an author writing in his book

How to Write a Book Without Writing: A Guide

Many people aspire to produce a book. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, business or sports-related, or possibly a memoir of lifelong experiences, our world is full of people with fantastic story concepts. This article will help answer the question, “How do I write a book without writing?”

However, not everyone has the ability, time, or passion for writing the entire thing themselves. Here are a few ways to write a book without writing.

Does Every Author Actually Write: The Truth


It seems the world is full of writers. Have you ever wandered through a bookstore or library filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of books and felt as if half of the world’s population had authored at least one published manuscript? 

There are many talented tens of thousands writers worldwide. John Grisham, Stephen King, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, and J.K. Rowling rake in millions annually and are incredibly talented writers who produce their own work. However, these and other top writers are the exceptions.

Would it surprise you to learn that not every best-selling author physically wrote their own book? Some writers verbally record their thoughts, have the audio file transcribed, then allow another ghost writer to formalize the manuscript. There are different methods to publish a book without hitting a keystroke.

Many A-list celebrities routinely make the New York Times Bestseller list. Actors Will Smith and Matthew McConaughey produced nonfiction books that ended in 2021 on the NYT bestseller list for Hardcover Nonfiction. Maybe you’re wondering when Smith and McConaughy made time to write a 70,000-plus word manuscript between acting gigs and promotional tours. 

McConaughy wrote his 90,000-plus word doc book, “Greenlights,” spending 52 days in the desert with no electricity. However, Smith enlisted the help of the bestselling author Mark Manson to pen his 124,000-plus page memoir, “Will,”

While McConaughy and Smith physically wrote all or some of their manuscript, other A-list celebrities and business leaders never held a pen or touched a keyboard. Other stars do little more than meet with a ghost writer for a few hours. 

Suppose you have a story to share and aren’t inclined to write. In that case, other options include having audio and video files transcribed into a written format, hiring a ghost writer, or co-writing with others. 

Transcribing Recorded Audio Files

Perhaps the simplest and most time-effective way to write a book involves a transcription service. There are plenty of authors that prefer dictating their thoughts rather than writing or typing them. 

Dan Brown, the bestselling author of The DeVinci Code, dictates much of his manuscript. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Brown recalls having his mother transcribe a story he dictated to her at age five. Thankfully, the transcription process has moved beyond handwriting a child’s musing.

How Transcription Works

transcribing to write a book without writing

Professional transcription services transcribe audio and video files for all types of companies, organizations, freelancers, and individuals. However, not all transcription companies are equal in their ability to transcribe files accurately. Before we examine the differences, let’s examine how the transcription process works for writers.

Some inferior transcription services that tout low rates use inexperienced transcriptionists to transfer audio documents to a written format. With technological advancements, some transcription companies incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs designed to transcribe files.

While the future and use of AI platforms offer promise, current transcription algorithms don’t provide the accuracy of the human transcription. Authors understand that words matter! Understanding the construction of a word, phrase, or sentence is imperative. In most cases, AI software often can’t capture the writer’s true intent accurately. 

How To Write A Book: An Ultimate Guide For Newbies

If using a transcription service is an option for composing your manuscript, find a qualified transcription provider with a U.S.-based service that only employs experienced and professional transcriptionists.

Transcription equipment

Authors can use various recording devices to record audio files. Voice recording phone apps are available, and most are free.

Voice Memos is an app included in iOS, so it’s an easy option for Apple iPhone users. The Voice Memo app is available on Macs and iPads, so your recording will easily sync with an iCloud account.

For users of the Google Pixel Phone, there’s the built-in Recorder app. The app isn’t available for Android users (and certainly not for Apple users since they prohibit competitive third-party apps). However, a Recorder web app allows users to access recordings from any computer.

Audio Recorder works on Android devices and is a free app. Several other apps work on the three primary mobile phone operating systems. One of the best is Voice Recorder & Audio Editor. The app is only available for iOS, but for a $5 upgrade, you can access automatic transcription, audio trimming, and the option to add notes. 

Writers desiring a more professional recording method can use a desktop mixer such as the Rode RodeCasterPro.Explicitly designed for podcasters, the device sells for $595. You’ll also need a microphone, cable, and micro SD card. Here’s a recording tip: purchase a high-quality, dynamic mic. Microphones impact recording quality. Investing in a quality mic is a wise and worthwhile investment.

Once your audio file is complete, you can submit the file to the transcription company. Most file formats are accepted. You may want to compress the file and use a service like WeTransfer to download and send the file. 

However, before sending, contacting the transcription company is a good idea to find exactly what you’ll need. Do you want verbatim (transcribing every word and sound) or non-verbatim transcription? For manuscript purposes, verbatim is best. Also, you’ll want to confirm pricing, turnaround time, and what type of transcriptionist will transcribe your file. Only one transcriptionist should handle your file so they can get a feel for your style.

Hire a Ghostwriter

write book

Many people and organizations that publish manuscripts retain the services of a professional ghost writer. As the term implies, ghostwriters may remain anonymous. Other times professional writers are known, with their names appearing alongside the primary author. 

