Writing Advice

Writing Advice

I am often asked for advice about writing, I have only written one other blog on the topic of advice for writers. That one was about the “Writing Environment.” While it is practical, this week I will go more in depth.

I believe the saying, “Clear writing comes from clear thinking.”

  • I always start with a concept
  • I write the Table of Contents (TOC) first
  • I don’t begin writing until I have a TOC, which will take the reader from the beginning straight to the end.
  • Once I have a well thought out TOC, I can begin to research the information for each chapter.
  • I see this as building a skeleton, and then I add flesh.

That is the process I work with.


Here are some things that have helped me.

On Writing Well by William Zinzer. I downloaded the audiobook and have listened to it no less than 8 times. Very short and practical advice for anyone that writes.

100 Ways to improve your writing by Gary Provost. A small book, full of practical advice, formatted like a daily devotional.

Timothy Ferriss (one of my favorite writers), says that his writing style is casual and relaxed, which reflects what he is like with his close friends after he has had a glass of wine. That word-picture has helped me refocus my writing when I find that I am being too stuffy and wordy.

Ferriss also wrote that he can do no more than 4 hours a day of good writing, the creative juices wear out. I have found that to be accurate.

I look for topics that don’t yet have a good book. I feel like there are a lot of copycat writers out there, which I can’t relate to. My question is always, “why would someone read my book?” My answer is always, “Because it is the only book of its kind.”


Are you considering publishing a book?

Here is the process for those that haven’t been through it.

  • You invest your blood, sweat and tears writing your heart out.
  • Then you nervously give it to publishers and hope to hear back.
  • Then a publisher responds and offers you a terrible initial contract.
  • You hopefully counteroffer and debate your royalty.
  • Finally a contract is signed and agreed on.
  • Lot’s of money leaves your bank account.
  • The publisher creates a cover for your book and finalizes the title.
  • Your book goes through its first edit and you get back a file filled with red ink.
  • Then you fix it.
  • Your book goes through the second edit/proofreader
  • Then the Paginator formats it so it looks like the beautiful inside of a book.
  • Finally about 6-12 months later your book goes to the printer and then is put out to the market.

This is an epic process.

If you have been through the publishing process a few times, then you get pretty good at working with the system.


Here is my advice.

Take care to write a good book. The publisher can only improve slightly what you have written. Don’t be in a rush.

Be confident to say no, but don’t be a jerk. The contract they send should be challenged. The cover samples they send should be challenged. The book title that they pick should be challenged. Nobody cares about your book more than you do.

Have your friends, family, facebook friends, etc; help you edit your book before you submit it to a publisher.

Take your time with getting feedback and editors to work on your book. This is invaluable.

A good editor will improve your book more than anything else. I highly recommend my friend and editor of several of my books, Amy Calkins, she does freelance work and is available for hire.

Also, get a great Foreword for your book and Endorsements are valuable. These two give you great credibility.

Don’t use vague chapter titles, there is nothing more annoying as a customer than trying to figure a book out when it has terrible chapter titles.


Think long term, and don’t be in a rush.

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