Polishing my first book.

By David Joel Miller, writer, blogger, and mental health professional.

Polishing my first book.

So, what happened to the first manuscript I had finished?

The first book I wrote was definitely an experiment, though I didn’t know it at the time. My conclusion has been that the steps in becoming a writer are the equivalent of a musician practicing the scales. It may not sound pretty, but it’s a necessary step to perfecting your craft.

I thought that I had a pretty good handle on the book. I had written a nonfiction book specific to the field I worked in. I felt that if I worked at this every day, I should know enough to write a book on the subject. Knowing about the subject matter is not the same thing as being able to write about it.

My topic was how people overcome the difficulties of everyday living. People who work in the mental health field would call this an adjustment disorder. Professionals have a phenomenally long list of problems of living that can cause people difficulty. Most of this stuff is normal reactions to life’s problems. But when someone has an excessive reaction to the problem, that can be diagnosed and needs treatment.

I started compiling my first book.

At this point, I had been writing a blog on mental health for about six years. I’d written some technical posts about adjustment disorders but also written some things that were meant to be helpful for people who were struggling with life’s challenges. So, I started by pulling all those blog posts together and putting them into the correct order.

By this point in my journey to becoming a writer, I had been reading several blogs on writing. I had read multiple posts about “blogging a book” I understood that to mean you could take a bunch of blog posts, put them together and turn them into a book. It’s a lot harder than it sounds.

I can’t blame any of the authors of those posts for the way my first book turned out. The problem was not with the suggestions or even the advice. It had to do with the execution. Later in this series, I’ll talk about which writing blogs I have found most helpful.

Probably I should’ve started with an outline of what I was going to write on the blog and gradually posted sections making sure to utilize the feedback for my revisions. But at this point, I still wasn’t clear on what I wanted to end up with in the book, so I just kept doing more research, writing additional blog posts, and adding some of them to my manuscript. Trying to turn all those pieces into a book was quite a challenge.

I knew I needed to get some other eyes on the manuscript.

I kept feeling there were parts of the story that were missing in my book and that I needed to include. So, I asked several friends and some coworkers in the mental health field to read the book and give me their feedback. I got some beneficial ideas which I incorporated into a second draft. But I shouldn’t have stopped there.

A lot of what my first couple of readers discovered were proofreading issues, grammar, and spelling. I don’t think any book is ever written that doesn’t have those kinds of errors in them. I recently reviewed a book from a big-name publishing company for the class I teach, and sure enough, I found some proofreading errors and even a couple of factual problems.

I ran my book through a second draft.

The second draft consisted mainly of fixing grammar and spelling and adding more passages to cover things I left out of the first draft. At this point, I thought I had a book ready to send out into the world to see what other people thought. So I decided my next step would be to study the publishing process.

Close to my retirement date and not sure about my finances, I decided to self-publish my book and do as many things as possible myself. I learned a lot from this process. One major thing I learned was that self-publishing is a lot more difficult than it appears. You need to learn many new skills to navigate the self-publishing process. I’m thankful that Amazon and several other companies have made this process feasible. Still, I’ve also learned there are many possible mistakes, and you need to practice each skill repeatedly until you can get good at it.

I made a lot of mistakes in this process.

I seem to have a genuine talent for making mistakes. Not just once, but I make some of the same ones repeatedly. Just because I figured out how to do something once five years ago does not mean I will remember how to do it again today.

I try to avoid being a perfectionist.

One of the mottos I live by is progress, not perfection. But it’s embarrassing sometimes to look back at something I did in the past and realize how much better it could have been. Not everything that was wrong with that first book was necessarily a mistake but there sure were a lot of things that I needed to learn if I wanted to improve my craft.

In my next post, I’ll describe some of the mistakes I made, some of the things I wish I had improved on, and the lessons I learned from this process.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller.

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now! And more are on the way.

For these and my upcoming books, please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For more information about David Joel Miller’s work in mental health, please visit the counselorssoapbox.com website.

For my videos on mental health, substance abuse, and having a happy life, please see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s