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Christine Larson

Good luck, Debbie! I've written two books and am almost finished with number three.

Best advice : Think about the project as 10 or 12 articles, not a whole book. Commit to delivering chapters to your editors on certain days so you have firm deadlines. And write something EVERY DAY so you keep everything fresh in your mind.
Also, for help scheduling, I recommend the book "The Clockwork Muse", by Eviatar Zerubavel.
Good luck!

Greg Balanko-Dickson

All the tips mentioned so far are good.

I always start each chapter with a mind map. Then translate that to outline. Then I start writing.

I have also just started to use Copwrite (Apple software) which is a writing tool for authors. It allows me to gather information and organize it, make notes about chapters without cluttering the manuscript and build a library of related web links file by file.

When I am really stuck, I get away from the computer, take my iPod and go for a long walk and record my thoughts. Then I transcribe them using a special remote control from Apple for my iPod which allows me to rewind, forward etc. which leaves my hands free to type.

Writing daily is the key as a flow will begin to form and productivity increases substantially. I found that during those times I could get 3,000-4,000 words down in 2-3 hours.

Have fun!


Hi Debbie:

Great news on your book.
Remember to "Breathe." Get youself full of oxygen before you sit down in front of the computer. We tend to hold our breath when we are experiencing stress and sitting down to write your book is not a good time to start doing that! Also if you need more good information go to our blog:


Sheri McConnell

Hi Debbie,

Congratulations on your book deal! I think all the suggestions are great so far. Here is my process for writing nonfiction books...

- I do a loose outline of the chapters to get started.

- Then I go through a research phase where I collect information for the proposed chapters. I make notes and I print out research and throw it in file folders labled with each chapter title.

- Next I spend time everyday writing/compiling the book. I usually tackle the easiest chapter first because I find that once I get going on a project my enthusiasm pushes me forward into the next chapter. And I always do chapter one (the intro. chapter) last.

- After I get everything into the computer (usually a couple months) I take a break from it for a number of days.

- Then I read through it, changing and correcting mistakes along the way. When I think it looks good enough to be called a first draft, then I send it to my editor.

- She always sees the material from a fresh perspective and always makes suggestions that make the book project better.

- I also tell writers that I work with to do a book proposal before they write the book if they haven't done one yet because this process really helps you structure your book before you even start writing it.

I hope this helps.

Take care,
Sheri' McConnell
NAWW President
National Association of Women Writers

Debbie Weil

Thanks to all for the great suggestions. I love the tip about breathing. Does taking a yoga class count? Speaking of which... it's time to get out for a walk. I sometimes do my best thinking that way.

Pat Cope

Re software and content...
As alternatives to specialized authoring software, here are two everyday programs I couldn't live without for research and writing. And they integrate with Microsoft Office programs--Word, Outlook, etc. First is screen capture software (SnagIt, by, $39.95). Puts a toolbar in your browser and Office programs to quickly capture and edit pictures, text, or screenshots from the Web or Office documents. The second is Microsoft Office OneNote. (Standalone program, 60-day free trial from; $84.95 at Amazon.) Its metaphor is a notebook, where you create sections of pages to store notes, pictures, links, whatever, in freehand-fashion, anywhere on the page. Create a section for each chapter; it's the electronic equivalent of paper file folders(though I'd also create those for materials found only in hardcopy). Apply custom flags to notes for quick searches. Send a page to Word for fancy final formatting, or to an Outlook message as in-message content or as an attachment. An icon sits in your system tray to quickly open a "side-note" when you don't want to open the program; some users create sidenotes all day and file them in appropriate sections later. Also click the tray icon for quick screen captures (faster than SnagIt, but no editing functions). I use OneNote to capture content when researching; it automatically adds the URL, saving a second round-trip to copy/paste the URL into the document. Best of all, you never have to "save" a page when you're done! As to content...given your corporate target market, consider a "workshop" at the end of each chapter. When readers finish the book, they'll have a ready-to-go plan for a blog. Useful for readers who must "manage up" the approval ladder. Also broadens the market to include readers (such as independent professionals)who want to start business-like blogs and don't need corporate approval. Then there's the add-on $$ potential of a downloadable workshop template, and ...stop me! (Would you guess my field is marketing strategy??) Good luck, Debbie. ###


Hi! Debbie,

Meditation and pranayama can help a lot in making you feel calm, relaxed and you don't feel a lot of pressure when you think of all the chapters before you and the deadline just round the corner.

I think if you write in each chapter the headline and the subheads for each chapter you will feel like a lot of your work is completed.

Don't skip your sleep.

Wish you all the very best!
Happy Writing!


If using a book, copy the relevant pages and add all info needed for the bibliography to each page.
If using an article, save a copy of the article with the references you will need for the bibliography.
I try to obtain at least three references on any "fact"; this establishes that it is not exclusive to any one author.
Use a pen to draw a line around the information that you used. Photocopy and put in folders by chapters. These will be used for the fact checker if your publisher has one. This is also an assurance for you that you have not copied someone.
Start a separate bibliography page to be used for that section of the book.
All publishers use a particular style guide for grammar, spelling, etc. One of the most common is The Chicago Manual of Style. Ask your editor what style guide they use. This will save you lots of time on checking spelling, etc. There may be a software product that has all of these things in it. The editor might know. If not, the publisher of the style guide will know.
As you finish each page, look it over for index words and start an index using the manuscript page numbers.
Check your reference materials. Are you using books, magazine articles and on-line sites? The largest variety is the best bibliography. It also makes it more likely that readers will be able to find more information on a particular topic if you have at least the three references that I suggested.
I know that you do not really need these references because you are writing from your own experience. However, the book needs the references for these reasons:
References for the librarians who sometimes buy books because of the bibliography, appendix and other reference materials.
References authenticate what you say.
Add humor whenever you can. In an info book like this, the least intrusive and the best is often a cartoon. The illustration gives a place to rest the eyes.

