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How to Write an Astrology Book in 11 Weeks

write a book in 11 weeksI just finished writing a 400-page astrology book in eleven weeks. I did it without collaborators or ghost writers, and while I managed to recycle a limited amount of material from my archives, it didn’t amount to much. Still, I met my terrifyingly tight deadline on time, sanity more or less intact.  Here’s how to replicate my feat.

  1. If it’s a shorter book, you won’t even need 11 weeks. I turned in half my manuscript, nearly 200 pages, within five weeks of starting.
  2. CAVEAT: This should be a beginning level book, or a book on a topic you know inside and out, doesn’t need a lot of research, or that can be cobbled together from material you’ve already got on hand.
  3. You’ll need an understanding partner/spouse/family/cat. The creatures who share your home need to be on board with this, willing to pick up the domestic slack, tolerate your whining and temper tantrums, and able to go three months without spending any quality recreational time with you. If necessary, bribe them.
  4. Clear your schedule. No regular work. This also means no income, so you’ll need some savings, or an advance from a publisher. And actually, having the guarantee of an advance from a publisher is not the same as having a check in hand. It could take awhile to get that check; so, savings on hand (or a second income in the family) are essential.
  5. Clearing your schedule includes limiting time spent on email, social networking, and websurfing. Set a limit and stick to it. For me, this meant occasionally working in places with no internet access, like my awesome neighbor’s kick-ass back porch.
  6. Start with a fantastic, detailed outline. A piece of writing is like a human being: it needs a sturdy skeleton. Bone structure is everything.
  7. Organize your stuff. I started with a box full of file folders, one for each chapter. As I wrote, I printed out the pages and stuck them in the appropriate folder. If ideas for other chapters occurred to me, I jotted them down and tossed them in that file folder. When I started getting a lot of stuff in the folders, I transferred the pages  over to a big binder with index tabs. That made it easier to flip back and forth between chapters and write notes.
  8. I also set up a little meter on my blog to help me track my daily word count. That helped enormously, because I’m  super goal-driven and lived to watch that word count rise.
  9. Write. And write. And write. I worked on the book for about seven or eight hours a day, five or six days a week. If you run out of words after five hours, spend the rest of your time editing what you’ve already written.
  10. Writing is much more physical work than we tend to realize, so take care of yourself. Get sleep, and exercise. Writing is hard on the shoulders; get someone to massage them for you. Screw your diet; if you need food to keep you going, don’t be shy about snacking. This is a marathon, and you need your calories.
  11. This is the most important part, and the hardest: To meet a deadline as aggressive as this, you can’t afford to be a perfectionist. I’m someone who can spend three or four hours getting a 1,000 word essay just the way I want it. I didn’t have that luxury with this book. I had to write several thousand words a day, which didn’t leave much time for editing.  Some of this book doesn’t reflect my best writing, and that makes me sad, but I’ll have to live with it. Or, hopefully, fix it during editing.

The bottom line: It’s not easy to write any kind of book, let alone in 11 weeks. But I found, to my shock and surprise, that it can indeed be done!

Have you written a book? Any other tips to share?

9 comments to " How to Write an Astrology Book in 11 Weeks "

  • Why yes I have written a book, thank you! I did it in about 2 months or so, when it comes down to it. It was due May 1st and I dabbled here and there and outlined and just took my sweet old time until my editor said, so are you nearly done? And I said GASP! And then I did all that stuff you just said! hahaha.

  • Bookmarked. Saturn’s punching my ticket for the next couple years, so I have a feeling I’ll need to come back to this one.

    You are an amazing lady, lady! I’m really looking forward to reading this.

  • Congrats, Kent!

    This is great advice, even for novel writing and especially for the first draft. People typically spend way too long fiddling with that first draft, thinking that, when they’re done, the book’s done. Wrong! Finishing the first draft is the most important part. You’re going to hate large swaths of it because it’s Not Yet Right. But getting through to THE END requires everything that you numbered. Well done!

  • Brilliant April! I’m writing another book at the moment – well, to be precise I’m:-
    1) Researching for a new book that will need a ton of research
    2) Flicking back to an old book with several chapters already written that doesn’t need much research and therefore should have been finished by now grrr…
    3) Plotting a novel in my head
    4) Plotting another novel on paper
    5) Had another idea last night that I’m all excited about
    6) Oh, just had an idea for another novel and need to run away and write it down…
    *sigh* I really think I just need to take a leaf out of your book (no pun intended) and place my backside on the seat and finish one of them soon!
    Well done lady 🙂

  • Nice tips.

    I turned two series of blog posts into ebooks.

    The toughest part was the self-editing: tedious.

  • I am actually in the process of writing one hehe! While I do not have such a tight schedule (and so I can make it REALLY good hopefully), I think many of these steps are very useful in any case, especially a good outline – that helps me stay focused and not just ramble all over the place! Tricky without a printer though – perhaps I need multiple monitors 😉 I also like having my WordHustler account on that note (and I can explain that if you want)! 😉

  • Amy – Ha! Worst feeling ever; unbridled deadline panic!

    Shannon – I’m sure you would write a kick-ass book!

    Thanks, Maria! Sadly, my first draft was pretty much my only draft. A very uncomfortable feeling!

    And thanks, Leah! Wow, as someone who always has a hard time coming up with ideas of things to write about, I’m in awe! And yes, committing to something enough to sit down and write it is extremely hard. I pretty much have to have signed a contract to make that commitment.

    Michelle – Editing of your own work is just excruciating, I find. And here’s a good place for a shout-out to all the wonderful editors in the world! I’ve loved every one I’ve ever worked with.

    AarTiana – Awesome! And that reminds me I owe you an email. And yes, as long as WordHustler has nothing to do with the Guccione franchise, please tell all!

  • Congratulations, April, that’s awesome! I write for a living, so I know the “write and write and write” part and can second the organization and outline and, well, everything else (except the writing stuff you already know part, alas). But this is *your* own book and something you can be proud of accomplishing. Woo hoo!

  • Julie D

    Congrats, April!
    Excellent advice (which I should probably follow myself!)
    Can’t wait to see the completed tome!
    I’ll be lifting my glass to you tonight (as if I need an excuse!)
    Now you celebrate!
    I think I’ve used up my yearly supply of exclamation points!

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