|Articles To help Project Leaders
How not to write your first bookDo you want to write a book? But have not got around to it yet? You may know what you
want to tell the world, but don't know where to start or how to get it published.
Well, I was in the same situation. I saw the need for presenters to be able to use
PowerPoint more effectively, but did not know how to get started and publish a book that
can help presenters. I got started and in the process learned, how not to write your first
Over the past few months I wrote and published "Dodging the Bullet Points: The 5.5 Step
Practical Guide to Presenting with PowerPoint for the non-presenter who has other things
to do in their life". I did it, and you can do it to. You can write your book and share your
valuable information with other people. Other people can learn from your experiences
and you are denying people the privilege of learning from you if you don't write the book
to share your knowledge.
I started by just opening an MS-Word document for each chapter and typing in the ideas
and content for that chapter. This process worked for me, until I found that Dan Poynter
has free information kits and a more structured approach called the New Book Model
which is available for free. I adopted Dan's guidelines and the quality of my book
immediately improved. I also found answers to many of the questions I had run into
while writing my book.
I learned a lot along the journey, and make it available here so that you don't make the
same mistakes while writing your first book. I learned that it is inevitable to make
mistakes when you are doing something for the first time. I made peace with the fact that
everything takes longer on your first book than on subsequent books. But, there has to be
a first time, in order for there to be a second time, and improved third time.
Fortunately, writing your first book need not be expensive. You determine how much
money you want to invest. Print-on-Demand technology and software on your PC are all
the tools you need to get started. You can publish your first copy at Lulu.com for under
$10. Your main investment is your own time. If you make mistakes, you can correct
them on your time, and your mistakes don't need to cost you money.
Here are some of my learning opportunities so that you don't make the same mistakes:
1. Only consider advice from people who have already written a book similar to the one
you are writing. Ignore advice from other people who have not already done it
themselves, or written a book that cannot be given away. I listened to bad advice,
which cost me time once I realized that theory and practice are not the same. This
applies to all facets of the book, including text layout, cover design, copy on the back
cover and the inside design.
2. Invest some time educating yourself before you start writing. I suggest you download
the Information Kits from Para Publishing.com and purchase Writing NonFic tion
from Dan Poynter. Also look through a bookstore such as Barnes & Noble and
purchase a book that looks and feels like the one you have in mind. Do you want a
300 page manual, or a readable 120 page reference book? I missed this and just
started writing Dodging the Bullet Points. Later on I found out that I should set the
margins and page sizes, which cost me a lot of wasted time when the new page size
required me to reformat the manuscript.
3. Don't wait for "Inspiration". Just sit down at your scheduled time and work on your
book. Get down to business by setting a fixed time to work on your book every day. I
wrote Dodging the Bullet Points from 5 AM to 6 AM each weekday morning. I also
snuck in an hour or two over weekends, where I could. This worked best for me,
while the house was quiet. You can't get much done in an hour a day, but after just a
few weeks you start to see real progress. Every author I speak to says that consistent
writing habits are the key to success, not binge writing.
4. Start your cover design early. I waited until I was finished with the content before
starting to design the cover. My cover design took over a month during which I could
not make progress on the book. Always start your cover design first. In future, I will
follow Dan Poynter's advice and complete the cover design before writing the book.
5. Download Dan Poynter's Book Writing Template from Para Publishing, and setup a
three-ring binder to keep your notes and the printed pages as your book takes shape. I
was amazed at ho w much faster my book progressed once I put the pages into a
binder and reviewed my work whenever I could find a few minutes.
6. The bulk of time invested in writing a nonfiction book is in researching your topic,
organizing your material and proofreading. I found that there is very little "creative"
time needed for writing. You don't need to sequester yourself on a tropical island for
six-months to get "inspiration" for your work. You can use your book as an excuse to
take a three- month vacation in Paris if you want to, but you certainly can write your
book in your living room, one hour at a time. Most of the work in writing a nonfiction
book is just work research, review, investigate, form opinions, proofreading
and so on. You can do a lot of this work in small chunks proofread a page while
waiting for the dentist. Jot down a few notes during your lunch break.
Let me know if you have any questions on writing your book. Just email me wayne
@waynebotha.com. I want to see your book published, and I kno w that you can do it.
Remember that there are two simple steps to writing a nonfiction book:
1. Get started.
2. Don't stop until it is finished.
Copyright © 2007, by Wayne Botha - www.waynebotha.com - Page 3 of 3
In conclusion, if you have access to a Personal Computer, and MS-Word, then you can
produce your first book in the next three months. With no formal training in book
writing, I created a book that solves problems for PowerPoint presenters all over the
world. If I can do it, then believe me, you can do it.
What are you waiting for?
***Improve your communicatio n skills when using PowerPoint® at www.waynebotha.com.
Wayne Botha grew up in South Africa, and now lives in Connecticut, USA. Colleagues
and audiences frequently tease Wayne about his funny accent.
Published August 2007.