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Four Ways to Become Obsessed With Writing

Becoming Obsessed With Writing

Jim Rohn once said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This is definitely applicable when you are a writer. If you haven’t figure it out yet, when everybody you know is not a writer then making time for yourself to sit down and write feels very challenging if not impossible.

To curb this obstacle I recommend you start interacting with other authors. There are a few ways to do this:

1.) Join a Facebook group that focuses on writing or self-publishing

2.) Utilize meetup.com to start spending time with other authors

3.) Listen to related podcasts

4.) Read related blogs

In other words, become obsessed with writing. I know this sounds intense but sticking to a writing schedule over a long period of time is equally as intense therefore it is an appropriate obsession.

The other point that needs to be noted relates to the second suggestion above. Going to a meet up on your own to meet people you don’t initially know probably sounds daunting. I completely understand that and still struggle to attend these types of gatherings myself. However, every time I put myself out there I am always so happy I did. The value always seems to be more abundant than the other three suggestions above.

Despite this, if attending a meet up isn’t something you’re up for just yet, start with one or two of the suggestions and over time expand to the others.

The key is to force yourself to confront your book even when you don’t want to write. You need to hear about how other authors overcome these struggles. You’ll learn that what you’re going through is actually very normal and that the key to writing a book is not actually being a great a writer or even a good writer but the ability to write consistently and focus that writing on a particular piece of work until it is complete.

This is what I love about writing. It levels the playing field when it comes to talent. In other words, all the skilled writing talents in the world won’t help if you can’t finish your work. This gives a persistent person an advantage.

The question is, what steps can you take to become a writer who can follow through and stay focused over a long period of time? Don’t overthink this. Moreover, don’t start drawing negative conclusions about yourself as a person just because you’ve struggled to stay focused in the past. I would bet the majority of writers encounter this inner battle on an on-going basis. I know I do, but I also know that I am not going to let an off day or even an off week mean anything more than just a small bump in the road as I progress towards finishing my book.

You are a writer. You will finish your book. Do not allow yourself to believe that you can’t make it happen. Just get your first draft written down. Worry about nothing else until you get to that point.

The next and final chapter of this book will help you with the steps after you finish your first draft, but truthfully, none of it matters if you don’t believe you can finish your first draft.

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How To Write Consistently

I used to become discouraged if I was unable to write on a particular day. Such a feeling kills momentum. I noticed that I would put myself down for not being a writer simply because I missed a day here or there. Since then I have adjusted expectations for myself. Now instead of trying to write everyday I focus on a certain amount of words each week.

Every Sunday, I review my upcoming week ahead. If I have a particularly significant amount of non-writing responsibilities I might specify a lower amount of words to be completed for that week. I typically aim for 2000 to 5000 words per week.

This works for me because I have found a system to hold myself accountable in a realistic way that suits my schedule. This enables me to write consistently without writing everyday.

Arriving at this point for me was not quick and certainly not easy, which brings me to my point.

Give yourself time to reflect on your writing process. Your life will inevitably throw unanticipated variables at you and it might require you to adjust your process. Regular reflection makes this possible.

Moreover, your writing process will evolve and change over time. This is a positive thing because it shows your adjusting and adapting to sustain consistency.

As you reflect I encourage you to focus on a few specific components of your writing process:

1. Setting
2. Timing
3. Days
4. Challenges
5. Successful writing sessions

Setting

People have different preferences as to the setting that they write in. As you determine your preferred setting I recommend you make your assessment based on which setting yields the greatest amount of quality and word output.

As you sit down to write make a note of the where you are, the volume, what you hear, what distractions exist, what distractions don’t exist. Try to be as detail oriented as you determine your ideal setting for writing.

If you have multiple settings, make a habit of tracking the word output for each setting. This provides you with a quantitative metric to assess how conducive each setting is to your writing.

Timing

In addition to the setting where your writing occurs, reflect on the timing. Do you write more words in the morning, afternoon, or at night? What is the quality like during each time.

Understanding the time of day that you are best able to maximize a writing session will help you schedule the rest of your life around your writing times. Likewise, knowing that the time of the day doesn’t make a difference for you then you know that your writing schedule can be a bit more flexible.

