5 Stages of Baking a Book
Baking a book may sound weird, but bear with me. It's all relevant.
Creating a legacy doesn't happen on accident. As a matter of fact, it requires a series of distinct choices to be made, and necessitates going through a variety of stages to complete.
A book is one way to create this legacy, and it can have long-lasting, far-reaching effects. As well as creating a legacy, writing a book lends you and your business authority on your chosen subject. It's a chance to showcase your expertise, and reach a wider audience than social media alone.
Believe it or not, books do generate income, but not always how we expect them to. Instead of gaining income from royalties, entrepreneurs who write a book create a larger warm market and will create people who already know and want to work with you. A well-written book attracts clients to you, rather than needing you to go out and find them.
Now that we know some of the benefits of writing a book. let's look at the various stages of writing a book.
1. The 3 Pillars to Bake Your Book
I was a baker in a past life, and we joked that baking required 3 things to do it well: Chemistry, Engineering, and Art. Chemistry is knowing how the ingredients will react to each other, and what they should do during the baking process. Engineering is ensuring that your creation actually stays upright and where it's supposed to. Art makes it beautiful as well as edible.
To my surprise, I realized that writing a book also has 3 pillars: Research, Structure, and Creativity.
Research is there so that you thoroughly understand the principles you're writing about. A poorly researched book is all to obvious to anyone who knows about your topic and genre. Research can take many forms. One is you, as a writer, researching and verifying facts while you work or even before you begin.
When working with a ghostwriter, research has a slight addition. On top of you knowing your topic, you share it with your ghost in a series of interviews. The ghost will ask questions to ensure we understand what you mean, and even pore over those interviews to find language and slang that is unique to you. This ensures that the manuscript sounds like you.
Structure means you know how to construct a story, a chapter, paragraph, and a sentence. Writing a book is different to copy, content, and social media writing. It can be learned, but it has to be learned in order to create a book that will leave a legacy behind.
Creativity is being able to keep it fresh, rethink your word choice, and come up with new ways to say things if the first way didn't work. This is something I run across when working as an editor for anthology books by entrepreneurs. Sentences can be unclear, but the entrepreneur, who is writing about deeply personal feelings and memories, is unable to rethink or restructure the sentence or paragraph.
2. Deciding What to Write About
This may sound ridiculous, but the truth is that not all of our life experiences and knowledge are relevant to the topic you're writing about. Deciding what to write will depend on what you want your audience to learn and experience while they read your book. It also depends on who your audience is.
Just as you had to niche down when you became an entrepreneur, you'll need to niche and compartmentalize your life. What will help show your readers that you understand what they are going through?
Not only this, but what purpose will your book have? Are you using it as a freebie to give away to people who sign up to your email list? Then a shorter book, 20-30K words may be best. Is it intended to reach a wide audience, create greater authority, and be a good way for people who aren't yet sure they want to work with you a chance to learn something? Full book length, minimum of 40K words works best for those situations.
Creating a basic outline can be helpful because it provides a visual, allowing you to see exactly what is in your book. How many chapters will you have? What information will go in each chapter? You don't need to write an essay, here. A sentence that lets you know what it is will suffice.
This is my favorite part. Using your outline (or making it up as you go along if you've decided to pants it), begin writing down the information. This is where structure and creativity really come into play.
It's important to always keep the purpose of your book at the back of your mind. I like writing it down and having it where I can easily see it. The purpose will influence your word choices and overall structure of the book and each chapter.
Remember that the first draft will not be brilliant. It's not supposed to be. It's literally so that your ideas can be out in a longer format, easily seen and read. There's a reason any and every good author encourages editing, and that's to take your manuscript from good to great.
However, without a manuscript, the editor can't do anything, so don't give up!
Most ghosts prefer it if their authors read through the manuscript, make changes and leave comments. It personalizes your manuscript even more and brings you fully into the writing process. So, take opportunity to go over it as often as you can and make those small changes. It's worth it!
