Everything you need to know about writing a book, from an author for the first (and last) time

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Hello, my name is Jay Steinfeld and I am a new author. I am also announcing my retirement from writing books.

I’ll explain retirement to you in a bit.

But let’s start with the juicy stuff, first.

I built the world’s first online window covering retailer, Blinds.com. The business that started took me almost 20 years from its inception until it was acquired by Home Depot in 2014.

Three years later, in 2017, I started writing Lead from the Core: the 4 principles for profit and prosperity, and it launched on November 30, 2021. A good four years later.

I wrote it because, when I finally left my company, I wanted to help my current and future employees understand what got us where we were and what bring us into the future.

Like I did with my book, I want to share what I learned from writing and marketing a book.

WHY you write the book is more important than WHAT the book is about.

It’s good to know WHY you write as opposed to what you write, so the writing itself is more focused on its target audience.

Your why is 10 times more important than the topic. The reason is that the process of writing a good book will break you down if you aren’t there for the right reasons.

So, before you write, you should have answers to at least these two questions:

  1. Who are you writing it for and what do you want them to do after reading it?

  2. What do your readers need that they can’t find elsewhere?

You won’t know anything, and that’s okay.

The whole process, from start to “finish”, was an incredibly rewarding experience. But, wow, was it much harder than I ever imagined.

I knew as much about writing a book as I did when I started my first business:

Which brings me to the first question of the day: what’s the difference between starting a business and writing a book?

Trick question. They are identical.

Either way, you start with hope, a dream, and a lot of energy. Halfway through you start to regret it, but when it nears the finish line you’re glad you endured all the pain to do it.

The only real difference between the two is that a book has a set end date, which is the published date. And I found out the hard way that even that is not true.

The work behind writing a book doesn’t really begin until after it’s been written!

The amount of work to get an editor is more difficult than I thought.

Just getting someone to publish a book is an important and much more complex process than I thought it would be, with query letters, interviews, publishing versus self-publishing versus hybrid publishing, decisions, contracts, liability, etc.

Creating a book is a whole different process than I’m used to.

I had so many questions – that I finally figured it out – about what goes on in a book. From indoor and outdoor art, distribution, outreach, social figures, audio book recording, promotions, book presentations, and more.

Have fun with your marketing.

My book was in Times Square! For real. Not a modification. I even asked Elmo to watch too. I haven’t heard from Sesame Street if he’s ever read the book, but this pic is all I need.

The little secret behind this is that it didn’t cost thousands of dollars to display the ad in Times Square. I can’t reveal all of my secrets, but it was fun to do.

The second thing we did was hire Brian Cox aka Logan Roy of Succession to say a few “kind” words about my book. This was all done through a wonderful service called Cameo.

Tap into current news.

While I was marketing the book, a topic that had been trending for some time was “The Great Resignation”.

While my book wasn’t about quitting or even finding a new job, it has helped leaders craft a better strategy for retaining their employees and helping their employees become better versions of themselves.

We used this trending topic to reach out to blog writers, podcast hosts, and the media who covered “The Big Resignation”.

It is worth every second.

Let me put it like this. If you’re there for the money, you’re going to have a hard time.

For me it was worth every second. I channeled my inner belief #Enjoytheride, and really enjoyed it.

But it is safe to say that I have finished writing books. This one will last me a lifetime.

I just had another idea for a book! “Hello, editor, this is Jay. “

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of Inc.com are theirs and not those of Inc.com.

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