Coaching: Helping you from Idea to Book…Session 1

Many people can reach the point of overload when they are trying to write a book. They know they want to achieve this goal, but just have so much going on that it is hard to actually achieve anything!

I recently had a session with my client, Leonie Russell, who is a communication specialist, speaker and consultant. She wants to write a book that will act as the basis to her speaking, workshops and other products. It will be a non-fiction book, but the principles apply to other genres.

Here is a video about our session (3 mins 30). It has Leonie speaking about her goals and what we achieved, as well as excerpts of the session itself. (Please note: Leonie Russell agreed to be part of this post. All coaching sessions are confidential and your details will not be shared with anyone. I usually do coaching by phone/Skype) . Below is an article about the session.

Coaching Questionnaire: Stating where you are and where you want to be

Prior to our meeting, Leonie filled in a Coaching Questionnaire to help me understand her situation. It includes: Describe where you are now with your writing, Describe where you want to get to with your book and your main goals, What specific questions do you want answered, How will you know when you are receiving value from coaching, as well as a list of possible topics to cover.

We started by going through the questionnaire and identified what Leonie specifically wanted for this session as an agenda. [We did a half day “in person” session, but I usually do hourly phone calls/Skype.]

Leonie: “I want to get a clearer idea of what should be in the book. I have so much material and so many ideas, I don’t know what to include”.

To tackle this, we went through Leonie’s material and created a mind map of everything she had, as well as brainstorming other related topics. We also looked at her target market and how that would shape the book, as well as where she would sell it. We then went through the mindmap and identified how the topics fit into her business as a whole i.e. as material for keynote speeches, seminars and other products.

[Note: It is great to think in advance about other ways you will use your book. It doesn’t just have to go in bookshops!]

We discarded topics that she knew a lot about but was not passionate about anymore. Remember, when your book is successful, you will talk about it a lot! It needs to be on a topic you are interested in. We identified the best material for the book to fit her business requirements as well as her writing goals.

As Leonie has a LOT of material already, she just needs to start organising and cutting it down.

I found a useful tactic was to put all the material under rough chapter headings in a Word document – just copy and paste in with no editing. Then I printed it out and read it through, cutting and moving things around by scribbling on the page. I did this on my commute so it only took a few days. Then you can go back into Word and re-edit based on your organisation. You will find the material becomes fresher and more “book-like” quite quickly.

Leonie: “I am overwhelmed – I have a family, a business and the rest of my life. I need some clear timelines for the book”

Leonie wants to write this book but she also has other commitments. We started off by setting the priorities for the next month, including the building of her database which is important if you want a market to sell to. We also set a deadline for the book to be actually printed and worked back from there, setting milestones for important tasks. We both committed to those dates and noted them in the diary for follow-up. A coach can help you set timelines and also help you adhere to them.

Leonie: “Help me get me organised on my website, with video and audio as well as my shopping cart”

Leonie recognises that her website is important for promotion to clients, and an internet presence is vital for an author. We went through her site and suggested ways that it could be more inviting to potential customers, as well as deadlines for these technical tasks (which can be time consuming unless you outsource).

We reviewed her shopping cart software, which manages your client database and enables you to sell products over the internet using Paypal or credit card. This is critical for internet sales and marketing so is good to set up at the beginning of your website.

Leonie also wanted to know how to make videos so we made one for YouTube and I showed her how to use easy editing software to create a video/book trailer. Her introduction video is at the end of this post.

What’s next?

In later sessions, we will be looking at editing, type-setting, proof-reading, cover design and printing as well as marketing. It’s important to focus on each step as you can get too overwhelmed with information otherwise.

Here is Leonie’s intro video which will be added to her site Dimension Communications:

If you are interested in coaching, please do contact me: joanna@TheCreativePenn.com

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