Are Books Still Relevant?

The lowly book. Books in general. I’m not talking about any one in particular. But in a high tech world, are they still even significant anymore?

These days, people seem glued to their mobile phones, often at their peril. Books have lost their luster, one could argue.

There are many people, and I confess I am one, who sit on the couch and alternate between looking at their device and the television set. People have fallen prey to what I call the “Shiny Object Syndrome.”

Is Journalism Dead?

The rule of thumb in journalism is “If it Bleeds, it Leads.” This has led to a “Who can be the most outrageous?” mentality. It’s the world we live in. In a soundbite society, sensationalism sells. No wonder there is so much fake news. People’s attention spans have shortened. And their interest in checking sources is even less vigorous.

Books to the Rescue

Books were in the limelight last weekend as the Frankfurt Book Fair was held once again. It is the largest publishing event of the year and its attendees include nearly 300,000 visitors, 7,275 international exhibitors (from locations as diverse as Kazakhstan, Mauritius and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and 10,000 journalists, bloggers and influencers. The “Frankfurter Messe” (the book fair) originated (some say around 1478) not many years after the first book came off Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press in Mainz, a short volksmarch away.

Meanwhile, that same weekend, back in the good ole USA, Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, was banned because it “made people uncomfortable.” I couldn’t help wondering about the times we live in. “How can this book, or any book for that matter,” I pondered, “be censored in a free society?”

Mockingbird was trending on Twitter, so I followed the thread. Tweets appeared such as (from @michelledaviso6) “You know what makes me uncomfortable? Censorship. That’s what makes me uncomfortable. Say NO to book banning!” @jamilsmith tweeted “Teach only “comfortable” books about racism in America, and you get students raised to be comfortable with racism.” And @CharlesMBlow posted “Uncomfortable? Who said the job of great literature was to make you comfortable? The opposite is true…”

Why there is a book out there entitled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and yet To Kill A Mockingbird is banned – is beyond me. Apparently, Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art …, has a good PR agent – but Harper Lee, who died last year, didn’t. Another book that has been condemned is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Even Dr. Seuss got thrown under the bus. It makes me wonder if Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood would air on television today.

Fortunately, there are still good books out there. And many of them can also be read. You might have to disguise them by reading it on a Kindle (if you insist) – or reading it at home – but there are nevertheless copies in circulation.

Many think the book is dead and that people are resigned to watching TV and checking social media. But the book will never die.

We live in an information explosion. So we get to pick and choose what we digest (unless you’re a student and you have to read something as exciting as Thus Spoke Zarathustra).

Takeaway

Perhaps the tweet I liked the best last weekend was “As an AP Lit teacher, I used to give the annual banned list to students. They made it a point of honor to read them to see for themselves.” This reminds me of the philosophy that there are three ways to get something done: 1) do it yourself, 2) hire somebody to do it for you, or 3) forbid your teenage child to do it.

So perhaps the banning will cause people to read more books – and seriously consider where we are as a society.

Now, if only they would ban Plutarch’s Lives.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Felsburg is a ghostwriter of books, blog posts, white papers and web content. Recent projects include a stint for Forbes magazine on angel investing, as well as articles on commercial real estate and medical technology.

 

 

 

Spoonerisms, Malapropisms and Figurative Language, OH MY!

With all the content out there these days, how can you separate yourself from other content providers? How do you make your writing stand out? Why should people read your work? Is it worth their time?

There’s no doubt that good marketing helps to get people’s eyeballs. If people have a favorable impression of you as a writer to begin with, there’s a better chance they’ll be receptive to your work. But, in many ways, the best marketing you can do for your craft – whether you write books, poems, articles or blog posts – is to be downright good. Ben Franklin said “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” As it turns out, he knew not only writing, but also entrepreneurship.

How would people describe your writing style? Direct? Humorous? Informative? Crafty? Sarcastic? Subtle? What devices do you use so your writing differs from all the “noise” out there?

