Post by Blog Manager, Robbi Hess
I have writing in my blood. I have had it since I penned my first “novel” when I was ten-years-old. My book was called, “The Secret Of The Key” because we’d just moved into a new home and the keys were of the old-fashioned skeleton key variety. And hey, writers are always told to “write what they know” and I “knew” the key and made up the “mystery.” My parents thought it was the “best book ever written by their eldest daughter” and the accolades continued (from family members!) That cemented my desire to be a writer.
For as long as I could remember when anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer always was, “a writer.” My parents thought I needed a “better career path” so encouraged me to taking secretarial classes when I was in school. That paid off because I can still do shorthand and I can also type 60 words per minute without looking at the keyboard — a boon when you blog as often as I do! They didn’t discourage writing but didn’t see that I could make a living at it.
I started blogging when Tom and Yvonne, the BlogPaws Dream Team, lived in Rochester, NY and had a book publishing company. We blogged for our authors and Tom and Yvonne taught me the intricacies of blogging. Believe me, it’s much different from the 25 page book I wrote as a child and the press releases I wrote when I was in public relations and the newspaper articles I wrote as a journalist.
I penned two romances that reside in anthologies was a co-author on a Complete Idiot’s Guide To 30,000 Baby Names, but was itching to write my own book. Something that I plotted, outlined, pondered and yes, eventually wrote. The plotting, outlining and especially the pondering went on for far too long. Why? I think I was scared to write that book. Never mind that I have likely penned more than a million words during the course of my writing career (heck, I probably pen more than a million words in the course of a couple of years) but taking that leap from writing a blog post to writing a book was as scary as sky diving off a cliff. Why? Who knows! I wish I had a great answer for the “why were you scared/nervous” question, but I was. (I’ll ponder a better answer lol)
Here, though are the steps I took when I made the decision to write my own book, Your Field Guide To Becoming A Pet Blogger:
- I pondered what I would write about and why. The writing adage is to “write what you know” and I know pets, pet blogging and social media. Viola there’s my book theme.
- I spent time determining who my audience would be. I could have written a book called, “Your Field Guide to Blogging” and yes that might have appealed to readers, but niche-ing it made it easier to write and will help me market it.
- I had to make it a priority and a goal, not a dream. Just saying, “I’m going to write a book” doesn’t make it happen. Writing down “write a book” on my to-do list and my annual goal sheet, however, did make it real. Writing it down took it from a whisper of a thought to a concrete goal that I needed to put timelines and deadlines to. If you don’t write down a goal, believe me, it will likely not happen. Why? Because until it’s written down it is a dream, a wish, an off the cuff comment. Writing it down and looking at that “write a book” task on my daily to-dos kept me focused and helped make the book real. After attending so many BlogPaws Conferences and hanging out with authors, listening to authors speak about how you needed to have your own book and frankly wanting to have a book to share, it was time to just do it!
- I needed to find time to write it. As a solopreneur I spend my day performing client tasks — it’s what pays the bills, keeps Henrietta, the diva poodle, in outfits and keeps me in coffee drinks. How would I find the time to get “my own project” done when I had to get client projects done? I needed to make my own project a priority. As a solopreneur even finding time to write on my own blog takes a backseat to client work — not the best thing, but sometimes it is a fact of the business owner life. Just as the carpenter’s house is never finished, too often the blogger’s blog is never written on! How did I find the time? I took a look at my priorities, added my own project to my daily to-dos and dedicated between 30 and 60 minutes a day to its creation. Some days I had more time to devote to it and when that happened I happily went with it!
- I reached out to colleagues to review it. The “reviewing” of the book was an edit and a way to make certain it was on track, that it flowed, that it actually offered actionable information. Having those “first readers” as I think Stephen King used to call them were valuable as they were my cheerleaders, they pointed out errors and they also kept asking, “So where’s the book?” They were my unofficial accountability team. I have an amazing friend who also designed the cover and uploaded it to both Kindle for e-book format and CreateSpace for print format.
- I agonized about whether it was “good enough.” I will actually be blogging about this as part of the series — getting out of your own way and just doing it. Why would I think my book wouldn’t be good enough? I am a writer. I have written millions of words. I was writing about a topic with which I am intimately acquainted. No reason to think that, but I did.
- Bonus: Why was I inspired? I drew inspiration for my book from: my blog, from questions I am asked on a regular basis by newbie bloggers, from questions I am asked by long-time bloggers who have either lost their way or who have lost their passion, from the fact that I was “writing what I know,” and I did a search to see if there was another book that was covering my topic and I didn’t really feel there was and I thought I had found my niche and filled that niche with my book. Also, frankly, having dealt with breast cancer showed me that I can’t keep waiting for someday; as in someday I’ll write a book, someday I will accomplish XYZ goal… a cancer diagnosis is a wake-up call to… will there always be a someday?
What’s stopping you from writing your book? What’s stopping you from making a compilation of your best/favorite blog posts and putting them into book form? If you’re blocked or don’t know where or how to find the time, let me know here!
Next in the series: Actionable Steps To Help You Get Your Book Written