Have you heard about the latest “get rich quick” scheme for authors?
I’ve been seeing it everywhere: a rash of programs that claim they’ll help you write a bestseller in just a matter of days.
As much as I love this idea—who wouldn’t?—and as much as I believe that the well-meaning marketers promoting these programs do want you to succeed—I can’t recommend this approach to my authors.
Why it doesn’t work
Now that I’ve provoked you, your instincts are probably screaming: is there any possible way I could write a good book in 30 days or less? If “good” is the operative word for you, I think you’d be well-advised to listen to your instincts.
The promise of a quick-and-easy bestseller is dangerous to your expectations and your state of mind. While it is technically possible to write a book in a very short amount of time, even to launch it and create a “bestseller” on paper, what does that really mean? What does it do for the authors who write these books, and the people who read them?
Beyond creating unnecessary stress and unrealistic expectations, working on an extremely short timeline can completely skew your barometer of quality. If you expect to create an “overnight” success, a natural writing pace will seem too slow. You’ll feel it’s taking too long, and you will force yourself or your team to work faster.
In other words, if you believe something can be done fast, you’ll sacrifice quality, and stop working before it’s done well.
That’s not to say it isn’t possible to create a well-written, bestselling book in 30 days (though I’ve yet to see it happen more than a handful of times). However, if you’re not an expert (or working with experts) in each of the areas listed below, you probably will not achieve the results you desire.
How to produce a great book that will actually sell
A great book always starts with a plan. We often talk about our Book Blueprints in terms of convenience, and how they help our authors save time—and they certainly do, but their function is much greater than that.
The Book Blueprinting process forces you to think about what you’re going to write on a deeper level. When you take the time to do this (there’s that pesky “time” word again!), you’re going to end up with a better book. Period.
The planning process forces you to take your idea apart and put it back together, peeling back each layer and creating a depth of quality that only comes from really considering how all those layers work together to create the whole. Yes, this process does take longer—our Blueprinting service typically takes eight weeks!—because we really take the time to think about every single element of your book. You just can’t get the same results when you jump into a half-baked idea.
Next, you need to strengthen your book through the process of writing, rewriting, getting constructive feedback, and (gasp) rewriting again. Take it from an expert here: you need to prepare to endure more rounds of editing than you’re really comfortable with, and certainly more than you planned for.
Then, of course, comes the publishing, launch and marketing stages—an entire process in itself! It takes a real investment of time to take a written manuscript and turn it into a printed book. If you want to achieve any significant sales, you also need a list of readers and fans, a marketing plan, and a launch plan. This is where the idea of a “viral sensation” hides its dirty secret. There is simply no such thing as an overnight success, without a serious time investment.
So how long does it really take?
Read a few stories about our successful authors, and you’ll quickly see that, if you do this right, you can make a real difference. Sometimes, in our busy lives and the ongoing quest for success, we forget that the written word is powerful. Your book can change lives—if it’s a good book. In order to create a good book—you guessed it—you need to give yourself the time to deliver on your commitment to quality.
In truth, it’s going to take five times as long as you expect (or more!). This is a truth we are intimately acquainted with at the Ink: whatever timeline you believe should be possible, multiply it by five. So, for example, if somebody tells you that you can “kick out a book” in 30 days—expect it to take 5-6 months.
Or, as I like to tell my authors: things take as long as they take. Suck it up, Buttercup, and make the commitment to quality.
Writing a great book is worth your time, every last moment of it. It’s an experience you will never regret. Don’t sell yourself short—give it the time, and the commitment, such a noble project deserves.