How It All Started
It all started on a Zoom call. Heather and I had been on many Zoom calls together previously. But on this one we realized that we were somehow on the same page with our work and some personal areas for the past six months. I don’t remember who said it but at the end of the call we mentioned, “Hey we should make an ebook about this craziness”. Right then and there we laid out a game plan. The very minimal game plan that we created was we’ll meet at the end of the month with a list of crazy stories. So, we each created a list of stories or moments that almost seemed too ridiculous to be true.
Then somewhat to our surprise we actually met up at the end of the month. Following that meeting, we met almost every week after. Throughout the process, we realized how valuable this book would be. We also realized how much we would’ve loved something similar to it when we were approaching the workforce. With our wacky work stories in hand, we were off on a much longer journey than either of us anticipated.
Planning Our Vision
We then brainstormed what the different sections of the book would look like and put them in a shared Google Doc. Each time we met we started seeing the book come to life more and more. We gave ourselves deadlines, brainstormed titles, color-coded, and created extra resources, all while having fun and laughing at our past mistakes. We also made a style guide for our supporting materials and created a safe space where no idea was a bad idea. All of which were crucial parts of creating the final product.
I found it interesting how we both approached the different sections. I ended up being list-based while heather was approaching it with a storytelling format. We ended up combining the two in the end. We created our own way of adding stories into lessons. It was intriguing to see how our previous writing experiences impacted how we approached this project.
I knew we were onto something good when I was on a call with a Praxis participant that hadn’t started yet. I told to her the idea of the ebook she was excited and said it was exactly like something she’d want.
In the first week of November, we complied the our first outline from our two separate documents. It was a baby compared to our final product but we were proud of it nevertheless. It was the first version of our passion project, one step closer towards publishing.
We naively had our first goal to publish it by January 2021. That obviously didn’t happen for a multitude of reasons, but from January to publishing we improved the book tenfold. Although it wasn’t something that was outright discussed between us we didn’t want to compromise the quality of the book to stick with our original publishing dates.
We poked and prodded our way around our first version making revisions, taking notes, and fixing it up wherever needed. In January we decided on a title, What College Won’t Teach You, we created the second version of our outline, and created covers. We narrowed the covers down to one and then played with the colors some. In the end, we pulled in my siblings and mom to get their two cents on which colors looked best and be the deciding factor. Shoutout to them for being nothing but supportive throughout this entire adventure.
After we had a cover and a title it was time to pull in some beta readers and get feedback. I created a spreadsheet to help us keep track of feedback, questions, Google Docs, etc.
The feedback we got from our beta readers was phenomenal. It shook us up a bit because it changed the direction we were planning on taking the book. Originally it was going to be a few funny moments and then diving into the meat and potatoes of it all. Making it more of a how-to than a wow we were stupid please learn from our mistakes. Through these beta readers we found out that people wanted to hear more our stories both in length and quantity. Heather and I learned everything in the book on the job which means we’ve made plenty of mistakes and have plenty of stories.
From the feedback, the beta readers gave us we started on our third version of the ebook. Taking to heart the thoughts and opinions of the people we trusted to read our somewhat messy version two. There was the realization that there was a chance that people that who don’t know us might find and read the book. Before this we thought it’d only be people that already knew us reading it. This realization meant having to add some much-needed context about our lives.
Once we made it to our third version it was revisions after revisions after revisions. This version ended up being our final version but it also had a lot of versions inside of it. With all of the previous spreadsheets and documents, we didn’t want to add an extra level of complexity.
Once we felt comfortable sharing the more or less final product with people we hopped on a few Zoom calls and had a live QA session. The live feedback, reactions, criticisms, and encouragement created some solid action items.
Once we completed all the action items that were unearthed through the Zoom calls we had a final overview with just Heather and I. After this final overview, we had another one on the day we published. We were adjusting and fixing small things up until the hour that we pressed publish. Our perfectionist tendencies definitely creeped out at times but in the end, it was all for the best.
The process of publishing was a beast, Kindle Create’s limited abilities definitely created a hurdle for us to jump over. It also took us about two hours to figure everything out and be confident when pressing the publish button. It felt like when we were moving, similar to a deer stuck on a lake that iced over. But also very similar to work and the startup life we were there for each other.
Conclusion & Afterthoughts
The fact that we’ve been working on this for almost a year and it’s now live is somewhat insane. I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a single project this long before. This is our little COVID baby, our passion project, and something I’m proud of. I’m now the author of two ebooks at nineteen and there are no ceilings on what else I can do. People say they should write a book about things all the time. They have their million-dollar ideas and then get mad when someone else accomplishes it. Heather and I joked about writing a book, but then we actually did it.