Be aware that if there is a particular time of day that for whatever reason you can hammer out high quality words at an exorbitant rate during a time but is unfortunately often interrupted then you may want to consider a different time that has less interruptions.

Days

Are there days of the week that you seem to be a more effective writer? For me, it is earlier in the week. I personally prefer to complete the majority of my writing on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. I believe what happens is by Thursday I’m exhausted both physically and mentally so though I still try to write on these days I typically shoot for less as result.

Challenges

As you reflect on your writing process and make neccessary adjustments, I can’t overstate how important it is to think about the challenges you have encountered along the way. These include both internal and external challenges.

For example, I’m not a great writer at night for a few reasons. First, an internal challenge I encounter is increased exhaustion so my brain is functioning on suboptimal levels. Second, an external challenge is presented when I have to choose between writing time and the limited time I have to spend with my wife once my little ones are asleep. As a result, I complete the strong majority of my writing in the morning before I start work.

You should be identifying the external and internal challenges that each writing session brings and try to write during a time where those challenges are eliminated or at least minimized.

Successful Writing Sessions

When a writing session goes well make a note of it. Identify the specifics mentioned above. Focus on figuring out how to duplicate these details. You want to identify why it was successful and shoot for that whenever possible Additionally, you can gain great momentum from celebrating a small success which can lead to further success.

So the next time you finish a writing session take a few minutes to reflect on the level of productivity. It will help you maximize you effectiveness of each writing session and it will increase likelihood of making yourself write more consistently.

Happy writing!

 

 

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7 Ways To Make More Time For Writing

If you’ve read my previous article that helps you determine the amount of time you each week you should devote to writing then it is possible, depending on your schedule, that you’re unhappy with the amount of time you have to write.

Or if you’re happy with your weekly word output but want to find ways to increase it then check out the strategies offered below.

Before we delve into each strategy a disclaimer must be provided just so we can move forward together on the same page.

I believe that the majority of people are relatively busy. Before my children were born I remember feeling busy all the time but now I look back on that period of my life and wonder what I did with all the time.

Moral of the story, we all have 24 hours per day. So if you are unable to make time for writing then it is likely that your “full schedule” is a result of poor prioritization.

The key is to make small subtle changes. Over time, the accumulation of said changes will be significant.

Below is a list of 7 possible changes you can make to increase your writing time. Do not limit yourself to these changes exclusively. Keep your eyes open for additional, creative ways to maximize productivity without increasing your stress level.

Subtle change #1: Wake up 20 minutes earlier. This allows you five minutes to use the restroom, grab a glass of water, then start writing. Before you dismiss this idea because you already wake up “early” or you aren’t a “morning person” consider easing into this. Start by setting your alarm five minutes before you normal wake up time. Do this for a week then go five minutes earlier. In four weeks, you’ll have slowly transitioned into waking up 20 minutes earlier. If it went easily for you continue this pattern until you’ve created an additional hour of writing time.

Quick Tip: To maximize the 15-minute writing window, be sure that you have an outline on your computer ready so that all you have to do is pick a predetermined topic and start writing. 

Subtle change #2: Use your smartphone to record  yourself during your commute. Choose a topic, hit record (before you begin driving), and start talking about all the things you would be writing about within that topic. Do not worry about saying things perfectly. For each recording, you can save them and have them transcribed. Look up transcription services on fiverr.com, look into your dictation capabilities that come standard with most macs, or check out rev.com. This will produce a written document that only requires your review and edits (which could be for your 15-minute window from above).

Subtle change #3: If you’re a reader, consider Audible.com. This enables you to multi-task thus freeing up the time you would be reading. I personally listen to audio books when I exercise. Outside of my bedtime reading session, this pretty much all the reading I need for the day and affords me greater opportunity to focus on my writing without ignoring the need to absorb information.

Subtle change #4: Go to a library for a writing session. This may not be a great solution if you do not live near one because the time it takes to commute the library might eat away at the increased time margins, however, if you can get to one quickly it might be worth trying.  When I go to a library I sit with my headphones on in one of those desks that have three walls around it. In other words, I eliminate all the distractions that exist in my home or a coffee shop. Do not underestimate how many more words you can write when you’ve set such a distraction-less environment.

