Why care about writing a book?
Isn’t writing a blog enough to engage an audience and grow a business?
I asked myself the same question before I wrote my first book last year.
But once you’ve written useful blog posts for a few months, writing a book becomes easier, and it allows you to reach a new audience. You gain an opportunity to forge new relationships, and win more blog readers.
Did you know that more shoppers start a product search on Amazon than on any “traditional” search engine, like Google?
And when you look for in-depth information on a specific topic, do you read a few blog posts or look for a good book?
Writing a book boosts your authority. You attract more quality clients. You can increase your fees. And you also deepen your own understanding of your topic. You have to stretch yourself, and that’s a rewarding experience.
This blog post explains:
- How to come up with bestselling book ideas
- A 7-step process to making book writing “doable”
- How to cope with the anxiety and stress of writing a book
Let’s dive in, shall we?
How to come up with a bestselling book idea
Kindle books don’t have to be long.
My first Kindle book has 11 thousand words, and the second has almost 23 thousand words. You don’t have to write the definitive guide in your industry. Instead, choose a narrow topic. Be focused, because that helps you finish your book project and gives you the opportunity to write more books.
But how do you choose a focused topic?
Your blog is your main research tool. Test your ideas. See what feedback you get. What questions do people ask? Which of their problems can you solve?
Don’t be afraid to give your ideas away on your blog first. How to Write Seductive Web Copy has 6 chapters, and 5 of them are based on blog posts I had already written. The book chapters, however, are clearer, more to-the-point, and more useful than my blog posts. That’s a simple process – each time you write about the same topic you get better. You learn more.
My second research step was to offer free web reviews to a few email subscribers. The value I received from these reviews was enormous. I understood better what people are struggling with. And that ignited my idea for writing an step-by-step copywriting guide for non-writers.
Writing a book doesn’t start with writing an outline. Your research phase begins much earlier. What topics resonate most with your blog readers? What questions do they ask you?
If you don’t have an engaged blog audience yet, consider guest posting to gain feedback. Never write a book before gaining feedback on your ideas and your writing.
Non-fiction books aren’t written in isolation, but in interaction with your audience.
How to make the book writing process “doable”
You’ve decided your topic. You know it’ll be popular. You know which burning problem you can solve for your readers.
Writing a book feels like a scary project. You might be used to writing blog posts of 1000 words or so, but a whole book?
I was terrified.
The key to making the writing process “doable”, is taking it step by step.
Step 1. Define your ideal reader
Whether you write blog posts, emails, or a book, you always need to know who you’re writing for.
Understand exactly what problem you want to solve and for whom. (You can download a form to describe your ideal reader here – no opt-in required)
Step 2. Write a sales page for your book
Writing a sales page requires you to define the benefits of reading your book. You’ve done your research, so you know which specific problem your book will solve. What will your ideal reader learn? How will you make their life better?
Write the benefits of reading your book down. Make a note of the problems you’ll solve. This will help you stay focused on your audience and solving their problems. You avoid writing irrelevant sections you need to scrap later.
Step 3. Outline your book
An outline includes a short description for each chapter. Are you presenting a series of tips on one topic or teaching a step-by-step process?
Understand how each chapter follows logically on the previous chapters, and write down the What, Why, and How for each chapter:
- What is the chapter about?
- Why should your reader care?
- How should your reader follow your advice?
Most writers describe the What and How, but forget the Why. But the Why is what keeps people reading a non-fiction book. Remind people why they’re investing their time, and how they’ll benefit from reading the next chapter.
Your book becomes un-put-downable when you promise readers you’ll solve their problems.
Step 4. Write your draft book
Have you written blog posts for each of your chapters?
These will form the basis of your book. But don’t string a series of blog posts together:
- Make each chapter better than your blog posts
- Ensure the chapters follow each other logically
- Chop irrelevant parts
- Read through the comments on your blog posts. Was anything unclear? Should you answer additional questions?
- Create an archive of reader questions you receive by email, too. These questions are precious because they guide both your blog and book.
- Add fresh examples
Your book shouldn’t be a collection of blog posts. Go deeper. Be clearer. Be more useful.
