What it took to be an author, and how you can too
It’s rare for me ever to look back at my actions to decipher what it took to become an author. I don’t even really think of myself in that context, yet I have four published books, over a 1,000+ articles written, a generously paid speaker, and a slew of content for audio experiences including an Alexa skill available online. In fact, it is only after this morning would I truly identify myself as an author, and that is after presenting to an active and curious morning full of 4th graders.
I am an author, I create and share, because — joy
What it took to be an author, practically
1 Set time for writing
To write a book I reserve anywhere between one hour a day during the week, and 8 hours a day on the weekend to write. The time here is committed to the putting of words on paper. If I have a need to create an outline, do research, play with fonts, or survey my audience on topics they would find interesting, or anything that is not writing … that is done during another time.
That is an important insight to creating a work of art. That the process has many pieces and that some time is sacred. The writing of the words is sacred — and never messed, missed, or replaced.
2 Create media to support
I love graphics, illustrations, and tables to convey ideas. As the author I have the responsibility to decide on what art fits my message and connects the message. That also means, in order for me to have art in the book — cover page, or in the main part of the book, I need to be an artist.
I am an artist but my doodles are just that, doodles. To overcome my artistry skill I have found great success in sketching my ideas down, and then finding third party artists to make the final version. Now my last book successfully had art made from someone in Manilla. It took me several artists to find one who had the style I was seeking and could convey my ideas to paper. The lesson — I the author had to create the art, but the artist / illustrator is the one who made it spectacular.
I am proud of the art we created and find it massively important element in my book.
In fact, I did the same thing for the cover! I designed it and then worked with someone in Germany for the cover. Took time given our distance, but I am very happy with the results.
4th Grader: “Have you ever thought what you wrote isn’t good and shouldn’t be shared?”
Me: ALL THE TIME.
Yet, who am I to judge? Am I being too self critical? Am I thinking of how others would judge me when they see / read it? Does it even matter what others think, if I loved it? What if they hate it? What if they slap it in my face? How do I even know what I wrote is worth sharing?
I don’t … but one thing I have learned is — the only way to give my art light is to release it. Then let your audience decide. If they all hate it … ok, I still liked it. If they love something I wasn’t certain on, even better!
So in the end, I try not to be self critical and ignore the negative voices. I’d rather be me, authentic, and true to you than not. What I feel and write is real, and if you grace me with your attention to consume it — I damn well better give you the truth.
Let your audience decide:
test the cover designs
Test the colors
Test the titles
Test the images
Test the tests and test to discover how you are able to bring value to the customer.
As feedback eludes to this habit, I wanted to highlight this 100%. You must be vulnerable. You must share the rawness, the journey, the struggle, the journey, and build from that point.
I write about love, loss, divorce, and deeper emotions. I also write about mindfulness, finding strength, and paths to growth. Yet, I am an expert in several fields now and those topics deserve documentation too. My belief has become to share what I know, period full stop. Cybersecurity, social media marketing, leadership, parenting based on 100s of studies and decades of insights, and more. Whether I write about something unique, fiction, or resourceful it is my perspective. Sure there are other viewpoints, but none that are like my own.
None that are LIKE YOUR OWN.
#1 reasons creators don’t create; someone already created “it”
They created their version — book podcast, video, product… you have unique set of life experiences that other’s didn’t share. You’ll execute it in a unique manner. You’ll deliver it different people or those to benefit from another angle. There is an abundance in life, in time, and in knowledge to be shared. Be free to share and give forward. You must. I need you. The world needs you to do it.
5 The work
Make the time, sit down and produce no matter what, and see it to the end. There is no starting a book and not finishing it. No agent or publisher can bring your book across the line. That is a fire you need to feed and manage.
The work is the work — seeing the whole body of work; seeing the vision; bringing the parties together to execute on the work, and bringing it all the way to the finish line. For me that involved writing 500 pages for my first book over 9 months and then having to cut 250 pages in the last week. It meant 17 “proofs” printed and reviewed of my “final” book before it was actually correct. It means thousands of edits and desperate moments. It also means having no expectation of others in the process, but appreciation. You can ask for others to review; help; buy; write; draw; etc … but in the end, it is you and you alone.
That is art and it is a privilege to bring forth such ideas. Enjoy the experience, savor the lessons and clarity gained, and stay true to your passion. It is at the center of that fire to share where you’ll truly touch people’s lives, and celebrate your own.
Even one life changed is enough to act, and produce.
Get started, it’s your choice, and the world is waiting