Writing a Book Takes (at least) a Year

Writing a Book Takes (at least) a Year

You can write a book in three weeks, but you should take a year.

The students in my Christian Book Writing Course are amazing. Each one of them had it in their minds that they’d write their books in two or three months. Each of them found out that doing it right takes a year.

It only takes two or three months to get through the material in my course (when we’re doing it live once a week), but then the real work starts.

What is the real work?

The real work is the difference between good books that never get read and great books that do.

It’s the tedious part after the first, second, and third drafts and after beta readers have broken your heart.

What I tell my ghostwriting clients is that I can write a book in a month (maybe even three weeks),

I can write a good book in three months,

And I can write a great book in six months. Now, I’ve written over a hundred books, and I will still need six months to do your book justice. But even if I write a great book in six months, I still think it would be better after a year.

The main thing that should be happening in this extra time is feedback, feedback, feedback.

You don’t know what you don’t know. You need people to read your book and tell you that what you thought was clear is not entirely clear. You need to know what you thought was interesting is not so interesting. You need to know if what you thought were helpful illustrations to your points were actually self-indulgent talking at the reader about your life. You need to see where you added something that doesn’t fit.

You need to do this because God has called you to reach people, and you won’t reach people if you don’t write the reader-centric, attention-grabbing, powerfully significant idea-sharing message that God has placed in your heart.

You have to educate people, but you also have to entertain people. You have to grip them emotionally and get them totally invested in who you are as an authority on your subject who loves and cares about them and knows the way forward.

The things you wrote but didn’t need in your book may be true; that is, you may be an authority on the subject, and you may love and care about your reader, but to make that come across in your book takes a lot of work.

Another great reason to give yourself a year is that you need at least that much time for promotion and audience building—a discussion for another time.

My students are exceptional because they have accepted this truth and slugged it out. They’ve honed their messages and taken the feedback like champs. It can be hard to get criticized each time they submit work, but they take it because they know they want to write the best books they are capable of writing.

But here, I want to add a caveat:

For some people, perfectionism can masquerade for this careful work we’re talking about. Some write and write for years but never publish out of fear. As much as I’m encouraging you in this post to take the time you need to write a great book, at some point, you will have to “ship,” as they say. You will have to publish it. It won’t be perfect. That’s what the second edition is for (and third, and fourth, and fifth…).

Get someone to help you see when you just need to hit “publish” because, at some point, you just need to trust God to use it however He wants to.

I pray God helps you write something you are proud of this week, and I pray your book changes lives.

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