The English language can be a lot of fun. There are some interesting devices you can employ when crafting poetry or prose that add pizazz to your composition. Here are a few:

Alliteration

Alliteration is when the same sound or letter is used at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. Examples include “busy as a bee,” “dead as a doornail,” and “fit as a fiddle.”

Rhyme

Rhyme, as most people know, is when the words correspond to one another from an acoustic standpoint. In other words, the sound is repeated. Here’s an example from Tennyson’s poem, The Eagle. The first stanza reads:

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

Most (but not all) poems use rhyme to some effect.

Rhythm

There are five rhythms in poetry. Rhythm deals with the sounds that are stressed – as opposed to unstressed. Take the word “today,” for example.  The rhythm is buh BUH. The first syllable is unstressed and the second one is stressed.

Many readers and/or writers may recognize this as an iamb (as in iambic pentameter). Pent meaning five, iambic pentameter is when this happens five times in a row. So it comes across as Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.  One of the most famous lines of iambic pentameter is from Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo says “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks.” The human heart beats in this rhythm.

Other devices include spoonerisms, malapropisms and figurative language. While you might not want to incorporate them into your writing, it is nevertheless a good idea to be familiar with them, if only for language’s sake.

Spoonerisms

A spoonerism is the transposition of initial sounds of words in a phrase. It was named after William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930), a British clergyman and educator. He spoke in public a lot and often got tongue tied. He would say things like “a blushing crow” when he meant “a crushing blow.” Another example is “The queer old dean” – instead of the “dear old queen.”

Malapropisms

A malapropism is the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar sounding one, often with unintentional comedic effect (think Archie Bunker). It was introduced in the play The Rivals, which had a character named Mrs. Malaprop. Sheridan took the character’s name from the French term mal à propos, meaning “inappropriate.” An example of a malapropism is when someone says “That was a mute point,” when what they meant was that it was a moot point. It is similar to a Freudian slip, which is an error that reveals someone’s subconscious mind.

Figurative Language

Figurative language is best exemplified when a word or phrase is given a specific meaning other than the literal definition. An example is “I am so hungry I could eat a horse.” Obviously, it isn’t meant literally.

Are you appealing to the senses by using figurative language?

Instead of being superfluous, sometimes you can be more descriptive by using these or other literary devices. Personally, I love the way David Feherty describes Jim Furyk’s golf swing. He says it is like “an octopus falling out of a tree.”

What literary devices are you using? You may be using some and not even realizing it. Are you just slapping words together – or are you tapping into your readers’ senses?

Say it with style and tap into their senses!

What are some of your favorite phrases?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Felsburg is the author of Men Really DO Listen, which is selling well, but would be selling better if women would stop looking for it in the fiction section of libraries and bookstores. In addition to being a ghostwriter, he is also a publisher and PR specialist. He can be reached at 484.278.4674.

What is Your Strategy?

If you are an author or a speaker, you should have a strategy. Both industries are very competitive. And, unless you manage to stay head and shoulders above your competition, you, as they say, are a “nobody” in the marketplace.

Toward that end, there are some basic questions you should ask yourself (or have someone else ask you) that, once answered, give you a clearer direction of where you are headed. They can also serve to position you as a thought leader in the mind of decision makers.

Some of these questions might seem impertinent, unusual or downright annoying. But there is a reason why you should not let another minute go by without getting started answering them. Here we go:

  1. Exactly what products & services are you selling? Do you know? Is it a “me too” product? Or does it disrupt the industry in a positive way?
  2. Why should someone buy your product/service?
  3. Why specifically should they buy from YOU?
  4. Why should they buy your product or service at your PRICE?
  5. Why should they buy your product or service NOW?
  6. What makes you truly unique? Why should media planners hire you or readers invest their valuable time reading your book?
  7. Who is your Target Market?
  8. Where do you suppose they hang out? A. Physically B. Online
  9. What hard cover publications do you think they read?
  10. What would be the ideal gig for you? Who would be in the audience? How large an audience would it be? What would you like to happen after you speak? A. Immediately B. Over the long run
  11. What marketing materials do you have? This should go without saying but, Do they cast you in a favorable light? Are the materials professional? For example, if you have video, make sure it is in a modern format (that means don’t give someone a cassette audiotape or VHS videotape in this day and age).
  12. Are you open to media appearances? You may say “Of course,” but have you been trained in dealing with the press? They can be brutal and make you look real bad if you aren’t sure what you’re doing or who you are speaking to. Believe it or not, they might lead you to believe they are going to ask you about one thing and then while you are on the air in front of millions of people, put you on the spot and ask you about something else. As you could imagine, it could be devastating for your career as well as your confidence.
  13. What are some of the conferences you attended in the past? Would you still enjoy attending them if you could?
  14. Would you say the attendees of those shows are in your Target Market?
  15. What specifically makes you unique? Why should meeting planners hire you?
  16. I know you say you would do keynote speeches… Would you also consider doing break-out sessions?
  17. Are you checking out your local convention center (if you have one) to see what conferences are coming up in the future? Perhaps you can speak at the conference (or be available as a substitute in the event that a speaker doesn’t show up). Wally Pipp of the New York Yankees once missed a game at first base. The person who replaced him became a legend. Known as The Iron Horse. Lou Gehrig played in 2130 straight games.

What’s your strategy? Do you have one? If not, you might want to start thinking one through by asking yourself these questions.

Lost and Found: How to Be Found

                             www.twitter.com

“If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” Or so the expression goes. Usually, it doesn’t work that way.

For example, how about if the world doesn’t know that you have a better mousetrap? What if they aren’t sure where you live – or how best to reach you?

“Surely that doesn’t happen in this day and age of the information explosion,” you say. Well, it could. And don’t call me Shirley.

Even though telephone books have pretty much gone the way of the operator, the fact is there is so much information out there, that we can’t keep track of it all. Have you ever changed your email address? What if someone sent a message to an old address of yours and you never received it? Likewise, have you ever changed jobs? Most of us have changed both – jobs and email addresses.

Unless you have a solid brand like Cheers (“where everyone knows your name” – and, for that matter, what you’re all about) or knows how best to reach you, some of your prospects could be falling through the cracks. Can you afford that?

Maybe you can. Perhaps you don’t want every lead that has an interest in what you provide. Maybe you have all the business you need at this time. Well, if that’s the case, more power to you.

But, Public Relations and Marketing are HUGE in this day and age, especially in the very competitive publishing market. If you want a brand that is congruent with who you are – which, essentially is (or should be) a purveyor of information that can be TRUSTED, it’s probably best if you can be reached successfully – the first time. That gets the communication off to a good start.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as a book author – or mousetrap builder:

  1. Keep the email address on your Linkedin profile updated. Some people export all of their Linkedin contacts into a CSV (Excel spreadsheet) file. If your address isn’t up to date, you may not receive their correspondence. This isn’t always bad, as many people do the export for marketing purposes. But if they are genuinely interested in you, you have missed an opportunity to connect with that person (if they email you separately from Linkedin).
  1. Consolidate your Twitter accounts (and optimize your Twitter profile). First of all, do you even use Twitter? You should at least be on it, even if you aren’t active. There are those who believe it shortens your attention span reading 140 character blurts, day in and day out. I get that and there is some truth to it. But did you know that nearly one-third of all Twitter users are journalists and media? Furthermore, members of the media tweet the most.
  1. Have a website and keep it up to date. Be aware that Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Social Media all factor into the amount of traffic that visits your site. Having a blog with recent posts helps your ranking with Google.

If you can control the message, and therefore your brand, the flow of prospects to your products and services will increase. As a content provider, this should certainly be in your wheelhouse. Finally, make sure the web content (as well as your Twitter profile) uses keywords and images that align symmetrically with your brand.

In this day and age of fake news, you want every advantage you can get.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Felsburg is a ghostwriter of books, blog posts, white papers and web content. Recent projects include a stint for Forbes magazine on angel investing, as well as articles on commercial real estate and medical technology.