Challenge yourself to deepen your understanding, and share your knowledge with your readers.
Step 5. Ask feedback
Remember your ideal reader?
Find people who match your ideal reader profile, and ask them for feedback. Be specific in what you want from them. Here’s an example email:
After a couple of late nights, I have finally finished the beta version of the book.
Are you still happy to read it?
I’m looking for high-level feedback: Are any parts unclear or boring? Does the content raise questions that I don’t answer? Do any statements lack credibility?
You can add comments in the Word Document or make suggestions using tracked changes.
Feel free to point out any typos, dodgy grammar or rickety sentences, but please don’t let this slow you down. I will do one more round of polishing and then my proofreader will check the text word by word.
Don’t worry if you don’t have time to read it, but if you do, I’d love your feedback by the end of next week.
I hope you enjoy reading it!
Your beta readers should match your ideal reader profile. Encourage them to provide honest feedback, and be clear about your deadlines.
Step 6. Final editing and proofreading
You’ve edited your book in several rounds.
You’ve implemented the feedback from your beta readers. You polished your words one more time to make them shine.
You’ve worked so hard, you’re now sick of your book, and it’s time to hire a professional proofreader. You don’t want your book to be blemished by typos and grammar mistakes, do you?
Agree in detail what you expect your proofreader to do. As a minimum they should check typos, grammar, punctuation, and consistency of tone. You may also want to ask them to check you’re not using the same phrases too often, and to check quotes, names, and URLs.
Of course, an editor can do more – structure your writing, improve content flow, cut verbosity, and sharpen your wording. But if you’ve learned how to self-edit your writing, you can focus on proofreading only.
Step 7. Converting for Kindle
Converting your text to a Kindle-ready file isn’t a difficult as it sounds. You can even upload a Word document.
My preferred tool is Scrivener, as it allows you to create a table of contents easily plus you can add bullet points and numbered lists, which you can’t do with Word.
Allow yourself a day for formatting, and check your content looks good in the various Kindle versions–Amazon provides preview tools.
How to get book readers on your email list
You’ve published a book.
And people are reading it.
But wouldn’t it be even better if you could take your relationship further, and turn them into loyal blog readers? And clients?
Get book readers on your email list by offering them a valuable bonus.
For my first book, I offer worksheets, and I promote these at the beginning of the book, at the end of the first chapter, and at the end of the book, like this:
When people click to download the bonus, they get an opt-in page. This opt-in page is specifically for book readers:
On the opt-in page, you can either opt-in to receive the worksheets or leave. This has boosted opt-in rate to 86%:
You don’t have to offer worksheets as a bonus, you can write a bonus chapter, offer a series of videos or an audio recording of your book.
Think about your ideal reader, how can you entice him to join your list? So you get the opportunity to build a lasting relationship?
Getting people to read your book is great, but getting them to join your email list is even more valuable.
How to cope with stress and anxiety when writing a book
Writing a book is scary.
No matter how much research you’ve done, you start doubting your topic choice. You wonder whether your advice is good enough. You think your writing sucks.
Whenever we try something new in life, it’s exciting, but also nerve-racking.
A few tips to cope with your project:
- Don’t feel you have to write your book from start to finish. If you’re most comfortable with chapter 5, start with chapter 5. The most difficult chapters are easier to write when you’ve completed a few other chapters first.
- Find a writing buddy who understands your writing struggles and can offer encouragement.
- Allow time for your book to marinate. Good things evolve over time.
Above all, welcome fear instead of fighting it. Because fear shows you’re doing something new, something that’s important to you, something that’s exciting.
And remember, your blog audience has already told you they’re interested in what you have to say.
Your blog isn’t simply a blog
It’s not a marketing tactic.
It’s not a way to attract search traffic.
A good blog is like networking on steroids.
Start conversations and get feedback on your ideas. Find clients, make friends, and influence readers.
Your blog can be the start of a thriving business, by turning a blog into a book, and a book into an ecourse.
Share your knowledge with passion. Be generous. Write well. And who knows what will happen next …