There are many resources on this site to help you to write your book from scratch. That means research, writing, proofing and editing yourself. Let’s consider other ways of getting the content on the page in front of you.
1. Use what you already have
Hidden on your hard drive are copious notes, presentations, dissertations, exercises, workshop notes, seminars, manuals, handbooks, etc, that you’ve used in the past. Breathe life into them and see what work you have already done. There may even be a series of books lurking there.
CASE STUDY: Mexican on a… was something I’d played about with and created in 2006. I found it on a cold Saturday morning in January 2013 and by the following Thursday the book was physically in my hands.
Just 10 hours of work went into taking it from a scrappy Word document to the finished book. I’d forgotten about it until I did a tidy up of an external hard drive.
2. Outsource the research
You can get someone else to do your research for you, and you write up their findings.
CASE STUDY: In order to complete Phobia Treatments Revealed – 20 Ways to Treat a Phobia I paid for research to be done on some of the methods of phobia treatment. I had someone track down the sources of information I wanted, and to summarise the techniques. I then checked the information and re-wrote it in my style. This got the job done faster, saving me many hours of research.
3. Use a ghost writer
Pay someone else to write it for you. There are a lot of books (notably by celebrities) which were never written by them at all, or perhaps only partially. Not everyone is good with writing, so this might be the solution.
CASE STUDY: I have ghost-written one book for which I received no credit, and have contributed towards several titles both publicly, and anonymously. Not everyone enjoys writing, so this is a way of getting lots of words on the page without having to start from scratch, and a ghost writer will do that for you.
4. Use PLR (Private Label Rights)
You can buy articles, or even whole books, that you can then claim as your own. The original author has released all copyright and is freely giving you permission to use the content as-is.
I don’t recommend using text unchanged, in fact I won’t publish anything that is solely PLR content. It has to be re-written and augmented. There’s no value to the world in just repeating what someone else has already said – the value comes in adding your voice to it.
There is a lot of PLR sloshing around the internet, and most of it is drivel. I’ve spent (read wasted) hundreds of pounds on content over the years, and most of it ends up in the Trash folder.
I do have a fair amount stored for future publication. When used correctly, PLR allows you to write books very, very quickly. It’s only ever a starting-point. It’s unlikely that more than 15% will ever survive without re-writing.
CASE STUDY: Just One Thing was written around a PLR book on time management. However, only 10% of the original words survived in the finished book. What PLR does is give you words to edit instead of a blank page. I cut huge swathes of text because it annoyed me with its inaccuracy. I also edited most of it in my own voice, instead of the pigeon-English it was originally written in. It took me the equivalent of three working days (24 hours) to complete the book.
5. Buy content
If your intended work is of a pictorial nature, do you have to take the photos, or draw the illustrations yourself? You could simply purchase the images and write your story around them (consider how this might work if you want to write children’s stories, for example, but can’t illustrate them yourself). Please note that I’m not suggesting you claim ownership of the creation of the images – you are merely the curator of the work – bringing items together and making a new sense of them.
CASE STUDY: Wordcatcher released a colouring-in book from artwork purchased with full copyright. Each book take 2-3 hours to produce.
6. Repurpose work in the public domain
Not everything that is in the public domain is also free of copyright. However, there are many works that you are free to use as you like. Understanding how Public Domain works can allow you to take the storylines of the classics, and rework them, without any fear of litigation.
CASE STUDY: Wordcatcher has re-published out of print poetry books by British and American poets that weren’t available in print with anyone else. This brings literature to a new audience.
Not fair! That’s cheating!
Really, let’s have a little think about this shall we? Answer the following and see if you still think it’s cheating:
- Name a completely original idea that was not based on any previous technology, idea or thought
- Disney are a pretty well-known maker of films. Who wrote the original stories of Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast?
- How many versions have there been of Robin Hood (in either print, TV, animated or live-action films)?
- The same goes for Sherlock Holmes.
- Penguin Classics – discuss.