Alyssa Padgett shares writing tips to finish your first book

Do something brave today (or the story of how I finally published my book)

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All summer Heath and I have been talking on the blog and podcast about book publishing. We just wrapped up our fifth episode in our free podcast series overviewing how we wrote and launched my book last fall. (You can go back and work your way through all five parts of the series here.)

I love talking about my published book because it feels good to share a success with you. But the truth is, it took me four years and at least three failed attempts before I finally clicked publish on my first book.

Most of the time when we see someone achieve something noteworthy, we think it happened “all of a sudden”. But almost every time, there is a hidden period of trials and failures that took place behind the scenes. It’s those 279 days to becoming an overnight success, as my friend Chris would say, where you learn the most.

So today I want to share the full story of publishing my book. Not just the excitement and joy, but the tough stuff. The 1,270 nights it took me to finally publish my book.

May 2014

When I quit my job to travel in an RV with Heath, I promised myself I would use the opportunity to pursue my dream of writing a book. I figured I would blog about our adventures, sharing stories along the way that would all be compiled into a book. I even had titles for different books sketched out on a notepad, dreaming about how it would all come together.

Then we started traveling and filming our adventures and I was writing, but not that often. But I mean, I was still working on a book. In my mind, anyway. I was working toward a book. I just needed a few months of enjoying travel first. I need to live the stories first, so I could write about them later. Yes, that was it. I needed to go live the stories first.

January 2015

After driving to 48 of the 50 states in seven short months, Heath and I parked in California for winter.

It was perfect—now that we were parked in one place, I would work on my book! That’s what I was missing before. We just needed to be parked.

I started writing feverishly.

I wrote every single day for hours.

Heath and I were using a co-working space in Cupertino at the time and I found myself constantly surrounded by other creators doing big things. It was the inspiration I needed.

In a matter of weeks, I had cranked out 50,000 words. Stories about our first year on the road flowed out of me faster than my fingers could keep up. I felt like I finally was doing what I truly loved.

And then came time to edit.

Re-reading my pages, I started seeing holes. Typos. Sentences where even I had no clue what I was talking about. There were stories in the wrong places and duh! I should’ve written the book more chronologically instead of grouping stories by topics. What was I thinking? And oh my gosh…

It was horrible. My book—the one I spent weeks writing— HORRIBLE.

Ashamed, I saved the book file, closed the program, and promptly never looked at the book again.

March 2016

After the previous year’s failure, I wanted to redeem myself. A year had passed now and this time I knew what I was doing. My first book was audacious—if I was going to write a book, I shouldn’t start with something so personal. I needed to be more practical.

I started writing a guide all about RVing. I answered all those questions RVers get about towing and tanks and trailers. It actually wasn’t half bad.

I asked Heath if he would read it and give me feedback.

“Of course,” he said. “Send it over.”

I hesitated.

I skimmed over my book again. It was okay. But if Heath read it…then it would be real. I know my husband and he would make me publish it. That sounded terrifying.

I mean, the book was just my thoughts and opinions on RVing. It wasn’t like anyone would want to hear from a 25-year-old girl how to live in an RV. What an impractical book to spend my time writing…

I never sent him a copy.

June 2017

I am not the type of person who says I will do something, but doesn’t ever do it.

I repeated the mantra back to myself, altogether ignoring my 2014, 2015, and 2016 failed new year’s resolutions to write a book.

It had been over three years since I quit my job and I still hadn’t written a book. Three years! Where did that time go? What have I even been doing with my life? That’s it. I’m finishing my book. I’m setting a date—August 22nd sounds good—and I’m publishing that book.

August 2017

I have no clue what I’m doing. I finished the book. Even sent a free copy to a portion of my email list to validate it. A thousand people downloaded it!

And yet…

Googling “steps for publishing a book on Amazon” isn’t something a real author would need to search. She would just know. And I didn’t have the faintest clue.

I pushed my launch date back a month.

And then another month.

And then another month.

November 14, 2017

One thing I’ve never shared about my book launch is the significance of the date. November 14th.

That was my last day at work back in 2013. I quit my job, telling my coworkers I was going to marry Heath and travel the world with him and write a book. I’m certain they all thought I was making a stupid decision. I was 22 and technically Heath hadn’t proposed yet, so I didn’t blame them.

But I was so certain I could make it happen. This would be the catalyst. I had nothing but time. I was going to be an author.

It took four years. Four loooooooong years. But today was the day. I was finally an author.

If there’s one word I could use to describe the process of writing a book it would be overwhelming.

You are taking the most intimate stories of your life and all of your knowledge on a topic and putting it together for the world to judge. You want to start writing, but you read polished books from professional authors and then the doubts start creeping into the back of your mind, “Who are you to write a book?

I pushed back publishing my book out of fear.

There are few worse things in life than holding back on a big dream because of fear…AKA exactly what I did for four years.

Whatever dream you’re pursuing—traveling full-time, starting your own freelance business, writing a book—today is a perfect day to set aside your fears and take action.

Do something brave today.

If it’s your dream to publish a book, check out my new course, From Blog to Book, where I walk you step-by-step through the process of publishing your first book.