3 Things I Learned… Writing a Book

movable type - backgroundWriting a book is like starting a business.  It takes planning, staff, and money.  I just never imagined how much effort, money, and time it takes…  and that has nothing to do with actually putting words to print!

After 30 years in marketing, I went into writing my book feeling like a know it all.  It totally humbled me, and made me realize just how much I still have to learn. The book “It’s Not About You, It’s About BACON!  Relationship Marketing In A Social Media World!“, began as a “How-To” book, but I learned as I started writing it, that it was going to be obsolete as soon as I finished each chapter. Things are changing daily, and now it’s a “Why-To” book.  When I teach social media at local colleges, I have to update the screen shots in my PowerPoints (Keynotes) because the interfaces of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others are different each new quarter I teach!

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I recently talked with another author who wanted to hire us to help him with his social media, but I had to refuse.  Not because I didn’t have the time or couldn’t help him, it was because I could not make him money.  His royalty per book was 50¢, and if he spent $1000 trying to promote, we would have to help him sell 6000 books to make a profit from these efforts (I live by a 3-to-1 guarantee on my services). Self publishing can give you a $10+ per book profit, but you have to do all the work or pay someone for it.

My book is written, but it’s not done (due to be released July 1st, 2013).  Writing the book was literally less than half the work of producing a book for sale. Just writing it does not mean that you will become a best selling author.  Also you have to choose to either self publish or find a publisher that would take a chance on you? What follows are the 3 biggest lessons I have learned so far.

  1. It Takes a Village – Aside from my friends and family, I hired 5 people to read the first draft of the book.  They all said the same thing.  The beginning sucked, and then I hit my stride around chapter 5.  Also, I needed to add some clarity to the content and I had repeated stories across some chapters.  I added a chapter, refocused and rewrote 20% of the content (it took almost 100 hours to write in the first place).  Then I had to hire a book editor to help me deal with my masters class terminology and my 2nd grade punctuation. Writing a book is a lot of work, and you need to assemble a rockstar team to help you make good… great!
  2. There Is An App For This (But Not That) -The book was originally written in IBooks Author (Mac App).  It helped me focus it into book form, but would only output to IBooks or PDF, so I needed to find another tool to help me focus and output a real book.  After joining a few Google+ communities, I then discovered Scrivener.  It’s an awesome tool for writing a book, but then I had to find a consultant to train me how to output it properly for a finished printed book. Another thing I did not know is non-fiction books need an index (a list of words or phrases and associated pointers, where useful material relating to that can be found). There is no software that does that well.  There are ‘Professional Indexers’ (I hired one).  Who Knew?
  3. Marketing is Hard Work – One of the best things I did was hire a designer to design my book cover before I even really started the book. It made it real before it was done, and gave me a jumping off point for marketing.  Then I had to learn to format the text for publishing, and import into Create Space, learn to add it to Amazon and understand their metrics and advertising. I also needed to layout and then have a designer finish the book cover.  Finally, there is developing a book website, Facebook Page, flyers, booking a facility for a book signing and promoting that, hiring caterers, creating book marks and other marketing materials. And I am just getting started!

Self publishing means I have to sell between 150-200 books to break even on money spent.  I need to sell another 500 books to cover my time and energy.  If I was working with a publisher, I would have to sell between 15,000 and 20,000 books to do the same.  Is all the energy and effort worth it?  Ask me in a couple of months!  Was it an awesome learning experience?  Oh Hell Yeah!

Book Preview Video

Have any questions or things I can answer for you?  Comment away!

4 Responses to 3 Things I Learned… Writing a Book

  1. avatar
    Jim Kendall May 30, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

    Long-time advocate, both in my weekly small business column and in working with friends and clients, that a well-done book ican be a great marketing tool. Good show. Can hardly wait to see a copy.

    • avatar
      Brian Basilico May 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

      Thanks Jim…

      Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

  2. avatar
    Cheryl Perez August 19, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Brian,

    Great piece about writing a book. I do layout and design for some bestsellers, as well as up and coming and wanna-be authors. Most of them publish with CreateSpace, some with Lightning Source, and almost all also convert their manuscript for uploading to Kindle and Nook.

    You were spot-on with so much of the information you shared. It’s NOT just getting the words on paper. There is so much more to it..

    Hope you sell millions, and more than make your money back.

    Here’s the irony…I’m in Aurora as well! LOL

    All Best,
    Cheryl

    • avatar
      Brian Basilico August 19, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Cheryl

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