This is one of the most saturated genres—writers writing about writing. I recommend that you dip into it only occasionally so that you can actually get some of your own writing done.
Recently I dipped into writing by Chris Brogan by Jeff Goins and made the following discoveries.
Chris Brogan on writing books and making money
Chris Brogan is one of the world’s most popular and prolific bloggers. He writes and speaks about how to use social media in your business.
In a series of posts on writing and publishing books, Chris speaks candidly about the realities of the business without dashing anyone’s dreams. He’s credible on this point, based on his extensive experience with self-publishing and traditional publishing.
His key points:
Write into a frame. Start by scaffolding your content. Create a rough table of contents for your book that divides each chapter into chunks—500 words or so, the size of a decent blog post.
Make time to write. Twenty minutes is enough to complete a task that moves your book project forward. “Shade in” one chunk at a time whenever you can. Also capture ideas on the run with online tools such as Evernote or the king of analog tools—pen and index cards.
Write regularly. Set daily or weekly goals to “paste” a certain number of words to your outline. Then ask someone to hold you accountable to your intention. Discipline comes from early victories in meeting daily or weekly goals.
Remember that marketing is not evil. However, it can be done in sleazy ways. Social media, blogging, and guest posting on other people’s blog can be effective ways to promote your book—provided you do it in the spirit of service, which means offering valuable content to a target audience.
Get real about money. If you’re writing non-fiction “how to” books, don’t plan to get rich on royalties. Most non-fiction authors use a book as a platform for their speaking, teaching, or consulting gigs, which really can be lucrative.
Jeff Goins on branding yourself and bonding with a tribe
Jeff Goins is another successful blogger. He started his site not as an expert but as a person with questions: How do successful writers make a living? What does it really take to get published? When is it okay to pursue your passion? How do you create without going crazy? He built the answers into a solid online presence.
Jeff offers a free ebook—The Writer’s Manifesto—about writing “for love of the craft, not accolades or acclaim.” It’s worth perusing.
You can also download Every Writer’s Dream: How to Never Pitch Your Writing Again for $4.99. If you do, Jeff will throw in another ebook for free—Before Your First Book: 5 Tips to Getting Published Now. I’ve read both.
Jeff offers the clearest treatment of branding I’ve found. He defines it as a memorable combination of name, visual image, and voice.
The first can be your actual name, a brand name, or a pseudonym.
The image can be a logo or photo of you.
Voice is the trickiest. Finding it can take years. You’ll know you have it when you write in a way that captures your personality and captivates your audience.
Much of what’s in Every Writer’s Dream can be found in Jeff’s posts and from other bloggers (such as Chris Brogan) for free. The advantage of buying Jeff’s ebook is getting the content wrapped in one package—no clicks required.
When it comes to the book business in the 21st century, I keep returning to two big ideas. One, there are experts worth heeding. Two, nobody knows anything for sure because the medium is changing so quickly.
If you can hold those ideas in creative tension, you’ll have a perfect mindset for navigating the new age of publishing.