Last summer, I was sitting on my bed in my new apartment, using the Notes app on my phone to finally set some long-term goals post grad. With so many variables in life, it’s challenging for me to ever set goals that last more than a couple years.
So, if I couldn’t plan or predict much of the future, what could I plan that is not reliant on anything else? If I could do one thing with my life, outside of my full-time job and relationships, what would I want to accomplish?
I wanted to write a book.
I’ve always been a writer, and I’ve always wanted to write books. However, the older I get, the more I realize that secluding myself in a cottage to write the next great American novel isn’t super likely. Unless it’s on Airbnb, then maybe.
I decided to set the goal of writing a book before I was 30.
To make it a SMART goal, I tried breaking it down into shorter goals. Quickly, I realized that I knew nothing about the book publishing process, so I figured I may as well start writing. Starting with my own story would be easiest, and I could figure out how to publish along the way. It might even take a few years to write a book!
I told a few friends and family members that I was going to start writing my first book, and a couple rolled their eyes at me and scoffed. “Aren’t we all?!” I felt discouraged, so I vowed to not talk about it to anyone else until it was done. I stopped writing so many blog posts and allocated 30 minutes a day to writing in my book.
In three months, I had written my book.
I let it sit for a couple months — “marinating” — before I made the next big jump. I didn’t know how to get a publisher to buy my book, so I researched self-publishing. A few publishers that I found online seemed so salesy. They didn’t explicitly state pricing on their websites, and they kept insisting on phone calls and pushing me to give them my address so they could mail me info. Nope. No, thank you.
One day in November, I was eating lunch at 1871 and decided to sit by the windows to get some sunlight. After working there for over a year, I noticed a bookshelf. All of the books, including those by former CEO Howard Tullman, were published by a startup called BlogIntoBook. I immediately researched, emailed the founder Zack Price, and we had a meeting scheduled for the next week. I felt confident in what I was getting out of the package, and I was thrilled that my book was actually going to be published.
BlogIntoBook is a startup that takes blog content directly and categorizes it into chapters to form a cohesive book. I already had my manuscript, so I didn’t need that service, but I knew I would need his help pulling it all together to publish on Amazon. As an 1871 member, I received a discount, but the package is publicly $1500 and includes almost everything you need for your book, as well as 20 copies of your own to keep. Overall, it’s very inexpensive to publish a book, especially when there are no royalties to your publisher (only Amazon).
I could have hired Zack’s team for additional editing services, but I reached out to a friend and mentor, L’Oreal Payton Thompson to be my editor. She happily obliged, and a month later, my manuscript (my “baby”) was ready to go. I also hired a fellow CHAARG girl, Alyssa Kleine-Kracht, to design my book cover. She was incredible. Edits and designed cost me an additional $750. I sent it all over to Zack, and within a couple (incredibly stressful) weeks, it was available on Amazon in print and ebook.
It wasn’t easy by any means. I was constantly checking my email, realizing just how much of a perfectionist I still am, but I did it. Overall, publishing my book cost me about $2000. Unlike a startup, I now have a living, breathing book available on Amazon for many years to come. Yeah, Amazon takes about 60%, but I’m not doing it for the money. Other than doing it to achieve a major goal of mine, I wrote my book to share my story and empower others to overcome their own obstacles. I’m starting so many conversations about eating disorders and what it means to be “healthy,” and that’s enough for me.
Since publishing my book, I’ve heard many friends say, “Wow, I’ve always wanted to write a book but never knew how.” Just do it! Start somewhere — anywhere. What’s the worst that happens?
Oh, and if you need a ghostwriter, editor, proofreader, or coach to help you through the process, I’m your girl. Slide in the DMs and let’s make you an author, too, running your own gah-damn world.
Any questions on the process? Let’s connect — seriously!
++ Mary K