The Hardest Part of Writing a Book

The Hardest Part of Writing a Book

Editing, JS, Medium, writing

I see this question many places — on Quora, in articles about writing, when I’m asked directly.

“What is the hardest part about writing a book?”

I understand why people want to know, but the truth is that just like everything else in life, what is most difficult for me may be easy for you and vice versa.

Here’s what I can tell you from my own experience. I have ghostwritten a few books and recently published my own.

For me, the hardest part of writing a book is knowing when I’m finished.

I started with my trusty outline, I wrote everything, I reread several times, it FELT complete.

The moment I sent it to the editor, I had ideas for things I could have expanded on or written differently.

I managed to keep it together until I got it back from the editor, at which time I ended up adding an entire case study and about half a chapter.

I sent that part BACK to the editor.

And I made myself stop writing.

The moment it hit the virtual shelves for sale, I recounted my mistakes.

I could have added more, made it better, given better examples, used a more formal vocabulary.


For me, it was never anxiety over whether or not I was qualified to write a book, or if people would think it was silly, or if it was poorly written (some of the top fears expressed to me when people talk about writing).

I have confidence in my writing and I was building off of content I’d previously written and gotten solid feedback on as a blogger.

My anxiety came from feeling like it wasn’t complete.

A feeling of “Nooo! I forgot to tell them this amazing advice on how to get the higher-end clients!”

And I don’t mean to say that I think that information could only come from me.

But my goal was to write a really helpful, practical book to help people find clients, market themselves, and build a freelancing business with no initial investment, and I just truly wanted to provide as much a framework as humanly possible.

Even now, I sometimes think about what more information I could have added to it.

But I have mostly moved on. I’m thinking about my next book, focusing on my clients, and continuing to build, grow, and refine my own business.

And all of these experiences will help me on the next book!


What was the hardest part of writing a book, a paper, a blog, anything, for you?

Sign up for my occasional mailing list here and check out my book on how to find clients & make money freelancing!

How to Stop Procrastinating

How to Stop Procrastinating

JS, LinkedIn, Medium, writing

Working from home doesn’t make me more likely to procrastinate, it’s just easier to get away with it because no one is watching.

In the corporate world, procrastination is there, it’s just slightly less detectable. Facebook and Twitter in between clients, Instagram while you go to the bathroom, texting all day. Reading the news is the easiest way to procrastinate at work because it seems that it is the most “acceptable” non-work thing to do.

It’s unlikely that anyone will sit at a desk in front of a computer and work nonstop for 8 solid hours with no distraction or rest.

Instead of policing an employee’s every move, it should be understood that some distraction can be a good thing. Leaving a task and coming back with fresh eyes is great and can catch errors you may have missed before. Refreshing yourself and coming back to work with renewed vigor is great!

Working from home, I have found that I can just as easily get into Facebook for half an hour as I can stop and sweep the house or take pictures of my cat.

4 Tips to Stop Procrastinating

  1. Schedule tasks. If you know you need to do specific things on Tuesday or have them done by Wednesday, put them on your calendar. Schedule an hour to block off specifically for “edit Client A’s Chapter 2–3.” And then keep to your calendar.
  2. Close out of social media. When focusing on a specific task, close out of all social media websites and put your phone face down. It is a simple way to remove distractions.
  3. Get in the right mindset. Instead of thinking, “Shoot, I have to do this task.” Consider trying a different perspective. Try, “I am going to knock this out and be done with this whole task in only 45 minutes!” It’s been shown that changing your mindset affects your attitude and even likelihood of success.
  4. Just start! Stop trying to think of why you don’t want to do something and just start. It will go faster than you think, and you’ll wonder why you spent so much time complaining about it or procrastinating when you could have been done that much sooner.

What do you do to get started on work? Do you find yourself procrastinating a lot? How do you accomplish your goals?

Never Work For Free

Never Work For Free

Entrepreneur, Medium, writing

A friend of mine is also an entrepreneur. She was asked about possibly doing a whole new project for one of her clients. She wasn’t super familiar with the details but knew she could do the main part, so she said she was interested.

The client didn’t even ask her to, but she spent several hours researching information and details about parts of the project she wasn’t as familiar with — but hadn’t firmed up a price or a contract with the client yet.

