He was a designer then he wrote a book and he became a legend… that could be your story!
Actually, it is the story of Alan Fletcher And his wonderful book called The Art of Looking Sideways. It is the story of Peter Saville and his book Designed. And (in a less iconic example) it is the story of me and my book The Photoshop Crash Course.
It can also be your story.
Writing a book is probably the most tested and proven method for gaining a little extra income and recognition.
And, the good thing is, you don’t have to be a writer to write a book. Everyone who has something to share, who has something to say, can write a saleable book.
People of all professions have written successful books, doctors, lawyers, politicians and designers.
“But I can’t write, I’ve never written.” This is the response I get when I suggest someone to write books. If you have similar doubts, don’t worry. By the end of this article, you’ll realize that you already have the ability to write a book. Here’s a list of contents for this article.
Table of Contents
Book Writing vs Ebook Writing
I got this comic in my twitter feed.
Published books and Ebooks (which are mostly given away as free) usually have very different set of objectives. Hard books are supposed to have eternal life, or something close to that. They need to be researched accordingly and they need to be written accordingly.
Hard books keep on giving you money for years to come buy.
Ebooks have different story. Their objective is usually smaller. For instance, in my case, I only wanted to offer a premium learning resource on my website and ebook seemed the most logical choice.
After that ebook, my site got over a hundred high quality linkbacks and over 10,000 people signed up for Designzzz Newsletter.
The results surprised me. It took me no more than 2 months to write, design and launch that ebook. Total cost was exactly $ 0.00/-
- Saleable books require loads of research and homework. Ebooks that you give for free do not require such effort.
- Ebooks can be short. Mine’s just about 60 pages. Took 2 months to complete. Cost me 0.00/-
- Even though you are likely to give your ebook for free, it doesn’t mean you won’t get anything in return.
One more thing…
Ebooks are also sold. Many green-goers do not buy hard bound books at all.
But the ebooks that are sold require exactly the same homework that a hard bound book requires, that why I’m considering all saleable books in the same category of hard books / published books.
Can Designers Write?
Designers understand communication better than people in most professions. This is why designers have an advantage in writing. Communication comes naturally.
On top of that, designers have the unfair advantage of making their book look gorgeous. Designers know it all about typography and layouts, and everything else visual. This advantage is one of the prime reasons why designers should think about writing a book.
But I can’t write…
Well, neither could I. In fact, I don’t think I still can.
When I write these posts or a even a book, I don’t take it as if I’m writing (that would just make me nervous), I take it as if I’m speaking a friend of mine. I’m explaining something to him. That’s it.
If you are starting with a free ebook, you can just follow my formula.
Why Should Anyone Write a Book?
Image courtesy of Daniel Sandoval, Creative Commons
It’s the cheapest way to build a passive income stream. You just need a notepad(.exe) and a pen (or as it is called these days, keyboard). So it doesn’t cost you anything extra.
You have already read many books, you exactly know what they are, how they are read and who reads them. If you try to generate a passive income stream from any other method, you will have to learn some things but books don’t need you to learn anything.
You work on equal grounds. For instance, if you try to create a video course, then you need to have excellent production quality to compete with giants such as Lynda, and that costs a lot. But in books, you are almost on equal grounds with everyone else.
You learn to use the right words at the right time. This helps (and I mean really helps) in business dealings and personal life as well. Writing greatly enhances your communication skills and it really polishes your design skills as well.
What Makes a Successful Book
Cover of my book: Adobe Photoshop Crash Course
The thing that really makes a book an instant hit is sharing the dirty secrets about anything. That could be an industry, a profession, an organization or even a person.
All the whistle blowers get instant recognition because they share these secrets.
In our case, our secrets can be how some of us cheat, how business and corporates cheat us… basically, everything dark that has to do with our industry. If you think you know something dark of design industry, I can guarantee you that your book will be an instant hit.
This can be an extension of dirty secrets. If the secrets are not too dirty, then they can be considered in experience sharing.
Experience sharing is one of the oldest ways of making your book a hit. Newcomers love to the words of people who’ve been there and done it.
Find a new angle to an old story. That’s one of the oldest tricks in that writers deploy in order to target the same customer. They give their book a new angle. Let me give you an example.
Here at Designzzz, we wanted to create a niche of our own. We realized that there loads of blogs focusing on the skills of web designing and some of them were doing a really good job. How should we find our place in this fiercely competitive market? We created a niche of our own.
We focus on enabling designers to earn more with the same skillset they already have. We show them ways through which they can earn more. We share our personal experiences as well.
This is almost a must-have element. If you make it complicated, it doesn’t matter how wise your words are… no one will bat an eye on our book.
Make it sound simple, that’s the key to all books with technical topics. All great writers, all great leaders, all great designers have this quality of making things simple.
Combine simplicity, uniqueness and experience sharing in one document and you get a successful book, add some dirty secrets and you get a bestseller.
Now we are talking about the stuff that’s not as important as the four factors above.
Being able to write expressive and flowery language is something that is an added advantage if you wanna write a book. However, it is not an essential. Especially in our case when our topic is likely to be a technical one.
Still, it won’t hurt to read a thing or two about writing beautiful language.
Stay logical and stay consistent. That’s all. That’s all there is to coherence.
Don’t switch between subjects. Don’t discuss multiple topics in one paragraph. Don’t create too lengthy paragraphs. Don’t create too long sentences.
Use small words, small sentences and small paragraphs. That’s the golden rule for creating coherence. It also adds to simplicity.
This really goes without saying that if you don’t answer a question that your reader may have then you have failed as a writer.
The good thing is that in ebooks, you can take feedback and keep adding the answers and keep updating the editions.
My Suggestion to You
I suggest you must try writing an ebook at least because there is absolutely nothing to lose. At worse, it won’t sell, people won’t download it… then what?
But if it pays, it pays really well.
Besides, we designers have an unfair advantage over everyone else, which is that we can make our books visually appealing without paying anyone.
Since you are likely to choose a technical topic, I suggest you write it in reference book style, which means that anyone can pick and start reading from anywhere. Just like your F1 help.
Make sure you have a new angle, you have a clear demographic in mind, and you have something to say. I assure you, an ebook will bring you loads of good. It will market your blog (if you have a blog). It works as a networking tool. It makes great positive changes in your character as you learn to be more expressive, more understanding.
And if you wanna write a book that gets published, then you need to conduct a good amount of research. And you will need services of a specialist writer to edit your book. You can find such writers on online freelance marketplaces such as the ones we mentioned above. I’d still suggest that you should start with a free ebook.