Now that it’s all said and done, I’m a best-selling self-published author. But I must say that the road wasn’t easy. I felt like Robert Frost taking the road less traveled. Anyone that wants to write a book should absolutely write a book whether you choose to go through a traditional publishing company, a self-publishing company, or simply self-publish on your own. It’s rewarding and it has the potential to open tons of doors! Along the way I ran into 5 obstacles that I had to dig deep to either jump over or knock down.
1. Process: Where was the step-by-step process?
In 2011 I received a phone call from a large publishing company that wanted me to write a book. At the time I was co-leading a high school math department and heading to law school. I had a lot on my plate and didn’t see writing a book feasible. Not to mention, I’m a mathematician and not an English major. Welp, like any decent man… I told them…
“Sounds like a great idea!”
I took the opportunity to learn the process and see if there was any possible way I could fit this into my schedule.
In other words, I definitely didn’t have the time! LOL! I communicated this with the book company and they understood and wanted to keep the idea alive. They gave me 3 winning book proposals from actual authors the company published. It was a perfect first step among the step-by-step process with the publishing company. This even came with a built in coach to guide me throughout the process. They hit me with the typical first time author deal.
Publisher Lady: Shawn we will offer you 10%-15% ownership and a $20k or even possibly a $25k advance.
Shawn: ***Blank stare***
Shawn: ***Doesn’t take a mathematician to do the math***
Shawn: So you mean to tell me you’re going to own 90% of my work and you’re going to be gracious enough to let me borrow $20k until my book sales cover the loan.
(How sweet of you!)
Publisher Lady: I know what you’re thinking. Well, that may sound rough. However, there are perks.
Shawn: No Thanks.
I was back to the drawing board with this great idea. I still had the proposals that gave me a really good launching pad. But there were so many more elements to the process and I needed some kind of coach to make this idea come into fruition.
2. Self-Doubt: Wait am I author material?
I’m a mathematician, I wasn’t much of a reader, I wasn’t much of a writer, and the last time I wrote a paper was almost a decade prior. Honestly, writing felt like one of grandma’s choirs. Seems like I should at least enjoy the writing process to write a book. Right? Ohhhh, there was that one creative writing class in undergrad with a dope adjunct professor, Jeff Bankowski. It was cool. I liked the idea of being descriptive in my writing. I even wrote a dozen five-page papers in his class. That counts…
Honestly, as long as you’re not an idiot you can write a book. It simply matters whether you have a story, message, or expertise. I had all three of those!
Do you have a story, message, or expertise?
3. Mentors and Friendtors: My mentors really couldn’t help me…
My immediate next steps were to write out what I knew and what I didn’t know. Once I knew what I didn’t know, I started connecting with some of my best-selling author mentors and friendtors. In a nutshell, this is what they said:
Mentor 1: I had a number of corporations, foundations, and famous friends collaborate on the book. Add those elements paired with work ethic and that’s how I made a best-sellers list.
Mentor 2: I worked so hard I had the luxury of having Oprah find interest in my story. Between her influence and connections, it was simply a matter of time for the inspiring story to hit a best sellers list.
Mentor 3: I have millions of followers. I said, “buy my book people.” They bought my book.
Okay. So I didn’t have corporations, foundations, or famous friends actually working on my project. Oprah hadn’t personally read my story. I didn’t have millions of followers.
This forced me to think about what I did have. Hmmm… Interesting. I’m back to the drawing board. I’m a self-publishing author with an impactful story, a bit of notoriety, some influence, and a network that I can leverage. From mentor #1 I know that I should work on collaborations, from mentor #2 I should work on influencers that believe in my brand and work, from mentor #3 I can work with my following.
4. Team: I needed a team and didn’t know…
The idea of writing an ENTIRE book was still daunting. I simply knew that I wanted it done. I still didn’t know everything I needed to complete the process. I connected with another best-selling author and mentor (Gail Perry-Mason, I Love her!) who suggested a co-writer. This was one of the best pieces of unlocking the code. This person could show me the ropes. All I needed was a system and I could push through the process from there.
Was it that easy? Nope!
The co-writer wasn’t accustomed to my style, used traditional means of publishing, and worked with names bigger than mine. Nevertheless, she had a solid foundation of completing the writing process and giving me an understanding of the team of players I needed to complete the process. I needed editors, designers, a website, PR, and more… It was a start.
5. Cost: The Reality of the Cost!
Wait… All these roles that are needed on the team started to make me think about the kind of money that’s necessary to make an excellent product. Sheesh! I thrive on producing quality products… I had to find a more efficient and effective way.
I found a better way! After releasing print, e-book, becoming a best-seller, and executing a 42-stop national book tour I created a process to make sure others can do the same! Are you interested in writing a book? Do you have a story, message, or expertise? If this is you, I have something for you. Stay tuned my friend.
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Your Mentorship Specialist,