This is an excerpt from the book series Philosophy for Heroes: Continuum. You can get a copy here.
Write without pay until someone offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this as a sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.
Writing books is hard. The deceptive thing about books is that they are easy to read. There is no hidden mechanism in the book; the book is exactly what you see, a series of letters. It is easy to think that if you just put the right combination of letters on a piece of paper, you end up with a bestseller. But that is like saying you could throw stones on a pile and end up with a house. Or it is like buying a large marble stone and arguing that the most beautiful statue is hidden inside and that you just have to chip away at the stone to find it.
Writing is a profession that takes many years to learn. If you also want to make money with it, you have to learn not only writing, but also marketing. Most people, on their first job, did not run the entire company on their own. While learning the ins and outs of their profession, their early jobs revolved around a single activity, like sales, construction, programming, etc. But as a (especially self-publishing) writer, you have to wear many “hats” at the same time.
For myself, the best learning experience was looking at the sales number of my first book. “0.” It showed me not just in theory, but in practice that people will not come to you simply because you have a product. You have to help them know about the product, and you have to study what they want, and find your niche accordingly.
Set the goal of your first book as a learning experience. This will give you a specific focus, even if you have not figured out the specific focus of your book itself. It will also limit the time you will spend on your first book and help you to actually finish it. And the more books you write from start to finish, the faster you learn. If, on the other hand, you tried to write a perfect book on your first try, not only you would learn more slowly, but also you would probably fail.
In Writing Better Books, the Agile Way , you will learn that writing requires organization of your ideas, identification of your target audience and their needs and wants, a strategy to create a page-turner, a process of editing, a definition of done, a plan for how to advertise your book, and a way to interact with your audience before you actually release the book. All these points are interwoven and should not be seen as “phases” of a book. It is a common mistake to start writing and thinking that marketing is a separate process you can do later.
Writing Better Books, the Agile Way means that you streamline your publishing process by connecting with your readers from day one.