Thinking about starting the journey into writing a book, whether it's published or self-published, is both exciting and intimidating. You're taking knowledge from your head and putting it into an actual book, one that you hope sells well. There's a lot that goes into it. Marketing, how to sell, what topic to write about, and most of all, how to make it worth it to the reader.
In this blog post, I'll share some of my thoughts on how to publish a book and what you need to succeed.
The first topic in this blog post is arguably the most important, motivation. The one thing to keep in mind is writing a book will not get you rich quick. If you self-publish, you'll get roughly 80% royalties, but you have to do all of the marketing. If you publish with a publisher, you'll get maybe 10-20% royalties, but they do the marketing. The point is, you aren't going to write a book, become a millionaire, and sail into the sunset, so what should your motivation be?
That's going to be an answer that you need to find out for yourself. However, I can tell you my motivation for the two books I've written and the one I'm currently writing.
- Helping others learn.
- The excitement of seeing my name on a book cover.
- Having the ability to take all of the knowledge out of my head on topics and write about them.
- Confirm my knowledge. There's no better way to confirm what you know than teaching it.
- Studying. No one that ever writes a book does zero research. There is a ton of time and research that goes into it. Because of that, I get to lab and learn more. It's exciting!
Picking a Topic
Picking a topic can be cumbersome because you may be excited in a ton of different areas. Perhaps you love cloud, programming, virtualization, and any other topic. How should you choose what to write about? Below are two options.
- Write about something that you're extremely comfortable with. If you've been diving into a specific topic for a while and you feel that you know it rather well, that'll be a great topic to write about.
- Write about a topic that you're really passionate about and want to learn more about. There's nothing better than writing a book and learning way more about a topic after the research for the book. It's an awesome feeling.
Choosing a Platform
After you pick a topic you want to write about, it's time to start writing, but where? If you're going with a publisher, you'll be writing on whichever platform they tell you to write on. The decision on where you're writing the book will be out of your hands.
If you choose to go with self-publishing, you have a few different options. The two primary options that a lot of technical writers go with are:
Both options allow you to start writing a book for 100% free. With Leanpub for example, you can write it wherever you would like in Markdown. For example, I wrote my Azure recipes book in Visual Studio Code, literally.
I haven't personally written a book on Gumroad, but I know several other writers who have and absolutely love it.
To get started on each platform, follow the links below:
Setting a Schedule
This is one of the most import pieces to writing a book - choose a schedule. Ideally, you want this to be time that you know will not be interrupted. For example, I like to write before I know my son is going to wake up. For me, that's around 6:00 AM. For you, it may be later at night. Either way, pick a time that you know will be nice and quiet for you.
The other aspect is how long you want to write for each day. I believe a healthy amount of time is 1 hour to 1.5 hours per day. The one thing you don't want to do is burn yourself out because then the writing will get sloppy. Keep it in a timeframe that works for you and that keeps you sane. Remember, writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint.
Finding an Editor
As you're writing a book, way before you finish, you should find an editor. Ideally, you should send each chapter in that you complete for editing. The reason why is because you don't want to wait until the end to send it in because I can guarantee you that there will be mistakes that need to be fixed. It doesn't matter how good of a writer you are, there will be mistakes.
Reedsy is one place that you can find a book editor, which I've used and quite enjoy. https://reedsy.com/editing/book-editor