“You Ought to Write a Book!”

You may be an expert on a subject or would like to become one. Whether it’s your personal inclination or someone else’s suggestion, are you ready to write a book?

Jim, Ann and Tom Kepler own Adams Press, a 69-year-old producer of books for small presses and independent authors. Jim is regularly invited to discuss book possibilities with potential authors. His presentation, “You Ought To Write A Book!”, explains how to “Start with a box. End with a book.”  We’ll get to that, but first…

“Most people realize that writing a book is a major time investment,” Jim notes. “If the writing process goes on for too long, the subject can change as new information emerges. This could inspire you or diminish your interest and motivation.”  You must, of course, “consider your writing skills and ability to keep readers engaged to the end because even with nonfiction, you’re still writing a story.”

If you’re confident about the writing process but not sure if you want to take the next step, “you might start by writing an article or launching a blog on your subject,” Jim says. “You’ll see, as you go along, if there’s enough information or potential for a book and whether you remain motivated. If you decide to proceed, you’ll have starting material and a better sense of your focus and market.”

Jim’s 10 steps will help you decide if there’s a book in you:  

“1. Gather information from previously written articles, pick-ups from magazines and newspapers, books, TV, online searches, illustrations—everything you can find.. Freely use photocopies, interviews, and reference sources—anything even vaguely relevant. Throw it all into a cardboard box.

2. Dump everything you’ve accumulated after two or three months or more onto a table and begin sorting it into piles based upon relationships and coherence.

3. Organize individual piles. Look for continuity and holes in logic and development. Gather additional information.

4. Give each pile a title, label the pockets of an accordion with the titles, and stuff each pile of information items into related pockets. These will become your chapters. Begin jotting down major and supporting points and stick each list into the appropriate pocket. Look for bridges and roadblocks. Continue to gather information as it be-comes available.

5. Empty each pocket one by one and winnow the contents, setting aside extraneous or questionable items for later use if needed and adding more information when important content is missing. Refine your notes, look for connections, and begin adding transitions. Ask “What have I missed?”

6. Develop one- to two-page outlines or treatments for each chapter. Don’t say it. Say what you’re going to say.

7. Write an eight- to 12-page overview of what the book will become based upon the content of each chapter treatment.

 8. Begin writing a first draft of one or two chapters by adding narrative, examples, background, transitions, and sidebars.

9. Stop writing at this point if you’re seeking a traditional royalty publisher and use what you have to construct a proposal to submit to an editor or agent.

10. Continue developing first drafts of all chapters if you intend to self-publish. Add front and back matter. Edit and fact check. Engage a trusted professional book editor. Make suggested revisions. Write final draft. Re-edit and proof read. Proceed to production.”

If you’re thinking about writing a book, you will find more information at www.adamspress.com.

5 Responses to ““You Ought to Write a Book!””

  1. Thanks, Sally … this was helpful. Yes, I’ve been told I ought to write a book, and it sounds daunting. Jim’s process might just make it manageable.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks, Catherine. My next post will discuss doing your own book PR. Stay tuned.

  3. Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time 🙂

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