It starts as an idea.
My first thought of writing a book was in 1997.
A dentist from Colorado called and wanted me to fly up to help him organize his financial information on QuickBooks. After discussing how much that would cost (flight, lodging, expenses, and fee), he blurted out in frustration, “You should just write a book.”
Hmm, I thought after that phone call. I had just started my business to be available for my aging parents. Their health had begun to decline and I knew that whatever I did, it would need built in flexibility.
I decided that writing down how I helped dentists, veterinarians, chiropractors, and doctors use QuickBooks with a practice management software would be easy.
After three months of hemming and hawing around, my Dad came to my house, and said with a serious tone, “I want to have a conversation.”
We had many conversations about my business ideas, the direction it could go, the value I brought to the table, etc. Dad had retired from building homes, knew the value he brought to the table, knew how hard it was to not have consistent income, always listened to my hair-brained schemes (his words) with a smile. He was in fact, my biggest encourager, strongest ally, and savvy supporter.
Back to the conversation.
We pulled up chairs on my little front porch and he asked, very pointedly, “Why is it taking so long for you to get this book done?” If you ever wonder where my direct conversation skills come from, wonder no longer.
He knew me well and recognized procrastination when he saw it.
“Dad,” I said softly. “What if it is a stupid idea? What if no one buys it? What if no one reads it? If no one wants it, I would have wasted all this time thinking about it and writing it.”
He smiled and I recorded the warmth of it with my heart.
“Honey, you won’t know if it was a stupid idea until you finish it. No one can read it until then. So, get ‘er done!” He slapped his knee, laughed as he stood up, gave me a big hug, then walked away as if writing it should be the easiest task to do.
He believed in what I was doing. I got similar advice when the market crashed after September 11th.
This week I finished “Book #40”, which is what I have called it more than its true name: Money In, Money Out. I know it sounds arrogant when I call it that, but it is a reminder to my ears and heart that there almost was no book #1.
I had the same feelings about book #1 that I did about book #40, and I heard my Daddy’s sweet voice chime in from my heart’s held memories, through my insecurities: “Get ‘er done, honey.”
Every time someone says, “I’ve always wanted to write a book” I think back on this story. If you have ever said this to me, you know my response tends to be “What’s keeping you from doing it?” or “Everyone has a story that should be shared.” or “Get cranking or you could die before it’s finished.” I save the last comment for those that keep telling me they have always wanted to write.
It starts by either pen/pad, computer, or voice to text. Let me tell you my process.
Life can interfere. While I was still caring for my parents and step-grandmom, I would take my laptop to a timeshare condo in South Texas for the week. Sequestering myself to write was the only way the day-to-day activities/crises would not distract me. It was quiet.
I only had a week so the days were very structured, especially since I am ADD by nature. Structure is something I have learned, not what is natural.
Before arriving at the condo, I had meals planned for the week, with one night out at a nearby family favorite restaurant. I bought groceries according to the meal plan. Once I was at the condo, I unloaded everything and set up to start work for the next day.
I awoke early, walked to the beach and back, ate breakfast, then wrote in two hour increments with a 15 minute break between, breaking at lunch to eat outside. I stopped at 5pm for an hour to walk to the beach again, grilled something outside, and did edits at night.
They were six 12-hour work days. If the flow was going well, on the fourth day, I would take 2-3 hours at lunch to enjoy the beach, then get back at it. I knew that if I did not get done what needed to be done before I left, it would be much more difficult to do after I returned. It was a true sense of urgency.
I had a large workspace that allowed me to spread out comfortably. My assistant took messages and only called if it was a level-one emergency. My cell phone was turned off. I only checked email in the morning before I started, at noon and at 5pm, something I still try to do now but most often fail.
Then I would sit and type. There was a clock on the wall that I would look at when I sat down. I was not allowed to move for two hours , except to go to the bathroom.
Since I write content rich, non-fiction business books, I ask the following questions:
Who is the audience for this book?
What do they need to know or hear that they do not already know?
What else have I written that could be included in this book?
As a speaker, what do I include in my presentations that I could include in this book?
As a consultant, what has been my client’s struggle that I could include in this book?
As a fraud examiner, what are the solutions to pitfalls I have seen that I can include in this book?
Book #40 (aka Money In, Money Out) was to be released June 2018. I had been working on it for over a year, adding pieces here and there. I kept thinking of information that would be great in the book. The release date was moved to August, then October, then January 2019.
Each time, for each book, I knew in my heart when the book was finished. I reached that point a few weeks ago. That point when the fingers are poised on the keys but nothing is there, there are no further thoughts. That point when “it is finished” angst rolls through in celebratory fashion.
Then the edits begin. Endless grammar checking, wrong words used, “Does the period go inside the quotes or out?” “Was that last paragraph clearly stated?”
With both the caregiving book and this book, I had friends and colleagues and paid editors review the books. Even then, when it is published, there will be something. Always.
Then there is the design of the cover, which should add to, not subtract from the content. I wanted the branding to be consistent with the other healthcare business books that I had written and collaborated with the designer that did such an amazing job with the caregiving book. I hired a writer to write the back cover copy. Yes, you heard that right. It is hard to write about yourself.
Then comes marketing. With self-published authors, there is the process of marketing included in a book launch. It’s all on you. “Amazon Best Seller” is nothing more than a manipulated system to get the book to that list, in order to include it in the advertising. Many have chosen that route and that is fine. It is a pricing and timing strategy, and choosing a less trafficked book category, for which I have not the patience or time or desire.
Then the reviews come. By the way, there will always be someone who believes they could do a better job at writing a book they have read. There will be someone who thinks they know more because they have more initials to the side of their name, or because they hold themselves in a higher esteem than they hold you. There will always be someone who criticizes or devalues what you write. If you want to write, you need to know that going in, especially in today’s market because everyone is a critic.
As I state in the conclusion of #40:
”I am sure I have forgotten something. Or by the time you read this, some new online tool will become available that will fascinate us all, or one that I mentioned, obsolete.
And I am sure some review or reader will think they could have written a better book.
To them, I say good luck! This is book #40 for me to compile. They do not get any easier and take the same amount of time—more time than ever available.
All that to say, this book is a tool to be used in conjunction with other knowledge you gain from attending industry conventions, study clubs, or just hanging out with your colleagues. You will pick three or four things out of this book that will save you so much time and effort and will make your practice more successful.”
What’s next? Book #41, of course. Then Book #42. These will be Getting The Most Out Of QuickBooks 2019 In Your Practice and 2019 Advanced QuickBooks In Your Practice.
After that, I have a book that is probably 60% complete and another boiling in the thought process stage. There is always something on my plate that I would love to write about.
I found a key chain a few years ago that simply states “Know your heart to find your voice.” I keep it in front of my monitor to remind me that I have indeed found my voice by knowing my heart. And, once again,I am sharing it through my words..
What’s your voice? What’s stopping you?
Well, then. Get ‘er done.