Tim Lewis: Hi, Jen, welcome back to the show, and my understanding … well, I know this because I’ve actually seen it, is that you have completed your plan for the book.
Jen Cole: Yeah, hi, Tim. I’m happy to be here, and I feeling like it may be completed. I know that there are some things that I am going to be changing, simply because I’ve come up with better ideas since I quote, completed my plan, but I think it’s still a work in progress, but I’m very excited about it.
Tim Lewis: Yeah. Well, I mean, from a personal level, every single plan that I’ve ever done has changed while I’ve been writing the book. The most important thing is to have some kind of idea about the sections, and the structure of the book, which is what you get from writing a plan.
Jen Cole: Right.
Tim Lewis: One thing I would say, having looked at your secret plan, which I’m not going to share with the listeners, as I said in the preacher, but on the odd chance that they might write your book for you in Russia.
Jen Cole: No, don’t do that.
Tim Lewis: You’ve got a different way of thinking about these plans than I have. I’m very much bullet points and like, this is the section and quite, where you’re more like larger sections with paragraphs describing it. So you’ve almost got like an intro to the book at the beginning, and then you’ve got sections underneath with headings.
Jen Cole: Yes. And the reason I do that is because I know myself, and I know that if I don’t elaborate enough, the entire point is going to get completely missed, and I’m going to write a completely different book. It could end up being a completely different book if I don’t make sure that I describe the context that I want to be sure to add to that. That’s why I’ve done that.
Tim Lewis: You’ve highlighted a bit, since the last time I saw the plan. For a little bit of background for the listeners, I was actually in Wichita after going to Digital Book World in Nashville, and I thought, “Well, it’s fairly close to the Midwest.” So I went to Kansas City, and then I went to visit you again in Wichita, so actually sat next you at a PC and looked at this plan, and then totally forgotten everything about it. Until now.
Jen Cole: I even made an Instagram post so that we could remember that memory forever.
Tim Lewis: I may, with your permission, steal that photo and use it in some of the artwork for this show.
Jen Cole: Oh, absolutely, and that’s been recorded, so yes, you can.
Tim Lewis: Okay, so I suppose a little aside, what do you feel in terms of how your book concept has crystallised from doing the plan? I mean, has it been helpful to you to write this plan?
Jen Cole: Yes, this has been very helpful. It’s kind of like following a path. I’ve just been doing a lot of hiking out in Colorado, and it’s very much like this is the path. Now all I have to do is basically create the little detours, the little secret paths that kind of go off the path for the scenic views, and then come back on for the main point, and then breathe an entire experience based off of this path that I’ve created.
Tim Lewis: Has there been anything about the book that you thought initially, “Oh, I’m going to do this.” But then in trying to think about it in the plan, you thought you don’t want to go down that particular alleyway, so to speak?
Jen Cole: There’s one that I’m definitely teetering on, but I do feel like it’s really important to leave in, though, so I think what I’m going to need to do is really consider the angle on that piece, and make sure that it is clearly tying back to the theme of the rest of the book in the way that it needs to to be relevant.
Tim Lewis: I like the way that you’ve got sort of a testimonial and it’s mainly the only person is me you’ve got in the moment.
Jen Cole: Yeah, I plan on having a few of those. For each section, I want to have at least a testimonial or a case study.
Tim Lewis: Yeah, I think that’s worthwhile.
Tim Lewis: One thing I would say that I’ve learnt from my Social Media Networking book, which clearly you’re in, as well, is that … this will be something that makes sense closer to the book release time, but I think you might want to look at sort of eventually setting up some sort of e-mail list or some sort of subscription thing where you can give people who are testimonial or involved in the book a way to kind of get their followers interested in your book.
Jen Cole: I love it.
Tim Lewis: I mean, one thing I noticed with my book release was that even though I got like you and various other people to share the book on social media and talk about it, the trouble with social media is you just don’t get that kind of hit of not everybody buying the book at the same time as you would with an e-mail list, so that’s something that you might want to consider setting up is sort of … or you could even set up a Facebook community or something sort of like.
Jen Cole: I really like that idea.
Tim Lewis: Well, the problem is that Facebook community is a bit more work to keep going than an e-mail list, though I suppose you could argue that if you don’t e-mail an e-mail list, then it dies down a bit in the same way as if you don’t go on a Facebook group you wouldn’t, so that’s something you might want to consider as sort of a background thing, so that the friends of Jen’s book e-mail list might be a good idea to start thinking about in the next month or so.
