I first wrote down on paper that I wanted to be an author in 2006. I’m an avid reader and lover of all things book-related and I always wanted to be a part of that world. When I first wrote it down, I had no idea what the book would be about, but I knew it was something I wanted to see if I could do.
Why did it take me 15 years to make this happen? Fear. Like most people with a dream they aren’t working towards, I was terrified. What if the book was bad? What if no one wanted to read it? How the heck did I even pursue getting published? These things kept me stuck for far too long.
But what helped me get unstuck was finding help. I made the decision to join a book writing program where I learned best practices for writing a book, partnered with a developmental editor, and had a community of fellow first-time authors to rely on.
As I reflect on my experience as a whole, here are my key takeaways:
1. Get help.
Having a developmental editor early was a huge part of my success. The accountability of having someone read my work each week helped keep me on schedule. Plus, getting regular feedback also helped me get better at writing while I was still writing the book. I was able to fix issues and avoid repeating them throughout my entire manuscript.
2. Be prepared to work on yourself.
Writing a book is done one word at a time. It’s that easy and it’s that hard. In order to push through the inevitable struggles that will come up, be prepared to do some inner work. I relied heavy on my coach, close friends, and my journal as I navigated this process. Getting out of my own way was imperative to finishing.
3. Be clear about your end goal.
As I started writing the book, I did a ton of research on the book business. Sadly, most books that are written sell only 250 copies in their life span. If you want to write a book, be clear about your why. Do you want it to support your speaking events? Do you want to offer it as a gift to clients? What will success look like for you?
4. Decide early what type of publishing process you want to pursue.
There are many options for publishing in today’s world. The self-publishing world expands quickly and with retailers like Amazon it is becoming easier every day to self-publish. If you self-publish there are some upfront costs you’ll need to pay as you enlist editors, cover designers, and other expert assistance. However, you’ll retain ownership of your work and will also receive a much higher profit per book sold. Typically, at least $3-$4 through retailers or $10-$15 if you sell it on your own.
Traditional publishers typically pay a stipend up front and then once that amount has been re-paid through sales, you can expect to earn $1-$2 per book sold. The benefit is you will likely work with higher quality editors, have more done for you, and won’t be out any money up front. However, you still are expected to sell books on your own. Very little promotion support is provided unless you are already an established author.
A newer option is hybrid publishing. These publishers allow you retain the ownership of your work but have systems in place to assist you as you publish. This is the option I choose. It was a great combination of the credibility boost you get from involving a publisher but also allowed me to control more about the process.
Each option has pros and cons, so do your research before you get locked into an approach.
5. Just start!
Staring at a blank page can be intimidating but just start typing! If you have a story to tell, start writing it. You never know who could be waiting to read it!
Beth Rashleigh is a PbPI member and founder of Rashleigh Consulting. She loves helping leaders and team unlock their full potential. Her first book, Crisis Proof Leadership, was published in December 2021.