Published Podcast Ep. 1 — Gearing Up to Write The Book

Welcome to the very first episode of Published! The purpose of this podcast is to bring some clarity to the journey of writing a book and give you the tools to launch the book to your readers. 

Hosted by Tanya Hall, the CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, Published will dive into a different aspects of publishing in each episode. 

In this episode, we'll start at the beginning of the publishing process: writing the book. What keeps many people from even getting started is fear, whether of being critiqued, putting new ideas into the world, or just being vulnerable. 

Nathan True, Senior Editor here at Greenleaf Book Group, will be our guest today. Nathan works with authors to develop their ideas and get the words on paper. 

Here are the highlights from our conversation: 

3:46 Why are so many people scared to get started? 

  • It's terrifying to be criticized, and by putting something out there you will be criticized. 
  • Most criticism can be improved on later. 
  • Editors can help authors streamline ideas to make sure criticism doesn't tear apart ideas. 

4:51 How do you explain the editor's role? 

  • Editors are not there to criticize or tear apart grammar. We're meant to be a support system. 
  • Editors make sure that what the author wants to say and what the reader understands are the same thing. 
  • Editors get to ask the questions that the reader won't ever get to ask. 

5:43 Many authors are afraid of having their core idea/value ripped off once the book is out. How do you talk authors through that? 

  • The value of what the author offers is them. They bring something unique to their method. 
  • You avoid people stealing your ideas by realizing that they can't steal you
  • People who want to use the book to do-it-themselves were never the people to hire the author. 

7:25 Is there a correct way to plan your content?

  • Whatever makes the author the most comfortable, whether a highly structured outline, free form thoughts, etc. 
  • If you don't write with an outline, there is a risk that the editor won't properly understand your thoughts and may require more rewriting in the end. 
  • Most important thing is to get the words on paper. 

8:46 How does an author structure an outline? 

  • Start with a chapter structure for main points. Then break down arguments to support your topic. Then fill in ideas/sentences to fill out outline. 

10:17 You have the outline. Now what? 

  • It's easier to edit if you move through the outline linearly. But if authors want to jump around through the outline, they should do what feels right to them. 
  • You don't need to write a chapter a week. Break it into smaller pieces that you can tackle in your time, rather than sitting down to write for large amounts of time at once. 
  • The most productive authors have a consistent writing schedule. 

13:30 Any tips for authors to make the most of their writing time? 

  • If you get stuck, brainstorm or make a word cloud. Leave a writing session with something that can spark your brain when you get started the next time. 
  • Try to find a dedicated location to write, whether that means going to a different location, changing the lighting, sitting in a different room, or sectioning off a part of your work space. 

16:00 How do you keep the momentum going through writing the manuscript? 

  • Remember the end goal, usually to help someone do something. That goal will always be there. Remembering why you're writing can reinvigorate the writing process. 
  • Writing exercises can break up the process. 
  • Take a mental break, like meditation or gardening. 

17:22 When/how should authors ask for feedback? 

  • Depends on the kind of feedback they're looking for. 
  • Ideally, want to ask experts and colleagues for feedback in the early stages on your ideas. 
  • When writing, look to other writers or editors who understand the purpose of a book. 
  • It's not usually helpful to get feedback from friends and family. 
  • Make your request binary: is this good or is this not good? Don't leave your feedback request open-ended. 
  • Feedback should be focused around ideas, not grammar. 

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Download our guide for developing your outline here.