• Frankie Calkins

Here’s How I Wrote & Self-published a Book in Two Months (and dodged a major bullet Matrix-style)

Updated: May 1, 2019

With my first shipped book landing in two days, today was the first time I found myself reflecting on the process of writing a book and asking myself, “What just happened??” Seriously, I did what? Why? How? Will it be successful? Am I freaking out? Does it suck? Am I really asking people to pay money to read my thoughts and ideas about a major topic: money? Wait, am I going to get rich from this?!

Let me answer that last one first. No. Like any investment, this one is risky and I didn’t set out to get rich. But I did set out to earn enough money to continue to reinvest it back into myself and the next book. And the next one. And eventually more substantial products. Because that was seriously fun! If you’re wondering, I get about $1.50 an ebook and $4.50 a paperback sale. Happy to share because if you didn’t know by now I’m ALL ABOUT full transparency.

I’ve had a few friends text me the last few days saying they want to catch up and hear about how I did it all. So here are my reflections and quick (probably long) thoughts because, well, that was a BLUR and a ride I'd like to remember!

First off, I did spend a year basically obsessing over money, learning, self-guiding myself to a better financial place. There were lots of wins and lots of failures. No, I didn’t intend to write a book. No, I don’t think it’s perfect. But let me dig into how and why in a stream-of-consciousness post (because otherwise, this could turn into another book! hah)

Starting January 1st, 2018, I began documenting everything I accomplished by month in a note in my stock Notes app. Sometime around December 1st, I looked back through it all for the first time. I was overwhelmed with joy thinking about everything I did and learned. I’m no longer a money novice. I’m still a little poor but I’m no longer poor AF. I thought, What the heck is 2019 going to look like?? Then I thought, What the heck could the rest of 2018 look like? Finish strong!

I emailed the list to myself on December 16th. I opened Excel. I laid out 12 tabs by month. Nope, scratch that. What am I doing? I opened up a Word Doc and laid out about 15 money categories. (These would end up being chapters). I copied and pasted every success into these “buckets” where they fit.

I opened up Google Docs. New folder. Labeled it BOOK. I created 15 individual docs. Copied and pasted all of my success buckets into each doc and named the docs as such. That was an outline. (At this point, I still didn’t know what I was organizing. A bunch of blog ideas? A future way to organize my goals/successes? A humble brag to share with my dog?)

Then one day it just happened (the next day?). I wrote the introduction. And like this post it was stream-of-consciousness. I know you’re supposed to outline this kind of thing but I just started writing. It took me about 30 minutes and it’s about 90% the same today as it was that day.

The next day I wrote another introduction. Crap. I have 2 introductions and I don’t want to pick one and I definitely don’t want to merge them. Labels one Preface. Labels one Introduction. Problem solved. Great, now what?

Like I had done about 50 times this year for about 50 different reasons, I opened up a new tab and typed in “Craigslist Seattle.” I’ll just post a gig and hire a ghostwriter! (After a little YouTube research I realized many eBook writers don’t even write their own books. Sorry if I just ruined this for you!). $7 later I had an ad that ran for 30 days. (This ad is posted at the end of this. Yes, I saved it. Document EVERYTHING when you’re on a mission!) Over the next 30 days, I had about 75 replies. It’s crazy how many hustlers are out there freelance writing. Well, great. A week into reading replies I had no idea what to do...

Meanwhile, I started fleshing out the chapters with outlines and introductions. Just keep writing. Then finally I had a fantastic reply that got me super excited. This guy seemed LEGIT. He hosted his own podcast. He had written his own book and helped with many others. The real deal. BUT he was asking for $2,000 minimum to write the book with my outline. Might be worth it... Being the researcher I am, I googled him. The second result essentially explained that this guy was a con artist that even stole 5-figures from a charity. There was a video of a news investigation and all. In an effort to protect his identity I’ll leave this story there (though I’ll be honest, I don’t know why I should protect that jerk!). I dodged a bullet like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. The irony of almost hiring a money con artist to write a book about money is not lost on me… This was the first (and only) moment I considered giving up.

Just keep swimming.

Just keep writing.

Goes on Fiverr. Sends messages to 5 “ghostwriters”. Notices issues with grammar in all replies. Dead end.

Just keep swimming.

Just keep writing.

