This email came in last week from a Houston-area CEO. He wants to publish a book about his business.
I hope all is well. So my question(s) are, how does one even start to write a book on something there’re passion about? Every time I even begin to think about writing a small book about what I enjoy doing and how others can apply it, I get stressed just thinking about it. How does a person get started? What materials are needed? How long does it normally take for a book to be written?
Here’s my response. It’s shared for all of you business leaders who aspire to write a book but don’t know where to start!
Thank you for reaching out. I understand it may feel overwhelming at first when you’re considering writing a book. Finding the time and a starting point are both challenges. I have a few suggestions.
Outline: You may find it helpful to start by brainstorming a simple list of ideas that you know about. It can be a list of services you provide, or frequently asked questions, or myths about your industry, or your reasons for entering your industry in the first place. It can be anything related to your field. Keep adding to the list as ideas come to you. Then you can use this list as prompts to write when you have the time. Pick an item off the list, and write without worrying about perfection. You can keep it short and sweet. Simply get your ideas down. Pretty soon, you’ll find that you have a collection of writings, which can be the basis of a rough draft.
Accountability and encouragement: Finding the time to write is the biggest challenge for business leaders. We simply don’t have the time. One way to combat this is to join a local writer’s group or to schedule occasional workshops. You may feel inspired to write if you are part of a community. Two Houston-area groups to keep in mind are the Nonfiction Authors Association (there is a Houston chapter that schedules monthly speakers) and Writespace Houston (which offers writing workshops for all levels).
Professional assistance: If it is within your budget, many business leaders turn to professional writers and editors to make it happen. You can hand them a rough draft to edit, or you can hire them to interview you and to write your ideas for you. Either way, their job is to shape your ideas into a book with your goals in mind. We provide writing and editing services, and when we are booked, we refer clients to The Writers for Hire, which is a Houston-based team of writers.
As for materials, most writers simply use Microsoft Word. Many writers take one to two years to write their manuscript, but it can take shorter or longer depending on your time and goals. Everything beyond the manuscript (such as design and images) can be provided by your publisher, so getting your ideas on paper is really all you have to do at this point.
We wish all the best to this business leader and to the rest of you in 2019. Happy new year . . . and happy writing!
Ella Ritchie is the founder of Stellar Communications Houston, a book publishing team that provides a peaceful process and pride in every product for nonfiction authors, business leaders, and federal government agencies. For more information, connect with her on LinkedIn or check out the website.