Five years ago, I didn’t know anybody who had written a book. Now I’m legend in my own mind and four of my friends are also published authors. Their four books are good. Two of my other friends will soon finish their first books.
I celebrated my 59th birthday just before summiting Kilimanjaro. That was the hardest physical thing I have ever done.
The hardest mental accomplishment was writing the book. It took 50 years to prepare and more than two years to get something that was worth reading. Here are seven reflections.
Decide what not to write.
There was an abundance of books on a similar topic, many of which were better than what I could’ve written. With passing time, I remembered we all die and understood the implications of that vital truth. The resulting legacy viewpoint justified the mental, emotional, financial, and time cost of producing the book.
Your first draft will be flushable.
Stephen King, Steven Pressfield, and Annie Dillard agree that your first draft is vomiting a lot of what you think you know. Fortunately, I had no illusion of writing well, but I had enough respect for my readers to seek expert help. A trusted writing coach, Wally Bock, said he could coach me, and that ghostwriting would not be necessary. That pleasant surprise led to roughly 100 Saturdays before the volume was published.
Great writing is re-writing.
You rewrite until you have something that’s worth reading. Re-writing is among the most important keys to effective writing.
Research is necessary, even when you’re already an expert.
Reading about writing was particularly helpful to me. Wally understood that professionals love the grind. I knew that was true for brokerage. And when I put on a writer’s cap, I chose to embrace the grind of writing and found joy in it.
Choose the help you want and need.
Among the reasons that I chose Wally Bock as my coach, was that he had the knack for capturing the writer’s unique voice, the word choice, perspective. I had read one of the books he worked on. I knew the author and I could hear the author talking as I read. Wally shoveled through vast steaming piles of manure to find the few ponies which produced reader compliments. He kept some of my peculiar phrasing which resonated with readers. Wally helped birth a volume that he and I are both proud of. I told him he made me look better than I am. He said, “No, I showed you as good as you are.”
Beta readers make your book better.
More than 50 beta readers read portions of my volume. Wally has published more than 50 books and he says that that was more than any other author that he has worked with.
I invited many wise people to read sections, even though many lacked expertise in the chapters they didn’t read. Every person provided at least one observation or suggestion that improved the book. Two trusted people helped immensely. One disagreed with a major premise. The other friend questioned scores of paragraphs. Fortunately, they both cared enough to be candid and persistent. The finished volume was far better because of their engagement.
You will not make much money from book sales.
Most books are not profitable. My second edition is going to the press soon and the royalties won’t pay for even 1/10 of what I’ve paid Wally. The professional assignments which came from the book have made it more lucrative than 90% of published books.
For most people writing a book is the wrong choice, but maybe you’re the exception. Perhaps you and a topic or passion could make a great book. If you’d like to talk privately, I’d welcome your contact.
Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.”