#021: My Best Advice for First-Time Authors, Part 1 [Podcast]

In this episode, I share my best advice for first-time authors. Even if you’ve never thought about writing a book or don’t think you could, this episode is for you.

This Is Your Life Podcast, Episode 21

There are at least four reasons why you should consider writing a book:

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  • Reason #1: It can add value to others. Everyone is an expert at something. You may not be aware of it. Or you have forgotten that you know what you know. But you have something that could add value to others.
  • Reason #2: It can establish you as an authority. Nothing credentials you like a book. Not even a Ph.D. Having a book makes you an authority (at least in terms of the perception).
  • Reason #3: It can advance your career. It can help you launch a brand new one. A book often goes where you can’t go. It opens doors. It starts conversations. It creates opportunities.
  • Reason #4: It can create an additional income stream. Even if the book itself doesn’t generate a lot of money, it can be used to sell back-end services and other products.

The problem is that it can be tough to get published. As the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson, I received—and still receive—a lot of email from would-be authors who are trying their best to get published. Most of them are frustrated, because they can’t seem to get anyone interested in their book idea or manuscript.

In this episode, I want to demystify the process a bit. I want to give you the same advice I would offer to a close friend over coffee.

Episode Outline

My premise for this episode is that becoming a published author begins by taking five steps. This isn’t everything you will need to do. These are just the first five. The problem is that most would-be authors try to skip these steps. As a result, they don’t make any progress.

  1. Step #1: Educate yourself.
    • Read books.
    • Follow industry blogs.
    • Read industry publications.
    • Attend industry events.
  2. Step #2: Start building your platform.
    • Reason #1: You will be more attractive to publishers.
    • Reason #2: You will be more likely to succeed.
    • Reason #3: You will more quickly find your voice.
  3. Step #3: Write a killer book proposal.
    • You need this even if you self-publish.
    • Don’t be surprised if this takes a while—it’s hard work!
    • Just get started and keep working on it.
    • Have someone review it.
  4. Step #4: Consider your publishing options.
    • Option #1: Traditional Publishing
    • Option #2: Assisted Self-Publishing
    • Option #3: Do-It-Yourself Self-Publishing
  5. Step #5: Find a good literary agent.
    • Benefit #1: Access
    • Benefit #2: Leverage
    • Benefit #3: Focus

Listener Questions

  1. Annette Trucke asked, “What were the mistakes you made along the way that you would avoid at all costs?”
  2. Brent Mayes asked, “How do I build a platform for two separate projects?”
  3. Dallon Christensen asked, “How detailed should your outline be before you begin writing.”
  4. David McLaughlin asked, “When do you fine-tune your writing—as you go or as a separate process?”
  5. Dayna Bickham asked, “Do you have any resources for writing or formatting an e-book only project?”
  6. Jaime Tardy asked, “Should I hire a designer to make my manuscript pretty before I submit it?”
  7. Sherry Meyer asked, “Where are publishers in terms of signing memoirs today from first-time authors?”

Special Announcements

  1. If you are ready to get serious about building your platform and taking your blogging to the next level, you can’t do better than launching a self-hosted WordPress blog. That’s what nearly all professional bloggers use. That’s what I use at MichaelHyatt.com. However, if you are a little technically-challenged and have been afraid to try and install WordPress, I have great news.

    A few weeks ago, I produced a free screencast called “How to Setup a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less.” This short video will take you through the process step-by-step. Trust me, anyone can do this. In the last ten days, I’ve had over 150 people use this video to launch their blog.

  2. I will be speaking in Ft. Worth, Texas tomorrow, August 9, 2012 for Cendera Funding as part of a lecture series called, “Business with Purpose.” I will do two sessions: “The 5 Marks of Authentic Leadership” and “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.” If you are in the area, come join me.
  3. If you are interested in having me speak for your event, check out my speaking page.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a transcript of this episode here.

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