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The hardest part of writing a book is not starting it; it’s completing it. This is because somewhere on route, from the first to the last page, we get a little lost. What begins as an exciting burst of creative energy fizzles into a dull fraction of your incomplete work. What happened?
It works like this: If I plan to get to Manchester from London, I don’t simply start driving until I run out of steam. It’s good to have a destination and key milestones on route. I know I’ll need to go via either the M40 or the M1. Then when I get to Birmingham, I consider, do I take the M6 or the Toll road?
With our 13 Step Book Plan, you stand a better chance of reaching those milestones on route to your completed book. You’ll need a pen and pad for this (or computer, however our preference is actually writing it out). Here goes:
Write the numbers 1 to 13 along one side of a piece of paper. These will be the numbers for thirteen sentences you’re about to create, so give yourself plenty of space.
2. The Beginning. Write a sentence about how you want your book to start next to number 1. The characters, location, expertise or knowledge that you want the reader to know in the beginning. If you’re writing a novel about a person on a self-discovery journey, where will they start? What is their current emotional state? If it’s a business manual think about what level of knowledge you expect from your typical reader? If you’re teaching a new method, what should they already know: do they have a degree in Management, have they worked in a business or know nothing at all? Write it as a single sentence, e.g. The reader has never written a business plan or Marcel is about to have his life changed by the mysterious girl on the bus.
3. The End. How will the book end? What’s the last thing you want to communicate before your reader closes the last page? What is the big revelation or the nugget of wisdom and experience that you want to share? Try to communicate that as the sentence that just goes just before the words ‘The End’. Write this out next to number 13. For example: And they lived together in Barbados for the rest of their lives… or So now you know everything you need to make vegan burgers.
4. Meet Me Halfway. Consider the middle point between the beginning and the end. Halfway through the book, what do you want -to- the reader to know? Write a sentence next to number 6 which states By this stage of the book… we will know the heroine’s secret or we should understand the difference between Dating and Courting or I have introduced my mediation technique. Remember it’s about being halfway through the physical pages of the book, not necessarily of your story. This is the 50 page mark if your story book is 100 pages long. You don’t need to count pages, just have a sense of what you want to have written about when halfway through.
5. Half the Halves. Do the same for the points midway between the beginning and the middle (i.e. number 4) and halfway between the middle and the end (i.e. number 10). Again write a By this stage of the book… sentence about what you want to be saying a quarter and three-quarters into your masterpiece.
6. Step It Up. You will have two empty numbers between each of the major milestones of your book. Think of these as two steps to get from one stage to the other. Write in here two important moments or bits of information which will follow each other to get from the beginning to the quarter mark, then quarter to the halfway mark… and so on. You will find that this is where a lot of your thinking, rethinking, changing, rewriting etc. happens. That’s fine. All your thoughts here are helping you really define your story. When you come to write the book itself, you will find that you’ve already had those random thoughts and are less likely to go off track.
7. The End. Yes, that’s your 13 Step Book Plan. If you’ve put all your energies into getting this part right, you will find the process of writing feels smoother than previous attempts.
The difference now is that you have a destination, a route and a map. When you get lost, you simply look back at your map and get yourself back on track. I hope this has helped you make progress.
Of course finance is important. Cash flow is the life blood of any business, and chasing payment (ultimately, not getting paid) is a pain in the… assets.
However a lot of entrepreneurs say you have to be willing to work for free or next to nothing when you’re starting a business. So what do you do when you find yourself in that situation where you’re doing work without getting paid? Even if you are working speculatively, you’re committing your valuable time and expertise which is worth something. We think you could consider the following 3 ways of getting the best from the situation.
1. Ask for expenses. Your full fee may not be available – either because you haven’t yet proven your business to ask for your full fee, or the client needs your services and products but has a limited budget. Often a request for expenses (travel, consumables, legal or research costs) will be honoured if you can make a fair case for it. For example, if you have to travel from London to Birmingham to speak at a conference, you can ask for train fare to be covered. In our experience, a fraction of the bill is met more favourably than the whole fee.
2. Ask for testimonials. Obviously your clients sees the value of your work. If they didn’t, they would not have asked you to be part of their project. Providing you with a testimonial is like giving a recommendation to future clients. You can ask for a testimonial in a number of ways; either as an email request at the end of your work or with a feedback form (less formal). Whichever way you ask for it, getting that testimonial will help you get more work in the future.
3. Ask to document your involvement. Depending on your business, you might be able to photograph, film or in some other way capture your role or your work for your website, showreel or portfolio. For instance, if there is an important or well-known person involved, you could be filmed or photographed with them. If that is not your preferred style, why not suggest a ‘day in the life’ article for your local newspaper or industry related blog. Using it on your own website will give potential clients a better idea of how you work… more importantly, what you’re worth.
However you do it, getting some credit back for what you do is important to sustain your business. While you’re working for someone else, you’re still working and there has to be some benefit to your business. The best case scenario when working with no money is to agree all three of the above with your client. This can be done at the point that they tell you they are unable to pay your costs. Then confirm it in writing and make sure you stick to it… for your own benefit.
The book that has revolutionised how we sell and market in a digital world. Do read it before you die (or start an online business). A concise study which influenced Google‘s strategic thinking. Chris Anderson writes…