Q&A with the author of How to Write a Non-fiction Book in 60 Days
Freelance writer Luigi Benetton sat down with Paul Lima, author of How to Write a Non-fiction Book in 60 Days, to ask what it takes to actually write a book in 60 days, and who might best follow the 60-day process. (This blog post may be posted in its entirety on other blogs or reprinted in other websites.)
Luigi Benetton: When it comes to writing a non-fiction book, or perhaps a PhD thesis, in 60 days, what task takes up the lion’s share of the 60 days?
Paul Lima: Many people are surprised that they don’t actually start “writing” their book or thesis until 30 days into the process. That’s because How to Write a Non-fiction Book in 60 Days is divided into two main sections: exercises to help you create a detailed, chapter-by-chapter outline of your book, and a method to help you write from outline point to outline point until you complete a solid first draft of your book. Of course, there are other goodies in the book – such as how to focus on what your reader needs, and for neophyte writers there is a chapter on constructing sentences and paragraphs.
LB: How much time do writers actually spend writing?
PL: That’s an interesting question. You see, I believe writing is a process and that planning and outlining is an integral part of the process, so technically, they spend the 60 days engaged in the writing process. However, the last 30 days are spent in what we might call conventional writing – constructing sentences and paragraphs. But trying to do that without planning and outlining is very difficult. Following the process in the book means you don’t start writing with a blank page; you start writing once you have every point you need to make on the screen before you, in the order you want to make the points.
LB: What hurdles do writers commonly face when starting a book?
PL: Writers do not spend enough time thinking about and organizing what they want to write, which is part of the writing process. Instead, they start with a blank page and start writing madly. It’s like they try to sprint a marathon instead of training to run one in a well-paced manner. Imagine completing your research on a major topic, or perhaps a PhD thesis, and then starting to write with nothing but a blank screen in front of you. That’s intimidating. Or imagine starting to write with nothing but notes on a box full of recipe cards. That’s confusing. The 60 Days book is a combination of training and pacing that helps writers address this hurdle, chiefly by dividing the writing process into creating a detailed outline before writing from outline point to outline point until you produce a solid, organized first draft of your book or thesis.
LB: How do you know if you have something worth writing a book about?
PL: Early on in the book, I ask this question: What does it take to write a book in 60 days? The answer, in part, is: it takes an idea and it takes purpose. Writers need to bring their ideas and the reasons for their ideas to the process. Presumably, if you have done the research required to write a book or thesis, or if you are a subject matter expert, you have the idea. What you need to do is organize your thoughts, including thoughts about what the reader needs to know, before you start to write. That’s why I pose a number of questions in the book to help writers look at their ideas from the perspective of potential readers.
LB: Speaking of the reader, who is your book aimed at?
PL: Consultants, public speakers and workshop and seminar leaders are buying it because they want to turn their knowledge into books and generate a second stream of income or build credibility by publishing to help them sell their services. University professors who need to publish have found the book useful too, and PhD students are using the book to help them produce doctoral theses. In addition, many people with knowledge of specific topics related to health, business, technology, environmental, political and other matters are finding 60 Days helpful.
LB: How good a writer must one be to write an entire book?
PL: I strongly believe that every writer needs an editor. No matter how good a writer you are, you can get so close to your work that you don’t see the little mistakes. I include a chapter on constructing sentences and paragraphs to help neophyte and less experienced writers. At the same time, if you follow the process and create a detailed outline of each chapter – 60 Days shows you how to do this – your writing will automatically be better than if you tried to fill a blank page off the top of your head.
LB: How much must you know about the subject before starting the 60-day process?
PL: I am up front about that in the book: the 60 days does not include research. For instance, if you want to write a book about rocket science and you are not a rocket scientist, you will have to do a lot of research before you start the 60-day process.
LB: How long a book could a writer reasonably expect to complete in 60 days?
PL: I’ve based the 60 days on writing a book of about 30 chapters or about 50,000 words. It might take you more or less than 60 days to write your book based on the number of chapters and number of words you are going to produce. However, all writers need sexy titles for their books – even me. Somehow, How to Write a Non-fiction Book in About 60 Working Days, More or Less, Depending on How Many Chapters and Words You Produce just didn’t cut it.
LB: How can one find out more about you and your books?
PL: The book is available in both print and eBook formats through all major online retailers. You can find links to retailers and more information my books online at www.paullima.com/books.
How to Write a Non-fiction Book in 60 Days
Trade Paperback 6 x 9; 128 pages
$US14.95 (paperback); $US9.95 (e-book)
Author: Paul Lima
Luigi Benetton is a Toronto-based freelance technology writer with his own book proposal in the works. He primarily serves information technology companies and has recently written the special report Top Ten Myths That Sink Case Studies – And How To Avoid Them. You can contact Luigi via www.LuigiBenetton.com.
(This blog post may be posted in its entirety on other blogs or reprinted in other websites.)