Write the Damn Book Already

Ep 72: Simple (and Essential) Reminders for Authors

January 24, 2024 Elizabeth Lyons
Write the Damn Book Already
Ep 72: Simple (and Essential) Reminders for Authors
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

With the book publishing industry overflowing with titles vying for attention, I aim to guide  aspiring authors through the important steps of writing and publishing high-quality books that get noticed. 

In this episode of Write the Damn Book Already, we'll a few reminders every author (including myself) can benefit from hearing (or hearing again), including: 

  • The pitfalls of prioritizing speed over substance and the pressures that can lead writers to rush the creative process 
  • How to assemble a dream team, even if you're an indie author
  • A new strategy for managing overwhelm, one piece at a time


RESOURCES MENTIONED

Lucy E.M. Black - The Brickworks 

The Shit No One Tells You About Writing Podcast featuring Lucy E.M. Black 

WTDBA episode with Sarahlyn Bruck

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Get 15% off your first box by visiting GoodGuygiene.com and using code writethedamnbook at checkout. 

Write the Damn Book Already is a weekly podcast featuring interviews with authors as well as updates and insights on writing craft and the publishing industry.

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Email the show: elizabeth [at] elizabethlyons [dot] com

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To see all the ways we can work together to get your book written and published, visit publishaprofitablebook.com/work-with-elizabeth

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Write the Damn Book Already podcast. My name is Elizabeth Lyons. I'm a six-time author and book editor, and I help people write and publish powerful, thought-provoking, wildly entertaining books without any more overthinking, second guessing or overwhelm than absolutely necessary. Because, let's face it, some overthinking, second guessing and overwhelm is going to come with the territory. If you're anything like me, I believe that story and shared perspective are two of the most potent ways we connect with one another and that your story, perspective and insights are destined to become someone else's favorite resource or pastime. For more bookwriting and publishing tips and solutions, oh, and plenty of free and low-cost resources, visit PublishAProfitableBookcom and for recommendations of fabulous books. You've possibly never heard of bookwriting inspiration and the occasional meme so relatable. You'll wonder if it was created with you in mind. Follow me on Instagram at Elizabeth Lyons author. Hi everybody, and welcome to this next episode of Write the Damn Book Already.

Speaker 1:

I decided that for this week, which is another solo short, I think I just made that up. Like I've said, I'm doing a solo episode. I think I've said I'm doing a short episode. I try to keep them short. Sometimes they go a little longer than I hope, but I'm going to try to keep this one short. I thought it would be fun to start doing some author reminders. So we've done self-publishing predictions, we've done publishing predictions, we've done all kinds of tips and things in the solo episodes and, especially given some of the things that I experienced last week as both an author and an editor, I thought it might be helpful to not just for you, honestly, for me too, because I'm working on a book myself to put some reminders out there, because when you are knee deep or eyeball deep or whatever, in the thick of writing or editing or publishing or marketing, it can be well A it can feel isolating, and B it's not hard to get into a cycle of compare and despair. And it's not hard to get into that cycle quickly and then spiral down into it and not be sure how to get out of it. So there are three things that I want to remind both you and myself of today. The first one is there's no rush, and here's what I mean by that, because I don't want anyone to be like well, wait a minute. Does that mean that I have two decades to get my book written? And that's not what I'm saying. Quickly written books if they're just written in five minutes, which is ridiculous, because anyone who's ever sat down and tried to write a book knows that it can't be written in five minutes. I mean it can, but it won't be good If we just think about that logically.

Speaker 1:

If it were easy let's think about any of the things that we are often told on social media or elsewhere that it's easy right, it's easy to build a business from the ground up. It's easy to hit 100K months quickly, like in two months. It's easy to write a book in five minutes. It's easy to build an Instagram community in a week, an Instagram community of 300,000 engaged followers. We're told all of these things and it sounds awesome. I mean, I'd love to do that too.

Speaker 1:

If it were that easy, we wouldn't have people teaching us how to do it, like over the long term again, not in a week and not in a week, not in a month but we wouldn't even have, we wouldn't even need people to guide us, because we'd all go out and follow one person's 90-minute masterclass do it, become millionaires or have our followers or all the things that we want to do, and never need to seek more information. We're all logical people. Everyone listening to this is a smart, logical person. We all know that at the core, we've all done hard things and we all know that challenging things don't typically get done in five minutes, unless it's just challenging in your mind, unless you are the stack of papers and books that's sitting on my steps that I keep saying, okay, every time I go upstairs, just take one stack and then I don't. That is legitimately something that would take one minute to complete, but I just keep making it hard in my head like I'll get it next time, and the pile keeps growing.

