Student Examples: Write Your Book
Welcome back to How to Write and Publish Your Ebook. We just heard from Srini Rao about his amazing daily writing practice, a thousand words a day and all the little hacks that he uses to make that happen to make that time productive, and how he's able to produce 365,000 words a year and be okay with the fact that maybe only 10 percent of that is really publishable, but all of the work that comes out of that has led to extreme amounts of momentum towards his books, towards his podcasts, and his business as well. So, we're gonna now kind of shift gears and go back to student examples because it's easy, again, for me to talk about this stuff. It's easy for Srini to talk about this stuff, but what about you, how are you going to approach actually taking the work that you've done so far, putting it into an outline, and making it all make sense? So, we're gonna go with one or two examples in this segment. We'll see how far we can get, but first I want to welcome Stacey up into the hot seat.
Stacey come on up, come on down.
So, first, tell us who you are and what you do, and what you think you're writing your book about.
So, my name is Stacey Howe-Lott, and I help entrepreneurs create better training, and I think my book is going to be about a speech I gave.
Yes, well tell us about the speech.
So, I was lucky enough to be able to speak at your conference, and I spoke on how to easily create training that actually gets results for your learners as opposed to the training that doesn't get results for your learners.
Yes, perfect, so can you kind of run down the outline of that talk, because I'm assuming if you're gonna base it on the talk, that there's sort of like the outline of the talk is the outline of the book, yes?
Yes, so the talk was outlined into three steps that I think you first, for training, you need to start at the end, like, we say, "Ooh, what do I want to teach?" instead of saying, "Wait a minute. What does my learner want to do?" And if you start at the end with what your learner wants to do, then it becomes very clear what content should be in and what's out. So, that's the first piece, and then, the second piece is to think small, tiny, like we all do this huge, and we're gonna teach all the stuff that we know, but that's too much for our learners. They just need a little bit of what we know, and then the third step is to think action, like we think, "Oh, if they just knew more information," like Google hasn't existed, right?
So, if we just give more information, that'll make a difference, but if you're really looking to change someone's behavior, information isn't what does it, it's action. So, you need to think in terms of what actions do I need them to do to then get the result that I want them to get.
Fantastic, so you've got a transcription of this talk. We're gonna guestimate for right now, 'cause it's still in my email inbox.
It's somewhere. (laughs)
It's somewhere. (laughs)
But I will get that.
In Upwork, yes, but right now, you'll get, and so let's guestimate that that's about 5,000 words. So, you're probably gonna want to flesh it out a little bit more. It was a 20 minute talk as opposed to like an hour long talk, so, you're probably gonna want to flesh it out some more. What's some of the other content that you've produced over the last year maybe that you could use to flesh that out?
I've got workshops, I give workshops on the same talk. So, I've got that, I didn't record it, and I'm thinking why didn't I record those workshops. So, I've gotten day long workshops that I present.
Think of outlines and slides.
But I've got outlines, and I've got content, and I've got workbooks.
So, I've got a course on it. So, I've got all of my workbooks that go with it, so that's probably another 3,000 words that would supplement that, and then I've got blog posts that would supplement, and then I've got interviews that I've done that I can go back and get transcripts off of those.
Yes, yes, yes, those interviews.
And then also, client work, working with clients that, asking people permission of course, but using these great examples of what students have done, and I've got tons and tons and tons, you know, all of my client work, and then going through and looking to say, "Okay, what's the perfect example of this that will support that point?"
Yes, that's what you should do. (laughter) Thank you for illustrating that perfectly. Yeah, and I love, yeah, client work is actually one of the pieces of content or the sources of content that we didnt' talk about earlier. I mean, how many of you guys record calls with your clients? I do, right?
I do for them, but I never even thought of recording it for me and going back and saying, "Oh, that was brilliant, what I just said, right?"
