Have you ever thought of what it would be like to be a published author? Signing autographed copies of your signature program or cookbook? It seems like anyone who is anyone these days, has a book available on Amazon, whether they have a nutrition degree or not. Let me share my experience with you- the growing pains and all. Hopefully you get some worthwhile nuggets that will ease the pain and heartache many writers feel as they embark on their dream of finishing their first book!
I knew that eventually I wanted to have a work of my own that I could use as a calling card of sorts. It seems to open the door to getting interviews, for one thing. Having something of your own creation to feature on your website as a face for your business brand makes you seem more legit and professional as well. The idea had begun to gnaw at me… I wanted to have my own book!
How to stand out from the masses?
The problem was I didn’t think I had any original ideas to turn into hundreds of written pages. There were already so many food related books out there, and as a dietitian, I felt that using my credentials and expertise would be my best shot at getting my name out there. It made sense to choose a topic in my field. I always liked to write, so sitting down to type out my ideas didn’t feel like a burden. Then, I thought of what clients typically ask for when we meet: recipes. Making a cookbook seemed like the logical place to get started.
Lessons learned from my first book
My first attempt at a book was designing a cookbook (complete with seasonal meal plans) that I finalized into a digital PDF format. I titled it Pure Foods for Families, and have it available for sale on my website. I wanted to have a resource for people seeking meal plans and recipes that were gluten, dairy, soy, peanut and sugar free. The ironic thing was, I found the entire process of putting together the cookbook completely agonizing. I used powerpoint to design slides, add pictures and text and then converted the file to a PDF. There were so many details to keep track of: formatting the pages, making sure all the 1 cup and 1/2 cup abbreviations matched, all the photos were original and good quality. It was a labor of love to see the process through to completion but I’m glad I didn’t give up. In fact, having my “own” cookbook & meal plans made me feel much more professional, even though it wasn’t a hardcover copy. And the important lesson I got from this experience is that I realized I didn’t really want to publish my own cookbook after all. I realized that’s not where my true passion was as a dietitian.
Finding my million dollar idea
The more I thought about writing a signature tome, the more I wanted to get my topics just right. I reflected back on my career on what really lit me up. I knew that if I hit on a passionate subject, my passion would be reflected through my writing and this was key to having an interesting read. I also had to be sure to choose something that reflected what I do differently, not what I do the same as every other dietitian or health coach. Historically, most of my clients come to me for help with weight loss. And over the years, I would give the usual advice but notice that there was always varying degrees of success. After my training as a wellness coach, I realized there was a lot more to losing weight than just following diet and exercise”rules.” People need positive reinforcement, autonomy, and empowerment to keep the process going. My book idea started to crystallize.
I began to do some research. I looked up how to self publish, how to publish on Kindle, along with other book writing programs and workshops. I looked into Balboa Publishing, a publisher who helps aspiring authors self-publish with the hopes of getting exposure to Hay House Publishing. Danielle LaPorte also has a program called “Your Big Beautiful Book Plan” that looks promising! I knew that I could get caught up in the details of the publishing world, but the real work needed to be done now. I even spent a day fooling around designing book covers (not my area of expertise). I need to stop procrastinating. I needed to begin the writing.
Doing it my way
So I made notes and wrote down some websites to go back to, and made a pact to begin writing now! I wrote a table of contents, jotted notes down in Google Drive and then realized I had come to the place all writers know well, at the corner of “Great Ideas” and “Get to Work” is Writer’s Block. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the motivation to write- I knew I wanted my destiny to come true, but it was more that I didn’t feel the thoughts flowing together smoothly, in the prose I knew would attract all of my global readers. Starting from page one was a mistake. It’s just not how my brain works. So I jumped around. I started on a topic halfway through my table of contents. That seemed to help. But then I felt this sense of inertia come over me whenever I sat down in front of the computer. I felt so “chained” to writing. And then, one afternoon I just had to get out and take a walk and cut my chain loose. I realized I could write my book and walk at the same time, I could dictate it! This approach changed everything for me. I was free to ramble out my train of thoughts and I felt more creative when I was out in nature, hiking through the woods. It was my saving grace when sitting down on the laptop, writing from my sofa seemed like a death sentence.
Staying on track
So where I am I now? At the corner of “Sorting Through Ideas” and “Getting Sh*t Done.” Some people recommend a daily schedule, like write 500 words a day. But I prefer a more flexible approach and allow my self to either dictate a chapter or transcribe a chapter per week. The great thing about dictating for 40 minutes is that I end up getting about 5- 6 pages out of it with much less pain then writing 5 pages in one sitting. After I get the “rough draft” of my chapters down in Google Drive, I plan to review and refine after. It’s more important for me to get the big concepts down now because I like seeing the document grow- the larger it gets, the more progress I know I’m making. My 3 month goal is to have the majority of it written. Then I will re-examine how I want to publish it. But I won’t allow myself to be distracted with those details now, it’s just hard enough to get the words out of my head.
The other piece that I’m incorporating in my book is a series of personal stories from individuals who’ve lost weight. I know that the aspect of storytelling is powerful and can turn an academic work or opinion piece into something worth reading. Everybody likes to read about a person who’s achieved a happily ever after ending. I spend my days now walking and talking, interviewing people for potential featured stories and sitting down to type it out. I still have more ideas floating around but don’t let them distract me from doing the work.
What about you? Is there a book inside you that’s aching to get out? Or have you dabbled some in the writing world? I’d love to hear your comments below.