Five things I wish I knew Before writing my first book: Tips for new Authors

Feeling that need to get your life story on paper? Want to share your life knowledge with those who could benefit from your experience? KPI told you to write a book? Before you start tickling the keyboard and dreaming of a lavish book launch, here are five things you must know before picking up your quil. Plus as it's the second anniversary of the day I got my first box of books (see cheesy picture inset) I have a free gift for all of you. Yes a free book! Read on...

Way back in 2010 I had a dream to write a book. Damn those KPI folk for planting the seed! Yes that's you Dan Priestley...I had no idea how to do it and struggled with it for two long years. I loved the process of actually writing, but getting the time was so damn hard. It was a huge year of change for me and I had so many doubts about my writing ability having almost failed English in high school. I made heaps of mistakes and sometimes I just wanted to give up. Can you relate?

Obviously I didn't give up, because I now have a book! I can confidently call myself an author. Sure I have only written one book so I am no expert, but sometimes the best advice comes from people who are amateurs just like you. They understand how hard it is for normal people to take on such a big challenge.

Writing is such a cathartic process, full of pain and pleasure. I would imagine it's a bit like childbirth, it's so painful but also very rewarding. (I have two kids for the record) After a few years the pain fades from memory and the rewards grow, which tempts you to go back for more! Hence, I am just about to embark on another huge journey - book number two!! 

I said I would never go back for a second but I have been working on a new strategy for clients called e-ttraction and I'm so super pumped about it I can't help myself! 

It was whilst reflecting on all the mistakes I made writing the first book, I realised my friends and clients who are just starting out might have the same issues. I wanted to help them the way I wish someone had helped me a few years ago. With an honest account of the book writing process. 

 If you read my blog regularly you will know my advice will not be about spelling and grammar!  (not my best strengths haha) What I want to impart here is how to actually get the job done and be happy with the outcome. At the end of the day, we write for ourselves so need to love the result.

Without further ado, here is my warts and all advice for all those budding authors out there.  

The Five Book Writing Musts

1) Have a strong structure

I clearly remember the day I met a book mentor to get some advice. It was the day after the KPI event and I was working at IBM in Southbank, Melbourne. I was running late and in 30 minutes rushed 12 chapter headings for my book and a sketch of the cover onto the back of some boring report. I was in complete flow, I could feel the rightness of it.  I should have stuck to that structure! After literally dozens of changes and a wasted 20,000 word section, I came back to what the original structure was. 

My advice; get your structure down early. Don't change it. Keep your writing tight to the topic and don't drift off it. Put extra ideas in a book two file! Stay on task and it will be much easier to complete.

2) Write regularly

From my hotel in Bali I could see the people playing on the beach. I was on a short trip over Christmas holidays to get my damn book finished.  For a whole year I just couldn't seem to get into flow whilst working in corporate land. Blocking my chi or something. No space to work, no clear time, no routine. Over five days in Bali I wrote 25,000 words and really broke the back of the main content. I also worked a lot on myself. Your book comes from deep within you so the clearer you are inside, the clearer your book will be outside. I thank Demartini for helping me during that stage.

After that trip I wrote regularly, every weekend. I believe you have to write regularly otherwise it gets stale and you lose focus. So when will you write? I estimate it takes about an hour per 500 words to write a book, so for me that's 800 hours for my 40,000. Where will you find the time? You better think about when you will write and also where otherwise it just won't happen. 

3) Don't listen to others

Being my first book effort, I sought help from those more experienced than myself. Writers, editors, publishers and my mum. (she was the best help!) Every meeting ended up with me putting a little part of that expert into the book, which means I had to take a bit of me out of it.  I don't agree with this. A book is such a pure reflection of the author that it has to be all you. Sure editing and proofing is a must, but keep your essence. I changed the structure for the worse, then back to the original. Wasted many nights anguishing over changes and picked a completely different book cover and title than I wanted.

My advice is, stick to your guns. Follow your instincts regardless of what others tell you. Unless you have a publisher you can choose to do it anyway you like, so trust yourself. Take advice only if it feels right to you, not because you think that person knows best. They don't. You know best. This worked for Steve Jobs so it's good enough for me.

4) Understand publishing

The publishing process is a bit tricky. I don't know it in absolute detail but here are my thoughts on my process.  To get published is really hard! Unless you have a cook book, diet book or make money in 5 minutes - it's hard. By all means seek a publishing deal, but be realistic. Even if you get a publisher, it's unlikely you will make a lot of money from it.

