- How long does it take to write a book?
- Why knowing your reader is a must before you begin
- What motivates authors? Love or money?
- When to stop writing while you are ahead
- What seasoned authors would tell their younger selves
- How a bestselling author structures their book
With her honesty, sense of humor, and encouragement, Ann Marie will bring you several steps closer to bringing out that book in you. Her easy-to-follow guidelines, trade tips, and valuable insights from other experienced authors will get your writing engine revved. In reading Sabath’s guide, you will find the voice of a compassionate coach who simply will not let you get away with NOT writing a book of your own.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Are You Ever Too Young or Too Old to Write A Book?
If you're a singer, you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he's good, the older he gets, the better he writes.
— Mickey Spillane
How would you answer that question? My response is: Are you kidding? Of course you can write, no matter what your chronological age is. Writing is a timeless and ageless experience. You can and should begin to write that book inside of you the moment your urge for writing strikes.
According to Data USA (the most comprehensive and visualization engine of public US government data), the average age of writers and authors is 42.6 years. Based on this government data, the average age of male writers and authors is 44, and the average age of female writers and authors is 41.7.
Who wants to be average, however? Set statistics aside and start writing when your moment of inspiration emerges. Herb Reisenfeld, one of my fifteen author colleagues in this book, did exactly that. He began writing his first book, Checking Inn: The Adventures of a Tour Director at seventy-five years of age. Two years later, it was published.
The following examples are two role models who set their ages aside. Instead, they listened to their inner voices regarding when it was time to bring out the book in them. In fact, both of them defied the age odds by being the youngest and the oldest individuals to author a book.
Take Anaya Lee Willabus, native of Brooklyn, New York, who launched her writing career in May 2015 when she was eight years old. By publishing The Day Mohan Found His Confidence, Anaya became the youngest person in the United States to publish a chapter book.
Then there is Bertha Wood, who began writing her first book, Fresh Air and Fun: The Story of a Blackpool Holiday Camp, at the ripe age of ninety. She published this book based on her memoirs at one hundred and has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest author to have first published a book.
Reflection: How old are you going to be when you take the writing plunge?CHAPTER 2
Why Write a Book in the First Place?
Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.
— Virginia Wolf
I doubt that you need to be convinced to write a book, otherwise you would not be reading this book in the first place. The more important question is: What will it take for you to make writing a book a priority in your life?
Putting your thoughts on a computer screen or paper is a terrific way to enhance both your personal and professional success. Below are the nine top reasons why people write a book. Which one(s) do you relate to?
1. You want to share your expertise with the masses.
You can work twenty-four-seven, yet only reach a limited number of people. Rather than hoarding what has taken you years to learn, writing a book allows you to share your knowledge with others all over the world.
2. A book acts as your legacy.
Five generations from now, most of us may not be known by even blood relatives. By writing your memoir or documenting what you know about your parents and grandparents in the form of a book, you will be leaving a paper trail about yourself for future generations. Second to leaving a large inheritance, a book describing your family roots will be seen as a treasure.
3. A book will help you to brand yourself.
Besides acting like a big business card, writing a book can help you to create your brand. Whether it is a service or product you represent, a book makes a great public relations tool.
4. A book can generate additional income.
Whether you are an introvert and simply want to stay in your writing zone or choose to get involved with a speakers' circuit, a book can and will generate income. And I can tell you firsthand, no matter how large or small the royalty check you receive, it makes great passive income.
5. You will form new relationships.
Writing a book can become more than a revenue opportunity. If you are an extrovert like me (I admit to being type A squared), you will have reasons to form relationships with other writers. Socialization is key to living a healthy life. And meeting like-minded people is definitely intellectually and emotionally stimulating.
6. You will put your writing skills to good use.
I bet you already spend a large percentage of each day writing email messages, texts, and maybe even a few handwritten notes now and then. Why not minimize that type of communication and put your writing skills into practice in another way? You guessed it! By bringing out the book inside of you.
7. Writing a book can act as a health tool.
Many authors use writing as a form of therapy. How smart is that? They divulge what they have experienced in life, how they managed the situation, and share the happily-ever-after results in book form. Talk about turning a negative into a positive!
