Four Ways We’re All Writing Books Without Even Realizing It

KnowledgeYou know that cliché, the one about everybody having a story to tell? Well, it’s true. There’s a book lurking somewhere inside everyone. In today’s digital world, a book can be fewer than 1,000 words or as long as your imagination wants. The evolution of the book business to include such developments as Amazon Singles and self-publishing makes it easier than ever to become a published author.

Here are four reasons why everyone who knows how to use a keyboard could write a book right now.

1. Most of us are doing it anyway. Not writing a book, specifically. But we’re writing. Instead of commenting on a cat video or a photo of your friend’s pretty salad, or live-tweeting the Oscars, the World Series or your kids’ soccer game, channel that writing energy into a book. Wired magazine reports that globally, the human race composes 3.6 trillion words every day on email and social media — the equivalent of 36 million books. By comparison, the entire United States Library of Congress holds an estimated 23 million books. What that means is if you regularly blog about the environmental impact of pesticides, aggregate that content, add a little more research and flow in some transitions. You may just wind up with a book. If you write movie reviews on Twitter, compile all of them and publish a short but oh-so-clever e-book.


2. If Justin Helpern can write a bestselling book about the ridiculous things his father tells him (Sh*t My Dad Says), then surely there must be moments in your life around which you can build a narrative. Did your family move around a lot when you were a kid? Each chapter could be about your adventures in a new city. Have you spent 30 years in the same job and consider yourself an expert in your field? Share your knowledge and become an authority on the topic.

3. If you’re already an established writer but never quite had the gumption to tackle a book project, take a closer look at your existing body of work. Compile all those interviews with progressive-metal bands into a collection and sell it to loyal fans, or expand a series of articles you wrote about the obesity rate in rural elementary schools. Niche markets are much easier to break into these days, simply because of the ease with which email and social media can help target potential readers.

4. Keep in mind that you don’t need to write a true story. That’s why so many first-time authors write a coming-of-age novel instead of a history of the Empire of Japan between 1868 and 1912. When it doubt, just make it up.

Sure, all this takes time, plus you’ll need a professional proofreader and editor to avoid being skewered by reviewers. But if you’re serious about writing a book, the effort will be worth it.