With the recent release of my new book Prison Break: Finding Personal Freedom, I've had a few people ask me, "How do you write a book?" and "Where do you find the time to write?" So I thought I'd give you a brief outline of how to write and publish your own book (just in case you're interested).
1. Come up with a 'big idea'. This is usually a specific single focus that you want to write about. It could be a topic, an issue, or maybe your story. For me it was helping people find freedom in their personal life.
2. Start drafting an outline. Brain storm the kinds of things you could say about your big idea. What parts of the topic could you explore? For me, I listed a whole bunch of things that can become a prison in our lives. This wasn't too difficult because our teaching team did a series on this a few years back.
3. Set aside time for writing. I did most of my writing early in the morning, on some free evenings, and on weekends, over a period of about 6 months (on and off). In fact, at the beginning of this year, I set a goal to have my book published by July 1st. I created a plan back from that date and allocated time for each step. Everything didn't go as originally planned, but I did make my target date.
4. Start writing each chapter. I typed directly into Microsoft Word and made each chapter a separate file. Keep the formatting simple at this stage. You may want to draft out a brief outline or breakdown of each individual chapter too, so that you have a bit of a map to follow. But the main thing is just start writing!
[For my Prison Break book, I had someone transcribe a number of my sermons word for word. Then I added in extra material, deleted a bunch of things, and massaged the text to be more of a reading style than a listening style. That's the first time I've done this but it sure saved me a lot of time]
5. Write your introduction and conclusion. These are usually best left until last, because then you have the full perspective of what is in the rest of the book. This is also a good time to check all references, including any footnotes or quotes, to ensure you that you have acknowledged all sources correctly.
6. Proof-read everything. I had a number of people proof-read my book for me, including a friend with a degree in journalism. Fresh eyes see new things. Even then, you're sure to miss something. I've already found a few mistakes in my new book, which we'll correct for the next printing.
7. Design a cover. If you don't have experience with this, engage the services of a graphics designer. You might need graphics help with the inside text too. I formatted the internal pages of my book in Adobe InDesign 4.0, which is an excellent program that enables you to save to a PDF file ready for printing.
8. Find a printer. You can do an internet search for Australian printers. I received quotes from about seven different printers across the country and eventually went with someone locally recommended by a friend. The more copies you print the cheaper it is per unit. If you are only running off a limited amount of books, you might conisder photo-copying or digital printing.
9. Contact various bookshops to see if they will sell your book for you. It often pays to do this beforehand so that you can assess the interest level in your book. You will need to sell to them at a significant discount so that they can cover their marketing and sales costs, but then again, they have the ability to get your book to people you may never meet. Of course, you can also sell directly or via the internet.
Well, that's the basics. Tomorrow, I'll share a few helpful book-writing resources with you.