Subtle change #5: Partner with another writer. If you are truly strapped for time why not co-author a book with another author. You will most likely lose half of the royalty potential but you’re exchanging one currency for another, time for potential earnings. Moreover, you’ll likely double your word output. If you’re looking to find a writing partner then I recommend you check out writing clubs via meetup.com or join a writing facebook group (my favorite is Authority Self-Publishing).

Subtle change #6: Eliminate a show from your life. Many experts recommend that you eliminate television from your life and though I would agree that it is often a distraction that hinders productivity, I’m going to suggest a more subtle approach. List the shows that you regularly watch. Pick your least favorite and stop watching it. If you don’t watch regular shows and just channel surf then you need to control the amount of time you do this. Set a timer on your phone and stop watching once the time is up. I recommend no more than a half hour.

Subtle change #7: Read The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch and start analyzing how you prioritize your daily actions. As stated prior to this list I believe people who claim they don’t have any time are really just struggling to prioritize effectively. To subtly address this start by learning about a different approach to help you adjust your own mindset.  Note: In the spirit of third subtle change suggested, I recommend you check out the audiobook. 

So there they are, seven subtle changes you can make to help maximize your word output. Remember, do not limit yourself to these changes and also do not feel obligated to try all of them at once. Instead, choose one or two that makes sense for you and start taking action.

 

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Instead of Writing Beginning To End, Try This…

For a long time, I used to think I was clever due to the fact that whenever I sat down to write I referred to an outline that I already created. This would enable me to effectively puts words on paper whether I was lacking inspiration or not. This is an effective approach and I stand by it.

However, there are a few additional steps that can be taken to increase efficiency while promoting additional opportunity to input high-quality content.

For example, if you are starting a new chapter start by copy-pasting all the parts of your overall outline that fall within that particular chapter.

The next thing you want to do is look at each section of that outline and ask yourself a few guiding questions such as:

What additional instruction or details would help the information or story? 

Is this typically offered in similar books or genres? If so, how can it be differentiated? 

For non-fiction authors, is there a related, helpful anecdote or personal story that can be added? 

For fiction authors, is there a further detail that can be offered to make it more authentic? 

These guiding questions are just food for thought. Take some time as you reflect on your own writing to develop your own that trigger creativity.

As you answer these questions you should be writing your answers down within the relative section of your outline. The answers can come in the form of paragraphs or sentences to be included word for word, or short phrases that can be rearticulated at a later time. Once this stage is complete then instead of looking at a blank page tasked with the challenge of filling it, you’re now filling in a structured chapter outline.

To clarify let us break it down into nice and neat phases.

Phase 1: Copy-paste relative chapter outline from whole book outline.

Phase 2: Insert more input based on guiding questions previously mentioned and/or your own guiding questions.

Phase 3: Fill in the missing parts.

At the end of the day, you’re going to have sit down and write. There is no avoiding it. However, this is a much less daunting task when you’re adding to something as opposed starting a chapter from scratch.

If you’re still not convinced let us compare it to the construction of a house.

When contractors begin they do not start on the left and work their way to the right. Instead, they pour the foundation, construct the frame, then add the plumbing, wiring, drywall and so on.

To be fair, this is only a suggested approach. If you have a method that works for you once you get going then you may not need to use this. If, however, you are a person who struggles to make yourself sit down and write then you need to break it down into smaller, easier steps. The strategy offered here is one way to do it. If it works for you, great. If it doesn’t, then do not quit, just continue to look for an alternative approach.

Leaders within this realm, that I look up to, are Joanna Penn, Steve Scott, and Tom Corson-Knowles. As a writer, you must make it your responsibility learn about different strategies used by a variety of authors.

Even when you have something that is working, if you notice your productivity is decreasing then utilizing the leaders above and any other resources you’re aware of to avoid the complacency that can come with dusty, old strategies.