Dying to Write Something

I recently travelled to Europe on a ski trip. On the way over and back, I read Paul Kalanithi’s riveting book, When Breath Become Air, which was posthumously published by Random House in January of 2016. The book was voted Goodreads’ Best Memoir & Autobiography and was on the New York Times bestseller list for a while.

It is a poignant story written by a neurosurgeon who develops Stage IV metastatic lung cancer and passes away shortly thereafter. His wife, Lucy, finishes the book.

My slogan is “Most people die with their book still in them.” Kalanithi’s courageous and herculean effort is a rare exception. How many people, when faced with a life threatening illness or a death sentence would bother to write about it? Very few, I am sure. Lucy was blessed to have married such a gritty human being.

Many people put off writing, saying “Someday I’ll write a book.” Well, frankly, some “day” turns into months, months into years and years into decades. And decades add up. With apologies to Everett Dirksen, “a decade here, a decade there, pretty soon you’re talking about your entire life.”

As someone I know once said about painting, “I’d rather be whipped than paint.” Is painting a room really that grueling? From where I sit, it is mostly the process of getting started that intimidates people.

In painting, it is the setup that takes time and borders on the mundane. You have to move furniture and use drop cloths. Then you have to remove wallplates, patch up holes and cracks. After that, you apply a primer coat. All this before you apply the actual paint. So, there’s a lot involved. However, physically it isn’t exactly cruel and unusual punishment.

The same goes for writing. Most of the effort involved in writing isn’t the work itself. The challenge is more that you have to convince yourself to create something out of nothing. There’s research that needs to be done. You have to read and make sense out of what source material is already out there. And you have to carve out the time for the actual work. It is imperative, however, that you understand the topic before actually putting pen to paper.

Many people find it daunting to write. They don’t know where to start. If this describes you, here are a few pointers: 1) research the topic, 2) gather source material, 3) comprehend the content, 4) “vomit” it out, and 5) edit, edit, edit.

That’s pretty much it.

It can be overwhelming if you let it be. But if you break it down into its component parts, it is doable.

And, if you would rather have a professional – whether that be a painter or a writer – do it, that is always an option.

Your turn. You could start a blog, write an article or get take on a book. There are plenty of genres to consider. What do you read? Whatever content you consume on a regular basis could be source material for what you will ultimately write.

Start now. Before it’s too late.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Felsburg is an APE (Author, Publisher and Entrepreneur) as well as an occasional amateur painter.

 

When is a Good Time to Curl Up with a Book?

We’re all so busy these days. And information is coming at us at warp speed. There’s a lot of drinking from a fire hose. It’s exhausting!

With everything going on in the world, and all the various opinions out there – right or wrong – wouldn’t you like to get away from it all – at least for a few hours?

You probably would. But do you ever take the time to curl up with a good book and enjoy the simple pleasure of reading a page turner? Some people do. Many don’t.

As I look out my window and see the snow coming down, I can’t help but think of simple pleasures like hunkering down with something that will be good for the soul. I don’t drink coffee or hot chocolate. Instead, I get a high from running or by reading a well written book.

You must have one on your shelf. If not, they are abundantly available at your local library. You could even order one from Amazon and have it delivered to your door in the next 24 hours. So even if you are snowed in – you have no excuse.

Here are a few books on many peoples’ radar which are either new or seeing a resurgence:

A Dog’s Purpose (published by Tom Doherty Associates), by W. Bruce Cameron, is written by the same author that wrote 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter and How to Remodel a Man. The general consensus on Goodreads is that it is a feel good book worth the read.

If you are a non-fiction reader, Hillbilly Elegy (published by Harper) by JD Vance, is the New York Times #1 Hardcover Non-Fiction book. Vance, a Yale Law School grad, looks at the struggles of Americans white working class thru his own childhood in the Rust Belt. Part memoir, part historical and social analysis, it is a “fascinating consideration of class, culture and the American dream.”

Depending on which side of the political spectrum you are on – or whether you watch Fox News or not – there are 1984 by George Orwell (published by Penguin) and Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reilly (published in 2016 by Henry Holt & Company). O’Reilly’s book was written by Martin Dugard. The Fox News commentator promotes it on his platform.

