6 Proven Steps to Avoid Writing a Bad Book

How NOT to Write a Bad Book
One of my author-mentors is a brilliant fiction writer. She takes ten years to write each book. Seriously. In the last twenty years, she has written two brilliant novels. She writes books that win awards, get excellent reviews, and move readers. Each word on the page is there because she chose it. But as beautiful as her work is, not many of us can afford to (or want to) spend a decade crafting perfection.

At the other end of the spectrum are the newbie authors who publish work they’ve written in a mad dash, often over the course of a few weeks or a even a short weekend. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing fast, but these authors never look back at the work. They’re high-achievers. Accustomed to setting and reaching goals and never missing deadlines, they just want to reach “The End” and get the published book in their hands.

Believe me. You don’t need ten years to write a book that captures your expertise, tells your personal story, or shares your philosophy. But rushing to finish a book shortchanges the author and the reader.

The author hasn’t taken the time to clean up the writing to make it flow. The book is filled with fluff or confusing gaps. Let’s not even talk about typo-riddled books. Readers end up ticked off that they paid fifteen bucks for a book they have to struggle through.

Just as bad, the author shortchanges herself when she rushes her book to print. The content may or may not be good, but readers question her commitment to quality, her knowledge of publishing, or even her competence in her field.

If she’s good at marketing, she may start off with great book sales, but sooner or later, reviews start to come in from people other than her most loyal fans. After that, sales tend to nose dive. Or worse, sales continue, but readers talk among themselves about how unprofessional the author’s work is. Her reputation is tarnished, and she doesn’t even know people are saying her book was, well, crappy. All that work for nothing.

Finishing your first draft within a fairly short period of time can be the best choice for new writers. Momentum powers you forward. Moving fast leaves you little time to question whether or not you should be writing about something else. Without all the stops and starts, you’re more likely to finish your book.

But remember that whatever you write in that first dash is just the first draft. Don’t rush it off to a publisher. Take the time to raise your writing to a professional level with the following steps.

6 Proven Steps to Avoid Writing a Bad Book

  1. When you finish the first draft, put the manuscript aside for a week or two.
  2. Come back to your draft and read it page by page, making notes on what you can improve.
  3. Make the necessary changes.
  4. Send your revised draft to beta readers in your target audience.
  5. Take a deep breath, and make changes based on feedback from your trusted beta readers.
  6. Work with a skillful editor to make your book the best it can be.

Yes, these steps will add a few weeks to your writing process, but you’ll have a much better chance of writing a book you can be proud of and happily call your own.

It’s great to set deadlines and to hold yourself accountable to them. But not at the cost of failing to write the best book you can reasonably write.

Take the time to write a book that will represent you well.

GET IT DONE: Right now, make a list of 3 to 5 people in your target audience who you can ask to be beta readers for your book.

Go write something!


Giving Away Too Much Information in Your Book?

What to leave out of your bookWay back in the day, when I wore a suit and heels to work five days a week, I rarely thought about my customers in any meaningful way. For a while, I managed a team of call center customer service reps, but my focus was on keeping my employees happy and productive. Unless a customer was screaming at me on the phone, they were pretty much just account numbers and balances to me.

I met the company’s expectations, so I was good at my job. We had lots of metrics to hit each month, and they were important. But the customer experience, satisfaction, and yes happiness, never made it to the top of our list.

As an author, your readers are your customers, and you need to do everything you can to provide them with a satisfying customer experience.

How do you do satisfy your book’s customers?

Give your readers all the information they need to accomplish what you promise to help them accomplish.

All too often, I come across a self-published book that makes big promises it fails to fulfill. Instead, the author presents a 200-page, look-at-me-cuz-I’m-awesome sales pitch with very little actionable information.

How does that happen? The author wants to be seen as an expert, but she doesn’t want to share too much in her book. She’s writing her book from a place of fear.

As a coach, consultant, speaker, or business owner, you may be afraid to share your best tips, strategies, and stories with your readers. That, my dear, is a rookie mistake.

You Cannot Give Away Too Much in Your Book

Short of secret formulas, proprietary information, other folks’ personal business, and your bank account passwords, you cannot give away too much in your book.