To keep things practical and get back to the original point, I recommend you try each phase using Evernote. Within one “notebook” that holds all the content of your book, you can create “notes”. One note should be your overall book outline, then each other note should be a chapter.

This is a great, free way to easily navigate from book outline to a specific chapter rather than scanning through one large word document.

Evernote is certainly not the only option here, but it is recommended that you use a software that enables you to easily locate each chapter and your outline.

Okay, enough is enough. Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

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Your Interest Is More Important Than Market Demand

Generally speaking, as writers we’re responsible for choosing what to write about. Obviously if you’re a freelance writer this may not be the case but if your goal is to write a book you are immediately confronted with the question of what to write about.

There are plenty of authorpreneurs today that would recommend finding a market that is looking for information or a solution to a problem. Additionally, the next step would be to write to that market giving them what they want and/or need.

This is a logical perspective. One that I completely agree with.

Until you determine that your goal is to be a successful, self published author. In other words, to be successful author you need to be able to grow an audience. To do this you really need to understand who your targeting. So far this aligns with the values of the authroprenuers mentioned above. However, if we targeting a group of readers that have a particular interest and we’re successful then chances are we’re going to be writing quite a bit within that particular niche.

If this is the case, which I believe it to be, then it is imperative that we may make our own interests and passions the priority.

How can we write high value, helpful/entertaining content if we’re only moderately interested in the subject. Moreover, how can we write multiple books on a subject that doesn’t excite us?

In my opinion, we can’t. It will lead to inauthentic work that readers will see right through therefore any potential success will be short lived despite a high market demand.

Alternatively, I propose that we first identify topics, subjects, niches, categories, that we’re genuinely interested in and passionate about. After we compile a list of these items then we’re finally ready to take the authorpreneurs advice.

To clarify, any methods that I offer to help you identify whether or not there appears to be market deman for your book(s) are being offered with the assumption that only your true passions and interests are assessed.

If you agree then the next step is to identify your interests.

To do this think about your hobbies and day to day routines.

Are you a neat freak to the point where you love delcuttering?

Do you love cooking? Exercising? Learning languages? Reviewing products? Movies?

Give yourself time to think of questions such as the above. Reflect on what you enjoy doing and how you enjoy living. These are the topics you should be considering.

To reiterate, if the goal is to be a successful author which I assume it is, then you don’t neccessarily need to be an expert. Instead, you need the insight to ask the right questions and find the answers (if possible). This insight is most likely to be attained within a your genuine interests and passions, not within a random high demand niche that you aren’t particularly excited about or knowledgeable within.

Some might disagree, but I stand firm in this position.

Knowing where you stand, whether you agree or disagree will help you through the idea derivation process.

If you’re unsure, take some time to ponder this before you begin coming up with and pursuing your ideas.

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Create An Idea Generating System

If you haven’t gathered yet from my previous posts, I am a huge fan of creating systems for everything.

If it has to happen more than once, whatever it may be, then I am encouraged to approach it in a way that I can define my steps, fine tune the steps, and complete the related task efficiently.

The other added benefit of establishing a systematic approach is that it promotes viewing things as an experiment. In other words, take strategic and thoughtful action, observe results, and adjust accordingly until desired results are achieved.

Rather than blaming yourself for poor results you have the luxury of blaming your system. This can pay divdends when you begin feeling down on yourself as you inevitably slip up on your writing productivity.

Why am I talking about all of this?

Simple, because I believe as writers we need to create a system that helps us easily and quickly generate ideas. Once we have the ideas we then need to develop a method to effectively filter these ideas so that our chances of creating content that is helpful and valuable increases.

As a result, I am going to share a two part system with you.

1.) Idea Generation

2.) Idea Filtering

It is important to point out a couple of thoughts before sharing. First, it is helpful to have a general topic to implement these systems within. For example, when I generate ideas for books that I want to write, because my target audience is comprised of writers, I’m going to focus on topics that potentially align with the needs and wants of writers. Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that this should not be a limiting attribute throughout the process. When in doubt record the idea. We will determine the value when we filter the ideas.

