Navigating the Hidden Challenges of Writing and Publishing Non-Fiction

by | Feb 29, 2024 | Writing a book

The journey (or is it an expedition?) of writing and publishing non-fiction books is often glamorised, highlighting the achievements, bestseller lists, and the prestige of being a published author. However, another side to this process isn’t discussed as much, which involves the authors’ personal and psychological challenges.

I get the dream, and having coached many people to write and publish books of 40-50k words, I know how incredible it is to have achieved that. So, a big shout-out to anyone who has written a book. It is a remarkable achievement.

Many people who find themselves at a crossroads, asking what is next in their brand-building vision, which will help their clients transform their lives, think book. Writing a book is often touted as the thing to have. It’s the ultimate brand-building tool and business card. I can give you so many reasons why a book is a great idea and just as many that say it’s possibly not for you or not right now.

And I have seen the other side, and I’d like to share them, not to put you off, but to get you thinking of content-rich transformational journals as another way to share your knowledge and wisdom.

So here goes…

The Dilemma of Sharing Personal Stories

Aspiring authors often grapple with deciding which elements of their story are worth sharing. The thought of weaving personal experiences into a coherent narrative can feel daunting, leaving many to abandon their projects altogether. I’ve worked with authors who have only added their stories in a few years down the line.

I love this quote, but I think that this can be poured into your journal rather than shared with the world. You may not agree, but that’s where I find myself now after writing many (and unpublishing) memoirs.

Maya Angelou: There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Instead of attempting to choose the “right” stories for a book, why not guide your clients through a transformational journey? A content-rich transformational journal offers a platform for introspection and healing, making it a powerful companion to your work. Clients using your framework and models can navigate their healing with your guidance and process, which can be more therapeutic and impactful than wading through your story.

The Overwhelm of a Mammoth Project

Writing a book can appear as an insurmountable mountain. The complexity and commitment required often discourage would-be authors right from the start. When things seem too big, it’s really easy to procrastinate. I always advise my clients to chunk this down and focus on the chunk, but even then, it can still seem too much.

Opting to create a content-rich journal can significantly reduce the weight of undertaking a massive project. The focus shifts from crafting a lengthy manuscript of 30k to 50k words to developing something shorter but in a far more manageable framework. This more accessible project can swiftly bring your transformative ideas to life and into the hands of those who need them.

The Fear of Rejection

Sylvia Plath: I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.

Indeed, they do.

The anxiety over whether anyone will read or engage with their book prevents many from moving forward. Questions about maintaining interest and making a lasting impact loom large. This links with the story perspective when people start to question if their story is really of any interest to anyone.

With a journal, the success of your work doesn’t solely depend on traditional readership metrics. The value lies in the personal breakthroughs and moments of clarity it facilitates for your clients. A transformational journal, which is an extension of your work and highly interactive, builds a deeper, more meaningful connection with your clients. It’s no longer about the story. It’s about the transformation.

Cramming Too Much In

There’s often a compulsion to include every insight and solve every problem in one book, leading to overloaded and unfocused content. Now, I have to admit I used to have this problem until I started to create journals. For example, I have a great interest in the chakras and wrote a big book about journaling through the chakras, which I didn’t finish. Instead, it is a work in progress and will be a series of little books.

A content-rich journal simplifies this by building around core themes and practices. Each page becomes an opportunity for focused reflection and growth without the need to cover everything at once. This ensures a clearer, more impactful message that resonates deeply with your clients. And, like me, you can create a series of journals to cover different aspects of your work.

Doubting the Books Premise

Uncertainty about whether they’ve chosen the “right” book to write paralyses many prospective authors. This doubt can stall projects indefinitely. This is because you have too many ideas and are unsure which one is right. Analysis paralysis is a thing.

When you transition to conceptualising a journal, the fear of commitment to a single premise diminishes. A journal’s flexible format allows for exploring various facets of your transformative work, encouraging you and your clients to continually evolve. Chunk it down, baby and choose the one that speaks to your heart first and, of course, you need most in your practice.

