10 things we learned from writing our book
This time last year we were just starting to write our book, we didn't even have a title at that point, although we had a very good idea of what we wanted to include. We spent the next 6 months planning, writing and editing and the next 5 months with our proof readers, copy editors, designers, typesetters and of course our publisher, Alison Jones.
We set the goal of writing and publishing Trusted by the publish date of 16th November and we hit every milestone and the ultimate deadline by using these tips. Alison commented, 'I must say, in terms of the actual writing of the book, in my career I’ve worked with several co-authoring teams over the years, and without a shadow of a doubt, I can say that you two were the most effective and efficient and good humoured. 'We learned such a lot in the last 12 months and they are lessons that could be applied to any project or goal, so we hope you enjoy reading and applying them:
Prime your mind for success: often when doing something new the imposer syndrome can creep in. 'Who am I to write a book?', 'who is going to value what I have to say?'. Do they sound familiar? We took a dose of our medicine as we wrote in the first section of the book about the importance of a success mindset. Right at the start of the process we set the intention of achieving our goal. Working together was great. If one of us had a wobble, the other could provide coaching and support!
Understanding your style: both of us are extroverts, by that we mean that we get our energy from being with people, rather than working alone. Working as co-authors was far better for us than trying to write solo. We all have a preferred style when communicating - a style that comes naturally. An understanding of other styles will help you communicate effectively with different types of people. This greatly helped us when interacting with contributors to the book and to seek feedback on the book.
Planning and strategy: we spent time right at the start of the process planning the content. We got creative with coloured pens, mind-maps, post-it notes and flip-charts. Again, this plays to our style, others may prefer to use lists, spreadsheets, mood-boards or Pinterest - play to your own style. Once we had the high level topics, we broke them down into bullet points and developed a strategy for writing the content in each area of the table of contents. At any given point we were writing a paragraph, rather than having the daunting task of writing a book. This made it easier to keep track of where we were and to keep track of milestones as we progressed. We were clear of the timeline, we were committed to achieving each milestone and we made ourselves accountable to our publisher to ensure we hit the deadlines.
Tip # 4
Keep learning and give something back: we had never written a book before, so we set out to learn as much as we could to enable us to master our skills. Our publisher, Alison Jones was also our book coach, so having her input was invaluable. We also listened in to Alison's fabulous podcast: The Extraordinary Business Book Club to learn from other authors and publishing experts. It was great to hear some of the mistakes they had made and how we could avoid them. We made plenty of new ones of our own of course, but it certainly helped! We never imagined that we would be invited to speak on the same podcast as Seth Godin, Michael Gerber, Daniel Priestley and Nicholas Lovell to name a few. We were absolutely delighted when Alison invited us on as guests so that we could share our insights for budding authors.
Staying focused: we live 50 miles apart so it wasn't practical to always physically meet up, especially as we were writing the book around our busy work and home schedules! We used technology to help us out here. We used Zoom - we could see each other and we could share documents so one of us could write and the other could research or check facts. By just being able to see each other on our screens it kept us very focused and became a routine that signified we were there to write. Here we are writing the welcome back in June 2016!
Engage and collaborate: we engaged with our contacts around us who could provide real-world examples of client facing situations that readers could relate to. On our previous blog, we wrote all about our fantastic collaboration with University College Birmingham and the benefit collaboration brings to both partners. Engaging with others confidently in order to build successful professional relationships is key to outstanding performance.
Brave, bold and courageous: we decided we had nothing to lose by asking people to share their knowledge and contribute to our book. This taught us that we often put barriers in our own minds, by thinking that a high profile person will say no. In reality, when we asked, everyone said yes! We will take this bravery with us going forward. Both parties benefit in a situation like this, so think of what the win:win is when asking for help or support.
Authenticity and sharing stories: we were really clear right from the start that we wanted the tone of voice to be our tone of voice, so that if people meet us, we are just like they imagined from reading our book. We didn't want to confuse our readers by it sounding like two different voices, so we wrote every word together, rather than dividing and conquering. We shared many of our own personal stories from our professional careers to substantiate the points we were making. We all love to hear stories, so this engages the reader. This technique can also be used when public speaking or when interacting with clients.
Testing and feedback: during the writing of Trusted we delivered many keynotes and bespoke programmes so we had the benefit of being able to see how concepts landed with our audience and to seek their feedback. This helped us to refine our messages for the book by including frequently asked questions which will also be useful for future speaking opportunities and programme delivery.
Exemplify all that you stand for: during all of our interactions we were consistent, professional and authentic. We would always recommend walk your talk and be the ambassador for your personal brand and for the organisation you represent.
Watch out for the character we introduce in our book, the 'Credibility Thief'. He has the ability to show up at any time in either your persona or your organisation. If he does, take action immediately to minimise the impact on your reputation and your bottom line. Our other character, the 'Credibility Sleuth' will help you to identify the 1% improvements that you could make over time.
We had a great example of exemplifying all that we stand for right at the end of the book project. As we mentioned, we hit every deadline. The final one was looming and the first batch of printed books arrived. These didn't meet our expectations and we were in danger of not having a book in time for the launch! We had several conversations with our publisher, who was fantastic and was helping us to resolve the issue. We suggested that we went to see the printer so we could show them the quality we were expecting. Now this is a large, global print company, so they are not used to people turning up to see them! As soon as we met the account managers in person and they understood our requirements, our concerns, our values and why it mattered so much, they pulled out all the stops to get the issue resolved. Thankfully the new books arrived two days before our launch party! Alison Jones (publisher) commented that everything changed after they met us, rather than it being just another business book, it was now Lyn and Donna's book and they were more engaged and more proactive. Alison said, 'Having worked with Lyn and Donna for a while, they absolutely live and breathe all that they write about in Trusted.
If you have any questions, comments or would like any help from us, please do get in touch
If you would like to find out more about Trusted, you can do >>HERE<<