By Adia Randall

ATLANTA — Writing a book, even for a full-time writer, may seem like a daunting task.

Kent Babb and Bob Ryan, with moderator Mike Harris, discussed their steps, things to know and gave advice in the “How To Write The Book” workshop at the 2019 APSE Summer Convention on Tuesday.

Babb wrote “Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson” and is currently working on another book; Ryan has written 13 books and has one editing credit; and Harris is the author of “Game of My Life, Virginia Tech Hokies.” 

Ryan started with an anecdote about how, as a young sports writer, he got the idea to write his first book. He said the idea came from an editor who read his story on minor league baseball and thought there was not a lot of information out on the topic.  

Babb explained how he uses the same tactics to gather information for a book that he would for a daily story.

“I found it very helpful to look at the book as a story,” Babb said. “I just sort of see it exploded into pieces. In this case each chapter would be a section. So in other words, I saw this not as one big massive 100,000 word project but I think it was 25 chapters so I was like OK, this is just 25 long form stories.”

Aside from finishing the project, the reporting is Babb’s favorite part of writing a book while Ryan says he enjoys the writing much more than reporting.

They both agree that their least favorite part is having to balance working a full-time job. Ryan wrote his first 12 books while he was working and understands how difficult it is to work around your schedule. He now knows what it is like to not have to work full time and says the experience is completely different.

“[My last book] is the only book that I have written in retirement and I was able to write on my schedule,” Ryan said. “You get up, you have breakfast, you write, you have lunch, you write. Wow, this is easy compared to the other way.”

The authors agree that writing a book is a tough process, but once they see the finished product, it is all worth it.

“I made a decision that this is going to be a sacrifice,” Babb said. “I’m going to miss cool stuff at home. But, it’s an amazing feeling when the box of books comes to your door. To know people are reading your stuff, paying for your stuff, that’s insane.”

The panelists offered advice to anyone thinking about writing a book.

Harris suggested hiring an editor who knows your topic well. Babb urged assembling a team of people you can trust. Ryan’s words of wisdom?

“Don’t beat yourself up unnecessarily about content and specific things,” Ryan said. “Only you know what’s not in there.”


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