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How’s The Ebook Coming?

John Doherty —  January 4, 2013
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TL;dr – As many of you know, I announced a few months ago that I am working on an ebook about blog marketing. If you didn’t know, you should sign up to hear about when it launches after you’ve finished reading this post.

I’m also looking for 10 people to provide me feedback on what I’ve written so far. If interested, sign up now (and for more details about what’s involved, read the bottom of the post) -


  

I had a Twitter DM exchange in early December with Ryan McLaughlin that went like this -

Ryan – How’s the ebook coming?

Me – Not well man. I haven’t any time to write on it, and I’m extremely unmotivated.

When I announce my intentions to write the ebook, I didn’t have a plan for when I was going to write it. I had just taken the Head of Office role for the Distilled New York City office, I still had all of my clients, and I was mentoring startups and traveling a lot to conferences and for work. In short, I was in over my head.

Over the past couple months, the book has hung over me like a dead weight. It’s been in the back of my mind constantly, but I haven’t had the brain space to actually really start writing. I was feeling like a failure because of this. Whenever I would start writing, I would quickly realize anew that writing a book is much different from writing a blog post. A blog post, even an epic one, is 2,000-3,000 words long. A book though, even an ebook, is by its nature going to be longer, which is incredibly intimidating. I could never figure out how to organize my thoughts enough to even get started.

Writing Longer Content

Recently, though, Mike over at Koozai published a post called How To Write An eBook, Whitepaper, or Other Types of Long Content. In this post, Mike pointed out that long content takes a lot of time (obvious, but needed to be said) and he spelled out the amount of time to expect it to take. He talked about word counts and drafts and how long each might, or might not, take. Reading these words from Mike made me realize that I had been approaching my project in the completely wrong way – I had been looking at it like another blog post, expecting to get it done and published and able to move on to the next project.

This isn’t how long content works though. Long content is hard because it requires sacrifice and commitment. It requires learning when your productive times of day are and allowing yourself to be free in those times. It means starting to write, with a rough map and outline made, and then allowing yourself to write and not edit. As you write, other ideas and avenues will come up as well, and you must allow yourself to explore these. Some of them will turn into new chapters. Others may not survive as full chapters and will be folded into another. But at least you are writing. You’re moving forward, making progress, and learning the process (which is something I did not expect).

I have been in Costa Rica for the last 10 days with my family over the holidays. While there, I realized that I am intensely creative and focused for the hour and a half after I’ve had my first cup of coffee. Then I hit a wall and need a break. But in that hour and a half, I get a lot done. And during those periods of time, except for the two days I was in the jungle, I wrote.

(Slightly) New Direction

The book is starting to take more of a Guide to Blogging format than just blog marketing. It definitely contains a lot about marketing, about spreading your message, about the different avenues of traffic and building them, but it also gets into branding, content types and content creation, and much much more. You could probably still say that it’s all tied to marketing, and I would very much agree, but I wanted to let all of you, my readers, know that this is the direction that it is going.

So this is me processing the process I have gone through over the past few months to get to the point where I am now enjoying the process. Of course, I have all of my duties at Distilled and those take priority in my life, but I am now working along well on this book project. To set expectations, it will still be some months before it is ready, as I still have a lot of writing to do, not to mention editing and polishing. But I’m excited about it, and I hope you are as well.

The book now contains chapters called:

  • * Shut Up About Yourself
  • * Building Authority
  • * Driving traffic
  • * SEO
  • * Email
  • * Video
  • * Social
  • * Rss
  • * Where is my audience?
  • * Let’s Talk About Content

This is just a snippet of what will be included. There’s a lot more as well that I’m sure you’ll be stoked on.

Now to the points of this post. First, if you haven’t signed up to hear about the launch, you can join the email list right now -


  

 

I’m also looking for a few people who want to provide feedback on early drafts. In true lean startup fashion, I want to make sure this book is resonating with my audience before I get to a finished product and no one wants it. If you’re interested, I’ve created a separate email list for people who want to help me out. I’m only taking 10 people, so if you want to help out sign up now -


  

If you sign up and you’re not one of the first 10, your email address will be added to the overall list (if it is not already there). I’ll also keep it separate from the list, and should someone drop out, the next person in line will get an email from me. Deal?

You guys are awesome. I’m excited about this.

John Doherty

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I'm the Senior Marketing Manager of HotPads.com, based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

6 responses to How’s The Ebook Coming?

  1. Thanks for the shout out John and it’s awesome to hear you are getting in to the swing of writing now.

    The topics sound good and I think your experiences writing the book will also help if you choose to write a chapter about how to write. It’s one of the biggest challenges first time bloggers have and I’m sure you could share some gems on writing for them.

    I touched on it a little in my post but don’t underestimate how long proof reading takes. Even something small like a formatting tweak can eat up hours if you have to apply it over many pages. It’s a pain and easily the worst part of the process but the longer you give yourself for proofing the less likely you are to rush through an error right at the end.

    Other than that, keep going!

    • Thanks Mike! Your post was instrumental for me in changing my mindset. I’ll definitely take your recommendations around formatting/design/editing into mind when I get to that point!

    • Those are some of the great tips Mike. First time writers need to break the barrier and stop thinking about what others will think of my blog post, is it worthy to read, and why am I getting less social shares etc. They have to just concentrate on improving their writing style by following their idol. All the best for your ebook John. Waiting to have a copy of it soon.

  2. Anthony Pensabene January 4, 2013 at 10:19 am

    hey dude – i’ve written a decent amount of short stories, but never a longer piece of fiction due to some of the things you mention -the intimidation of a longer, connected piece and the central commitment.

    One thing I’ve noticed in longer pieces, was the engagement of the characters. I get enraptured in characters of longer pieces.

    Of course, yours is non fiction, but one thing that resonated with me from seeing Godin the other day was the sense of community. I think if you and your journey is leading readers along, it will allow for more opportunity to not only advise in a didactic fashion, but truly connect with them..so they’ll be among the first to champion the next book. :) .02 centz

  3. It seems you now have a more realistic grasp on the commitment and your personal style, which is of great benefit. Even the most seasoned writers will often lament the process.

    The one advantage that published authors have (if you want to call it that) is the deadline. Perhaps you can ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable to a certain number of unedited words a week.

    Carry On, friend! I look forward to the release…and one of these days, I will get working on my own site.

  4. Hey John,
    I didn’t want to jam up your Twitter or email (I’m on your list), but I’ve got a project on epub that I’ve been working on and was hoping to do a short interview with you if you had a few minutes.

    I’ve been aware of your writing from SEOMoz, this blog etc, and when you mentioned you were working on an ebook I thought it would be awesome to get to ask a few questions if it worked for you. Maybe just 5-7 questions over 10-15 minutes.

    It’ll actually be for a light weight magazine and I want to include a featured author in each issue. We can be sure to promote the ebook and link to specific posts you’ve made from the transcript of the interview that I would have done if it all worked out.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks,
    Derek