5 Book Writing Myths Dispelled for First Time Authors

book writing myths meme
Photo by Nonsap Visuals on Unsplash

Many first-time authors make assumptions about the book writing and publishing process, so I’ve created a quick resource to help dispel some of those myths. If you are writing a book, or considering it, congratulations – there are few things in life that will be so hard or rewarding as having put in the work to create a tangible book of which you can be proud.

Myth 1: All I need to do is write

While writing is the primary task of the writer, it is not the only one.

The book must have a form/structure, direction, a certain command of the English language, and offer some level of value to the intended reader. Without that, it is simply words and not marketable, nor readable, in many cases. Be sure to learn about the craft of writing, whether on your own or with a book coach. So, now you are probably facing the question: “But, isn’t it the editor’s job to clean up my mistakes?”

Myth 2: It’s my editor’s job to fix all my mistakes

An editor’s role is to polish the very best you can send them. They don’t write your book for you. Let me give you an example: If I’m sitting at the table with a friend and tell her an idea for a story and write it all out on a paper napkin, that is not a book. It is a book when I take that story and create characters, plot, conflict, and resolution and weave them all together. It is only a book when I take my command of the written word and make it the best it can be.

Asking my editor to take what I’ve written on a paper napkin (basically an undeveloped concept) is asking them to write my book. When I submit a first draft to my editor, that is, frankly, lazy, or at best, ignorant. And, it will end up being very expensive. That is, if the editor decides to even take it on.

Your editor is not going to fix your lack of research, your problems with flow, or structure. They will likely reject your manuscript or send it back with so much red ink – and a big fat invoice to match it – that you will want to give up.

As a writing coach, it is my goal to help you get the cleanest manuscript to your editor as possible. This will save you money and heartache. I have spent years getting critiqued, edited, and even downright attacked for the words I’ve put on paper. I’ve grown a thick skin and have vowed to help my clients never feel the pain of the red ink rejection.

Myth 3: I need an editor right away

No, you may need a writing coach right away, but your editor doesn’t come into play until your manuscript is COMPLETE. Complete means you have written it, self-edited it, and maybe even already had a peer review of it. Do not send your manuscript to the editor until you feel it is in its best shape.

I had one client (who I had to fire) send the manuscript to the editor and to several peer readers (aka beta readers) at the same time. She then changed the manuscript based on the peer reviewer’s comments, which forced the editor to start over (which costs more money). Consider your editor as the final polisher and last step in your manuscript process.

Myth 4: I need a book cover right away

Nope. You may want to get some front cover images for pre-promotion purposes, but your true book cover can not be created until you have a page count – which means your book will have had to be edited and formatted first. In addition to front graphics, your cover will need a spine width, publishing logo, ISBN, back blurb, author photo, etc. You can start working on your cover while your book is being edited if you’d like, but it can’t be complete until your manuscript is.

Myth 5: Writing a book doesn’t cost anything

This is another myth I hear very often. Authors believe they simply write a book and start earning royalties. They believe a publishing house is eagerly awaiting their creation and will pick them up and start sending them checks. This is not the case. In today’s world there are several publishing options available and they offer different costs, benefits, and downsides.

While I believe very strongly that your book sales should offset the costs of book production, it is not automatic – it takes time and effort to sell your book. And, if someone offers to split costs with you, be sure you know what you are getting into as you will likely be paying them on the back end, which is a legal contract and will be like a divorce to get out of.

 

Overall, writing a book is a process and should be treated as such. There is a lot of hype in this industry – from people telling you that you can write a book in 10 days, be a best seller in 30 days, need to spend thousands of dollars to get published – and this is crap. Yes, there are great programs out there but I just say, buyer beware. I offer a free consultation to answer your questions about the industry and find you honest answers. I’m a writer too and believe together we can watch each other’s backs and become more successful than ever.

Additional Costs to Writing a Fiction Book or Memoir

You may be surprised to know that many people I meet with who have an interest in writing a book aren’t aware of the costs involved. They believe they simply need to belt out their best-selling book and it will start bringing in royalty checks. Of course, that is an over-simplified statement, but is still somewhere within the recesses of most first-time authors’ minds.

