Want to write a book? I love working with my writing students. It’s a hugely satisfying process. Mostly. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Over the past six months, I’ve been working with a personal coaching student, Tim (not his real name), is a wonderful marketing writer. Not only does he have business savvy, he writes engagingly. His words pack punch.
He wants to write a book. Not a problem. Truly, there’s not much involved in writing books. You start writing, and keep going until you finish.
You need ONE idea, just one
To my mind, writing a book, whether fiction or nonfiction, is easier than writing marketing pieces. You only need ONE solid idea for a book to get you started. All writing is discovery, and this is how books are developed – by association. You start with an idea, and it grows. Each little marketing piece, on the other hand, demands its own idea.
So, Tim and I brainstormed and chatted, and as far as I knew, he had his idea, and was happily engrossed with it, writing every day.
Imagine my surprise when Tim told me he hadn’t written a word of his book in the past two weeks. I asked him why he hadn’t told me: a five-minute conversation would at the very least have given him a fresh perspective.
He mumbled something.
I told him: “The answer is in your archives.”
The answer is in your archives
If you’ve been writing more than a month or two, you have archives. These archives are valuable. Few writers make as much use of their archives as they could, and should.
Tim’s been writing professionally for several years. Therefore, I KNEW he had great stuff in his archives. Somewhere in his material, there was a spark which would get him moving on his book. Eventually.
Before he went back to his book, I decided that he needed to build his confidence. I asked him to browse through his archives, and find some material which he could repurpose into a SHORT Kindle ebook.
Print books are usually over 100 pages. Not so ebooks. Although there’s no “page” as such in an ebook, your ebooks can be as short as you like.
I know several writers who are turning articles of between 1500 and 2000 words into ebooks, and are making money. People love to pack their Kindles with impulse buys, and even if you charge just $2.99 for a tiny ebook, those little sales soon mount up.
So, I asked Tim to find some material in his archives, and compile it into a Kindle ebook.
When I called him a couple of days later, I asked whether he’d uploaded his Kindle book yet.
“No – I’ve been too busy working on my book,” he replied.
Sure enough, he’d found several sparks in his archive which inspired him, giving him ideas for his book.
I asked him to stop working on his book, until he had compiled and uploaded a Kindle ebook. I wanted him to become more confident, and to learn that the answer is in your archives.
A simple lack of confidence holds many writers back from writing a book.
Got an idea? Write a book – short, or long
It’s an amazing time to be a writer. You have unlimited opportunities. You can write almost anything, and get paid.
If you want to write a book, any idea will do to get you started. Once you’ve started, keep going.
Your book can be as long or as short as you like. If you want to write very short “books”, go for it. You can publish short material on the Kindle platform, and be paid for it.
OK – stop reading. Go and browse your writing archive, then get started on your book.
2014 update: mine your archives!
April 9, 2014: I first wrote this article in 2012. I thought I’d have to change it substantially for today’s environment. Not so. The material’s just as useful today.
I work with writers every day. Many of my students are making great money publishing on Amazon. One writer told me: “My income’s going up every month.” And that’s the key. Yes, you can get enormously lucky, and your ebook hits some of the Amazon bestseller lists, but even if none of your ebooks become bestsellers, you can increase your income month by month.
Explore your archives. The longer you’ve been publishing, the more material you have.
Regarding fiction: write short stories, and sell BUNDLES. Writers are making great money packing their stories together, and then selling the bundle… and yes, you keep selling your individual stories, even as you’re selling your bundles. If you want to sell short stories and bundles, consider Fiction Fiesta — yes, it’s an investment, but it’s a solid investment in YOU and your future income.