Subject: How to write your first book fast - interview with Donna Kozik

We all have a "how to" book inside us. The trick is to get it out on paper.

The pro in this matter is Donna Kozik, who helped hundreds of authors write a non-fiction book.

I was so impressed by her effective methods that I convinced her to coach us.

We're in luck because she will be teaching her 5 Secrets to Write a Book in a Weekend on Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 12PM Eastern.

I will be Donna's student, so if you have any questions you want to ask her, email them to me :)
And now, let's pick Donna's mind :)

Why do you write?

I can't imagine NOT writing. It's been part of my life ever since I could hold a pencil. When I was seven years old I overheard my mom talking to my grandmother and raving about a little book I wrote (The Autobiography of Donna Kozik by Donna Kozik—a whole 8 pages long), and I was hooked. 

How long have you been writing?

After that little book my writing took a more professional turn. After college, I became a newspaper editor for my hometown weekly for six years. That’s where I learned to write fast and well, whether it was a feature article about the annual homecoming parade or a news story covering school board happenings. Then I did six years at a Fortune 1000 insurance company as a communications specialist. I refined my writing skills by overseeing the production of a few internal and external magazines and writing the marketing part of our annual reports. I learned a great deal about graphic design from the people I worked with in that department, which has come in handy when designing book covers and other things associated with my online business. 

How long have you been in the self-publishing business?

After moving cross-country from Pennsylvania to California in 2001, I collected all the things I learned along the way and co-wrote 29 Days to a Smooth Move: A Household Moving Manual with my best friend. We wanted it to be an eBook, but the information lent itself more to a physical book. Things were different then—very few, if any, print-on-demand options were available. I remember we spent an evening going through responses and paperback samples we received after putting out a request for proposals from printing companies. Far from the life of checking out a few websites and then uploading a file to have printed and sent to my door, like I do now!

Is writing/publishing your full-time job? If not, what is?

You could say so. I write and publish a fair amount to grow my online business and promote my programs. I mostly show aspiring authors how to write and publish their own books to use as a "big business card." Like most writers, I find there never seems be enough time to write! (Why is that?)

What is your daily work schedule?

I grew up on a dairy farm so getting up early is in my blood. Most days I write 300 words before getting distracted by email. I schedule coaching calls on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, as well as Friday mornings and keep Mondays and Wednesdays blocked of for my time to write and create. I teach one of my "Write a Book in a Weekend" or other weekend programs at least once a month, so weekends aren’t relaxing but rather a time to go to work. And I love it!

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten (or read)?

"Plagiarize yourself!" my favorite writing professor, Dr. Donnelly, proclaimed while balancing his overly tall frame backwards on a student desk imparting wisdom on my sophomore Advanced Writing class. I learned so much from him about taking a concept and growing and deepening it through a paragraph and then a chapter and then a book. So many writers think they have to "write new" every day, but the real trick is to never tire of your messages or themes and keep coming at them through different angles and taking them to deeper levels. That keeps your writing from becoming superficial and boring. 

What is the best marketing advice you’ve ever gotten (or read)?

"Take action now, perfect later!" says Adam Urbanski, my marketing mentor. My first “Write a Book in a Weekend” virtual event really happened because of this directive. I had no clue what I was doing or if it would work.

Now, after I've conducted 52 weekends over seven years, I can't say it's "perfect." But I can say thousands of people now know how to write a book fast and easy, and over 200 of my students are authors themselves. If I waited until everything was perfected before I began, well, I'd still be waiting. And I doubt many of those authors would have a book done.

What has been your best marketing decision so far?

To write my own book as a "big business card." It's embarrassing to admit, but I actually didn't have one despite "preaching it" for several months to my audience. A mastermind buddy of mine called me out at an event we were at—one with more than 200 attendees. He leaned over and whispered in my ear, "There's no reason why every person in this room shouldn't have a copy of your book." The next time I saw him, I handed him a signed copy. 

What has been your worst decision as a writer and how did you bounce back?

After releasing 29 Days to a Smooth Move, my co-author and I jumped right into writing a second book, which was a huge mistake. It took all our energy off of promoting 29 Days. We'd have been better off putting a few months or even a year or two promoting that first book before doing a second. Never really bounced back from that one—just learned a good lesson! 

You help thousands of authors. What is it that you do for authors?

With "Write a Book in a Weekend," I show aspiring non-fiction authors how to write a book fast and easy and use it as a marketing tool or "big business card." Most of all, I help them realize the dream of being an author.

Please tell us about your unique program.

It's a live virtual event (no travel necessary) where I take the book writing process and "chunk it up" for authors so they can get a book done in as little as two days. By the way, this isn't War and Peace you're writing in a weekend, rather what I call a "short and powerful book," one I describe as "modest in content yet meaningful in message." I give participants a choice of four structures and even a fill-in-the-pages template they can upload to a number of sites so their book is in hand a few days later.
Can you share some best practices?

Here's my go-to list of tips: 
1. Don't overcomplicate things. 
2. Don't overthink things. 
3. Write every day. 
4. Good is good enough. 
5. Coffee begets inspiration. ;-) 

Do you think of yourself as an author or as an entrepreneur?

Definitely an entrepreneur. Every author should. Writing is fun, but thinking like an entrepreneur gives you more opportunity to tap into your creativity and get your message or story in the hands of more people. 

What have been the key factors to your success?

1. Paying attention to what problems aspiring authors faced. 
2. Offering the best solution I could for those problems. 
3. Embracing the role of being a leader to my audience. 
4. Trying, trying, trying and then trying again—"quit" is not in my vocabulary. 
5. Focusing on one thing (Write a Book in a Weekend) in the beginning instead of diluting my offerings.

What do you think traditional publishers should learn from self-publishers?

That personality is a good thing. Everyone doesn't have to be the same to be successful.  

What should self-publishers learn from traditional publishers?

So much! Traditional publishers may move a little slower than I'd like, but they do a proven structure of getting books out and a way of creating buzz about those books that works. Self-publishers can learn a lot from modeling part of this process for themselves.  

What do you think the publishing landscape will look like in 5 years?

I think it will become even faster from idea to book-in-hand, especially among self-publishers. I see the technical process of layout and design becoming even more "do it yourself" friendly so you don't have to involve designers and cover artists. That means your work can get out even faster and easier. 

Please share some words of encouragement to authors who are still struggling.

Think of your favorite author. They weren't born that way. At a particular moment in their lives they made the DECISION to follow their dream and write a book. And then another. And then another. And those book manuscripts might still be sitting on their computer or in a desk drawer. But then they wrote another one—and maybe that was the one that put them on the map. Or they persevered in finding representation or in their promotion. No one is born a best-selling author. They make it happen. The good news is that you have been given the same initial tools as your favorite author: paper and pen or computer and keyboard. You can achieve success. By the way, it might not look the same as your favorite author’s success, but instead will be your unique version of it. I find this really exciting!

Thank you, Donna!

Remember, Donna will be teaching her 5 Secrets to Write a Book in a Weekend on Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 12PM Eastern.

Sign up here:

And if you have any questions for Donna, email them to me and I'll try to squeeze them in :)

To your success!

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