What It Is Really Like To Write A Book

A Brief Reflection

I am about two months away from the launch of my first book, The Millennial Myth, published by Berrett-Koehler. The closest word I can use to describe how I feel is amazed. Right now is the precise moment where I have switched from doing-doing-doing to being. In this moment of being, I paused to take a breath and reflect on the journey. That same breath is quickly taken away with the full knowledge of the immensity and the incredulity of knowing the work has come to fruition and will spread.

Over the past few weeks, people have been asking me thought-provoking questions, creating this moment of reflection and wanting to share it. Here are my thoughts on some of the most frequently asked questions. I hope it gives you an inside view and inspiration for your own work!

 

Putting Your Heart and Soul Out There: The Courage and The Uncertainty

Some people have told me that the hardest thing they think of with writing a book is that its a representation of you. Your words on a page. Your words out there for critique. So you want to get it right, get it perfect. You might want to please everyone. You might not know when to stop tweaking it.

I want everyone to love my book. And yet…I have to be resilient. Because there will always be haters. During the process, someone told me that if I don’t have haters, I didn’t take a strong enough stand. A strong stand inspires strong emotions – positive and negative.

When I did my first TEDx talk, the fear was indescribable. Who was I to stand on stage? I am an engineer by education who never thought I would be a professional speaker or a thought leader in the human capital space. At that time, Karen Smithman, a fellow TEDx speaker, told me that it’s about the message more than it is about me. Who could my message help? Whose life could it change? Whose perspective could shift? That philosophy helped me tremendously in writing this book. It wasn’t about me. It was about the unique work and perspective I bring. I treated this like any other project as a result. I maintained a level of objectivity, knew when to quit perfecting, and knew when to let go of negative feedback.

Not everyone is going to love my book. But some people will worship it and it will be their go-to guide when they need it most.

 

The Overall Process

Today, there are a lot of options out there for getting your word out. Do you self-publish, hybrid publish, or go traditional?

To begin answering this question, it’s important to know why you want to to publish a book. Do you want to reach as wide an audience as possible? How much support do you want to make that happen? Do you expect to make an income just from the book sales (this one’s easy: chances are low with traditional; there are other formats that are better suited for this goal)? What do you want to be known for? Being a thought leader?

Knowing why can help you decide between the three options. If you choose traditional publishing, the process generally looks like the below:

Typical Publishing Process
Typical Publishing Process
  • This image is a simplified overview. Depending on the publisher and your speed of writing, the process can take anywhere from 9 months to two+ years.
  • I suggest researching publishers before writing the book or the proposal. Publishers requirements can be different – some may require writing the full book beforehand or just a chapter or none at all. You can avoid rework by knowing the requirements first.
  • Books typically go through multiple rounds of review (final, copyedit, and proof) so don’t let any fears around being a “good” writer stop you, especially if English isn’t your first language! Instead, focus most of your efforts on creating a powerful, distinctive message and building a platform (social media or offline) to spread your work.
  • Marketing items such as developing the cover and getting endorsements also occurs throughout, though not pictured here. And as the author, you do have to put in some work!
  • Different publishers treat the feedback stage differently, if they have it at all.

 

Be Purposeful on Choosing a Publisher

People also often ask about my publisher. I feel very honored to be published by Berrett-Koehler, who has published distinguished leaders such as Edgar Schein, Peter Block, and Ken Blanchard. My introduction to BK occurred through a personal recommendation, which is a serendipitous, fortuitous, uncommon thing. Just as other recommendations, however, that is only a first step. Not only did my content stand out from the many proposed Millennial books, I felt a strong fit with BK.

Their audience is my audience. Their mission around “creating a world that works for all” was almost word for word a mission I have for my consulting business. Their value of transparency — such as posting their typical author contract online — is aligned with my millennial mindset, inspiring trust and goodwill from the get go. Their comfort with supporting emerging authors who are willing to work to get their message out there, even if their platform is not huge. They also have a unique review process between first draft and final, high collaboration with the author (such as title, book cover, essentially every part of the marketing process), and an author day where you get to present your book.

It made working together a no-brainer (I’d like to think that was true for both of us!).

 

Closing Thoughts

My fellow Master’s program classmate, Judy Mikalonis, told me that launching a book is like birthing a baby. Which is a hard metaphor for me to grasp considering I don’t have children. And yet, it’s surprisingly feeling accurate. It is a part of you, but it also has a life of its own. It’s taken me a little over 9 months to go through this process. With every passing day, it has grown and developed. And…at this point, I feel like saying “Get out already and let’s just see what you look like!”

Thanks for reading and the support. I’m so happy to have you all on the journey with me.

 

The Millennial Myth is available now at Amazon or your favorite retailer.

 

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