I told her to stop. The biggest thing about being an entrepreneur is you only get paid for certain work. It was the client’s responsibility to take care of some of what she was researching, and even then, only if they agree to move forward.

Protect your time.

As the expert, your time is your most valuable commodity.

Time spent doing “just a quick little favor” for a client that pays by the minute or researching something for someone you don’t even work for any more than 10 minutes should absolutely be paid.

If you are wondering what this includes — literally everything. It is up to your discretion to give advice to your family or close friends for free. Anyone else should be paying.

There is a REASON you are able to make a living freelancing and that is because you are really good at what you do.

Which means you deserve to be compensated for it.

Don’t work for free.

I will occasionally give discounted pricing to people if it’s a trial blog post or something. But even then, still not free and that is my own choice.

The times when I have not charged for advice or help are when I choose to do so in a community, such as Reddit or Quora, where people are genuinely asking for help and no one is under any obligation to give it. I like helping people, and other writers are a fantastic group of people!

How To Be Inspired Today

How To Be Inspired Today

JS, Medium

Creativity begets more creativity. Inspiration can be found from anywhere, but it can be easy to get so mired in and forget or be unable to find the beauty in the world.

Stop what you’re doing. Right now. Just take a moment, put down the pen, the phone, remove your fingers from the keyboard. Just stop.

After you read this sentence, close your eyes and take a deep breath and hold it for 5 seconds. With your eyes still closed, think of the last thing that made you laugh. The last thing that made you cry. Picture yourself in your happy place. Now, open your eyes and go read.

Read the news, read blog posts, articles, a book, whatever you want. By exposing yourself to new ideas and articles, you’ll immediately start thinking of topics or be reminded of something you’d planned to write about.

Why the close your eyes exercise? 2 reasons. 1, because it’s expected and 2, because it works. By putting yourself in a positive mindset, you are more likely to be open to inspiration and new ideas and then feel positively towards them.

My happy place is a gorgeous beach on crystal clear water. I can taste my frozen strawberry margarita, hear the waves crashing into shore with that sound that is a cross between a crowd cheering me on and a tremendous crash. I can see the boat waiting for me offshore, a small sailboat that I can take out fishing or scalloping or diving. Next to me is a stack of books I’ve been wanting to read, and my phone is nowhere to be found. I can feel the sand in my toes and the wind in my face and the slight tingling of my skin starting to get pink.

If that image doesn’t inspire you, then I don’t know what will!

Inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere. Your daily experiences and the people you interact with, the news, other blogs, and more. A picture that makes you laugh, a meal you love, experiences you enjoy.

The best way to find immediate inspiration is to read. Whenever I read through my Medium feed, I see titles and posts that remind me of things I want to write. Or that is a differing point of view than my own, and I want to discuss why. And sometimes, they are a list of topic starters and ideas which give me something to write about.

 

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you actively go looking for it?

 

Photo Credit

How to Have a Great Editor/Author Relationship

How to Have a Great Editor/Author Relationship

JS, Medium, writing

I see authors getting frustrated. “Just tell me how much editing will cost!” They cry, annoyed at vague or incomplete answers.

The editors are sitting on the other end of the email chain despairingly, grumbling in annoyance, “How long is your book??”

As an editor, an author, and an employee of a publishing firm, I think I can clear this right up.

Authors: there is no set cost for editing. Editing depends on many factors, but the two main ones are:

  • Wordcount (length of book)
  • Type of editing desired (there is more than one)

These two things are extremely important. A 30,000-word book will take far less time to edit than a 100,000-word book, which is why there are significant price differences.

Generally, the cost of editing comes down to how much TIME it will take the editor to completely edit your book. They will estimate number of hours for the project, multiply that by their hourly fee, and that’s your price.

There are two main types of book editing that happens after the book is written.

  • Copyediting: This is general proofreading. Correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and word usage while preserving the meaning and voice of the author. Checking for overall clarity and consistency of format and style.
  • Substantive/developmental Editing: Sometimes these words are used interchangeably. This is a more in-depth edit, including checking for plot holes, asking questions, looking for plot consistency, suggestions on word changes, restructuring paragraphs or sections, asking questions of the author to create better clarity of the story, and can even include consulting on titles, cover design, and more.

Editors: the authors don’t understand editing as well as you do, have patience. They are also incredibly nervous about handing over their book — a piece of their soul — to someone and not knowing what happens next.

