Undertaking a big content project is an exciting challenge. It feels exhilarating at the start when you're full of ideas and optimism. But when things start to go wrong, it can feel overwhelming and you might start to lose sight of your goal.
After celebrating the first anniversary of my book's publication, I started thinking about what a journey creating that book was. It had more ups and downs than a roller coaster! From tech disasters to actual sabotage… at the time, it sometimes felt like the book might never get published.
It's a really interesting story. I learned so much through the process and some of those lessons will stay with me for life. In this post, I'm going to share all of the hurdles I faced and tell you how I overcame them.
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If it looks like my content generation is effortless, plain sailing… think again.
I hate to break it to anyone out there who thinks that creating content is easy… it's not… it can be very challenging work.
I'm fortunate enough to have a fantastic content team at my creative agency. But even still, sometimes things happen that are out of your control.
When I celebrated my book's first birthday, I had some amazing responses. One of them got me thinking about what an epic journey it was to get the book to publication...the comment was along the lines of...
“Your book is fantastic, it’s so long and comprehensive, I don’t know how you managed to do it”
Hmmm...yes you really don’t know!
The thing is, your audience see your content as the finished article… but to you – you see all the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get it there! I faced some big, unexpected hurdles while trying to get my book out into the world and I'm going to share the four lessons I learned along the way.
Lesson #1 – Set realistic deadlines
It was my mentor, Chris Ducker, who first set me the challenge of writing a book.
This was around March 2018, and with his encouragement, I decided to go for it. I planned out the sections, chapters, and started writing. I didn't involve my writing team… this was my project.
I worked on the book outside of my usual working hours. I headed up Content 10x in the day and spent evenings, weekends, and early mornings typing away at my passion project.
I had a repurposing method that helped me write my book, and if you’d like to hear more about repurposing content into a book then check out Content 10x The Book: An Update and How to Repurpose Content into a Book.
But things weren't moving as quickly as I'd hoped. The chapters took longer than I'd anticipated as I constantly wanted to edit them, add more, and make them perfect.
Then outside factors crept in… my business got really busy, which was great for me, but not so good for the book. It got put on the back burner and sometimes I'd go weeks without writing anything new.
I'd given myself the deadline to complete the writing aspect of the book by the end of the year (2018). Yes… I wanted to write my first book in just nine months and work full time… but when November came, I was only halfway through.
I was disappointed that I wasn't going to meet my deadline. So I piled on the pressure to get it done as quickly as possible. I got up earlier, worked on it for longer, and eventually became so stressed about it that the book no longer felt like a passion project. It felt more like a chore.
That's not how I wanted to feel.
I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture. I was killing myself over something that should be an amazing experience. I was missing out on family time, and my business might have started to suffer if I'd kept going.
So the first major lesson I learned was to set a realistic deadline. It didn't matter when I would finish the book as nobody was expecting it by a certain time… so I stopped putting so much pressure on myself.
If you're in a similar situation or embarking on a project like this, my advice is to be kind to yourself. It's a game-changer! Piling the pressure on is only going to make you more stressed.
Perspective is everything.
Lesson #2 – Don't bite off more than you can chew
Podcast Movement was coming up in August 2019, and they invited me to do a talk and exhibit at the event. It was the perfect opportunity for me to do a soft launch of my book and generate some pre-sales.
So I worked on preparing my stand for the exhibit, creating banners and handouts and more… and planning my brand-new talk… and getting the first copies of my book printed ready to take with me… it was far too much!
It's not the first time I've given myself so much to do in a short time frame. In fact, it really reminded me of the time I moved to a new house, got engaged, got married, AND went through a presidential campaign-style promotion process in my old management consultancy career – all in the same year.
I certainly learned my lesson this time around. Having too much on your plate is not a good feeling. So my next piece of advice is to manage your big project deadlines, making sure that they don't coincide. You'll feel much more in control.
Lesson #3 – Be careful who you work with
Once I'd written the book, I needed some help getting it into the different formats for Kindle and paperback. I hired an expert who specialized in getting books into ebooks/Kindle format and published, so that part was relatively straight forward. But getting it into the correct format for paperback was trickier…
I was given some advice but somehow if I’d followed it my book would have printed out thicker than War & Peace! It would have looked ridiculous on any bookshelf, let alone if I'd wanted to take copies with me to Podcast Movement!
So I hired a second expert that I found on Upwork – one with paperback book design experience. At this point, my deadline was closing in, and I only had two days to get the book into the required format to get to the book printers, in time for Podcast Movement.
Unfortunately, this ‘expert’ wasn't entirely as experienced as he'd said he was… together, we tackled error after error and mistake after mistake that he had made, until finally, it was ready to be printed.
I took ten copies of my book and exhibited them at Podcast Movement. It was a proud moment. All that hard work was paying off. Lots of people were interested in the books, and I was excited to release it publicly as soon as possible.
It wasn't until I flicked through the book just after the event that I came across a planted swear word!
The so-called expert that I had worked with had sabotaged my book with an explicit sentence. I couldn't believe it. I mean, seriously, who in the world does something like that!
Thankfully, the book wasn't on general release yet, so I had time to fix it (and check for any other "typos").
So my third, very important, lesson is to be careful who you work with. And always, always, proofread carefully…
Lesson #4 – Expect technical problems
I knew I wanted to record an audiobook version of my book. So I took the opportunity to do one final review of my book by reading it out loud, word for word, whilst in a recording studio recording the audiobook. Two birds, one stone and all that!
My friends at Rebel Base Media helped me record the audiobook in their professional recording studio.
But on the morning of day one… I didn't realize just how much hard work it would be. Even though I'm used to podcasting, this was another level. With re-records, keeping energy levels high, staying enthusiastic, and just reading the words right, it took me all day to read just 60 pages.
I was ready to leave the studio feeling exhausted but accomplished when I discovered that nothing had recorded.
A technical error, combined with human error (as in me – not using the equipment right), meant that there was nothing to show for my day's work. I was devastated! This is absolutely no reflection on the wonderful Rebel Base Media studio, and rather just one of those things.
My final lesson is to roll with the punches. Technical errors are bound to happen, so don't be surprised when they do. You just have to pick yourself up and start over again.
I'm so glad I did because now I have an audiobook too. I even recorded a podcast episode, including the entire first chapter of the book. If you want to hear the finished product, check it out here.
Those were, without a doubt, the four most challenging moments of writing and publishing a book.... if you're undertaking a big project, I'm sure you can relate to some of these moments.
But I learned that if you stay focused on your goals, the bumps in the road can't throw you off. I still published my book, and I am even more proud of it thanks to this epic journey.
Do you have a similar story? Perhaps you've gone on a wild content-creating journey or experienced some content fails that you want to share. I'd love to hear them. Drop them in the comments or connect with me on social, I'm @content10x.
If you want to learn more about using content repurposing for your business, check out my book. You can grab a copy of the finished product (expletive free!), in Kindle format, audiobook or paperback now.