TinyHouseBigSolution is a personal finance and lifestyle blog for people who dream of working from home. The main focus includes building a Tiny House in order to lower monthly bills and live debt free, travel full time, master social media marketing, how to start online businesses, and motivation for fulfilling personal goals.
In preparation for the publication of my new book, I read countless blogs, books and other resources to prepare myself. Sure, I had an idea about what I wanted to write and the story I wanted to tell, but there are some major mistakes and pitfalls I made along the way. I made too many promises to my audience, I crowdfunded way too early in the process, and I produced a book that was far from publication ready. I still made a lot of money doing it! But are are some really big mistakes I made that cost me time, success, and most importantly cut into my profit margin.
Here are my 10 basic steps to follow when setting out to create your masterpiece.
1. Don’t worry about the ending.
You heard me right, your ending doesn’t freaking matter. Some of the most favorite works of literary art ended basically when the author became bored with their characters and just said, “Screw it! Kill them all.” Don’t believe me? Just re-read the Shining or Hamlet and tell me that Stephen King or Bill Shakespeare didn’t just decide to randomly end the story there.
When you really take the time to think about it, life can begin or end at any point. Oftentimes our death is the least interesting part of our life. In the same way, if you are looking to make a Sixth Sense level gotcha moment at the end of your book, well… just stop!
Do people talk about Dan Brown being the greatest ender of stories ever? No, its all the meaty action stuff in the middle that has people on suspense. Stories shouldn’t really end anyway. You always want to keep it open ended, with room for your book to become a Best Seller so you can create countless sequels and prequels.
This applies to memoirs as well. Unless you are writing your memoir on your death bed, make sure that it is very targeted. A memoir about a certain aspect of your experience with life; your intro into politics, how you made it through law school, etc. You will live plenty more life, and if people enjoy your book, they will want to hear about those other aspects.
Endings suck. So don’t worry about them.
2. Just get a chapter out.
You can always revisit a chapter later. You do not have to aim for perfection every single time you write one out. Every aspect of your book can and should be revisited numerous times. So if your chapter comes out to have only 800 words and you feel done with it for now, be done and move on. But come back to the material over time.
One discipline I keep is that every Monday I re-read my current manuscript, chapter by chapter. I take the time to really look everything: Is there enough dialogue? Did I drive the point home enough? What I find is that this process allows me to easily double and sometimes triple a chapter over time. This process is really important if you have word count goals for each chapter.
Don’t skip a chapter! This is so fundamentally important. Some folks will skip a chapter in their outline (we’ll get to outlines in a minute) and then next thing you know, they never come back to it or it feels really half-hearted and forced once they do. Even if you aren’t feeling a lot of emotion about a chapter, write it out anyway. Again, even if that chapter turns out to only be 300 words, you will continue to revisit it and build upon it over time.
3. Write every day. EVERY DAY!
If you want to get fit, you can’t only work out once a week. The same rule applies to accomplishing your writing goals. In the same vein of how you properly BUDGET, sometimes you have to make sacrifices in order to get where you are going. You cut eating out in order to afford your family vacation. Sometimes you have to downsize a vehicle in order to be able to afford a boat. Whatever it is that you re-allocate in order to meet your goals, you have to make sacrifices somewhere.
The same applies to your writing. If you want to write a book, you are going to have to create time to do it. When I wrote my first book, which is a memoir (learn more about memoirs here), I wrote it during a very busy time in my life. However, that business was extremely inspiring. It was the experiences themselves, in real time, that made me realize I needed to write the memoir! But, being busy meant that I needed to carve time into my very busy schedule to write. It mean I had to REORGANIZE my time!
If you want to write a quality book, that means you are going to have to give it quality time. Maybe you will need to cut out movies or TV at night, read a little less, just find the time! Every minute you spend staring at cats on social media is one more minute you aren’t GETTING RICH selling your book on AMAZON.
4. Outline but don’t schedule.
Creating an outline is an important part of your process. It lets you know the basics of where your story is heading, how many chapters you might want, what the rhythm of the book feels like. I use my initial outline as a place to write out notes and as a grounding point to run back to when I feel like I’ve lost track. However, always remember: An outline is just a guide, it is not law! This is your story and sometimes its going to take on a life of its own.
Don’t overly schedule yourself on what you are going to write about specifically, but definitely do set aside that time to write. The only time you should really get into schedules is if you are writing a history or science book and you’ve got to rely on a lot of interviews and the knowledge of others to accomplish your project.
