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How to write a book and develop a personal brand – Interview with Aleksandra (Ola) Kunysz

Interview with Aleksandra (Ola) Kunysz

Some time ago I wrote how you can increase your earnings working in IT. I wanted to learn more about how to write a book in the IT world. That’s why I interviewed someone who not only wrote a book, but also has big IT experience.

Ola Kunysz has been creating software for over a dozen years. She wrote backends, frontends and business code, collected requirements, tested and trained. She has worked in corporations, startups and pro bono in various industries and countries. She most enjoys writing code that matters and solving real problems. When she’s offline, she rides her bike, walks her dog, or does yoga with her cats…

I really wanted to thank Ola for finding some time for me in her busy schedule and answering my questions really thoroughly.

During the interview I asked her the following questions:

  1. You have a blog, vlog and make public appearances, why did you write a book?
  2. Have you thought about publishing a book just as an ebook?
  3. Did you consider selfpublishing? Why did you decide to work with a publisher?
  4. What was the creative process like for you? What took the most time?
  5. What does it take to publish your own book? What are the steps for someone who has an idea and wants to share their creation with others (What did this look like for you)?
  6. How long did it take you to get from the idea to publishing your book? what were the biggest difficulties?
  7. What forms of promotion do you think are most effective? What worked for you?
  8. Is it profitable, can you say something about making money from writing books?
  9. Are you considering publishing your book in English?
  10. Do you have any advice for people in the IT world who would also like to write a book?
  11. I noticed that you care about developing your personal brand, could you say something about it and give some good advice to someone who would like to follow a career path similar to yours?
2022 it interview podcast

Interview with Aleksandra Kunysz, author of the book “Kierunek jakość. Jak unikać błędów w projekcie”

If you are planning to write an ebook or develop your personal brand, then the answers below will certainly make it much easier for you to achieve your goal. Feel free to read and comment 🙂

1) You have a blog, vlog and make public appearances, why did you write a book?

The book had been in my head for a long time. As it usually happens, I needed an excuse to stuff another project into my schedule. It was thanks to my blog that I attracted the attention of Helion publishing house and they contacted me. I figured if not now, then when, and got into it.

2) Have you thought about publishing a book just as an ebook?

To be honest I wanted to publish a paper book. I wasn’t concerned with writing dedications, although that’s also a definite advantage of a paper book 😉 I like reading paper books myself, and although I read a lot on Kindle, I have quite a few traditional books on my shelves. Sales results say that despite the specific industry, paper is chosen twice as often.

3) Did you consider selfpublishing? Why did you decide to work with a publisher?

As I mentioned, the main impetus was to work with a publisher. I did consider self publishing and still do, but it’s a much bigger project. There is a lot of work around production, sales and shipping. I preferred to spend that time on other projects. I will probably self-publish a book at some point, if only to have experience from both paths.


4) What was the creative process like for you? What took the most time?

My creative process was fairly steady. I tried to write at least short pieces regularly. First I drew out a mind map, and then I described the topics one by one. Looking at the time spent, I came out with an inverse normal distribution, meaning that the most work was at the beginning and a few months later towards the end. I enjoyed the writing itself. The hardest part was probably putting the chapters together into a meaningful whole. I had to read everything, edit, check I wasn’t repeating myself, add pieces of text and so on.

5) What does it take to publish your own book? What are the steps for someone who has an idea and wants to share their creation with others (What did this look like for you)?

You just have to do it 🙂 Writing a book is not very different from running a YouTube channel or creating a blog. It requires regular work, describing your experiences, but also researching material, being inspired by the work of others and putting it together. The most important thing is to ask yourself whether anyone will benefit from it. You do not create materials for your own glory and praise, but only to share your knowledge, help someone solve problems, change something. I don’t recommend starting your creation by writing a book. I spent two years creating educational materials, selling courses, collecting feedback from the community, improving the creative process. Without that, I probably would have had a hard time finishing the book in a few months.


6) How long did it take you to get from the idea to publishing your book? what were the biggest difficulties?

My first contact with Helion was in Spring 2020, about 15 months later the book hit the shelves. It took me about 8 months to write, then there was editing with the publisher, working on the cover, final arrangements, marketing and sales. The hardest part was probably writing regularly, especially during the holidays when it’s hard to focus on technical topics.

7) What forms of promotion do you think are most effective? What worked for you?

Whisper marketing has definitely worked for me. I got huge support from the Polish IT community. Years of participation in conferences and a lot of materials that I shared on the Internet paid off. I didn’t have a specific marketing strategy, I just started talking and writing about the book wherever I could and people carried the message. In 3 days the book became the bestseller of Helion publishing house, a few days later it reached the top of the list. It was amazing. For several days I was getting up in the morning and checking where the book was. It was a great joy for me. My book was higher than Clean Code. I will never forget that

8) Is it profitable? Can you say something about making money from writing books?

For technical books, it’s rather impossible to make a living out of it 🙂 Probably if I wrote crime fiction, it would look a bit better. But if someone wants to make a lot of money from a book in a niche field, the chances are slim. For me, the financial incentive was the least important, I took on the task because I was curious about what it was like to hold my book in my hands, I was looking for the culmination of my creative work, I wanted to learn about the process. If I had it to do over again, I would definitely take it on.

9) Are you considering publishing your book in English?

I am. For the time being I don’t have the capacity, but every time I speak at an English-speaking conference I get a kick of motivation. It is possible that one day I will do it.

10) Do you have any advice for people in the IT world who would also like to write a book?

At the beginning you have to think about who the book is aimed at. You can’t write for everyone. You need to have in mind the so-called Person, to whom the content is addressed. Then you need to plan roughly what you want to write about and if there is enough of it for the book. Then it’s just a matter of writing. Never listen to the voices in your head saying that I’m not the right person or that it won’t be useful to anyone. This is always the case when you create content, it’s natural. In fact, I don’t know any creators who haven’t had moments of hesitation. It’s a healthy symptom that motivates us to create better things, but it must not be allowed to pass control, because perfectionism can effectively block creativity.

11) I noticed that you care about developing your personal brand, could you say something about it and give some good advice to someone who would like to follow a career path similar to yours?

You have to find your place on the internet and give as much good content as possible. Just creating polishes our skills. It’s worth giving a lot away for free, especially at the beginning. The amount of materials is an individual thing. I used to create new material every day, now I write texts every two weeks. Then you have to sell it (yes, you have to sell free content too, the recipients pay for it with their time) and build a community. You should also ask your community for feedback, keep in touch with them and provide them with the materials they need. I know that many people who have bought my book do not need this knowledge at all, but simply support my business. I do the same for my favourite authors. It’s also good to show who we are as people. Some will go away and that is ok. We want to surround ourselves with people with whom we are on similar wavelengths. Then it’s easier for us. It’s not that building a brand is easy. It requires regular work, even when you don’t want to, when you doubt your strength or the goodwill of others. But it bears fruit and in my opinion it is worth doing.

Summary

I don’t know about you, but for me Ola’s answers were very helpful. Once again, I wanted to thank her very much for the interview and for sharing her knowledge and experience.

If you would like to find out more, you can visit Ola at https://szkolatestow.online 🙂

I conducted the interview in Polish, there may be minimal discrepancies in the translation. The original text can be found here.

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