(7) Seven steps to write a book with a real chance of success

January 28, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

When I was a child, I heard a lot of people talking about the “top three things a person should do before dying”: To plant a tree, have a child and write a book. Later, when I was able to reflect on people’s comments instead of duplicating the same words, I came to the conclusion that the only true about that saying was its first part: To plant a tree.

Writing a book, however, raises your social prestige, boots your image of authority as an expert in the subject being covered by your book and opens the door to generate incomes and new opportunities. In order to get this point we have to overcome some difficulties that a mischievous friend called Internet has brought to our lives: Thousands of books published electronically every month and, therefore, a fierce competition. A paper book does not make things better, since Internet provides so much information that people think they can find everything for free including… your book! We only have one choice: to write a book with a real chance of success.

Step 1: Write about what you know well instead of what you like most

I have a taste for the arts, but take a look at what, according to my abilities as a painter, a pig is (feel free to laugh without restrictions!).

With such “talent to draw”, you know already what would happen if I were to write a book on my drawings. On the other hand, I have been a counselor for thousands of people from different countries, which means that, in my case, a book on human relations has more chances to succeed than a book with a pig like this one! In general, what we like is what we can do well, but keep in mind that the most important part is the second one.

Step 2: Demarcate as much as possible the contents of your book

Before Internet came to our lives, when people had little access to necessary information, there was great demand for books on general topics. But now the situation is different and the contents of your book should be very specific. For example, instead of writing a book with the title “cookbook”, think about “The best 50 recipes for a great dinner with less than … dollars”. The focal point is that the information you present should be very difficult to get and compile from Internet to a point that the reader finds it more convenient to buy your book and have all things together.

Step 3: Schematize your contents starting with the most important

Unless you are a gifted or experienced writer, whose ideas come up with a natural and effortless flow, the best you can do is to frame and plan your book by writing its “infrastructure” first. Write a general idea for each possible chapter starting from the most attractive part and leaving a “good dessert” at the end of each chapter. What do most people who go to the cinema or read a book have in common in terms of their opinion about a movie or book? Everything is fine if the beginning and end are fine too. The reasons lie in the fact that the emotional impacts caused by the piece of art on them is more effective on the edges since people’s brain tends to pay more attention to those moments, to a level that people cannot remember well the intermediate part.

Step 4: Develop your book based on the FAS concept (Funny, Attractive and Simple)

Do you know why Internet is full of silly videos that are seen by millions of people every day? It’s just because the stressful society in which we live today pushes them to find a way to deal with their stress even if it means making use of silly methods. Between two similar books regarding their contents, would not you select the one that makes your life funnier and easier? Let’s be practical, except for few fields of knowledge, there is nothing new to say, but different ways to say it. As for the wording, try to write short paragraphs, easy to digest and based on a main idea and one or two supporting ideas. If you were born between the early 1960s and the end of the 1970s, you should know the reason already: This generation is skillful to use gadgets and move fingers over a screen, but very poor for reflective thinking.

Step 5: Take as much time as necessary to find the “ideal” title

A journalist can write an article starting either from its body or title. When it comes to a book, in my opinion, you should start from the body because it’s longer than an article and during the process of writing it, a lot of ideas might be modified, including the one related to the title. Today, overloads of information invade us like ants over a piece of caramel and that’s why we feel very strongly that a significant amount of time and attention must be focused on making sure that your title and subtitle are the best possible since every year more and more people are only reading these two parts to decide the purchase of a book. Some writers suggest short titles as antidotes, but rather than the extension of a title, what really could tip the scales in your favor at the moment of a reader’s decision on buying your book or not is other thing: A title, compelling enough to make the reader feel an irresistible urge to know what is behind the cover.

Step 6: Use social networking sites to promote your work

In the past, only well-renowned writers’ works were marketed by publishers and mass media. And today? The same situation prevails. Fortunately, there are new alternatives today like social networking sites for example. If millions of people are using social networking sites for unproductive things, why don´t you find a way to use them in a more appropriate way?

Step 7: Be honest

Pseudo-writers with their sensationalist stories can be found here and there these days. They are just one click away from us, selling their dignity for five minutes of fame and losing their trust forever. Do not become a member of this club to try to sell more copies. At the end of the day, what really matters is not how many copies you sold, but the satisfaction of having helped someone through the result of your effort, that is, of your book.

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