My followers have probably noticed it has been a while since I have published an article. The reason is simple: I am writing a book and it’s bloody challenging!
I have always dreamed to add on my business card the title “author”. I was just missing the right purpose and expertise to start this project. Thanks to Covid-19, the rising concerns about the sustainability of our world and my upgraded skills from my MBA and current Senior Consultant position, I am now confident to deliver on this promise. I was just far away from realising how challenging this journey would be…
So if you have ever considered writing a business (electronic) book but you wonder how the trip looks like, this article is for you!
What is the book about?
This book is a guide about the impacts of the transportation industry on our environment and the promises offered by new modes of transport, also often summarized as ‘mobility services’.
I understand this word ‘environment’ as per its original meaning coming from Old French “environ”, which means « what surrounds us ». In my view, it includes social, economic and environmental aspects.
I’ll write closer to the publication date, hopefully in Q1 2021, an article detailing the content of this book. I can already tell you that it includes lots of researches, facts, data, individual analyses and personal stories illustrating topics such as climate change, the automotive house of cards industry and shared mobility. Some questions such as how sustainable electric vehicles are, what is a smart city and when will autonomous vehicles hit the road will find elements of answers.
The book includes lots of researches, facts, data, individual analyses and personal stories
Ultimately, my objective is to share a simple message: we have to accelerate the development of sustainable behaviours and solutions before it is too late to pass on the next generations a liveable world for all.
The key message: Let’s change our behaviour for a more sustainable world
Why a book?
On the third day of the Covid-19 lockdown, I was looking outside through the window, I saw only a blue sky and streets as empty as my calendar, usually packed with travels and meetings.
I was sitting in my living room, where in the morning I had an extra-ordinary commute from my bed to the dining table temporarily transformed into a desk office. I have realised now that this ‘temporary’ layout increasingly looks like a permanent situation.
I was looking for a way to share my concerns about our future and how mobility is probably one of the few industries both having the power to make an impact that matters for our environment and being a sustainable lever that everyone can pull at an individual level.
In short, you could probably not decide if the government will build a field of wind turbines versus a gas electricity power-plant, but you can choose which modes of transport you use when you commute and travel.
Mobility includes modes of transport that we have all been passionate about in our life (trains, planes, cars, boats…) and is one of the few industries on which we have a level of control at an individual level
What challenges am I facing?
I thought that writing a book was simply a bit more than writing one of the studies I am used to delivering to our clients. I was absolutely wrong.
I face five main challenges:
- Fighting loneliness
- Defining what I want to say
- Finding how to say it
- Being motivated and having the time
- Getting the right partners
First, it is an individual job, which makes things completely different than when you work with colleagues on a piece of work. There’s nobody to challenge your ideas, to tell you where you may scratch a bit a more, you’re simply alone. This feeling is enhanced during a lockdown situation where my only company was my cat… unfortunately, I do not meow to communicate with him.
Second, defining what I wanted to say was extremely challenging. This sounds absurd for someone like me who has always something to say about anything. But in the case of a book, keeping a consistent, impactful and meaningful message throughout over 200 pages is incredibly difficult. My tip: deep dive in yourself to find out what you really care about and what you want the people to be aware of.
Third, once I found out what I wanted to say, the ‘how’ to communicate it was even more ambitious. I have to develop a story, define a structure and align to a writing tone that I was not familiar with at all. I am not talking about the linguistic issues from my French mother tong influences that will be taken care by a copy editor. No, simply articulating the ideas is an exhausting journey. My tip: use mind mapping tools and do not hesitate to start from scratch on a blank page over and over again.
Fourth, finding the time, motivation, self-discipline and energy to combine my job, and what was left of my personal life is still an interesting balance to define. On that point, it is literally up to you to make the difference. Sometimes, I had to set my alarm clock to unreasonable early hours to give a boost to the manuscript. Needless to say, I had to sacrifice most of my weekends for the last 6 months. Today I have the time to write this article because my book is under review for the next two weeks by a professional editor.
Fifth and most importantly, find the right partners. You’ll need fresh eyes, industry expert opinions and editor feedback to make sure your book is a minimum decent. When you self-finance the project like I am, it is challenging to find the right balance between paying professionals and leveraging my network without abusing of my contact’s time. I am highly grateful to the people who gladly helped me and invested a bit of their time. I cannot quote them yet but they will recognize themselves.
Last but not least, what about the budget? Well, if you self-publish, the minimum minimorum you will need is a few thousand pounds. This will include an editor assessment, copy edit, layout, cover and additional stuff to get you started with the publication process. Of course, the more you invest, the more likely your book will be noticed thanks to marketing efforts.
But do not be naïve. Writing a non-fiction book to share the message you care about will not make you rich. If you break even, you will be lucky. It is above all an investment in what you believe and a fantastic way to leave a trace on Earth.