Speaker 1:

When it comes to writing a book, though, a quickly written book, it won't do well, I promise, like those days are over period. You know, back when Amazon first started or digital ebooks first started, you know people could take advantage of it and whip things out quickly. It's no different from YouTube or any other platform when it first gets started, or can't believe I'm even going to use this as an example, but an MLM, if you happen to get in in the top level of it like one of the most consistent 2024 predictions in publishing, whether it's traditional self, whatever it is, whatever model you choose is that quality is becoming more important than ever. The saturation of great books only continues. Thank God there is no room for a bad book.

Speaker 1:

I mean, will there still be bad books with great publicity that do well, for reasons we never understand, of course? Will there still be incredibly beautifully written books that don't go anywhere for reasons we don't understand? Of course, although that isn't really for reasons we don't understand. That's often because the book is put out in a vacuum and the author doesn't do anything to market it, either themselves or by hiring someone else. But if you have the money to put behind a badly written book, right, I would assume that you can get trajectory. Whether it's through book talk or other advertising mediums, you can get trajectory. You may not keep it or you might, depending on the topic of your book. I mean, we only have to think as far back as 50 shades of gray for that.

Speaker 1:

But by and large, the quality of a book is more important than it ever has been, and for the majority of authors it doesn't matter if you're trying to build a long-term career as an author, you want to write multiple books or you only want to write one book, and your goal for that book is either to tell your story and raise awareness or help other people through something so let's say it's in the personal development or growth space, and maybe you have a business that that book is meant to support. So you can't personally reach every single person, or every single person that you'd love to help can't necessarily or doesn't necessarily have the disposable income to hire you. Whatever your rate is, this isn't a conversation about that but you want to provide an accessible way to help people and to guide people. So a book is your way and maybe from that you get people to opt into your free downloads. Maybe people sign up to work with you in a lower level course or whatever it is. Whatever your purpose for writing a book is, take the time to do it correctly. Take the time to make it a worthwhile investment for the person who's making the investment.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes we hear about people who will say I whipped out the first draft in four weeks, and most of the time in my experience they're honest enough to say I whipped out a first draft in four weeks and then I spent the next 18 months honing it, which is still writing Like. I had the most interesting conversation with Sarah Lynn Brock. If you haven't had a chance to listen to that, it's a few episodes ago and I'll link it in the episode notes below. She's the author of Light of the Fire, which comes out soon. It's fantastic, by the way, it's her third novel. And I asked her okay, so if you draft the first draft in three weeks, four weeks, six weeks, and then you spend two years reworking it, do you consider that four weeks of writing and two years of editing? And her response was I think it's all writing. And the more I thought about that, the more I realized I agree with her, it's writing, it's rewriting. Like, look at it any which way you want, but it's all still writing. It's removing, it's adding, it's substituting, all the things. It's still part of the writing.

Speaker 1:

I've said this before and I'm probably. I know I'm gonna say it again. Context is super important. So when someone says I wrote the book in three weeks, I've heard Elizabeth Gilbert, as an example, say that she will write a book in just a few months, but that's after four years of doing the research to write the book. So she's been honest and transparent enough to say I'm not telling people I wrote the book in four months. I wrote the book in four years, in four months. It's just that I spend all this time acquiring the data, doing the research, having the experiences, building the characters, building the worlds, and then I'm able to, because I've done that, I'm able to drop in and execute a first draft fairly quickly because I don't have to stop and think about things.

Speaker 1:

I just heard another episode, another author, last week on. I was listening as I was driving the shit. No one tells you about writing. I'll link this one below too, which is an absolutely fantastic podcast. It's the December 2023 bonus episode and Bianca Morey interviewed Lucy EM Black, who's the author of the historical fiction novel the Brickworks, and it was a fascinating conversation to listen to. Again, I'll link it below because I encourage you. I mean, if you're not already subscribing to that podcast, get yourself subscribed. But the amount of research that Lucy did on this book before sitting down to write it is crazy to me. It kind of was exciting. We're talking international travel and just researching on bricks, like, quite literally, the making of bricks, the history of bricks, all of that. So that allows, I think, in some cases, the book to come out the first draft to come out more quickly if you've spent all that time building it up in your head first.

Speaker 1:

But so often we feel this rush to get it out now. And we feel like that because we a little bit have FOMO. Like we see all the other authors releasing their books. Number one number two we think that they're releasing them quickly and that if we don't write quickly and release quickly, we're not good at what we do, like we shouldn't be doing this. Number three we feel this urgency usually because either it's competitive urgency we want to be included in a certain cat-like with a group of authors that have books coming out or we want our book to be published in a specific year for a specific reason. I've talked to authors who want to have their books published on a specific date for a specific reason, because it's very symbolic to them. So instead of pushing it by a year because that feels awful, they're like I've got to get this done right now. And many times we feel a sense of financial urgency. So we need or want the next book to come out, because we are counting on that for something, whether it's side income, main income, whatever it may be.