If you focus on serving your readers, you won’t be able to hold back your best information. Readers will become fans, and some of those fans will become your best cheerleaders, promoters, and clients.

Put everything you know into your book

Last year, I was contracted to co-write a book for a dynamic woman who has a successful corporate career and is building a business as a career coach. She poured all of her knowledge into her manuscript. Whether readers want to know how to improve a resume, sail through the interview process, or ask for a raise, the information is in there.

After a little nudging from me, Yvette wrote her book fearlessly. She recognized that high-quality, actionable content will set her book apart from the scores of other books on the same subject. It will position her as the expert the media wants to talk to. Her ideal clients will read the book and immediately want to work with her.

So far, the response to the material in Recalibrate has been incredibly enthusiastic. (Click here to check out her book.)

Yes, some readers will get what they need from the pages of the book and never move forward to take a course with her or use her coaching services. She’s perfectly fine with that because, in all likelihood, those aren’t the people who would’ve worked with her anyway. And if they’re happy with the book, they’ll refer it and her to other people.

You cannot give away too much because:

  • Most readers never finish reading the non-fiction books they buy.
  • Your potential clients will want your input and insights on their specific situations.
  • The more you share, the wiser you look.

When authors give all of what to do and none of the how to do it, they short-change readers and come across as bait-and-switch artists. Not a good look.

Take a deep breath and drop every bit of wisdom and knowledge you can reasonably include in your book. A chef wouldn’t write a cookbook with the first three ingredients for every recipe and an invitation to purchase his coaching services for the rest, would he? Neither should you share half-processes and high-level ideas without going into the actual steps to accomplish what your reader hopes to achieve.

Every time that little voice tells you to leave something out because no one will want to work with you if you share that particular point, resist the urge to be stingy with your knowledge. Put that juicy material into your book, and make it the best possible resource it can be.

Love your readers enough to give them everything you’ve got.

Your readers will thank you by leaving great reviews, recommending your book, and seeking to connect and work with you in other ways. You’ll build loyalty and strengthen your reputation as the go-to authority in your niche.

Go ahead. Give ’em all you got.

Go Write Something!


6 Reasons to Plan to Make Money from Your Book

plan to make money with your book

As much as the book you’re writing might feel like a calling, a ministry, or a story you’re burning tell, I’m here to convince you to plan to make money from your book.

Recently, a coaching client told me she didn’t think it was appropriate to list money as one of the main reasons she was writing a book. While she wants to earn extra income with her book, she doesn’t like to say that’s a priority.

“People who do things for the money,” she said, “don’t really care about their customers.”

Ouch! Please don’t fall for this myth. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to earn money from book sales. In fact, you should plan to earn as much as you can. Here’s why.

Why You Should Plan to Make Money from Your Book

  1. It costs money to self-publish a quality book, and you deserve to recoup that investment.
  2. People often value what they pay for more than what they get for free.
  3. Writing a book is a serious investment of your time and hard work. Work should equal pay.
  4. Selling more books means reaching more people with your message, knowledge, or story.
  5. Treating your book as a product that deserves to be bought will keep you focused on making it the best it can be.
  6. If you don’t implement specific strategies to earn money from your book, you can easily end up losing money on your book venture.

Many of us were raised in a culture that equates money with greed and greed with evil (at the root of which is money). When you hear that “money changes people”, it’s not usually meant that it changes people for the better. No, we’re supposed to believe that an abundance of money turns us into Mr. Scrooge, the evil One Percent, Imelda Marcos with her 3000+ shoe collection, or a table-flipping real housewife. Yikes!

It can be tough to change those negative money beliefs. But it’s not impossible.

Try this exercise:

Write out a list of the negative beliefs you have about money and identify where and when you took them on in your life. (Hint: Most of them probably started before you were old enough to legally hold a job.) Write a list of truths that refute those beliefs.

Here’s an example.

Money doesn’t grow on trees.

There’s an abundance of money available to me.

When negative money beliefs come up around writing and selling your book, talk back to them and remind yourself that you’re providing value that deserves to be rewarded.

That reward will be yours to do with as you please. If you don’t need the cash from your book sales and the opportunities they bring you, no worries. Pack that cash in a box and ship it to me. I’ll spend it wisely, I promise. Or you can always donate it to charity.

