7.1 Steps to Writing Your Book

If you're an entrepreneur who has been through the ringer in life or business and willing to share, self-publishing can be powerful.

learn more about Stacey Alcorn

By Stacey Alcorn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

People are like sea glass, the longer and harder they are tossed around, the more beautiful they are. At least that's how I see it. Whenever I meet an entrepreneur who has been through the ringer in life or business and willing to talk about it, I immediately fall in love. Who doesn't love a great story where the happy ending is the person sitting in front of you?

Often customers are hiring you because of you, not just the product or service you sell, but the expertise, determination, perseverance, creativity, ambition and drive that is all bundled up in the person who is you. What better way to showcase you than writing a book about you, your experiences and expertise.

And just like that piece of sea glass, nobody is quite like you. From my experience of writing and self-publishing three books, I believe no tool will open more doors, cultivate influence and create a market for you better than a book.

Here are 7.1 steps to writing your book:

Related: 5 Ways I Used a Reverse Book Club to Write a Bestseller

1. Create a plan.

The first step to writing a book is to create a plan for how you will do so. This is where many potential authors fail. They state their intention to write a book, but never sit down and create a plan for getting this done.

How often will you write? When will you write? Daily or weekly? How will you organize your day to weave in your writing? What will you do the days you get stuck?

Writing a book is like a business and every great business is started with a plan.

2. Plan the cover design.

I usually hire a cover designer before I write the book. Why? The book cover motivates me. It makes the book real. I hang up copies of the cover design around my house as motivation to keep writing even if I don't feel like it. Then if I fall behind on my plan, I have the cover design staring me down.

3. Write.

Once you have a plan, start writing. The first book that I self-published, Playbook to Healthy Time Management, took me three years to write. I wrote a little bit each week until I eventually finished it.

I just thought writing a book should take me a long time. Then I met Jon Gordon, author of amazing books like The Energy Bus, and asked him how long it takes him to write his books. He said it usually takes him a day or two to write them but that the editing process runs a bit longer. This changed my entire mindset about writing books.

My second published book, Tuned In, was written on a plane ride from Las Vegas to Boston. I wrote my most recent book, Reach!, in a day. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you shut off your email, voicemail and contact from the world for a single day.

For each of these books, I started with a complete outline of the chapters. Then I started typing away my thoughts and stories one chapter at a time.

Another great way to write your book is through blogging. If you are blogging regularly, those articles could eventually be compiled into a book-worthy whole.

Related: The Secret to Becoming 10 Times More Productive? Block Out Time.

3.1 Hire a ghostwriter.

I prefer to write all my own content. I do have many friends who are authors and who chose to hire ghostwriters. You can find ghostwriters for hire on sites like elance.com or freelancer.com. You put your job out for bid and let writers around the world make pitches.

Ask a potential ghostwriter for work samples and be sure you own the rights to the published work. Then work out a plan for sharing your story with the ghostwriter so that he or she can write your book for you.

4. Read.

Once you've written your book, read it. As you read it, you will think of additional chapters, stories or lessons to share. Add them in before hiring an editor.

5. Edit.

Do not edit your own book. I edited my first two books and can't stand reading them now because I find mistakes. I read books every single day and I find that spelling and grammatical mistakes distract from the narrative.

Hire someone who will read the book, suggest edits, proofread and make it professional. Editors are not 100 percent perfect, but in many cases they will do a better job editing the book with fresh eyes than you could.

6. Publish.

Do a quick web search to locate a ton of companies that can help with self-publishing. You might find using Amazon's CreateSpace cost-effective as you can sell your books on Amazon.

7. Launch.

Plan some fanfare around the launch of your book. A launch party is one option. Plan specials for your customers and employees so they get some incentive for ordering the book. Offer a complimentary speaking gig to organizations that order in bulk. Provide a free coaching call to those ordering copies in advance. Give people a reason to order.

With my last book, released in January of last year, I planned the launch way in advance and by doing so, my book scored significant traction on Amazon in the first month.

Related: Guy Kawasaki's Best Tips for Publishing Your Own Book

Stacey Alcorn

Author and Entrepreneur

Stacey Alcorn is CEO of Boston-based Laer Realty Partners.  She owns and operates several businesses in the Boston area including a consulting firm, a law firm and a fashion line. She is the author of REACH! -- Dream, Stretch, Achieve, Influence.

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