Do I really need your help to write my book?

Mar 5, 2012 | Writing A Book

I received an email over the weekend from a young man who’s thinking about writing a book. Here’s the core of what he asked.

“I’ve read the material on your site about all the help you can give someone writing a book, but I’m pretty sure I can write this book on my own with no help from you or anyone else. Why can’t I do that?”

Of course he can do that. So can you. In fact, pretty much anyone who can read a book can write one. But … it’s a big BUT, you need to have or acquire the knowledge and craft to do the job well. Here’s why.

Writing is not as easy as it looks.

I once had a prospective client offer me starvation rates for a writing project. He said, “I’m going to do the important part and come up with the idea. All you have to do is write it down.”

The response that I gave that person was, “Thank you, but I really don’t think I’m the person to work with you on this.” The response that I wanted to give was, “Oh yeah, buster, try the writing part and see how it turns out.”

Even if you’re pretty sure you write well, you should check with others and see what they think. If your writing needs to improve, there are plenty of courses and coaches that can help. Even if you write well, you will find that a book project is different.

Writing a book is a different kind of project

Writing a book is different than writing almost anything else. For one thing, the writing goes on for a long time. You can probably conceive and write a blog post in part of your morning. You can probably conceive, research, write, and re-write an article in a week. Compared to those projects, writing a book goes on and on and on.

When you write a book, you must be consistent throughout. That takes attention and effort. What you write in the final chapter, must be consistent with everything you’ve written so far.

Your book will live forever

In the old days, a crappy book would embarrass you, but it was survivable because books that didn’t sell went out of print quickly. No more. Today, you can count on your book outliving you and either enhancing or tarnishing your reputation for decades.

The Bottom Line: What’s the wise choice?

It doesn’t take an extraordinary amount of intelligence to write a book. Pretty much anyone can acquire the necessary skills. The question you should ask is whether doing the writing yourself and without help the best choice. If it is, get to work. If it’s not, figure out what combination of acquired and hired skills is the best choice for you and your situation.

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