Having a best-selling book is life changing. You will reach people all over the world and have influence and impact unlike anything else and people who you’ve never met will thank you for the difference you’ve made to their lives.
The written word bound into a book will give you gravitas and authority. If you have a burning desire to share your life lessons to help others, writing a book is the most powerful way to do that.
You will make money and for years after you publish. Clearly, if you sell a lot of books, you could make a lot of money and, in addition to your book sales, your book will benefit your business. My client, Monika Thoma, wrote a book on marketing and has made £100,000 in the four years since her book came out, from clients who came to her after buying her book. Another client, Caroline Goyder, saw her book, Gravitas, confirm her as the leading expert in her field and attract global corporate clients.
Today, whatever your business, your marketplace is crowded and standing out from the competition is a challenge. Being a bestselling author means you are seen as a leader in your field, instantly setting you apart, bringing you clients and customers and widespread opportunities to promote your products and services.
You’ve seen people on TV, on radio, on stage, in newspapers and magazines sharing their message and reaching thousands and millions of people, all because they have a bestselling book.
That’s what happened to me. Be Your Own Life Coach was published in January 2000 and was serialised in a national newspaper with TV, radio, and magazine features across the world and suddenly I had a platform to share my message that I didn’t have previously.
Being a bestselling author gave me influence in my field and beyond. It inspired readers to change their lives and twenty years on, I still receive letters and emails from people all over the world thanking me and sharing their experience.
It’s an amazing feeling to know that something you said helped someone find the courage to do what they needed to do.
That is the power of the written word and the power of a book.
My bestseller changed my life and gave me a passport to the world that opened doors everywhere. It made life easier: clients came and so did newspaper columns, speaking opportunities, more book deals and my business flourished.
How would that be for you? How would it be to see that you were making a difference in the world and clients were coming to you, instead of you chasing them and opportunities flowed to you instead of you having to push so hard for what you want? How would it feel to know that you were living your life fully?
How would it be if you didn’t? How would it be if you shy away from putting your words on paper and sharing your message? How would it be if you never become the person you were meant to be?
Only you can decide, and I invite you to make the decision today. If this is your time to finally express yourself wholeheartedly in the world, live fully and contribute to others – make the decision today. Getting a great book written is not for the faint hearted. You will have doubts along the way, so you need to be clear on your motivation from the start. If you don’t feel driven now, you’ll struggle to keep going to the finish.
Perhaps that’s already happened? Possibly you’ve started your book and put it down? Maybe it’s an idea that’s never made it to the page and is stuck in your head but never goes away? No matter; this is the time to get going and you’re here now.
I’ve written this book to provide the direction you need to write a great non-fiction book. I’ll show you what works, so you create a book that’s well written and attracts readers.
Writing a book without direction and deadlines is tough. There’s no one to show you the best way to structure your words and no one to keep you going. It’s very different when you sign a contract with a publisher.
With a publisher, you sign a legally binding agreement and your publisher immediately commissions the cover, author photographs, lists the book in their catalogue with the date of publication and briefs the sales team to start selling into shops. Delivering your work on time is vital for this process and you will be assigned an editor to ensure you meet your deadlines.
When you work alone, you don’t have this accountability. There’s no one to hold you accountable to get the work done and, as with any challenge, whether it’s losing weight, getting sober or getting fit, you’re more likely to succeed if you’re held accountable. You also miss out on the guidance of an experienced editor, who can advise on structure and guide you to create a book that is well written and an enjoyable read.
That is why many self-published books are not of the standard of books from major publishers and come onto the market and disappear. I have seen this with books that look hurried, are confusing to read and do not clearly solve any problem. A poorly written book could backfire and undermine your credibility.
If you want your book to work, it has to be on a par with professionally published books, but it’s hard to achieve that on your own, without the right help.
The world doesn’t need another poorly written book. The world needs answers to problems and people need to be uplifted and inspired to overcome problems. Commit to sharing your message in the best way, so you reach people and make the difference you’re here to make.
I’m going to support you with direction and guidance. I’m going to treat you as a valued private client and give you everything you need to create a book of the highest standard.
I’ll show you how to craft a chapter to connect with your reader and keep them reading
When the poet, Seamus Heaney, was asked how he wrote, he said, ‘one word and then the next.’ He was a master of his craft with years of writing behind him and there will be times when you need to recall those words. I also know you’ll find it easier if you have a guide on how to write words to connect with your reader. I’ll give you everything I know that works and in return, you have to show up, do the work and keep going; one word and then the next.
I’ll give you a structure, so you don’t have to spend years trying to figure it out. I’ve already put in a lifetime of work on words and writing. At ten, I learnt the importance of choosing your words carefully and cutting any you didn’t need when my fifteen words won the Belfast Telegraph Father’s Day competition. You had up to thirty words to say what was great about your Dad and I made the point in fifteen. Earlier, I won the Cadbury prize for The Bourneville Story; the story of cocoa beans starting life in Kenya and ending up in purple bars of creamy chocolate at Cadbury’s Bourneville factory in England and each year a huge box of purple chocolate bars and biscuits would arrive at St Joseph’s convent with my name on it.