Jen Cole: Okay, cool.
Tim Lewis: In terms of the next stage, you’ve kind of got your plan now, and it’s kind of almost there. You’ve got a good idea about the book. What I would suggest, and I know enough about your kind of schedule to know that this might be harder in some ways than in other ways, but it’s looking for some period of time, like a few days maybe, or ideally a week or something like that, where you can really concentrate on trying to write the book as fast as possible.
Jen Cole: Okay.
Tim Lewis: And that could be, I mean potentially, I mean your plan has got sections in it. It could be just taking one of those sections, and then that’s you’ve got day off or something along those lines, and trying to write that section in that day.
Jen Cole: I love it.
Tim Lewis: The way to do it is almost to be … not sitting there with a bottle of wine thinking like, “Great, we’re going to write this.” But literally you don’t worry about mistakes, and you don’t worry about … you have to disengage your whole editor persona.
Jen Cole: Oh, that is so difficult for me, but yeah, I understand what you’re saying.
Tim Lewis: I’ve gone the other extreme now. A lot of the time I will be able to write stuff really quickly, but I’m not going back and editing it, and then I’m like, “Well, can I be bothered to go back and edit it?” And it’s like, uh, eh. And then you just see huge amounts of typos and [inaudible 00:06:57].
Jen Cole: I know.
Tim Lewis: But that is actually, for a first draught of a book, that is a fantastic skill to have.
Jen Cole: Okay.
Tim Lewis: I mean, obviously, if you see that you’ve misspelled a word and you can go back and change it, but what you don’t want to be doing is kind of writing so, “Then I went to Wichita and I found an amazing community.” And you think, “Oo, do I want to say community or I do I want to say group?” Then you end up, “Well, no, I don’t like that.” And you go back and you change it.
Jen Cole: Right.
Tim Lewis: Just write it straight through, and don’t worry about phraseology or if you said the right thing. That’s where the plan in comes I useful, because if you do that approach and you haven’t got a plan, then you’re probably going to end up a sort of up an alleyway in Colorado where there isn’t a troll at the end. Let’s say that.
Jen Cole: Right, of course. That still follows.
Tim Lewis: Yeah, you’ll just be on the wrong path. But because you got a plan, which in your case is basically sections with like description of what is underneath it, so if you make sure that you read through, maybe read through those descriptions a couple of times before you start, so it’s fresh in your mind what you’re trying to write, and then literally spend a day or two, or whatever time you can get out, and just try and write that section as fast as possible. So that’s the kind of the next step. Once you get to the end … I mean, you’ve got two options, I suppose. I mean, I always try and write the book all in one go, and then start the editing process when I finished, because there’s something amazing about having a finished first draught.
Jen Cole: Yeah.
Tim Lewis: You almost get to the thing where you think, “I’ve got this book. I just need to finish it now.”
Jen Cole: Awesome.
Tim Lewis: But if you don’t have that first draught finished, then it ends up as this half finished document on your hard drive.
Jen Cole: Exactly.
Tim Lewis: I’ve still got sci-fi novels and things that I wrote when I was in my 20s and early 30s where I didn’t have a plan, I’d never finished it, and it’s meandered off, and it’s gone off to some kind of little … and then I’ve just given up on it. But if you manage to do it so that you finish each section off, then you’ve got the initial draught, and that is not going to be publishable, and that’s where you start the editorial process, and the first sort of editorial run through, which if you’ve got the resources, and I would recommend if you can, getting somebody else to edit the book.
Jen Cole: Right, okay.
Tim Lewis: Well, actually, the very first editorial run will be you, because you are then going through saying, “Well, I don’t like the sound of that.” You’ll have a much better kind of grasp of the project, and you will be committed to it, because you’ve already got this completed book that just needs to be edited. The fact that the editing process can take almost as long as the writing process is by the by, but that’s kind of the next step I would guess, in terms of your process. So I would be looking to see … I suppose what you could do is just pick one of the sections, which I think is about an average length, and then maybe take a day off or a couple of days off somewhere, or two days when you’re not that busy. I mean, I know that you’re in social media marketing, and it’s kind of like you’ve got a flexible job, but you’re kind of working all the time.
Jen Cole: Right. That’s exactly right.