Finally, I received a reply that caught my eye from Kimberly. She was local. She seemed equally passionate about the topic. She had a voice and personality that I connected with. She had no experience with this kind of thing (much like me). This is it. After a little negotiating (she was right to ask for royalties, I think I was right in declining), we settled on $20 an hour. But ultimately, I just kept writing…

By the time she signed an NDA and rolled up her sleeves to get to work, I had about 16,000 words - 9,000 away from my goal. Here’s where I tell you, if it’s not obvious, I did in fact end up writing most all of my own book and my ghostwriter became my editor. It’s not in my nature to let someone do my work for me. There are, however, several ideas in the book Kimberly contributed from her own experience that were too good to leave out. She was wonderful. She had great insights, instincts, and a critical eye for details. I will work with her again and you should hire her too. But don’t. I need her! I paid her $600 for her help for however many hours that is… easily the biggest and best investment I made in the process.

This is getting long so I'll skip through the rest with bullets!

  • I bought 10 domains via Google Domains. All similar to www.themoneyresolution.com. I own www.101waysto.com for example. How was that available? They cost about $10 each annually. This was my first purchase in the process and my first holy cow I’m doing this moment.

  • I created all my social pages on December 31st in an effort to tell everybody what I was up to for the first time. That was suuuuper scary. The supportive, hilarious call from my sister-in-law a few minutes later helped me get over all my fears. (I literally tried to get this all done in 2 weeks to launch on 1/1/19, resolution day! Kimberly was on board. Then I realized that’s insane and I should do it right, not rushed).

  • I asked for book design help on Facebook after attempting to make about 15 on my own using Canva. (Some of the funniest are also far below). I found help from Levina about 48 hours later in my Facebook comments. On Super Bowl Sunday morning we spent 2 hours on a video call fine-tuning and finishing. Levina is wonderful and again, had never done this outside of her own book. You should hire her. But don’t. I need her!

  • I created my website via Wix. I connected it to my domain. I optimized it for Google search. I made and bought my logo for $50. I set up email auto-responders. I wrote a blog post or two.

  • I changed my book name by ONE word and had to up and change EVERYTHING everywhere…

  • I “finished” writing/editing the book around January 20th.

  • I hired a book formatter on Fiverr. And that started the most unexpectedly challenging part of the process. Again, I chose someone JUST starting out their gig on Fiverr. I realized helping others kickstart their own side hustle is important to me and I hope to continue this theme going forward. A week and NINETEEN versions later it was off for approval with Amazon.

  • A few days ago I recorded my unboxing video of my first print proof. Wow, that was a crazy exciting moment and I was all alone at home and couldn’t wait so it was fun to share that with somebody... I acted cool but I was freaking out. It was more exciting than the first sale showing up yesterday in my Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard! (I recorded a second “staged” version but ultimately decided to post the authentic awkward one)

  • Quickly, here’s more I realized I've glossed over: asking for readers to help critique, developing the 101 checklist and posting it on ETSY, creating more videos at my desk alone (so not natural for me), setting up ads, setting up affiliate links, promoting myself when/where I can including random text messages at all hours of the day to many of you, questioning this all when I can't sleep at 3am, and lots more...

There’s still LOTS more to do… but then, onto the next one! Lather, rinse, get better, repeat!

So that’s it. I started from scratch on accident. I researched. I hired help. Friends chipped in (you reading this now is chipping in!). I dodged a con artist. And I simply figured it out, just like I did with money in 2018. I paid for it all in cash with savings. Plus, there are copies literally in the mail and I still don’t know what anybody will think. But it’s mine and no matter what I get excited every time I see my name auto-populate in Amazon (I considered pen names and doing this all in secret but I'm so glad I didn't!)

It's a book about money so what did it cost? About $1,100. (Chapter 10, Invest In Yourself). What did it "cost" in time? I worked most nights 5 to 9 after my 9 to 5 (and full days on weekends) and for the first time ever I learned what it means to LOVE what you do. It was seriously fun. It was a blur. I’m exhausted. And I had a blast. I’ve already outlined book two and mapped out the next 4 and can’t wait to get started on it all. This, I hope, is just the beginning.

Finally, I will admit this: It’s scary as heck to put yourself (and your story) out there and claim to know what you’re talking about and hope to change other people’s financial lives. Deep down I know there are probably people out there doubting this/me. Some days I do too. Lately, several times a day, you’ll find me looking at this proof on my desk and muttering “please don’t suck.” I hope it doesn’t. Even if everybody that reads it learns ONE thing that was useful this would all be worth it. I know I have a LOT to learn and I'm committed to it. I will keep at this and do it again because:

Just keep swimming.

Rinse, lather, get better, repeat.

I can dodge bullets like Keanu Reeves.


PS: Order THE MONEY RESOLUTION now on Amazon

  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • YouTube - Black Circle

Privacy Policy: Your email address and any additional information provided will not be shared with anyone at any time for any reason.

© 2020 by Frankie Calkins