I Just Published a Travel Book at the Worst Possible Time
Like most prospective writers, I have always had the goal of publishing a book. I can happily say that I did it, but it happened at the worst possible time.
After finishing my undergraduate degree, I felt burnt out and decided to take a solo trip (cliché, but I needed it). Every day I found myself visiting new spots and cafes to take some time each day to write. Luckily, I have always had the ease of writing in a blank notebook and spent my days documenting my experiences while traveling.
While sitting on the beach in Tel Aviv, a stranger approached me and asked me what I was writing about. He walked away saying, “you’re so lucky you can write in a blank notebook.” While hiking in Bulgaria, a girl spoke to me about struggling with documenting her time abroad as she wasn’t able to write in a blank notebook. So, I started working on a solution.
I created a guided travel journal with daily questions allowing people to reflect on their past travels, plan future adventures, and make pacts to explore places in their hometown.
After spending two years pitching and adapting my idea, my dream finally came true, and Penguin Random House picked up my book. The process of writing, editing, copyediting, book designing, and creating a marketing plan took a year and a half. I documented every step of the way and counted down the days until my book would come out. My book came out on March 3rd, 2020. I was overjoyed with excitement as I had just accomplished one of my lifelong dreams, and it felt really good to know that my book would
help people become better writers.
Although this joy was slowly put on pause when COVID-19 began to escalate. By March 11th, the WHO declared Coronavirus as a pandemic, and serious
precautions were taken. People were canceling their trips, classes began to go virtual, and people started to take social distancing more seriously. While I was genuinely concerned about the well-being of others, a big concern of mine that was building was, “what’s going to happen with my book?” A few days later, I was notified that the marketing department would be holding off on advertising my book, as no one would be traveling in the current climate. I froze and didn’t know how to react — what’s the worth of publishing a book if no one can even get their hands on it?
The days following were quickly evolving, and everyone was glued to the news. As I began to learn more about the severity of the Coronavirus, its reality hit me. People traveling would have to come home, and future trips will have to be canceled. At this moment in time, no one would want to spend their days dreaming of future vacations and planning adventures, their sole concern is getting through the next little while staying healthy and safe. Who cares about a book I published?
The more I sat with my emotions, the more I realized that I accomplished my goal. I successfully pitched and published my book; I went through the process and now have an insight into the book publishing and marketing process. While I’m not even close to being a best-selling author, I am taking the time to appreciate how far I’ve come and to reflect on the lessons that I’ve learned.
1. Don’t stop at “no.”
Before I was lucky to get an editor to return my emails and to get my draft accepted, I experienced a lot of failures. I received “nos” from dozens of editors, companies, and organizations. Some individuals told me that the idea wasn’t good enough, and others didn’t even respond.
What kept me going is a top editor telling me that she loved my idea, although her team didn’t like it. She encouraged me to keep trying and to move forward. Her encouragement allowed me to realize that my idea was good and to continue to proceed and not quit. While everything looks perfect on social media, it is essential to remember that people do not typically show the process that leads to their achievements.
2. Self-publishing is not always the way to go.
While I was brainstorming and working towards the process of getting my book published, lots of people encouraged me to self-publish my book. That option never felt right for me, and I only learned why after. Writing, copyediting, publishing, and book cover design is a long process that involves many people. Moreover, the process of distribution and ensuring that your book reaches a vast audience across many countries is hard to achieve, especially as a first-time author.
Many people choose to self-publish as they have a large following, which is interested in purchasing their product, others will self-publish as they want to see their book on their bookshelf. Any decision is an individual and valuable learning opportunity. For me, I valued learning from the publishing process, building connections with my publishing team, and getting advice from my experienced team.
3. Celebrate the process.
While achieving success after working so hard, it is crucial to take the time to slow down and celebrate your achievements. While many people want to rush through the process and write quickly to meet deadlines, it is important to slow down and reflect on all the milestones. I took the time to document each milestone that I reached — whether that was signing my contract, submitting my final corrections draft, or holding the prototype of my book.
I also was encouraged by a friend to film the process, which I now appreciate so much. It takes about a year and a half to write and publish a book. Taking the time to document the progress will allow you to go back and reflect on your successes later.
4. Ask for feedback.
No matter how many books you have published or what you have achieved in life, there is always something to learn. Asking for feedback will allow you to find areas that you can improve on. I enjoy asking old friends, family, and editors to read my writing and provide feedback. Once you can better understand your areas of improvement, you can learn how to grow and see another perspective.
For me, I am working at expanding my writing and making my writing more descriptive. Instead of taking feedback as an insult, learn from experts and strangers and make your writing more interesting to everyone. This will help people in the long-run.
5. You may not notice it, but you are inspiring the people around you.
I always thought that achieving my dreams was a very personal experience. I rarely spoke about the process to anyone, as I had a feeling that something would go wrong and that the publisher would cancel my book. Although when I posted on social media announcing my book publication, I received so many messages of good wishes and congratulations. A handful of people reached out to me to tell me that I inspired them to pursue their dreams as well.
While accomplishing your bucket list of goals, it is essential to look inward and reflect on the process, but it is also important to realize the impact that you are having on others. Your failures and successes teach other people that while no entrepreneurial process is perfect, it can be achieved if you give your idea a chance.
While this may not be the best time in the world to publish a travel book, I am grateful for all the lessons that I have learned. I have learned the importance of working collaboratively with editors, publishers and design teams, and to take their feedback and advice to heart. I also learned the significance of reflecting on the process of achieving a goal, and to talk freely on both successes and failures to allow people to understand the process, and to also motivate them to achieve their own goals. Finally, I have truly valued the idea of slowing down and appreciate success. While it is important to set goals and work hard to achieve them, it is more important to appreciate the process and not rush through it.