By Joseph Conroy
Almost everyone I meet, after they learn I have written a book, tells me how they always wanted to write a book. A lot of financial advisors tell me that, too.
But why have so few actually written books? Writing a book is a complicated process, requiring – not to pat my own back – a lot of effort and time. Things are made more difficult given the fact that I am a financial advisor who does not have a writing background.
First, anyone who wants to write a book has to believe they have something unique and important to say and that the world needs to hear it. The challenge comes when you sit in front of your laptop, staring at an empty Word document, trying to fill 200 or more pages.
Years before I started writing my book, I sat down with an editor who gave me really good advice and guidance. He told me to start working on my outline and continue gathering stories and content for my project.
I built my mental database of stories from meeting with client after client. I also shaped my central message, as well as defined the target audience of my book. I determined that my book would be geared toward my ideal client, and the definition of that ideal client became clearer during that time.
When I sat down with the editor a little more than two years ago, I brought with me the first draft of an outline that would guide the creation of the book. Our discussion quickly moved toward structure, design and a million other little details I never knew went into crafting a great book.
Then came the hard part, where sustained motivation is essential. I made time almost every day for 10 months to write the darn thing. On days when I wrote a few hundred words, I was elated. On the days when I didn’t, I felt like I was cheating myself. As I finished a rough draft of each chapter, I would send it to the editor, who gave me valuable feedback and much-needed encouragement.
In less than a year, the words were written. Almost. Then came the editing, which I hated. Talk about needing drive to power through that part. The editor would make changes, marking up a Word document using Track Changes. I had to approve each change. It was tedious and slow, but necessary. The best way to describe the editing process is like changing your outgoing voicemail recording, but on repeat for 200 pages!
When we thought we had the editing completed, the text then needed to go to a designer. They created covers and page designs. They picked fonts, sizes, images and colors. Each of these selections required my input and approval. Eventually, we were proofing the final version and off to the printer it went.
If you really want to write a book, let me offer some suggestions:
- Don’t do it alone. I cannot tell you how many “authors” I have encountered who have been working on the same book for five, 10 or more years. Spend the money to get some help and keep you moving in the process.
- Define your specific goals for the book. Are you looking for it to be the next New York Times bestseller? Or is the book a tool to help establish you as an expert and grow your business?
- Put enough time and effort into preparation. The planning and organization you do on the front end directly impacts how tedious and difficult the writing will be. Don’t sit down without an outline and try to type Chapter One.
Work with a trained editor, one who can see the whole picture. The editor at my publishing house really had my back. Listen to what the editor says. They know what they are doing.
My book has been an invaluable tool to building my practice. It positions me as a thought leader. I get requests from reporters and the media asking my thoughts on various topics. Instead of spending my time chasing prospects, prospects ask to meet with me! The cost of the book has paid for itself many times over in less than a year.
Truth be told, signing books with your name on them is cool. The royalties from Amazon book sales don’t hurt either!
Writing a book takes a whole lot of time and energy. But if you really want to write a book, it’s possible and very profitable to do so.
Joseph Conroy, CFP, is a financial advisor at Synergy Financial Group in Towson, Md. He is the author of Decades & Decisions: Financial Planning At Any Age. Joseph may be contacted at [email protected].
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