As I announced yesterday, I’m pleased to host on my website Paul Lima’s Virtual Book Tour for his new book 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.
Luigi Benetton: When it comes to writing a book 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 until 30 days into the process. That’s because the book 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.
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. 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 and writing from outline point to outline point until a solid first draft results.
LB: Does this process work for full-time writers or could people with other jobs also complete a book in 60 days?
PL: Anyone can write a solid first draft in 60 days following the writing process, which is described in detail in the book. A professional writer might have to spend less time on a final edit or proof of the book; however, anyone can complete a well-organized, solid first draft in 60 days.
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. Ultimately, readers will decide if the idea was worth writing about. That’s why I also pose a number of questions in the book to help writers look at 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. 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: What are the top five tools or abilities writers need before they start this 60-day process?
PL: Again, writers need ideas and purpose. They need knowledge of the readers. And they need to make or take time. Finally, if they want to write efficiently and effectively, they need a book-writing process. I believe that following a proven process enables authors to write both more efficiently and more effectively.
LB: What costs do writers incur when writing books?
PL: It costs writers nothing but time to write books. Writers can, of course, spend money on research if they don’t possess the knowledge they need.
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: Do you recommend collaborating with others, such as editors, graphic designers, researchers and publishers?
PL: An editor can be an important part of the process. If you tackle a huge idea that needs extensive research, you might have to bring in research assistance. However, most of the people buying 60 Days are subject matter experts. If you self-publish or work with a print on demand company – there is a chapter in the book on this – you are responsible for the look of your book so it doesn’t hurt to have a graphic designer format the interior of your book and create your cover. Publishers, on the other hand, tend to do the final design.
LB: Can you apply the principles in your book to things like articles, film documentary scripts and other long-form non-fiction?
PL: While 60 Days focuses on writing books, it spells out a process that can be applied to articles, scripts and other long-form non-fiction such as research-intensive reports.
LB: How does writing a non-fiction book differ from writing fiction?
PL: It does not differ greatly from writing genre-specific fiction. However, when writing fiction you have to think about more elements such as setting and characters. But once you are ready to write, there are many similarities between fiction and non-fiction.
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: Once you’ve written the book, what do you do with it?
PL: That is up to the writer. Some writers look for agents or publishers. But these days, more and more writers use print on demand to self-publish their books, which they then sell online or at seminars or events. That’s why I include a chapter on self-publishing in 60 Days. Print on demand is radically changing the face of publishing, allowing more authors to address broad topics from a new perspective or niche topics that, in the past, could not find a broad enough audience to make traditional book publishing worthwhile. But that’s a topic for another interview.
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
Publisher: Five Rivers Chapmanry
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 http://www.luigibenetton.com/.