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E1: Writing A Book - The Learning Curve (1-5)

The journey begins...

It was the Summer of 2017. I had just had a massive revelation around the evolution happening in the sales world that nobody was talking about - transparency!

The brain science was screaming at me that leading with our flaws resulted in dramatically better results: cycle lengths, win rates, qualifying deals "in" more effectively, qualifying deals "out" more quickly, and making life really hard on our competitors. Perhaps as importantly, the proliferation of reviews and feedback on everything we do, buy and experience was making the hiding of flaws during the sales cycle a larger mistake, too! 

I certainly wasn't sure if this would succeed - but I was more afraid to fail to try. In my heart, I felt like this is an important idea - too important not to try.

Trust me, I have lots of bad ideas - but this one felt different. I started on the journey of writing a book. And I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into.

Along the way, I learned more than I ever could have imagine: about the process, the industry, the launch, distribution, dollars, and so much more. I started collecting the "meaty" learnings, and the number is now up to 70.

Not a week goes by without at least someone telling me, "I want to write a book." I LOVED the journey, and I want to pay it forward. I want to help you avoid the lessons learned along the way, convince you to take action and write, or maybe even convince you to focus your efforts elsewhere.

So, this is #1 of the series. I'll post #2 right along with it. Then, on a weekly basis, I'll post the rest until we get through the entire pile.

Ready? Here goes...

Learnings 1-5

  1. Greatest learning experience of my career: There is no question that I learned more in the period of time I was writing than at any time since probably college. And the stuff I learned in college was about myself - not book smarts. There are the many learnings listed here, plus the intense amount of learnings through the countless hours of research around the topics that went into the book.
  2. You can write: Don’t feel like you need to be a trained writer, have an English degree or have a ton of experience writing. I found very quickly that simply writing in a style that matches the type of book I would want to read came naturally. Reading a book like Josh Bernoff’s Writing Without Bullsh*t would have been nice to do before I started, though. 
  3. The process is a rollercoaster: There are sometimes dramatic ups and downs in the book writing journey. There are days when things just flow, and you look back at your writing and think, “this is great!” Then, there are days where the Starbucks you’re writing at is playing music like you’re in a nightclub, the words are stuck in your head, and when you look back at what you just wrote, you think, “was I drunk when I wrote this?” At a more macro level, there are days when this feels like the absolute right decision, and others when you’ll wonder if you were crazy to take this on.
  4. It will take longer than you think: My publisher told me that my book length should be anywhere from 40,000 words to 60,000 words. Anything shorter is typically not developed enough, and anything longer is trying too hard. I found that I could write anywhere from 1,500 - 2,500 words per day before I would trail off. Doing the math at 2,000 words per day would tell you that it should take twenty-five days to get to 50,000. That math is wrong. From the time I wrote my proposal to the time the book came out was thirteen months. The writing, the research, the re-writing, the editing, the cover design, the proofreading, the footnotes, the titles, the quotes, the indexing, etc., etc., etc...it’s so much more than just writing. 
  5. It becomes all encompassing - everything you see will be an idea: Once I began to dig into the decision science / neuroscience, everything I saw became an idea for the book. I thought about the concepts and the stories practically every minute of the day. Walking down the street in downtown Chicago, I found myself wondering how people made decisions on what they were wearing, the path they were taking to work, when they crossed intersections, and why they worked where they do. It takes over...which actually was pretty cool.

So there are the first five. These are pretty high level. Check out the next edition (6-10), as we dig into your proposal, first steps, deciding to use a publisher and so much more.

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