Are you ready to become an author in 2024?
If you’re an expert in your field or just have a great story to tell, you might have thought about writing a book, but just don’t know where to start. What better time than the start of a new year to finally check this dream off your bucket list?
Writing and publishing a book is no walk in the park, even with the assistance of AI. You’ll need to figure out whether you can handle this ambitious project alone or with professional guidance. That guidance might look like a publisher, an editor, a book cover designer, and even a ghostwriter. To help you decide, here’s a step-by-step how-to guide on getting your book written, published, and into the hands of readers.
Steps to Become an Author
- It all starts with an idea. Choose your idea and brainstorm how to make a book from it. Think big picture, and use a mind map if necessary. This will help you develop an outline and keep on track during the writing process.
- Write the book! Now this part is easier said than done. For some, it can take years to write a book. With all the AI available these days, writing is suddenly now much more accessible than in years past. But be careful! You don’t want your book to sound like it was written by AI.
- Choose your publishing method. Decide whether you want to self-publish or go the traditional route. If you choose the latter, your next decision is whether you would rather use a small press or a larger publisher. Choose your preferred publishing method now because it will help determine how you do your next steps in the publishing process.
- Edit your draft. Even if you feel your draft is in good shape, go through it again. Trust us, you missed something. This might even be a time to hire a developmental or content editor to help determine flow and find potential plot holes. You want to make a great impression on those who will be reading, critiquing, and publishing your book.
Pro tip: Wait at least a week after writing to begin editing. You want fresh eyes, like a professional editor’s.
If you feel the flow and structure of the book is great, then just focus on the line edits. Make sure the grammar is good, re-structure long sentences and seek stronger word choices, or just make basic copy edits. Print and read your draft aloud to help spot things you missed or that can be improved.
You will probably need professional editing help before final publication, but you can handle correcting spelling and grammar mistakes and rephrasing where needed. Doin this upfront work now will save money in the editing process.
It’s tempting, but don’t skip the editing process. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a book full of typos and plot holes, and even the best writers make mistakes.
- Get qualified feedback. No one enjoys being judged, but getting thoughtful feedback on a book can strengthen it. Share your manuscript with trusted collaborators, and ensure honesty by asking for anonymous feedback. Don’t just share with your family and friends and call that feedback.
Opening yourself to criticism can feel scary, but it’s necessary if you truly want to become an author. To ensure constructive feedback, ask reviewers to suggest solutions to any problems they point out. Friends and family could be good reviewers – or using them might put everyone in an uncomfortable position. Beta readers are also a possibility. They are usually used after final editing, but before the book goes to a professional editor.
- Choose a title. You might have done this already, or at least have some ideas. If not, now is the time to get title ideas together and make some choices. Some tips:
- Keep it short. Many bestsellers have titles of only one or two words. You want to get the basic premise across quickly in an easy-to-remember way.
- Make it intriguing. A short title will help with this.
- Don’t be a copycat. Google title choices to make sure they’re not already in use. Sounding similar is probably OK, but you don’t want prospective readers to wonder whether they have already read your book.
Stumped? Find an online title generator and get inspired!
- Format for publication. You’re now ready to format your book with chapter headings, aligned text, and page numbers. Don’t skip this step unless you want all your hard work to look sloppy and unprofessional.
If you’re using an agent or publishing company, you only need to ensure your manuscript is standardized and readable. Depending on your book deal, they may do this work for you. If you’re self-publishing, you will need to do the formatting yourself before you upload your book into the self-publishing platform.
- Give your book a fantastic cover. The old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” does NOT apply here! Your cover will make or break your book’s first impression. It not only must grab attention, but also signal to your target audience that they would love to read your book.
Your cover design should be:
- Pleasingly eye-catching. You could use a photo, an illustration, or some attractive typography. Your cover should be attractive to look at, but should not have so much going on that it looks overwhelming or unprofessional.
- Genre-indicative. Genre readers tend to look for certain elements on book covers. For example, romance novels tend to use illustrations and shades of red, pink, and purple; thrillers often use dark colors and disturbing images, etc.
- Fitting for your publishing medium. E-books only need a cover, but printed ones will also need a spine and a back cover design.
Covers are best designed by professionals. If your book’s cover looks homespun, few people will bother to pick it up. Also, keep in mind that not all graphic designers are good book graphic designers. Choose someone who has book cover design experience to ensure a good quality book cover design.
- Write a winning book description. The book description is usually the next thing readers see after the cover. The basics of writing a captivating one include:
- The headline. This should hook readers immediately. You could use a quote from a great review, the book’s first line, or an exciting statement. Choose carefully – your description probably won’t get read if its headline is lackluster.
- Plot/main idea introduction. Space will be limited, so stick to the central conflict(s) or core concepts.
- Create a craving. Concluding the description with a question, hinting at a plot twist, or offering up a cliffhanger are some ideas for making readers want to read more of your book.
- Check several descriptions of bestsellers in your genre for a pattern you can imitate.
Keywords and categories
Both are important for an online book listing. Know the difference between both:
- Keywords are related phrases that people might use to search for books similar to yours. If your book is about Abraham Lincoln, keywords could include Lincoln, 16th U.S. president, etc.
- Categories are the genres and subgenres your book belongs to. They can be general (“fiction”) or specific (“Fiction > Romantic Literature > Latin Love Stories”).
To choose the best keywords and categories, think about how your targeted reader would search for a book like yours. What else might that reader be reading, and in which categories? You can always change keywords and categories later.
- Launch that baby!
The days right before and after your book launch are crucial. These days may look a little different depending on whether you choose to get a publisher or self-publish. Regardless, a well-thought-out launch plan will raise awareness of your book and generate the buzz you want.
Four things to include in a launch plan:
- A team of friends and collaborators to promote your book on their own platforms.
- A website and mailing list. Create an author website with a clear sign-up area for your mailing list to acquire readers. Choose a web platform or hire a web designer, and learn all you can about mailing lists. If you truly want to become an author, you might need to wear many hats.
- Collect reviews. If your book has no reviews at launch time, most people will assume it’s not worth their time. Don’t let disaster strike after all your hard work to become an author – reach out to reviewers and bloggers in your genre/niche early and often.
- Throw an online launch party on social media, your author website (if applicable), and on other people’s blogs. Make the most of your moment and let people hear all about your book!
- Market to increase sales
Your book is finally out there. Congrats! But wait — that’s not the end of the story.
Now you need to market your book like crazy. Do as many guest blogs, guest podcasts, book tours, reading rooms, and connect with as many authors as possible. Reach out to relevant blogs and authors who could cross-promote your book. If you self-publish, work to get your book ranking in relevant Amazon categories to boost promotion across platforms. Plus, don’t forget to post to your social media!
If self-marketing sounds exhausting, you might consider a third-party marketing service. Above all, always look for opportunities to promote your book. You never know whom you might meet, so always have your book ready to share.
Publishing a book is always a Herculean task – even when you’re self-publishing. Whether you just need a little help with editing or want an experience that’s totally turnkey (including the writing), Watch Media Group’s professional writers and editors would be thrilled to help you become an author in 2024! Contact us here for more information.