I’ve (Dara) mentioned before that I’m really close to being done with my book The Indie Author Revolution. Fall 2012 I’ll be getting off this writing train and will officially enter the world of Authorpreneurship. I’m getting excited.
I wish I could tell you that this journey played out the way I expected. I wish I could tell you that writing my book was easier than I expected. There were twists and turns, highs and lows, and many lessons along the way that quite frankly caught me off guard. Here are the five lessons that smacked me in the face, but might help you:
1. Writing a book isn’t a quick affair
I tried hard to be done in a year. I know. I was a crazy person who thought that made sense. I knew it was an aggressive plan, but I’m also a person who needs impossible deadlines or I just don’t get things done.
But here’s what: I learned that any deadline I gave myself, it took twice as long to meet it. Why? Because writing your book relies heavily on others if you want it be good.
Editing, proofreading, and rewriting required my full attention. Carefully reviewing the feedback and suggestions of others took more time than I thought.
2. The people you hire (editors, designers, proofreaders, etc.) are most often right, but not always
I had wonderfully skilled editors, a fantastic designer, a cover artist, reviewers and two proofreaders go through my book. I feel extremely lucky.
My books is better for the sharp folks who took the time to ensure my book is high-quality, accurate, and polished. But there were some things I felt strongly about that some disagreed with. I learned that I could and should go with my gut on a few things.
I decided not to go with any of the cover design concepts my designer presented. I knew in my heart that they just weren’t capturing the feel I wanted. I hired an illustrator and he created the exact cover I felt my audience would connect with.
As you’re working on your book, listen to your team. They want the best for you. But, in the event you you disagree with something, trust your instincts.
3. Your first title idea probably isn’t the best idea
I had trouble settling on a title. I kept going back to my first idea, which was From Passion to Print. I don’t think that title is bad. Thankfully, I also wasn’t married to it.
When Amy (fellow Wise Ink blogger) suggested a brainstorming session, we came up with The Indie Author Revolution. Much better than all the other ideas we floated, including the title I thought I’d decided on.
I learned that as you write, you become more clear and confident in your voice, your book’s value, and the overall mission of your book. Things evolve through rewriting and editing.
Question whether the first title you thought of gels with your final manuscript. My book evolved from being a book about writers pursuing their dream to publish. It also captures the movement of indie publishing — the revolution. It made sense to change it. There may be a title you haven’t thought of or been open to that fits your book better.
4. Less really is more
I got into the writing process. I so into it, that I went overboard. I’d seen other authors do the same thing and had even been the voice of reason for many of them. I’d caution them against adding two more chapters when their book was already teetering on too long. I’d advise to choose the cover that wasn’t too busy.
Yet, when it came to my book, I suffered the same pitfalls I’d witnessed others go through. Editors slashed hefty portions of my manuscript. Even in proofreading, we (proofreader) discovered yet more runon sentences and redundant descriptions. We (editors) removed a lot charts, resources, irrelevant quotes and stories, and anything that was absolutely critical.
I learned that even though I might really find a certain word, paragraph, section, chart, or resource valuable, my reader might actually find it cumbersome and distracting. A hard lesson, but a good one.
5. You will get really tired of your book
I learned that fatigue is part of the journey. It’s taken two years to get this book done and it’s officially not done done. I’ve been tempted so many times to edge it to the finish line prematurely. I’m glad I haven’t done that. Well I’m glad that others stopped me from doing that.
Final lesson: keep going. Expect that the unexpected will be tiresome and that it will suck sometimes. Then kick yourself in the pants and keep it moving. Your audience doesn’t have all day afterall.