I encourage everyone to write a book, but…
Creative process: 1) This is going to be awesome 2) This is hard 3) This is terrible 4) I’m terrible 5) Hey, not bad 6) That was awesome
— Kazu Kibuishi (@boltcity) August 19, 2013
The Tweet above perfectly sums up how I have felt while writing How To Value Invest and especially how I have felt over the last few weeks perfectly.
I had thought about writing a book about my investing journey for a while before actually doing it. The reason I waited was because I didn’t think I knew enough about it to bring anything different to the table, there were a lot better/more experienced people who should be writing something like I was thinking about doing, and I didn’t think I was a good enough writer to pull it off. In other words I was afraid; afraid of what other people would think, afraid I would fail, and afraid that I would be wasting mine and everyone else’s time. The reason I finally decided to start writing the book about 10 months ago after thinking about it for nearly a year before that was reading the Four Hour Work Week.
At the recommendation of Valueprax I finally decided to read the book that I had heard so much about. I finally relented from my innate stubbornness of thinking that no one could do what Mr. Ferriss claimed could be done by following what he talks about in the book and took the plunge that completely changed my outlook on life. I still do not know if Mr. Ferriss does all he claims that he does since I have not met him personally (Would love to by the way if you are out there Mr. Ferriss) but after reading that book and his blog I came to the conclusion that there is enough evidence out that from many sources that it is indeed possible to live like he does, on only a fraction of the cost of what I had imagined it would cost. I will do a horrible job of describing everything he talks about in the book here so I just recommend reading the Four Hour Work Week for yourself. It is certainty one of the best $15 I have ever spent and again completely changed my outlook on life. Suffice it to say I want to send out a big thank you to Valueprax and Tim Ferriss because without them there would be no How To Value Invest.
Since everyone out there has different life experiences, everyone out there has a slightly different perspective on things, which means that everyone out there has the potential to write a book. We all have different interests, wants, needs, etc which further expands the possibilities of writing a book. For a great explanation of how exploiting niches can be profitable for everyone from the writer to the reader I recommend reading The Long Tail which is only $3 on Kindle.
Below is a list of things I have learned from and some advice from my personal experiences writing How To Value Invest.
Read, Read, Read: Once you have decided to write a book I recommend reading everything you can about writing, publishing, and your particular niche. The sooner you begin to learn the above things the smoother the process will go once you are writing and getting ready to publish. Some of what I have learned from is below.
- The entire Four Hour Work Week blog. This is different from the book and is Tim Ferriss’ main site where he talks about everything from travel, case studies on how to find your niche, building a muse, (An idea that you can come up with to make money and do whatever you want) writing, start ups, and a lot of other random cool stuff. This is the main site I learned from on those topics.
- The aforementioned Four Hour Work Week Book and The Long Tail. Again, this is some of the best $20 I have ever spent and you cannot go wrong reading those two books.
- JA Konrath Blog: Talks a lot about self publishing, has a lot of guest posts from people who have self published, talks about marketing and publicity for self published books, and provides a lot of links that are great to learn from.
- Nathan Barry’s Blog: Talks about self publishing, marketing, becoming an authority in your particular field, teaching everything you know, and how to make money from that. He has written a book called Authority and while I have not read it yet, the reviews I have seen of it have been very positive.
- Chris Guillebeau’s Blog: Talks about entrepreneurship, marketing, start ups, and is the author of The $100 Start Up.
- Read Author 101 Bestselling Book Publicity: The Insider’s Guide to Promoting Your Book–and Yourself, and The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. Both were highly recommended by the multiple time best-selling author Tim Ferriss and I highly recommend them as well. They are great sources of information about marketing and publicity and outside of Mr. Ferriss’ own blog are the resources I recommend reading most on those two subjects.
- I also highly recommend The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing to entrepreneurs, management, and value investors because the lessons in the book can be applied not only to book publishing and marketing but those other fields as well.
These are the main resources that I learned from over the past 10 months or so and I highly recommend them to everyone thinking about or in the process of writing a book.
- Start writing your thoughts down about whatever you are passionate about either in a journal, or preferably on a blog to start building an audience, refining what you have to say, getting feedback, and finding your niche TODAY. The faster you start writing your thoughts down and receiving feedback the faster you will learn.
