Next time you pick up a book, stop for a moment and think about how it was created. Probably the first (and only) thing that comes to mind is the author, sitting at a desk, toiling away. In other words, you think of how it was written. That makes sense! The writing phase is the phase people are most familiar with.
Not so fast, though. The reality of writing a book may look different than the way you’re picturing it in your head. Thanks to movies, TV shows, and even other books, there’s a common “writer” stereotype. It’s usually someone who has isolated him/herself from society (almost always in a cabin in the woods, for some reason), and who taps away at a keyboard for months on end, mentally unraveling in the process.
I get that this is supposed to be a dramatized view of writing a book, but to me, it looks stressful, unnerving, and downright crazy-making. It does not look like fun. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that writing a book is a breeze, or that the words always flow right out, but I also want to put your mind at ease. It does not have to be a miserable experience that leaves you frazzled and frustrated.
After all, if the writing experience were that awful, no one would do it. If you’re thinking about writing a book for your business, you might be nervous. Writing may be a brand new experience for you, so some trepidation is normal.
My goal in writing this series is to help shine some light on each stage of the book creation process so that you know what to expect. I want you to write that book you’ve been wanting to write, and most importantly, I want you to finish it!
This article is all about what writing a business book is really like.
A More Realistic View
First of all, let me dispel the myth that most authors have the time and the means to disappear from life for months at a time in order to write a book. I’m sure a select few people do, but most don’t. Most people that write books do it while working full-time jobs, taking care of their kids and families, and going about their normal lives. They fit in time to write wherever they can.
If you think you can’t write a book because you can’t block off a significant amount of time to only write, rest assured that you’re in good company. Most authors do it one word at a time, in between all the other things they’re already doing. Some people compare writing a book to taking up a new hobby—others describe it as a second job. I think this depends on how much free time you have and how much of it you’re willing to devote to a new project.
This can be a scary thought. You may be thinking, “Wow, I really want to write this book, but I can’t imagine spending every ounce of my already limited free time on it. That sounds too difficult.”
This brings me to another reality: Almost all authors have help of some kind. At the very least, any author worth his/her salt works with an editor (we’ll talk more about editing in the next article in the series), and many authors—and I’m specifically referring to authors of business books, who are definitely way too busy running their businesses to escape to a cabin in the woods for any amount of time—work with ghostwriters to some extent.
I know the idea of bringing someone in to work alongside you during the writing process can be unnerving. By nature, we entrepreneurs thrive on independence and aren’t always open to relinquishing control, which can be a great quality to have as a business owner. Just don’t let the fear of seeking help get in your way of finishing that book. There is zero shame in hiring professionals to assist you.
What It’s Like to Work with a Ghostwriter
Ghostwriting is a highly individualized service, and varies from author to author, and even from book to book. It’s rare that a ghostwriter writes an entire book alone, and then puts the author’s name (the business owner’s name, for our purposes) on the cover. It is usually a much more collaborative process, and the level of collaboration should be dictated by the author.
When I’ve helped business owners write books, I’ve done it in several different ways. Some business owners like to write as much as they possibly can, and then I go through the manuscript to fill in any gaps and make sure it flows nicely for the reader. Some business owners prefer to work one chapter at a time, submitting each one for individual review. I then stitch the pieces together to make sure it all flows as one coherent book.
For business owners that are either very short on time, or that aren’t as confident in their writing abilities, a lot of ghostwriters (myself included) conduct a series recorded interviews with the author, and then write the book based on the conversations. As the business owner, this drastically scales back your time commitment—all you’ll need to do is get on the phone with the writer a few times and then review the manuscript (either section by section or all at once at the end) to make sure it correctly represents your voice and tone.
Whether you choose to write portions of your book yourself, or whether you’d rather stay away form writing entirely and just have a few phone conversations instead (or some combination of the two), the most important thing is that the book you end up with is the book you wanted to write. People sometimes wince at the term “ghostwriting,” but it’s much more collaborative than many people think. Make sure you choose a writer that will work with you as much as they work for you, and that way, you can be sure that your business book really is your book.
It’s Supposed to Be Fun!
Writing a book is a huge accomplishment, and it should also be an enjoyable one. Of course, there will be moments of frustration and times when you question whether or not you’re really going to get it all done, but for the most part, you should have some fun during the process.
The writing stage can seem intimidating to anyone, even to business owners that have already published a book or two. I just want you to remember: There’s no reason to do it alone if you don’t want to. Having someone to collaborate with makes writing easier and much more fun!
Have you been thinking about writing a business book? Does the idea of writing cause you anxiety or make you think of all the things in school that you hated? Don’t worry. You can still write that book—you might just need a little help. If that’s the case, contact us at Maven. We’d love to chat with you about your idea and figure out the best plan for you so that you can get it done and enjoy the journey.