Writing a non fiction book in a weekend

This week I posed the question, can you write a non-fiction book in a weekend?

If you recall, I set myself a challenge based on some marketing that I had received that told me that I could indeed ‘write a book in a weekend’.

As a coach, I believed that this is an almost impossible task. Yes, I conceded, you may be able to write a 5000 to 7000 word book in a weekend. But would this be a book that you would rest your reputation on?

Regardless of my initial thoughts and some  self-limiting beliefs, I did set myself a challenge and I did succeed.

How did I write and publish a book in a weekend?

  1. I already had lots of content, which I knew I could re-purpose. This is content was from workshops, old books no longer on sale and blogs. Therefore it was well thumbed and edited.
  2. I know how to plan a book. I have all of the tools and know how, to make it easy to create both a Kindle and Print book. Though for this challenge, it was just about creating a Kindle book.
  3. I understand the process and dedication required.
  4. I designed my own cover (a big no no…)
  5. I had an idea about what this book could be about.

Chapter layoutSteps I took for writing a book in a weekend

  1. Mind mapped my idea.
  2. Pulled together relevant content and assessed the gaps.
  3. Created a document template and style sheet.
  4. Wrote up the outline.
  5. Populated the outline with content.
  6. Filled in the missing pieces – i.e. wrote what was needed.
  7. Edited the book.
  8. Checked the flow.
  9. Re edited the book.
  10. Re read, more edits and decided enough was enough, I was going crossed eyed.
  11. Slept on it – always good to have reflection time.
  12. Pulled together some worksheets for the readers, edited them and created a roadmap for the book idea.
  13. Re-read the book, made some changes to formatting and edited again.
  14. Compiled and read on my Kindle.
  15. Another edit.
  16. Bought an image from iStockphoto for the cover.
  17. Created the cover – it was a very simple design.
  18. Recompiled and re read on Kindle.
  19. Uploaded it to Kindle Direct Publishing.
  20. Waited for it to go live and then made a few minor changes.

On Monday

  1. Created an list and auto responder on Mailchimp.
  2. Created a sign-up and download page on this website.
  3. Finalised worksheets and uploaded to my website.
  4. Checked the book over on-line.
  5. Minor edits and re-uploaded.


This book, as you know was actually created as a result of years of work, from blogs, workshops and content from books already written. I had very little new writing to do. Even so, I spent most of my time in the planning, collating and editing phases, which is why I chose to ‘write’ a book called ‘Plan your non-fiction book in a weekend’.

Previously I have challenged myself to writing a book from scratch in a weekend. I did this by pre-planning the book carefully, sitting with Dragon Naturally Speaking and talking to my computer all weekend.

The result was, as are all first drafts are, pretty rubbish, but I did have content, which I later edited and had professionally proofed and edited. The final book took approximately 90 days (3 months).

What you can do over several weekends is:

  • Chunk your activities down.
  • Do an initial planning weekend – buy the book it will help.
  • Reflect.
  • Complete your plan the following weekend.
  • Armed with your writing plan, write, for example, 1000 – 2000 words per day to get a first draft of 30000 – 40000 words or write 5000 – 6000 words per weekend.
  • Leave for one week to reflect.
  • Start editing, assign each chapter 2 – 3 hours – you can break this up by doing one hour morning and evening. Ten chapters will take you approx. 10 – 15 days. Again you can assign this to your weekends. This should take approximately 2 to 3 weekends.
  • Leave for one week to reflect.
  • By now you will have appointed a cover designer, editor/proof-reader, formatter and someone to upload to Kindle – you can do some of these tasks yourself.
  • Do some final edits and pass onto your proofreader / editor.
  • Implement changes from editor – this is an iterative process.
  • Format. You may have done this upfront, so this will be minor changes.
  • Upload to Kindle Direct Publishing.
  • Review and make any changes.
  • Go live.

Staying on track

Writing a book is so much easier when you have a plan and know what you are doing. As a coach my role is to make all of what you have just read about easier and very simple. I am also here to motivate, mentor and support you.

Why do I take on challenges?

In reality, it is to test the theory and see if I can learn anything new to pass on to my clients. To make sure all of my processes are still robust and to check that all of the software, systems and technologies work the way in which I expect them too.

And finally

Going the distance as a writer and published author is not just about ticking boxes. Neither is it just about talent. It’s about nailing your theme, having passion, and about caring what you deliver to your readers. It’s also about resilience and perseverance. How exactly do you find the gumption to go the distance with your book? And assuming you have, who will support you in your journey?

Now back to the other book I am writing…

PS: Once I have gotten over the shock of my weekend marathon, there were many things that I would like to change about the book. The beauty of Kindle is that I can and it is again, very simple.

8 Replies to “Writing a non fiction book in a weekend”

  1. I love your clear, concise lists for your planning phases. Large tasks are so much easier done with good planning, especially if you intend to work quickly. I also like that you encourage people to reuse material. Sometimes we get so hung up on wanting to be “fresh” and “original” that we forget that we can put “fresh” and “original” touches on previous good material.

    Visiting you from Facebook UBC. Happy Wednesday!

    1. Thank you. I too think we forget how much knowledge, skill and experience we have all of the time. I get my clients to do a knowledge audit – what do you already have, what’s in your head and what is new content? It’s just about being well organised.

  2. Thanks for the great post Jacqui. I took a “Write a Book in a Weekend” course, and yes, I did (almost) complete my book in a weekend. But now perfectionism has set in and I really want to add a little more content. At least I was able to get the bulk of it written which I never would have done without the help and direction. I love your idea for your book, it really sounds like and looks like a wonderful tool to help authors get their books out of their head and on to paper!

    1. Well done and congratulations. Now you have done that big piece of work. Simply go back to a plan – mindmap your idea and pull the together with what you have and fill in the gaps.

    1. Think about how you like to dress – that’s a style. Think about how the inside and outside of a book might look – that’s it’s style. Different headings, fonts, bold etc. In word you can set up a style sheet which makes the interior formatting easier. Does that make sense?

  3. Well, there’s a reason I saw your post in UBC. I’ve done the “write your book in a weekend” course with another author. I still haven’t written my book in a weekend or in a month of weekends. I have the content. I’m consistent with my writing. (Thanks to 2 UBCs now…) I’ve made the committment to myself to get the first book written (or fill in the gaps), edited, and ready for self-publishing by the end of the year. I’m printing out your article and going to check out your book. I follow directions very, very well. 🙂

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