51 Alternatives to a Real Job, Final Proof and What I’ve Learned

51_alternatives_coverYesterday I spent a good 12 hours doing the final proof of my third book, 51 Alternatives to a Real Job.  This is my third book, although I’ve done three “editions” of my other books, so it was my sixth book writing exercise.  Here are some things I’ve learned:

  • Writing a book is really, really hard.  I tell people to write books (not always for-print books), and it’s easy to say in front of an audience, but there is a TON of work and tenacity that goes into getting a book ready for print.  My very first book (I’m on LinkedIn – Now What???) was about 20,000 words.  This book looks like it is just shy of 50,000 words (which is about 170 pages).
  • I made the work on this book harder than it was going to be. You might know this was originally titled 101 Alternatives to a Real Job… what happened??  Well, I realized I needed to interview people who were doing the type of work I was writing about.  Managing those interviews was like herding cats, and it was just too much.  I had about 47 done when I decided “just a few more…” Hence, 51 instead of 101.  And I’m glad I stopped there… I really didn’t want a 400 page book!
  • I fell in love, then out of love, then in like, then hated, then in love again, then in like, and, well, it’s a very confusing relationship.  I forget how working on a long-term project that requires a ton of thinking can make you feel about the project.  I was convinced this was going to be the biggest book I ever wrote, then after going through draft after draft I thought “this is just a glorified list, everyone will return it!” Last night, as I was finishing the proofreading, my recurring thought was “wow, that’s a great quote… there are a lot of pearls in this book!”  I hope people get past the list of 51 alternatives, which you can get in the table of contents, and dive into the real meat of the book, which is the quotes from entrepreneurs.  There is a lot of amazing advice throughout the book.  And yes, I’m proud and in love again.  I just sometimes don’t want to look at it anymore :p
  • Hyphens are funny.  My writing buddy, Google, has helped me throughout the process.  Is it door to door or door-to-door?  Google it.  When do you write word of mouth vs. word-of-mouth?  They are different… I had no idea.  I used “define:_____” a bunch of times, as well as synonym websites, to find the write words. Attention to detail is not my strength, normally, but with the feedback I’ve gotten from my other work I know that I have to make this as good as possible.
  • Last night I found about 150 “changes” to the final draft.  This means there is a final final draft, which should be cleaner than the final draft.  I’m sure readers will find at least a dozen mistakes and a few dozen almost-good grammar choices.  I’m a casual speaker and writer, and getting this good enough for a book is a stretch for me.  I know some people will not be able to get past those errors and shortcomings and will miss out on the real message of the book.
  • Now the real work starts.  I have a neighbor who wrote a text book.  He ordered a garage full of books.  I think he still has them, maybe less one he gave his mother as a gift.  I am not going to inventory these books.  This was not a vanity play.  I want this book to permeate the market.  I want this book to sell a lot. Writing, editing, and getting a book to print is really, really hard.  But it is the easy part of the entire equation. Now, getting the word out and moving books… that’s the hard part.  I’m up to the challenge 🙂

There is more but I have to get back to things I’ve been neglecting… like my email and blog posts!  Check out the introduction to 51 Alternatives to a Real Job here.

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