Second, each part of this system woaks for me when I need a jolt of ideas. This is in no way a guarantee that they will work for you. In fact, I would argue that it is likely that this system (as is) will not work for you the same way it does for me. Therefore, you need to be open to adjusting each system to make it fit for your lifestyle and schedule.

I believe in providing step by step instructions because there is tremendous value in carefully laid out steps for a person new to a process, however, do not feel married to these steps. Adjust them and tweak them as you need to.

Make each step work for you.

Part 1: Idea Generation (a.k.a. Brain Dump, Brain Storm)

Required Supplies: Writing utensil and a large piece of white paper (think poster board for sizing). Secondly, a timer. I recommend your smart phone.

Step 1: Take 15 minutes or more but not a second less to write down any and every potential subtopic you could write about within your general topic.

In my experience, I often hit an idea lull after 5 minutes or so. If you encounter such a lull do not let it stop you. Continue to write as many ideas as possible. Do not worry about them being good or bad. Do not even worry too much about whether or not these are relevant within your overall topic. For now just write it down.

The Idea Filtering System

Required supplies: a writing software, preferably a cloud based software (i.e. Google Docs, Evernote, etc.) and a highlighter.

Step 2: Highlight the ideas you like.

Step 3: Categorize each higlighted idea into one of the following three categories: Excited, Neutral, Not Ready. These categories represent how you feel so it is important to follow your instincts as you go through this process. In other words, when you look a potential book idea do you feel excited, neutral, or not ready at the thought of writing an entire book about it? Listen to that inner voice to answer this question for each idea.

Step 4: For now, ignore the ideas that fall into the Neutral or Not Ready category. Narrow down your ideas that fall within your Excited category. To do this, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to assess the demand for that topic. Simply see which topic has the greatest average monthly search volume.

Step 5: Pick the idea within your Excited category that has the highest search volume.

There you have it. You now are equipped to come up with a book idea that hopefully has a decent number of people making related searches each month.

It should be noted that this strategy makes your interests the priority. Some people might disagree with this and only pursue ideas that have a huge potential market. Though I do understand why a person might do this, I personally believe that if you’re going to invest your time into something you should be excited about what it is you’re doing.

I write on a regular basis in addition to a full time job. There is no way I could stick to such a schedule if I felt as though my writing time was a sacrifice. I love the process of writing and genuinely enjoy discussing writing strategies, so writing about it is something I look forward to.

Notice that the previous paragraph was about my personal experience. Remember what I stated earlier about making adjustments to meet your needs. Continue to keep that in mind because just because it was something that worked for me, does not mean it works exactly the same way for you. Adjust and adapt to meet your specific needs. 

Later on in a future post, we’re going to discuss how to take the idea that we just derived and develop an outline to help guide our writing process. I’ll also most likely be writing some posts about how to accurately assess the demand of a topic that take Step 4 mentioned above into much more depth. Additionally, we’ll discuss strategies to use this step to identify strong keywords which will pay dividends later on when we move from the writing process to the self publishing process. So be sure to check in again for more information.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

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Taking An Experimental Approach

To my fellow authorpreneurs, I don’t know about you but for the first three quarters of my life I always knew there was an entrepreneurial spirit inside of me but I didn’t know how to channel it in a way that produced results.

Moreover, I didn’t know how to visualize a desired end result and therefore didn’t know how to create goals and action steps to help me get there. What good is a car if you have no idea where you’re going or how to drive?

For years I would make short lived attempts at creating an income stream. Service companies, drop shipping, selling information (before that actually became realistic and before I had any information to offer), you name it, I tried it.

The obstacle I consistently could not overcome, however, was when I built up a business and nothing would happened. I had the service or product but no customers.

Immediately in my mind I would cope by saying “I’m just not cut out to have my own business, some people are and some people aren’t and I’m not one of them.”

Think about what I’m saying for a minute.

I would start a business, then tear myself apart because I didn’t have any customers.

Now we can head in two different directions from this point. We can talk about how all I needed to do was learn about marketing and lead generation or we can talk about where my brain went when I encountered less than ideal results.

I’m going to focus on the mental side of things because I think there is a greater lesson to be learned taking this route (not that there isn’t in the previous).