Speaker 1:

But rushing it doesn't work, and especially for the long term, if you want the book to travel well outside just your friends and family who are going to buy it, to be supportive, no matter what. Hopefully you want to have written something that is of quality and yes, we're talking about art, so of quality see the air quotes is subjective. But something written quickly, not really edited, not really thought through, and then just thrown out into the world is rarely, if ever, going to do what Well in the long term. That may be different when we're talking about erotic fiction or genres like that, where readers honestly don't really care and they're just kind of plowing through it. But even there that market is so incredibly saturated that I would argue that in order to become a new voice in that space, you've got to do it well and writing a book.

Speaker 1:

It's interesting to me that sometimes even I read a book and think, well, how hard was this to write? And then when you sit down and try to write a book yourself, you're like man this is. I don't give authors enough credit, or I don't give painters enough credit. Let me tell you who. I don't give enough credit to knitters. I do not give knitters like hand knitters enough credit. These things are so much more difficult than they look on YouTube.

Speaker 1:

So just take your time and just breathe and relax and know that every other author out there who really wants to put something good into the world is taking their time, even if it doesn't seem that way from the outside. Again, I kind of liken it to a pregnancy. We see someone, they announce that they're 12 weeks pregnant. We blink and they've given birth and we're like, oh my gosh, you did this so quickly. And that poor woman is like you don't even know what I've been through Like the last nine months. You don't even know every day has felt like a year. Maybe I'm just talking about myself.

Speaker 1:

Point number two I often hear authors, aspiring authors who haven't yet published, say one of their things that they really want is a team and a perception. A common perception is that the only way you can get a team is by going with a traditional publishing house, whether it's a big five house, whether it's a smaller boutique house. That that's the only way you can get a team. There's also often the perception that you absolutely will have a close knit team if you go traditional or if you hire someone to publish your book, which is not always the case. There is no hard and fast rule in this industry about how everything always or never happens Anytime anyone says always or never, someone will be able to find an exception for sure. So it's a dangerous statement to make, but it's not always the case that you get a team with a traditional approach or don't get a team with an indie approach.

Speaker 1:

And indie would be either hybrid hiring someone to publish your book professionally and potentially help you with the marketing on the side, or whatever combination of people and teams you put together to bring your vision to reality. And if yourself or indie publishing here's the beauty of it in my experience is you get to create your team. So with traditional publishing yes, many times a pro of that is a team comes ready, right your editor, your cover designer, your publisher, in some cases your marketing help, and then you might go out and hire additional marketing help or publicity help, but they kind of come to you like it's a package deal your interior, your format, or your copy editor, your proofreader, all those things. But remember that as an indie author, you can have a team too. It's simply a team that you create. So I have an editor, I have a cover designer, I have people who help with marketing, if I so choose. Lots of times it's just my launch team. I haven't hired a PR group in years. I did many, many years ago, but I haven't in many years Doesn't mean I wouldn't.

Speaker 1:

Doesn't mean that that's not a great choice for people. It's just not the approach that I've chosen. For the last couple of books, I've just used a launch team that I've created. I have my own proofreaders, all of those sources. So I still consider that it's just the way you look at it. I have a team. It's just a team of professionals that I've selected and, yes, I have to go out and do the due diligence to say, okay, who's the right editor for this book, and et cetera. I tend to use the same cover designer because she's amazing, but I still have a team and I love that team. That team has yet to let me down, which is why I keep working with the same people professionally. So that's point number two that I just invite you to consider when it comes to your publishing journey.

Speaker 1:

And the third and final point for today is overwhelm is completely normal. That's not even a good headline, because everyone's like duh by this point. If you've been listening to me or any other publishing person Lauren Eckhart, carly Waters and the shit no one tells you, like anybody else who's out there speaking on this. They will all echo that overwhelm is normal. So, because I am such a metaphor person and I'm a visual person, here's how I tend to look at this. In case you have not heard me say this before, if you have, I don't know, like skip out and or listen to it again, because maybe you need to hear it again.

Speaker 1:

But I always have a puzzle on my kitchen table always, and I use that puzzle for a couple of different things. Number one, it's the way that I procrastinate lots of times. Number two, it's the way that I empty my brain a lot of times. And number three, it's the way that I remind myself of what this whole book writing and business building thing is. So if you have a thousand piece puzzle, which is typically what I have and no, it's not an all-white puzzle, because I'm not insane clinically anyway you People start in different ways. So let's not think of an all-white puzzle, because that example actually won't even work for this analogy, but let's just any puzzle that you want to imagine Many people, I'll speak for myself.

