I’ve admired Mercedes Samudio’s social media savvy for years. She’s built an amazing platform around Shame Proof Parenting that I not only appreciate as a fellow businesswoman, but also as a parent. Her book is phenomenal and you should get it asap if you’re a parent or if you work with parents or kids.
Enough from me, here’s Mercedes:
There’s this interesting occurrence that happens when you decide to write a book. On the surface, it feels like you’re doing it to position yourself and to earn a space among the experts.
And, for the most part, that’s exactly what you’re doing. But, on a deeper level, you’re allowing yourself to trust and believe that you have something unique to share with the world. It was that deeper understanding that helped me to push through all the doubt, worry, writer’s blocks, and
fear that showed itself as I wrote my first book. The declaration that even in the over-saturated parenting world, I had something to say that had not been said before and that was coming from my experience in this world.
It’s with that deeper understanding that I present the idea that you too can write a book that speaks to your ideal audience, earns you expert status, and gets you really focusing on what it is that makes you feel alive.
As I share with you my process for writing a book, I’ll also be answering some common questions that we – as analytical, clinical professionals – tend to ask before we take on such a huge task. I’ll also share with you some tips on how to make sure that you’re putting your best self forward when writing a book so that you’re not only happy to share it once it’s published, but you can also use the book as leverage for other opportunities in your professional journey (such as speaking).
How do I know what to write?
This is probably the most asked question when I begin talking about writing a book with my fellow mental health colleagues. And, here’s the short answer: write about whatever you want! I know, that feels somehow wrong. But, it’s not! When I think about how much content many therapists produce in blogs, videos, and guest posts, taking the time to compile your ideas into an organized book isn’t really that daunting.
But, the longer answer of writing whatever you want is this, you have to write from a space of wanting to enhance others’ understanding. I say this because a lot of the times asking what to write about is more about feeling that everything has already been said on your topic of choice than actually not knowing what to write about. My encouragement is to sit down and think about what you tend to talk about all the time: common themes, frequent ideas, questions you’re always excited to answer no matter how many time someone asks, topics that excite you so much that you Google search about it in your down time, ideas that you know need to be addressed by no one seems to be talking about it – you get the idea. For example, in the parenting world you would think that all that can be said has been said – and in truth, most of it has. The one thing I noticed was being ignored (or not addressed) was how much shame is thrown at humans when they make the choice to be parents. This idea was one that I talked about non-stop, had created a social media campaign about, and was becoming a huge part of my branding and message. Not to mention, everything I wrote about in blogs and talked about in videos was with this air of not shaming parents. So, I had found my book without really thinking about the topic, per se.
Okay, so I know what I want to write about, but how do I get started?
That answer is a bit more tricky and I won’t get into all the nuances of writing a book here (For that check out a webinar I did with my book coach here🙂
But, here is a good set of questions to ask yourself about getting started. When answering these questions, I highly recommend being honest with yourself because there are going to be many times in the book writing process where you will feel like giving up – so being honest up front will help you push forward during those times or will help you make a better decision about whether writing a book is a good idea for you at this time:
- Why do I want to write this book?
- Who do I imagine reading this book?
- What are my goals for publishing this book?
- What do I want my ideal reader to feel after reading this book?
- How am I bringing my authentic voice to this topic/idea?
- Am I willing to do the work (writing, editing, marketing) that goes with publishing a book?
- Do I want to self-publish or traditionally publish?
- Am I willing to invest (both time and money) to publishing a professionally organized book?
- Am I good with sticking to deadlines and following up with a publishing team (this applies to both self- and traditional publishing)?
- Am I willing to hold myself accountable (or get an accountability partner) to finish the book and publish it?
There are certainly more questions to ask and more things to think about, but these questions are definitely worth considering. Of all the questions, the one about doing all the work associated with publishing a book seems to be the hardest for us to be honest about. The thing that I realized while writing – and eventually publishing – is that that no matter if you are a self-published or traditionally published author a lot of the work of marketing and getting your book noticed is up to you (unless you invest in a publicist). I mention this because I have seen so many amazing books be traditionally published not make the waves the author wanted because they thought the publisher was going to do more. And, I’ve seen even more self-published books fall by the wayside because the author didn’t realize how much work went into promoting and marketing their work. This is not to scare you, but it’s to help you realize that just like getting through school and getting licensed, when you want to do something this big it takes commitment, support, and setting realistic expectations of yourself and those who help you along the way.
