I’m going to tell you how not to write a book.
On the heels of the release of my first book, Online Success: 7 Steps to a Powerful Internet Presence, I’m reflecting on the process. I’m not only self published, I’m self everything. Self layout in InDesign, self cover design, self author photo (my very best selfie) with editing by my husband. A friend with an extensive publishing background graciously volunteered to make some tweaks to the layout (thanks, Kellee – you’re getting a free book!), but the only entity I’ve paid is the printer.
Since I have written and produced this book on my own, I’ve made more than a few mistakes. In fact, I think I’ve invented mistakes that have never before been made. I hope others can learn the easy way what I had to learn the hard way.
This is the first in a series of posts about how not to write a book.
If You Want to Write a Book, Start a Book
Can you imagine building a house and halfway through the project you decide you want a barn instead? Or vice versa?
I know. Nope.
That’s what I did with my book.
I built the right foundation — wrote an outline, researched the topics I hoped to cover, gathered references, and fleshed out the outline.
Except I started writing an online course instead of a book. The idea for the book came only when I friend asked what I had been doing, to which I replied, “writing an online course.” He thought that was a great idea, but suggested that, for my audience, a physical book might be a good idea as well.
After some consideration, I decided I agreed with my friend, opened my writing software and pasted everything I had written for the course into a new file. This is great, I’m I thinking to myself, I’m darned close to having a book written. Then I printed it and handed a copy to my husband, Jim, to review.
It was not great. I don’t know how much red ink Jim used, but I wish we’d bought stock in an ink factory before he started. My hard lesson was how different it is to write for the spoken word than to write for the printed page. Although my writing style is casual and conversational, this content did not read well in print.
If i had it to do over, I’d start the book from scratch and use the course content as a guideline for what I want to cover. It took much longer to de-course-ify my writing that it would have to write it from scratch.
Funny thing is, since I finished the book, I’ve started working on the online course and the reverse is true as well. So now I’ll have to de-book-ify for my course.
Oh, cool, you say, you’ve almost got the course written, right? Wrong. Yes, some of what I wrote will work, but the material has changed so much that it’s really back to the drawing board.
Which is where I should have started in the first place. Don’t be like me. If you want to write a book, start a book.