I've had a fairly emotional day this week as one of my dreams finally came to fruition. My very first book is ready for pre-orders and is on Amazon. It's quite a feeling to see your name on the actual book that you have put your heart and soul into over the last 12 months.
I was very naive when I started out on this journey. It initially started with goal setting. In December, I decided that one of my goals for 2014 was to “write a book”. I publicise my goals each year on this blog (find 2014's here). But I am a big believer that just writing your goals down is not enough, and you have to take action if you want to achieve those goals. If writing a book is on your agenda then here are the lessons that I learned along the way that you may find useful.
Step 1 – Carve time in your diary
My first step to achieving this goal was to book time off in my diary to write a book. I booked two week's holiday in February 2014. I then rented a separate office at the iCon Centre in Daventry and shut myself away for two weeks. In preparation for those two weeks off, I had broken down the chapters and sub headings of what I wanted to cover. I then broke down targets of how much I needed to write each day if I was going to achieve my goal of 9 chapters by the end of the two weeks. I was all set! At the time of booking the holiday (December), I had no idea how I was going to get the book published. I just wanted to write it and I would worry about publishing it at a later stage. (planning eh?)
Step 2 – The law of attraction kicks in!
I am a big believer of the law of attraction. I know this sounds crazy, and some may say it is just a coincidence, but two weeks before my holiday in February I was chatting to a client of mine (Alison from The Village Emporium). Alison mentioned that a publisher in Leamington Spa were keen to have a book published on social media. She introduced me to Sevanti from “In Easy Steps”, and I went over to see them. Within a week I had a contract, so the pressure was now on. No going back! (Thank you, universe!).
Step 3 – Learning the ropes
I never really considered myself as a writer. Yes, I have been blogging for many years, but my writing style has always been more conversational. I am confident on my subject, and I have a lot of knowledge on my topic, and before I knew it, I had written over 60,000 words. A book was born. That was the easy part!
I honestly thought that I would simply do a “brain dump” and then the publishers would do the rest. That was the wrong assumption! Here is a list of things you need to consider when writing a book for a publisher. Especially one that has an established brand and style. The publishers put a lot of hard work into putting a book together, and I never really appreciated how much hard work goes into a book until now.
- You need to get the book proofread / edited before sending the book back to the publisher. Giving different chapters to friends who are good at spelling and grammar is not the best way to proof-read a book (although, thank you to everyone who did do this for me). I had not read my contract properly, and although I thought that the book was a certain level, I now know that I was way off, and that the publishers had a lot of work to do.
- Are your publishers intending to send it to the American market? I had to “Americanise” my words. Ie., Color, Favor, Organization, etc. (always ask this question, or check your contract before writing a book)
- I added arrows and text on all my screen shots to help the audience know where things are, but this was a huge mistake. The publishers have their style, and they do this themselves. Always note the publishers style of content presentation before you spend any time presenting your content, otherwise you could be wasting your time. Their style is usually within the contract, so again it is really important to make sure that you read your contract thoroughly before putting pen to paper.
- If you mention a person, company or organisation within a book then, you need to get their permission. I had to email hundreds of people to say ” I've used this tweet or this Facebook post / linkedin branding”, etc. If you are demonstrating how “not” to do something, then it can be awkward, but it is still essential to get the permission.
- The style of this particular book has a selection of “hot tips” , “don't forget” and “remember” features on each page. This was hugely time consuming, but it certainly adds value for the reader, so it was well worth the time and effort.
Step 4 – When writing a how to book, make sure its up to date.
One of the biggest reasons for the delay in the book going to print was due to some major changes on the three main platforms. Facebook implemented a complete new design in June (1st time in 3 years!), Twitter introduced headers and LinkedIn removed products and services. All three chapters needed to be re-written. At this point, I was seriously thinking about throwing in the towel, but it was the thought of failing one of my 2014 goals that kept me going.
Step 5 – The finishing touches
I had to learn how to put together an index, which is not as easy as you would think. My network was extremely helpful and gave me some fantastic advice to help me with this task. (I had to covert the PDF into a Word document, then export the document into an excel page which created columns for keywords, then convert the Excel document back to a word document). There is probably a much easier way of doing this, but I got there in the end. I also had to write the acknowledgement – where on earth do you start? (I enjoyed doing this bit though!)
I absolutely love social media and online marketing. The industry is forever changing and I know that the minute the book goes to print then certain aspects will need to be changed. The heart of the book is all about strategy for the small business owner and I can not see this changing in the foreseeable future.
I wanted to produce a book that you can “check list” your website and social media platforms. At the end of each section, there is a check list form for you to complete. If you have ordered the book then, I would be interested to know what your scores were before the book, and then what the scores are afterwards.
I am still on a high!
I would also like to give a HUGE thank you to my publisher, Sevanti and her team at In Easy Steps. They produce a whole range of books from computer based books to finance and everything in between and they have been a real pleasure to work with.
I have mentioned this tool before but it is certainly worth repeating. Each week, we write 2-3 blogs, and we need to check for spelling, grammar and of course plagiarism. It is essential that any content on our website is unique and fresh and has not been published elsewhere online otherwise Google will frown upon us and we are pinalised for Google search results. The tool that I could not live without to help me with this process is called Grammarly.com. There is a small cost for the cloud based software, but it is worth every penny.