How can you alleviate their fears?

First, be open about your process. Tell the authors exactly what they can expect from you, how your process works, the types and number of check-ins and progress updates you’ll do.

Second, take the time to really discuss the different types of editing with your authors and your timeline and deadlines.

Thirdly, remember how it was for you, and be open to answering a million questions and getting to know your author. Ask questions, be honest, and really be a part of the process of their book, not just a side quest.

Try to be collaborative. I like to edit in a Google doc, so that the author can pop in and out, make suggestions, answer questions from me, and be constantly aware of anything happening to their book.

This has served me well and allowed a symbiotic author/editor relationship. It also makes sure that the author is not surprised by any changes I make, as they can see it happening and make the final call.

Your editing is great, but the final product needs to be something the author is excited about and proud of, too.

 

Authors: You are allowed to say no to editor suggestions (though not if it is a grammatical error. We feel strongly about those.). When it comes to style and wording, your preference wins.

Editors: Authors are allowed to say no to suggestions in style and wording, and you’re not allowed to feel bad or take it personally. Their book, their story, their voice.

 

Is this helpful? Do you have questions? What is your relationship with your editor like?

 

Photo Credit

Don’t Call Me A ‘Woman Entrepreneur’

Don’t Call Me A ‘Woman Entrepreneur’

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

I think we can leave my gender out of my job title.

Yes, I am technically a female business owner, a woman entrepreneur, a lady boss, and a chick, broad, lassie, dame, gal, maiden, and a wench in some moods.

My womanhood effects many things, from the size of the pockets in my jeans to the expectations of labor division, and the attraction my husband has for me.

Guess what it does not effect?

My ability to do my job effectively.

I am a writer. My perspective is certainly a female one, I’ll give you that.

Can we all agree that you can do anything you set your mind to, regardless of gender? I am a business owner, an entrepreneur, and a writer.

I do not need those to be clarified by my girl-ness. The fact that I have a uterus is useless to my ability to form cohesive sentences, build a story, or help you write a book.

Some day, I hope that we can all get past the fact that *GASP!* a woman can have her very own business, without a man. To help get to that point, instead of having headlines or discussing “Female Entrepreneur NameName is Launching A New Whatever!”

Perhaps try “NameName, Owner of Company, is Launching New Whatever!”

Simple fix, new connotation.

Feel free to not work with me based on personality, my stupid hair, and my work, but don’t do anything based on gender alone.

What a waste of a whole person, to reduce them to just a boy or girl.

Where Do Freelance Writers Find Clients?

Where Do Freelance Writers Find Clients?

Medium, Sales & Marketing, writing

One of the questions that I get asked the most and see on writing forums all the time is “where do you find clients?”

I’ve talked about this before, discussing ways to start making money right away as a writer.

But something I keep seeing even more of recently is this: “I got my first client! The pay is terrible, but it’ll be a professional piece for my portfolio!”

It’s awesome that you got your first paying client, but you have to get out of the mentality of doing something for low to no money just for your “portfolio.”

I am a full-time professional writer and editor, and I do not have a portfolio. I have writing samples and links I can send people, and even PDFs.

Instead of focusing on needing pieces for a professional portfolio and spending the time and energy even making a portfolio, start with having a couple of articles completely written, edited, and finished. Even if you’re just posting them on your blog, or your Medium page, or holding on to them as PDFs.

Write a couple of samples. That is IT. Once you have a couple articles, you can use those as samples when marketing yourself to new clients.

Things that are a waste of time before you have any clients: a professional website, a fancy portfolio, a marketing budget, and professional headshots.

I spent exactly $0 before getting my first 4 clients.

I spent $0 before getting the next several clients after that. In fact, the first money spent on being a writer was getting a new laptop once it was clear that I could make money as a writer. And I only got a new laptop because I was using my husband’s computer and he wanted it back.

Marketing and a professional website are useless at first because no one is searching for you or knows who you are. Don’t spend your time (or money) on that yet. Eventually, you’ll want a website, I’m not saying it’s useless! You just don’t need it to get started.

Respond to ads on Craigslist and Reddit. Give them your writing samples. Same goes for reaching out to people on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media.

