In the weeks before my first book is published I wanted to share the process with you step by step. Both for posterity and in case you’re planning to write a book in the future. Part 1 was decision making and writing and Part 2 today is focused on traditional vs. self publishing, the editing process and my team.
After spending most of November pounding out words during National Novel Writing Month and ending with 50,000 words the real challenge began. How would I take this mess of words and ideas and thoughts and turn it into the finished product?
It always freaks me out a little that everything I’ve read is just different combinations of the same 26 letters.
When it comes to writing a book for publication there’s an important choice between “traditional” books and self-published books and there are pros and cons to each.
My reasons for choosing self-publishing were simple:
- I wanted complete creative control
- I didn’t want to wait months or years for publication
- Most publishers are looking for writers with larger audiences
- I didn’t want to agree to a bunch of contractual items like websites and promotions
- My schedule can’t fit in a lot of media appearances right now
- I wanted to push some buttons and boundaries to speak about the things the industry is, by and large, ignoring
Lots of people, including several clients of mine are working on traditional publishing deals and that’s great but since it’s not a “sure thing” for success and comes with a lot of restrictions, I was more than happy to self-publish this one.
Which reminds me, I’m not just writing one book; once I got started I had so much to share that it only made sense to break it up into volumes, 4 in total which will be coming out in the months to come.
This first book is all about our relationships as entrepreneurs. Some are regular relationships like creating boundaries with your team, dealing with people on Facebook and fun topics like discovering your superpower, your relationship with responsibility and dealing with tragic situations while running a business.
Editing the book took place largely in January and I feel like I needed 4 weeks off after doing the bulk of the writing in order to let it all settle. Trying to write and edit simultaneously never really works for me, it’s like rowing a boat while painting it.
During the editing process I did a lot of moving around. Chapters were renamed, entire sections were cut, every chapter was reorganized into sections and there was a lot of rewriting.
One of my favorite tricks when editing any type of writing, I always read the chapter out loud and edit as I go. This is the only way I’ve found to ensure the language sounds like me and is natural speech.
Having a deadline for the first draft was essential otherwise I am sure that I would still be working on this volume in the same way that without a due date in college I would still have unfinished projects to turn in.
In early January I spent a spare day on the road, working on the book in my hotel room where I intentionally disconnected from the internet to focus on the manuscript. Being locked away was great and with my printed copy, a plethora of colored pens and a giant post it note on the wall for organizing my thoughts I got a lot done in 24 hours.
But most of my time with the book editing process was slogging through it at home, reading and re-reading until it felt right and natural.
On January 23rd I passed off the first draft to my fantastic editor Kris to work her magic. When the book came back on February 3rd I went through the tracked changes, accepting all of the minor edits like grammar and word order and then going through again to make substantive changes.
You would think this was the final version but nope, Kris is thorough! So I kept editing, added an introduction, more examples and graphics, and tidied up the chapters to keep them short and sweet but impactful.
It really helped to have a formula for each chapter: fun title to incite curiosity, a story or parable, the lesson I learned, and suggested system or resource. Throughout I also included quotes and that didn’t fit into the narrative but were fun asides or interesting info.
If you’re keeping track we’re now on draft 3, and I sent off the edited version to Kris for a second round of edits, this one focused intently on consistency throughout the book (which is now up to 24,000 words and 24 chapters, an intro, closing dedication, end notes and acknowledgements).
Finally, finally the book came back again and it was done, right? Wrong. While the manuscript was mostly in finished form there was more to be done. The impatient side of my brain hated that but I reminded myself that if it’s worth doing, I need to do it right.
Coming up I’ll share more about the process of design, the strategy and putting the book on Amazon but first I want to know, if you could write a book about anything what would it be? Pretend you could snap your fingers and have a finished, amazing book in your hands. What would the topic be?