This is the third post in a series dedicated to the anniversary of the publishing of my first book, Conquer the Entrepreneur’s Kryptonite. The purpose of this series is to share what I’ve learned to help inspire you to do the same if there’s a book in your heart waiting to get out.
As I look back on the year since Conquer the Entrepreneur’s Kryptonite was published, it’s hard to remember all of the times it almost died. Three years is a long time to write a book or work on any kind of creative project.
Thankfully I was able to push through and finish what I started. But along the way, there were specific reasons I almost killed it before it was born:
1) I’m an Impostor (part 1)
In May of 2010 when I started writing the book, I really was an impostor. Here I was, writing a book about strategic planning because I was teaching others how do do strategic planning, yet I wasn’t really doing it myself. I was doing some things around it, which is kind of like a health and fitness coach reading a workout book while eating a donut.
So I felt like a hypocrite (and I was), but at the same time I really was helping my students and clients. That counted for enough to get me going, and I didn’t let it stop me (though it wouldn’t be enough to finish…more on that tomorrow).
2) No One Will Read It
Every writer dreams of having a best-seller. But here I was, writing a book on strategic planning for small business owners. Really exciting, mass market stuff! Did I even have a chance?
Probably not. But I didn’t write it to be a best-seller. I wrote it to help the people who needed clarity and focus. For small business owners and those who dreamed of starting a business, so that they can be intentional with their limited resources and take action (the right actions) to improve their odds.
I also wrote it for myself. It was content that I needed personally, and a massive project that fulfilled my desire to write a quality book. In the end it didn’t matter how many people buy it or how many people read it (different metrics!).
3) The Colossal Waste of Time
Was writing this book a bad business decision? Perhaps. When you factor the amount of time spent writing and producing it with the size of the audience interested in the topic, I was on course to make way less than a dollar per hour.
But two things pushed me forward…the burning desire to write a book and the fact that a book is about more than just selling books. The desire speaks to my childhood dream of being an author. The purpose of the book beyond selling is that it positions me as an expert, it can be used when I teach courses or lead seminars, and it leads to media exposure and even coaching clients. (I’ll share the first year financial results in a future post, but I can tell you now it’s not easy to quantify.)
4) I Have No Audience
Anyone can write a book these days, but not everyone can sell books. If you’re a celebrity, you can even hire someone to write your book for you and still make the best-seller list. Easy, and the book can be total fluff, but it’s money in the bank.
For regular people, writing a book is less of a slam dunk. Moving copies requires having a platform…an audience of people who know who you are and want what you’re selling.
I had no such audience. What I did have was a small collection of friends, students, and clients who knew the power of my process and could support a limited production of copies.
Instead of building a platform, I wrote a book. That’s probably a mistake, but I went in knowing it. The book is helping me grow my platform over time.
5) I’m an Impostor (part 2)
“Are you even an entrepreneur?” asked the critics and skeptics. Some were real people, most were in my head. But it was a question that caused me to almost quit at the very end of the process. Here I was, working a full-time job making a great salary, and my book has the word “entrepreneur” in the title. Running my business part-time and on the side wouldn’t be enough to satisfy some people.
It took some time, but I’ve become very comfortable with the word entrepreneur. To me it’s not about being Richard Branson or Mark Zuckerberg…it’s about creating value. There are entrepreneurs in the workforce. They creatively add value for the people they work for. There are big entrepreneurs and small entrepreneurs. Some make it, and some don’t. But they are part of the struggle to improve our world and make their mark, and if they are successful, they’ll have a well-deserved financial reward to go with it.
So yes, I’m an entrepreneur. Deal with it if you don’t like my definition. I’m too busy to care what you think anymore.
6) I’m Too Busy
Working a full-time job, being a husband and father, buying a house and moving, changing consulting clients…those were easy compared to starting a new public school system. Or maybe that was just the last straw.
When I was appointed to our city’s new school board and charged with helping complete the separation from the county system, I was honored but I had no idea what I was getting into. For 10 months, the five of us dealt with lawyers, consultants, tax assessors, financial managers, state officials, the media, the public, and so much more. It was one of the biggest projects I’ve ever been a part of, and we were successful in record time.
But it cost me an entire year of writing. I simply shelved the book project and didn’t think about it much. Maybe one day I’ll write a book about that experience!
7) It’s No Good
Doing things well is at my core. I’m addicted to excellence. So even though I was self-publishing, this book had to be as good as any other business book out on the market.
So how often did I think it was a steaming pile of crap? Probably every day for the first 30 months. But then it started to take shape. I started to carve out the junk and found a sparkling gem inside. It took a team to get it out the door, but we did it.
Is it perfect? No. I still find a typo, or think of changes I want to make. But those things, thankfully, didn’t keep me from finishing the book.
Finishing is very different from not quitting. I’ll talk about finishing tomorrow.
Stay tuned as I write about the writing process, the finishing process, formatting, creating the trifecta (book, e-book, and audiobook), crowdsourcing, my support team, and so much more. I don’t know how long the series will last and I haven’t written the next post yet, but I’m going to share all of the ups and downs I can remember!
If you have specific topics you want me to cover, leave a comment or send me a note!