Let’s review the sequence of events.

1. I thought of a business idea.

2. I created a business accordingly.

3. I mentally abused myself upon “failure”

4. I quit that business until my entrepreneurial spirit forced me to try again.

But why? Steps one and two are actually pretty cool and something to be proud of. Why did I quit so soon?

After reflection and thought I came up with the fact that I made it personal. I immediately associated the failure with my being. The reality is I just needed to learn a little bit more and/or try a couple of things out.

What finally helped me get through this was taking an “experimental approach”.

I started to view everything I did as an experiment that was completely external from me.

I’d start a business, assess the results, then determine whether or not I liked the results (notice that I’m not making it about me).

If I didn’t like the results I’d identify what I didn’t like about them. When I started my Amazon business, I started selling units like crazy only to learn that my marketing costs were eating all of my profits. I didn’t penalize myself. I simply calculated the profit I would like to make based on the sales volume I had seen, then set a marketing budget accordingly.

The results, my profit margin widened and my sales decreased to a depressingly low amount.

No big deal. I’ll just have to try another experiment in the form of a question.

What if I increase my unit price by $2.00 and increase my marketing budget accordingly. All of a sudden I started to see a slight volume increase while my margins remained consistent.

This is progress.

From this example and many more I learned that small, thoughtful tweaks and adjustments followed by assessing the results eliminated my mental agony.

I began viewing everything as an experiment.

If I didn’t like the results, I would tweak the actions and review.

To this day this is my mentality with everything, business related or not.

In my previous article I spoke about auditing my writing process. When I start to produce less than ideal results, I take an audit of my process. I do the same with daily routines that I’ve implemented and everything else.

Moral of the story:

Stop punishing yourself when you don’t succeed in the way you had hoped. Instead start creating with an experimental perspective knowing that you have your hypothesis but you could be wrong.

Accordingly, you can adjust.

 

 

 

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Audit Your Writing Process

For the over a year now I’ve been following the same scheduling process for my writing.

Put simply when I’m writing a book or writing an article each Sunday night I reference my monthly goals (i.e. Complete 20K words towards book, complete 6 blog posts, etc.) and I create weekly goals.

My weekly goals, will include 3000 to 6000 words depending on my schedule and an article or two. This has always worked well for me and more importantly I’ve been able to stick to it.

Which by the way should not be underestimated. If you can stick to 1000 words per week compared to an inconsistent 2000 words per week you’re better off focusing on the thousand.

The problem is that I love creating content despite my lack of time. I’ve always felt the need to write more, create more.

I’ve convinced myself to stay patient and just continue to chip away. Though I’ll continue to take that approach it doesn’t hurt to also focus on taking some time to audit your process.

A few weeks ago I decided to change things up so I could begin creating more courses to help aspiring writers. This means that I have to write a post per week, write towards my current book, and create content.

This is a ridiculous amount of work if done inefficiently.

To address I took some time to strategize. To audit my writing process.

Here is what I came up with.

From this point on I’m going to continue to use my goal setting process but I’m going to develop a system where I can create one form of content then outsource the remaining forms based on my creating.

More specifically, I’m going to create presentations (Keynote) that includes important bullet points. Then I’m going to record the audio of myself talking about the concepts covered in those slides.

With that content I’m going to do two things:

1.) Send the slides and the audio to a video editor to put it all together into one video.

2.) Send the slides and the audio to one of my editors who will then transcribe my words, edit them into a blog post and a section of a book.

After a month I should have course, tons of content of the site, and a book that all go hand in hand.

I’m creating one thing and utilizing others to repurpose this content. You might be thinking that it sounds expensive.

It is more affordable then you think.

I found a guy from Romania via upwork.com who will complete my simple edits at $6 per video (roughly 7 to 8 slides over 8 minutes of audio). Nothing fancy but valuable, helpful content.

I have a great editor who I have worked with multiple times and because of the regular work I provide I essentially will be able to get all of this done for $.01 per word of the longest form of content. In other words, if the blog post is longer than the relative section of the book then we will use the blog post.