I’m not saying this to impress you but to reassure you that I’ve done the work so you can trust me to guide you on the journey we’re going on together. I’ve taken creative writing classes, had mentors, great editors and read every book on writing.
I’m not going to tell you what to write but I will guide you to choose your subject and give you a framework to follow so you’re freed up to bring out of you what’s in you.
I will also guide you on how to promote your book, otherwise your hard work will be for nothing and no one will hear your message or see your book. You’re here because you want to make a difference in the world and express yourself fully, so getting your book into the hands of people is vital.
This is not a long book because you’re busy and you don’t need reams of words to read. You have other work that you do, a living to make, personal commitments and as of now, writing to be done. In the pages that follow, you’ll simply get what you really need.
This isn’t about writing for writing sake. The English novelist, George Eliot said, “Art is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow men beyond the bounds of our personal lot.” A hundred years later, Stephen King said, “Writing is telepathy.” They’re talking about human connection: how writing can cross countries, continents and cultures to touch people. This is writing at its best: clear and simple and motivated by service.
This is the writing I’m going to help you achieve, so that your reader feels you are speaking to them; that wherever they are in the world, your words are with them. This is also how a book becomes a bestseller. Your readers feel driven to spread the word and share your book with their friends and buy four copies at a time to give as gifts. Word of mouth is the way books become bestsellers and stay that way, long after the publicity and marketing stops. I’ll be talking more about that in the pages ahead.
You may not want to study the craft of writing or be a full-time writer, but you do want your words to land and connect with people. That’s why you have to choose your words carefully.
Don’t feel overwhelmed. I’m here to help you and we’re all a work in progress. I’m a better writer than I was five years ago and a year ago and so will you be.
You are the talent and my job is to help bring your words of wisdom out of you. Dr Wayne Dyer said, ‘don’t die with your music still in you.’ I would add, don’t live with your music still in you. Let’s get your music out now.
I’m going to offer you a contract. It’s going to help seal your decision and hold you to your word. The Cambridge Dictionary defines seal as: to make an agreement more certain or to approve it formally.
Sign the contract at the end of this chapter to make your commitment more certain. I see every contract submitted, so I am witness to your decision and you’ll feel the difference when you do this.
There are many writer’s groups you could join for community and accountability; be careful who you show your work to because criticism could stop you in your tracks and the wrong advice could confuse you and your writing.
Accountability could make the difference between getting your book done – and not. Do not leave your book to chance. Wanting to write a book and wanting to help others is great motivation. However, it may not be enough to get you to the finish line. What could stop you may be something very simple to fix – support.
You may need more than cheering on; you may want to have guidance on how to start your book and how to structure it. You may want guidance on your writing, what’s working and what could be improved. Choose a group that offers this as well.
When I created my group programme, I wanted people to feel supported and be part of a community, but I also wanted to offer direction and structure. I wanted to make the writing process simple, so that people could get their ideas out easily and not waste time worrying about how and what to write.
This is the support that people have asked me for, and my group members are immensely relieved to be given clear directions to follow, so they can focus on what they want to say and getting their message out to the world. If you’re forever worrying about how to write and what to write, you could stop yourself before you get started. This may be something you’ve already experienced.
People may think they can go it alone or should be able to do it themselves. They set their alarm for 4.30am and they get up and get to work. However, the time will come when they have a question or a doubt and unless they have somewhere they can go to get the question answered or the doubt resolved, they will start to slow down. Their motivation will stall- getting up is more difficult: they may think they’re not committed or just can’t do it. Most probably, neither is true. They’ve simply hit a block and need help to get over it.
You could go it alone and you could get your book done by yourself. It will likely take much longer, as you have to figure everything out yourself. You could also stop enjoying it, as it becomes a chore and you force yourself to keep going. This will come through in your writing and your reader will feel your lack of joy.
When a book doesn’t work – when it doesn’t sell or spread through word of mouth, I believe it’s mainly because it’s not written in a way that grabs the reader and holds their attention. This is not Art – it is a skill and it can be learnt.
What breaks my heart is seeing a book written by someone who cares deeply about making a difference, who has great knowledge to pass on but their book will not work and attract readers.
There is a way of making a book engrossing, so that people don’t want to put it down. This must be your goal. There is no reason why you should automatically know how to do this. You will never have been taught this at school and you won’t learn it at creative writing classes. I’m talking about writing in a way that connects to your reader, pulls them in and keeps them reading all the way through, so that every line, every paragraph, every page works to keep your reader.
If you don’t do this, you risk losing your reader very early on. Your reader is a very busy person and their attention span is half what it was twenty years ago. Their smart phone is never far away; there’s so many things they could be doing. You have to work very hard to get your reader’s time and attention. It’s not about your ideas – it’s about whether you can build a relationship with your reader and keep them with you to the very end.
This is why I show people how to hold their reader. They may know their subject area, but they must structure their ideas and information in a way that works for the reader. I’ll teach you my Reader-Friendly structure in this book and I know that when you are shown what works and how to apply it to your ideas, you’ll find it a huge relief and be able to get going and stay on track.
When you’ve sealed your commitment and have your support in place, the next step is to decide who your book is for and how you can help them. Then, you have the foundation of a book that is instantly relevant to your reader. It’s time to choose your Subject.