Having realized that my first idea for a book was, at this early stage, a non-starter I put some thought to adhering to my own business start-up principles: if you going to start a new small business, which I intended my writing to be, stick to your knitting.
Based on my own entrepreneurial experiences, I am of the firm belief that your first endeavor should be structured around your knowledge, skills, and expertize, and not on passion alone, assuming these attributes can be turned into something that is saleable. I had also encountered the saying on several sites about writing that you should write about “what you know”. A suggestion I eventually came to understand should not be taken literally.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I could claim to be the author of 4 ebooks all about starting a home-based business and had the gall to publish them on Amazon Kindle. That fact that despite my best efforts at trying to flog them through my website and on social media, and not a brass penny had been made, I had the foundation for a first book.
Time to get some mentoring help.
I approached several very kind and patient academia authors and begged for guidance on how best to create a revised book using the earlier versions as a foundation. In doing so I also unearthed some early criticism of my first publishing attempt. For example, my books of only 45-60 pages were priced at $4.99 each. And I was surprised when they didn’t sell?
It was pointed out to me I needed things like positive reviews and 5 star ratings for the books, all of which was new information to me, but more about that in future posts.
What came out of my mentoring process was that if I was going to “stick to my knitting” and use my knowledge of small and home business ownership, revisiting the research and information gathered for my first attempt was not a bad way to start.
I dug out the old manuscripts and started reading them. Unless you have previous writing experience, re-reading your old books is not recommended. Embarrassing is the only way to describe my initial response. Was it possible to deny any involvement with these verbal atrocities? Besides the obvious grammatical mistakes and spelling errors, the tone and language are not mine and I can only assume I was trying to emulate Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Elon Musk all in one book. My only consolation was, to the best of my knowledge, no-one bought any of the books, had they done so, and tried to follow the guidelines, their only rational conclusion would have been that only mentally challenged individuals could become a small business owner.
If I had masochistic tendencies and wondered what self-flagellation felt like I had a reasonable idea by the time I finished book 4. There was some encouragement however, the basic principles and concepts which the books attempted to present are still valid. I just need to find a better way to explain them. I needed a plan on how to go forward.
My eventual plan of action was a two-prong approach.
First, rewrite the books and merge all the information into one book.
And a good time to take a refresher course in English grammar. Social media had sadly influenced both my spelling and everyday grammar. Time to brush up. This decision did raise another question. Which form of English would I use to write the book, UK or US English? My home language is based on the UK version and all the content on my early websites and the 4 books had been written using this format.
So why the question over which format to use?
During my early days of writing content for both websites and online articles I had occasionally received comments from readers pointing out that although great content, there were spelling and/or grammatical errors. After the initial panic I discovered that my UK English was fine but that some US English speakers were either not aware of the two formats or weren’t able to recognize the differences, hence the criticisms. Research showed that I am not alone in this realization and that non-US websites often opted to use the US version of English to avoid unwanted comments. I have found over the years that UK English speakers are more aware and tolerant of US English as opposed to the reverse.
US English was the eventual winner which meant even more learning to acquaint myself with the many differences both in spelling but also in meaning. I’m still learning but have started to get the hang of it.
The second prong focused on learning more about writing, publishing and marketing ebooks and as I later discovered paperback versions. But before I got my head down into the practical issues, I needed to make several decisions as to how I intended to manage all of money-making output. In other words, what would my business model look like?
More about this is the next post.
My journey as a newbie writer had begun. The next 12 months were to be filled with numerous tasks such as planning, research, asking questions, writing, and making plenty of mistakes, but looking back it was an enjoyable, enlightening and fun experience. It was good to be learning again, even at my age!