Wondering how to write a bestseller—or how to write your first book, for that matter? With a lot of determination and a little help, you’ll have your book in your hands.
How many books do you have in you?
What do I mean by that? I mean that I think you, as you are right now, have the ability and experience to write a book.
I’m serious. Are you married? Could you write a book about marriage? Did you go to college? Could you write a book on your college experience? Are you successful? Could you write a book on your path to success?
My point is that you don’t have to be the leading expert in a field in order to have a perspective and a voice that matters. The only tricky part is getting yourself to put that perspective down on a page. Here’s how.
1. Let go of limiting beliefs.
So many people say they want to write a book someday, but their ideas never make it to the page. Don’t let your self-doubt hold you back; let your amazing ideas and experiences push you forward. I’m living proof that you don’t have to be a seasoned writer to have a bestseller—you just have to have a fresh perspective.
If you’re still feeling stuck, look at books on Amazon or go to a bookstore. How many books do you see? Thousands, right? Odds are, you’re just as smart and your ideas are just as good as any of the people who wrote the books you’re seeing. Writing your first book is not brain surgery: it’s a truly achievable goal.
2. Find what fascinates you.
Writing a book doesn’t have to be an intimidating process.
Take a few minutes and write down between eight and 15 things that you have an opinion of right now. Pick one of these things that you wrote down and write one page on that topic. For example, if you choose “marriage” as your topic, then write one page about marriage—whatever opinions you have on the topic.
Once you are done, write one page on each of those eight to 15 topics.
Now, pick eight to 12 topics that were pretty easy for you to write about, that you can write five pages on. Then, narrow it down to six topics and write 10 pages. You can do it – and it truly is this simple!
Are you questioning your ability to write 10 pages on a topic? If so, look at it this way. Can you stand with me after a conference or sit with one of your friends and talk about one of these topics for 20 minutes? If so, then you can already write 10 pages about what you believe.
Guess what? You are now 10 pages into six different books. Who is the author? You are!
3. Try your ideas on for size.
If you think you could hold an intelligent conversation about a topic for fifteen minutes, then you can write at least ten pages about it—if you prepare for it. I get some of my best book (and blog) ideas from the conversations I start with my friends, but everyone’s brainstorming process is different. Some people get their best ideas by writing, others by talking and others by taking a long, meditative walk. Find your inspiration groove, and set aside time for the things that leave you feeling inspired and confident.
4. Just start writing.
As you write, don’t edit as you go. There will be time for that later, and you can even hire an editor to tell you whether or not your work is grammatically correct. For now, you just need to write in your clearest, strongest voice. Set aside an amount of time each day to give to your book. Even 30 minutes every morning will get you to your goal if you stay consistent!
5. …Or hire a ghostwriter.
Full disclosure here: I wrote my book Life at Performance Level with a ghostwriter who also happens to be one of my best friends: the one and only Craig Heimbuch. Having a ghostwriter doesn’t mean that you can’t write, and it definitely doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve the by-line on the cover of your book. I chose to have a ghostwriter because my busy travel schedule made it difficult for me to sit down and write—not to mention my dyslexia. Craig and I talked through every single chapter together, and all of the ideas still came from me. Craig’s job was to put them all together and capture my voice in a compelling way. (He did a fantastic job, I might add.) For some of us, hiring a ghostwriter is the only way we’ll write a book in the first place. And isn’t it better to have a ghostwriter help you than to have no book at all? While you’re at it, hire someone to lay out your book and do the graphic art. I promise it will be worth it.
6. Create a launch plan.
My team and I spent months preparing for the launch of my book back in 2011. We hired some contract workers to help us devise the best plan, sent email blasts to our mailing lists reminding them to buy on the day of release and consistently posted about my book on social media. Our work paid off! On the day of its release, Life at Performance Level was number 1 on Amazon in more than one category. All that to say: keep telling your tribe about your book, and remember that launch day is the most important day for people to buy.
I believe that writing a book is one of the best ways to leave a legacy. When your grandchildren or great-grandchildren are 21 years old, and you’re not on the planet anymore, your book will give them insight into who you were, what you believed and what you were passionate about. If you write your book with that audience in mind, you win. Don’t let your ideas die with you.
If you have a book idea that you want to bring to life, let’s spend a VIP Day together. We’ll talk through your ideas and develop launch plan to guarantee that every page is worthwhile. I recently did that with master chef Keith Norman who is now releasing his first book, Allergen Awareness: A Chef’s Perspective. Be on the lookout for it in the coming weeks!
As a speaker and author, Curtis Zimmerman has impacted over one million people with his life-changing messages and award-winning programs. Curtis is an expert at transforming organizations by inspiring individuals to live their lives at performance level.
Want to be inspired? Check out his podcast The Next 24 Hours.