Create a Book By Gail Brenner Write to Done. I’ve always thought it an odd name for a blog until the lightbulb went off, and all became clear. It’s a name that not only encourages us to write, it also inspires us to finish that writing, and get it done and out there. I’m happy to say that’s just what I did—I found out how to write a book, and I got it done! My first book, the one that had been in me for at least two decades, is now on Amazon as of April 16. It’s called The End of Self-Help: Discovering Peace and Happiness Right at the Heart of Your Messy, Scary, Brilliant Life, and the process of writing it has been one interesting journey. No advance, no agent, and no publishing company. If I did it, so can you. Here’s what I learned. Writing It As I look back, writing it was the easy part, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. Despite the endless webinars I listened to about how to complete your book in a month, the writing took two years. It sustained through a move, training a new puppy, work responsibilities, and travels for work and pleasure with my new husband. And not once did I doubt that I would finish the book. But strategies helped, and here are the ones I found most useful. Accept the Flow of the Creative Process Whenever I felt an urgency to push myself to write faster, it backfired and shut me down. I eventually accepted that this project had a life of its own. I reminded myself that there was really no rush or deadline—only those created in my own mind. Each time I felt pressured, I took a breath and relaxed. That was enough to get me out of my head and re-focused on the task in front of me. “Keep going.” My mantra was, “Keep going.” I had plenty of moments when I procrastinated. I could tell you what was going on in every celebrity’s life, and I often woke up, realizing I had been in a mental fog for who knows how long. But I was persistent. I would internally gather myself together, whisper, “Keep going,” and just write the next word. Visualize Your Readers It helped tremendously to picture potential readers in my mind. I visualized speaking to each one of them, which was essential to keeping my heart connected to my work. Let Go and Listen Whenever I felt stuck, I stopped and meditated for a moment. I let go of trying to figure out what I was trying to say, and instead let silence guide me. I waited, listening inside for the essence of the point I was making. And I found it, every time. Don’t Settle Eventually, the first draft was done. Yay! And that began the editing process. First, once through by me, then another edit with a professional editor, another major re-write by me, the gracious touch of yet another editor, and a final two rounds of proofreading. This process took tremendous patience on my part, and I thought it would never end. Getting It Done Now, with a manuscript in hand, I had no idea how to proceed. I knew I wanted my self-published book to be presented at a quality indistinguishable from a traditionally published one. And I didn’t trust all those companies out there offering to take care of the whole thing for a large fee. I wanted more control, so I began reading and asking questions. Educate Yourself I learned about the importance of the title, subtitle, and cover. I got educated about publishing ebooks and print on demand (POD). I reluctantly jumped onto Twitter and Facebook, and I bit the bullet and hired a publicist. Most recently, I’m learning how to work the system on Amazon. Because if you do none of these, your book will look homespun. It will sit there on its Amazon page just like thousands of others that have never gotten into the hands of the readers who want to love them. And I was on fire to get my message out to the world. I have saved money my whole adult life, and I figured now was the time to spend it on this lifelong dream that has been waiting to see the light of day. It was the right decision in every way possible. When I got stuck, I called someone. I spoke with a social media expert, a brand consultant, several book publicists, a print on demand company. People were so incredibly generous with their time and expertise. Hire the Best People You Can I worked with a talented cover designer who sent me the design on the first go-around. I chose a wonderful interior designer who patiently made hundreds of changes until we got it right on both the print and ebook files. I consulted with a book shepherd who says there is no such thing as self-publishing, as it never happens by yourself. She—and now I—prefer the lovely term “artisanal publishing.” Finally, the moment came when the first proof from Createspace, the POD company, arrived, and I held the book in my hand. Everything after that is now icing on this very yummy cake. Number 1 on the bucket list—check. Promotion Is Ongoing With my publicist’s support, I set the publication date of April 16. I was excited to finally let others know that the book was on its way. I had developed a family and friends list during the course of the project that included the name of anyone who had volunteered to help me. They received two emails—one a week before April 16 with a request to pre-order the book and another 3 weeks later inviting them to post a review on Amazon. I started writing about the book to the subscribers from my blog as well as social media followers and asked them to pre-order as well. And I’m being interviewed by a number of bloggers and internet radio hosts. Promotion is and will be ongoing. After an initial burst of sales, I can see that the book requires a generous dose of TLC if it is to make its mark on the world. I have plans…a free promotion on Amazon, personally contacting bookstores to invite them to carry it, and gifting it to people who could help it soar. But most importantly, I have drive. I know I can move through any roadblock, powered by the joy of sharing my heart and soul with the world. What About You? Believe me, I know about setbacks and feeling stuck. Have you started writing your book yet? Are you slogging through self-publishing? Any tips you can add to share with others? Please share this article with your friends on social media.