In addition to 1984, which was published in 1949, also being recycled from a bygone era are It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (published by Doubleday) and Fahrenheit 451 (published in 1953 by Simon & Schuster), written by Ray Bradbury.  

On a personal note, I once (circa 1989) attended a Philadelphia 76ers basketball game where Monica Seles, the former professional tennis player, was in attendance. As she, signing autographs, came up the aisle I was sitting near with my attorney friend, Paul, he fished for something in his attaché case for her to sign. He pulled out a copy of Bradbury’s classic and she signed it.

I recently read that Seles has been engaged to Tom Golisano, the owner of Paychex, since June 2014.

According to Wikipedia, “In February 2011, Golisano became the spokesman for National Popular Vote Inc., a non-profit organization seeking to implement a popular vote system for presidential elections by harnessing the electoral college.

I guess in some ways we can’t get away from it all. But we can try.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Felsburg is a content strategist, publisher and marketer of books. He can be reached at 484.278.4674, frank@SpokenAndWrittenWords.com or @fjfelsburg

What Should I Call My NEW BOOK?

“What’s in a name?” asked Juliet Capulet, after she fell in love with Romeo Montague. Well, most of us know what happened there. SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t end well, which is probably why they call it a tragedy.

Anyway, what should the title of YOUR book be? And when do you come up with it? Before, during or after you write it?

There are several schools of thought on the matter. They each have advantages and disadvantages. Take your pick which of the three options you prefer.

BEFORE: If you come up with the title of your book before you write your manuscript, this could help you determine the editorial angle you will take. Pretty much everything you write after that about the topic should be done while keeping the title in mind.

A downside of coming up with the title beforehand is that you might change your mind on where you want to go with its contents. So, you might get locked in and therefore paralyzed. This could lead to writers block.

DURING: If you decide on the title during the writing process, you are in the minority. Most people come up with it before or after they have written the manuscript.

It reminds me of the age-old question “When should I write a book?” Well, the best answer I have heard to this question, is “when you are ready to.” Of course that is ambiguous. It is often a rhetorical question anyway.

It is sort of like naming a child or a pet. Often it just comes to you.

AFTER: The advantage of naming your book after you have it written is that it is the last piece (of the writing process). The heavy lifting has been done and you’re just putting the finishing touches on it. WARNING: DON’T BLOW IT NOW!

Some of the most widely distributed books have the most descriptive titles. People make up their minds as to what a book has to say before they read it. Reading it gives them further insights. I am talking about books like The Power of Positive Thinking, How to Win Friends and Influence People and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

One caveat is that if you use a rather generic title, you should have a subtitle that explains what the book is about. An example might be Blink, subtitled The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. The title alone tells you very little. However, in conjunction with the subtitle, the point is made.

Exactly when you name a book may come down to whether you prefer inductive or deductive reasoning.

I will say this about titles: The more memorable your book title, the easier it is for OTHERS to sell it for you. People communicate – and when they’re in touch with their network – it is always nice when they can rattle off the name of your book to another person. And better yet – when the other person GETS what it is you do – or what the book is about (based on the title) – that can benefit you.

The good news is you can always change the book’s title. And, getting back to Shakespeare, “… a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Felsburg is a ghostwriter who writes books for other people. He also publishes manuscripts and helps authors market their work. Contact him at 484.278.4674, frank@SpokenAndWrittenWords.com or @fjfelsburg

What’s Wrong With a Few Typos?

Blood Type is Probably “Type O”

I’ll admit it. One of my pet peeves is misspelled words. Well, not just the words themselves. It just seems like when content contains typos – the person who created it didn’t bother to take the time to read it themselves. I find myself asking, “If they didn’t take the time to read what they wrote, why should I?”

Typos have been known to cause a great deal of embarrassment. Many years ago, I saw a headline in a major metropolitan city newspaper (one that has won 20 Pulitzer Prizes) that was trying to convey a story about how the famous Chinese revolutionary and statesman, Deng Xiaoping, came out of seclusion. The headline read “Deng Returns to Pubic View.”

