Considering writing a book? YOU have a unique story to tell (non-fiction or fiction!). Why not share…what are you waiting for?
For me, the decision to write a book struck like a lightning bolt. Pen hit paper while in the hammock between surf sessions—the words began tumbling out and didn’t stop. The writing process was a gift: cathartic and desperately needed for that time in my life. Clicking into the “writing zone” sparked waves of inspiration; new ideas would pop into my head unexpectedly— while sipping coffee (or tequila!), running, watching the sunset, even in the middle of the night—I felt so ALIVE.
Has your pen hit paper yet? Have you tasted writer’s bliss? Perhaps your writing process has been a gradual/mindful journey over the years, or maybe you thrive on ah-ha moments and all-nighters…
Regardless of your approach, breaking down the massive project of writing a book into bite sized chunks makes all the difference. I certainly wish I’d had some guidance before getting started—I was completely clueless! Below is my reflection on what turned out to be a 3 year process that included 12 practical steps: from my original book idea to finding a publisher.
1) Outline. You have a great idea. Now what? Remember in high-school when you had to write an outline before writing an essay. Same concept. Writing an outline for your book is an invaluable tool—a road map to guide your thoughts along. My outline began as 10 bullet points. These evolved into my chapters. Keep adding to your outline as ideas pop up.
2) Writing coach. If you’re serious about making progress, a writing coach will make it happen. Think accountability, edits and guidance wherever you need it. Find someone you have good chemistry with. I contacted a family friend (a publisher author and experienced writing coach). We reviewed my outline, chatted about my vision for the book and she happily took me on a client. The simple act of paying her made me take my writing much more seriously. I sent her my chapters/progress monthly, she reviewed/edited, then we scheduled a phone session. I couldn’t have accomplished all that I did without her support. You can check out my awesome writing coach, Herta Feely at www.chrysaliseditorial.com
3) Goals. Why are you writing this book? Is it for personal therapy, friends/family or are you aiming for the best seller list? Having clarity around your personal goals will bring your one step closer to achieving them. Where your intention goes your energy flows.
4) Writing time priority. When will you write? I’m a morning writer. My ideal routine: wake up, write for an hour, go for a run, write for two more hours. If I can get those morning hours I make a ton of progress. What’s your ideal writing regime? Make it a priority! If you don’t write, you’re never going to have a book to share :).
5) Swallow your ego. The first time I submitted a chapter to my writing coach she basically told me “nice try, try again.” I felt like I’d been slapped. I’d spent weeks working on that first attempt. BUT, though my ego and confidence were bruised, I tried again, and again, and again. I think I re-wrote that chapter 5 different times. Be ready: you won’t get it right on the first try and there will be plenty of criticism coming your way. It comes with the territory as a writer (and as Wildpreneur!) so you might as well get used it. Plus, if your mind is open your writing surely will benefit.
6) Style. By the time I’d written my 8th chapter I finally found my style and flow. Sure took a while! BUT it was well worth the effort and the wait. Be patient, keep writing, tweaking, and infusing your personality into your writing. Your unique style will emerge and you’ll be grateful you didn’t settle early on.
7) Manuscript, now what? At some point you’ll have made enough progress on your manuscript (it doesn’t have to be complete) to think about the next step. Do you want to use an agent? You’ll need an agent to submit to big/traditional publisher. Or do you prefer small independent publishers that you can submit to directly? Or maybe the self-publishing route is a better fit for you and your audience? All are great options with pros and cons worth considering (I’ll save that for another blog post).
8) Proposal. If you’re self publishing no need to read this part (skip to #10). If you’re going a more traditional route DO NOT rush this step. I made the mistake of thinking I could write my proposal in a few weeks. Wrong! Polishing and making my proposal worthy of submission took nearly a year. To get started, check out this book: A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Book Proposals & Query Letters. Take note, the most important part of your proposal: the first few pages! If your overview isn’t clear, concise and attention grabbing you’ll miss your chance.
9) Submissions. Pay close attention to the submission guidelines on publishers websites. Don’t waste your time submitting everyone and everyone. Seek out the publishers that are the best fit for your genre and your personal values. For example, for Wildpreneurs, I submitted to publishers that were calling for business, entrepreneurship, and adventure. I also searched for publishers with holistic, environmental, sustainable and family based approaches that aligned with my book and personality. If you’re submitting directly to small publishers (without an agent), I recommend getting on this newsletter: https://writingtipsoasis.com/. They send out a newsletter regularly with very specific calls for submissions from diverse publishers/imprints. This is how I eventually found my awesome publisher, HarperCollinsLeadership.
10) PATIENCE & Perseverance. As you wait, keep tweaking your manuscript, proposal, marketing platform, audience, blog, website etc. There is plenty to do (you will likely wish you had done more while you were waiting!). As with life as a Wildpreneur, you MUST persevere. Keep on submitting and moving forward—don’t give up!
11) Success! There is no right way. Enjoy the journey and you’ll find success. Eventually, if you believe in yourself, you will hold your book in your hands.