Advice For First-Time Book Authors, From a First-Time Author

My first un curso de milagros, The Greatness Gap, was published recently. Since then, I have gotten dozens of emails and phone calls from people asking how I did it, and did it so quickly. You see, I’m not a “writer” solely by trade; I’m a full-time Chief Marketer and Executive who happens to do a lot of writing in the confines of my full-time job. I still was able to write my 200-page book, outside of my job, in 35 days. However, being a published author was always one of those aspirational sorts of things for me and I’m sure for a lot of people. If you’re thinking about writing a book, or using a book as a foundation for a business, perhaps you can take some insight from what I learned along the way. I should also note that I do plan on writing more books in the future based on my experience this first time around.

My easiest answer to this is that you would be absolutely shocked at how much time one has when they strip out all the distractions. I would say the biggest thing, if you’re married or have a family, is that you need 100% support and buy-in from your spouse. In my case, my wife was absolutely supportive of my efforts and very involved in the entire process, and so if I disappeared for 2 or 3 hours on a weekend, she knew why. In fact, my wife was my first editor and she read and reviewed the book at least 5 times before anyone else saw the first draft, so she was as much a “part of” my book as me. Beyond having immense support at home, I literally tried to use every single minute of the day outside of my job to write.

This made it easy to focus very distinctly on my work when I needed to, and then on my book when I needed to. I never was focused on the other while I was doing one. Weekends, late nights, and early mornings were the prime times for me. If you figure that most people in full-time jobs work anywhere from 7-10 hours a day, that leaves (in my case) 14 hours. Some of that is sleep, some of that is down-time or doing other hobbies, but if you take a few hours off your sleep schedule and back-burner other hobbies, you absolutely can write the book without letting work or family obligations go to pieces. In fact, I continued to achieve at the same high level at my job while writing the book, and no one at work even knew I wrote it until I was finished. That’s how “church and state” I made it.

Ah, yes. The question of how I wrote 200 book pages in 35 days. First, let me say that the book is legitimately good, and has been positively reviewed by several independent sources, so it isn’t like I just wrote 200 pages but the book was bad. I’ve already covered the importance of support at home and time management. But the actual writing is a different story. For me, I was immensely passionate about the contents of my book. Therefore, I would have a lot of stream of consciousness thoughts related to what I wanted to say in the book. I basically would write (type) everything down as it came to me. I think that’s important. I wasn’t trying to write a masterpiece, perfectly formatted and grammatically correct, from the start.

I basically just started typing anything and everything that came to mind, figuring it would be easier to go back later and delete things rather than risk writer’s block. That’s my biggest piece of advice: when you’re writing a book, just write and keep writing even if you’re not sure how the contents eventually might fit into the book. I found that was the difference; some author’s over-think the writing as they’re writing. I wanted to write without over-thinking, and leave the thinking for when I was done writing down the rough contents. One thing that made it easier, too, was that the book was semi-autobiographical – so I didn’t need to do a ton of research, I was able to speak from experience and my background.

There are a lot of self-publishing options out there for authors, and the barriers to entry today are much lower than they used to be. I chose not to self-publish and signed an agreement with my publisher, Advantage Media Group. In my case, I had a business relationship already established with the fine folks at Advantage. But even if I hadn’t had that, you would be surprised what a little networking can do. Ask people you know, email other authors of books you enjoy and are in the same genre, ask relatives, ask book reviewers. There are a lot of resources out there to help you find a publisher that is a good fit for you. Once you do, a great publisher who is truly your partner is invaluable. Yes, they will take a portion of the revenues from your book, but they provide a lot of services that frankly I wouldn’t have had the time or know-how to do myself; everything from the review and editing process all the way to getting the book on shelves and in stores, and actually promoted and talked about. Plus, with the right publisher, if the book is a priority for them (and it should be), you can usually get through the process in a few months. Yes, once you’re done with the manuscript, you can be holding your physical book in a couple months.

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