It’s no question, more books published equals more buy buttons, fans, repeat readers, and sales!
Will you catch more fish with one fishing rod, or 20 fishing rods?
Silly question, right!
Now, this post is all about how to create non-fiction books quickly that have tremendous value for the reader. And although the title of this post says 48 hours, those 48 hours don’t need to be consecutive!
You can spread them out over a week or two. Of course, if you spread them out over too long, it defeats the purpose of writing quickly. So a balance is good.
And even if you’re not a fast typist in the least, there’s solutions for that too.
Let’s get started…
The Kind of Books You Can Write Quickly
As mentioned, non-fiction can often work well for quick publishing because the structure is easier to plan and the content is easier to create. And if you know the subject well already, that greatly helps speed the process along.
However, if it’s a subject you need to research, or in particular if it’s a subject you’re not familiar with at all and that will take you a while to understand, that may not be suitable for a fast writing project. You may need to consider that more of a long-term background project instead.
That said, interviews with experts can be used to get all the information you need to create a non-fiction book on a topic you’re unfamiliar with. With perhaps both of your names on the cover. Such “joint venture” books are common.
Which Topics Work Best for Short Books?
Steve Scott, a hugely successful independent author offers great advice on a wide number of topics. What’s of particular relevance to you at this point in the process is how to choose topics that greatly increase your chances of being successful with short books.
His advice is as follows:
Start with a big, popular topic. If you can’t think of one, then browse Amazon and even book stores for ideas. If you’re already familiar with the subject, all the better. However if you can get up to speed quickly then that can work too.
Remember that people really want things to be quick and easy, so if you’re offering a solution, the quicker and easier it is for the reader (and the more you can broadcast this, even in the title of the book), the better.
Then split this huge topic (in his case: habits) and break it up into micro-topics. Again, trying to offer a quick and easy solution. For example: 10-Minute Digital Declutter: The Simple Habit to Eliminate Technology Overload.
A micro-topic is deep rather than wide. Importantly, if you’re writing multiple books on a related topic, over time you fully cover the subject, and also the more books you publish the more they help promote each other. This helps build up a series and a brand.
If you can be topical, more the better. Let’s say a new type of diet has become popular, if you can ride the coattails of that popularity with your own book (because people are going to be searching for the name of the diet), that can help bring in sales quickly.
If you’re building out an entire information-publishing funnel (courses, consulting…) then think about how your books fit into that, and how they will help to introduce new customers to you.
Don’t just copy what other people are writing about, even if you’re writing on a very similar subject. Put your own unique spin and personality on it. This is easy if you’re already familiar with the topic.
The more you know your audience and your competition, the more likely you are to write something people want to read.
How Long Will the Book be?
A good rule of thumb for shorter books is between 15,000 to 25,000 words, although 10,000 is an option too if you can’t get to 15,000. However, if the word count strays too low (5,000 words for example) it really ends up as more of a blog post than a book, so may not be the right medium for what you’re publishing.
So like the vast majority of non-fiction books, it’s either a reference, or it helps solve a problem. Or, it may even be a crash course in the subject (which is another kind of reference).
Now, the length of the book does depend on how quickly you can write of course, but as you’ll discover there are other ways to create a book quickly if you’re not a fast typist.
The Structure of Your Book
The following structure is suitable for most non fiction books:
Table of contents
What we’ll focus on in this post is the introduction through to the conclusion.
Now, lots of relatively short chapters help to make the book easy to read, and give it more bulk. And you may want to consider a relatively large font and perhaps quite wide margins to help pad out the book too.
You can download sample chapters from books in your subject area from Amazon to see how other authors are approaching this. Sometimes the word count per page on kindle can be surprisingly low.
And it’s well worth including an image at least at the start of each chapter (after the title), or even quite regularly throughout the text as appropriate. This is especially relevant if you’ll be including screen shots for a tutorial.
Remember that images on Kindle E-Ink display in 16 shades of gray so make sure everything looks as you’d like it to before publishing.
And these two resources can help you find a lot of great free images for commercial use:
There’s also Flickr Creative Commons but you generally need to include attribution when using those images. So somewhere in your book you would need to include a link to the photographer’s page on Flickr.