Well, how do I make sure that I have the support to write the book?
The best way to answer this is to be honest: do not sell yourself short when it comes to writing a book. As a self-published author, I can tell you that investing in a book coach is the most effective and efficient way to know only get support, but to also know that you are not alone in the book writing process. My book coach (http://www.paperravenbooks.com) just also happened to be the lead editor of a self-publishing company that helps authors go from writing their first draft to publishing an Amazon best-selling book. It was an investment, but so was every other big task I wanted to accomplish as a clinician and business owner. Even if you decide to go the traditional route, having the support of a coach who knows the publishing world can help you bypass a lot of the pitfalls that befall authors who are pitching their books to publishers. And even though I don’t recommend it, piecemealing your publishing team (editor, copyeditor, cover designer, etc.) is another option for getting your book published as a self-published author. I don’t recommend it because there are nuances that come up that can stall your progress or make your book not look as polished or professional as you would like it. The downside to this is if you don’t feel confident in your book, then you most likely won’t promote it, which means your awesome hard work won’t be seen by those who need it most. Give yourself a good foundation by at least hiring a book coach or a project manager who can help you navigate the whole publishing process.
Once the book is published, how do I market it?
This might be the second most asked question I get because everyone who writes a book wants people to know it exists, but they don’t always know how to market their book. This is another reason why having a coach or project manager is so integral: they will help you develop a marketing plan that can help boost your sales and keep your book selling even after the initial launch. With that said, when thinking about marketing your book, be aware of who you want to read it (i.e., your ideal reader). If you wrote a book with them in mind and created a professional looking book, then this part will actually be the fun part. Of course, marketing can sometimes be overwhelming.
Here are a few tips that can help you get people excited about your book AND help you promote it:
Before you launch, create a beta reader team:
- Think of at least 100 people who you will email, knowing that only about half will actually read it, and about half of those will review the book on Amazon for you.
- This beta team will also read your book for any errors that may have been missed so you can edit those before your official launch.
- The beta team will also be part of your launch team of people who will help spread the word about your book once it launches.
Get social online and on social media
- You don’t have to be on every platform, but you want to have a presence on at least 2 platforms where your ideal reader will be. For me, Facebook and Instagram were great for getting people excited and ready to buy the book once it launched.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to podcasts and pitch for guest posts. Even if the post or episodes release after your book launches you can keep the momentum of your book going so that others who weren’t apart of your book launch will still be notified of your awesome book.
- You can (and probably will) promote a lot over the 3 week period of your book launch (the week before the launch, launch week, and the week after). Do not be scared that people will be turned off by your over posting and promoting. Those who are part of your tribe will appreciate being reminded to purchase the book. Also, remember that most social media platforms do not show your posts to every single one of your followers so multiple posting is important to make sure your network knows about your work.
Schedule in-person speaking or events
Another great way to position yourself and get your book more exposure is to think about doing in-person events. They don’t have to be huge events either. You can speak at local bookstores, organizations, and even local restaurants. Just think about places where your ideal reader is likely to be and email the events coordinator for those places. Doing these after your book has launched can greatly help your book get more exposure and can help you get more expert status.
The book writing process is long and can sometimes be difficult. Finding the time to write, contending with self-doubt and writer’s block, and finally getting the book published can make it seem like an impossible goal to meet. But, I hope that this brief overview gives you a glimpse into how you can bring your ideas and your voice together to support those who need to hear what you have to say. A final word of encouragement: Someone needs to hear your idea in your voice to know that they are not alone in their struggle, so don’t think that you’re not expert enough to write a book.
Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. After retiring her individual consultation services, she opened the Abundance Party, where you can get practice-building help for the cost of a copay. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group. Allison is all about helping you gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.