THE BLOG
03/01/2011 05:20 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Author Beware: Unsteady Terrain Ahead


We often see warnings signs posted about things we should be aware (or beware) of as we explore new territories. For instance, a state park sign may warn you of wild animal dangers, unsafe cliffs and falling rocks. Writing a book may be very new terrain for you so as your book "ranger" I would like to offer up the following Author Beware Sign as you begin up the trail to becoming a published author.

Don't get yourself stuck in Paralysis Analysis.
You don't have to know how all of the pieces fit together before you get started. A colleague once shared a story with me about how she had taken a management assessment test for a former employer and was surprised by one of the results. It was explained to her that based on her answers and the methods she used for sorting information, she tended to stop and plan out her moves whenever she became stressed. Although this may seem like a logical approach, it may also be hindering her from jumping in and leading her team at times when everyone was feeling overwhelmed and they needed a stronger "doer." Because of this new awareness, she still takes time out to plan, but not to the extent she used to and in combination with taking early action to handled the smaller pieces and get the ball rolling. Make sure you are not taking days, weeks or even months to carefully plan out every piece of writing or marketing your book at the expense of getting things done.

Don't let perfection stop you from moving forward.
It would probably not surprise you that my colleague mentioned earlier is also a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist can be a great attribute so long as you keep moving. So when is it good enough? I suspect that for the majority of authors who release their books, it is never good enough for them. There is always something more they would add but so long as it is of the highest quality - get it out there. You can always release another edition and/or create supplemental products for it.

Don't let money get in the way. If you find that funds are tight, there are a lot of things you can do for yourself. You could design your own book cover, especially if you are going to release an ebook. Look at the cover of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - that's not very complicated. You could build your own website by using templates on Wordpress.com - for free! There are a lot of things you can do nowadays that cost you absolutely nothing, or very little. Years ago you could never buy a domain name for as little as $10.

Check out your experts before investing. Check out the testimonials on their websites and their sales pages. Who else have they worked with? What results are being hailed within the endorsements? Are their other clients able to speak about tangible results? No matter what type of copy I write - website page, product description, bio or book - I always include unsolicited endorsements from clients who can provide peace of mind to my potential clients.

Learn from mentors.
When choosing to work with the experts, make sure they have already done what you are trying to do. It is important to learn from someone who has blazed the trail before you, not just someone who has read about it and now teaches it. I believe we need to earn the right to teach others what we have been successful at doing.

Be willing to invest - time, effort and funds. If I calculated the money and time I have spent over the last ten years learning at events and participating in programs, the money has come back to me many times over. I have no regrets in the time, effort and money I have spent. Don't be afraid to invest in yourself in order to help others. Your "generosity" will be reciprocated in some form.

I also make sure I keep my family as a priority which is why I always recommend that you find someone who can help guide you through the process if you are unsure of how to do it on your own. It will shave off a ton of time that you spend getting up to speed not to mention money spent making mistakes.

Peggy McColl is a New York Times best-selling author and an internationally recognized expert in the field of personal and professional development and Internet marketing.