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Four Ways to Write a Book Without Actually Writing

Picture an author writing a book. What do you see? Someone sleep-deprived, head in hand, crumbled pieces of paper strewn across the floor at their feet? Someone flexing their fingers in front of a laptop, pad, and pen lined up alongside next to a steaming cup of coffee? Someone staring at a blank word document, hands twitching in the direction of their buzzing phone? These authors are out there, to be sure. But in the nonfiction and business spaces, these “traditional-looking” authors are growing fewer and farther between. They are being replaced by successful leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators adding a book to their already thriving brands or businesses. And most of the time, they are producing that book without becoming a tortured artist or picking up a Royal Classic Typewriter on Amazon (really!) to do so.

Here, discover four ways you can write a book today (or in the next few months) without ever sitting down to type a word.

1. Hire a Ghostwriter

If you think that working with a ghostwriter is only for people who don’t have the writing skills to draft an entire book, think again. The vast majority of the time, the authors who hire ghostwriters are doing so because they have a book inside of them that has the potential to help, support, or change the lives of huge swaths of people and they simply don’t have the time to write it themselves. So instead, they will hire and work with a ghostwriter, one of the many possible routes to a published book that Raab & Co can help facilitate.

If this is the route you choose to take, it typically involves having the ghostwriter interview you a number of times to extract the book from your brain. Then they will take that information and turn it into a cohesive and compelling written work. You will collaborate with the ghostwriter on edits and make sure the book is exactly when you want it to be before it goes to print (whether in actual paperback or e-book format). Once it is ready for print, the ghostwriter’s involvement in the project ends and it is up to you as the author to get it published and turn it into the book you envisioned from the start.

2. Repurpose Existing Content

Think about the content you already produce as part of your business. Do you write blog posts or white papers that you publish on your website, outlining the services you offer or explaining what makes your business special or valuable? Do you frequently post videos on YouTube, Instagram or TikTok so you can speak to your audience or customers directly? Do you host a podcast about your industry or your company’s niche within it? If you do any of these on a regular basis (or even an irregular one, depending on how in-depth you’re going), you’ve likely created enough content already that can be turned into a book.

It's important to note, however, that your existing content can function as a jumping-off point, a super detailed outline, or a string of vignettes that can become a book—not words that you will simply paste into a word document in chronological order and send to a publisher. Why? Because even if you do reuse existing content, which you can absolutely do, your book still needs to bring something new to the table—otherwise no one will want to read it, let alone pay money to do so. You still need to do the work of establishing a persuasive reason for the reader to pick up your book. Maybe it’s that you have a series of blogs you write that get hundreds or thousands more views than the other articles you’re posting, so you’re compiling them all together and adding some behind-the-scenes insight about why and how you created the series in the first place. Maybe your unique process or background for your industry has earned you thousands of followers on Instagram, so you’re collecting all the tips you’ve shared in your posts and videos and supplementing them with new information about your background and where your advice comes from. If you take your existing content, finesse it together, and add a connecting thread you may just have a bestseller on your hands.

3. Dictate and Work with an Editor

There are many different ways to think and write. Some people think or write chronologically, producing something that’s cohesive and thorough after their first go. Others think or write in snippets, jumping around from thought to thought and then going back and connecting them later. Still, others will begin at the spot they find the most interesting and build out in all directions from there.

While working with a ghostwriter can be helpful if your thoughts are truly a jumble of information, you may not need one if you feel like you have all the information already and you can see the form of your book in your head. In this case, you could try dictating your book to a recording or transcription app to get it all down on the page. Then from there, you can hire an editor (which Raab & Co can also help you out with) to clean up your “first draft” and offer suggestions on how to make it stronger. Depending on the thoroughness and form of your dictation, you may need to work with one or more different types of editors. A developmental editor, for example, would look at your book as a whole and make sure it works overall and answers the questions your readers want answered. If you’re working from a transcription of a dictation you will almost certainly need a copy editor, who will go through and make sure all your tenses match, your punctuation is correct and you’re not recalling a supposedly life-changing conversation in two completely different ways in chapters two and eight.

One very thorough round of revisions later (during which yes, you may be in front of your computer typing words) and you may just have a manuscript ready for the next phase. This likely means proofreading, a process that you can also hire a professional for, followed by submission, if you’re interested in pursuing a traditional publishing path, or self-publication.

4. Compile Interviews or Case Studies

There are certain types of books, like memoirs, humor, and some fiction, in which you can hear and feel the author’s unique voice on every page. But in many other genres, the author’s personal voice fades into the background, replaced by the thought leader, the doctor, the researcher, the teacher, the CEO, or in some cases, the voices of others. If the best way to tell the story of your business or your experience is by sharing the words and experiences of others, this is yet another way you can write a book.

Instead of being the interviewee, as you would be by working with a ghostwriter, you can become the interviewer, speaking with all the people around you whose voices come together to tell the story you are trying to tell, and then compile those interviews into a book (adding that same connective tissue you would if you were repurposing existing content). Likewise, if your business model or your product isn’t all that interesting to the average reader but the results it yields for your clients are the eye-popping part, consider utilizing case studies to demonstrate what sets your business apart. Especially with books related to business and technology, this is the most important part: the answer to the question “what is this going to do for me?” Case studies can illustrate this answer using specific, tangible, and relatable real-life examples, showing your readers (AKA potential future customers, clients, colleagues, or followers) exactly what makes you special and why they should stick around in your orbit to learn more.

The writer who arrives in their office with a mug of tea at 9 am and emerges at 3 pm having written 15,000 words is ideal, and while it may be a reality for some, most authors for whom writing is not their full-time job never achieve this vision of peak performance—nor do they have to. Writing a book is not, and really never should be, a solo endeavor. It takes a team of people working together, sometimes in a unique or creative way that doesn’t necessarily involve any writing at all, to produce a bestseller. 

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