On Thursday, November 1 at 5:30 AM I woke up next to the thing I had spent the past month growing with, caring for, and pouring my heart into: my ebook, Get Attention: Brand Building for Startups. The laser printed, marked-up copy was strewn across the empty side of my bed alongside pens, pencils, highlighters, and my iPhone blaring an alarm with a screen that read “FINISH FINAL PROOFREAD.”
Beginning October 1, I set off to provide a resource “to teach busy tech founders traditional & digital communications essentials” (per my day 1 announcement). The “Just f*ing ship it in 30 days” challenge was organized by Marie’s Women Make, an international coalition of women makers.
By creating the book independently, but always having solace, friendship & advice in fellow women makers, I began a process that looked something like this: build, build, build, ask. Build, build, build, ask. Every time I had a question or needed opinions, someone would pop up in the Telegram group with insights or encouragement. With members sprinkled across the globe, there wasn’t a time of day — even at 11 PM in my office trying desperately to think of the best synonym for ‘create’ —that I couldn’t connect with someone else.
So, that’s my first piece of advice if you’d like to write a book yourself: don’t do it alone. I also recruited friends, family, and colleagues to read and edit.
And after a grueling October, I wanted to also share some of the more tactical insights I learned:
- Organization is half the battle
Why does the romanticized idea of a cigar-toking, gin-drinking disheveled man at a typewriter ever focus on the outline? A good story isn’t just regurgitated; it’s crafted.
I spent a solid week of outlining before I really dug into writing. Without the process of laying out and continuously reorganizing my ideas, I wouldn’t have arrived at such a concise, streamlined process.
2. Writing is thinking
Even with an outline, you’re going to have to work out some thoughts as you go along. I was explaining this to my mom over text and she responded with this:
Professor Sheila Miller is correct. Drafting not only made the book better, it made me a better communicator and strategist. Writing words on a page and building out a one-stop shop communications strategy guide helped me realize that if something wasn’t worth including in my book, it probably didn’t have a place in my own toolbox for helping clients.
By building a process, I forced myself to mentally double down on the communications strategies that work best — not only for startup founders but for anyone.
3. Shorter is better
At least in my case, when I wanted to add value for busy people. I first structured my “to do” list by adding a goal for words I would write per day. Although it was not a bad way to ensure I was making progress, it didn’t necessarily make sense to incentivize myself to write more when I wanted the reader to save time.
Just as I advise the Get Attention reader to do when copywriting, I went through with a fine tooth comb and removed tons of unnecessary words. In some cases, paragraphs turned into sentences and pages were deleted completely.
The final product?
On November 1 at 8:30 AM when the proofreading and formatting were complete, I wasn’t just pleased with the fact I had completed a daunting task in 30 days — I was deeply proud of the book itself. It just so happened to have been created in a month, but what it provides if a sustainable, foolproof guide to branding and getting attention: something that I believe will impact many growing underfunded and bootstrapped startups.
The book sources inspiration and knowledge from my most trusted colleagues and mentors. It leverages the best tried and true tactics I’ve witnessed working with my own clients and the brands I admire. It was born from dozens of conversations I’ve had with startup founders. Did the initial version I publicly released have at least 5 typos? Yes. Did I need over a week to recover and prepare for an actual Product Hunt release? I sure did. But the content and process I lay out in the book will hold up.
I hope you enjoy the book (& use code ‘medium’ for a discount), learn from my insights into the process, and create something new soon. Let me know what you’re building!