How I wrote my first book, and how you can too
The Inspiration, Frustrations, Trials, and Hopes of an Author.Tarun Betala
I've been meaning to write a book for about four years now, and though I jotted down a lot of ideas, topics, and thoughts around the book, it didn't take its final form until a few months ago. As I was doing this, I always knew that this is going to turn into a book, I just didn't know how or why.
My interests have been very disparate: philosophy, religion, technology, cosmology, religion, psychology. This is not from a need to understand these subjects better, but just out of curiosity of how things work, and how people think about these things. As I asked questions about the how and the why, those questions took me into the domain of many different fields. You can imagine how hard it is, then, to write a book about something when you want to write about everything.
If you've ever tried to do something, but weren't successful enough, you know how frustrating not having results can be. At this point, after four years, I didn't have anything to show for my book except for lots of ideas and a few themes marrying them together. In retrospect, having all these ideas and themes was actually pretty awesome.
I was frustrated, nonetheless. I knew what my end goal was, and I wasn't there. There were really only two options available to me at this point. Give up, or try something different. The first option was terrifying. Even if I did give up, I knew that it would come back to me. It is a calling for - to write and to communicate, to share and to understand. What's the point of giving up.
So the choice twas obvious - I decided I had to try something different. I did. I remember reading somewhere that the author of The Martian, Andy Weir, wrote each chapter of his book as a blog post. There was no reason why this couldn't work for me. I didn't have many other different ideas, so, I decided to give it a shot.
On one Saturday morning, sitting by the pool, I started to write a post, using the ideas and notes I had collated over four years. It flowed. I wrote about five thousand words in those four hours. I didn't publish that blog post. I copied all of that on Google Docs, and continued writing.
The ultimate goal was obviously to publish a book, but it wasn't just that. I wanted people to read it, to know about it, to share their thoughts, to give me feedback. So as I continued to write, a thousand words everyday, I posted my progress on social media, and chose a few people who would be my pre-readers and give me honest and critical feedback.
I didn't want feel-good feedback, I wanted people to be honest because I wanted this work to be pretty damn good. And it was. I read, and re-read the book and I cannot believe the quality of the writing. This would not be possible unless I had the feedback of those few close confidantes.
What's more? I set a few other goals. Writing a thousand words minimum per day was a must. But I also setup a pre-order for the book on Amazon. I scoured the internet for any place where books are sold and saw if it was possible to put it up as a pre-order. I had less than ten pre-orders in a month, which wasn't so terrible for a first time author. Each additional pre-order sale made me happy, it made me believe that what I'm writing is valuable because people are willing to buy the work. It made me believe in myself because others believed in me.
Being a self-published author isn't easy. You have to not only write, but also:
1. Design the cover
2. Create author profiles and list the books, everywhere!
3. Create a book description that sells. (This, is NOT easy.)
4. Market the book - finding really creative solutions is hard.
5. Keep tooting your own horn.
Doing all these things made me, effectively, a salesman of my own product. An entrepreneur of sorts. I created my own metrics: book sales, # of reviews, # of shares and likes and things like that.
I'm at a point where I've published a book, seen a fair amount of success (My book was sold out on Flipkart in the first week!), and people like the work I do. While thinking about what book to write next and feeling pretty fulfilled as I reached a four-year goal, I'm also marketing the book.
The next steps, for me, are to do a few book signings, author readings and the like - for which I'm still figuring out the best method. But I do have to say that, if it wasn't for the people in my life, who supported me and cherished my little wins along the way, I wouldn't even be here. So this is, at the very least, a thank you for everyone,
The Book (And One More Thing!)
I created a kickass trailer for the book, and I couldn't believe that I had the ability to write and create a short trailer about it. Check it out:
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If you can't write a book, write a chapter. If you can't do that, write a page, a sentence or a word. For it is from a single word that books are made.