8. You will fire up your neurons.
Writing is a terrific way to keep your brain in shape. You are forced to think about what you want to write and then put your thoughts into words. Before long, you may have enough pages for a book.
Note: The new minimum length for ebooks on Amazon is 2,500 words. As a point of reference, the word count for this book is 34,772 words — so keep writing.
9. You will meet your new best friend.
Yes, you really will — your writing voice. It has been waiting for you to invite it into your life. And if you play your writing cards right, it will become your lifelong partner.
If none of these nine reasons speak to you, I have one more: Why not write a book just for the fun of it? No editing, no marketing, nada! Just for pure enjoyment.
Reflection: Give thought to which reason(s) you will choose to write a book.CHAPTER 3
Do Your Market Research
Research is formalized curiosity, it is poking and prying with a purpose.
— Zola Neale
People are my business. When I was doing market research for this book, I chose the people closest to me: my family.
I started the loosey-goosey, nonscientific research by sharing with each of my ten family members on a one-to-one basis that I was writing Everybody Has a Book Inside of Them. The only reason I was sharing this news with them was to hear their answer to the question, "So, what is the book inside of you?"
Three of them said, "Gosh, I never thought about it. Let me give that some thought." Four of the ten defensively proclaimed, "What are you talking about? I don't have a book inside of me! Quit trying to impose your love of writing on us!"
I had gotten exactly what I wanted: their reactions! Although they may not have realized it, my antagonistic self loved their responses, to which I calmly said, "It's not the answer; it's the question. Everybody has a book inside of them. Think about it."
If you have ever met me, then you know that I cannot — as they say — let a sleeping dog lie. During separate follow-up one-on-one conversations with four of them, I asked, "So have you given thought to the book inside of you?" Here were their responses:
"Actually, I started writing a book a year ago. Would you like to see my draft?"
"I did think about it and have realized that my book has not yet surfaced."
"I never thought about writing a book until you asked. Mine would be an analysis of how five violinists interpret the same composition based on their own musical style."
"You have hounded so much to write a book that you brought one out in me. It is: 'Why I Don't Want to Write a Book!'"
This family member thought he was annoying me with his Seinfeld-like response, but it was brilliant! I egged him on, asking, "So what are you going to include in your 'Why I Don't Want To Write A Book!' book?"
His response proved that he had been giving thought to what might actually become a book by saying:
"I would divide the book into six sections:
What Prompted Me to Write This Book
Twenty Reasons Why You Should Not Write a Book
Three Benefits for Not Sharing Your Thoughts in Print
How to Shift Your Thought Gears If the Temptation to Write Strikes!
How to Ensure that Budding Authors Do Not Plagiarize Your Unwritten Thoughts Why I Have Nothing Else to Say"
I told this writer-in-the-making family member why his book idea had the potential to be a best-seller. With eyebrows raised, he asked: "Seriously? Who would buy a book on why I don't want to write a book?"
My response: "For not wanting to write a book, you sure are interested!"
Whether the book inside of you is in the forefront of your mind, has not yet surfaced, or worse yet, has shown up and you are resistant to take that next step, you can be certain of one thing: Everybody Has a Book Inside of Them is for you!
Reflection: With whom will you share that you are writing a book?CHAPTER 4
How Long Does It Take to Write a Book?
I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.
— A. J. Liebling
When working with budding authors, this is the question that they ask during our first coaching session. I tell them that the question is as ambiguous as asking, "How long is it going to take me to travel from New York to Los Angeles?" when you have not decided on your mode of transportation. The answer will be different based on if you will be traveling by plane, train, bus, or camel.
My first eight books took me six months to write based on other family and work responsibilities. My ninth book, What Self-Made Millionaires Do That Most People Don't, took four months to write based on my publisher's deadline.
The book that you are reading now took me two months to write. I gave myself this self- imposed masochistic deadline and actually enjoyed writing it more than my first nine books. The pressure was on, and some of the best writing happens to me when I am on a short deadline. There's no time to put off for tomorrow what you must write today. Please keep that in mind for yourself.
Now, if you really want to do yourself in and write a book in under a month, pick up a copy of Ginie Sayles's book, Writer's Block Is a Crock! Write a Book In 3 Weeks — Or Less!
