By Edward Hammett
All have stories to tell, most have a dream to write a book one day, some write the book and few get them published. I have been privileged to author seven books in the last 18 years. Two have become best-sellers. I write from my passion, dreams and life experiences as a minister concerned about the weakening of the church in today’s world. More specifically my writings are about transitioning churches, leaders and denominations into more relevant forces in a 21st century world. What is the book within you? How can you get it written and published? Permit me to share some powerful lessons learned from my journey that I recently shared in a free webinar on this topic.
- Writing produces focus, opportunities and income streams – Putting your story into print for distribution is a pathway of increasing your influence and impact in places that you are likely never to be able to go, other than through publishing. Once the book is written then you have an income stream that is passive and your royalties continue to come in long after your work is over.
- Titles are powerful – My two best-selling titles capture attention, connects with people’s real lives, and provides hope and practical assistance for readers. My other book titles did not have powerful titles and therefore my sales have not been as good. Make sure the title communicates book content in 5 words or less and include a sub-title that focuses even more.
- Craft the table of contents – as a working outline for the writing. Potential readers need to scan the table of contents and find topics they immediately relate to. What questions are you addressing in the book?; What will be the benefits for your readers?; How will your writing make their life/ministry more effective or fulfilling?
- Create a community as you write: This is a recent lesson for me but a very powerful one. Authors write to deepen their impact and influence over a topic, group of persons concerned about the topic and to communicate powerful truths that transform others. Inviting persons to help you frame the book topics, writings, and organization is powerful for you and others. This can be done through survey’s online; learning communities, social media groups; and conversations with potential readers and those touched by the issue you are addressing. This helps you gauge the popularity of issues and likely helps clarify language, focus and direction for writings. Another benefit is that this begins to create a ‘buzz’ in social media networks, professional organizations, and this generates speaking invitations, bulk book sales.
- Engage a writing coach to pull you into new thoughts, stretches for your writing style, marketing and hold you accountable for reaching your goals. The investment brings high impact.
- Be clear about publishing contracts, copyright and content BEFORE the book goes to press: In these days of copyright debates, stealing of intellectual properties copyright protection is essential. The author should hold the copyright. This allows the author to republish with another publisher if needed and to collect additional royalties if the content is digitally released (which is the trend in publication these days) and if other’s utilize large portions in other products. Your contract needs to reflect these issues before the book goes to print.
- Creating a market for your book: Publishers are interested in sales. Authors are interested in sales. Titles, covers and marketing strategies sell books. The community you are addressing and have created through social media, network contacts, events brings fuel to book sales, speaking opportunities, online learning possibilities, product development to resource others from your writings. Facebook, Linked In and other online tools are very helpful in marketing, sharing ideas and collecting feedback—don’t ignore these venues. I have found that offering free and fee based webinars, teleclasses and online learning options engage interest and eventually sell books and create speaking engagements. You can see illustrations of these topics and delivery systems by visiting www.thecolumbiapartnership.org and www.transformingsolutions.org .
- Utilizing social media to sustain create and connect with your community of readers, networks, learners and are key to sustaining growth in sales and deepening your influence and impact: Creating a community is important on the front end of writing, but even more critical after the book is released. Social media networks and websites create a peer learning community where discoveries are shared, questions are explored, coaching relationships and speaking engagements are generated. What fun!. What an opportunity to influence the world through print and digital delivery systems. Do not miss the opportunity to impact the world with the message God has planted in your heart and ministry.
Edward Hammet is author of Reaching People Under 40 While Keeping People Over 60 (Chalice Press), Making Shifts Without Making Waves (Chalice Press) and is a Church and Clergy Coach and Partner with The Columbia Partnership, Columbia, SC. [www.thecolumbiapartnership.org]
One Response to “How to write a book”
After more than 28 years in the Christian book publishing world (as a literary agent for 300+ books, as an editor of 100+ books, and as an author), here’s what I recommend to the vast majority of book authors: Use Amazon’s CreateSpace publishing program. It’s fast, easy, virtually free, and leaves you 100% in control of your books now and in the future. Then again, I recommend Lightning Source to prolific and entrepreneurial-minded authors. Obviously, there’s still a place for traditional publishers and for top quality custom publishers, but only for 2 or 3 percent of all the books published in a given year.