How to Write a Book And Get It Done: The Naked Truth

    How to write a book

    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.

    About the author

      Gail Brenner

      Gail Brenner, Ph.D. is a psychologist and author who joyfully helps people discover that suffering is optional. She is the author of The End of Self-Help: Discovering Peace and Happiness Right at the Heart of Your Messy, Scary, Brilliant Life. Learn more at

    • Pimion says:

      Thank you for essential advice.
      You have a great mantra! Keep going is the only thing that matters.

    • Im grateful for the blog post.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

    • Gaurav says:

      Thanks for sharing these informative tips about writing an Ebook. I have also written one 3000 words ebook, but it took around one week to finish this. I found some difficulties on finishing part of the ebook.
      I am sure this article will help me to achieve my target.

    • Ashwajeet says:

      Thank you ma’am.

    • I struggle with this issue as well.
      I love the fact you gave yourself that mantra “keep going”

      I will do the same in future procrastination moments.

      Thank you for the help.

      • Thanks for mentioning that mantra again, “Keep going.” I find that I use it a lot. Since I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, it’s sometimes easy to go into a fog and lose focus. When I catch that happening, “Keep going” always helps.

    • lovely post for creation and written a book to b a great ..thanks

      • Glad you resonated with the article, Shamit. Thanks for reading!

    • Gail,
      The timing of this post is perfect.

      At least, my discovery of this post is incredible timing.

      Like you I’ve been writing for a period of time and believe that a big part of the process is as simple as you say, “keep going”. I really like your reply to a comment earlier (the one about 100s of short stories) that the process may be daunting but focus on a small step instead of the size of the project. I often believe that it’s best to approach a marathon as one step forward at at time, not the distance of the race.

      You do mention hiring a PR person, and that’s something I haven’t seen others recommend. How satisfied are you with that investment? Has it the ROI you hoped for? The reason I ask is that for a cost such as you quote – $2500 to $10000 with a 3 month contact as standard, would that expense make sense for ebooks vs. a hardbound such as yours?

      Thanks again for the post. Great stuff!

      • Hi David,

        At this point, I don’t really know the return on my investment into PR. With the efforts of the person I’m working with, there have been several excerpts and reviews printed, guest blog posts, and a series of interviews lined up, mostly on internet radio stations. I do have an interview coming up that will be broadcast on NPR probably in the fall.

        But how this all translates into book sales, I just don’t know. Overall, I do think this exposure is good for sales of ebooks as well as paperbacks. Plus, at this point, it isn’t just about book sales. These interviews, etc. are helping develop my platform and the more my name and work are out there the better.

        All best wishes to you…

    • Congratulations!

      I also finally finished a fiction novel loosely based on my childhood experience called Crack in the World. It too is available on I first wrote it as a memoir but was less than satisfied, so, based on encouragement from a good friend began writing the novel. I finished it in less than three months and can’t begin to tell you how it helped me make sense of many things. I didn’t want to self-publish so just began sending it out to publishers. One day I received an email from one of the publishers who made some change suggestions and asked me to resubmit which I did. Crack in the World was published this past February. The sequel, A View into the Unknown is under contract with the same publisher and will be out later this year. It took me years to get it done; but I did and now the flood gates have opened up for me. I have several more books to write.

      • I love this story, Maribeth! You stuck with it and followed your heart. Warmest congratulations to you for all your success – now and in the future. You’re writing it and getting it done!

    • Gabby says:

      Hi! I mainly write shorter stories and I was wondering if there was a way to perhaps combine them into one, larger, novel of sorts. Or if you have any tips on continuing a story you ended. Thank you!

      • I’m sorry, but I don’t have tips for you about combining stories or continuing a story, as I’m a nonfiction writer. What I can do is encourage you to trust the creative process. Just for a moment, let go of trying to figure out the answer and just see what comes. There’s a wisdom in there if we listen for it.

    • Kimsea Sok says:

      Gail Brenner, thanks for sharing…!

      Honestly, the article is really useful for me. I admit that I’m currently writing my first eBook, and I found that it is really mess. I put it off almost 2 weeks ago because I want to keep a bit relax and back to work.

      Thanks for sharing, your experience and stories about writing book.

      I found that you said write. I should find out some professional editor for edit my book, after I finished my first draft.

      Thanks for sharing

      • Good luck in finishing your book, Kimsea! If you have something important to say, you owe it to your audience to get it out there.

    • You have very technical stuff and it gives me information. Thank you

    • Marni Scofidio says:

      Thank you, Gail, for the gift of your book which I look forward to reading. I loved your post which, as WtD’s salient posts always do, came at the best time for me – I might even make my (third!) deadline…. all best wishes for your continued success!

      • Thank you so much, Marni, and I wish the same for you. Even if you don’t make your deadline, you will get it done!

        I hope you enjoy reading the book…

    • Hi Paul,

      Yes, it’s a great feeling to write it and get it done! Congratulations on your book! I’m sure it will help many people.

