David Wray

CommunicationEmbracing learningGoal SettingGritPublishingWriting

What I Learned Publishing a Book

The challenges of publishing a book, cartoon showing procrastination!
Credit: Jorge Cham

Publishing a book is easy!

Uh, not quite! Self-publishing has been made more accessible in recent years, however, publishing is more than merely creating a print (or digital) product. The internet is packed with book publishing advice, some of it quite helpful and some of it wasteful. An excellent resource during your book publishing journey is the site of Jane Freidman. She is a long-standing industry professional, and an author herself, offering practical and down-to-earth advice!

There are some lessons that can be gleaned from personal experiences. The particularly helpful lessons are ones that save time and money. That is because publishing a book can suck both away if you are not careful!  I shared some lessons learned about writing a book in a previous blog, so I won’t repeat it here.

The backdrop to my book publishing experience is a long windy journey, but a rewarding one at the end of the day. Here is a good point to share the first tip: writing a book takes perseverance and grit to see through. You might be thinking that is an obvious point, and it is but it is continuously remembering this fact that sees us through our roadblock moments. Believe me, they happen…

The perseverance that saw me through

I’ve been asked several times how I did it. As corny as this may sound, it was a journey of a hundred steps, and I took each step one after the other until all one hundred were completed. 

I started writing the book in 2013, finished it in 2020, and published it in 2021 – eight years from idea to bookshelves around the world! Admittedly I wrote most of it, on a part-time basis, in 2013 and the first half of 2014 and then didn’t pick it up again until 2019. Life was busy in the intervening years for business and personally, so I set it aside until I could re-dedicate energy for it. In mid-2019 I sought a free-lance editor to help me get it back off the ground by polishing it. It worked, Alice inspired me to improve it and Carolyn knocked it out of the ballpark. In this step lies the second tip: always, always get a thorough and complete edit. 

For The Power of Potential, this involved a three-step process: 

  1. A structural and developmental edit 
  2. A copywrite edit
  3. A proofreading edit

The Greenleaf Book Group wrote a helpful blog on the building and editing of your book to explain each type of edit. 

Before I approached a publisher, I shared the book with two people I trusted to give me unvarnished and honest feedback. Feedback is tip three – seek constructive feedback (meaning feedback with suggestions to address problems they identify) from individuals you trust to help you improve. This feedback helped me appreciate the impact the book was having on readers – it energized me to see it through and improve it further. 

Moving beyond content in publishing a book 

The content is what readers want but given the sea of options, our book needs a bit of help to stand out from the crowd and catch the eye of our target audience.

This process step starts with the title and book cover art. Some of us are creative and some of us are not, but even if we are we are often too close to the project to be truly objective. Two teams helped me – one to choose the title first and a lead designer to then create the book cover and artwork. Kim’s design talent lay in blending things I like with the title choices. In both reading the book and talking to me, she recognized that skill development lies in both what you can observe and what you cannot observe. I coin it the visible and invisible workings that together lead to skill mastery. She reflects this idea in the graphic of a paper airplane being the primary focus…but the shadow of a jumbo jet!

Moving beyond the cover into the pages – here our focus is on layout, fonts, chapter headings, page numbers, and alignment. This typeset step is also one of design that requires a very different skill than writing. The layout process is made easier with the right tools. Reedsy is a tool combining both the ability to write the book and then, through its tools, complete the layout. Another software tool that I personally use is Scrivner, a versatile soup to nuts option for writers that want to do write flexibly in their own way.  

Marketing and selling your book

Product considerations addressed, focus shifts to marketing and selling the book. For most of us, as first-time writers, sales and marketing can quickly suck away your money if you aren’t careful. Start by considering the book write-up. How you can hook readers and leave them wanting to know more after reading the headline? Follow this by considering the keywords or categories used to promote the book, through Amazon or Barnes & Noble for instance. A good place to start is an author platform page, I share my Amazon example here. Running ads, is of course an option, albeit one best left to digital marketing experts!

Lastly, whether you self-publish or you do so through a publisher, an author still needs to promote their own work. Here it is best to adopt a team approach. The power of many is definitely true when it comes to promoting the book on social media! I am fortunate to have a brilliant network of people supporting my book by purchasing it and promoting it through their social media platforms, and through organizations like the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario (CPA Ontario) talking about the ideas on podcasts and in career webinars or coffee chats. 

Several reader book reviews are underway, a gracious gift to help other readers make their decision. Ask for these, where you can. 

Publishing a book in seven steps

To recap the lesson tips in a simple checklist:

  1. Persevere, see your idea through
  2. Find and use a good editor (or better yet, editing team)
  3. Seek and obtain constructive honest feedback
  4. Standing out from the crowd with a catchy title and artwork that speaks to the reader
  5. Consider the layout and typeset that works for your book
  6. Create a hook headline that draws readers in wanting to know more
  7. Market and sell the book

It has been less than three weeks since the launch of The Power of Potential, but already I am receiving photos from individuals all around the world that have purchased it and see the power in the model for themselves. It is brilliant to see the book achieving my objective of helping others reach their true potential faster and easier than they otherwise would have!

What is your book dream and when can we collectively support you in its launch?

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