to finish. Are we clear on that?
Okay, good. So let's go back and actually talk about where you should look for existing content, because it boggles my mind, but people forget how much they've produced because we like to think that we're slackers and that we're lazy. Well, we're not. You guys are producing stuff all the time. So here's where you should look for your existing content. Look at your blog. Tons and tons and tons of stuff on your blog. Look at your videos that you've created, even if they're just like silly kind of one-off videos, maybe you shared a tip on Facebook Live. There's probably like at least 3,000 words there, and you didn't even reali..., it took you five minutes, and you just, it just came out, right? Get somebody to transcribe that, and I've been talking about transcribing a lot. I use a couple of different transcriptionists. You can find someone privately. You can look on something like Upwork and find people there. Plus there are other transcription services, transcription companies. Transcription is actually really inexpensive. It tends to be about a dollar, maybe a little bit more, per audio minute. So if you have this 60-minute keynote, that's 60 bucks, but remember, how many words were in that 60-minute keynote? Like 7,000. So what would you rather do? Rewrite 7,000 words or spend 60 bucks? I'll spend 60 bucks all day long. (laughs) Okay? So, you can do it yourself, you can have Dragon Dictation do it, something like that, but I highly recommend hiring a transcriptionist. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing, transcribing. Okay. Your podcast, whether that's interviews, or whether it's you just kind of talking and teaching on your podcast, it's a great place to get additional content. Webinars, have you guys all done webinars? Yeah, right there, again, seven to 8,000 words, every time you do a webinar! Crazy. Talks and community workshops. Start thinking about the content as you're creating it. I wish back in the day, I wish that I would have just set my Iphone to record every time I did a workshop. I did not do that. That is tens of thousands of words just down the toilet, (laughs) great ideas, great turns of phrase that I used in the minute, that I don't have access to anymore, right? Record everything, right? And even if you don't have it transcribed right away, even if you don't have a particular purpose in mind for it. Just keep the file. Tuck it away somewhere. Create a little folder on your computer where you can make use of it later on down the line. Keep it. Think if there's one thing you're gonna hoard, maybe content is a good thing to do, (laughs) right? So you've got all these opportunities. Can you guys think of anything that I've missed in terms of content?
Any long-form social media.
Ooh, yeah, so that's a ... I can't believe I missed that. Thank you, Lacey. So this is what Lacey does for a living, so (laughs) but yeah, so the first, I did a new Quiet Power Strategy tip or technique or idea, concept, almost every day for like thirty days. And some of them were really long, some of them were really short, but yeah, when I was writing that book, what did I do? I went back through my Facebook page timeline, and I copied and pasted those tips, fleshed them out, it's whole part three of my book, right? And I think it's some of the best stuff in there because it's the short stuff, it's the stuff that makes you think, it's the stuff that gets you to take action. It's not the strategy, it's not the philosophy, it's the stuff that's gonna get you moving. So that's part three of my book, comes from long-form social media. So thank you. Anything else that I've missed?
There's one thing I'm thinking about. There's a lot of times when someone will email me and ask me a question.
And then I'll email them back, and right there, that's like a thousand words.
Absolutely, yes. So if you're answering email from clients, readers, fans, a lot of times there's gonna be some real gold in there. That's a great thing to use on your blog as well. So if you're ever struggling for blog posts, go back through your emails. A lot of times people will actually even let you use their name and the situation. If not, you just make it anonymous, change the names to protect the innocent, and you can go from there. It's great content. Any questions about actually getting that book laid out and starting the writing process? I feel like I went through it really fast, but I think that's because it's honest to God really easy. (chuckles)
Do you go bomm, boom, boom, or do you jump around?
No, I jump around.
You just sort of...
I jump around. I have a terrible, a terrible, you know how Anne Lamott and Stephen King, when they talk about writing, they talk about butt in seat, right? Professional writers show up every morning and they sit butt in seats and they write something. I don't do that. (audience laughs) I'm not good at it. I'm not disciplined. (laughs) So I write when I'm inspired, or I write on airplanes. (laughs) And even so, on airplanes, even though butt in seat is the only thing you can do, I'm still, I wanna start where I wanna start. I'm, like I said, I'm highly undisciplined. So, yeah, I will jump around. Even when you've got things laid out chapter by chapter, and broken up like that, don't try to write it A to Z unless magically it's coming to you like that. Start with chapter four if that's where your brain is right now, or if that story just popped into your mind that's perfect for chapter eight, start there. And then while you're working on chapter eight, something that's perfect for chapter three, like, "oh yeah, gotta remember to explain this "in this chapter," just go and make yourself a note. And to me, that's the beauty of Evernote is being able to switch back and forth really fast and having those updates sync across all my devices. Nothing makes me happier than the syncing. (audience laughs)
The cloud makes me so happy.
I was just gonna say it's been very useful to me to have a log of all my blog posts and content upgrades and lead magnets. It's something I had my VA do maybe a year ago, and she adds to it, and so I just have an Excel document that lists all of my blog posts, and then if there's a lead magnet or a content upgrade that goes with it, and having that list, 'cause you forget. When you've been doing this for a while, you forget what you've written, so that can be a very valuable thing to have.
Yes, absolutely, and do you put keywords or any kind of metadata into that?
Mostly it's like dates and I do have categories, so that would be in my spreadsheet as well. So I know this bucket, this bucket, I could sort it that way.
Nice! Fantastic, that's a great tip. Any other questions before we move on to homework? No? All right, let's take a look at the homework from step 2. So first, set up Evernote with your outline. This is not hard. And then add your existing content to Evernote. So you're gonna be copying and pasting. Copy and paste from your blog, copy and paste from your transcripts. And then finally, write that bridge text, the bridge content that I talked about. Start weaving it together and edit your existing content to flow. You're not probably going to be able to use verbatim from your blog posts or from your transcripts, right? You're gonna wanna edit things, you're gonna wanna make them flow. That's just good anyhow. I don't think there's anything wrong with compiling and reselling things that you've already published, and at the same time, people love reading everything that you put out. I know you guys all have those people who would read anything that you put out, and so I like to bury it a little bit for them, right? And so I'm gonna edit some things, I'm gonna clarify some stories, I'm gonna reference things that I've talked about earlier, just making those quick edits. Remember, we're talking about eight to 10,000 words here. Yes, it's a lot. Yes, it is still longer form than you are used to creating on a regular basis, and at the same time, you can get through that in, definitely in an eight-hour workday, probably even in just a few hours. So step three of this homework is something that you're gonna continue working on throughout the next couple of steps, but I want you to bang out as big a chunk of this today as possible. Make sure at the very least you have all that content copied into your outline, you've got your introduction done, maybe you work on your conclusion as well, 'cause that's probably gonna be fresh writing too. And now at least you've got the bones of it done. Then over the next few days like us to get these books out in just five days, you are, well, three quarters of the way there, 80, 90% of the way there? I think that's incredible and we're just on step two. All right, so set up your Evernote with the outline, add your existing content to Evernote, and then write that bridge text and start to edit your existing content to flow together to create that consistent message from point A to point B. All right, so guys at home, I want you to let me know how this is going for you. As soon as you've got that Evernote outline or however you're organizing your content set up, I want you to tweet me or Facebook me, let me know that you've completed that part of this lesson, and then we're all gonna be writing and editing together. In our next step, that's exactly what we're gonna talk about is editing and formatting your book, but before that, we've got another guest expert, a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, and we'll have another student example as well. Guys, thank you so much.