I'm about to tell you do something and
you'll think I'm crazy. Ready? Here it goes: You should
write a book.
I know, I know. You don't need one more "to do" on your
list. You have the kids, your job, possibly a husband and
his job, your house, this, that and the other. You don't
have the time or energy to put towards writing a book. Why
would you put another "to do" on your list?
Publishing a book is more than a way to share your message
and wisdom with others. It's also a tremendous marketing
tool. After all, no matter your industry or profession,
everyone wants to do business with the person who "wrote the
book." Becoming a published author positions you as an
expert and instantly affords you the type of credibility
that can skyrocket your career to a whole new level.
Look at the folks on Working Moms Only. Brian Tracy, Marci Shimoff, MaryEllen Tribby; they all wrote books. You can,
too! Yes, you need a blueprint on how to create a success.
But, don't think for a minute that you can't learn how to do
it. You can - and publishing a book will change your life.
It changed mine.
In 1967, I was working as a social studies teacher at
Calumet High School in Chicago. It was a rough school in a
rough part of town at a rough time in history. Dr. Martin
Luther King was assassinated during the spring of that
school year, on April 4, 1968, and we had a full scale riot
in the school the next day.
The next year, I moved to Clinton, Iowa to take a job with
the Clinton Job Corps Center, where I taught basic reading,
math and job skills to women who had dropped out of school.
I say "women" but many of them were just kids. They were
16-23 years old and mostly women of color. Life was tough
for them. But, neither racial conflict, crime, nor poverty
was the biggest problems of the women in Clinton or the kids
in Chicago. What was? Low self-esteem! If you don't believe
in yourself, you'll never find the motivation to change your
life for the better.
Wanting to help these people, I worked with W. Clement
Stone, who had a foundation, which I learned, on how to
teach people self-esteem and self-motivation. He was one of
my teachers and I'll tell you more about the importance of
teachers in a minute.
From Stone, I got motivated to go to graduate school. And
later, I got a contract for an educational book about
motivating students in the classroom. Great that I got a
book deal, right? Well, I still had to write the book.
Picture this. It's now 1975 and I'm working and going to
school to support my wife and new-born baby. Now, I have to
write a book titled 100 Ways to Enhance Self-Concept in the
Classroom - and I only have 20 ways. So, I came up with a
strategy, a blueprint really, for creating the book. I sat
in my kitchen at a "desk" made of two filing cabinets with a
hollow core door on top on which I put my IBM Selectric
typewriter. And then, I wrote one way to build self-concept
and self-esteem for the classroom every 3 ½ days. That
equaled two ways a week and 100 by the end of the year.
Know what? The plan worked. The book sold 400,000 copies and
became a bestseller. My life changed quickly and for the
better. I became a consultant to school districts, spoke at
educational conferences and made more money to support my
family. I felt fulfilled creatively and motivated
professionally because I was on the right path.
The path that started in that
little kitchen led to me co-authoring the Chicken Soup for
the Soul series. The books have sold over 123 million copies
in North America with more than 500 million copies in print
world wide. But even that took a strategy for success.
Many, many people said that Chicken Soup would never work as
a book. It was initially rejected by 144 publishers. When I
finally did get a publisher, he said we'd be lucky to sell
20,000 books. I told him my goal was to sell a
million-and-a-half in the first 18 months. He laughed and
said I was crazy. Well, today he laughs on his private jet!
ere's what I know: If you have a plan and the right
teachers, you too can become a successful author.
Here's how to get started and make your book a success
Declare yourself an author NOW. Come up with a working
title for your book and start telling people you're the
author of the "upcoming book titled XYZ." One big reason to
do this is it will create positive momentum for you. Once
you start telling people you've got a book coming out, it
makes it much easier to get it done. Plus, you can start
enjoying some of the ancillary benefits of being an author,
such as getting publicity on radio/TV, print publications
and online. As with many things in life the key is to just
get started - even if you don't feel quite ready.
Be selfish with your time. Writing a book is important
to you, your family and your future - and don't let anyone
tell you otherwise. Share your goal with your spouse, your
parents and your friends. Ask them to help you create the
time to write, even if it's just 15 minutes every day.
Create the habit. Good or bad, habits always deliver
results. If you only write one page a day, in a year, you
will have written 365 pages--more than enough for a book!
Find your message. There is a book inside of you. It
might be a business book, a memoir, a cookbook or something
funny, a how-to or how-not to, a what-for or why-not. What
are you good at? What is your passion? What can you teach
other people to do?
Identify your niche. Who needs to learn what you have to
teach? Who would be most interested in your story? Get
specific. For example, the Chicken Soup series includes
Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman's Soul, Chicken Soup
for the Military Wife's Soul, Chicken Soup for the Working
Woman's Soul and others. Knowing your niche will help you
write the book and market it.
Consider co-authors. Think a whole book is too much
work? Get a co-author. I had co-authors on my Chicken Soup
books. MaryEllen Tribby had a co-author for her first book.
That person can share in the writing and, later, in
marketing the book.
Think marketing from day one. One of the biggest
mistakes most new authors make is to spend all their time
and energy writing the book, without sufficient thought to
how they'll market it. Ideally you want to consider
marketing issues while writing your book. For instance,
consider short snappy chapter titles which easily lend
themselves to being blog posts and/or radio/TV show
problems. This might sound counterintuitive.
When you meditate, you try to relax, right? Well, not
Meditating is harnessing your brain power and if you
focus that energy on the problems you encounter
– and every
creative venture encounters problems
– you'll solve them.
Meditate, go for a long walk or take a hot bath. Give your
mind a problem to solve and give it the room to do so, and
it will. That's how I came up with the title Chicken Soup
for the Soul.
Yes, there are other things you need to know. But the most
important things are to get started, work hard and have the
right mindset. I'll share one of my favorite quotes with
you. When oil tycoon J. Paul Getty was asked how he became
one of the richest men in the world, he said, "One, get up
early. Two, work hard. Three, find oil."