Here is a message I was sending:

“Hi, I’m Jyssica and I am a professional writer and editor! I am located in NYC and am available for new projects immediately. My 10 years of sales experience means I write well-suited-for-marketing copy and can work with you to create website or ad copy, blogs, and more. I also edit books! I noticed your website’s blog has not been updated in 6 months. Would you be interested in a couple of blog posts? I can provide writing samples. When are you available to talk?”

Bam. I have introduced myself, given an example of why I am an expert, identified a specific area I can help them with, offered writing samples, and asked to set up a call.

Sales 101. Identify a specific need and offer a solution.

I sent variations of that message directly to businesses over social media, especially LinkedIn and Instagram, and got a good response rate. Most people answered, “what are your rates?”

My response was ALWAYS that the rate depends on their needs, as I can charge per word, per project, or monthly rates, and they depended on the scope of the work and their budget. My next sentence was always “Do you have 15 minutes today to talk? I can get an idea of your needs and we can discuss prices.”

By giving people individual attention and focusing on their needs, I found new clients quickly. And for free.

Don’t undervalue yourself just to make $10. Spend an extra few days finding clients and marketing yourself and make more money.

Market yourself. Most writers don’t make their salary from content mills. Instead of signing up for a content mill and calling it done, do that as only one tiny part of an overall strategy for finding clients.

Making money as a freelance writer is absolutely possible, and it can be a sustainable career choice. But if you decide not to market yourself or try to find clients, you will find that it will be a much slower process to making a decent living.

I’m not just throwing words around for no reason. This strategy worked for me.

I was making just about the same salary from when I was in corporate sales by my fourth month of being a freelance writer.

Photo Credit: http://bsnscb.com/money-wallpapers.html

The Importance of Time for Yourself

The Importance of Time for Yourself

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

It’s so easy to make work my whole life. As a work from home full-time entrepreneur, I am basically always at the office. My cell phone is my work phone and my personal laptop is my work computer.

It can be hard to disconnect and just be a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter. I actually scheduled my mother into my calendar this week, so that we could have a nice talk!

As much as I love my work and my life, which is really a lot and I have never been happier, I can feel it becoming more stressful.

I have to step back. I have to remember that I am allowed to have a life outside of work. Clients CAN wait a bit for me to respond to their emails, even until the next business day, if needed.

I’m allowed to go run errands, or go shopping, or even knock off a bit early if I want. I can make time for the gym.

I have to continue to remind myself of all of this because it is so easy to fall into being so busy that I have no time for myself.

I know it is important to have time to yourself. Time away from work, relaxing or doing something you enjoy that has nothing to do with calls, clients, and deadlines.

It is better for your brain and your overall health to step away and have time for YOU.

If you aren’t happy, mentally, emotionally, physically, then how can you give it your all in business and for others? If you can’t care for yourself, how can you care for anyone else?

I officially, wholeheartedly, unequivocally give you permission to take time just for you.

No kids, no spouse, no questions. Whether that is the gym, taking a walk, having a drink, reading a book, going bowling, whatever makes you happy and lets you completely turn off work.

Be healthy and be happy in all aspects, and your work can only benefit!

Entrepreneur on Vacation

Entrepreneur on Vacation

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

Living that #LaptopLifestyle

As an entrepreneur, you are basically always connected. Especially when you work from home, you’re always at the office! It’s easy to lose track of time and work too late, or “just answer this email super quick” at 10 pm or on a Saturday.

It’s also your passion, so you want to keep working, keep delivering, keep proving yourself over and over.

You are valuable. You are worth the money. People are paying you because they believe you have the skills to do the work and deliver on your promises. You’ve already sold yourself, now you’re just continuing the work of making yourself irreplaceable.

I get it. I honestly do. Hell, I’m writing this at 10:30 at night on a Monday, sitting on my couch and listening to The Great British Baking Show in the background.

But the thing is, you and I…we deserve a vacation sometimes. We deserve to have dinner with our families without the phone in our hand. We deserve time off now and then.

When I was working in corporate sales, it was easy to leave work at the office and turn my mind to other things at home. I might check my email once over the weekend, but I didn’t feel like I had to be glued to my computer. I took my earned vacation days and I went away for a week, while only checking email and checking in with the office once or twice.

Now, I just spent 5 days in Florida, in gorgeous weather with family, amazing food, a beautiful wedding, and perfect beaches. Every day, I was still checking email and responding, I got work done while I was there, and even spoke to some clients!

