The hard part of writing a book isn’t getting published. It’s the actual writing. In this article, I offer 10 steps for writing a book along with 10 bonus steps to getting your book done. Books don’t just write themselves, after all. You have to invest everything you are into creating an important piece of work.
For centuries, historians believed the great Renaissance master was just another Starving Artist, struggling to make ends meet. Michelangelo himself embraced this image, living frugally and often complaining about money. He once wrote in a poem that his art had left him “poor, old and working as a servant of others.”
But it turns out he wasn’t telling the truth.
“Just be yourself” is probably the worst advice we could ever receive or give. Few of us actually know who we really are. And yet, if we can acquire this art of self-awareness, everything changes.
Recently while speaking onstage, I heard myself say something I didn’t plan on saying. I didn’t rehearse it. I didn’t have it in my notes. It just came out. The line was: “Sometimes, the good has to end before the better can begin.”
The best marketing you can do for your work is not to build an empire, but to find a few friends who care. We all want to reach the masses and see our work get into the mainstream. We want to have an “impact.” But the only way to reach the many is to first reach the few.
This is all marketing is: Finding a handful of misfits who appreciate your work before anyone else does, then giving those people the tools to help spread the message. The way we get a Harry Potter, Apple Computer, or Amanda Palmer is not by trying to reach everyone all at once. Quite the opposite in fact.
Whether you want to write books, make art, or share your music with the world, having an email list of fans is a must. Email is the most effective way to communicate with your people.
It’s one thing to understand the importance of email marketing and quite another to actually build an email list that allows you to reach a large audience.
Some fads have come and gone and come back again. And some have stayed gone. But do you know what has always remained? Email.
You need an email list. It’s just that simple. If you want to write a book that sells thousands of copies or more, you need people paying attention to your work. If you want your message to spread, you need people’s permission to communicate with them. And if you want your words to change something, then you need an audience.
Is it possible to live a life on your own terms? Can you do what you want even when it defies the expectations of others? Is the way you’re living right now a story that others would want to tell? And how do you do all this with bills to pay and responsibilities to manage?
One question I keep hearing is: What’s your favorite writing tool? It’s always good to ask what’s working for someone, but this question represents a popular misconception about creative work.
You didn’t fail. The goal was to learn something, so if you learned, you succeeded. It’s only when the unexpected happens and we don’t learn from it that we really fail. The reason why you may not have achieved what you set out to achieve was that you were measuring (and therefore expecting) the wrong thing.