Everything that could have went wrong with this book, went wrong from multiple deaths in my family to formatting issues to viruses attacking my sites to affiliate software problems to battling doubt and apathy.
Despite the obstacles, I’m grateful the project materialized. (Lawd knows, I wanted to can it!)
From the outset, I thought #BossLiving would be perfect as an anthology. However, due to the extreme personal circumstances I was going through at the time, I settled for just using case studies at the end of the chapters.
Thankfully, everything that’s bad isn’t always bad.
I learned a lot about myself and how to be more professional when working on a lengthy project of a large scale.
These are the top things I’ve learned from collaborating on my first nonfiction book, and if you want to collaborate with others, you should definitely consider these tips.
#1- Make a detailed production schedule!
I had a ‘plan,’ but, truthfully, it was more of a general outline so when things started going haywire (and trust me, they will), I wasn’t able to fully recover. As a result, I looked unprofessional to my contributors even though my intentions were good. When you’re creating a production schedule, include soft deadlines, hard deadlines, whose responsibility the task is, and detailed steps that need to happen to make sure each step is complete. Build in time to account for unsavory circumstances. Also, build in break days, so you can take a break from writing every now and then.
Don’t have your deadlines so tight that if you miss a deadline, your entire project will crumble. Thankfully, my contributors were nice enough not to call me on it.
P.S. Also trust that the people you assign to complete the task will complete it. Don’t be a control freak. I didn’t always trust my virtual assistant with things I know he could have done to lighten my load. Had I been more trusting, this project would have been much easier.
#2 – Under-promise, but over-deliver.
What I thought was going to happen in my mind didn’t always happen; so I ended up over-promising a lot. (Had I constructed a more detailed plan, I would not have been so quick to over-promise and again have my good-intentions look shallow.) When you giving updates, allow more time that you think will be necessary to complete the project. That way when you complete the task in advance, you look like a star.
#3- Be very strategic who you invite to contribute to your work.
All my contributors were people whose personal stories I admired. I tried to provide a wide gamut of examples of small business ownership for my readers, and I think #BossLiving does an excellent job doing that. However, I realized just because I like someone doesn’t mean they will be the best fit for a long-term working partnership. That doesn’t mean they’re not good people, it just means you should know what personality types you work well with and how the project will be mutually beneficial to you both long-term.
Be painstakingly strategic about your book’s contributors because it can make or break you. My contributors were excellent and taught me a lot on the way.
#4-Use your contributors in marketing and sales.
Again, missing a few deadlines in my vague outline threw everything off. Marketing tools I wanted to have prepared, weren’t prepared by the deadline; as a result, that threw my marketing schedule off, and I failed to recover. (Have a detailed plan!) When you do ask for promotion from your contributors, be aware that not everyone is going to be able to contribute the way you want them to to because they have other obligations, and that’s perfectly fine. But have multiple options for them to promote as much as they want or as little as they want. Also, offer some incentive to them for selling the book so they get exposure from the book and monetary compensation as well.
#5- Make sure your contract is tight and right.
So I had this brilliant idea to have a contract, which is laughable because the contract I presented was very generic and not as detailed as it should have been. However my contributors were very gracious and pointed out to me ways the contract could improve. Thankfully, their suggestions and (multiple revisions) got the contract to where it needed to be. I highly recommend reading Getting To Yes.
#6 – Format everything way in advance and use people you already have a relationship with!
At the last minute (because my plan wasn’t detailed), I went with a formatter I usually don’t use and the formatting ended up being awful! As a result, there was a further delay in my production schedule. After proper editing, format your book ASAP! That way you can have your book up for pre-order and sales faster, which means more money in your pocket.
#7 -When using Fiverr, go with the best freelancers.
When it comes to formatting and cover design choose the person that has excellent reviews even if they take a while to deliver on your project. If you go with the cheap option, you might end up spending more money. Pick the best quality person! Save your money! (And know who you’re going to use in your plan!)
#8- Keep the lines of communication open with your contributors.
When dealing with multiple people, there will be miscommunication. I tried to keep my communication minimal (one update a week) because I didn’t want to bombard my contributors with lots of message, but next time I won’t be afraid to send out more messages. Always keep lines of communication open so your contributors can have their questions answered. For example, I thought I was being clear about my affiliate program, but I wasn’t. I only found this out, when one of the contributors reached out to me, and I was able to assist her. Keep the lines of communication open. Also, don’t be afraid to communicate the good updates as well as the bad updates.
#9 – Use people you already know or people who have been referred to you in your book creation process.
If you don’t know the person you’re going to work with, specifically formatters, editors, and marketers, you probably don’t want to do it.
#10- Don’t forget to have fun.
I think my biggest disappointment with this project was it was so emotionally draining that it wasn’t as much fun as I initially intended to be. But that’s okay. When I look at the finished product, I’m very proud that it was completed despite the difficulties I had to face! Again, a huge thanks to my contributors!
Not to mention, this book is awesome for those who are interested in starting a small business.
Learn more about #BossLiving at http://www.bossliving.me.
Thanks for reading!