The Challenge of Imposter Syndrome

Neil Gaiman: The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something and that any moment now, they will discover you. It’s Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.

This quote reminds us that imposter syndrome is a common feeling, not a reflection of one’s actual abilities or accomplishments.

Many writers grapple with a nagging sense of imposter syndrome, questioning their worth and the value of their contributions. This internal battle often leads to paralysis, aka writer’s block in the writing process, with authors doubting their ability to produce meaningful content. Again, I think this is associated with adding stories and being too big of a project.

A content-rich transformational journal can be an antidote to these feelings of inadequacy. By guiding your clients through a framework (think the wheel of life as a framework) and using models,  structured prompts and reflective exercises, a journal can help them realise the unique value of their experiences and knowledge. This process boosts confidence and empowers them to share their insights more freely, transforming their perceived weaknesses into strengths. Yay!

The Challenge of Refusal to Edit

Editing is crucial, yet some authors resist it, fearing it may alter their original message or because they find the process overwhelming. This resistance can significantly impede the quality and completion of their work. This hasn’t happened to me too often, but when it does, it’s painful. The client has done the hard bit and got to the first draft, and then they have had enough.

A transformational journal is shorter and easier to write. There are no stories; it’s usually steps or a framework, and the editing is usually to check that the steps and exercises make sense.

The Challenge of Research Overwhelm

Non-fiction writers often face the daunting task of conducting extensive research, which can lead to overwhelm and confusion about how to integrate findings into their narrative seamlessly.

However, when it’s your process, you don’t normally need to research anything or very little.

The Challenge of Platform Building

Building an audience or platform is essential but challenging for many authors. The effort required to establish a presence can be overwhelming and detract from the writing process. It is hard work to create your book’s sales funnel and market it so that you create enough awareness for it to be an Amazon bestseller (think category, not overall) and to continue that momentum going forward.

A transformational journal is created not to fuel your ego but to serve your clients. You will use it with your existing clients and to create awareness. You will also use it for those clients who want to work with you but can’t right now for various reasons. You are less pressured to perform as this is a much more personal project.

The Journal Blueprint will help you create a lead magnet from your outline. Once created, you can share insights from the journal on social media, blogs, or workshops to attract followers and establish the author as a thought leader in their field.

The Challenge of Finding the Right Publisher

Navigating the publishing world to find a publisher that aligns with the author’s vision can be daunting and fraught with rejection. Naturally, many people self-publish, but having a publishing house behind you is great for your credibility. But finding a publisher is a tough call.

Self-publishing a transformational journal can circumvent the traditional publishing barriers, allowing authors to retain control over their work and directly reach their audience.

The Challenge of Marketing and Promotion

Marketing and promoting a book is crucial for its success but often falls outside an author’s area of expertise or comfort zone. Many clients love holding their books in their hands but hate having to market them. I get it. The last book I marketed was hard work. It made number one in many Amazon categories, with the support of readers, but it was exhausting.

A transformational journal lends itself to organic marketing through challenges, workshops, coaching sessions, and speaking engagements. Its interactive nature encourages word-of-mouth promotion among users who find value in its content.

Embrace the Transformational Power of Journaling

If the traditional path to authorship seems fraught with barriers, consider the impact a content-rich journal can have. I love them. They provide an innovative way to encapsulate and extend the transformative process you offer and invite your clients into a collaborative healing journey. You’ll be equipping your clients with the tools for sustained growth and self-discovery while amplifying the benefits of your sessions.

Ready to Begin?

Starting might seem daunting, but creating a content-rich journal can be a fun project with the right guidance. Start here – I invite you to download The Journal Blueprint Ebook. It will give you essential insights and practical steps to create a journal that supports your clients’ healing and transformation. It’s got a lot in it, but it’s easy once you start.