9 Things I’ve Learned as a Published Author

In 2008, something inside me was brewing. After a decade of helping companies implement new tech, it had to come out.

It did.

Why New Systems Fail represented my first full-length text. Since that time, I’ve penned nine more texts with a new one coming soon. Time for some personal reflection on what I’ve learned.

Writing a book of substance is hard work.

Sure, it’s not difficult to turn a blog into a book. Ditto for writing 70-page texts. Writing what you think is a quality book of any reasonable length, however, takes a great deal of time and effort. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

But it gets easier.

I can’t speak intelligently about fiction. I am a non-fiction guy. Since 2009, I have improved my ability to assess what pages, sections, and chapters of my books are working, what needs tweaking, and what needs to be junked. On a different note, the Internet has made research easier–not easy. Finding out who runs any company is only a few clicks away. Contacting an expert, author, executive, or reporter isn’t terribly difficult either.

Writing is extremely rewarding.

It’s hard to describe the feeling I get that when first box of books arrives in the mail. A tremendous amount of work finally comes to fruition in a tangible way. Beyond the initial thrill, there’s the satisfaction of knowing that I put something out there. No book, movie, or album is universally acclaimed, and mine are no exceptions to that rule. Still, a genuinely compliment in the form of an e-mail or comment never gets old.

Here’s one on my books Zoom For Dummies and Slack For Dummies:

Writing is addicting. Realy addicting.

Since the publication of the first, I’ve kept going — even when my other obligations demanded my point. Because of the previous two points, I can understand why so many authors get the writing bug.

Writing is cathartic.

Arrogance and idiocy have always annoyed me. Writing has provided a much-needed way for me to express myself. Even if a book or post doesn’t receive a great deal of attention, merely writing it down just plain feels good.

Writing books adds boatloads to your credibility.

This one goes without saying. In fact, these days it’s a bit surprising when I meet a prominent thought leader who hasn’t written or co-written one.

Writing opens doors; you just can’t predict which ones.

I have had many discussions with prospective writers about the ROI of a book, and frequently I’ve walked away shaking my head. The whole notion of a definitive and precise ROI is misplaced. Too many writers only look at the costs (money, time) and not the significant potential advantages, especially the long-term ones. Not every benefit can be quantified, and there’s a still the great unknown.

Writing raises the bar on the books you read.

When you know how the sausage is made, it makes you a more informed reader. I for one pay greater attention to a book’s content and its design elements than I did twelve years ago. This isn’t about the logo on the spine of the book. It just means that glorified pamphlets and stream-of-conscious manifestos don’t resonate with me as much as those by writers who took the time to develop and present cogent theses, arguments, and examples.

The book business is a fickle one.

There are no guarantees for success. I call bullshit on those posts every time. Writing only increases the chances that good things happen. As the Wayne Gretzky cliché goes, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Keynote speaker, trainer, advisor, recovering college professor, and award-winning author of eleven books, most recently Reimagining Collaboration.

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