- There is no need to wait for the perfect time to start doing something you are passionate about because there will never be a perfect time.
- Write a minimum average amount every day. Writing is very hard. Some days the words will flow and some days they will not. But if you stick to an average amount every day you will eventually reach your goal of finishing your book. Sticking to this is a major thing that helped me finish How To Value Invest. Nathan Barry talks a lot about the importance of writing every day and how it has helped him make nearly $250K in the past year. If that does not piqué your interest nothing will.
- In connection with the above point is one of my favorite quotes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-tzu
- Do not underestimate the time commitment it takes to write a book. I was very naïve going into writing How To Value Invest thinking that because I wrote a blog that it would be pretty easy to write a book, especially with how much easier self publishing has gotten recently. Writing a book is A LOT harder than writing a blog, especially if you are a bad writer like I am and have to rewrite and edit things a ton. I estimate that over the past 10 months or so from when I started writing the book to, now finishing it, that I have spent more than 1,000 hours learning, writing, editing, publishing, marketing, etc on it. Be prepared mentally for the grind that can be writing a book.
- Work to get better or learn something every day.
- Write when you are having bad writing days and not just good writing days. Unfortunately if you are anything like me if you only wrote on days where the words were flowing perfectly it would take years to finish writing the book. A little progress every day is better than no progress at all.
- When you have written your book have it either professionally edited or at the very least send it to people you trust to help you edit it. I edited How To Value Invest four entire times myself and then sent it off to some people to get some feedback and didn’t even realize that I had completely missed many things and had to completely edit, take out, and revise the book again but it is infinitely better for that feedback. A different perspective will help you see what could be improved upon or what is missing. After a while you will start to read everything the same way you have been and not see what needs to be improved.
- Unless you are creative get your cover professionally designed. I highly recommend 99designs.com and Lilam, one of the designers there, and the person who made my fantastic cover.
- Set a release date and stick to it.
- Do not take the feedback personally. This is hard for some people, especially if they have put a lot of work into something, but receiving constructive criticism will make the book a lot better.
- Finish the process. Whether it is finishing the book or finishing up marketing and publicity for the book, finish strong. The last 5% is the hardest most stressful part by far but is also the most critical. Do not let emotions wreck your book launch. This is a lot easier said than done as I have struggled with a wicked amount of self-doubt, worry, excitement, nervousness, mortal dread, and adrenaline pumping over the last two weeks preparing for the launch. Take time out of your day if you are feeling overwhelmed, do something else, and then when you have calmed down a bit come back and finish what you were doing.
- Leave some time at the end to make sure everything should run smoothly once the launch day comes. The book was for the most part done about 3 weeks before launch but I left that amount of time to fix things in formatting, iron out technical issues, and hopefully build momentum for the book. Something or things will come up that are out of your control that will need to be fixed before launch and you need to leave yourself time to be able to fix those things.
- If you make a paperback version order a proof copy to make sure everything looks like it should and do not forget to add page numbers like I did. For months I kept reading DO NOT put page numbers in the eBook version of the book or it will not be approved. I read that for so long that when I got my proof paperback copy in person I realized that I had forgotten to put page numbers in the paperback version. Because I left enough time at the end of the process I was able to fix the page number issue and a few other things I found in the proof copy before the final paperback verison was released. This harkens back to the last point, leave yourself time at the end to fix things, oh and do not forget to put page numbers in the paperback version, doh!
- Do not write a book with the main goal of making a lot of money. Write a book because you want to teach, extend your brand, help others, portray yourself as an expert, etc. If you write a book with the main goal to make money you will probably be sorely disappointed as very few authors make a lot of money, especially on their first book.
- Make a plan and stick to it as best as possible. If you do not have a plan for writing, advertising, editing, formatting, etc than you will likely waste a lot of time figuring out what you need to do. The earlier you can make a plan the better. This does not mean to rigidly stick to what you planned months before. Things will come up that you had planned to do that will not work. Make adjustments, improvise if need be, and move on.
- Make a schedule and stick to it.
Everyone should write a book but…….be prepared, work every day, learn, finish the process, and do not go into it naïvely like I did.