A few notes: Reading your manuscript out loud may sound onerous, but it's so worth it! It helps you with improving word choices and finding a multitude of small errors. Another one is to try not to use the same word too often in a sentence or paragraph. I'm not talking about words like 'and', 'the', and 'but'. But if you're writing about pain, don't use the word 'pain' 50 times in that chapter, Find other words to describe it.
Believe it or not, this step is frequently forgotten or brushed under the rug, but it's so important to acknowledge your accomplishment! Roughly 81% of people dream of writing a book, but only 1% actually do it.
You've done something amazing and incredible by writing your book and you should take a moment to celebrate it. I know so many authors who simply sit at their laptop with their favorite beverage and look at the last sentence of their manuscript for twenty minutes.
Celebrating can be that simple.
To those who have gotten help writing their book, or even hired a ghostwriter: CELEBRATE! Because the same principles apply. You had to take steps, find a ghost who understands you, and share your knowledge and stories with them. It's brave, and cathartic, so you should definitely celebrate, especially once your manuscript is done.
When I finished both of my novels, I couldn't function properly for the rest of the day. I was walking around on Cloud 9, but also totally bereft. Like, writing this had been my purpose for so long, and now it was gone, but at the same time...I'D WRITTEN A BOOK!
Some people say writing a book is hard work, but I follow the words and teachings of a master of his craft, Sir Terry Pratchett, who said "Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself."
And it was truly fun, an adventure from start to finish. Even the editing process. Finding the words to describe what it feels like to have finished a book is currently outside my abilities, probably because you don't feel just one emotion, but several, all jumbled together, twirling like a washing machine on the spin cycle.
You have joy, elation, and accomplishment spinning right along with terror and uncertainty. A lot of those last 2 is due to the fact that now you have to figure out how to do what comes next:
5. Publishing and Marketing
Now that you have your manuscript, there are a few new things that need to happen. Deciding whether you want to self-publish, use a micro-publisher (they're more likely to work with entrepreneurs that big, traditional publishing houses), or go with a hybrid publisher.
If you self-publish, you'll need to find an editor, without question. I recommend using Reedsy. It's a website that is virtually one-stop shopping for your editing and proofreading needs. You'll have to make an account, but once that's done, you answer a questionnaire about what you need and the style of book you've written. Then, select the editors that appeal to you and send them a cover letter and a sample of your book and see who responds.
I believe you can find cover artists there, too. There are also a number who do pre-made covers, or you can go on Fiverr. I went with a company that specializes in my genre, which made the uploading process easier because my margins were met. Or, you can design your own cover. If you take that route, good luck.
While all of this is happening, hopefully, you're brushing up on your book marketing and learning a few strategies to try. Don't worry, not only can you change your strategy, you almost certainly will at some point. There are a number of books available. I won't recommend any because I haven't yet found the perfect one.
If you decide to go with either a hybrid or micro-publisher, most of the above issues will not longer be yours. The main difference between a hybrid and a traditional publisher is that with a hybrid, you still retain the rights to your book and you have final authority over everything.
Otherwise, both have editors, proofreaders, cover artists, and marketing teams available to you. You will still be responsible for a minimum of half your marketing, but this way, you have people who will work with you, answer your questions, and who understand all those little numbers.
Most of my clients prefer the hybrid route, but it all depends on you and what you want to accomplish. The biggest thing is to not let anyone tell you what you 'should' do. Do what works for you, and once it no longer serves, choose another route. Just remember that you always have a choice.
Hopefully, this post has given you an idea of what you need in order for you to go from a dreamer to the 1%. This is a basic guide and barely skims the surface of what's involved.
If this has cleared matters up and you're ready to go, fantastic! Head over to my profile and let me know!
If, however, you still want to write that book but you've realized you need support in some way, please ask! You can get more details about the services I offer or make an appointment to chat at my Work With Me page. Book the chat if you just want to gain clarity on your next steps, figure out what's stopping you from taking steps, or even to get clear on your topic.
My whole thing, what I love seeing most, is women telling their stories and not being silent. Too often, women don't talk about what's on our hearts, we don't share our enthusiasm or our knowledge. I want to make that happen, so let me know how I can support you!