Writing and self-publishing a book has been an intense and amazing journey. Since my book starts shipping on April 6th, I thought I’d share some behind the scenes stories of what’s happened along the way.
I started writing The Storytelling Non-Profit on January 4, 2014. But it was a moment during the September prior when I fully committed to the project. I attended the most amazing conference (Web of Change) and I was feeling really inspired to do the best work possible during my lifetime. I spent some time during the conference reflecting on what it would look like to do my best work, and the thing that kept coming up was finding a way to continue learning about storytelling and compiling my learnings for future reference. I had always dreamed of working on a book as a passion project and this seemed to be the right opportunity at the right time.
On our way back to the airport (where I later met my husband), I was sitting next to a friend and I told them that I was ready to undertake writing a book.
This project has never been about becoming a famous author. It’s always been an exercise in deepening my knowledge about a subject I care deeply about. I intended to share what I was learning and a book seemed to be the best way to do that. The writing and publishing process has been long, so staying in touch with my basic intentions for the project has been key.
Many people have asked me how I managed to write 40,000 words. It was actually a simple process. Every day when I sat down to work, the first thing that I did was write 500 words.
500 words might not seem like very much, but it adds up over time! It might also seem like an arbitrary number, but I arrived at it very strategically. Initially, I told myself that I had to write for 1 hour a day. In my mind, 1 hour didn’t seem like a lot of time and was something I could commit to. But as it turned out, I would frequently finish what I wanted to say around the 30 or 45-minute mark. And then I felt like I had to sit there longer, which often left me frustrated. So I changed my daily goal from time to a word count.
I’m also probably something of an anomaly because I enjoy writing so much. I found the whole process really enjoyable and even a little fun. Editing, on the other hand, was not that much fun.
Procrastination, then editing
The thing that I really feared about the editing and revision process was that, at some point, someone was going to tell me that I’d wasted my time and that I was a terrible writer. I had so much worry about this fear coming to fruition that procrastination was the only way I could deal with it.
Those of you who read my weekly newsletter probably remember me talking about my struggle with procrastination last fall. After telling everyone about what was happening, I managed to move forward.
I worked with two different editors plus my husband on content editing, copy editing, and proofreading. I went through several revisions and there were times when I thought it would never be “finished.” But it is and I’m so pleased with the transformation in the book.
One deadline I couldn’t meet. . .
In January of this year, I decided that April 1st would be the official release date of the book. Since the New Year, I’ve been working on final edits, cover design, layout, getting an ISBN, figuring out printing options, and order fulfillment. The production of printing and shipping has been a big task, but as time progressed the project felt even more real to me. It’s gone from some soft copy file on my desktop to being a real book!
And everything was humming along nicely for the April 1st deadline until I got a call on March 21st from my brother saying that my dad had been hospitalized. It was a deja-vu moment because it threw me right back to when my dad was hospitalized in 2010 in a total unrelated incident. That time he nearly died. So when I got that call from my brother, I freaked out a bit.
There is no bigger trigger from me than one of my parents having health problems. They are not that old and I have a lot of fear that they will go long before they should. Life can be cruel that way.
I didn’t sleep much that night. I was ridden with worry about my dad, and was trying to decide if I should go to California to be with him. My dad is one of my biggest inspirations. He was an early tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. He is a brilliant communicator, an engineer, a big-hearted person, and one of the nicest people I know. That night in my catastrophizing mind, I kept playing out what it would be like if he suddenly died and I didn’t have a chance to talk to him again.
The next day, things weren’t looking better for my dad. My husband and I sat down that night and talked through work and personal stuff that we’d need to shift in order to go California to be with my family. Of course, one of the big projects on my plate was getting my book to the printer, picking up the orders and then shipping them to everyone.
Prior to all of this happening, everything was on track. But after this upheaval plus a delay with my printer, they said I wouldn’t get the books until April 6th. I was crushed when I heard this.
I felt so disappointed that I wasn’t going to meet my deadline. On top of that, I felt like I was being flaky and unfair to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy of the book. But there was nothing I could do. I had to accept that the shipping date had to change. Luckily, everyone has been super understanding about this, which I so appreciate!
Onward to publishing
Dealing with family emergencies and life events is challenging under normal circumstances, but I found it especially challenging to navigate on top of book production. Thankfully, everything has worked out just fine. My dad is now home resting and my book is on track for its new release date.
I feel very lucky to have a supportive group of people around me who have been helping me make sure The Storytelling Non-Profit is available beginning April 6th. I’m also so grateful to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy of my book! It’s been amazing to see new orders rolling in every day.
Throughout the last two weeks, one of the things that kept me sane has been staying connected to be my gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for, and even when a few things don’t go according to plan, it’s no reason to suddenly be ungrateful. I think this is maybe the biggest lesson that I’ve learned coming out of writing a book and 3 years of entrepreneurship. When we stay connected to our gratitude, we can make it through even the most trying times.
I’m so grateful to everyone who has purchased a copy of The Storytelling Non-Profit. Thank you so much!