Guy Kawasaki, in his book, APE: How to Publish a Book, tells the story of how Penguin Australia published a book entitled The Pasta Bible. In it, a recipe for tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto called for “salt and freshly ground black people.” The company had to destroy 7,000 copies – although it became somewhat of a collector’s item because of the gaffe.

How embarrassing! And costly!

Microsoft to the Rescue?

Many think “Oh, there will be a squiggly red line under all words that are misspelled while I’m writing, so I’ll be fine.” Not true!

Some of you may be familiar with the Spell Check Poem below.

Candidate for a Pullet Surprise
(by Mark Eckman and Jerrold H. Zar)

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it’s weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore a veiling checker’s
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we’re lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know fault’s with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.

Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped word’s fare as hear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw’s are knot aloud.

Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.

It turns out that all of the words in this poem are spelled correctly. However, 123 of the poem’s 225 words are faulty. I think it makes a good case for not relying on a spell checker.

Watch Out for the Obvious Ones

Perhaps the word I see misspelled most often is the word “led,” which is often spelled “lead.” Ironically, I noticed, many who misspell the word think of themselves as leaders.

Here’s a link to what “Dr. Language” calls the 100 most misspelled words.

Copyediting vs. Content Editing: What is the Difference?

The two main things a manuscript – as well as a simple blog post – needs are: 1) content editing and 2) copyediting. Many people don’t understand the difference.

Content Editing is basically making sure what is in the manuscript is indeed in there and what isn’t in it (but should be), is. The content editor makes it more appealing by suggesting needed changes not only to the content, but also to the organization, structure and style.

Copyediting, on the other hand, is, in many ways, proofreading. The copyeditor improves the spelling, grammar, usage, style, and factual accuracy of the manuscript.

Don’t skimp on either of these. The consequences can be cringe-worthy, much like this one, which appeared in the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 2011.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Felsburg is a ghostwriter, publisher and marketer of content. He can be reached at frank@spokenandwrittenwords.com , 484.278.4674, or @fjfelsburg

 

 

Seven Things That Will Give Structure to Each Chapter of Your Forthcoming Book

              Victory – Your Completed Book

Here are some ways to flesh out the chapters of the manuscript you intend to write. Remember that? The one you keep putting off? Oh, I know – you’ll write it “someday.” Well, I can assure you (and, trust me, I know from experience) that some “day” turns into some “month.” Months turn into years and years into decades. And decades add up.

Pretty soon you are talking about your entire life.

It reminds me of the poem written by Herbert Kaufman call Victory. It goes like this:

VICTORY

You are the man who used to boast

That you’d achieve the uppermost,

Some day.

You merely wished a show,

To demonstrate how much you know

And prove the distance you can go …

Another year we’ve just passed through

What new ideas came to you?

How many big things did you do?

Time…left twelve fresh months in your care

How many of them did you share

With opportunity and dare

Again where you so often missed?

We do not find you on the list of Makers Good

Explain the fact!

Ah no, ‘twas not the chance you lacked!

As usual – you failed to act!

Having said that, here is the Secret Formula to writing a book. You could probably finish it in fewer than seven days if you wanted to (and now might be the time of year to do it, since people often shift gears a little, especially between Christmas and New Year’s). Exactly seven days separate the two holidays, in case you didn’t notice. What will you be doing that week?

If you think seven DAYS is too ambitious, perhaps because you are overwhelmingly busy, then you might want to set the goal for seven WEEKS. There is no way in the world it should take any longer than seven MONTHS to complete a manuscript (unless, of course you are working with a co-author, which I would caution you against, unless it is a real good fit and you complement each other nicely). Nevertheless, try to keep it within one of these timeframes.

