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4 Tips for Getting Started and Self-Publishing a Book

4 Tips for Getting Started and Self-Publishing a Book

    I make a living as a professional organizer. You’d think that it would have been a cinch for me to get organized to write my first book. Unfortunately, when it comes to enormous new projects that I’m scared to death to do, I need more than my organizing skills to get me going.

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    I had known for years that I had a book in me. I believed that writing a book would be beneficial for clients who often left my seminars and speeches wanting more information. And, I’d even made some feeble attempts to get started. I kept getting hung up on the organization of the content of the book. I had so much information to share. I just couldn’t figure out how arrange it in a simple, easy to understand outline.

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    In 2009 I began working with Mark LeBlanc, a business success coach, to help me launch myself as a national speaker. In the first session he said, “I want you to write a book in 90 days.” After taking a deep breath I squeaked out, “OK, and how am I going to do that?” He replied, “Write 50 minutes a day five days a week.” I said, “I can do that. Can I still use Rock Scissors Paper as the title?” He asked me to clarify the meaning of Rock Scissors Paper. After I explained the meaning of the words he said, “Great! And, the three chapters can be Rock, Scissors and Paper.” With those words he gave me the solution for the organization of the book. I was off and running. The bulk of the content of the book was written in less than 90 days. And the finished product was in my hands 7 months later.

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    If you’re reading this article, I imagine you’re looking for some help to make the enormous task of writing a book less daunting and more doable. Here are four lessons I learned that may help you with your journey:

    1. Tell others, especially people who have already published a book, about your intention to write a book. You never know what kind of helpful advice you might get! Those of us who have been on the journey to book publication are happy to share advice and resources that could make your experience easier.
    2. Start with tasks that you can do. Doing anything will give you momentum to keep going. Writing a book is much more than writing the content. Other tasks include editing, layout, cover design and then choosing a publisher, not to mention marketing the book. Part of the reason I was afraid to really commit to writing a book was because the whole process from start to finish included so many unknowns. For example, I had no clue how to choose a cover designer or editor. But, I could look at other books of the same genre and make some decisions about the look and feel of my book. I found an organizing book with a cover and layout that I just loved. It gave me a model to use when I was making design choices about my book size, the cover and content fonts and layout.
    3. Consider blogging to get yourself writing and develop your content in small bites. Dan Poynter, the guru of self-publishing, first introduced me to the idea of “blooking”. Blooking is writing blog entries until you have enough content to organize it into a book. The idea of writing a whole chapter is pretty overwhelming, but writing two to five paragraphs is much more doable. Doing it as a blog entry and publishing it also gave me the opportunity to try out my content on interested readers before committing to a whole book.
    4. Ask others who have already self-published to share their resources with you. My coach, who had already published a book, gave me the name and contact information of his cover designer and publisher, and recommended a reputable editor. What a relief that was for me! I hate researching services! I liked the look and feel of Mark’s book, so I knew I would be in good hands if I used his resources.

    If you have a book inside you, don’t let overwhelm and fear of the unknown stop you from giving birth to it! Writing and publishing a book can’t be a solo project if you want to successfully complete it. Start where you can and be open to help from knowledgeable others.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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