I’d imagined for many years what it would be like to write a full-blown book. Not a large blog post, but a book – one that you could touch and feel.
Most of my adult life I have thought of this idea; however, with the exception of a few paragraphs here and there, in developing blogs and content writing, it never coalesced into a book.
It looked like it was going to be one of those ideas that never actually worked…
Until my book writing journey began in November 2012. What changed? I realised that a book was only the means to an end.
In my case, the end was business. I wrote a book about business, for businesses (digital businesses, that is). I’ve been working in the online/ecommerce field for 14 years, so it only made sense that I leverage what I had developed over the years and write about my methods and what I had learned throughout my entrepreneurial career.
During my book writing adventure, I was fortunate to have the guidance and mentorship of wonderful writer and business personality Andrew Griffiths. He of course didn’t do the writing for me, but he helped throughout the process. By providing ideas and insights, he was able to help condense the whole concept of writing a book into bite-sized segments.
The writing goals were easy, to start. ‘Just’ write 30,000 words in 30 days, or 1,000 words a day, or basically two blogs a day. It was a new kind of challenge for me. One that I knew that I could take on, fairly easily. Or rather, with some effort, but with the focus that would get me to my goal.
As I soon discovered, writing it was the easy part. In 30 days I covered about 40,000 words. Yet despite my promising beginnings, it still took almost another 18 months to finally get a copy of my book in my hands.
The real challenges were post-writing. Illustrations cover design, editing, layout, and everything else in between.
The biggest challenge? I wasn’t really prepared for what ensued. It wasn’t a matter of getting things done, really. It was more about discovering what actually needed to be completed along the way. It was a journey of epic proportions, and I only had the words; I didn’t have the end product.
6 things you must know, beyond the writing
If you’re thinking about writing a book, writing’s only one part of the process. If you have already started, then this is probably no surprise. You also need to actually think about ‘producing’ a book. Think of it more like producing the next Hollywood blockbuster – they’ve got writers, of course, but they also have a lot of other things that need to get done, which means that you will need a lot of people to actually get you to where you want to go. This is what writing and producing a book is actually like.
So what else do you need to consider? Here are some of the things that I came across, that will hopefully help in your journey:
Don’t be too worried if you find out that you can’t actually string a sentence together. That’s normal. We’re not all professional linguists, with PHDs in literacy. The point is that a good editor can help mould your story properly, both in the words that you use, but also in the overall structure. Don’t short-change yourself on editing. People will quickly notice whether or not you can write ‘good’. Editing really can be considered that glue that holds your story together. If you’re using the wrong glue, everything will fall apart.
This was a huge part of my book that unfortunately did not work out that well in the end, at least for the first edition. My initial idea was to have illustrations throughout the book to add to the concepts and make it more like a story. My goal was to create some key characters that would help walk the reader through the book. That shouldn’t be too hard, right? It was. Months and months later, trying one illustrator at a time to see who could capture the essence of the book, was one of the biggest challenges.
Perhaps I was attempting to be too specific in looking for a certain style, or perhaps I didn’t know what I wanted. I had a collection of illustrations at the end of the day, but none of them really seemed to capture what I wanted to achieve. That said, there was one artist who was able to step up and meet my challenge. The ideas were complementary, and his style fresh and inviting. But, after waiting months for something ‘more’, he never was able to deliver.
I ended up using some standard stock photo illustrations, as well as getting the graphic designer I used for a lot of my business marketing to make more technical drawings for the layout of the book. We then expanded that out with graphical designs for the chapters, important quotes, plus significant points throughout the book.
First piece of advice – get someone skilled to design it. As an avid reader of books, you can ALWAYS tell whether or not they designed it themselves. Unless you are a graphic designer, find a professional to design it for you. Don’t use Powerpoint; don’t use Word art. It doesn’t work. There is a reason why we judge a book by its cover; yet, I am amazed at how many writers simply do not take this advice.
Second piece – take the feedback that you get, and think about it in detail as to how you can make it a better experience for your readers. The first draft of my cover, while it received an award as a runner-up in a competition among my peers, was far too glaring, far too bright, with no central focus.
No, you don’t need to change your vision with the feedback, but listen to what others are saying. Yes, it sometimes feels like someone is saying that your baby is ugly, but they’re not – they simply can see things that we miss, as we are far too emotionally attached to our work.
Crowdfunding for books is getting bigger and bigger. Not familiar with crowdfunding? It is the relatively new process whereby you set up a public project, and people then contribute financial support to the project, with the receipt of certain awards. The funds raised would be used for such things as printing, editing, illustrations, cover designs, etc.
