Our 27 May networking evening was packed full of interesting ideas. The evening started off with a request from Anna Molnar and Enara Parra, who are now in charge of the WBII Instagram account. They asked everyone to use #wbiinetworking when posting photos on IG.

Our network facilitator, Dymphna Elsink, let us know that the WBII board has found some wonderful speakers for next year and that a few spots are still open. If anyone has an idea for a great speaker, please let her know.

Next, Allyson Kukel, from Rooted in Calm, led us through a wonderful short meditation. She first explained that May is mental awareness month and told us that most people with mental health issues find it very difficult to ask for help. She told us about growing up with a mother with mental illnesses and how important it was for her to work with a professional to help her figure out her background. She has come to the conclusion that making space for calm is the answer and she hopes to help others find that same space. She then had us close our eyes and took us through a guided meditation about feeling calmness, comfort and our own confidence and intuition. We were encouraged to find our inner heroine! Being a meditator myself, I find that this kind of guided meditation, with a specific focus, can be very powerful, and Allyson was such a calm and clear guide. Thank you so much for creating some calm for us as we began our meeting, Allyson!

We then moved on to our main speaker of the evening, Jo Parfitt, who spoke to us about learning the basics of writing a book. Jo is from England and lived in the Netherlands for many years. She wrote her first book, French Tarts, at the age of 23 and hasn’t stopped writing books since. Jo has also helped more than 200 others to write books and has a clear and detailed template for how to do this. I really appreciated her clear presentation, with lots of stories that kept the information interesting.

Jo began by telling us to focus on the value of our communities. It’s the people we know that will make a difference in writing a book. She illustrated this beautifully by telling us that she had a few things she was looking for and asked for our help. Isn’t this a powerful way to begin a talk, by asking for our help?

Jo told us about writing her first book at age 23 when she was living in France. She took other people’s expertise and created a cookbook about French tarts, which she knew nothing about. Through others’ recipes and cooking skills, she became an expert on tarts. Since she didn’t have the knowledge herself, she ‘borrowed authority’.

Here are her seven steps to getting your book off the ground:

1. Who is it for? Identify your ideal reader. It’s easier to market and sell.

2. Why are you writing it? Identify your objectives. Are you writing to make money, to gain a reputation or to inspire?

3. Research it. Read other books in the same genre. You have to know what the competition is writing about, what they are selling and how you are different.

4. Plan it. Write a Table of Contents, a Chapter Road Map and a Style Sheet.

5. Start writing! Do a shitty first draft. Find out if it’s going to work.

6. Get Feedback. Ask your writing group, your focus group or an editor. Do not ask your mother or your best friend! You should be looking for feedback all the way through your process. Don’t wait until the end.

7. Fill in the Gaps. Find experts, case studies, sources, examples, information and research. Learn to write with spice – stories that really resonate. Reach out to your communities for help, in any way that you can. You can blog, join forums and organisations; all of these people can be helpful.

So, who is ready to start writing a book? There were a few people in the networking evening who had already started. I wonder what kind of help they are looking for? Jo, thank you for such a wonderful and informative presentation. Your stories really helped put your ideas across and I definitely learned a lot. I am not ready to write a book but have started to write blog posts on my website. I’m going to start reading more books and blogs on the subjects I write about to see what others are doing.

Nancy Mayer, Voice Teacher & Professional Singer
Nancy Mayer Voice Lessons