Posts by Lari Bishop

Writing Prompt #8: Define Your Themes

While core message and promise clarify the main idea and purpose of the book, great books also present a handful of well-developed core themes that create cohesion throughout the book and connect topics to the core message. Read this post on the importance of clarifying themes and then do the following: 1. Review the work you’ve done on message and promise and pull out the themes that will act as through-lines for the book. 2.…

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Weak Theme Development: How to Solve a Common Writing Problem

If you are like many authors, early drafts of your book are—or will be—a bit kitchen-sinky, with too much of this and too much of that. Whether the issue is models, stories, or some other element, be prepared to make some hard decisions and do some trimming as you revise. One common problem I see in manuscripts is too many themes muddying up the message of the book. Of course, I also see the opposite…

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Writing Prompt #7: Start Outlining

You may be tempted to skip this step in the process. I encourage you not to. On the other hand, you may love outlines and lists. If that is the case, your challenge will be to stop outlining and start writing. Either way, read this post on different approaches to book outlines and then take it step by step: 1. Create an environment that is conducive to big-picture thinking about the book. For you, that might…

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Finding the Right Ghostwriter at the Right Price, Part 1: Experience

Experience. Quality. Speed. Fit. These are the four factors that should most influence your choice of ghostwriter. They also happen to be factors that typically influence the fee you will pay. Let’s talk about fees first. Because each of these elements covers a dramatic range (ie, from no experience to vast experience), so can ghostwriting fees. I’ve seen ghostwriters charge their clients $10,000 and I’ve seen ghostwriters charge their clients $175,000. To me, both of…

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Writing Prompt #6: Your Publishing Path

What does your publishing path have to do with your writing process? A lot. Most important, if you plan to try to publish your book traditionally, you’ll need to develop a strong query letter to send to agents and work on a formal book proposal. If you plan to self publish, neither of these writing steps is necessary, although the underlying work of the proposal is still necessary to produce a good book. See Writing…

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Four Methods for Creating an Outline That Works for You

For some authors, outlining sucks. Do it anyway. Your outline is the life preserver that will keep you from drowning in the middle of your manuscript. There are a few authors out there who will tell you that they never outlined their books before they wrote them. Great. They are the Steve Jobses of the writing world. Almost every other nonfiction writer needs an outline. Why? 1. Because you need one as part of a…

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Writing Prompt #5: Message and Promise Redux

Why all this work on message, promise, and differentiation? If these foundations are weak, the entire book will be weak—unfocused, not engaging or memorable, and unmarketable. Continue with Writing Prompt #3 on message, promise, and differentiation. 1. Based on your research into competitive titles (see Writing Prompt #4), refine your message and promise to improve or reflect your book’s differentiation in the market. 2. Test your message and promise on some people who could realistically be…

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Do You Need a Ghostwriter? A Three Question Quiz

To write or not to write. For the authors I coach, writing can be a conundrum. They really want to write a book, but it is never their full-time job. They try to squeeze it in between running a company, running a family, running a marathon, running an investment fund, running a city or a state . . . Sometimes it works out. Other times it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, we find ourselves a year or…

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Writing Prompt #4: Competitive Titles

If you want readers to pick up your book rather than somebody else’s, you need to be able to communicate how your book is better suited to their needs. Understand and build on your market differentiation. That’s a businessy phrase, but you need to get comfortable with it, because agents and editors are hungry for it. To make sure your book is marketable, do your research. 1. First, read this post on genres and identify your genre.…

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Four Questions to Help Your Book Stand Out from the Crowd

Do you know whether your book is marketable? Do you know what it means for it to be marketable? People have to be willing to put money down to access the content. So, one important aspect of marketability is competitive title analysis: Are there already other books on the market that offer the same content in the same way? Unless your book is based on entirely new research into a new area of science or exploration, you…

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