Five things I learnt from writing my first business book.

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1. People think you’re either very brave or slightly mad to write a book.
I think it’s a fear thing. People seem to think that being an author is only for a select few. They don’t believe it’s possible for just anyone to share their thoughts, beliefs and opinions on paper, and for others to enjoy reading it. The think it’s the realm of those who were gifted to write from birth.    But that’s simply not true. Anyone can tell their story – absolutely anyone.  Yes, it takes a little courage – because not everyone will like what you say. Yet that’s true of life in general, because you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But you can please yourself by sharing your story, and you will please many others by doing so. 

2. You don’t have to actually ‘write’ or ‘type’ your book. 
I did three things to get my idea down on paper.  

(I should say ‘virtual paper,’ because my book hasn’t been printed yet – the cover is being designed and the content is being typeset for an electric launch in the next few weeks. The printed version will follow later.)  

Yes I did some writing – with a pen and a piece of paper. And I did a fair amount of typing on a computer too (as I am doing now). But a lot of the ideas weren’t written or typed; they were ‘spoken.’ I used my smart phone, a good stretch of beach, and a pair of earphones to record material for my book. When I returned from my walk on the beach, I connected my phone to my computer, and let Dragon Dictate transcribe my words onto a document.  The words appeared like magic on the screen. Sure the accuracy wasn’t always crash hot (especially if it was windy down at the beach), but in time these programs will get smarter and more effective. 

Sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper and saying you can’t start your book, because you don’t know what to write, simply isn’t a plausible excuse any more. You could ‘write’ an entire book like this – then send it off to a proof reader to have it edited and reformatted, if you wanted to. There’s no need to actually write anything, if you don’t want to.  

3. There’s always an excuse not to write. 
You will always have those ‘dog ate my homework’ days. And lots of them. You know you need to settle down and get some material out, but your inner child just wants to play hooky and skive off for the day. That admin you don’t actually need to do til next week suddenly becomes really important, in a world-might-end-if-I-don’t-do-it kind of way.  

You soon learn when to stick a dummy in your inner child’s mouth and tell it to “suck it up princess,” and start writing - and when to humour it and do some filing, file your nails, or go for a walk on the beach – and end up recording some material anyway. 

4. Ideas are more powerful than opinions. 
Four years ago I started writing a book called Marketing is Dead. It was a book about how the practice of marketing had lost its value and was no longer effective at winning customers. It was a bit of a rant about how the theory of marketing that I had been taught at university – and which was still being practiced in the same way 25 years later – was all wrong. I even had a cover designed showing my old marketing text book set alight! 

I got all that angst out, only to lose interest and start writing a very different kind of business book. It was much more fun to write – and I worked out that it would also be much more interesting to read. I got the outline done and wrote about half the content, before having another change of heart. 

"What if I were to rewrite the first book with the same intent as the second? What of I were to make the first book about what replaces marketing?" In other words I was now sharing an idea rather than just an opinion. It would be much more fun to read.  

So that’s what I did – adding a second line to the title. My new book title is this: ‘Marketing is dead. Long Live Purposing.’  

5. It’s OK to seek help. 
While I’m not actually talking about hiring a shrink, there are plenty of caring, helpful professionals out there who can help you get your writing project off the ground – and stop you going mad trying to go it alone. I was lucky enough to meet Getrude Matshe, author of ‘How to write a book in 40 hours’ – who gave me encouragement and practical advice on how to get started on my project. While it has taken me considerably longer than 40 hours to complete my book, it was Getrude who I turned to when it was finally time to get it typeset, the cover designed, and to plan for it to be self-published.  

So now you know – there are simply no excuses left to stop you from getting started on that book of yours. Everyone can ‘write,’ and as long as you share an interesting idea, there will always be an audience interested in reading about it. 

It’s easy – just get down to your local beach and start talking to yourself.

Justin Cooper