As for your title, look at Books in Print. There are only a certain number of characters used for the title, then you are cut off.
Do not forget that writing is only about 1/4 of the book. Publicity, promotion and advertising are what determines the success of a book. You should be spending at least as much time on that part of the research as you are spending on writing the book.
Find web sites that have free information or links to other pages. Offer to do a seminar or an article for them with a link to your website. For a seminar, provide the questions yourself so the recording will be coherent and flow right. Be prepared to answer them without uh's, er,s. etc. Look for business blogs, e-zines, etc. that might let you link with them. You need a 6 figure e-mail list. Write articles and place them in the article data bases where people can add them to their web site if they provide your link or your website address.
Check out your competition. They might have included something you had not considered covering. Fund-raising blogs, for example. They will also have links you can use. See how they organized their book and figure out why they did it that way.
Start writing or collecting some freebies for your site. Directories of various kinds of blogs. Have a contest and let your visitors vote on the best blog site submitted. Send e-mails to the sites to ask for entries--these are sites that might be interested in your book. Give the three best an award, along with a link to your site.
Give the one voted worst a complete design makeover, with before and afer photos on your site.
Ask for other promotion and publicity ideas from your readers.
Lots of teens are blogging. Figure out how you can tap into that market.
Happy Publishing, Regards. Helon

Michele Matthews

I just picked up (yet another) book to assist me in getting my non-fiction work published: The Art of the Book Proposal by Eric Maisel, Ph.D. Lots of exercises in it to help you along the way of writing. Let's wish each other luck. I don't have any trouble with the writing part (though it IS daunting at times); you didn't have any trouble getting a publisher. Perhaps we'll rub off on each other.

Break a pencil! (This could be akin to 'Break a leg' in the theatre world!)


Angie Pedersen

I've written three nonfiction books using the following method:
**Similar to the suggestion of creating a separate hanging file for each chapter, I set up a three-ring binder, with dividers for each chapter. I include a page protector at the end of each section for any loose memorabilia, small notes, etc, sort of like a big pocket. The binder works well for me because it's portable, and I can take it with me if need be.
**When I started each book project, I set up a Word template with the topics and subheadings for a chapter (each chapter followed the same format, just different topics). Then using that template, I created a separate .doc file for each chapter. When I found a resource or info online, I could open the Word file and jot it down. When I started actually writing each chapter, many of my notes were already there in the .doc file.
**I also set up subfolders in my email for each chapter. So when someone emailed me something that would work for that chapter, I could file it in the subfolder. I created a subfolder for my publisher also, so I knew right where to look for her requests, etc.
**I agree with Helon's comment that 75% of the success of a book is in the marketing/promotion -- consider setting up a Virtual Book Tour to coincide with the launch of the book. Since VBT's have been historically based on blogs, your book would tie in well with the audience.
**Educate yourself on public relations, marketing, and promotion (if you haven't already). Some great PR newsletters I love: Joan Stewart's, Dan Poynter's Publishing Poynters (, and Debbie Allen's Shamelss Marketing News (
**Helon also suggested giving free seminars and articles, and gathering freebies. Great idea! I put together class kit CDs that are available with qualifying wholesale orders. These follow sort of the "train the trainer" idea -- if you offer materials to instructors, they go out and "preach the word" for you! I also offer free class outlines to instructors -- they subscribe to my YahooGroups mailing list, and they get free class content. They can then use that list to ask me questions, or get feedback from other instructors of my material. It's an invaluable resource.
**I also agree with Pat's advice about offering a "workshop" at the end of each chapter -- giving readers "action items" or homework related to each chapter topic is a great idea! Your readers will feel more accomplished when they finish the book because not only have they done the research into business blogs, but they have also started the process.

GREAT idea to ask for advice from fellow authors -- LOVE it! Gotta love a blog for that!

Best of luck to you,

Roger C. Parker

Dear Debbie:
Congratulations on the contract: I've been looking forward to a book from you for a long time. My hard disk is filled with copies of your previous columns and posts.

My recommendations--on the basis of writing 35 books with 1.6 million copies sold?

First, visit and download their 30-day free trial copy of MindManager XP-5 Pro. Mind Mapping has revolutionized my writing.

On a single page, at a single glance at a page or screen, I can get an overall view of a book's contents, as well as link to detailed maps for each chapter.

Second, not original with me, but it's the "secret weapon" every successful author I know uses: commit to 45 minutes or 1 hour of writing a day.

Robert Parker, no relation, alas, writes two best-sellers a year. He spends an hour in the morning on one, an hour in the afternoon on the other.

And has fun the rest of the day.

Best wishes...


Kelly Angard much great information listed for you already!

I am currently finishing my first book (yes, as we speak!)...My one nugget of advice is:

Everything takes longer than expected. Especially tying up the loose ends!

I have written 10 books prior to this one (as a freelancer) in my field, but like having a child, it is different when it is your own!

Best of luck to you...buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Kelly A.

Star Hyang

I have a question. When typing a book up as a manuscript, would one use Microsoft Word, or another type of program/application?

Star Hyang

Please email me if you have any comments about my question. [email protected]


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