Beautiful Stehekin

Fight Club Rules for Writing a Book

Rule #1: Do not write the book.

Rule #2: You are a marketer just as much as a writer.

Rule #3: You need a platform, and to know what your following wants.

Rule #4: The book proposal comes first. This might be harder than writing the book.

Rule #5: Wait, wait, and wait some more.

Rule #6: Once your expectations have bottomed out, write the book. Make it great.

I finished the first draft of my first book a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been taking the first steps to find an agent and get involved in the publishing process. It turns out I did this backwards. Oops. The thing is, with the possible exception of literary fiction, writing a book is much more about who you are and how you connect with people than it is about putting words on a page.

This makes sense, kind of. The publisher is in this to make money selling a book, not to give you publicity for being an expert or inspiring wordsmith. It also means that you should already have a solid platform and marketing pitch before you start to think about the book itself. It means I probably should have written a book about cats.

Oh well, the book is already mostly written. Doing that was a wonderful and illuminating process. Maybe worth more than actually getting the words out into the world will be. I wrote 1,000+ words every day for seven weeks, and Boom!, the first draft was done. I realized that I am serious about being a writer, and that I have everything I need to make that a reality. Actually, let’s go ahead and start saying that it already is a reality. I’ve written a book, after all.

Time to build a following. I’ve been working my way through “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published” and cruising around all sorts of writing/publishing/entrepreneur blogs. Fellow Portlander Chris Guillebeau has a great guide on making a creative, entrepreneurial life work in practice. There’s a huge amount of terrific advice out there. Also a lot of obvious stuff, and not-so-awesome stuff. So, like anything on the internet, or in real life for that matter.

The plan? Well, you’ll probably be hearing a lot more from me. I hope that this means I’ll be providing a lot of valuable content to you and to the world. If you like it, please do share it with other people you think would enjoy it or gain something from it. If you don’t like it, that’s cool, too. Ignore me with a passion. I’ll be getting going on Twitter, coordinating my online presence, revamping my website (super pumped about this one – it turns out building a website is about 1000% easier than it was three years ago), posting more often to my blog, and (maybe the most exciting?) really getting going on my new business venture in Portland. More on that one later.

It also means I’m more open to feedback and conversation than ever before. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’m doing, what I write about, and what you’d like to read more on.

As always, take care. And come visit me in Portland some time.

3 replies
  1. Christine Graham says:

    Possibly the best part of this blog is the fact that you just finished the first draft of your FIRST book! Since you did it backward, why not market your second book now, and when they are interested you can offer them the bonus of publishing the first book too!!

  2. mdcalabro says:

    Or I could just TELL them that it’s my I’ll be working on the second book, and then just use the first one!

  3. Marla Handy says:

    Yeah, I did it backwards too, but am satisfied with how it all worked out. If you want to hear (yet another) story about getting published, let me know. And congratulations on completing your first book!

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