If you’d like to do more to change your limiting money beliefs and develop an abundance mindset, please see some of my favorite books on the subject. Every one of them helped me change the way I think about the money I attract and the value I provide. Click on the photos to check out some of my favorite experts on this subject.


"Real Money Answers for Every Woman" by Patrice C Washington         "How to Be Rich and Happy" by John P. Strelecky and Tim Brownson         "Get Rich, Lucky Bitch" by Denise Duffield Thomas         "The Big Leap" by Gay Hendricks Phd

Go write something!


What You Must Know as You Write Your Book

Unexpected Beauty


On a recent walk, a rock caught my eye, and I dug it out of the red earth and brought it home with me.

At first, the rock reminded me of my friend Nancy, who celebrates the “beauty of the small” in a series of photographs.

But then this little gem made me think of you, the author-in-the-making. It made me wonder whether or not you see the beauty in your own story.

How to Write with Confidence

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing time-travel science fiction, an indulgent dessert cookbook, your memoir, or a bodice-ripping romance novel. Staying alert for the beauty in your story, your experience, or your knowledge will help you write with more confidence.

This can be harder than it sounds.

We’re so trained to believe that the expert, the person with something of value to share, is someone other than us. After all, you haven’t been invited to sit across from Oprah yet, and your friend has similar knowledge, and everyone knows how to do what you can do, right? Not really.

It’s just that your story can be so familiar to you that you take it for granted. Your body of knowledge may seem commonplace, simply because it’s so much a part of who you are.

If you can’t see the beauty in your book yet, keep writing anyway.

Give yourself to the material. Imagine your reader opening your book. What will she discover? How will he be changed? What will they connect with, remember, and want to share?

You may reach the end of your first draft and be well into revisions before you find the beauty of your book. It’s not necessary that you ever find it–though I hope you do. Just knowing that it’s there, somewhere in the words on the page, will help you commit to the work.

The beauty is there. Write your way to it.

Go write something!

The only way to change the world is to share your gifts. (1)

Are You Cheating Your (Future) Readers?

The baristas chatted in the background and the milk steamer hissed its promise of a latte or cappuccino, lending some warmth to the cold rainy day. My accountability partner sat across the table from me and read her latest blog post aloud. She’d written about the value of asking for help, and she knew what she was talking about.

As always, she’d put a lot of her own experience into the post, and the conclusion she’d reached from looking back at her own mistakes was spot on.

“That’s a great topic for a book,” I told her. “In fact, it could be a series of books.” I spent a few minutes explaining what I meant and encouraging her to explore the idea.

I’m not sure if she heard, but she does want to become an author. While she may already have a subject for her first book, there’s nothing stopping her from writing as many books as she wants.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she’ll eventually decide to run with this topic though. She’s absolutely an expert in this area, and it would serve her coaching business well to have a book that makes plain that she’s the authority.

Are You Cheating Your Future Readers?

If she never gets around to writing her book, whatever the topic may be, my friend will miss out on all the opportunities becoming an author could open up for her. But just as importantly, the people waiting for a book that helps them get beyond pride, fear, embarrassment, or isolation, or simply lets them know they’re not alone in their struggle, will be robbed of her expertise.

If you’re old enough to read, then you have knowledge you can and should share.

If you’ve thought about writing a book, then consider that desire a gift and a calling.

You’ve done or experienced things that other people can learn from, and you owe it to them to share it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing fiction or nonfiction. If you never finish your book, you’re cheating the people whose lives would be changed by reading it.

Yes, books do change lives.

Does Anyone Really Care about Your Book?

The short answer is no. No one cares about your book.

The real answer is no. No one cares about your book yet.

And it will be a shame if no one gets the chance to care.

It will be a shame if no one ever gets the benefit of your story.

It will be a shame if no one ever gets to learn from your experience.

It will be a shame if that reader who needs exactly what you have to offer never gets the chance to meet you on the pages of your book.

Commit to Writing Your Book

Start today.

Draft your outline. Write a page or two. Or open your calendar and schedule your writing sessions for this month.

Don’t let fear, procrastination, embarrassment, worries about whether or not anyone will buy your book, or any other obstacle stand in your way.

Commit to finishing your book.

And ask for help if you need it.

Go write something!