The key is to acknowledge that I have no idea if this will work out. In fact, it most likely won’t.

But I’m going to try it, keep an open mind, and make adjustments as needed.

When was the last time you audited your writing process?

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Picking Your Niche and Your First Book Topic (that won’t bore you in two months)

If you’ve been paying attention to the Amazon Kindle world then you may have noticed that self-publishing is becoming a more viable option for authors. You also may have noticed that there are some independent authors (authors without a publishing company) that are making a very decent income off an eBook based business model.

What you may not have realized is that many successful self-published authors don’t initially earn a significant amount off their royalties. If you’re a newcomer with an email list of zero then you before you can begin earning a real income you need to grow your following.

To do this you need to start with the right niche and create topics that solve problems within that niche.

In other words each and every book you write should be a lead generation tool that brings readers to a lead magnet that captures their email on your subscriber list. If you can’t focus on one niche (which I’ve learned the hard way) you’ll have a hard time doing this.

The following ten steps are going to help you figure out what you should be writing about and will help you narrow down your first book idea and begin by creating a writing schedule.

I want to preface these steps by warning you to not allow a lack of expertise to stop you from choosing a focus. You’ll see criteria below, but be advised that expertised can be developed if you have a passion or a genuine interest in the topic. Your skill can be obtaining valuable information and presenting in a clear and concise manner. Over time, if you do this enough, you’ll naturally become an expert.

Regardless, follow the ten steps below to help narrow down your brand focus. Yes you are creating a brand. The idea is to grow an audience that associates your author name with a particular focus. For example, my focus has become self-publishing/writing. I have other strengths and these strengths caused me to become distracted which made it difficult to grow a following.

I currently have three books available on Amazon that have a lot of common ideas but don’t necessarily appear to be focused. Check out my author page to see what I mean.

As with all step by step guides, be prepared to adjust these steps to meet your specific needs.

I am not going to be one of those mysterious Internet personalities that claim to know the perfect sequence of actions that will yield success for everybody.

View these steps as a guide and plan accordingly to address the variables in your life.

Step 1:
Brainstorm everything you’re interested in – do this for at least 15 minutes and write everything down that pops in your head even if it doesn’t make sense.

For this action you can use a piece of paper (the bigger the better), a white board, a word document, or a journal if it makes sense.

Set a timer to 15 minutes and just start writing and try as hard as you can to avoid not writing (this will get very difficult after a couple of minutes).
Step 2:
With your list pull out at least 3 viable ideas. A viable idea meets at least two of the following criteria:
-You’re interested/passionate in this topic
-You’re knowledgeable about this topic
-There appears to be brand potential.

In other words you can easily think of multiple related problems/pain points that require a solution. For example one of your potential topics is that you’re considering is Fitness for Men 40 and over then one pain point may be finding time to exercise. You could write a book that focuses on strategies to stay in shape in a small amount of time. Additionally, you  may also know that muscle soreness becomes a serious concern after 40 and therefore you write a book that aims to help readers minimize their muscle soreness when exercising. Lastly, motivation to exercise might be a common issue. You can write a book that helps solve that problem.

The key is to choose a topicthat you won’t get bored with or lose interest so you can write about it consistently over a long period of time with enough varied ideas to keep your readers coming back for more.

Step 3:
Assess whether or not people are interested in this topic by doing a keyword research, via Google Keyword Planner. Don’t worry too much about competition just focus on the potential audience size. Anything with 5000 or more searches per month per keyword is adequate (though this is subjective).
Step 4:
Based on the results pick your topic. Find a balance between which one interests you the most and/or you’re most knowledgeable combine with a high amount of potential interest by searching comparable book’s best seller ranking on Amazon.
Step 5:
Now that you have your general topic utilize the Keyword Planner to pick your next book idea. You may have to play around with this tool to get a sense of what people are looking for. Once you have the idea you’re ready to build the parts of your book.

Step 7:
Brain dump all potential topics within the book. Same drill as step one only this time you’re focused on one book idea.

Step 8:
Highlight all the ideas that you want to include then order these ideas in a sequence that appears to be beneficial (as you write your book you may find that it makes sense to change it so don’t stress too much over this process).