So back to giving you the answer about how long it takes to write a book. In order to give you the right answer, I need to ask you the following two questions:
1. When do you intend to begin writing your book?
Be sure to set aside the first thirty days to go into your incubation thinking period. See section "Your Thirty-Day Incubation Period: Preventing Writers' Block Before Beginning to Write."
2. How many pages do you envision your finished book to be?
The last person with whom I spoke answered, "I intend to have my 180-page, single-spaced book finished by December 30." The date of that coaching conversation was on January 9.
Here is the formula I gave him for making his manuscript a reality by October:
If his 180-page, single-spaced book has approximately 250 words on a single-spaced page, his book would contain approximately 45,000 words.
A new author typically writes between 200 and 400 words an hour. Let's give this budding author some slack and say he is going to write only 200 words an hour. So, if you are like him, you will be scheduling seven one-hour writing appointments with yourself and dedicating seven hours a week to write. And if your goal is to have a 45,000-word manuscript composed of 180 single-spaced pages, it will take you about thirty-two to thirty- three weeks to write your book.
Let's say, however, that you commit to writing 400 words an hour rather than 200 words an hour for seven hours a week. You do the multiplication: That means you will be writing 2,800 words every seven days. In that case, it will take you approximately sixteen weeks to finish your 45,000-word manuscript. That means you will have accomplished your book- writing goal in four months!
By achieving your deadline early, you will have under-promised and overdelivered on bringing that book out in you! Now if that is not exciting, tell me what is!
Reflection: What is your beginning date for bringing out the book inside of you? It does not matter whether it is this year or five years from now.CHAPTER 5
You Never Know What the Catalyst Will Be for Motivating You to Write Your First Book
Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any.
— Orson Scott Card
Believe it or not, my love for writing began the day my parents took me to Dr. Sweeney's office to have the wart on my left foot removed. I was nine years old and scared to death of doctors due to the horrific experience I had three months prior when I had my first decayed tooth filled.
The merciless dentist filled my tooth without using an anesthetic. Between the shrill sound of the drilling and the terrible nerve pain, I was so scared that I poked a hole (a nice- sized one, I might add) into the dental chair in order to keep from screaming.
Consequently, my parents had to pay for my tooth being filled and a new chair for the dentist. I would have personally fired him if he had asked us not to return.
So, when my parents made me go to another doctor, a podiatrist, I immediately assumed that I was not going to like him. My first visit, however, started out on the right foot. Even as a child, I sensed that Dr. Sweeney had a wonderful chair-side manner. Since he did not hurt me, we got along great. I spared his leather chair (and my parents' wallets) by not poking a hole in it. Instead, I sat calmly as he examined the wart on my left foot.
I actually looked forward to each appointment with Dr. Sweeney. After the fifth visit, I was so enthralled with him that I went home and wrote a poem, which my mom mailed to Dr. Sweeney the next day.
During my follow-up visit to his office, I noticed a newly framed piece on the wall of Dr. Sweeney's waiting room. It was the poem I had written him in cursive and was prominently displayed for all of his patients to see. It went like this:
I had a foot doctor,
His name was Dr. Sweeney.
The first time I went to him,
I thought he was a meanie.
The second visit there,
He was very nice.
I thought he was made,
Of sugar and spice.
The third visit there,
He made me wait a while.
I really did not mind,
When he greeted me with a smile.
The fourth visit there,
Was as nice as before.
This time he greeted me,
As I walked in the door.
I was happy Dr. Sweeney,
Made my wart disappear,
Now I understand,
Why he is seen as such a dear.
So, there you go. Corny or not, keep an open mind and realize that your writing career can surface anytime, anywhere, and at any age.
Reflection: When did your love for writing begin? Think back to a very happy or sad experience. Relive it by writing about it.CHAPTER 6
From Writer to Author: The Steps for Getting There
The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair.
— Mary Heaton Vorse
Rome was not built in a day. Neither will your book. You may have much of your book written and don't even realize it. For instance, if you have written a poem or a blog or have kept a journal, there's a better chance than not that you have poured out your heart on a topic that is important to you.
