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9 Valuable Lessons Learned After Writing My First Book

9 Valuable Lessons Learned After Writing My First Book

In 2012, my coach asked if I wanted to write a book. This had been a dream of mine for a long time, so it didn’t take me long to say, “Yes.”

It’s now 2013 and the book is finished. I’m exhausted but happy: this project has been a real stretch! Yet, I have learned many valuable lessons about writing a book and today I’m here to tell you some of them.

1. Crowdsourcing makes you a project manager.

My book was written by using crowdsourcing. In other words, I didn’t write all the content by myself—there were also 18 other contributors (bloggers, marketers, and entrepreneurs) to this project. Maybe it was for this very reason that I didn’t feel like an author at times. Instead, my job was to keep a lot of strings on my fingers, so that things would roll along smoothly.

In addition to doing some of the writing (sections such as my part of the book, the Introduction, the thank-yous, the Conclusion, or contributor introductions before each chapter), I also did the following:

  • Found the people to join my project and a person to write the Foreword.
  • Hired a book cover designer.
  • Hired a typesetter for the book.
  • Negotiated with everyone who reviewed my book about possible promotions.
  • Wrote a bunch of launch guest posts and created other launch-related material.
  • Built a website for my book.
  • Created a promo package for reviewers (and anyone else who wanted to promote my book).

This is probably just the tip of the iceberg of all the work I have done during the project. Yet, I’m proud that I was able to get them all out of the way before the launch date.

2. Get a decent editor right from the get-go.

One mistake I made was not hiring a decent editor/proofreader right from the beginning. Instead, I found a person through Fiverr to do the work.

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Unfortunately, when I created one particular draft that I then sent to one of the contributors, he wasn’t too happy about the end results.

After doing a little bit of searching, I found a good editor whose expertise I then used in this project and who proofread/edited the book.

The Fiverr option would have been more inexpensive for sure, but when it concerns a book project, make sure to pay attention to the editing part. Money shouldn’t be an issue in this case!

3. It is going to cost money—but it’s an investment.

When I calculated the project costs so far, the figure was a bit over $2,000. Obviously, I didn’t have to pay everything at once, but rather, during the project.

I see all this money spent as an investment and it’s naturally going to pay itself back (at least partially) through book sales. But more importantly, it’s going to differentiate me from other bloggers out there in my market (productivity), who haven’t written a book yet.

Besides, this investment can give me other interesting opportunities, like teaching and speaking gigs, and it’s also a nice way to build my email list.

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4. Don’t hesitate to outsource as much as you can.

When you are self-publishing a book you want to outsource as much of the work as possible.

For instance, I lost time on the typesetting part because I wanted to save some money and do it myself. However, after talking to my coach about this topic, he suggested that I should find someone through Elance to do the work for me.

I was happy to find someone who could do the work. At least the next time I write a book, I’ll be sure to take the outsourcing path right away—without wasting my time.

5. Make sure to prepare for the launch well in advance.

I was so deeply concentrated on other parts of the book project that I almost forgot the launch phase entirely.

Unfortunately, I was a bit too late on the launch game. For instance, I missed certain guest blog post opportunities on bigger blogs on the launch day. I learned my lesson and next time I will approach these blogs well ahead of time.

Guest posts (15 at the time I was writing this post) were not the only way I was promoting my book and there are plenty of other ways I did it:

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  • Articles on two electronic productivity magazines
  • Advertisement on one electronic productivity magazine
  • Three podcast interviews
  • A national radio interview by Finnish Broadcasting Company, plus an article on their website
  • Contributors promoting the book on social media, on their email lists etc.
  • Reviewers writing testimonials and promoting the book, also on social media, on email lists etc.
  • A speaking gig at my local computer club

Arranging all this takes time, so for my next book I will definitely give more time and thought to these important aspects of the project.

6. You have to understand your long-term priorities.

Let’s see: I was writing a blog, I had a day job, I had a family (and I still do!), and I was competing in triathlons and marathons. In addition, I was about to write a book.

Obviously, there were a few things I had to stop doing, at least temporarily, and in my case it was my sports hobbies. In addition, I decided to temporarily stop podcasting on my blog and recording productivity videos.

I understood that writing a book would have long-term effects while also building my online business and authority, so some aspects of blogging and competing had to stay in the background in 2013.

I’m happy that I made this decision and it helped me to better focus on the book project.

7. Have a person you can turn to.

When writing your book—especially if it’s your first one—it’s very important to get help and insight from someone who has written a book before.

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In my situation, I now understand that having a coach has been an invaluable thing for me—especially as a first-time book writer. He has been helping me along the way by connecting me to various people during the project, or by giving me helpful feedback regarding the book. Since he is an author himself, he knew the right things to focus on and this saved a lot of my time.

8. Your motivation is not guaranteed.

Eight months after starting the project, I faced something unexpected: My motivation towards blogging and finishing the book decreased alarmingly.

I realized that the growth of my blog had stagnated and all I was doing was just working on the book project. In addition, an old passion of mine (designing web sites) raised its head again and my motivation to continue my productivity blog and the book project was at stake.

Fortunately, I was able to understand the long-term value of my project, thus realizing (thanks to my coach) that it would be foolish to pull the plug now, since I had done a lot of work so far. Seeing this book project as being part of something bigger was an eye-opener and it helped me to keep on going until I crossed the finish line.

9. It’s possible to write a book part-time.

When you are writing your book part-time because you have multiple other commitments, you have to make especially sure you take advantage of all the possible time pockets you have.

In my case, I did the following:

  • Woke up early: I got up in the morning between 5-6am, almost every day.
  • Never worked without a plan: I knew exactly what tasks to focus on after waking up, or whenever writing my book.
  • Slowed down my blogging pace: I posted less on my blog and spent the time saved on the book project.
  • Batched content creation: Whenever creating content for the blog or my email lists, I created more content at once.
  • Took advantage of travel times: I worked on this project during the business trips—either on the train or when staying at the hotel.
  • Asked politely: I asked my wife if was OK to spend time on the book project—instead of spending mutual time with my family (fortunately, I didn’t have to do this too often).

Please note that I used these strategies mainly when I still had a day job. In June 2013, I lost my day job due to economic circumstances, so I had a lot more time to focus on the book and get it finished.

After 431 days, the book was finished! These are the lessons I learned. Do you have any tips to share in the comments?

More by this author

Timo Kiander

Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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