Former journalist J.R. Moehringer transitioned from actual writing for major newspapers to ghostwriting several books for high-profile celebrities, including Andre Agassi, Nike Founder Phil Knight, and Prince Harry. And you won’t find his name on the cover. A ghostwriter’s name may appear on the cover or inside the book’s jacket, “written with” the author’s name depending on the cover designer.

The Benefits of a Qualified Ghostwriter

Hiring a qualified ghostwriter is one surefire way to avoid writing yourself. 

Companies like Leaders Press specialize in ghostwriting services for entrepreneurs and business leaders. The long process begins by exploring your first book strategy and how your published manuscript might be positioned in the marketplace. 

Authors who have a large platform or following have an advantage. However, just because you don’t have a seven-figure following, it’s still possible to build a successful platform to launch a well-written book.

Next, either the ghostwriter or a published professional will assist and advise you on how to structure the outline and table of contents. The book’s title and cover design are also vital. After you develop a roadmap or plan for the book, your ghostwriter will begin a series of interviews. 

A ghostwriter’s job can be challenging. After all, they must do their best to assume your personality and style. Being wholly upfront and candid with a ghostwriter is imperative. Like a physician or attorney, a ghostwriter needs to know EVERYTHING you know about the subject matter. A ghostwriter’s job is to construct and massage the right important message you want to convey. 

When the ghostwriter feels they have enough information, they will begin in depth writing. When you hire ghostwriters, some ghostwriters temporarily relocate near their subjects to easily access information and discuss edits. Others sit down at their desk and focus on getting started writing. Memoirs can take six months or more to write. Writing times vary considerably. Complex issues may take longer, whereas e-books and shorter manuscripts may take less time.

Once the ghostwriter completes some or all of the manuscript, you will review the material and provide feedback regarding changes or edits you believe are needed. After completing the revision and corrections, the ghostwriter will submit it for final editing.

Editors and the editing process are vital components when producing any manuscript. However, qualified editors understand how a potential reader will view the manuscript. An editor’s role is to recommend changes to the copy, as well as the prose (the writing style and structure of words, phrases that build sentences and paragraphs) and overall style.

Don’t be discouraged when an editor or editorial team returns the first draft with lots of red markings. Great editors can assist even the best writers in creating a well-written manuscript worthy of any bookshelf. 

You must be wondering, how much do ghostwriters charge? There’s no easy way to answer this question. Similar to any profession, top ghostwriters can command mid-six to seven figures. However, finding quality ghostwriters or ghostwriting services that are affordable and bring value to your book project is possible.  

Co-Write With Another Writer(s)

For inexperienced or first-time writers, the thought of physically writing a detailed manuscript can overwhelm even the most experienced business professional. 

Writing isn’t simply a matter of connecting words, sentences, and paragraphs. Compiling your thoughts concisely and appealingly requires skill, experience, and time. Great writers not only love to write, but they also love to read and devour other books, articles, and ideas with gusto.

Yet the idea of co-writing with one or more other individuals may not appear so daunting.

Let’s say that you are a CEO of a startup technology company and regularly meet with 11 other executives from similar companies to exchange leadership ideas. Throughout your discussions, your group identified ten essential qualities of running a successful startup.

Here’s an idea. The group can assign each person to write a chapter, the forward, and a concluding chapter between the dozen participants. If each chapter is about 3,000 words long, that 36,000-word ebook idea is now more appealing.

Okay, let’s say the group thinks your idea of co-writing a book is terrific. In many ways, writing a book is similar to starting a company. For example, you’ll need to prepare an outline and compile your ideas. How will the chapters be titled? What is the book’s title? Since you’re writing an ebook, which platform will you use? What editor or editing firm will you choose?

There’s much to consider, so let’s take a few steps back. It probably makes sense to hire a professional editor to help organize everyone. Remember when you were in kindergarten or elementary school and learned to share and play well with others? Those same lessons will most definitely apply when co-writing with others. 

Tips for Co-Writing With Others That You Should Know

write books

First and foremost, everyone needs to check their ego at the door. Whether it’s a group of hard-charging and successful CEOs or neighborhood moms compiling a cookbook or a family member, everyone needs to open themselves to other ideas and concepts. 

Each co-writer will bring unique ideas to the table. Which chapter will be first, and how will chapter titles be assigned? A professional editor or book publishing service can prove invaluable when working through these and other details. 

Along with your professional editor, each co-author should edit each other’s work. A word of caution here: be patient, kind, and constructive. What works for other co-writers may not be something you would endorse. Be open to the ideas of others. If one or more disagree over something, defer to your editor or consulting service. It’s okay to fight for what you want, but pick your battles and don’t spend too much time and energy on minor details.

Finally, have fun. That’s right, enjoy the process of compiling your ideas and writing your portion of the manuscript. There is a lot that goes into co-writing with others. Stay focused and remember that your objective, in this case, is to demonstrate successful leadership skills to others. Make sure you follow your own and your fellow co-writers’ advice. 

Have Your Video Files Transcribed

Today, many professional speakers, social media influencers, and individuals with instructional YouTube channels may already have engaging material to transfer to a book. 

