There is an Easier Way to Write a Book

As a successful author and publisher, I am often asked by aspiring writers about the best way to get started. Writing your first book can be incredibly challenging; you’ve never been through the process before. Have you ever asked yourself these questions?

  • How many words should I have in my book?
  • How long should it take me to write a book?
  • Should I sell it or self-publish it?
  • Can I get it listed for sale on Amazon or Barnes & Noble?
  • How do I register an ISBN and get a UPC code for it?
  • Who can I hire to create my book cover?

The easiest way to write a book is to get the help you need. Every first time writer has asked these questions, so there is no reason to be embarrassed. How could you be expected to know what to do when you’ve never written a book before?Easy to Write a Book

As a coach and mentor, I always suggest that if you want to do something that you’ve never done before, find someone who has already done what you want to do and have them help you. Doing this will be an easier way to write a book. Having a mentor or coach can help you get through any challenges, plus it will help you to stay on track so you can actually finish your book! A mentor will tell you what to do, show you how to do it, walk you through it, and help you to succeed.

Fiction and nonfiction are different, but they both require research before you begin. You need to outline your story, develop your characters or organize your facts, and then just start writing!

The Easiest Way to Write a Book

You wouldn’t believe what an insecure mess I was when I started out. Of course I was; I had no idea what I was doing!  But, I’ve since learned so much. In fact, over the past 20 years, I’ve written, sold, and published several books, plus I’ve written and produced three, award-winning inspirational films (see I even cowrote an award-winning song! It has been a colorful, yet sometimes brutal, experience. Knowing what I know now, I wonder why I didn’t get the help I needed! Instead, I struggled through it all alone. I read books about writing and publishing, but it’s never the same as having someone hold your hand. Because I had no accountability to anyone, I apparently wasn’t quite ready. It actually took me nearly 20 years from the time I first thought about writing until I actually put together a book proposal and, ultimately, wrote and sold my first book.

I went through a massive transition in my 30’s. I wanted to write more than anything. I was living in Southern California, so I signed up for a script writing course at UCLA, Malibu Campus; I figured the students there would be a little older, like me, and I was correct.

I’ll never forget the first day of class. I was early enough to get a seat at one of the four long tables that had been pushed together in the center of the small room. The instructor, a successful Hollywood screenwriter, had placed curriculum summaries in front of each chair. By the time class was set to begin, the room was packed; people were standing three deep around the perimeter of the room and even more were sitting on the floor. I would say there were at least 60 students at the room.

It is interesting to note that by the third week, most of the class had disappeared, leaving just about 15 students to finish the course. I realized later that many writers would often attend a new class, looking for inspiration from the naive students. Were they there to steal our stories? Perhaps! Most of the stories were very personal. People often feel compelled to share nuggets about their lives … from growing up, living with characters in their lives, adventures they’d taken, times they’d been afraid, or other unique experiences.

I read the curriculum that had been placed before me and panicked! The first week, we would have to write a treatment. The next week, we were to create scene cards. After that, we would have to present characters studies, and so on … for 12 long weeks! I had no idea what a “treatment” was. I remember being so freaked out and intimidated that I wanted to run out of the room. But, because I’d been an early bird and was seated in the middle of the room with no way to leave without making a scene, I told myself that I would endure this one class and then just never return.

My internal dialogue was harsh. “I wanted to be a writer. I know NOTHING about writing! Why did I sign up for this? What was I thinking? I’m too old to be here!” I beat myself up pretty well that first hour.

Then, something magical happened. Our instructor explained what a treatment is. He said it is like the summary you’d read in a TV Guide. “Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back,” and so on. “Oh!” I thought. “I know what that is! I just never knew it was called a treatment!” Then, he explained scene cards. Imagine the opening of “CHEERS” television show. Can you picture that “establishing shot” of the corner bar on the street in Boston … you know, the one with the awning?” That is an establishing shot. A scene card would read: “Cheers Bar, Exterior, Scene 1.” Wow, this was actually going to be EASY! I guess I’d initially forgotten that you go to class to learn information you don’t already know.

The easiest way to write a book is to get help from someone who has already done what you want to do.