Writing My First Book and What I’ve Learned

I just finished editing the bulk of my book, and what is left now are only a few final edits and formatting work. I don’t know how I am going to publish it yet (if anybody has any tips, I will be glad to hear them!), but for now, I feel liberated. Writing that book took everything I had.

I always wanted to write a book and I finally decided to write one in 2019. Initially, when I started in January of that year, I set out to write 60,000 words. I borrowed some material from my blog because I have developed many of my ideas there. I also wanted to find academic papers and books to support the views I had and to add many other new ideas.

[Photo: Da Kraplak/Unsplash]

[Photo: Da Kraplak/Unsplash]

The Editing Process

At first, I found it hard to write – I had to find the will to sit down and write every day. I started with 200 words per day, but I gradually increased it and was able to finish the first draft of my book by July, which was six months ahead of my established goal.

I then set out to find an editor. When I found one that matched my desired requirements and hired him, he read the book and told me that while we had work ahead of us, I had a real book in my hands. That was a relief to hear until he advised me to cut at least 15,000 words and to get the book up to 70,000 words, which meant writing a new 25,000 words in two months.

To say this was hard is an understatement. I spent three weeks upset, even as I wrote. Eventually, however, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and wrote the additional 25,000 words. In the process, I added a new chapter, of which I now feel very proud.

I then resubmitted my book, chapter by chapter, and, it now totaled at 73,000 words. My editor provided comments and suggestions for every chapter that I submitted. Having to respond to each of the observations was tedious, to say the least (see The Value of Personal Growth: Pushing Through the Pain).

I also watched my word count diminish with each new chapter I received back from my editor. In the end, he cut another 9,000 words, due mostly to repetition. By then, I had stopped feeling sorry for myself about having to write more and had to instead search for the motivation to continue. In the end, I didn’t quite find it, so I just forced myself and finished the book. There was an upside to this: I learned more than I had bargained for from my editor’s feedback. It was like a crash course on how to write a book.

The goal was to send the book back to my editor by the middle of February of 2020. As I received each chapter from him, I would go through his comments, add in anecdotes where I needed more, checked the section using Grammarly (a grammar and spelling app), and reread each of the chapters. We both agreed that most chapters required more work. Even after all the editing, they still didn’t flow the way I wanted them to, so I edited them yet again. In a few cases, I only needed to add a transition paragraph or two, and that seemed to make my chapters read better.

In other chapters, however, I needed to do much more work. In one I performed major surgery. I moved paragraphs around, added new material, and cut out other passages. When I compared my final document with its original version, the enhanced section looked like I had moved every single paragraph to a different place.

The Tools that Supported Me

I would not have been able to survive without Grammarly to check my spelling and grammar throughout. Another tool that proved invaluable was my outline. I followed my editor’s advice and overhauled it. When we first started working together, he told me that this framework was everything. I believed him, as I came to realize that my original outline was not detailed enough, and in the end, it became my most reliable backbone.

I used it to make sure the logic of the content made sense. My outline helped me standardize the formats for my titles and improve each of the headings themselves. The most significant benefit, however, was that it helped me see where I needed to make changes by moving around passages.

Furthermore, I created a word count spreadsheet to keep track of how long each of my chapters was. To write my first draft, I worked with Scrivener, which is an excellent program for that stage of the process, as it helped me keep track of the entire book in one single document.

Once I started the editing process, however, I sent each chapter to my editor in a Word document. Going through his comments and then resending the edited chapters was easier to do with Word, so I never went back to Scrivener. Keeping a word count tally helped me rebalance the length of some of the chapters because some were originally much longer than the rest.

[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

Seeing the Light at the End of the Tunnel

I feel like I birthed a new child. I’m proud and a little in disbelief. I am also a bit anxious about the publishing process. As I reflect on the experience, I feel like this book forced me to dig deep within myself and that I put in every drop of my effort into it. Besides starting and building a company, I think this is the hardest project I have ever undertaken.

If you want to write a book, I recommend it as an incredible, if also challenging, experience. I told my husband in July when I finished my first draft that the book had already paid me back. There is no way I would have learned so much about the topic, or about writing, otherwise.


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Pamela Ayuso has always had a passion for reading and writing and finds inspiration all around her. Her husband and her three wonderful daughters inspired the story of Alicia and Bunnie. When she’s not making memories with her family, she can be found at Celaque, a real estate development and property management company based in Honduras, where she is the CEO and cofounder. Pamela feeds her curiosity by reading a book a week and loves learning new languages as she travels the world and discovers new places.

Pamela Ayuso - About the Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Ayuso is an author and the co-founder and CEO of Celaque. She is a real estate entrepreneur and developer who has executive leadership experience in two of the most successful real estate developers in Honduras — managing operations at Alianza and leading Celaque. Celaque develops office and residential buildings and manages a broad portfolio of properties. Pamela’s focus is on growing Celaque into a model for the 21st-century company.

In addition to her role as CEO at Celaque, Pamela is the author of Amazon best-selling book, Heptagram: The 7-Pillar Business Design System for the 21st Century. She offers practical business and personal development insights for other entrepreneurs and business leaders on her blog and LinkedIn. Her husband and her three wonderful daughters inspired the story of her first children’s book, Alicia and Bunnie Paint a Mural.       

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