How long should it take to write a book to grow your business? And what can you do to speed up the process?
I’m not going to lie. Writing a book is a big project. But if you plan well, it doesn’t have to take a super long time, and it doesn’t have to get in the way.
As a book development and writing coach, I have clients who own thriving businesses, manage large teams, raise children, and travel often. And they find a way to write brilliant books.
All it really takes to get your book done on time is preparation, planning, and perspective.
If you start writing without a clear, saleable concept — if you start without an outline or if you start with a sloppy outline, which is pretty much the same thing — writing your book will take forever.
There’s a good chance that you’ll never finish it.
But if you start with a solid, saleable concept and a detailed, clear outline, then you’re way ahead of the game.
After all, you’re an expert in your field. You know what you’re talking about. Once you’ve given yourself a topic, you can bang out the first draft in minimal time, without wasting time repeating yourself or going off topic and chasing down rabbit holes.
The difference between writing a book without preparation and writing a book with preparation is the difference between crawling through a maze and zipping down a superhighway.
You’ll never finish this book if your writing schedule is that you only write “when I have time.”
Everyone gets the same 24-hours each day. Nobody gets extra hours. You want to write a book? You make the time.
The way to make it is you set aside blocks of time in your week that you’re only allowed to put toward your book.
Some people work best in short-but-frequent bursts, so they might be better off setting aside something like two hours a day, five days a week. Others work better when they have large chunks of time to focus. So those people might want to block off two five-hour writing windows every week.
You can schedule your writing time according to your own habits and preferences. The important thing is to set goals for yourself and stay consistent.
Here’s a thought: if you write just one page a day, every day, you could have your book done within six months.
So far we’ve talked about how preparation and planning can seriously reduce and focus your writing time. But here comes the twist:
It’s actually not that important that you write this book quickly. It’s perfectly reasonable to take six to twelve months to get it right.
I know, I know — that’s easy for me to say. And you want it now.
But I’ve been helping owners, coaches, and trainers write books to grow their businesses for more than 15 years. And I can tell you from experience that writing a book in ninety days or writing a book in a weekend will cost you much more in the long run. Whereas taking the time to do it right will pay off in spades.
For one thing, if you approach writing your book as an unpleasant task you just want to finish as quickly as possible, you will do one of two things (or both): 1) only spout off the most superficial aspects of what you have to offer or 2) Use a bunch of derivative material from other experts.
You can get a book this way. I’d even venture to say this is how most self-published authors do it. But it’s missing the point. The reason being an author has for so long been tied to the notion of becoming an authority is because writing your book is supposed to make you a better authority! That means it’s supposed to be treated as an opportunity to learn. To gain new insight. To become better at explaining your most cogent points.
When you give yourself just a little more time (I’m talking a few extra months, people, not years!) and allow yourself to enter an inquiry, the process will help you become better at what you do. By inquiry, I mean use the process to learn more about your field and your role in it. Become better at explaining your ideas and methods. Increase your awareness of what makes your message unique, and make a compelling argument for where and why you divert from the herd for the betterment of all. Done right, the book writing process can end up providing you with the tools for improved sales conversations as well as new products and service offerings.
Whereas if you write your book too fast, you’re just going to end up with something to wave around while you tell everyone you’re an author. Whoop-di-do.
My philosophy: if you’re going to invest the time and money to write a book, then write a really good one. Write a book that stands out. Write a book that makes a real contribution to your industry and society. Do that and your book will stay current and relevant long after it’s finished, and so will you.
And if you’d like to go deeper, you can check out my book, How To Write A Book That Sells YOU.