Three Lessons Learned from Writing a Book

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:: In retrospect, I’ve always wanted to be an author. Growing up in a bookish family, I spent much of my childhood reading. In college, I majored in English literature while dabbling in psychology and biology.

But whenever I tried writing fiction, my inner critic was scathing. Creative writing terrified me. And nonfiction? I wasn’t an expert in anything.

I put the idea of being an author on the shelf and went on with my life. But it was never completely gone.

Lifelong dreams have a way of resurfacing.

A few years back, I realized that the publishing industry had shifted, opening new possibilities. More to the point, I myself had changed, finding confidence in my opinions and writing ability.

It was time to take a run at that dream of being an author, albeit in a different way than I imagined as a child. So I gathered my courage and wrote my first book, Subscription Marketing. I haven’t looked back since.

Here are three things I learned in the process of fulfilling this neglected, longtime ambition:

  1. Writing a book deepens your expertise

Most of my adult life, I thought that I had to be an undisputed expert in a topic before I could write a book about it.

That’s not entirely right. What’s needed is a sense of curiosity and the willingness to dive deep.

Doing the research and writing made me more of an expert than I was at the outset. The process fueled creative thought and refined my perspective. It made me smarter, at least about my topic.

The learning didn’t stop when the book was published, as I continued to talk with people about the subject.

Takeaway: If you want to strengthen your expertise, write a book.

  1. Writing a book is a social act

I thought that writing a book would be lonely and difficult. It’s true that, in the drafting phase of the process, I shut myself away from the world and client work.

But being an author turned out to be a very social activity. I reached out to clients, experts, authors, and businesses for interviews and quotes. I spoke with potential readers to assess their reactions. I collaborated with cover designers, editors, and others during the publication process. And (for my subsequent books), I rallied a “launch team” of colleagues and friends to help me get the book into the world.

Once the book was out, I started interacting with people through podcasts, blogs, social media, etc.

The whole image of the “solitary writer” is a myth for nonfiction authors.

  1. Personal growth is the real payback

Everything about the process made me stretch outside my comfort zone. Long accustomed to writing in the voice of the brand, I had to claim my own tone and style. I moderated panel discussions, spoke at meetings and conferences, did podcast interviews, recorded videos – all new experiences.

A funny thing happens when you stretch your comfort zone – it gets bigger. You discover capabilities, develop strengths, and grow.

To date, I’ve published three books, in addition to a second edition of my first one. I’m hard at work on the next project. The decision to attempt the first book transformed my career, and the growth and change hasn’t stopped.

How about you? Is there a book in your life plan?

Is writing a book in your bucket list?

A professional, well-written book can do transform your career:

  • Expanding the reach of your ideas
  • Enhancing your authority
  • Connecting you with people (and potential clients) beyond your usual realms
  • Opening new opportunities

Plus, it can be a lot of fun and a source of personal growth, as it was for me.

If you want guidance on getting started or understanding your options, join me for a half-day workshop From Idea to Publication: Crafting Your Nonfiction Book Plan on October 4th, on the LinkedIn campus in Sunnyvale.

We’ll cover the soup-to-nuts process, from finding and refining your book premise through publication options and book marketing. No matter where you are in the process, you’ll come away with ideas for the next steps and resources for creating your own map to publication.

Register before September 27 for early bird pricing. I hope to see you there.

 

About Anne Janzer

Anne Janzer is a professional writer who has worked with more than one hundred technology companies. She is author of the books The Writer’s Process and Subscription Marketing.

She enjoys working with writers to improve their processes and help them bring new books into the world. Follow her posts at annejanzer.com.

Comments

  1. nancy@hrprose.com' Nancy Nelson says:

    I am looking forward to your workshop on October 4!

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