Tim Lewis: In a weird kind of way. So maybe a day where you’ve got like just one or two things, like you’ve got Twitter chat to do, but you’ve got nothing else to do, and then just spend the morning and afternoon and see how far you get, because if you find you can do one of these sections in a day, then that makes it kind of easier. That probably, depending on your typing speed, that might be too ambitious, but we won’t know until we try.
Jen Cole: Exactly.
Tim Lewis: You might want to say like picking building loyalty section or something like that, and then just go and try and just write it as fast as possible.
Jen Cole: Okay.
Tim Lewis: So not quite free writing. I’m not saying you go totally sort of hippie, like first thing that comes into your head. It has to be about … you’re writing a longer version of what your plan is.
Jen Cole: Awesome.
Tim Lewis: Which is why it’s important that you go back and you look at it. I mean, you could potentially, you could plan out within the sections, which is kind of what I do, but then you can go almost ad infinitum item further and further down if you want to, and it’s like, well, how far do you go?
Jen Cole: Right.
Tim Lewis: The main approach is to find something that works for you. But this is what I would suggest, because I’ve always … you can end up in this dreadful rewriting, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting, and then you get fed up with what you’re writing, and you look at it and you’ve only got like one paragraph.
Jen Cole: We can’t have that.
Tim Lewis: Yeah.
Jen Cole: That’s too much time to spend.
Tim Lewis: Yeah, you’re better to have an almost complete, almost right, maybe with little faults in it and maybe things you can change, but then it’s easier to go back and change it, because you’ve got that already. So that’s kind of the approach I would look to start doing. So, that’s just that kind of the next phase in your project is actually getting these chapters written.
Tim Lewis: Now, can I talk to you about software?
Jen Cole: Yes, please. Let’s talk about that.
Tim Lewis: What are you planning to write this in? Are you going to use Microsoft Word, or have you got any other software you use, or do you use Google Docs or something like that?
Jen Cole: No, I was just going to continue using Google Docs. Just create a new doc and have the plan as the plan, and then create a brand new doc for the actual book itself.
Tim Lewis: Okay. Well, I mean, I use something called Scrivener myself, but you could kind of achieve the same things in Google Docs. What I would almost suggest is rather than having one Google doc for the whole document, have one for each section, and then combine them all at the end.
Jen Cole: Cool.
Tim Lewis: I don’t know why. I mean, it may be just me that has this psychological thing, but I feel having sections kind of documents, which is that Scrivener works-
Jen Cole: I see.
Tim Lewis: … it just makes it easier for me to kind of see … Well, for start, you’re scrolling up and down at the time a lot to get to the right section.
Jen Cole: Right. Oh my gosh. I can’t even imagine. That’s so true.
Tim Lewis: Yeah, and it also means that you’re going to … when you’re thinking, it’s less intimidating, a smaller document than a big one, so the smaller you can make things, the better. I mean, I don’t think there’s an awful lot of crossover between the sections in your book. They are talking about similar themes, but I don’t think … you’re not going to be referencing each other massively, are they, in particularly?
Jen Cole: Yeah, I don’t feel like it. What I like about this thought about creating a doc for each section is it kind of breaks down the task a little bit to where it’s more foreseeable to get done. If they’re in separate docs, it’s kind of like a separate project. So I get this section done, it’s done. Then I get this section done. And then before you know it, it’s all done. That’d be wonderful, so I love that I idea to break it down into different docs for different sections. It just seems more obtainable that way in the big scheme of things.
Tim Lewis: Oh, yeah. Well, that again, is something that made a big difference to me in terms of actually finishing a book.
Jen Cole: Right.
Tim Lewis: Because I had this software where it was always thematically in sections, and you move it around the rest of it, but you can do this same with just separate Google Docs for each section.
Jen Cole: Right.
Tim Lewis: What else? Oh, I did actually ask you a question at the end of the last show which I’ve forgotten about, which was to make a note of any self-publishing questions you had. Now, given that you just rushed into the office like 30 seconds before you did on this interview, you may not have dreadfully much idea of what those questions were, but has there been anything that has basically leaped out to you that you’re worried about in the self-publishing process since you’ve started this journey?
