16 Things I learned from writing my first book.
I recently published my first book (Available on Amazon)I have wanted to write and publish a book for quite sometime, but starting tomorrow always seemed much more convenient than starting today.
And then tomorrow came.
And then another one.
Eventually I knew I had to try something drastic if I really wanted results. So I made an announcement:
“My new book is set to be released August of 2015!”
I shared this in an email to everyone I knew. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.
It was now out there. The only problem was that it was March of 2015, and I hadn’t written a single word yet.
On Thursday, September 2nd, 2015, Amazon published my first book. I missed my self imposed deadline by a couple days. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
1. To achieve something big, accountability is crucial. I announced my new book to everyone I knew. They didn’t know that I hadn’t started, and to be honest, were pretty busy with their own things to even notice. But being the narcissistic person that I am, I felt that I couldn’t let everyone down. They were expecting a published book by August of 2015 and it was up to me to deliver it!
2. Writing a book is hard. I have been writing for as long as I can remember. In fact, I always wrote ‘too much’ when it came to school assignments growing up. I would just get carried away and a 3 page paper would turn into 10. Teachers didn’t like to grade 7 extra pages. (Did I mention I didn’t do too well in school?)But nothing compares to writing an entire book. You tell yourself “I need a beginning, middle and an end.”
And then you start writing and realize every chapter needs a beginning, middle and and end. And then you write your introduction and it needs a beginning middle and an end.
And then you read everything you have written and none of it makes any sense.
3. Doing much of anything, including writing a book, with a newborn child at home is really difficult!
4. Finding an impartial and 3rd-party editor/proof reader is a MUST. It doesn’t matter what you tell yourself when you give a rough draft edition to a friend or family member because you WILL get defensive when they give you edits or advice. Better to outsource this to a professional, and then listen to what they have to say.
5. Write every damn day. I was given this advice when I started by more than one author and I thought it was good advice. And then I went one day without writing and then another. By the time day 3 rolled around and I got back to it, I might as well have started over from the beginning! The mental hurdle of getting back into the rhythm and also trying to pick up my train of thought was much too daunting. Even if its just a little bit, write every day.
6. Don’t tell anyone what your book is about until you are finished. All it takes is one small comment from a friend, family member, or even a stranger, all of whom are most likely not your target audience anyway, and you will feel deflated. Writing against your own self-doubt is challenging enough, so don’t add anyone else’s to the process.
7. Delegate the parts you suck at. If you want to write a book, then just focus on the writing. I delegated my cover design to 99Designs.com and have a kick ass cover. I decided to do the e-book formatting myself and now my formatting sucks.If you want your book to look like a real book, focus on the writing and delegate the rest. (www.elance.com , www.freelancer.com , www.fiverr.com , www.99designs.com are all great resources to find exactly what you need for items like editing, proof reading, cover design, formatting and more)
8. Give yourself a deadline. If you don’t, then tomorrow will always seem much better than today. But in the end, do remember that it is your own self imposed deadline. I grew very depressed when August came and went and I didn’t feel that I was anywhere close to having a completed version prepared. But in hindsight, if I didn’t create this deadline in the first place then I most likely would still be trying to finish it now!
9. Write in Rythm. Try and write the same time every day, and also write every day. Rhythm is great, and even if you are just writing a little bit one day and a lot another day, the pattern and habit you are creating is crucial to completion.
10. Be Passionate. You must really enjoy what it is you are writing about, or else you will quit or your eventual reader will wish that you had.
11. Provide as much value as you possible can in the least amount of words possible. In our Twitter and Facebook age, its really hard to finish an entire book. This is also because the traditional book is too often 100 pages too long! In order to justify the costs of cutting down the tree and publishing a bunch of books for $19.99, the publisher feels a book should be a minimum of 250 pages.Even if the book should only be 100 pages, or maybe even less!
Don’t feel that you have to fill up pages, instead just focus on providing a lot of value in as few pages as possible.
12. Read up on other authors in your field. Whatever you are writing about or whatever you style is, research other authors that have done similar books that you are attempting. By understanding that they also struggled with the process but eventually produced a good piece of work will encourage you to stay on point.
13. Only take advice about your book from people that have written a book. I have found that the people who have achieved the least usually have the most advice to give me. Be cautious.
14. Know your audience and decide early on if this is a book for you or for a specific audience. Then write your book accordingly and continue to remind yourself of your answer.
15. Don’t worry about trying to sell 100,000 copies. Instead focus on trying to sell 1000 copies. By targeting a smaller niche, your book can specify its theme to a smaller audience, thus providing a closer connection with your readers. This will provide you with the opportunity to write more books with a built-in fanbase. And if you try and please everyone you won’t please anyone.
16. Good today is better than perfect tomorrow. It will be really hard to finally submit your book for publishing. There is always one more edit you need to make or one more read-through. If you focus on providing a ton of value, then its easier to submit to the fact that your book will never be perfect. Publish it and move on to the next one. Besides, you can always publish a revised edition a year from now!
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