Exactly, sometimes I get off the phone, and I'm like I need to go back to that one,
Yeah, yeah, that was good. (laughs)
'cause I was on fire today. (laughs) Yeah, you can get that all transcribed or even just listen to it and use it as your inspiration. You know, Srini was just talking about how he starts the day sometimes with just a quote. Well, maybe you start with a quote from yourself, like this was a brilliant piece of information that I shared with that client that resulted in this amazing result, and here, I'm gonna expand on that and fill that out so that it becomes a piece of that bridge content that we were talking about, but I love the idea of using interviews and client work as ways to flesh out that shorter talk because that way you've got tons of examples in everything that you're doing as well. That's definitely one of the ways that I have fleshed out my books in the past is going back to old client examples, even new client examples and saying, "Hey, this was our thought process on this, and it created this example that really perfect." This time I get to do it with my podcast, which I'm really excited about too, but yeah, so do you have any questions about what kind of content you're gonna pull from or how you're gonna get it all organized?
Well, I think by being clear on the result that I want, by being clear on my ideal client or the ideal reader, I think that's gonna then narrow down what's included and what's not.
Yeah, exactly, just like you would for a course.
Right, it's very similar, right, and it's a very similar process. Yeah, and I love including the examples, 'cause I mean theory's great, but we don't learn from theory. Right, we got to see that in practice and be like, oh I see it. The stories and the practical examples I think really do the heavy lifting of the teaching.
Yeah, so it sounds like you might, like Shannon, also have a complimentary workbook that goes with it as well. Yeah, and you can just repurpose that as well. You know, make some adjustments, edit it so that it's in the same format as the book but then boom, workbook, perfect.
Yeah, I thought this was going to be so much harder.
It is not that hard, that's what I keep telling you people. (laughter) It's really not that hard, all right, awesome.
Okay, thank you.
Thank you, Stacey. Lacy why don't we have you come up as well. We were talking about how, since Lacy makes content for a living even more than I do, but that is literally Lacy's job is to make content, that this would be a good time to talk about how to kind of whittle that down and really look for that core nugget. So, let us know who you are, what you do again, and then let us know what book idea you're working on.
Okay, so I'm Lacy Boggs, I run the Content Direction Agency, and I help small and micro business owners figure out how to use content marketing to actually impact their business.
Yes because a lot of people do content marketing for content marketing's sake, 'cause you're supposed to, right?
It doesn't actually impact your business. So, tell us about your book.
So, that is my nugget I think that I want to talk about iS how to connect the dots between content and sales. So, I think there's so much information out there about like oh, how to get more traffic to your blog, how to write that blog post that's gonna go viral, how to use the Buzzfeed headline, whatever it is, but they don't tell you how to convert that into a sale. So, getting the traffic is great, but I can't off the top of my head remember who said this, but there was something about second click content. So, the first click content is what they come to your website for, but you want the second click content that's gonna keep them going. So, I want to connect the dots there for people.
Fantastic, okay so why don't you give us a rundown on what you're planning to include, sort of like that overview outline for what this book is going to be.
Sure, so I too want to talk about working backwards because I believe you start with the end in mind, so start with the sale in mind and work backwards to create your content plan. I want to talk about having the message, the key idea for the whole series of blog posts. So, the blog posts don't stand alone. They support one another, more like a chain or a path you're leading people down, and then that it's really less about selling. It's not that buy now, buy now. It's leading them down the path and answering these key questions for people so that when you say, "Oh, and by the way, I have this thing," they're like yeah, let me have it, I'm ready. (laughs)
So, what do you want people to be able to do when they're done reading this book?
I want them to be able to create a content plan for their blogs that will lead to more sales.
Boom. (laughter) (indistinct speaking from audience member) Everyone's like I want that, okay, great. Do you have a title yet?
Okay, we'll work on that, we'll make sure everyone knows. So, tell us about some of the content pieces. I'd actually love to hear about that one blog post maybe that you have in mind that's I've skimmed the surface with this blog post, and I want to take it and build it out into something that people can really use to make a huge difference in their businesses.