Anyway, once you have set a deadline for yourself (which I can’t encourage you strongly enough to do), here are the next steps:

  1. Come up with the book title (if you haven’t already). Make it catchy and easy to remember. One that people can recommend to their friends and colleagues. They shouldn’t have to “google” it, otherwise look it up or even write it down. I’m sure you can come up with a good title if you think about it.
  2. Decide how many chapters it will be. At least 10 is probably a good rule of thumb (although Marie Kondo’s best-selling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up only has five chapters, so go figure). Twelve or more is good for a business book. If it is a novel, the number becomes less important.
  3. Come up with chapter titles. Make them catchy, too. Perhaps you can find a quote that correlates to the chapter title. If so, I suggest you have one for each chapter. Put it in italics at the outset of the chapter.
  4. Define what is meant by each chapter title. Why is that the name of the chapter? Is it an expression that means something to you? Or, did it come from somewhere (or someone) else? What is its origin?
  5. Come up with a story to go along with the narrative of the chapter. The story should illustrate the point you are making.
  6. Come up with a way to wrap up the chapter. Something that drives your point home.
  7. Smooth it out by writing, reading what you wrote and then rewriting. You know what reads well. Make sure your work does.

That’s pretty much it! Each chapter should have an opening, body and conclusion. Use the PEP (Point, Example, Point) formula in each chapter.

Once you have a solid rough draft of your manuscript, you can send it off to an editor. Good editors can do amazing things with manuscripts.

Don’t obsess over it by trying to achieve perfection. It won’t happen. Keep moving forward with it. Don’t let it become stale or stagnant.

If you need help, give me (or someone else) a holler.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Felsburg is a ghostwriter of books, blog posts, elevator pitches, web content and white papers. He can be reached at 484.278.4674, frank@SpokenAndWrittenWords.com or @fjfelsburg.

 

 

Who Motivates You – And Who Motivated Them?

   John, Paul, George and Ringo

Yesterday, on the 36th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, I was thinking about how he had been a writing inspiration for me growing up. He and Paul McCartney wrote songs that will live for hundreds of years.

That led me to remember that I have heard that perhaps more importantly than who motivates you is who motivated the person (or people) that motivated you?

Lennon, as I recall, was motivated by many people. From a showman’s standpoint, Elvis was a big influence. And, the story goes, that when The Beatles arrived in the United States, they said “We want to see Muddy Waters.” And people said “Where are they?”

WHO?

Lennon was heavily influenced – early in his life, anyway – by his Aunt Mimi, after his mother died. His parents had separated and she basically brought him up. His album, Rock ‘n Roll (his last solo album), revealed his musical influences. People like Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Ben E. King and Chuck Berry were among them.

WHAT?

What motivates you? Music? Then, listen to it (or play more of it). Other forms of art or science? Then indulge in it! Money? I have heard that money doesn’t motivate – lack of it does.

Does going for a walk do it for you? Or taking a long drive in a car? Sometimes it is simply a cappuccino in your favorite coffee shop that inspires greatness. Or maybe it is your children.

WHEN?

What time of day are you most energetic? For some people, it is late at night. For others, it is in the wee wee hours of the morning.

WHERE?

Natalie Goldberg, in her book Writing Down The Bones, says to go where you are inspired. I once went over to New York City after a Toastmasters District Conference in Newark, NJ, and wound up in St. Thomas Cathedral at the corner of 53rd Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Attending a service there on a Sunday morning, I distinctly remember having the feeling that the place exuded the great American novel.

Years later I went back to The Big Apple, where I was originally inspired, and made major headway on my manuscript (of what was to become) Men Really DO Listen: How Men Listen Differently Than Women.

WHY?

Why be inspired? I don’t think I need to explain that you can be so much more productive when you are passionate about what you are doing. It gives your life purpose.

HOW?

How inspired are you? That depends. You might have to go to the well time and time again. Or you might even have to find something else that inspires you – because “familiarity breeds contempt.”

BECAUSE

Just because. How many times have you heard that?

One of the tracks that was added to Rock ‘n Roll in 1994 was Just Because, written by Lloyd Price.

Many people believe that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. There is a lot to be said for that. But, after you reach down and find your true passion, as John would tell you, “it’ll be (Just Like) Starting Over. “