    • Paul says:

      Hi Gail.
      Your post reminds me of myself. I too finally wrote and published an eBook. on Amazon
      After thinking about it for years, I just decided, Darn it I’ll write to done!

    • Mark Tong says:

      Hi Gail – splendid article – and well done at seeing it through. I’ve just bought a copy. Laura, my wife, and I have written and published a couple of books now and it’s hard work but great fun at the same time. I wish you all the best with this one.
      Will leave a review once read.

      • Congratulations to you and Laura, Mark, for getting your books out there. You’ve captured it: hard work and great fun!

        Thank you so much for supporting my project. Much appreciated.

    • Hilary says:

      Hi Gail! I’m an aspiring novelist. There’s this AMAZING plot in my head, which I’ve been creating for a long time. I’ve finished the first three chapters, but I feel immovable now. The opening which once seemed great to me feels not-so-great after all…I don’t know if I should continue with the writing or change the whole structure of the opening before continuing. Any tips? Will you read my chapters and give me some critiques? Or, will you suggest anyone who could help me in polishing my chapters?

      • Hi Hilary,

        I’m not a fiction writer, so I’m sorry I’m not the best one to give you feedback on your chapters. If you search around, you’ll find communities who help each other with editing. Try the forums on and as a start.

        I know that doubt that descends like a fog over your once brilliant ideas. Maybe you can reflect inside to see what is actually true. Are you second guessing these beginning chapters because you’re afraid of moving forward? Is your original idea truly not as good as you once thought?

        In my experience, the creative process takes all kinds of twists and turns. In your situation, the most important thing is to get moving again. Maybe keep going with what you have already and see what happens. There’s a magical element of surprise and serendipity I’ve found in writing that I can’t know about until it happens.

        So step out into not knowing. Be receptive and give up trying too hard. You’ll discover what your novel wants to show you.

    • Ashwajeet says:

      Hello ma’am,

      I am Ashwajeet and I am a Chemistry Teacher by profession. Lately I’ve been writing articles for an English daily we have here (Maharashtra, India). My genre include academics, vocation, philosophy and self-help. In brief span of time I’ve written on diverse topics and now I wanted to write a book for students that would help then to cope up with difficulties they face while studying. I wanted them to achieve more.

      But I am not getting the way. Even I rely on newspaper to get my articles published. How can I get a the book published? Could you please explain the process. It will be a great help for me.

      • Thanks for your question, Ashwajeet. I’m not familiar with the publishing process in India. You might use or some other company to design your book, then you can get it up on Amazon as an ebook. And once you have the cover and interior set, you can find a printer who can make copies for you.

        Whenever I had a question, I started searching on the internet and talking to people to get information. Keep asking, and you will find the answers.

        Wishing you all the best.

    • Kathy says:

      These are great tips. Not many people spell out the whole process as clearly as you do. And I love the advice to just keep going. Thanks!

    • Charlotta Yvonne Smith says:

      I do enjoy reading these blogs on this site because they do help me and save me from “writers log jam”. I find this helpful for anyone who has issues completing a novel or any book that’s written. I remember having this same problem a few weeks ago because it came to a point where I forgot why I wrote the book. Eventually, I recovered from it and my question has been answered.Visualizing the reader is important to me and to also see the big picture of how the story is told is the best thing to complete the book or novel. Thank you for this blog and I plan to share this to all of my followers on Wattpad.

      • These are great ways to keep the writing process moving, Charlotta. In my experience, if we expect it to be smooth, we’re dreaming.

        Like you, we forget why we’re even writing, we get caught in a mental fog, fear rises up and stops us cold. These are normal occurrences. Our job as creative people who want to produce is to learn how to navigate them.

    • Thanks for the advice, but you are lucky in that you have money to hire editors and especially publicists. This does not apply to many of us. I certainly can’t afford these things, much as I would like to. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad, have a blog and a website and an author page on Amazon, but can’t afford to pay someone.

      • My pleasure, Kathy. Glad you found it helpful!

      • Hi Vivienne,

        I totally understand your point about not being able to use as many resources if you don’t have the money to pay for them. But there are options. They take a little more work, but they are out there.

        First, you’ve done great by joining the communities you mentioned. For do-it-yourself PR, here are some sites I like:,,, and

        And you might also check out, which is a wonderful community of women writers supporting each other.

        If you are interested in using promotions through the Amazon community, you can search those as well. I’m in the middle of a 3-day free download period, and there have been thousands of downloads. Supposedly, this creates a momentum for sales moving forward.

        Keep doing what you love—that’s the most important thing.

        You seem to

    • My biggest problem is FINISHING. For some reason I have flood of ideas but each day I wake up trying to continue on the first writing, I end up starting a new story or work, which is good, a mean I have many good ideas but I dont want that, I need to finish one good thing instead of having many unfinished useless works.
      So the KEEP GOING is really good, since I know how procrastination have been killing me. Thanks for the useful tips. 🙂

      • Hi Yanique,

        I’m thinking that maybe you are in a creative process that feels scattered right now, but that’s okay. If you’re having a flood of good ideas, maybe see which ones want to come to fruition and follow them. It’s also possible that being unfocused is about fear – preventing you from all that’s involved in finishing something and moving forward.

