Tracking Wonder - Self Publish

Should You Self-Publish Your Book?

Tracking Wonder - Self Publish

As a writer I’ve published my own books with Penguin and with independent presses.

In my 20+ years in the industry I’ve navigated the path to publish extensively with authors.

When you break down what a traditional publisher – regardless of size and reach and reputation – offers to you, you can start to figure out how or whether you can replace and add certain areas of value yourself.

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Tracking Wonder - Persistence to Write Books

Persistent Sprints Build Books & Businesses

Tracking Wonder - Persistence to Write Books

Are you time-strapped or focus-challenged, but keen on writing a book or have a business to build?

It might seem counter-intuitive – even threatening to your cherished beliefs – to imagine writing a book or building your signature business Story 15, 30, 45 minutes at a time. But that’s how you can do it.

Fantasies trap us.

When we imagine writing a book or building our newest business artistry endeavor, we conjure images of languid, lush hours mulling, creating, wandering, and – eureka! – you’re writing that brilliant book or launching that extraordinary endeavor. It’s terribly romantic. Read more

tracking wonder - Big Book Myth

The BIG Book Myth: Does Your Book Have to Be BIG?

tracking wonder - Big Book Myth

Consider the book you want to write.

Why do we get caught up in thinking we have to write a 300-page “big” book or nothing? That’s the question my pal Charlie Gilkey invited me to consider, and that’s the question I want to get perspective on.

Do you think that to write your first or next book, it must make a cannonball splash? That it needs to be The Book?

The Book comes fraught with expectations. The Book must range from 250-350 pages. The Book must bring you into the limelight – or re-establish you there.

If that rings familiar, how is that expectation serving you? Read more

tracking wonder - how long to publish

How Long Does it Take to Publish?

tracking wonder - how long to publish

A lot of people ask me how long it takes to publish a book.

I wish I had the definitive answer. Let’s get perspective on the reality and why you might or might not need a traditional publisher.

It took one author a solid 15 years to publish her book because of the book’s complexity and because of the traditional Big 5 publishing process.

It took Lowell Thing over 25 years to see his book The Street That Built a City to life with Black Dome Press. Read more

Tracking Wonder - Challenges of Writing Your Book

Navigating the Challenges of Writing Your Book

Tracking Wonder - Challenges of Writing Your Book


Here is what I cannot stop asking myself: How do people get through the inevitable challenge of writing and create their best work? What drives them?

Really, that question has driven me for years to experiment with, research, and create.

It’s driven me to track wonder.

It’s one thing to fall in love with a fantasy. It’s another thing to stand in love with a dream.

Members in the Tracking Wonder community and ecosystem are creating their best work. Like, every week. It’s a pretty astonishing to witness. They’re launching workshops, websites, writing books, poetry & building businesses.

But none of them are without challenges. Read more

Image: Unsplash

How Many Drafts Does it Take to Write a Book?

Image: Unsplash

Image: Unsplash

Writing drafts is a process of discovery

You know, Michael Bungay Stanier didn’t write his elegant book The Coaching Habit in one draft. Or two. Or three. He wrote multiple drafts. In fact, he presented the book with multiple angles and in multiple structures to Workman Publishing, who had published his previous book Do More Great Work (that sold hundreds of thousands of copies) but to no avail.

Finally, after many attempts at getting his book published, Michael took matters into his own hands, hired his own publishing team, and published The Coaching Habit with his own Box of Crayons Press. Read more


Four Truths of a Brand Story


Courtesy Unsplash

People get confused about brands and branding. Some people think branding means pretty or sassy logos. Some people think branding means smarmy marketing. I have a different take. From my years of research, working with clients, and shaping Tracking Wonder’s own brand story, four truths have become evident.

1. Story bonds us.

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – author Phillip Pullman.

Story-based brands linger in people’s hearts and build stronger communities. We spend money on stories we want to be a part of.

2. Branding is personal growth.

Shaping a brand story can accelerate self-knowledge more quickly than a year of personal growth classes.

To shape the elements of a brand story requires deeper ways of exploring and problem-solving than simple writing exercises or “doing a website.” They require mounds of self-knowledge and confidence. And they typically require perspective from trusted colleagues or mentors or advisors.

