How to turn your expertise, idea, or story into a successful book

It wasn’t that long ago that I was dreaming of writing a book. In fact, it had been a lifelong dream, born in second grade in the pages of The Chronicles of Narnia and my first medaled poem. Since elementary school, I have been obsessed with words. In junior high and high school, I took every elective writing class. I got a bachelor’s and master’s in writing. And all the while, I read voraciously, dreaming that someday, maybe, I would write a book too. And maybe—just maybe—someone would read it and it would impact them.

But the big dilemma: what would I write a book about? And how in the world does one sit down and write an entire book?

In 2012, I was a book editor with some notable accomplishments in the field. Each day, I helped authors rework and polish their books for publication. Yet my own book remained unwritten.

Until one day, everything changed. I was offered a book deal to write about . . . book editing! My area of expertise. I was nervous, but I said yes anyway.

It turns out it was exactly the right opportunity for me. That one book changed everything. I went from a busy professional expert to a sought-after, quoted industry expert. My available opportunities skyrocketed. I ghostwrote more books and coauthored another one. Since then, I’ve written more than a dozen books and coached, edited, or impacted hundreds of others. My income has doubled and then doubled again, and it continues to climb.

After writing that one book, I never had to look for work again. Instead, the world’s best clients started knocking on my virtual door, asking me to work with them. Becoming an author was amazing. Transformative. And that’s all because I was able to share my knowledge with the world.

And I’ve learned something: everyone has a book inside them, waiting to be written. Everyone has expertise, an idea, or a story waiting to be shared, and for many people, a book is the perfect way to share it with the world. So if that’s you—if you know writing a book will help you step into your potential—but you’re just not sure how to take the first step, read on.

#1 Clarify your big vision.

Everything—and I mean everything—starts with a clear life vision. To do so, I suggest engaging in one to two hours of intentional thought to help you define your life vision, both personally and professionally. You can use the life visioning guide I use with my private coaching clients.

This isn’t some woo-woo activity; it’s a highly practical, intentional exercise to help you define your big why. When you understand where you’re going, why you’re doing what you’re doing, and whom you want to impact through your work, you can work backward to write the book that will help you get to that big vision.

#2 Define the expertise, idea, or story you want to share.

The next step toward writing a successful book is clarifying the book idea. You can use my proven book-ideation guide to help you clarify or refine yours.

A well-clarified book idea is more than just a topic. And for you, assuming you’re someone who is looking to make an impact, the ideation process is about more than just being able to say, “I want to write a book about _______.” Instead, a clearly articulated book idea goes hand in hand with your purpose. When you dig into book ideation and write a one-page book concept to accompany your idea, you arrive at clarity of impact. You’re able to identify your reader, align your book with your vision, and understand the why behind the book.

#3 Engage in the transformative journey of authorhood.

And it is transformative . . . if you choose for it to be. Too often, I see articles and even courses geared toward helping people write a book really, really fast. Write a book in a weekend! It’s only 48 hours of your life! Publish within weeks!

No, no, and please no.

Look, I understand the appeal of fast writing and publishing. But the thing is writing a great, successful book takes time. It takes intentionality, focus, and heart. Even if you work with a ghostwriter or collaborator, you have to invest the time. And whether you’re writing the book entirely alone, with the help of a professional, or alongside a community of authors, here’s what you should know: if you show up and dig in and do the work, the writing process is transformative. And it’s incredibly powerful. You can engage in the life-changing process of writing a book with me through my step-by-step accelerated author program.

You can also access free resources all over the internet, including in my blog posts and podcast episodes. Don’t let budget stop you from writing! I work hard to create valuable, free content for everyone, and my accelerated author program is designed to help you go deeper and engage in the transformative author experience, with me as your guide.

Part of your success as an author will depend on how much you’re willing to embrace the transformative journey of authorhood. Whether you’re an individual with a story to share or a multi-time entrepreneur with a big idea, the process of writing a book is deeply clarifying. The reason? Intentionality. Most of us will never engage so deeply in one project, ever. It takes a special commitment to start—and especially to finish—writing a book. Along with the book-ideation process, you’ll spend time outlining, writing, and editing your book. And as you do so, you’ll be structuring, creating, and refining how you want to share your expertise, idea, or story with the world.

There is so much power in this process of intentional creation. I believe it is one of the single, most important acts of refinement that allows one to step into their next level of impact.

#4 Build an aligned author platform.

Alongside your book, I always suggest that authors build a dynamic author platform that clearly communicates who they are, what they do, and how they are impacting the world. You should begin building one before your book is published—ideally, well before! You can utilize my free author platform program to help build yours.

Each author platform is unique, but the core components are almost always a website, a social media presence, and regular content. Your platform is the place readers and your wider audience go to connect with you. I like to think of your platform as the virtual you—it’s an extension of you as a living, breathing person. It’s also an important signifier to media and your audience that you are the person to share your expertise, idea, or story. Media, for example, will often dig into each of those three components of your platform before quoting you or reaching out for an interview.

#5 Publish with purpose—and celebrate!

Many authors rush the publishing step. They’re so excited to get the book out into the world, they forget the intentionality that carried them through the creation process. But I urge you to slow down, learn about publishing, and publish with purpose.

What does that mean? Well, publishing with purpose means picking the right publishing route for you, whether that’s traditional publishing, hybrid/partner publishing, or self-publishing. It means not skipping the all-important prelaunch promotion. And it especially involves not downplaying your amazing accomplishment to your network and audience. Once your book is published, you are an author! Celebrate the heck out of that accomplishment, because it is big.

#6 Step into your potential, anchored with a successful book.

Your book can be a career catapult. It can rocket-charge your impact, influence, and income. It can allow you to make a real difference in this world through sharing your story. I think of a book as a bridge from success to influence, but you have to walk across the bridge and step into your potential.

What’s encouraging about this step is that if you fully engage in the transformative journey of authorhood, crossing this bridge will feel like a natural passage for you. You’ll have undergone the mindset shifts and clarified your expertise, idea, or story so well that you feel emboldened to walk across the bridge with your head held high, knowing you’re crossing for all the right reasons.

So, how do you turn your expertise, idea, or story into a successful book? Well, you have to start writing. There is no one right way to write and publish a successful book. But there is one quality to the process that will make your success more likely: intentionality.

What expertise, idea, or story do you want to share with the world? What has kept you from writing your book, or why do you feel on fire to finally write it? Share with me in the comments. I read and reply to each one and love hearing from you!

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