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Category: Book Writing

50-Day Progress Report to Myself

I sent my book proposal to a publisher today, 50 days after I started working full time on this book. (The timing seems apt since my kids just got their report cards.) Looking for a publisher in Canada is such as mystery that it’s stunning that any new writers are published at all, particularly in business.

Start with an agent or go direct to a publisher? Cut straight to self-publishing? I’ve received generous amounts of advice from unexpected places on this and related subjects. My current strategy is a mix of adhering to the “build it and they will come” mantra, crossing my fingers, and taking every bit of help that’s offered.

The biggest challenge, though, has been deciding how to spend my time. Start with writing a sample chapter? Write a thorough outline that means researching bits and pieces I might not use for months (and hence have to learn over)? Conduct interviews early in order to show a publisher I can get the big interviews, or wait until I have a publisher in order to help get the big interviews?

My conclusion seems to be Yes. Just do stuff. In this vein, I’ve lined up my first  CEO interview (hurray!) and have requests in for others.

Unless I’m a unicorn or really lucky, it will be a journey to find a publisher as confident in this book as I am. That’s okay, though. After 50 days, I can say without any doubt two things: people are interested in what I have to say, and this is fun. So much fun.

I leave you with Kevin Costner. Like most culturally notable movies, I’ve never seen Field of Dreams. But I know the line. Or at least I thought I did. The line in is actually “If you build it, he will come,” the he being the long dead Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Expert Self-Doubt

I’ve thought a lot about writing a book over the years, in vague, someday terms. When I fill out my marriage licence, more than two decades ago, and was still in journalism school, I listed my profession as “writer” rather than journalist; still not sure why, but perhaps it was a wise challenge to myself to make it true one day.  More than once, I’ve come close to quitting my day job, fed up with the grind and the stress of it all, in order to write the book. The first time, it was a book about mergers and acquisitions in Canada – a how to guide for fighting off the activists through storytelling, inspired by the recently deceased Bill James, who fought an epic battle as the head of Inmet Mining. The second time, it was a book on media training for CEOs – working from the “write what you know” playbook. But I never really had the courage to just do it.

Years later, after pushing close friends to bet on themselves, I am finally in a position where I have the means to take a time out from the quest to make more money, build the resumé, climb, climb, climb. So here I am, sitting at the writing desk, and there it is, self-doubt.

Over my career in public relations, I’ve had countless conversations about why women turn down media interviews. I’m always reassuring both men and women that they know more than they give themselves credit for, and if not them, then who? I talk to my women friends about why we limit ourselves, even though we know we’re the experts in our fields.

The book I’m writing is a cri de coeur to CEOs, particularly in Canada, to speak up on not just their businesses, but also social policy, economic policy, and nation building. Our future, and your business success, depend on it.

And yet. This morning I’m having a bout of self-doubt who am I to write about this?  Why is my outline so awful when I read it the next day? How do I find an editor? Will I ever get a publisher?

It’s a good reminder to myself, this sick feeling, that speaking up, putting all the theory into practice, is done by actual humans.