The Costs to Writing a Fiction Book or Memoir

I address this topic in more detail in my e-book: How to Write Your Book: A Short Guide for First Time Authors. I want to quickly cover some basics here you, which may or may not apply to your specific

Learning. Many writers, especially those in the fiction and memoir categories, tend to take classes, workshops, retreats, online courses, and more. They are working to build their skill set. Learning is a life-long process and those who see writing as a primary hobby or career direction should be consistently adding to their knowledge base.

Coaching. Many non-fiction writers see writing as a secondary function to their careers and will use a coach to keep them on track towards specific goals. As a short-term strategy to complete a book, a coach is ideal for feedback/critique/editing and accountability for all authors. But, for fiction and memoir writers I’d suggest group coaching as a long-term strategy.

Ghostwriting. Ghostwriting is an optional solution for getting a book written – you basically hire a writer to write a book and you put your name on it. This is an ideal option for fiction and memoir writers where English is a second language or when they are lacking necessary writing skills due to a cognitive or intellectual disability.

Sometimes, a hybrid of coaching and ghostwriting can be used as well. This creates a collaborative effort between the writer and the author-to-be which allows for a greater skill set, less need for content to already exist, and usually at a lower cost.

Project Management. A project manager or assistant may be used to help an author with a variety of tasks around the production and distribution of their book. These tasks can include finding vendors for editing, cover design, layout, publishing, reviews, contests, distribution channels, book signings, author events, media/PR, marketing options, and more. Not only would you pay for the support staff, but there would be costs associated with any of the options you employ.

Your Required Completion Team. I consider the following to be requirements of publishing:

Editor. You will be given a price quote up-front but expect to spend a few thousand dollars on editing, depending on the condition of your manuscript (whether or not you used a writing coach) and the length. The editing process is usually several weeks to several months. Expect a developmental editor (not needed if you use a coach), line editor and proofreader.

Cover Designer. Again, you will be quoted up-front, usually a flat fee, for this graphic design work. Be sure you understand what is and isn’t included, such as ISBN, number of changes, number of options, etc. The cover design is usually only a week long process as long as you have all the elements together. (These elements can include the back of the book blurb, author photo, publishing logo, etc.) You will need a cover for both your print book (includes front, spine and back), as well as an e-book cover (front only).

Interior Designer. This person formats your book for printing to prevent misalignment issues when it goes to print. They also help with fonts, widow/orphan protection (random words or alone on a page), indenting, pagination and more. Like the cover, you will need one for print and a separate one for an e-book. Your e-book may or may not have other changes such as table of contents, link-able content, and back cover information being formatted into the content.

Need more info on the costs to writing a fiction book or memoir?

I’d love to hear more about what you are working on, and what kind of help you may want or need to get your book finished and/or published. If you want to learn more about the costs to writing a book, let’s chat about your specific book and I can point you in the right direction.

Contact me for a free discovery session today.

7 Tips for Being Successful at Speaking as an Introvert

microphone

When I first began speaking I had significant fear, but I knew I wanted to teach and speak, so I  was determined to overcome it. Because you are reading this blog, you are likely an introvert, like me, and having the attention of a crowd isn’t particularly joyful or comfortable. Here are a few tips I have used to overcome that:

Reframe the Emotion

I began saying, “I’m really excited for this speech.” Telling myself I was excited and that excited felt the same in my body as fear. By reframing this, I am way more comfortable. What if the anxiety or nerves you are feeling is really excitement?

If you are really feeling anxiety, could it be that you need more time to properly prepare? Is the anxiety rooted in the fear of being looked at or watched? Get clear about what is really at the base of the emotion and look for ways to overcome that. Perhaps using a mantra or affirmation could help.

Use a Mantra/Affirmation

Sometimes I use a mantra when I’m afraid to help me overcome the fear. These sound like:

I am an expert and people look to me for guidance. I’m happy to be the voice for this cause. I’m honored to share this information.

I am prepared. I spent time really developing my talk and practicing it. I am ready. I am excited!

I look good. I feel good. I know my stuff. The audience is really looking forward to what I have to share today.