Speaker 1:

I start with the outside edge, so that's the first thing I have to create In the world of book writing, you might consider that your basic outline. Some people have to start there. Not everyone starts there. My son, one of my twins, he's now 22, henry, when he was four or five years old, was notorious in my family for refusing to start the puzzle on the outer edge. I swear to God, he started in the middle. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen. I didn't understand, but he built it from the middle out and it was almost hard for me to do it with him because I was like no, no, like we need to be outlining, we need to find the edges first, and he just never. Now he hates puzzles, by the way, they stress him out so much. I'm like, well, maybe if you started with the straight edges, but he doesn't want to go there yet. Give it time. So everyone does it differently. Pancers, I guess, maybe are the people who start at the inside and work their way out. Plotters are maybe the people who start from the outside and work their way in, and then there's the combination of the two, the planters, right, who just kind of do a little bit here and a little there. Then you've got Okay.

Speaker 1:

So let's say, you've got your outside edge created. Now you've got however many pieces left that you need to figure out where the hell they go. So my approach is I will group them, so all the red pieces will go over there and all the blue pieces will go in a pile over here, and I actually am insane, so I have. I said I wasn't insane, but in this way I kind of am, and this isn't my fault because my mother sent them to me. They're these little puzzle dishes. They literally look like plates, although they're not solid on the bottom, and they help you to organize your pieces. So you could put all your black pieces in this dish and all your yellow pieces in this dish and all the pieces that have words on them in this dish. And that is what I do. That is my second part of the process.

Speaker 1:

But if I go out at any point in time and walk past that kitchen table and look at the puzzle in all of its disorganization, I kind of get this oh my God, I'm never going to finish that. I'm just never going to finish that. And the result of that is I don't even sit down because my brain does this weird thing where it tells me even though I know this isn't true. It tells me if I sit down I have to finish it all right now and my first thought is I don't have time or mental capacity, like that's too many pieces, and so I won't do it. But what I have to continually remind myself, and what benefits me to continually remind myself, is if I just sit down and find one piece that fits, one, sometimes that takes 10 seconds and sometimes it takes 15 minutes. But if I find one piece and fit it, two things happen. Number one, I often will be like, oh, I see another piece that fits. And. Or number two, like I get up and walk away and then when I go back I have one fewer piece that is needing to be put in its proper place.

Speaker 1:

When I get to the end of the puzzle, almost inevitably I've got pieces in the wrong place. I know it sounds crazy, but it does happen. Or I have missing pieces. That happened last time. I almost lost my mind. I actually created my own pieces to fit in. I had two missing pieces. I think the cat took it somewhere. I drew them out and colored them in myself. So I realized how this must sound, because I needed this thing to be finished and I wasn't going to have an unfinished puzzle, but we do what we have to do.

Speaker 1:

That is the process. It's the best analogy I've ever come up with alongside the layers painting in layers. Right, and I'm not a painter, but I've talked to painters who will put down one layer and then they will come back and put down another layer and then they will come back and put down another layer. And I find it completely fascinating because I get overwhelmed thinking about how they must feel when they're looking at the blank canvas, but then I think about how satisfied and accomplished they must feel when they're like nine layers in and they're only building momentum. Because for me, the closer I get to finishing that puzzle, the more I want to sit down and work on it.

Speaker 1:

One piece, five pieces, ten pieces at a time. The worst time for me in puzzle making is when I dump all the pieces out of the box onto the table and I have to start sorting and finding out. Of a thousand pieces which I don't know, hundred of them have straight sides and I always miss one or two. And that is so aggravating when you get the whole outside built but you're missing one or two, and so it's like do you go in and find the one or two that you're missing, or do you just start building the inside and know that they'll show up at some point? There is no right answer. It's just what works for each individual person.

Speaker 1:

So remember, you don't have to build the whole puzzle in a day. That's where the five minutes, ten minutes of writing a day comes in. Just sit down and write one scene, one paragraph, one work on one chapter title. If you're at that point, come up with one other idea to put into your outline. If you are outlining, if you're an outliner, if you're trying that approach, it's just one small thing, and many times well, every time. This is when a superlative works. Every time one small thing gets you one small thing closer to the finished product. But many times accomplishing that one small thing has a ripple effect where then you'll think of another thing, you'll find another piece, you'll stuff and then you've actually done more than you set out to do for the day, and that creates momentum.

Speaker 1:

So I hope those three author reminders were helpful. As always. Please feel free to send any writing or publishing questions you have to me via email, elizabeth, at ElizabethLionscom, or you can DM me over on Instagram. I'm at Elizabeth Lyons author. Both are in the show notes. We're all walking this journey together. It's so much fun, isn't it, and I look forward to talking with you next time. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, this is your friendly reminder to follow or subscribe, leave a quick review and share it with someone you know has a great story or message, but isn't sure what to do next. Also, remember to check out publishaprofitablebookcom for book writing resources and tips and to see all the ways we can work together to get your book out into the world. Again, thanks so much for listening and I'll talk with you again soon.

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