The most valuable brands and businesses – including personal brands and personality brands – are not simply self-expressive. They are self-expansive. Read more


4 Levels of Civil Discourse


Most of us, I’ve realized, aren’t taught how to own our voice in ways that elicit healthy discourse. But I’ve also learned we each can change that.

If you’re a conversation leader, creative, blogger, business owner – anyone who might have influence if and how you voice your views – consider this:

How is as important as what. When it comes to having a healthy influence, how you express your views on important issues is as important as the content of your views.

If you want the take-aways without the personal story – or your own reflection – skip to the end.

A Vision without a Voice

When I was a boy, no one talked about ideas as I recall. It was not like what Teddy Kennedy described growing up in which the only way to get his father’s attention at the dinner table was to have something substantial to say on an issue.

My father watched the Watergate trials on a hotel tv while we vacationed in Mexico, much to my mother’s chagrin. I watched Nixon resign on my grandparents’ television while my mother cried. But otherwise no one voiced any political or social views.

I didn’t know how to hold a conversation, think well, tell a story, or take a stance. We basically had one allowable emotion in the family – happy. Which meant we buried a lot of unspoken anger.

I grew up shunning people with strong views and closed off around any dispute. When I defended my master’s thesis, my committee of professors praised my written thesis for its depth and nuance, but as they asked me question after question I could not “think on my feet” or defend it. I shut down. One professor with a fierce reputation looked almost remiss in grilling me and then tried to help me with the process.

“It’s a fine thesis, Jeffrey. Really. We have to ask you these questions, though,” he said. “It’s not personal. We just want to hear you articulate your position.”

It was foreign turf, and that embarrassment became a private call-to-action.

I had vision with no voice, but I was ready to change that. And you can, too. Read more

Creative Commons (Moyan Brenn)

The New Story of Publishing

Creative Commons (Moyan Brenn)

Creative Commons (Moyan Brenn)

2016 might be the year you create a book that matters. I hope so. We need books that change our minds and change our lives. We need stories that expand our imaginations and expand our hearts.

My team and I are devoted to helping you become a captivating author – or an even more captivating author – this year.  I’m committed to helping you become an artisan-author, someone who learns the fine craft of her medium and genre so she can create exceptional work for her audience. And I’m driven to help you sort through the confusing multi-directions of publishing in the 21st century.

I hear and read a lot of anxious talk around publishing these days. Random House (#1 in the world) recently acquired Penguin (#2) so soon there may be just one mega-publisher. Or with the digital revolution maybe no books. Or with Amazon’s and Jeff Bezos’s dominion maybe no bookstores. The angst-ridden speculations go on and on.

I’m committed to filtering through this “Babel” for you and myself.

Among the things I’m sorting through are the several stories about the nature of publishing, past and present.

Let’s take a look at these stories about publishing and discern what matters most for you to focus on. I’m curious what your take is. Share your views in the comments below.

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Why DIY is a Lie for Entrepreneurs & Creatives


Now perhaps more than ever we have access to more knowledge, more resources, more apps that empower us to take things into our own hands. We can create and manage our own websites. Write and publish our own books. Build our own businesses. You name it, there’s probably a way that you could find out how to do it yourself.

Here’s where we get trapped.

Just because you can download a logo design app doesn’t mean you are necessarily skilled to design your own logo.

Just because you can access WordPress or Foursquare and choose themes doesn’t mean you are necessarily skilled to design your own website.

You can write well enough to form coherent, clear, sometimes lyrical paragraphs, but does that equip you to write your best copy?

I can strum guitar chords good enough for sing-alongs with friends, but I would never produce and try to sell my covers of Bob Dylan.

I’m curious: Why do we settle for good enough not only for ourselves but, more, for the people whose lives we want to make better – our customers and communities?

Maybe we think that because we can kind of sort of figure things out on our own that we should do it on our own and that we are skilled “enough” to do so.

It will save us money, right? Maybe. But maybe not. Not if your doing so is consuming your finite time and effort. Not if what you produce actually does not bring back your best revenue.

DIY could waste you money and time.  Read more