If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I recently wrote a book (Write.Publish.Market. launched YESTERDAY, as a matter of fact.) Since we all love “behind the scenes” peeks into other entrepreneurs’ lives, I thought it would be fun to recap the launch, from the start. This week’s post covers the writing part of the book, and next week I’ll talk about the launch itself.
Because I was self-publishing Write.Publish.Market., I got to select the launch date, and I selected November 1st. I wanted it to be early enough so that it wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle during the holiday season but late enough that I had time to get everything done properly. I knew the majority of the writing would be over the summer, because the book needed to be in my editor’s hands by Labor Day. When I work with writing coaching clients, I advise them to create a research schedule and writing schedule, so I followed my own advice. My plan was to brain dump my table of contents in early June, research the three phases of the book (writing, self-publishing, and book marketing) for the balance of June, and write in July and August. My best writing sessions (which I know, because I write every day and track the sessions) cap at about 1,000 words, so my schedule included almost all 1,000-word sessions, with some 2,000-word sessions as summer wore on.
I walk the talk when it comes to brain dumping. (You can read about the process here.) I spent a couple days narrowing the focus of the brain dump, picking out particular ideas and then doing micro brain dumps of those. By the time I was finished, the brain dump papers were a hot mess — but I could see the book taking shape, which is EXACTLY what you want out of this process. Brain dump: CHECK.
The research phase went fairly smoothly. I took my brain dumps and organized them into what would become the table of contents. I then decided which areas needed research to supplement what I’d be writing: where interviews would be helpful, where statistics would be important to include, and so on.
I know there are, generally speaking, two schools of thought regarding productivity: eat the frog (i.e., do the biggest/hardest thing on the schedule) first, or start small and gain momentum. For this process, I decided to start easy and gain momentum: The research for the writing phase of the book was done, for the most part, because I offer a course called Book Prep Bootcamp that’s all about getting yourself ready to write a book: idea generation, developing the structure, conducting and organizing research, and so forth. So it was more a matter of determining what information made the most sense to include in the book rather than hard-core research. My knowledge about self-publishing was extensive but secondhand. I work with publishing clients every day, guiding them through the process, but I had never done it firsthand. (Now I know why they drag their heels about some parts of the process!) And the final section of the book, however, was the opposite of the first: I had NO in-depth information in any coherent format about book marketing since I’d never conducted a true book launch of my own before. I set up a schedule of what I’d research each day so that I didn’t end up down the Twitter or Google rabbit hole. Some days it was a topic, some days it was a hashtag, some days it was a particular expert in a topic. I know lots of authors who don’t enjoy researching and pass it off on a VA, but I happen to love it. After two and a half weeks, my research was complete and I was ready to start writing. Everything was moving along just as I’d planned. Research: CHECK.
Okay, time to start writing. I blocked off the days in July and August that I knew would be unavailable for writing, for whatever reason: family days, an annual volunteer commitment in mid-July, etc. As we all know, life happens and our well-crafted plans are disrupted. That was the case for me this summer. Long story short, my nephew visiting from California unexpectedly spent two weeks at my house smack in the middle of my writing schedule because my mom, his grandmother, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. My mind was all over the place, but I worked when I could and wrote when I could — and thanked my lucky stars every day that I had left some wiggle room in my schedule, because I sure needed it! The MOST helpful part of that time was that my brain dump was thorough and well constructed, so I had, essentially, an annotated outline to work from each day as I wrote.
The writing itself went as one might expect: There were good days and there were not-so-good days. On the latter, you just have to dust yourself off and try again the next day. That’s what revising is for! I’m a big believer in “Just keep swimming,” and that applies to writing, too. I kept going even when the writing was lousy rather than spending an entire writing session trying to craft one perfect paragraph or section. Momentum is so important when writing a book due to the sheer number of words you’re working with. Writing a book is hard, particularly when you’re running a business and dealing with regular, everyday life, let alone when something extraordinary is happening. I doubled-down when I needed to and got the manuscript finished, though. Writing: CHECK.
I tell my clients daily that the longer they can take away from the manuscript, the better. when it comes to revision. Our eyes play tricks on us and read what we THINK we wrote, rather than what we actually did write. This seems to happen more frequently when we’re looking at text we’ve looked at repeatedly. I scheduled editing to begin just after Labor Day, and I had a conference scheduled during the the final week of August. I was able, then, to take several days away from the text, which allowed me to return to it with fresh eyes for the self-editing and revising processes. I know that’s not always possible, but it really is so important and makes SUCH a difference. Revising: CHECK.
The next month of the process consisted of me working on marketing and publishing tasks while the manuscript was being edited and, then, formatted.
Stay tuned!. Next week I’ll pick up here and talk about launch preparation and launch week. In the meantime, if you’d like to snag a copy of Write.Publish.Market., you can do so here. I would love to hear what you think.