Here are three author scenarios in which this very thing happened:
Allana Da Graca began writing in 1999 as a student journalist with the UMass Daily Collegian. In 2006, she published her first booklet, Temple: Self Discovery Through Truth. She knew that she had "author" as her middle name, which gave her the impetus for writing her first book, Tomorrow Can't Wait: An Inspirational Book Offering Persistence for a Lifetime in 2014.
She continued to put her writing to good use and wrote volumes one and two of her Women Build Confidence coaching series. Allana shared that the inspiration for both the confidence-building series and Chronicles of a Poet came from the Green Book.
As the author of Kissing Frogs puts it, "Journals are a wealth of book material." This writer put her more than twenty-five years of journaling to good use. In fact, she poured out her heart journaling as she tried to decipher how her Barbie and Ken marriage could dissolve. Years later, the savvy person behind the pseudonym of Lydia Lambert decided to make lemonade out of lemons by repackaging, expanding, and reexamining her dating experiences into Kissing Frogs: The Path to a Prince.
Finally, if you are a blogger, then you will identify with this author. Kris Spisak started blogging weekly in 2012. Her followers loved her posts on the art of communication so much that they encouraged her to write a book and include her most well-received blogs.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Everybody Has a Book Inside of Them"
Copyright © 2019 Ann Marie Sabath.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: How This Book Came About 1
Are You Ever Too Young or Too Old to Write A Book? 7
Why Write a Book in the First Place? 9
Do Your Market Research 12
How Long Does It Take to Write a Book? 15
You Never Know What the Catalyst Will Be for Motivating You to Write Your First Book 18
From Writer to Author: The Steps for Getting There 21
What Prompted Other Authors to Write Their First Books 24
What Is Your Excuse? 30
How to Identify the Book Inside of You 33
Pack Your Grab-and-Go Tote 35
The One-Minute Way to Identify Your Book Genre 38
Your Thirty-Day Incubation Period: Preventing Writer's Block Before Beginning to Write 40
The Value of a Sounding Board Advisory Group 42
What Authors Wear When They Write 47
The Importance of Setting Your Writing Zone(s) 49
How to identify the Direction of Your Writing Energy Flow 52
Know Thy Reader 55
How to Name Your Book 60
Are You a Pantser or a Plotter? 63
Outline, Anyone? 66
The Way to Let Your Inner Writing Voice Be Heard 68
The Importance of Beginning with the End in Mind 70
When Your Writing Voice Starts Talking, Start Keying! 75
Write the Way You Live Your Life 77
Feed Your Inner Voice with Writing Prompts 80
Two Ways to Stay Motivated to Write 82
How to Keep Up Your Writing Stamina 85
How Authors Dispel Those Dirty Writing Doubts from Their Minds 87
The Surefire Way to Rid Yourself of Your Writing Censor 91
What to Do When Your Writing Engine Sputters 93
Writing Fitness: How to Stir Up Your Imagination 94
Why to Stop Writing While You Are Ahead 96
How to Control Your Book Deadlines Rather than Letting Them Control You 97
From First Draft to Final Manuscript 100
Six Things NOT to Do With Your Manuscript 103
Your Name or a Pen Name? 107
Ghostwriting: Bringing a Book Out In Someone Else 112
The Five "If You Were to Write A Book" Questions to Ask Before Beginning to Write 116
What Are You Waiting For? Start Writing Now! 121
What to Include in Your Writing Pledge of Allegiance 124
Why the "How to Get Published" Section Is Not Being Addressed in This Book 126
Answers to Questions You May Not Have Thought to Ask!
How Soon Is Too Soon to Write Your Second Book After Writing Your First? 131
Do Authors Write More than One Book at a Time? 133
What Makes Authors Write in More than One Genre? 135
Does Your Writing Voice Change When You Write in Different Genres? 138
What Are the Benefits of Writing in More than One Genre? 141
Fourteen Budding Author FAQs 143
In Retrospect …
What Seasoned Authors Would Tell Their Younger Writing Selves 153
Final Advice to Budding Authors from Those Who Have Written Between One and Seventy-Six Books! 156
Have a Question? 159
List of Contributors 160
Recommended Reading 169
Recommended Resources 170
Other Books by Ann Marie Sabath 178