About You

The biggest influence on the long-term success of your book is the quality of its content. Creating that content, however, takes time and effort.

Edison said that genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. True, but you don’t have to sweat it out alone. Let’s collaborate. For more details about how we can work together, email me at doug.toft@gmail.com

WHAT YOU GAIN

What can you gain from writing a book? Plenty, including:

  • Clarity. Writing a book allows you to develop, test, and refine your ideas to a level that is not possible with other media. I agree with John Butman, author of Breaking Out: How to Build Influence in a World of Competing Ideas, who notes that a book “remains the most powerful, effective, and accepted form for delivering a big and different idea.”
  • Credibility. Writing a book that creates specific value for specific readers helps you build a reputation as an expert.
  • Content. As a byproduct of writing a book, many authors get new material to use in their speaking, consulting, teaching, websites, ebooks, articles, newsletters, white papers, social media updates, and other content channels. As Chris Brogan notes, the latter are your best options for making money from writing.

John Butman notes some related benefits in this post. All of them are crucial for idea entrepreneurs—content experts who want to influence how people think and behave.

Some people asked me how much I made from my first book. The answer I gave was $10 million. The book itself only paid $35,000 in royalties, but the speaking engagements, spin-off books, newsletters, columns, boot camps, consulting, and wide-open doors resulted in the remaining $9,965,000.

Jay Conrad Levinson, author of Guerrilla Marketing, quoted here

WE START WHERE YOU ARE

Perhaps you’ve already created materials related to your topic—journal entries, emails, articles, blog posts, reports, white papers, ebooks, transcripts of your speaking, PowerPoint presentations, and more. And, you have no idea what to do with all of it.

No problem. I love working with that stuff.

To begin, I want to find out how much you’ve already developed your ideas—and how motivated you are to complete a book. That means answering three key questions.

THREE STAGES IN WORKING TOGETHER

Though being analytic and organized, I also have a high tolerance for ambiguity and disorder. My clients often exude a brilliant intensity that looks at first like chaos. I affirm this messiness as essential to creativity. Clarity is close at hand. Getting there happens in three stages:

Plan. We’ll start by writing a proposal for your book. This culminates in a detailed table of contents—your book’s title, chapter headings, and subheadings, along with notes from our research about what to include under each heading.

Draft. We’ll complete a first draft of your book by expanding the table of contents. This usually means combining your existing materials with new writing. To ensure that your voice is preserved, I prefer that you do the new writing.

Edit. We’ll take turns revising the draft until the manuscript is finished.

BLOGGING YOUR BOOK

Many authors find it essential to create an online presence. There are two advantages. One is that you can build an audience for your work before your book is published. Second, you can blog. This allows you to draft your manuscript as a planned series of posts. Along the way, you get regular feedback from readers.

I can help you create blog posts, edit them, and draw on them as source materials for your book manuscript.

FIGURING TIME AND TASKS

Based on an initial meeting with you, we will create a written agreement that lists my tasks, due dates, and expected payment. I will charge a flat fee or hourly rate—whatever works best.

If the overall scope of my work changes during the course of a project, we will revise this agreement.

Many of my clients like to proceed in “baby steps,” contracting with me for specific and limited tasks during the beginning of a project. This helps us get to know each other and establish our working compatibility before committing to finish a complete manuscript.

Other clients prefer to hire me only for certain phases of the three-step process described above. For example, they might want me to develop a table of contents or research specific topics. This can work well, too.

SOME CAVEATS

I am not a copyeditor, proofreader, designer, production editor, or webmaster. When working with clients on a book manuscript, I address its purpose, substance, structure, and style. When the manuscript is done, I leave the production and promotion of your book to you. You might wish to work with other people who specialize in those areas.

I am not a publisher, publishing consultant, or literary agent. I cannot guarantee that your manuscript will get published. Only a publisher can do that.

By producing a quality manuscript, we can enhance the chances of getting your book published. However, the book business can be irrational. Worthy manuscripts can get neglected. No one knows in advance what will sell—not even major publishers.

If you’re interested in self-publishing, I can recommend other people to explain the various options and help you choose.

I am not a ghostwriter. There’s only one person who can truly write with your voice—you. To get the book that you really want, do a critical mass of the writing yourself.

After all, writing means thinking. And thinking is not something that you can delegate or outsource.

Remember that drawing on your existing materials can help you complete the first draft. We’ll take those materials and strategically combine and expand them.

Also, the outcome of planning your book is a detailed table of contents. You will not start from a blank page.

Sometimes surprises happen. One example is this.