Although self-publishing is a labor of love, it’s a tedious process. It’s already been 18 months since I released my 2nd edition of “Everyday NFC”. After the release, I was so burnt out from the repetitive revision process and I was anxious to put everything behind me for a while. However, technology moves quickly and after a while a new edition was necessary.
Now that I have brought my book up to speed with its 3rd edition, I am in the space to really reflect on the process of writing and the effort it takes to achieve a book release. So I want to share the following 3 tips to those interested in self-publishing a nonfiction book:
- Beat ‘the curse of knowledge’
The concept of ‘the curse of knowledge’ was introduced to me by the book Made to Stick. The ‘Curse of knowledge’ is that once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like having not known it. Our knowledge has ‘cursed’ us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listener’s state of mind.
Writing a nonfiction book is explaining the subject as an expert. In order to effectively do this, we need to shift to our readers’ states of mind and write in a style that can be understood. Therefore, knowing our target audience becomes a top priority and beating ‘the curse of knowledge’ comes right after that.
In my writing process, even though I constantly remind myself that my readers are novices on the subject, I might be still cursed by my knowledge and don’t offer enough detailed explanations needed by readers. What to do when you don’t know what you don’t know in this situation?
- A creative mindset is helpful for a writer. When you can imagine what your reader might want to know, you are in good state.
- A good editor will ask questions to help a writer know what additional information is needed by the reader. So, hire a good editor who has a curious mind and is not afraid to provide feedback.
- Invite a few other people to review the book and provide feedback as novices and as experts. It takes courage to open yourself to feedback, but different perspectives help you see beyond your vision.
- Structure the book to a natural learning flow
Developing a book structure requires a strategic mind. There is abundant information about the subject being written about. We need to sort through the clutter and find the best route to present the information in order to have an impactful delivery. This requires us to see patterns where others simply see complexity. This happens to be my strength and I will do my best to elaborate the essence of it:
- A problem solving mindset will help you structure your book since there are no specific steps to follow in this process. If problem solving is not your strength or preference, find someone who is good at it in order to help you set up an outline by asking questions.
- A good editor or review reader can help you reconstruct your structure by reflecting his/her challenges when reading it.
- Decide the readiness for release
Finalizing the book challenged me the most while writing the 2nd edition. There was so much information I wanted to cover since the technology was continually changing. I didn’t know when to stop chasing the development while seeing all of the possibilities. Having a vision and seeing the possibilities are my strengths and at the same time, they created a larger scope for me that I had a hard time containing. Finally, I had to say “this is it!” This is one side of the coin.
Another side of the coin could be that if you are not confident about your own work, you might keep modifying it and wondering if the book is ready. To conquer that challenge, you might need to obtain an objective perspective from someone you trust to help make the decision. Otherwise you could get stuck in “not good enough” mode for a few years.
By now, you probably see that self-publishing a non-fiction book is a process that works well with a team. Different perspectives will provide richer book content for your readers, and involving others will also help you finalize the release. When you are able to be open for feedback, the process will go faster. Of course, it’s not easy to listen to feedback on the “baby” you created with all of your heart. Therefore, this is also a personal growth experience. Trust me; when your readers appreciate your effort, every challenge you took on will become a blessing.
Because of some feedback I received in the previous release, I started to really observe my writing process in order to share the experience on a deeper level. It’s a good exercise to notice what works and what doesn’t work. It’s important to know what strengths supported me, and what tendencies provided challenges in my progress.
I hope that you have fun writing and best of luck for your book release. Please share your experience!