Why did I feel like I owed my clients my time off, in addition to the work I do, the meetings, the time, effort, and time on during the week?

For the same reason, I felt guilty when giving my resignation at previous jobs. I did all of the work, and often more, that I was paid to do, I was on time, a hard worker, and a friendly colleague. I helped people as much as I could. When I got an offer from a new company, I accepted it, and then immediately got a huge knot in my stomach. I had to go in and give my notice to my boss, and I was dreading it. I still did it, and was completely professional, but it was scary and nerve-wracking, and made me feel terribly guilty for leaving.

There was no real reason for guilt. I did the work I was paid to do and I was looking out for what was best for me and my career, as you’re supposed to do. My boss wasn’t looking out for my career, that’s my job.

That’s how it is with your own business, too. You’re doing the work you’re being paid to do, and likely more. So why do I feel like I can’t take the weekend off on vacation?

It’s a process. I am trying to let go and take time to myself, and remember that I do great work, and that’s why I have awesome clients who stick with me.

We all deserve time off now and again, and we need to stop feeling guilty for wanting it. It’s a learning process, realizing you don’t need to respond immediately if someone emails you on a Saturday night, and figuring out that they probably don’t even expect it! I am slowly learning to let go, and not think about working in my off hours.

I don’t think I’ll be leaving my laptop at home when I travel anytime soon, though!

How To: Write a Book in 3 Months

How To: Write a Book in 3 Months

JS, Medium, writing

The 5 Steps to Writing A Book

Have you always thought about writing a book, but it just seems so daunting and impossible?

This is one of those times that you really have to think past the big picture. Much like every difficult journey, writing a book starts with a single step.

Breaking down the book writing process into more manageable, or at least more realistic and approachable steps is key to actually writing one. You don’t just come up with an idea and start writing, because your idea will peter out, or you’ll come up against a dead end, or any other of a million excuses to stop writing.

If you are looking at a nonfiction book, perhaps in entrepreneurship, business advice, self-help, or more, you’re going to want to write a book that is 30,000–45,000 words maximum. Which definitely sounds like a lot, but when you realize that a 45,000-word book is about 180 pages, that already sounds more doable!

So let’s take a number from the middle there and say that your book will be approximately 37,000 words, or about 148 pages. Broken down further, you are looking at writing about 3,000 words per week.

The 5 Steps To Writing A Book

When approaching a book idea, your first step should be to create an outline. Make it as detailed as you want, and think of it as a living document that can change and grow. Create a full outline, and include all of your ideas and plans and then work with it until the order makes sense, it says what you want to say, and you make sure that topics are grouped correctly. You will also be able to see where you plan to break it into chapters, and it will help you stay on topic.

Your outline is your first draft.

Your actual book will be an incredibly fleshed out version of your outline.

When you think about writing a book in 3 months, it sounds crazy! But 3,000 words per week is very doable! It can be 440 words per day, which is less than that click bait article you just read on Facebook, or about the number of words in two average length emails.

By putting time in your schedule and making writing a part of your routine, you will be able to write 3,000 words per week easily. Even an hour every third day or 15 minutes daily, however, you make writing a habit.

Make yourself accountable. Tell people you’re writing a book, or put money down on a publisher, or in advertising, or have a friend text you every other day asking how much you have written. Hold yourself accountable for writing every week.

Don’t get hung up on word count, though. Keep in mind the general length of your book as you continue to write, but don’t force yourself to stop because you hit a certain length, or force yourself to continue after the book is finished just because you want a specific length. It’s not about length, it’s about the story itself, and you don’t want to cheapen it needlessly. Word count is more for you to have a general starting point and to know how word count translates to book pages.

Write. Once you have the outline and you’re being held accountable, sit down every day, every week, and write. It is easier to delete poor writing than it is to have nothing on a page and start from scratch. Read over your outline, think about what you are trying to say, and just write.

At the end of 12 weeks, you will have a book. You may need revisions, you may want more time, but if you start now, in 3 months, you will have enough for a book.

It’s all about breaking down the process into manageable steps, which sounds completely reasonable and logical, but is difficult to do when you’ve been thinking about writing a book since forever, and you’ve never really started because it is a huge project, and who has the time?

You do.

You have the time and the ability to start right now. Start with 1 page, start with 100 words. Start now, and surprise yourself.