Jen Cole: Oh gosh. I think that really besides the writing, which I feel I have a pretty good grasp on how to get that done now, I actually feel a little less intimidated by the entire thing, because this is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but now to actually do it is a completely different animal. But to have that so obtainable in my brain now is wonderful, but then so my next thing is I’m already jumping ahead to materials, and covers, and the title that I cannot commit to, and all of those kinds of things that I’m just like, okay, so if I can’t even commit to a title, is this book ever really going to happen, because it’s kind of like writing an entire letter, getting it addressed, putting the stamp on it, and just never putting it in the mail. I’ve done that a million times. So, I just don’t want the title hang up to be my thing, and I imagine it’ll probably come to me after the … during the writing of the book or something like that, but I’m being very impatient with the title of the book, I feel like.
Tim Lewis: Yeah. Well, I mean, with my Social Media Networking book, I think for the long time it was called The Real Social Advantage, which in some ways is a better title, but I changed it to Social Media Networking just because that’s what the book is about.
Jen Cole: Right. Yeah. Straight and to the point.
Tim Lewis: Yeah, I mean, I think I went through about three other titles, as well. Whether people will say Social Media Networking is a great title, I don’t know, but it does exactly what it says on the tin, to use a British expression. It’s kind of like it’s a direct and it makes sense. So, and I’m sure, actually, a title will come through from your process of writing the book, because often with my books, you have a working title at the beginning, but then your book goes in a different direction.
Tim Lewis: This is another thing that I would say. Now, your plan has kind of descriptions, so this probably isn’t such a big issue for you, but for me, certainly from the fiction side, I have always thought that if there’s a question between I think of something great to put in the book, and it’s not in the plan, I will put it in the book. Then I change the plan to fit the … the plan shouldn’t be a dictatorial thing that you have to stick to the plan because you’ve got the plan. If you have a great … you think, “Well, that would be a really great idea, and that fits into the book” don’t be afraid to change the plan and the book.
Tim Lewis: But on the other hand, don’t just totally ignore the plan.
Jen Cole: Definitely. No way, no.
Tim Lewis: Yeah.
Jen Cole: I think the plan, this is a great starting point, I believe.
Tim Lewis: Yeah, the plan is your sort of master document for the book project, but you are the custodian. You are the plan’s boss, so don’t let the plan boss you about, but realise that that plan is a formulation of a lot of effort that you thought and your own consideration as to what that book should be about, so don’t dismiss it totally and think like, “Well, I’m bored with the plan. I’ll think of something else.” You’ve spent a lot of time and effort in that plan, so do follow it, but if you suddenly have a good idea, then yeah, then certainly run with it, certainly within the sections. Be liberal, but don’t be like think you have to slavishly go in the plan if you think you can create a better book without it, with going slightly off piece. It is like the trails example.
Jen Cole: Right.
Tim Lewis: If you see there’s a little pathway off, and it’s going to give you a better view, and it rejoins the main path, then by all means take that path, but if it’s basically down the hillside, and into some sort of dangerous ravine, then you probably don’t want to be wandering off down there.
Jen Cole: No. Yes, that’s an excellent point. I love that you said that.
Tim Lewis: Okay, so have you got any other self-publishing questions, or shall we just arrange to talk again at some point, hopefully when you’ve started writing the book?
Jen Cole: Yeah, I think that any other questions, I think we can get to materials and all that kind of stuff in the coming episodes for sure, because right now I think the focus is just going to be getting this thing written, and I really want to get started doing that, so I think that should be the focus right now.
Tim Lewis: Okay. Well, given the cadence of the shows, and hopefully I’ll be able to get Ben and May King on to find out how they’re doing, it’ll be six weeks before I talk to you again.
Jen Cole: Holy moly.
Tim Lewis: I’ll expect some kind of … I’m trying to think, when the hell is six weeks away?
Jen Cole: I know it’s getting close to Christmas.
Tim Lewis: Yeah, it’s going to be sometime around Christmas, so obviously you’ll have to totally abandon Christmas and just focus on the book.
Jen Cole: Apparently, yeah.
Tim Lewis: Yes. You won’t be able to do anything else but the book until you get it done. So no pressure.
Jen Cole: Of course, no pressure at all.
Tim Lewis: Well, it was great to talk to you again.
Jen Cole: Yeah, it was so wonderful to talk to you, too, Tim. Thank you so much for your guidance, and I really look forward to seeing where we’re at the next time I can be on the podcast.
Tim Lewis: Yes, so onwards and upwards.
Jen Cole: Yes, indeed.
If you liked this show then you might like Jen Commits to Publish, Meet Ben Roberts or Making TEA Right Book Decision with May King Tsang