Sure, sure, so I've talked for a long time about sort of an old school copywriting formula. It's AIDA, that I use to explain to people how to create these sequences of blog posts, but there was a post I wrote where I combine that with sort of the customer like where they're at in their journey. So, are they brand new, they don't even know they have a problem? Are they solution-aware, you know, so on, and for me that was like ding, ding, ding. (laughs) So, I think that's a really good one as sort of the centerpiece.
Fantastic, so you're really going to be defining an actual process then in terms of the book?
I think so, I think so, well, and that was a question I had for you. So, I am a how to girl, like if you've read my blog, you know that I am like here's how you do it. Here's my formula, here are the steps, but I'm wondering if the book should be more the why and the how comes somewhere else or if it should be both?
Oh man, that's a good question. A lot of times in content marketing, people say, you know, you write the why and sell the how.
Which I suck at. (laughter) I give everything away. (laughs)
I think it actually misses the point of why people buy. They can, just because you give them the why, they can go Google the how, I mean, come on. That's not why people are buying. People buy for an experience, they buy to hold themselves accountable. They buy to go deeper, they buy to get access to you and to get your feedback. So, there's all these other reasons people buy. I think there's lots of examples of books out there that are the bread and butter of what someone does, and actually copywriting books is a great example of this. There is a long, I am a copywriting nerd. So, I'm not the best copywriter in the world, but I am a copywriting nerd, so there's a long history of copywriting books of these Mad Men style guys, and women too, coming out of their careers, writing these books on exactly their process for copywriting. They sell like hot cakes, they become these Bibles of the copywriting industry. Then, they go out of print, and then you can buy like a crappy used paperback for like 300 bucks or more, anyhow, there's this whole thing, but it hasn't stopped people buying super expensive copywriting classes or super expensive copywriting. I mean, the people that write these books are the people that also go and sell a sales page for $50,000 or $100,000 plus revenue share. Right, so, you can tell someone exactly how to do something, and it doesn't preclude the sale later on, additional buying. In fact, that kind of transparency, people love that, and if anything, it's going to enhance your sales later on, and just keep in mind why are people going to buy in the future? They're not buying for the process. They're not buying for the how to. They're buying for some other experience that they're looking for from you, and whether that's a done-for-you service or whether that's additional learning or whatever it might be. So, I think with that topic, with where you want to position yourself in the industry, with what you're selling later on and all you have to offer, I would just lay it all out, I mean that would be a phenomenal way for you to stand out in the content marketing industry that people are just not talking about that. You know, Brian Clark might be one of the only people who kind of even mention it ever, which I appreciate, but this is a really good way for you to get on the radar of, not just potential customers, but lot of influencers as well. This to me sounds like a book that's going to be read by influencers. People are going to say, "Thank goodness somebody actually wrote that down so that someone's demystifying this." There's probably tons of, I'm rambling now, but there's probably tons of content marketers out there that are like, "You know, I wish someone would actually talk about what's involved with this," but they're not doing it. They're busy making money doing content marketing for people and getting crazy results. You're the one with the drive to write the book. I would write, and like Charlie said, write a book that you're proud of or no, Srini said that. Write a book that you're proud of, right? That book is gonna change people's lives, right?
I think so 'cause so many people blog. I talk about it being like throwing spaghetti at the wall, you know. Spaghetti's not a strategy. (laughs)
Yes, exactly, exactly, so that sounds fantastic. Any other questions?
No, I think that's good.
Thank you, Lacy.
So, in the next step, we're gonna be talking about editing and formatting. So, if you've ever wondered how exactly you go about getting that manuscript or those notes out of Evernote and into a format that you can actually use, like get it into the Kindle store, get it onto the website, we're gonna talk about that in the next step. Plus, we're gonna talk to the editor of my last two books, Amy Scott, the founder of Nomad Editorial, and she's gonna have some tips for, not just self-editing your work, not just working with a friend, but actually how to work with an editor if you choose to, how to find one, how to make it's the kind of relationship you need. So, you guys ready for that?
Awesome, let's move on to step three.