5. Don’t make promises!
Maybe you are going to set up a crowd funding site to self publish your book or you might be going the traditional route, but no matter what you are doing, don’t tell people when and where and how! I have worked on projects with major production companies and been told we would start filming, writing, or be in production in a year but it turned into three years, and I’ve worked on projects that were supposed to be two years in the making and we were done in six months.
Just let the process take the time it needs and don’t get over your head.
6. Don’t worry about grammar.
I basically kill homophones while writing. Their, there, they’re, thereasaurus-rex, it’s all the same to me! If I got stuck on making sure that I was getting all of my grammar correct while writing, or stressing over the currently trending way to place a comma, I would end up never accomplishing anything. And chances are you wouldn’t either.
There is a reason god invented editors and that is to edit your manuscript. Your job isn’t editing, your job is creating. Professional editors are basically the accountants of the literary world. Now, picking the right editor is important, but guess what, you aren’t the editor! You will never accomplish finishing your book if you freak out about every little detail. But since we are talking about editing…
7. Edit, edit again. Then edit again.
Okay. So, you’ve written out your outline and the first drafts of all your ch apters are finished. You’ve written yourself a certified damn book my friend! You have done everything right. You’ve backed your draft up on your computer, on the cloud, on a thumb drive, time capsule, time machine, and just in case of a solar flare, you’ve got a six hard copies printed out. Now that you’ve done that, its time to realize that your book completely sucks. Sure, you’ve got the bones to your masterpiece but there are whole parts of it that don’t make any sense to anyone but you. You’ve got some major plot holes, and since you didn’t worry about grammar, what you have written might not actually be English.
You need to distribute your book to friends, family, and even one enemy might not hurt. Print them out and give a copy of your manuscript and a red pin to people you trust. Let them butcher your book. Let them ask you questions, point out plot holes, and correct all that grammar you ignored.
Go back to the drawing board and write, re-write, edit, and re-edit. Follow all that good advice about adding more and more to each chapter, every time you sit down in front of your manuscript, you begin to notice that those word counts are going up, those chapters are getting longer, and your Monday night manuscript read through is starting to actually take a pretty long time.
Then you’ve gotta give those manuscripts back out to those same people again and hope their red pens still have ink left!
Repeat one more time.
8. Send it off to the editor.
Once you’ve done all of this hard work, its time to send that little bad boy out to your editor. And you know what you do now? You sit and you wait. That’s right. You leave your editor alone and let them do what they do best, completely destroy your manuscript in every way.
When you finally get your manuscript back from the editor, send it back out to those friends who have already read it, and let them tell you which things the editor changed that they don’t like. Then you begin negotiating with your editor.
Then it’s time to publish that book. Finally!
There is an old story that I tell all the time that deals with the idea essentially there was a man who refused to advertise. He wouldn’t advertise when he was having a sale, when a new product came out, or even just to announce that his business existed in the yellow pages. The only time he purchased advertising was for a going out of business sale.
No one wants to spend money, especially if you feel like you don’t have any to spare! But the saying that you have to spend money to make money is very, very true. Even if you’ve built an amazing social media audience and blog following, there will be certain platforms you don’t excel at. Ultimately, you will have to advertise. Now, I’m sure your book is a masterpiece and everyone will think you’re the next Anne Rice, but even if that is true… no one is going to know it unless you advertise.
One of the best things about blogging is that you can actually monetize your promotions. So, you not only have a platform to sell your book from, you are making money from advertising your own book. It’s pretty amazing. here is a how-to guide on starting and setting up your blog.
Books don’t sell themselves. So, unless you want your mom to be the only person who ever reads it, you better put advertising into your budget.
10. Build an audience. (link over to social media blog.)
Almost all advertising is based upon whatever audience you currently have. Basically, if you have 10 friends on Facebook it means that you have the potential to reach 100 through advertising. Its all based upon the reach of your current social network. If you are going to sell your book and make it successful, your work begins on building a solid social network through every social media stream you can feasibly conquer, all while blogging about it.
That being said, you don’t have to have a monster page with millions of followers in order to make some real money utilizing social media advertising.
If you want to learn how to build a truly solid and loyal social media group, you should check this out.
Well, now you’ve build an audience, taken real time to write your book out, successfully outlined the whole thing, and it has been edited to perfection. You’ve done the hard part! Now its time to get out there and sell your book! One of the best ways to do that is through a successful book tour! Book tours are one of the most rewarding experiences of being a successful author. Meeting people face to face who actually like the stuff you write is pretty cool! Here is a guide to creating a successful and lucrative book tour.