If you are a business book author today, you face two big problems.
The first is that you have lost the first-mover advantage. Great books — including those that are self-published — appear daily. Competition and quality is on the way up. The second big challenge is making writing your book fun.
Professional writers have always faced that challenge. No-one sticks to a career that isn’t fun. And if you are no good, your career won’t stick to you.
Use these three tips to beat your competition and have more fun writing.
Go on a story safari
Stories are like wild animals; they come and go as they please. Pro writers know that whenever they spot great stories, they need to catch them and keep them safe.
Most people struggle to remember stories on the spot. My clients record the first draft of their book because it is heaps quicker than writing. It is quite common when I ask my clients for a story to illustrate a point they have made, they go blank. So make a note of the stories you want to include. You may have several stories in your mind now. Write them down.
Evernote is a great place to collect stories. Why? Because of it’s amazing, astonishing and indestructible search function. You can jot down notes, and only remember a word or phrase and retrieve it. You can save articles, links and PDFs from the web, and all are searchable.
Underline when you read
I know this advice it is heretical to book purists and may end in family breakdown. Mark all quotable quotes, data, and ideas the minute you find them or you will never find them again.
You can waste hours searching for a lost fact or piece of data. I’ve made this mistake so many times. Quoting stories and research from other authors is an essential skill for authors. Losing the sources is not an option. If you don’t mark the place, like magic, you will never find it again.
Of course, if marking books could lead to divorce, buy Kindle books. There you can mark to your heart’s content without wrecking causing grief. Also, you are less likely to share Kindle books. If you must underline in real books, soften the blow by using lead pencils and sticky notes.
Talking about notes, do make a note of the relevance of the data or story and why you think it is interesting. Sometimes when you come back to it later, you may have forgotten what drew your attention and why.
Check your facts, and source them
People die. That is a fact and no-one will question it.
Small business leaders feel isolated. That is an assertion until you check it, prove it, and then provide the source of that proof to your readers.
Getting facts wrong undermines your credibility. And there are a whole host of people out there who get their jollies from proving other people wrong! They will find your mistakes.
In the old world of publishing, those error-spotters had a job. We called them sub-editors (or fact-checkers). I loved them. They saved me from making an idiot of myself in public. Some subs still survive today. If you have enough money, get them to read your manuscript before you publish.
But you must stay alert to the difference between facts and assertions. Develop a ‘fact’ radar. Some assertions become accepted even when they are wrong. One is that 95% of small businesses fail in the first five years. Another is that hiring a new employee costs five times their annual salary. Check your sources. The amount of BS out there will surprise you.
Daily professional writing habits
You’ll have noticed that these daily writer’s habits are all about research. Quality research leads to quality writing. With these three habits, you can join their ranks.
PS: Want more? You may like: When your reader doesn’t believe you, call them out.
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