Writing a book is one of the most powerful ways you can establish yourself as an expert in your industry… and self-publishing is easier than ever! Seriously, having “author” by your name opens you to opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise and immediately positions you as an expert to prospects and colleagues alike.
Personally, I’ve self-published two books over the years and we’re working on releasing a third. The first is my original Awesome Life Tips®: 365 Tips for Living a Life You Love which we self-published back in 2014.And I’m so excited to announce that we just released my memoir yesterday… Unravel: Rising Up and Coming Back from a Season of Living that Damn Near Killed Me!!
If this is something you’ve wanted to do for yourself, here are some tips and tricks to get you started.
1. Decide what you want to talk about.
The more established you are in business, the easier this is going to be.
What are the common things that people ask you about? Take those and write a book about the top things people need to know in your line of work.
What is the process behind the work you do? Take that and write a book about that process, looking at it as a format that will allow you to support people through the work on a much larger scale. It’s basically a program in a book!
What are short bursts of inspiration or wisdom you can share? Create a daily tips, quotes, or reflections book. People love these for themselves and to give as gifts!
The point: it doesn’t have to be a novel or a huge undertaking. Books come in all shapes and sizes (literally) and can be focused on many different things.
2. Write the book!
This is the hard part. I always thought writing a book would be this magical and exciting experience… and while it was much easier to put together a collection of tips from the daily tips I’d been sharing over a three year period, it was MUCH more challenging to write a memoir about my life and experiences!!
If you want to write a memoir or a self-help book, here’s what I recommend:
- Outline the “tent pole moments.” This is a term I learned from an author I love… what are the pivotal moments that hold up the entire story or journey? Start by outlining those moments that are most important or where change occurs.
- Write, write, write. Start by writing about those tent pole moments on your outline… and the key? Let it be okay if the writing sucks. Seriously. My first full draft of the book was HORRIBLE!! No one saw it but me… but it was a mish mash of different tones, writing styles, tenses, and formats. Some chapters I literally just wrote “this happened… then he said that… then I did this…” because I just needed to get the story out of me before refining it. Just write. Get it out of you, don’t worry that it’s not GREAT… it’s not supposed to be!
- Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Once you have all the words out of you and the forming of a story… it’s time to rewrite. You will do this more than you expect or want. This is where you begin to connect the tent pole moments and you see what’s missing and needing to create a clear flow. Do this in a way that feels right for you. For some, that’s connecting everything seamlessly… for others (myself included) it’s about turning each of those moments into a stand-alone story that helps bridge the overall message and journey. Trust what feels right for you.
- Edit, edit, edit. For me, it was important that the first round of edits be with a SMALL group of people that a) I trusted immensely, b) knew me and my voice well, and c) would be willing and able to be honest about what they thought. They gave great reflections and notes without detracting from my voice. From there I brought on a couple of different editors to help clean it up.
Can I just be real for a moment?
I am by all accounts a “bad” writer.
I’m not well trained, don’t write “correctly” in terms of grammar and punctuation, and definitely do a lot of things “wrong.” I learned this over and over in the editing process… but still, I wrote a book that hit #1 New Release in ALL THREE categories on Amazon and is helping people dig deeper into their own healing and growth.
Don’t worry about being perfect. Focus on the message and what you want to say, as well as how YOU want to say it. Let people help you polish it and make it more readable, but don’t lose yourself or your voice during that process. I ignored many edits that I felt took away from my voice, and maybe that makes certain parts less “proper” and even readable, but I knew what was important to me.
3. Get some professional help to publish.
At this point, I’d highly recommend hiring a book launch manager and other professionals. Designer, book formatter, marketing person, PR, etc. We were blessed to bring on the amazing Annick Ina to help us birth the book into the world. There’s so much that goes into placement, setup, categorizing, and launch marketing that we just couldn’t have done alone.
We self publish our books through Kindle Direct Publishing and I’ve found their process and product to be wonderful. There are TONS of great, free resources online (such as Self-Publishing School), but consider bringing on professionals once your story is ready to be released to the world. Unravel is IMMENSELY BETTER and more impactful because I made this decision.
Do you have specific questions about writing and publishing a book?
Please don’t hesitate to ask.
There’s so much that goes into it, more than I can share here. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about the process. You can also see some vlogs on my process over on YouTube. 🙂