Setting up the campaign and getting prepared took several months and a lot of research as to how to do, what platform to use, the specific activities that needed to be completed, preparation of videos and information to help people understand your project among other things.
I ran my campaign mid-2013 on Pozible as, being in the digital space, I wanted to see if it was a viable digital method. The answer? It is, but reaching my funding goal of almost $6000 took an incredibly large amount of time and commitment. Crowdfunding does not happen on its own – you need to spread the word like in any other marketing campaign.
Printing was a key ingredient. Ebooks are ‘nice’, but I could never hand someone an ebook, or put it on a shelf, or in a bookstore. An ebook is the easy route. But then again, I’ve never been known to do things the easy way.
The issue with printing is that you have to be strategic. I’ve heard of many horror stories where writers who produce their own books land out with a garage full of them, which then sit there for 20 years. I wasn’t going to be one of “those” guys. I decided on smaller batches of several hundred at a time as well as utilising mass-customisation technology with print on demand (POD) versions, which are easily available around the world, through places like Createspace (Amazon) and Ingram Spark (Lightning Source). Why buy 10,000 books, when you can buy 100 at a time, or even 1 at a time for that matter?
When it comes to choosing your printer, I actually ran a printing comparison between a number of printers to see the different options. Take a look at my own blog, where I talk about the details of printing – http://thedigitaldelusion.com/print-on-demand-book-printer-amazon-createspace/
I quickly discovered that there are definitely certain things that need to be looked after, including your book size, paper colours, cover designs, weight of the book, and more. If you don’t get it right, then you won’t be able to Print On Demand, or it will cost you significantly more in postage.
This should be the easy part, right? Wrong. Marketing largely depends on your ‘why’ and your overall strategy of writing a book. I mentioned that my book was for businesses. Because of this, I honestly don’t care if it becomes the next bestseller and sells a gazillion copies; I only care about getting it into the hands of the people who can take what I am teaching them. Yes, of course having a bestseller would be nice, but it’s not my motivation. I would rather give the book away for free so that more people can actually learn how to do things differently. So, yes, you can get my book for free at www.thedigitaldelusion.com
It’s been said that the biggest part of producing a book is the marketing. This is correct. Since my book has been launched a few months ago, I have been marketing the book to my audience day in and day out. Setting up new campaigns, new landing pages, new descriptions, listings on Amazon, 3D book images, quotes from the book… the list goes on and on.
My main point here? The book is not going to sell nor market itself. In fact, it won’t even get off the page or out of the box without you. It may look pretty on your bookshelf, and you love the idea of signing them, but unless you actively start, and I mean seriously start, nothing will happen. With that in mind, while you are looking for a payback for all your expenses in producing your book, now is not the time to be cheap and expect everyone to pay full price for your book. Your goal should be to get the book into the hands of those people who can make the difference in it – the influencers, the clients, the avid fans, at no or as little cost to them as possible. Here is a landing page as well that I created, that helps with this type of mission – getting your book out to those who can use it – www.thedigitaldelusion.com
So, what’s next?
The journey of creating and producing my first book was an incredible experience. And yes, I will do it again.
Overall? Plan ahead as much as you can, but know that these things take time and resources. Think about not just being the writer, but the producer as well. You really need to self-produce the book, not just self-publish. This means building out your skills, but also getting the right people involved in the process, as they will really help you deliver that remarkable book to your audience.
I truly hope this has been helpful. Please let me know what questions or comments you may have on your own book writing process. What have been some of your challenges?
About the Author
Doyle Buehler is an author, entrepreneur, speaker and online business strategist. From several successful start-ups and retail franchise businesses in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia, to helping other companies succeed with their ideas and strategies, he has spent over 14 years in the business world making things happen – both online and off. He is a Leading innovator in the online, ecommerce worlds, and at the intersections of entrepreneurship and digital innovation. His experience has been utilised in various global industries, including travel, insurance, pharmaceuticals, banking, investment, hospitality, finance, events and learning domains.
His book, The Digital Delusion: How To Overcome The Misguidance and Misinformation Online, discusses the reality of the online industry, and what business leaders can do to get beyond the clutter, confusion and distraction of the online world, to become a true digital leader.
He now runs the world’s first ‘anti-agency’, The Digital Delusion, helping entrepreneurs and business leaders become less reliant on ‘gurus’, and ‘experts’, and getting rid of the bullsh*t online, by empowering and enabling them to become accountable (& awesome) online.
Being in “Digital”, Doyle is of course available on all online channels.