        In a situation like this, I would reflect inside to see if fear is driving me or if it’s just how the process is right now. If it’s fear, then your way forward is to put the fear aside and trust your next step.

    • Aah – the title certainly aroused my interest! I will be checking out your book soon – thanks Gail!


      • Great, Kitto! I’m so glad you’re interested. If you’d like to get the ebook free, you can do that today.

    • Hello

      Thanks for sharing this post. As I read your post I felt as if it’s me who is talking about my self experiences.
      I write short stories and travelogue and like you said, I cannot push the writing up, it gets annoyed and back fires. I have never written 5000 words a day as many writers boast on the social media.
      I am thinking of self publishing a collection of my short stories not immediately but later for sure.

      • Hi Sanjoy,

        I wouldn’t worry about the goal of 5000 words a day – unless it helps you. If it feels overwhelming and shuts you down, that backfires. Instead, write in a way that is most enjoyable for you. And I clearly hear that you enjoy your writing.

        My suggestion would be to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Even if your pace is slower than what your mind would like it to be, you will be accomplishing something every time. I often think I should be accomplishing more, but that thought isn’t helpful and doesn’t reflect the truth. In my own way, in my own time, I’m doing just fine.

    • Jenna says:

      The link to your book at the beginning of the post is broken.

      Thanks for this great post!

    • Roo says:

      Always good to hear a self published author’s story, but you’re a bit vague. I’ve hired an editor and have had feed back from Beta Readers and I got a good deal on my cover. I mean my cover is cracking but this publicist is the intriguing part of your story I’d like to know more about. I’m planning on doing this bit myself because it sounds expensive. I’d just like to know a bit more about the work they did and how you got people to pre-order and how much, ball park, you paid for a publicist. And did they really make a difference. There are so many folk out there happy to help you spend it gets a little daunting. I intend to e-publish on 1 june and am terrified I will become one of the thousands lost in the the Amazon jungle.

      • Hi Roo,

        I was expecting a comment like yours because I knew I couldn’t say everything in the post. Thank you!

        Good for you for moving forward with your editing! Regarding publicists, I’ve found a number of good sites that help you do it yourself. I like:,,, and There are many more out there.

        Hiring a publicist costs from $2500 a month to up to $10,000 a month or more, and they usually recommend a 3-month package. There are many on the lower end, which is what I’m paying, and I’m very happy with the person I’m working with. Since it is a lot of money, I interviewed several, and went with the person who felt right for me and my project. She has arranged for many interviews, both radio and online, and excerpts and reviews published in magazines. BTW, I learned so much from interviewing these different publicists.

        I absolutely know the feeling of putting the book up on Amazon and fearing that nothing will happen. There’s a reality to it. I am learning Amazon’s system, and right now I’m in the middle of a 3-day free download promotion, which is creating thousands of downloads. I have prepared for weeks setting up facebook ads and tweeting services to support this.

        Even if we don’t want to, writers need to learn to be marketers. Hope this helps!

    • Marvin Ginsberg says:

      I have written many 1 page short stories about healing and transformation. Like you, the writing comes easy. I need to edit 100s of these stories and the task is daunting, or at least seems to be.
      and i have not decided how to publish yet.
      I love your article and i was wondering if you can tell me where to start.
      Can you recommend anyone that I can speak to?

      • Hi Marvin,
        It sounds to me like you just need to get going. If you’d like to speak to someone, maybe try a coach who can keep you accountable. When I started writing, I teamed up with a friend who was starting a blog, and we emailed each other every day about our progress. Shortly into the process, I didn’t need that anymore, but it helped in the beginning.

        When a task feels daunting, break it down. Don’t think about 100’s of stories to edit. Just do the one in front of you. Set aside the time, even if it’s 20 minutes every day, and just do it. When the fear rises up, take a breath, set it aside, and keep going. Every single huge thing that’s ever been accomplished by anybody has been done one moment at a time. Keep your attention here.

        I didn’t decide to self-publish until at least a year and a half into writing. I just wrote without knowing what I would choose in the future. It’s not a decision that needs to be made now. Once you’re getting close to having your manuscript finished, your attention will naturally go to that choice.

        Best of luck to you!

        • Marvin,

          Gail is right.

          One thing I would add is that it’s sometimes better to think about how you want to publish after most of the writing is done.

          For myself, thinking that far ahead stifles creativity. There is a time for everything and creativity and the more technical aspects of the publishing industry usually do not complement one another very well.

          The same goes for creating and editing.

          But if you take a little step every day, pretty soon you’ll be able to look back and discover that that daunting task that once lay ahead of you is now finished. What a glorious moment that is!


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