By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.
If you’ve never thought about writing a book, it may be the time to start thinking about doing that.
In the recent episode of my podcast, I’ve shared some exciting news about my book, The UnNoticed Entrepreneur. It’s not just because it’s something that I’m excited about; it’s also because I think that book publishing — self-publishing — is proving to be a really good way for entrepreneurs to get noticed. I’ve talked about writing a book in the loosest possible sense of the word.
What I’ve done is to self-publish the said book, which is a collection of 50 articles that have come as a result of this podcast.
Books as a Way to Give You Authority
I’ve interviewed half a dozen publishers. I’ve interviewed companies that are large and those who are book-writing coaches for entrepreneurs and business people. And there are recurring themes that I wanted to share with you. One of them is how a book gives you authority.
The words “author” and “authority” go together. Everybody that I’ve interviewed has really demonstrated to me that creating a collection of your thoughts and putting them down in more than 20 to 30 pages gives a sense that you’re intellectually able to master a concept and to share that.
In my book, I have some 345 pages and 80,000+ words. In my new podcast episode, I shared how I’ve created those over a period of three months. In your daily life, it’s very possible to create enough content over that period of time that could be a book.
How to ‘Speak’ a Book
People often say that they couldn’t possibly write a book. In reality, the answer is, you don’t have to. You could talk a book. You could speak a book.
If you just record 20 minutes a day, it will create about a thousand words. If you do the maths — in the case of my book — I have 80,000 words, so what I really need is 80 days in which I speak. If I record 20 minutes a day for three months, then I actually got a book. You could do an hour a day, but what I found is that just by doing 20 minute-shows, the article that comes out is long enough to be a piece for LinkedIn, Medium, and for my newsletter. It’s long enough to be a long-form piece of content yet short enough to be easy to edit.
I’ve spoken to a number of people who are writing books. One of the challenges that they’re saying is that there’s a lot of content to edit. With that, it becomes very hard to structure it and make it all flow.
If you’re making a meal and you’re trying to cook a banquet, you would first learn how to prepare a dish like boiling an egg. My approach to writing a book has been to learn how to boil an egg first. Once I boiled quite a few eggs, then I’ve got some options on how to make it. I can make hard-boiled eggs, poached eggs, and soft-boiled eggs. Now, I can also make an egg mayonnaise sandwich and whatever I like.
The point is that you can get a skill. In my experience, one can get a skill by repetition. And for me, the discipline of creating a podcast that’s 20-minute long has meant that I then have a content of 1,000 words a day.
I suggest that one way to approach book writing is to think about book speaking. First, what you can do is to use technology to help you out.
For instance, you can speak directly to your mobile phone that has a voice recorder. Another way is to press the button on your keyboard (Control-D, if you have a Mac) to take dictation for you. This is the same on your iPhone and iPad. You can talk to the machine and it will dictate and do the transcription for you there and then.
I’m using a tool called Descript. I can speak to the microphone and the software will transcribe it automatically as I speak. It’s quite a miracle, really: It’s recording the audio and it’s showing me my words as I speak. I’m already making an article just by speaking.
Personally, I find Otter’s price and service really good because you can link that to other platforms like your Zoom meetings. What you can do is to record your audio on your phone — it can be via the voice memo app on your phone or via the Otter app — then, it will transcribe for you in real time.
What I’d suggest is that you don’t read it in real time because the transcription isn’t perfect. It’s not as good as writing, but it’s close enough to give you all the notes that you need for polishing and editing later.
Curating The UnNoticed Entrepreneur Book
One of the “cheats” that I’ve done when it comes to creating my book is to ask other people for their ideas around the central theme that I want to curate.
The central theme that I want to curate is what I call SPEAK|PR. It stands for storify, personalise, engage, amplify, and to know. It’s an overarching concept for entrepreneurs to understand so that they can do their own public relations. The value I add is forming the structure and finding people that can talk about specific aspects of the SPEAK|PR methodology — for my dimensions that all can form a much deeper reservoir of knowledge.
One of the challenges that people have when thinking about writing a book is this: “What would I say that covers a book that’s 350 pages.” Most of us will look at a book and say, “I could never fill one.”
Actually, you don’t have to. There are lots of people out there who have lots of great ideas who would love to tell you about them.
On my podcast, I interviewed these people and I limited them to 20 minutes. If you think about how much content you want, you could have them speak to you for 5 minutes or an hour. If you assume or know that people speak about 100 to 150 words per minute, then you can do the maths on how many words you’d need to make your book. If you want 20 minutes, you’re going to get that 1,200 words. Then, you can edit it back down to get 1,000 words. You’ll just need 80 of those and you’ll have a book.
In my case, I interviewed 50 people because I wanted to create this structure where I have about 10 people per section of my SPEAK|PR methodology to give it some balance. This is how I can add value as the author and the curator of the ideas so that the reader has an experience that’s easy to follow and has a lot of great content.