I also remind myself that I’ve done this before and it’s gone really well. I visualize past times I have done well and I think about some of the testimonials and reviews I’ve received to remind myself of the positive impact I’ve already had.

Consider NLP

Yes, I am an NLP Practitioner, but before that, I used it to help me overcome some deeply held beliefs that weren’t serving me. Through NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), I have created some strong resources I use myself to increase my confidence and lower my anxiety around speaking. If you’d like to learn more about this, do an internet search or contact me – I’m happy to chat and see if it’s a good fit.

Power Pose

There are several articles written on this concept and, again, a quick internet search will provide information and research. Basically, stand with your head held high, shoulders back, shoulder blades down, feet apart as wide as your shoulders, and your hands on your hips. This pose is shown to increase the testosterone in your body, which helps you feel stronger and more empowered. If this pose is too difficult to work in, sit straight up in your chair with good posture – that alone will increase your confidence.

Visualization

Before you speak, in the days leading up to it, visualize: the room, the audience, you on the stage. Picture everything going well, you feeling relaxed, calm and impactful. Imagine your audience engaging in a positive way. Smile.

Studies show visualization helps create more calm in your body because your brain can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined. By using your imagination, you are in essence making it feel like you have already done your speaking engagement it perfectly. You are building a type of muscle memory that will then make it more likely to happen as you have imagined. Pretty cool, huh?

Shrink or Expand the Room

So, this suggestion is something I created when I really started listening to my internal dialogue about what I was really afraid of. I came to the understanding one day when I was going to speak in a HUGE room and it felt overwhelming. I didn’t mind speaking in smaller, more intimate groups, so I had to somehow figure out how to “shrink” the room. In this case, I moved the chairs that were further in the back to the side so everyone had to sit in the front part of the room, thus making it feel more intimate. I also chose to speak from the floor, rather than the stage. These changes made the room feel smaller and more comfortable for me.

You may also feel a little cramped in a space and that can create anxiety. Consider ways to make the room larger, which could involve moving things around, adding more light, or even just doing a visualization or mantra that the space is exactly as it needs to be.

Take Time to Charge

As introverts, we are charged up by being alone or being connected in a small group of deep, authentic relationships. Before you speak, be sure to allow enough down time to be relaxed and refreshed. After your talk you will likely be approached for several conversations and connections. Be prepared for this and find a way to connect to people long after the event, such as with a sign-up form.

Your sign-up form will allow you to follow up with people on a longer time frame and prevent you from being too overwhelmed immediately after speaking. Be sure to have down time throughout the day or event, or even allow the next full day away to not get “fried.”

 

Are you an introvert who speaks and/or teaches large groups? The great thing about this is that you are building great rapport, just like an extrovert. However, while an extrovert will be charged up by all the attention, you will need to take the time to process and charge back up alone. Build that into your time and keep doing what you are doing to make your positive impact in the world. Looking for more tips or support around speaking or sharing your passion? Let’s chat!

7 Steps to Writing a Great Speech

woman speaker

For some people, speaking to an audience comes very easily – it’s writing their book that is the hard part. For others, it’s the opposite – writing the book in the silence of their own space was fairly easy, especially when compared to the frightening stage. Many of the authors I’ve worked with have written their books in order to open more doors for speaking engagements. Other authors know they will want or need to speak once their book is complete, but haven’t done it yet and don’t know where to start.

This article helps all would-be speakers with a format for a speech of any length, as each section or point can be expanded or contracted as needed.

Step 1: Determine your topic

This may sound a little silly, but choosing a topic is one of the hardest steps. Many writers aren’t sure what they want to talk about as their expertise is quite robust. First and foremost: Know who your audience is and what they are there to learn from you. Do they want to know how you wrote a book? Do they want to ask about the content? Are you sharing a personal story for education, inspiration, or entertainment?

Everything starts with your audience, so consider them and determine your topic based on their interest. If you aren’t sure, ask. More than likely, you’ve either been asked to speak on a specific topic, or you have already pitched your talk and were selected, but in the case that neither is true, take time to determine your topic.

