My name is Ed Mishrell, and last month my first book, The 5 Truths for Transformational Leaders: How Nonprofit Organizations Thrive, Grow and Make a Profound Difference was published. It was thrilling to hold the book in my hand after three years of working and thinking about it every day. I worked most of my adult life for nonprofit organizations, first at community-based organizations in Philadelphia and then at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) National Office. When I read Marisa’s email asking for blog posts for The Seymour Agency's blog, I reflected on my journey as a first-time author, what I learned and how I managed to complete a book. I identified five phases, each with its own challenges.
1. Clarify the purpose of the book
2. Get organized to research and write the book
3. Find an agent and publisher
4. Publish the book
5. Market the book.
Clarify the mission and purpose of the book: In the fall of 2019, I made the decision to write a book about leadership in nonprofit organizations. I made a few false starts but didn’t make much progress until I clearly defined my goals for the book. The question I needed to answer was “what difference can this book make.” While there are thousands of books about leadership, very few are based on the experience of successful nonprofit leaders. I believed nonprofit leaders needed a mission driven leadership model that met the unique challenges of leading a nonprofit organization. And I believed my experience uniquely qualified me to write the book. Writing a book takes a long time. A mission and clear sense of purpose kept me focused and motivated to spend time everyday writing.
Get organized to research and write the book: I began working in earnest on the book in January of 2020. The first couple of months were exciting but not very productive. I quickly became totally disorganized. I wasn’t sure how to organize my time and make progress every day. I needed a process and strategy for how to proceed. I learned a couple of valuable lessons:
· I quickly created hundreds of pages of notes from interviews plus hundreds more from books and articles I read. I couldn’t easily find anything. I needed to establish a system for organizing my research.
· I needed to work on the book every day even when it was a struggle to write anything meaningful. When I worked on the book every day, it was always front of mind. Breakthroughs came at unexpected times. When I took a day or more off, it was very difficult to get restarted.
· The book didn’t need to be written in order. If I had an idea for something I felt was important for chapter 5, I would spend the day working on that part of chapter 5.
· I needed to keep going back to rewrite and revise to make sure everything was in sync. My thinking often evolved from something I wrote early on. I needed to keep going back to make sure everything was aligned.
Find an agent and publisher: My sense of purpose and strong belief in the difference the book could make for nonprofit leaders kept me focused in spite of the rejections I received to my carefully crafted query letters. I am so grateful to be working with Marisa. From the first time I read her bio and talked to her I knew she was the perfect agent to represent me. Thank you, Marisa and The Seymour Agency. You are the best. And thank you, Wiley, for believing my book was worth publishing.
Publish the book: This went by very fast and while the editing process and then preparing the book layout was intense, it was exciting; after two plus years publication was a reality.
Market and promote the book: This is where I am right now. I am not always comfortable promoting myself and I need to keep pushing myself. Before publishing a book, I never had a web site, a YouTube channel, or a blog. I seldom posted on social media. I wasn’t on any podcasts. I wasn’t speaking at conferences. This is all new and I am still learning. When I am having trouble, I reflect back on my mission to create a book that would help nonprofit leaders make a bigger difference. This pushes me to keep moving out of my comfort zone. The last of the five truths is to continue to grow as a Leader. What I learned from interviewing successful leaders is that the leadership they provided to grow the organization was often no longer effective when the organization became larger. Success means leaders need to adapt and change. Every leader I interviewed said evolving into the leader the organization needed after unprecedented growth was the hardest thing they ever did. And some of them were not successful.
This is the same lesson for me as a first-time author. I am switching gears and contacting people I know and don’t know to invite myself into their organization to talk about my book. What fun I am having.
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