Writing a Book: The 1st vs 4th Time
So, I guess I've written four books?
Nah..lemme back up. I have published four books on Amazon.
But writing 4 books? That's a different story.
In September of 2016, I published my first book. Called The Side Hustle Gal, it was a collection of stories from creative entrepreneurs (13 in total) paired with the nitty gritty how-to details on how to start a side hustle. Pretty simple, right? Agreed.
Then in March of 2017 (yes, just six months later), I published my second book. Called The Bucketlist Babe, it followed a similar theme. It was a collection of stories from creative entrepreneurs on how their bucketlists informed their business decisions (and vice versa).
In October of 2017 (about six months later - noticing a theme?), I co-published Big Plan for the Creative Mind with Reina Pomeroy. BPCM is interviews with 13 of the foremost goal-setting experts in the creative industry. We saw leaders writing and creating content around this topic, but what we failed to see was a collection housed together where their unique goal-setting strategies, mindset, and execution were being showcased.
In just a few weeks (about six months later again), One Honest Woman comes out. It's the first book that, cover to cover (save for the foreword), I wrote entirely myself.
Four books, a year and a half. That's a lot. I feel like I've lived in Amazon KDP and CreateSpace for the past year and a half, elbows deep in manuscripts, revision after revision. If you've never written a book, it's basically a part time job. That first book took way longer than I would have expected. I underestimated every deadline and took twice as long to complete each step, but the book came out and it was well received (and later lead to two spin-off projects as a result). Today, working on One Honest Woman, I could go through the mechanics of the Amazon publishing platforms in my sleep.
Having said that, I thought it might be useful to you, fellow creatives, if I laid out my (now semi standard) timeline for publishing a book. This is the process I went through for One Honest Woman and is a process I highly recommend, especially to first-time authors.
SIX MONTHS OUT (for me, September 2017)
Start to gather all manuscript outlines, etc. The book (if your first book) could/should be nearly finished by this point. For One Honest Woman, my book was about 25% written at this point.
Start sourcing an editor. I interviewed one and only one editor, because I knew exactly who I wanted. Jodi Brandon agreed to be my editor, chief enforcer, and weekly therapist. I signed up for her book coaching package and it was truly one of the best investments - I wish I'd done it three books ago!
FIVE MONTHS OUT (for me, October 2017)
Write a marketing plan. Determine your launch strategy. Identify your strategic goals. Will you have a separate landing page / sales page? Will you drive to Amazon? Speaking of Amazon - have you created your Author Page yet? Oh, and keep writing.
FOUR MONTHS OUT (for me, November 2017)
Four months out, I started working with Jodi officially. We did once a week calls on Thursdays for 30 minutes (which held me accountable for writing) and over our three month coaching period (Nov-early Feb), we broke the remaining parts of book down into manageable sections (~2,000 words/week). This would allow us to hit my original goal of about 20,000 words (we ended up exceeding that by nearly 6k words).
I also took some time to start building out preliminary things during this month, including:
- Setting up my book on KDP and CreateSpace
- Buying ISBNs and creating barcodes
- Hiring a Cover Designer
- Finding a Typesetter (I know he's on Fiverr but he's truly the best - he typeset Big Plan for the Creative Mind and One Honest Woman!)
THREE MONTHS OUT (For me, December 2017)
This is crunch time. You're about a month away from needing to have your manuscript done and so a lot of work needs to get done here. I spent time outlining the tougher chapters, figuring out what some of the emerging themes were, getting a better understanding for the book's layout, etc.
Jodi and I worked together to identify a beta reader strategy this month as well as whether or not I wanted to have launch cheerleaders (I opted not to do formal launch cheerleaders, since this book is more of a personal book vs a business book).
I also finalized who was writing my foreword this month. I sent them a few chapters and a proposal asking if they would write a foreword and they agreed. They were able to turn the foreword around in about two weeks (but know that some folks will ask for two months, or more! Be prepared and plan ahead!).
TWO MONTHS OUT (FOR ME, JANUARY 2018)
January was the busiest month of the whole book writing process. The two biggest chapters of One Honest Woman were written this month (and one even was re-written!). I also sent the book out to beta readers and collected/implemented their feedback. My cover designer took care of the cover and I officially reserved the typesetter's services. Note - while a lot of these things were happening in January, the prep work beforehand is what allowed them to go seamlessly throughout. Make sure you're planning ahead!
One Month Out (for me, February 2018)
It's currently February 2018 and here I am writing a blog post about the book publishing process. So that should tell you things are going (mostly) smoothly, right?
The first week of this month was my final call with Jodi and she did a final pass on edits (now that all the beta reader feedback was in and implemented). We sent the book and the chapter header file that the cover designer had created to the typesetter the day after she finished edits and got the typeset manuscript back eight days later. We also got the final cover design around the same time. Jodi did a final review of the manuscript (and sent back edits) and now we're in the process of uploading final files to KDP and CreateSpace.
I set the Kindle version of the book live for pre-order and soft-launched that (talking about it on social media without a targeted push) and ordered a hard copy proof of the book from CreateSpace. I didn't do a hard copy proof for The Side Hustle Gal and I wish I would have - my recommendation is to always order the hard copy proof. It costs ~$3 + shipping, why wouldn't you?! All that's left to do this month is finalize the proof and complete my marketing strategy (including this blog post!).
LAUNCH MONTH (for me, March 2018)
On March 11th, One Honest Woman officially launches to the world. I have some marketing work to do in March but other than that, the book is ready to go and it's time to enjoy the fruits of all this labor. I do have a few tasks to do post-launch:
- Send thank you gift (and copy of the book) to the foreword author
- Send copies of the book to everyone involved (cover designer, editor, etc)
- Keep an eye on first month's KDP and CreateSpace reporting
- Do a book review push during the first week post-launch (helps tell Amazon that your book is popular and they should promote it more)
whew, that was a lot
Honestly, launching a book in six months is a little crazy. I definitely question my sanity sometimes and know that if I would have spent a year building up to the launch, I would have had more space to breathe. This timeline also doesn't factor in the initial writing for the book that I've been doing since September 2016 (but as I said at the beginning - that was only 25% of the book manuscript, if that).
What I can say is that with the help of someone like Jodi Brandon (and my amazing cover designer and typesetter), you can write a 200-page / 25k+ word book in three months (and change). You can launch a book to the world, fully published, in under six months. Why not?