Step 9:
Based on sequence identify chapters and chapter topics.

Step 10:
Create your weekly word goal. In other words, how many words do you want to type for this book each week.

For example, as a father of two an entrepreneur with many projects time is slightly limited. Therefore I allow myself up to 3 days to not write. I understand this isn’t typical and goes against the common advice of writing everyday, but it works for me and my schedule and I’ve been able to stay consistent.

This leaves me with four days that I allot one hour per day to writing. Generally speaking I average about 1,000 words per hour which means my weekly word goal is 4,000 words.

I recommend you begin writing for an hour and track how many words you typically cover. Then based on that number you can begin to create a consistent schedule for yourself.

Once you have your schedule you’re ready to go.

The next video will be focused on Developing your description, picking the right keywords, and selecting the right categories for your book, but none of this really matters if you can’t follow through with writing your book so be sure to get a consistent schedule implemented as soon as possible. Bare in mind that you’ll most likely have to make many adjustments as you get to know yourself as a writer if you’re new to this. Don’t let this discourage you. Just identify a realistic amount of words for you per week then make sure you get that amount every week. Even if it means you write for 10 minutes a day. It doesn’t matter. The key is to take consistent action. After awhile you’ll be amazed at how your progress adds up.

Remember this is one approach. This certainly isn’t the “right” approach and it most definitely isn’t the only approach. As you develop your own approach, if you have any questions in the mean time just send me a tweet @maranimichael or email me at mike@maketimeforwriting.com.

See you soon.

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Choosing Your eBook Categories

Choosing your categories is another factor that can play a significant role in your overall ranking. To clarify, you have two subcategories that you can pick when you go live with your book. These categories, depending on which categories you pick, you can help you boost your initial book downloads during your promotion period (which we will strategize later on).

To best explain the strategy I recommend you take when choosing your categories it is easier to understand if we focus on one category at a time.

Category #1 – This should be your niche category. This priority of this category is that you rank well within it. The goal here is to drive enough downloads to this book during the promotion period that you make it to the top 3 in “Hot New Releases”. A secondary goal, which is a bit more ambitious, is that you make it to #1 within the Free downloads (during your promotion period) for this particular category.

This category is going to require a bit more time to identify because you want to find one that aligns to your book topic but is one that has minimal competition as shown by low review counts among books within the same category. If you can find a category that contains books that meet this criteria while still maintaining decent overall rankings then you’ve found a niche with great potential.

More specifically, if the top three books have an Amazon Best Sellers Rank anywhere from 1 to 50,000 and the review counts are 30 or below then you have found your first category. If you can’t find a category that meets that criteria then you want to strive for a category closely related to your book that has as close to that criteria as possible.

If you were curious about which number should hold a priority for category then I would recommend it be the review counts among your competition. Once you find a suitable category select it.

Category #2 – First and foremost, if you find a second category that meets the criteria of top three books that each contain an Amazon Best Sellers Rank anywhere from 1 to 50,000 while the review counts are 30 or below then go with that one. The reason why I designate a different focus for the second category is because it is often extremely difficult to find these niche categories and depending on the topic of your book, potentially not possible.

If you cannot find the criteria from Category #1 a second time then you want to view this category as your experimental volume category. Your focus here is finding a category that the top six or more books in the 1 to 50,000 Amazon Best Seller Rank (ABSR) range. Ideally, if you can find a category with these numbers with a low amount of competition then you’re in good shape. In this case, when I say low amount of competition I’m saying that the amount of books sold within this category is lowest you can find while keeping the Amazon Best Seller Rank criteria as the priority. You find this number out by following the steps below (similar steps also available in Chapter 3):

– Visit Amazon.com.
– Click “Shop by Department”.
– Select “Books & Audible”.
– Click on “Kindle eBooks”
– Towards the left is a column of categories. Select one that is applicable to you.
– Within the category you selected are subcategories with small gray numbers to the right. This number represents the amount of books available within that particular subcategory.

The lower this number while maintaining the top 6 books ABSR range of 1 to 50,000 (or as close to it as possible) criteria the better.