Also remember that writing the book is only about half of the time and effort of having a finished book. The other 50% is not so fun. Editing 2x, proofing 2x, typesetting, layouts, paper stock, format size, book covers, titles, pricing, finding money to pay for it all! If your book is 40,000 words you will have to read it about 8 times after you finish writing, that's a load of time!

My advice; self publish. Keep your control and IP. Then if it is a massive hit, publishers will be lining up for your second book!

5) Enjoy the process

My first rule of life is if you don't enjoy it, don't do it.  Some things that are hard are also fun. Doing Tough Mudder and starting my business comes to mind.  Writing is no different. If you don't actually enjoy the writing process, but want a book for specific reason, pay someone to write it for you. No shame in getting help, it's just smart. 

I didn't like reading my book after I wrote it, I didn't have the patience. So I paid editors and publishers to do it for me. I also had friends read it to ensure limited mistakes, thanks all those that helped! I do love writing so will write e-ttraction myself, but will get loads of help to finish it off. 

There you have it, my 5 reality checks before you write your first best seller.  I hope I haven't put you off writing a book but, instead given you a few tips to help you on your way. Now you can read my book knowing what went into it!

Thanks for reading and to celebrate the anniversary of my book 'Creating a Powerful Brand', I am giving you a copy for free! Simply click here for a hard copy or e-copy. Enjoy :)

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Andrew Ford

Marketing expert Andrew Ford, the founder of Social Star, has discovered the secret of ‘Powerful Branding’. With a fire for unleashing people’s inner brand and developing business models to generate profit from an individual’s passions, Andrew leverages ground-breaking digital and social media marketing techniques to create digital strategies for clients to attract maximum opportunities. Having established a strong name for himself in the field, Andrew blends traditional business techniques with now-necessary tools for entrepreneurs to achieve scale, quality, and influence in their niche. Andrew’s comprehensive business background and qualifications consist of a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) (RMIT 2003), a Graduate Certificate in Management (MBA Executive Program, University of Sydney 2005), and a Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Swinburne University 2011). Continually on the cutting edge of his own education, Andrew has tested his marketing theories in forums such as the BCG Business Strategy Competition, which he won in 2005 against all Victorian MBA schools, and the Venture Cup Business Plan Competition (Swinburne University 2003), which he won in the Masters category. With experience working at Hewlett-Packard, Sensis (Telstra) and IBM, Andrew also has mentored dozens of junior staffs to help them achieve their professional goals. Meeting and influencing high-profile public figures helped Andrew to realise just how many professionals require more understanding and control of their public brands or appearance, and need help with the skills to use the many amazing free tools at their disposal to generate success. At Social Star, Andrew consults with clients to uncover their personal brand – both where it is today and where it can be tomorrow – and refine and define how that should be displayed in social media in order to attract their perfect target audience. Andrew mentors his clients to rapidly grow their business’ audiences, resulting in larger potential client bases and higher revenue. Applying formulas that integrate over twenty years of Andrew’s business experience and fifteen years of formal business education, Social Star specialises in building clarity and velocity for clients’ brands using the ‘Understand, Build and Leverage’ methodology. ‘Having a Personal Business enables people to have an authentic, congruent connection with their valued clients and partners, using their brand as the bridge,’ says Andrew. ‘I’m highly driven to work with the new breed of entrepreneurs and small business owners – people who have a passion for making the world a better place. Traditional business models are stepping aside as people follow their innermost dreams and my role is to see them operate within their values while creating wealth. Some people think you have to sacrifice what you love to be successful in your business, yet it is actually the opposite. Follow your passion and success will come.’ Lecturing at Swinburne University from 2009 to 2011 on brand dynamics and digital marketing, presenting at numerous conferences, and consulting to hundreds of clients, Andrew has seen his philosophy work that if you follow your unique path, based on your skills, experience, values and goals, you will automatically attract the opportunities you desire and achieve the success you deserve. Living his mantra, Andrew has created a successful business and attracts high-profile clients including musicians, athletes, authors, models, entrepreneurs, professionals and small business owners, helping them find their ‘why’ in their business and fulfilment in their lives. Business for Andrew is more than work, it’s personal. Running a personal business means that he is able to fulfil all of his values rather than separating his life from work. It supports his two boys while providing social opportunities, educational development, fitness opportunities, spiritual fulfilment and many valuable friendships. Social Star has now become the vehicle for Andrew to crystallise his mission in the world, to help people love what they do, supporting his ‘why’, that if more people loved what they did, the world would be a better place.