Sales and customer service training experts are one example. Let’s say that you’ve recorded several videos speaking to various companies and organizations. It’s possible to compile an outline and have the audio portion of your video files transcribed into a written format. 

If you’re not inclined or don’t have the time to dedicate to this project, then a co-writer or a ghostwriter can write additional copy around your transcribed video files. 

In the last decade, people from all walks of life have found success in creating YouTube Channels. One example involves a small-town mechanic who instructs others how to make simple automotive repairs. He records short, high-quality video clips to save consumers time and money about the most common and straightforward auto issues.

Now the idea of writing a book, “25 Simple Auto Repairs Everyone Can Do,” doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Working with a premium book-writing and publication service, “how-to” pros can potentially transfer their video success into a published book. 

Successful social media influencers could follow a similar model. Cooking shows and food blogs have also exploded in the last two decades. Cookbooks and large-format “coffee table books” are popular with traditional publishing houses. Similar books have found success through self-publishing channels, as well.

Produce a Podcast For Better Results

Today, one of the fastest-growing media platforms is podcasting, a remarkably new medium. In 2004, Guardian journalist Ben Hammersly first coined the term “podcasting” when writing about combining radio and blogging. 

Former MTV video jockey Adam Curry, and Dave Winer, a software developer, coded a program they called iPodder. The new concept enabled the pair to download internet radio broadcasts to their iPods. The medium took off, and in 2006, Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs demonstrated how the company’s music editing software, Garage Band, could be used to make and edit podcasts. 

According to the most recent statistics from Edison Research Infinite Dial, there are over 2,000,000 podcasts with around 48 million episodes. Approximately 75% of the U.S. population is familiar with the term, and about 50% of households contain podcast fans.

We could talk about podcast statistics for hours, but suffice it to say that the industry is experiencing tremendous growth today. 

Before diving into the podcasting arena, let’s compare podcasts to audiobooks(originally called “books on tape”). It’s pretty standard for authors and book publishing companies to produce an audiobook simultaneously or soon after the printed version is released.

Like our discussion about writing a book without actually writing, some people prefer listening to books rather than reading. Maybe it’s a time factor or because some people struggle to read complex material. Regardless of the reason, audiobooks remain popular.

The author sometimes records audiobooks. However, professional voice actors record the majority of audiobooks. Reading from a script or printed material concisely and professionally takes much skill and practice.

Depending on the book’s length, an audio version can take hours to complete and are expensive to produce. That’s one reason why audiobooks can cost more than ebooks or printed copies.

Podcasts are typically recorded in a series of shorter episodes, ranging from a few minutes up to two or three hours, depending on the format. While it costs to purchase an audiobook, most podcast episodes are free. However, some podcasts operate on a subscription basis.

Why should you consider podcasting as an alternative to writing? 

writing a book

There are two primary ways podcasting may be an option over producing a printed book. 

For starters, individuals with a fiction or nonfiction manuscript could share their stories verbally through a podcast. But keep this in mind. Someone still needs to write a script or prepare and organize an outline. 

Podcast listeners expect quality own content. Therefore, if the audio quality isn’t high-quality, listeners will hit the “Stop” button and move on.

Because podcasts are relatively easy to record and publish, it’s an excellent way to position your material in the marketplace. Let’s discuss the basics of recording and publishing a podcast:

Organize your episodes by chapters. Listeners may find exploring chapters in small chunks easier to digest than audiobooks. 

Design Cover Art. Similar to album covers, your podcast cover allows listeners of the title and subject of the podcast.

Find a podcast hosting platform to publish your episodes. There are several out there, and Libsyn is one of the best. (Tip: Avoid “free” hosting platforms. You always get what you pay for). Podcast host websites host your episodes and distribute them to podcasting streaming platforms of your choice. Apple remains the top podcast platform, followed by Spotify, Google, Stitcher, iHeart, etc.

Use high-quality equipment to record a podcast. The Rode RodeCaster Pro referenced earlier in this article remains an excellent choice. Using a USB microphone with a laptop or desktop computer is another option. 

Hire a competent audio engineer. Would you listen to a poorly recorded song? No, so why would anyone listen to a poor-quality podcast episode? Audio engineers can also apply background music to all or part of your episodes for enhanced appeal, depending on your budget. However, be mindful of music copyright restrictions. 

If the podcasting process seems as overwhelming as writing an entire book, plenty of podcast companies will streamline the process for you.

How a Podcast Can Compliment Book Sales

You may think that distributing your manuscript through a podcast might give up book sales revenue. One author developed a brilliant concept that could work for some writers.

After completing the manuscript, the author recorded individual episodes for each chapter and published all episodes simultaneously. When the printed book was published a few weeks later, the author deleted or unpublished the last half of the podcast episodes and used the initial episodes as a teaser and promotional tool to encourage book sales. 

What’s Stopping You From Publishing Your Book

There are several effective strategies for how to write a novel without writing. 

Many professionals are available, including companies that quickly walk you through the publishing process. If you have an idea for a book, decide which of these methods is best for you and take action today.

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