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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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    Last Updated on September 10, 2019

    How to Master the Art of Prioritization

    How to Master the Art of Prioritization

    Do you know that prioritization is an art? It is an art that will lead you to success in whatever area that matters to you.

    By prioritization, I’m not talking so much about assigning tasks, but deciding which will take chronological priority in your day—figuring out which tasks you’ll do first, and which you’ll leave to last.

    Effective Prioritization

    There are two approaches to “prioritizing” the tasks in your to-do list that I see fairly often:

    Approach #1 Tackling the Biggest Tasks First and Getting Them out of the Way

    The idea is that by tackling them first, you deal with the pressure and anxiety that builds up and prevents you from getting anything done—whether we’re talking about big or small tasks. Leo Babauta is a proponent of this Big Rocks method.[1]

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    Approach #2 Tackling the Tasks You Can Get Done Quickly and Easily, with Minimal Effort

    Proponents of this method believe that by tackling the small fries first, you’ll have less noise distracting you from the periphery of your consciousness.

    If you believe in getting your email read and responded to, making phone calls and getting Google Reader zeroed before you dive into the high-yield work, you’re a proponent of this method. I suppose you could say Getting Things Done (GTD) encourages this sort of method, since the methodology advises followers to tackle tasks that can be completed within two minutes, right there and then.

    Figure out Your Approach for Prioritization

    My own approach is perhaps a mixture of the two.

    I’ll write out my daily task list and draw little priority stars next to the three items I need to get done that day. They don’t need to be big tasks, but nine times out of ten, they are.

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    Smaller tasks are rarely important enough to warrant a star in the first place; I can always get away without even checking my inbox until the next day if I’m swamped, and the people who need to get in touch with me super quickly know how.

    But I’m not recommending my system of prioritization to you. I’m also not saying that mine is better than Leo’s Big Rocks method, and I’m not saying it’s better than the “if it can be done quickly, do it first” method either.

    The thing with prioritization is that knowing when to do what relies very much on you and the way you work. Some people need to get some small work done to find a sense of accomplishment and clarity that allows them to focus on and tackle bigger items. Others need to deal with the big tasks or they’ll get caught up in the busywork of the day and never move on, especially when that Google Reader count just refuses to get zeroed (personally, I recommend the Mark All As Read button—I use it most days!).

    I’m in between, because my own patterns can be all over the place. Some days I will be ready to rip into massive projects at 7AM. Other times I’ll feel the need to zero every inbox I have and clean up the papers on my desk before I can focus on anything serious. I also know that my peak, efficient working time doesn’t come at 11AM or 3PM or some specific time like it does for many people, but I have several peaks divided by a few troughs. I can feel what’s coming on when and try to keep my schedule liquid enough that I can adapt.

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    That’s why I use a starred task list system rather than a scheduled task list. It allows me to trust myself (something that I suppose takes a certain amount of discipline) and achieve peak efficiency by blowing with the winds. If I fight the peaks and troughs, I’ll get less done; but if I do certain kinds of work in each period of the day as they come, I’ll get more done than most others in a similar line of work.

    You may not be able to trust yourself to that extent without falling into the busywork trap. You may not be able to tackle big tasks first thing in the morning without feeling like you’re pushing against an invisible brick wall that won’t budge. You might not be able to deal with small tasks before the big tasks without feeling pangs of guilt and urgency.

    My point is:

    The prioritization systems themselves don’t matter. They’re all pretty good for a group of people, not least of all to the people who espouse them because they use them and find them effective.

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    What matters is that you don’t fall for one set of dogma (and I’m not saying Leo Babauta or David Allen preach these things as dogma, but sometimes their proponents do) until you’ve tried the systems extensively, and found which method of chronological prioritization works for you.

    And if the system you already use works great, then there’s no need to bother trying others—in the world of personal productivity, it’s too easy to mess with something that works and find yourself unable to get back into your former groove.

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    In truth, this principle applies to all sorts of personal productivity issues, though it’s important to know which issues it applies to.

    If you thought multitasking worked well for you each day and I’d have to contend that you are wrong—multitasking is a universal myth in my books! But if you find yourself prioritizing tasks that never get done, you might need to reconsider which of the above approaches you’re using and change to a system that is more personally effective.

    More About Prioritization & Time Management

    Featured photo credit: Sabri Tuzcu via unsplash.com

    Reference

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