Taking What You Have and Turning it into Something More

Last month, I released my first book. It was truly a dream come true and I had never been more proud of an accomplishment.

While sharing about it with some friends, they asked how I came up with enough material for a book. And the truth is, most of it came from right here on Medium.

As I explained my process for writing, I realized my content library started with stories on Medium and were edited and changed in other posts and articles later.

And as my friends were asking more about the process, I realized anyone on Medium could do it. And so today, I thought I could share my process and encourage others.

The idea to Book — How I Used Medium to Create Publish My Book

My book started with a 21 point listicle. This list was comprised of 21 common tips, tricks, and hacks that I found among nearly a hundred articles I had read on my own: 21 Ways that Make You More Productive and Create Massive Margin
Over the last month, can you think back to what your work hours have been? Have you been settling into the traditional 9am to 5pm job? Or…medium.com

This list was the beginning of the process. Shortly after writing this post several people suggested that I write individual posts on each topic. The entirety of these post and more are found here: 21 Productivity Tips You Can Use Now
3 AM, Saturdaymedium.com

In this series, I outlined all of these 21 points and some other stories which helped grow all the information. 

The idea started right here on Medium and grew into a solid content library. And over time, I found ways that all this information fit into a system.

Writing the 1st Draft & Completing the 1st Edit

The first draft started with mind mapping and outlining. These were my two master documents which would guide me through the process.

Once I had gotten all the information down into these two documents, I took each Medium story which applied to the outline and copied it into my first draft.

Then, I added in transitions, removed anything which wasn’t in the outline, and added anything which wasn’t in the stories but was new from the outline complete the first draft.

From here I completed my first edit which I read out loud and then made all the corrections to continuity and grammar which I could find.

This brings the first major portion to a close. It took me 30 days to do this by writing every morning for 1–2 hours.

Revisit the Reader

Once the first draft and edit were complete, I decided to go back to all the Medium stories and read the responses. 

I wanted to revisit the readers, the people who were interested in what I was writing and wanted to learn more. From this review, I actually ended up cutting two chapters and adding one. 

This set of revisions solidified my book material. And at this point, it was time to find an editor.

Picking the Right Editor

Warning! Not all editors are created equally. I repeat, NOT ALL EDITORS ARE CREATED EQUALLY. While I knew this to be true, I had to experience it to understand. 

When I finally completed a couple of edits myself, I hired an editor on Fiverr. I learned all about this from Chandler Bolt’s book, Published. He also has a post which describes what I did for finding an editor and writing the book: How to Self Publish a Book
Why wouldn’t you just try and get a publishing deal with a big publishing house? Isn’t that the dream of all writers…self-publishingschool.com

The basic steps to finding an editor on Fiverr are easy:

  1. Create a gig with the specifics about your book.
  2. Review all the responses. Remove any who didn’t follow your guidelines or are not highly reviewed.
  3. Narrow down to your top 3–5 editors.
  4. Have each one submit a sample edit. Send them about 2,000 words from your book to have them edit and return.
  5. Pick your editor based on their editing and communication.

This sounds more complicated than it was, however, I was able to narrow down my editor really fast and am completely happy with his work once. The sample edit was huge!

Creating a Cover

During the editing process, I started following up with book cover designers on Fiverr. The great thing about this is there are a ton of great designers, and most of them do really great work.

Create a design brief, submit it to 3–5 designers and see what they come back with. Once you have a few designs you like, create a contest to get some buzz going for your book and to get input about your cover, this is what I did:Book Cover: Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover? | J.R. Heimbigner
We all know the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” and you and I both would like to believe it’s true.” …jrheimbigner.com

And then, once the time closed down, I picked winners with the random name generator and shared the final book cover:A Book Cover and Two Winners of My Book! | J.R. Heimbigner
First off, I want to thank everyone who voted and provided feedback on the three options for my book cover. It was so…jrheimbigner.com

While these are two posts from my blog, I also created posts on Medium, LinkedIn, and various social media accounts. The great thing about this is how much feedback I received using a Google Form and sharing it all over the internet.

Content Test Drive

During the editing process, I also shared a little bit of my book on Medium to get a feel for what people liked and didn’t like. These smaller chunks helped create buzz, and they were very useful in the final edit process.

These posts helped me see when there might be holes in an argument or when something didn’t make any sense. It also helped me know that the book was a good idea, and it validated the product as I went.

Here are three of the posts which came out of my book:How to Stop Being Bogged Down with Unimportant Tasks
“If it takes less than two minutes, then do it now.”medium.comHow to Stop Being a Mess and Start Being a Success
How Keeping Organized at Work Changes Everythingmedium.comHow to Win the Battle Between Important and Urgent Work
Urgency Tries to Push Its Way in Before Importantmedium.com

These three stories helped me decide what to keep, what to change, and how well my book would be received.

Finally, Hit Publish

After everything came back from the editor, the design was complete, and my book formatted, it was time to hit publish. The last step of formatting I did all on my own, though, you can hire this out as well.

Once the format was complete though, I was ready to hit publish and release my first book. I formed a small launch team on Facebook and had everyone ready to download the free copy from the promotion and review it as soon as they could.

It was an exciting few days releasing a book and seeing what everyone thought about it, and now, here I am nearly a month later. The book reached the top ten best sellers in Stress Management for a few days and I moved a lot of books.

But most of all, I accomplished a goal and dream which I have had for years: 

to become a published author.

You Can Do It Too!

Photo by Charlie Foster on Unsplash

I know everything I shared in this post is very brief, but I believe anyone can write and publish a book. And you can start doing it right here on Medium. In fact, I think Medium is a great place to test out ideas and content before you turn it into something more.

If you are interested in writing a book, creating a course, or any other content and want to use Medium as a starting place, let me know.


J.R. Heimbigner is husband, father, writer, and committed to seeing people live their best lives. He writes about intentional living, productivity, and the journey of writing.
J.R. Heimbigner is husband, father, writer, and committed to seeing people live their best lives. He writes about intentional living, productivity, and the journey of writing.

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