What is it like to write your first book?

 

It is a very strange feeling to be able to say you have actually written a book.  Well I have and it is called “Tendering - Navigating the Maze”.

 

 

How did this come about?  Several years ago a friend suggested that I should write an article for the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC).  I did and when I sent it in I was told it was too long despite my suggesting it could be produced in two parts.  They actually put a limit of 800 words on it.  Then I forgot about it for a few years.  Later I was at a conference in Limerick University where I met some people from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers IPC and it was suggested that I should make this article into a tutorial.  I did and it was rejected because I had not covered tendering in the US.  So I asked for information and none was forth coming.

 

As a result it went on the back burner until a very good friend of mine said almost as a throw away line “why not make it into a book”.  Well I laughed at him to his face and said “what, me write a book, you must be joking”.  Again I left it for some time and did not touch it or even look at it, because I never had any aspirations or plans to write a book.  A long time later, I began to think and said to myself ‘why not you can do it’.  Then, I made the first and very large step towards writing a book.

 

It was not easy, let me tell you that from the start.  You definitely get a feeling of inadequacy and the fear factor is tremendous.  The thoughts that go through your head time and time and time again are:

 

  • Can I do this?
  • What if people do not buy it?
  • Is it going to be a success?
  • Who will publish it for me?
  • How do you get a book published?

 

These thoughts are always there, some days stronger than others, particularly when it is not going well.  I had many days like that and was very close to giving up.  In some respects I was lucky as I had a lot of material to work from but I can tell you it still took a long time to sort it out and put it into order and then I had to check and re-check my facts.  The sorting out took much longer than I expected and I was never happy with what I had sorted.  I left it again and went back to it later.  Really, I started from scratch and to my own surprise I had pretty much all the information I needed.  Then it was just a matter of re-checking the wording and paragraphing it into a book.  That took a very long time indeed.

 

Firstly I had to decide what I wanted to put where as I had made the decision to have two parts to the book.  Once I had achieved that I wont say the words flowed but at times they came fairly easily and at other times they did not come at all.  I think the hardest thing to do was to get it to flow and make it reasonably easy to read.  It is after all a book about a business subject.  I wanted people to read it, understand where I was coming from and what I was trying to inform them about. 

 

After much Blood, Sweat and not too many Tears I got to a point where I had Part 1 complete or what I thought was complete.  Work got in the way, so it went on the back burner yet again.

 

Other things happened as well and it was sometime before I got back to the book.  Part 2 was the harder of the parts to write and it took much longer than I ever expected.  That was despite having most of the information already.  I finally got it all together and all that was left was to format it and paragraph it.  This task was or appeared to be never ending because as I was doing it I was also moving and editing the text and changing the diagrams and tables.  Finally it was done and so I consciously decided to put it to one side for a while.

 

That ‘while’ ended up being just over a year for many reasons.  One day I went back to it and just read it and made countless changes to it.  I changed a large amount of it and added in the information I had researched about tendering in the United States.  Satisfied with my efforts (about two or three months on and off), I put it to one side and said to myself I will come back to it later.  I did, about six months later.  This read was much easier and the changes were fewer.  One day I said I cannot keep on doing this and I decided that I needed a third party to read it.  I had hoped my wife would be able to but that did not happen.  So I scratched my head to think of someone who might do it for free and understood what I was writing about.  A very good friend of mine said he would do it and that was the start of the official editing.

 

publishing

 

In the mean time, I spoke to another friend who offered to publish it for me at a fairly reasonable price.  All that was left was to sort out the front and back covers.  You have to understand that graphics and me are not on the same planet.  I mean, I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler.  So how was I going to create a good, relevent graphic for the front and back covers?  Luckily, I have a very highly talented niece and from a very limited brief she produced the front cover graphic.  Last Christmas, when the editing was almost complete, we sat and talked about the back cover graphic and within an hour she had come up with a very simple, yet effective, graphic.

 

With that done, I was waiting for the editing to be finished and on his next instructions.  I kept the pressure on him until it was done.  He was also asked to write the summary for the back cover.  That took months and some harsh words but it finally came through.  Now I have a complete book and any further decisions were going to be down to me and me alone.

 

Never having published before and hearing more and more about self publishing I decided to look into that scenario.  I put a request for help and advice on several LinkedIn groups I belong to.  In reply, I got excellent advice and have been pointed in the right direction.

 

I must admit I would never have thought about self publishing and still have a few things to look into but it is looking like the most beneficial road to take.  I thank those who have helped me along the road to being an author and those who are still helping me.  The next part of the puzzle is to talk to printers because I do not intend to do a massive print run just in case it does not sell.

 

Would I do it again?  The answer is yes, because despite the ups and downs and huge time spent on it, I have actually enjoyed the process and the discipline.  It is a strange thing to write about a subject that you enjoy and work at every day.  Especially, when people around you say that you are an expert (personally, I would not go that far) but yes I do enjoy my work even after 36 years of doing it. 

 

I have a couple of ideas for the next few books and one has nothing to do with my work.  So I may tackle that next as a form of therapy – or is it relaxation?

 

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