Step 2: Choose 2-4 points to make during your speech

If you are doing a standard speech, choose 2-4 points that will illustrate your topic. More than this can be overwhelming and lose the audience. If you are teaching a class or workshop, this advice doesn’t apply, as you will likely have handouts, a visual presentation, or other devices for retention. But if you are giving a speech that is under an hour, choose your points and limit them.

Step 3: Start with a hook

Just like you start your book with a hook – something that catches the audience’s attention and pulls them in, you should start your speech with one too. A quote, statistic, joke, or funny or otherwise engaging story is a great way to perk the attention of your listeners. Your speaker bio should introduce you and give some credentials, so don’t start your speech there. Instead, start with something of high interest to build rapport with your audience.

Step 4: Practice

Practice makes perfect. Practice and time your speech as you share it – in front of the mirror, to a small group (which could be your spouse and dog, if you want), or even into a voice recorder. We tend to remember the beginning and end of what we write, so practice from different starting points just to get the words into your head and memorized. Make sure your speech is falling into the allotted time frame you are given. Often new speakers will talk very quickly, so practice taking breaths and slowing down.

Step 5: Get into the right mindset

The right mindset may be reframing how you feel about public speaking, performing mantras or power poses, or giving yourself a pep talk. There are several ways to get ready to speak and you need to find the solutions that work best for you. This blog gives some specific suggestions for getting into the right mindset that have worked for me.

Step 6: Have a strong closing

Again, consider your audience and your purpose for being there and deliver a strong closing. For some people, this will be an impactful quote or final take-away thought. For others, it could be a call-to-action, such as asking them to come to the back at break and sign up for your newsletter, buy your book, or learn more about your newest program. When we are new or nervous, we will often forget to say this important piece and leave our audience feeling good, but with no way to connect further.

Step 7: Get feedback

The best way to learn and improve is to get feedback. Consider asking a few people ahead of time if they will watch for certain components and offer constructive criticism so you can implement improvements into your next speech. You can also video tape yourself to review later. We can be our own harshest critics, so I suggest viewing it with another person to help balance the feedback. You could also poll the audience to see if they received what they expected from the speech.

Is there anything you would add? What have you been doing, or not doing, from the list above? Need any guidance or support? If so, let’s schedule a free call to determine what needs you may have around writing your book, speaking about your book, or a plan to have them work together. I also have several connections I may be able to make for you and it all starts here: schedule now.

My Big Fat Opinion: You Must Create an Outline

create an outline image of lightbulb with ideas coming off it

Whenever I meet with a new client, whether they have anything written or not, I ask them for an outline. For many people, the thought of creating an outline brings them back to the horror of high school English class. They experience either the perfectionist desire to get it right or the rebelliousness to state they don’t do outlines.

There are several quotes that I think relate to why an outline is important. And yes, while some relate to goal setting, they are still relevant:

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll

“If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?” – Yogi Berra

“Knowing where you are going is the first step to getting there.” – Ken Blanchard

(all quotes taken from azquotes.com)

To me, writing a book (or even long content) without an outline is a surefire way to get lost, be less effective, and even possibly lose your reader. For writers who aren’t very experienced, an outline should be used for anything longer than a paragraph that takes the reader to a desired end point.

The Content of an Outline

For me, I don’t ask my clients to follow one specific form. Instead, I tell them to do what works best for them. After all, this isn’t English class – there is no exam, no grade to earn, no red ink. I want my clients to create an outline simply for the sake of:

  • Knowing the key points to make
  • Keeping us on track for content creation/writing
  • Inspiration when stuck about what to write, and
  • Knowing what we want the reader to walk away with

To accomplish this, the outline can look like:

  • Traditional structure such as an A, B, C; 1, 2, 3; a, b, c, etc. format
  • Mind mapping
  • A synopsis in paragraph or multi-paragraph form

For More Resources

An outline, in my opinion, is one of the first steps in writing your book. For more writing resources, check out my home page at www.skaowlpress.com.

There you can access:

  • Your FREE Essential Checklist for First Time Authors
  • Your FREE 30-page e-book titled, “How to Write a Book”, and
  • Your FREE course: “What to Write in Your Memoir”

As always, if I can help you further, Contact Me for a free 30-minute consultation.