Indeed, writing a book and aiming to get it on the New York Times Bestsellers List is nothing like one is used to for writing a paper for class.
When you write a paper for class, the topic is often picked for you or limited by the professor. The page length is set. The goal is clear. Aim to get an “A”. If uncertainty arises, ask a fellow student or email the professor and ask for guidance.
When writing a book, however, though there are similarities, the process is much longer and much less clear.
The first stage is what I like to refer to as the “word vomit” stage. As an analogy, I compare writing a book to completing a 100,000 piece puzzle. Only instead of simply dumping out all of the pieces onto the table, one is creating all of the pieces from starch, and rather than taking a matter of seconds, this process in and of itself, for me, took well over a year just to brain dump everything I could want to write about into one giant word document.
But just simply writing the book isn’t the process going on if you aim to traditionally publish…
From there, the process then diverges into separate goals:
- Write the book
- Find an agent to represent you by creating a book proposal
As challenging as it was to collect all of my ideas and sort them into categories over the first year, I quickly discovered that my next step would be to learn how to write in a way that my audience could easily follow. Though this may sound easy, it’s anything but. Fortunately, in January of 2017, my wife bought me four books on how to be a better writer which I read and did my best to apply.
It was about a year later that I first reached out to agents. Being a bit trepidatious, I only contacted a few. I sent a bare bones book proposal to less than a handful of agents and waited patiently to hear back. Fortunately, one agent in particular must have seen potential in me. Her name was Grace Freedson.
Looking back now I realize that Grace must have immediately recognized how amateurish my first proposal was. Nevertheless, she was kind and gracious enough to offer me a free coaching session at her own time and expense to give me some guidance in this new and unfamiliar process.
So what’s all in a book proposal?
A book proposal is a representation of the entire platform of your brand a business. Just to give you some idea of what a proposal includes, there’s your resume, CV, an about me, speaking experience, book outline, market analysis, competitive analysis, current marketing efforts and marketing plan and much more.
From there, I realized my mind was split. I was having trouble focusing on both the intensive editing process of the whole book and simultaneously updating the proposal. I decided to focus on the book editing and put the proposal on hold.
It wasn’t then until almost two years later, in November of 2019, that I finally finished Mental Fitness, editing and all! Still, the process wasn’t nearly complete…
In January 2020, I reached back out to Grace with a new and completed book proposal. To give credit where credit is due, Tyler Spence was a huge help in this process.
The first half of 2020 consisted of a bit of back and forth between Grace until, at last, the proposal was finished. Grace then sent over her letter of agreement and I signed it in late July.
To give you some perspective on this whole timeline…
- In May 2016, I first had the idea for “Mental Fitness”
- By January of 2017, I had most of my ideas collected into one word document that roughly composed my first draft of the book
- At the same time, I realized that I had no idea how to actually write a book beyond just collecting ideas and needed to learn this new skill
- In January of 2018, with assistance from my intern, Francesca Anthony, I initially reached out to agents
- After deciding to put the proposal on hold to finish editing the book, I accomplished the “final draft” in November of 2019
- In January of 2020, with help from Tyler Spence, we completed the book proposal
- In July of 2020, after some helpful critiques and feedback from Grace, the proposal was finalized and Grace has become my official agent
Where do things go from here?
I don’t have a clue!
But I know I made it this far and I’m not stopping now.