Planning Your Book to Speed up Writing
A vital step to help your writing go as quickly and smoothly as possible is to plan your structure at the start.
All you really need to do for this is to make a bulleted list that includes:
The sub-headings in each chapter
Bullets that list what you’ll be talking about under each sub-heading
Sub Heading 1
Key point 1
Key point 2
Key point 3
Sub Heading 2
You may want to make the bullets short, or even quite detailed, and this process helps clarify your thinking and approach to the book, and makes writing it so much easier.
Options for Writing Quickly
Once you’ve mapped out your structure, if you’re a fast typist and know your subject, all that’s required is keeping the structure in front of you, and then writing your book as you turn one bullet at a time into a few sentences, or even a paragraph or two.
Do remember — the bullets are more of a prompt than a hard and fast structure so you may find as you write that the bullets get written out of order, or you may even combine several bullets into one paragraph.
But this ongoing prompt in front of you helps you stay on topic and focused, and helps avoid your book from meandering around the subject (which can be frustrating for readers).
However, most people can’t touch type. You may still be a fast typist just using a couple of fingers, but if your typing speed is going to become a bottleneck to your book getting written quickly, there are a number of alternatives…
Software That Automatically Transcribes Your Speech
Transcription software like Dragon Naturally Speaking that aims to turn your speech into text instantly.
The more time you spend training the software just after you’ve installed it, the more it will get to know your voice, and that should help accuracy of transcription.
Other factors that can make a big difference are quality of microphone, and how clearly you speak.
It’s also worth noting that unless you specify the punctuation as you speak, a lot of punctuation won’t be included, and sentences often run into each other. This can make the editing process rather slow.
But if you can get a demo version of this software (or similar software) it may well be worth you seeing how you get on with it, and whether it’s helpful to you or not.
Paying for a Transcription Service
Alternatively, if you have the budget (or a willing friend or family member to help you), you can have your structure in front of you while you simply speak out your entire book.
Of course, this may mean your book reads very conversationally and may need quite a bit of editing to alter the style a little so it’s more suitable for readers, but this can be an easy way to get a lot of text onto the page quickly. Also perhaps make sure you don’t ramble too much and keep your speaking focused.
Again, you’ll need to know your subject if you’re going to take this approach. And it’s important to realize that an hour of spoken audio at a normal talking speed is around 8,000 to 10,000 words.
This is why it’s so important not to ramble and go too off topic. If you find yourself speaking for more than three hours, the book may end up considerably more than 25,000 words. This is good in one way, but in another way it creates a lot more editing work, which slows the process down, which may make the 48 hour turnaround unrealistic.
Editing and Publishing
Once you’ve written the first very rough draft of your book, editing, more editing, and then finalization is required. And this is truly the part of the process you don’t want to cram into a 48 hour window, otherwise quality of final work can suffer greatly.
Once you’ve got your words onto computer, sleep on it at least once before you start editing. Editing the same day as writing often doesn’t work well.
So edit at least twice, with at least one night between each editing session. It’s even better if you can get someone else to take a look too. Either a professional editor if your budget stretches to that, or a friend or family member who’s well read and with a strong grasp of grammar, spelling and writing styles.
Then when you’re happy with your manuscript, format the text just as you’d like it to look, and then add further formatting like borders, page numbers, headers, footers, images, and whatever else is appropriate.
Next of course comes the cover image, some legal boilerplate text, and the table of contents. An index isn’t generally required for short books and could make a lot more work.
And at that point, everything is on the page. So have one more read through, get it edited, add changes to the design and layout, and then you’re all set to get it published on Amazon (and elsewhere too if you choose).
Now, as mentioned at the start, 48 hour turnaround is possible. But 48 hours of work over at least a week is a good rule of thumb.
Keeping that in mind will help focus you and avoid this book project stretching out for weeks and even months. Keeping a quick turnaround in mind does help to focus you and helps you to avoid attempting to create something that’s perfect, rather than good enough.
And again, there’s more benefits to being prolific than attempting to create one masterpiece. Plus, you can always upload an updated version of your book if you have something you want to update or expand.
There you have it! A quick start guide to quickly publishing non-fiction books in 48 hours.
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