I’ve now written seven books, at least three of which were category bestsellers on Amazon. They all get really good reviews and are legitimate enough that foreign publishers have bought the rights to two of them and that domestic publishers have tried to offer me a book deal.
For many people writing a book is a bucket list item, which seems a little bit funny to me because it’s actually a relatively easy thing to do. You can write a book in approximately two weeks, plus some time for editing and publishing. My first book (and, admittedly, my worst) was written in two days and was decent enough that many people emailed me telling me it changed their lives.
One of the biggest things that seems to get in peoples’ ways is that they believe that writing a book is some huge daunting task, and that the book must be perfect. If you think that way, you’ll trip over yourself and psych yourself out and never actually finish the book.
The first thing to realize is that the point of writing a book is to share information with people. If they receive and understand the information, you have succeeded. Take your ego out of it. Your book doesn’t have to be fancy or make you seem like a scholar, it just has to help people (or entertain people).
Step one is to just write an out-of-order outline. Write down anything that you might want to write about for the book. This should only take half an hour or an hour. Don’t evaluate the ideas or negotiate with yourself, just put them down. If you happen to come up with an idea that’s related to one you already have, put it in parenthesis.
For reference, my last book had 85 items on the first outline.
Then all you do is go through the list and write about each thing you’ve written down. Don’t got through the list in order, but rather start with the topics you’re most excited about. That will allow you to do your best writing, and by the time you get to the topics that are more of a slog, the book will be almost done and momentum will push you through.
I like to set a certain amount of time to finish a book (usually 14 days, the duration of a transatlantic cruise) and I divide 30,000 words by that time, rounding up. So over the fourteen days of a cruise I would write probably 2200-2300 words per day. Sometimes if I’m feeling inspired I’ll write even more. If I don’t feel like I will get through the whole list in time, I will increase the number on the fly.
As I write I don’t worry about anything except for getting useful information on the page. I can edit and clarify later on, but if I try to do both while writing it will slow down my progress.
I’m a pretty fast writer, as I’ve been doing it for a while, so it might take me 2-3 hours to get that number of words down. That’s not too much of a burden for one day.
There is no circumstance under which I won’t do my daily quota of writing. In all the books I’ve written I have never missed my mark even once. This is because if it is optional, there is no way I will actually get it done. So in my mind I make it absolutely mandatory. This is also part of the reason I go on cruises— there’s no legitimate excuse not to write when I’m on one.
Once I’m done, I do several passes where I read it, fix typos and unclear sentences, and try to rearrange everything into a sensible order. Usually once I start rewriting I also have to write a few transition chapters to make it flow smoothly.
The trick is that once you’ve written 30,000-40,000 words, everything else seems minor. The hard work is done, and there are just a few steps left to get it published. Each one feels easy.
I used to manually lay out the book, but now I hire someone on Fiverr to do it. This costs around $100 for both ebook and paperback. On an earlier book I forgot to put page numbers in and people got upset, so now I just let a pro handle it. Once that’s done, I just go through the steps on KDP and publish it both in paperback and ebook. I usually make the cover myself, but you could also get someone on Fiverr to do that.
All in all, it’s pretty easy to get a book written and published in a month, as long as you have an idea and the expertise necessary. If it’s a bucket list of yours, why not book a cruise and get it done? Or if you don’t want to be on the ocean, buy a bunch of groceries, rent a cabin on AirBnb and give yourself a couple weeks. I wrote even my first book with this process, so anyone can do it.
Photo my usual set up for writing on a cruise ship. Laptop, a nice view, and maybe some tea.