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By Gerry Langeler

That’s part of the title of my book – the rest of which reads, “An Insider’s Guide to Venture Capital.” It’s all about how to raise money from venture capital firms, and then use it wisely, based on my observations and painful lessons after almost 20 years on the VC side of the table and a previous 11 as a “consumer” of venture capital.
Rather than wax eloquently about the benefits you might get from reading it, I’ll leave that to others on the web sites where it can be obtained ( for eBooks and for print). Instead, here is some of what I’ve learned from the process of writing and publishing my first book.
  • Don’t throw anything away you’ve ever written!  I was encouraged to write this book by some friends who had read a number of my columns over time, and then was crushed to find that some of what I thought were my best ideas over the last 15 years had gone the way of the delete key.  Since I never considered ever needing those words again, I created free disk space.  Now, there was no way to recreate whatever magic was captured in those old columns and blog posts.  So, if you even remotely think your words have lasting value, find a nice, dark archive to hold them forever.
  • Of the over 60,000 words I was able to bring back to life, I was stunned to find that with the benefit of hindsight, some 12,000 of them were (to put it gently) flat-ass wrong!  For those of you who do find the book worthy of a few of your hard-earned dollars, you’ll note the word count comes in about 48,000.  You do the math.  Seriously, it was fascinating to see areas where I was sure I could either predict the future (always dangerous) or even make sense of the past (should have been easier).  In a number of those cases what looked like trends at the time turned out to simply be random events.  However, since about 80% of words survived that test of time, I did better than we seem to do with most of our venture capital investment decisions.
  • The next learning was about how remarkably easy it is to become a published author these days.  For example, took my Word file and after a few cleansing exercises to make sure its content could translate into all the popular eBook formats, swallowed the book whole and returned in minutes with everything done.  Within days, it was available on most of the popular book web sites (still waiting on Amazon, however).   It wasn’t quite as simple on for the print version, since they require you review a full printed proof before they release it.  But still, it was remarkably straightforward.
  • Perhaps the highlight was getting the cover art done.  Years ago, I cut my teeth in the advertising industry.  So, I knew (or thought I knew) what professional graphic designs cost.  Except I was apparently a few orders of magnitude off based on today’s tools and more importantly today’s cottage industry of book cover designers.    
Smashwords provided a list of recommended designers. After looking over their web sites I picked Digital Donna as having a style I thought would lend itself to my work. I sent her a draft of the book with a couple of rough ideas for the cover.  A day later, the first cut of the design arrived in my email.  Another day and we’d made a few alterations and it was finished. 
When I’ve shown people the cover, and asked them what they thought it cost, the general range is between $250 to $2500.  Actual price, $66: $35 for the design, $31 for the licensed images.  I think Donna has raised her prices a little now, but she’s still not charging enough!
  • Then, came the issue of getting people to know the book exists.  Just like all of you slaving away on iPhone or Android apps, this is where the rubber meets the rubber cement.  With so many budding authors, now so easily enabled, it is remarkably hard to cut through the noise.  I’ve emailed and blogged and tweeted, but the best method seems to be public appearances before appropriate industry groups, or reviews by others on their blogs. And with increased visibility have come some surprises. 
  • Of course, I’m always gratified when someone finds the book useful.  But, I’ve been more than little taken aback that a few individuals used the occasion of seeing a VC dare speak the truth out loud (or at least the truth as I know it) to level a broadside at me, or at VCs in general.  Obviously, there is plenty of angst out there among entrepreneurs who didn’t get funded. Maybe there is a lesson for those of us on the supply side of the capital table.  We seem to have done a very poor job of explaining why we said “no” in a way that helps the recipient understand and yet move forward with confidence.  Early chapters in the book try to address that deficiency, but my observation is emotions out there are just too raw in some cases for the words to sink in on the first try.
  • Finally, I’ve been delighted by the number of people who have come forward to point out typos (dammit) or where they thought my points were helpful, but my wording was not clear.   Someday, the second of edition of the book will be far better than the first, based on their unsolicited editing work.
For those of you (and you know who you are) with a book itching to get out of your head and into our hands – it has never been easier.  Start writing!
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