I first decided to write What’s Your Book? in January of this year, when Kamy and I were just beginning to turn around the idea of what She Writes Press might look like. I set out to write my book in six months as a challenge to myself, in part because I really wanted to write a book, but mostly because I was planning to co-teach a course, “Write Your Memoir in Six Months,” and I wanted to see for myself what challenges would come up in attempting to write a book in six months.
As it turned out, we launched the press on June 29 and I finished my book on July 1. Those months leading up to finishing the book were pretty intense. I was committed to my six-month deadline, and Kamy and I were deep in the creative process of launching this press. The fact that it all came together within days of each other was never planned, but when Kamy suggested we publish our books on SWP, it was a no-brainer.
As a veteran of traditional publishing, the thing that most surprised me is how many surprises and challenges I confronted along the way. Over the years, without realizing it, I’d begun to take getting published for granted. When you work with authors for a living and see new books being produced month in and month out, the whole process can and does lose its novelty.
On the writing front, I realized that writing a book is really demanding!! Reality check. I’ve been coaching writers for years, championing them through their stuckness and through their manipulative gremlins. Confronting my own revealed how insidious those voices really are. I struggled through questions of whether what I was writing was relevant; whether I had anything unique and different to say. I think one of the worst messages we feed ourselves is that whatever we have to say has been said before. The “why bother?” track writers can get stuck in is like a death sentence. I worked my way through my own, but I had to pull out the best strategies I use on my own clients, and even then it was an uphill battle.
On the publishing front, I realized how much I rely on my team. In creating She Writes Press I’ve relied on my go-to gals—Kamy and Krissa and Caitlyn and Kristina—but also on our production team, on my colleagues at Seal Press, on my agent friends and industry folks. I’ve had to ask a million questions about things I thought I really understood.
So what has all of this taught me? Number one, I’m so excited that I self-published. I’ll always be an advocate of traditional publishing, but the offering we have at She Writes Press is amazing, and I stand behind it 100 percent—with my heart and soul, and with my book baby! We’ve been billing SWP as a publishing option for authors who want the freedom, control, and financial rewards of investing in their own books up front without sacrificing the credibility and status that comes with publishing under a highly selective imprint. And I can now stand behind my own project and my own press with the conviction that this offering holds up to my own high standards.
Number two, I’ve learned that no matter how much you think you know about something, there’s always more to learn. You will always benefit from the knowledge, input, expertise, and opinions of others. I’ve listened, responded, acknowledged, taken in, absorbed, and digested over these ten months on a level previously untapped. Community is everything. Doing this alone or in a bubble would have been hard work, but doing it in community has been one of the most rewarding journeys I’ve ever been on.
Finally, I learned that you really can do what you set your mind to. My book is all about the journey from inspiration to published author. If you have a book idea in you, or a manuscript-in-progress, you can and will become a published author if you follow the advice I offer up in my book. In my own estimation, my three most valuable offerings are (1) techniques for overcoming the mental and emotional hurdles to writing and publishing; (2) real strategies for building your platform—and why it matters; and (3) a roadmap to getting published. I talk about this a little bit more here.
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Please join me later today (Thursday, Oct 11) for a free conversation focused on Chapter 5 of my book—Your Publishing Plan—at 4pm PST | 7pm EST.
I also invite anyone in the Bay Area to come out and meet me at my very informal book launch event on November 11 in Marin. I’d love to meet you, and I’m giving away an exclusive book launch event gift to anyone who drops in. And you can buy my book there for just $10.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!