In The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, I’ve interviewed about 50 very smart entrepreneurs and technologists from around the world and created a masterclass in a book. I have 50 people that the readers can listen to, in effect, for 20 minutes all within the pages of one book. It’s an extremely economical way for people to get access to these 50 experts. If the readers were to listen to my podcast episodes, they’d have 12 to 14 hours’ worth of listening. They can get through the book in about six to seven hours.
I also made the book a reference. I included the details of all the people that I had interviewed — LinkedIn pages, websites, and emails. I wanted to make it a functional book for people. And I wanted to make a book that was valuable for those people who came on my podcast.
Finding the Role that Your Book Plays
When you think about the book that you want to write, if you think about the role that it’s going to play in your overall strategy, then you can start to build in some of these dimensions.
I know some people are writing fiction — that’s great. But ask: What roles does that play? How does that narrative that you’re writing fit into what you want to do with the book if you’re writing a fiction book about a location, for example (maybe, it’s because you work in the travel industry)?
For me, I wanted to position myself as someone who understands public relations but also someone who is connected — someone who can actually access other experts. As we know, we can’t know the answer to everything. But if we know somebody who does, then we can provide value to the client.
In the writing of the book and the interviews, I’ve had an amazing education all about the five elements of my PR theme. As I wrote the book through interviewing experts, my own theory became stronger and stronger. In a way, it’s quite efficient and possibly, a little bit of a cheat.
Look at your book and think of it as part of a way to overcome some of the weaknesses that you feel that you have — not just about marketing but in your professional skill set as well.
Self-Publishing Your Book
What I’ve also learned by creating my book is that there are lots of people out there who are creating books. It’s possible to self-publish a book and there’s a whole industry set up to help people like me and you publish books without a lot of costs.
To give you an idea, my book has cost about £2,500. It’s because I did hire somebody for about £800 to be a consultant on the first launch. But I wouldn’t need that person again.
How did I do it so inexpensively? I did the 20-minute podcast and I was disciplined about that. I had a virtual assistant (VA) in the Philippines edit the transcript that came from Descript and make those into the articles that I needed for my LinkedIn, Medium, my newsletter, and for everywhere else that I’m sharing my blog.
The VA is costing me about $20 to $25 per article. It may sound like a lot (you can hire a VA in the Philippines for less), but this is writing that we’re talking about. It isn’t just a commodity item. I need them to add some value and I’d like to pay them properly. They deserve to make a good income and then they will treat my project seriously. Otherwise, they’ll just job hop.
I have another VA in the Philippines and she loaded these articles into a platform called Dabble Writer, which is for $10 a month. It’s an online platform where you can host your articles. By sharing my account with her, she and I can both edit the articles concurrently. You can actually pay for an upgrade for multiple editors to use the same platform.
Once we’re finished, we downloaded that to make an index. We found some software for $80 to create an index because Dabble Writer doesn’t do that. We also found someone in Ukraine to do the layout. It cost me some $200.
We went to IngramSpark and Amazon. You can upload your own PDF version of the book, sign up, do the pricing, and connect that to your bank account. I’ve been getting royalties for my book from all over the world when it’s been sold — slowly but surely.
The Business Book Awards
I don’t think my book will ever be a best-seller. But what happened is that I entered it for an award called the Business Book Awards in the UK. They just announced their finalists in the business category and the UnNoticed Entrepreneur book is a finalist.
To enter it, I sent my full copies and paid my £75. I didn’t expect for my book to be a finalist but it is, and I’m super excited because there’s a big event happening in May that I should attend.
There are books in the awards by lots of people like me. There’s “Project Future: 6 Steps to Success as Your Own Boss” by Rob Kerr, “Unprepared to Entrepreneur” by Sonja Barlow, “Asking for Trouble” by Jon Cohen, “Build Your Sales Tribe” by Steve Schrier, and “Grow Your People, Grow Your Sales” by Leigh Ashton.
All of these people, including me, are regular entrepreneurs and writers who are using book publishing as a way to get their brand and views into the marketplace. As people say, it’s probably one of the thickest business cards that you can ever have.
By having shown you and shared with you the process of how to create a book, I’ve let you know that this is accessible. It took me about six months, overall. Now, I have the second volume of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur ready. It’s in Dabble Writer and we’re just working on the second cover. We also now have a publisher in India for the book. We’ll release that at a lower cost and in the same language but with lower print quality to make it affordable for people in that country.
Publishing your own book is something that you can do. There are coaches out there and courses that you can pay for on platforms like Udemy. There are a number of coaches that I’ve interviewed that you can look through in my archive to find.
Writing a book doesn’t have to be 80,000 words. It can be 30,000. There’s a guy called Sheridan Simove who wrote the book, “What Every Man Thinks About Apart from Sex.” It was about 200 blank pages and it got him noticed.
Everybody has got a story to tell. What’s yours? Think about putting it between the pages longer than an email and an Instagram post. You can do this if I can do this.
Who knows what’s going to happen with the award, but my reward is that it’s out there. I’m learning and I’m loving the confidence and the experience and the opportunity that it’s given to me to learn more. I just wanted to share this good news with you. But also, I wanted to say that if I can do it, so can you.
This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.
The post You can become an authority by writing a book in 20 minutes a day appeared first on EASTWEST Public Relations.