How to write and publish a book: Tips from author Patrick Mork
Richard recently collaborated with business guru and author Patrick Mork on his memoir/ self-help book, Step Back and Leap: 9 Keys to Unlock Your Life and Make Sh*t Happen. In this article, how to write a publish a book: tips from author Patrick Mork you will gain insight and unlock great writing advice.
Patrick uses personal stories and real-life challenges and weaves them in with the 9 indispensable “keys” he used to overcome each challenge and reinvent himself. He incorporates practical tips for readers facing similar challenges.
Patrick answered some questions for us, and we are sure his advice will be helpful in overcoming the challenges you may be facing in your writing and publishing journey – or your life.
1) Tell us a bit about the collaborative process of writing your book with Richard?
I think we worked really, really well together. It never felt like a business transaction where you’re just working with a provider or a supplier. I felt that it was much more of a partnership. That was also reflected in the way that we structured our agreement in terms of Richard being a co-author. We were able to connect on a deep level and have fun doing this project which I think made it successful. Ultimately, I think this helped upgrade the quality of the product.
One of the great things about working with All About Writing was the feeling of partnership and a very close, tight-knit collaboration.
2) How did the book change from the initial idea to the final product?
One of the things that changed a lot was Richard helping with structuring the book. He had the idea of going back into my history and looking at my past. We structured it by using a story from the past to lead into a story from the present that has similar themes. We started in Mexico when I was ten and then jumped to Silicon Valley when I was forty-five. The stories are addressing the same challenges, but at different stages in life. I think that that helped readers understand a little bit more about me as a person which helped keep them engaged. So, in that respect, the final product was very different from the first draft. It was much more polished, much more well-structured, and we changed the perspective.
3) How were you able to inject your voice into passages framed initially by your collaborator?
I think this is one of the things we did really well. Richard and I would get together every Saturday for an hour or two and through these interviews, he was able to get a fairly good idea of my voice. He would also send me a draft of each chapter and I would read through it and make edits and changes until I felt comfortable that it was really on brand for me. For example, he would sometimes use words and phrases that were UK vernacular and would edit these to be closer to my US vernacular.
4) Do you think the combination of memoir and self-help in your book works?
Yes, I think it works well. I got feedback from a number of readers that was one of the things that they really liked about the book.
For example, the CEO of a big company in South America said he was initially dreading reading a business book but was pleasantly surprised because it really doesn’t read like a business book. The book is mostly a memoir. The focus was on my stories and then we added two or three useful exercises at the end of each chapter based on the topic of the chapter. This helped readers to take in information without feeling like they were being spoon-fed.
Using real stories also helped readers to connect with the book. Many people related to the book because they have been through similar experiences such as getting divorced or getting fired.
5) What advice could you give to writers who are struggling with motivation?
- You need to be clear on your purpose for writing the book. When you’re clear on your values, then motivation becomes intrinsic. For me the motivation was to help other people. I know that a lot of people struggle to make changes in their lives, whether professionally or personally and I wanted to help people get through this. You need to find a purpose that is bigger than yourself. If your motivation is to make millions of dollars from writing, find something else.
- You have to build habits. The people that are most successful in anything, including authors, are the ones who are the most consistent and build incredibly strong habits. I think developing good habits and understanding how to develop good habits is essential to motivation.
- The last tip I would give people who are struggling with motivation is, you need to build a team. You have to be accountable to somebody besides yourself. If you lock yourself in a room somewhere and you say, “I’m going to write a bestseller”, it’s going to be very difficult unless you have incredible amounts of willpower and discipline. Building a small team and being accountable to other people drives your motivation. I was telling people for months that this book was coming out and the more people I told, the more I made myself accountable to other people.
6) How can writers cope with the fears they have related to writing?
- The best way to cope with the fears you have of writing, I think, is just to write. You just have to put yourself out there and know you did the best could.
- Not everyone will like your work, it will resonate with some people but not others.
- You need to be willing to make mistakes. People have a fear of failure. I always tell people, if you’re able to look at failure as a learning experience, it changes your perspective completely and you can do anything.
- So, realise that you’re going to fail, realise you’re going to make mistakes, realise it’s not going to be all good. Just get on with it and learn as much as you can.
7) How did the skills you demonstrated in your book help you personally in making your book a reality?
The concept of setting SMART Goals really worked for me. We often say we want to write a book one day but we don’t break that down into small pieces. I use software where I have all my tasks and all my projects, and I give myself dates and small tasks. I’m not always on point though.
One of the chapters in the book deals with asking for help and building a team and I’ve tried to do that. One of the things writers need to realise is there are going to be things that you’re really strong at doing and things you are weak at. So, you have to surround yourself by people who can help you in the areas that you’re weak. That means recognising what you’re not good at and being willing to reach out for help to people who are good at those things.
8) Tell us a bit about the process of getting your book published?
I self-published, and I did that initially because I feel that the book industry is grossly unfair in terms of how much publishers take from authors. I also got feedback from a number of authors that unless you have a few hundred thousand followers or have published multiple books publishers won’t spend time on you. So, my process was to talk to people and understand their experiences and through this I came to the conclusion that, as a first-time author, I was better off self-publishing. Whether that turns out to be the right decision remains to be seen.
9) What advantages do you think independent (self) publishing offers to authors?
- First, I think it, especially for a first time author, it gives you the time to put together a quality product. You can set your own date and decide you’re your work is ready.
- There’s a financial advantage in terms of royalties, although, if you’re only selling a small number of copies this might not really make a difference.
- You have more flexibility. You’re not beholden to a date by which the book has to be finished because the publishers have to launch it. You also don’t have to commit to writing multiple books for the publishers.
10) What are some of your top tips for writers?
- Write something that you’re really passionate about. I was really passionate about what I was writing in Step Back and Leap. When you’re passionate about something it comes through in the writing and the content. Part of being a successful author means being the face of your book. You have to do public speaking. You have to go to book signings. You have to engage with a lot of people about the book. When you are passionate about what you are writing about this comes through and helps you market the book.
- I have a whole chapter in the book that talks about energy management. Writing a good book is very hard, so as authors, you need to manage your energy. Go to sleep at the same time every day. Wake up the same day at a time, every day. Exercise, eat well, lead a healthy lifestyle, and meditate because writing will take a lot out of you. There will be failure and obstacles along the way so managing your energy is fundamental.
- Don’t do it alone, it is a really tough process. I wrote the first 700 pages by myself and I would never do that again. Richard’s support and the support of all the other people who were involved in this book, my family, the people who did the editing, the people who made the adjustments in the formatting, the people who made the book cover and now the people who are designing the new website for the book are part of a team. That is what’s going to make this book a bestseller. And, I would never be able to do it without them. So, don’t do this on your own. Hire or bring together a team whether that’s freelancers, your friends or even just your editor. Do it with as many people as you can. Get input and be accountable
If you would like to find out more about Patrick’s story and see how his 9 keys can help you, you can buy the book here. Follow Patrick on social media for tips and motivation Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
Patrick emphasised how crucial it is to have a community to keep you accountable and help you through the writing process. Our Writers’ Circle is the perfect way for you to find the supportive and inspiring community you need.
He also emphasised the importance of habit forming which requires setting aside time to write. If you’d like to give yourself the time to write in a beautiful and inspiring environment, join us on our Venice Writing Retreat.