Writing a book is a dream for many, but it takes more effort than most realize to put one together and get it published. So many people with a good story to tell will fail to produce a book due to lack of planning, unrealistic expectations, lack of writing skills, and many other reasons. One of the biggest factors that hold folks back from writing a book is that they don’t know where to start, so they spend all their time thinking about doing it, but never try. If you don’t know where to begin, start with the following tips on how to write a book and get started living your authorship dream today.
How to Write a Book: Step by Step
The Writer’s Mindset
The first step to take on how to write a book is to develop a writer’s mindset. This will help you with your writing and provide you with the ability to overcome future roadblocks. The writer’s mindset includes being open to growth, such as the ability to learn new things and accept criticism without giving up. This mindset also promotes the idea of abundance, where the more you write, the more you feel you have to write. It rejects the concept of scarcity, which suggests that all of the good books have already been written. If you currently have a healthy frame of mind, and you believe you are ready to write your story, you can move on to the next step.
Creating a Writing Space
Some will argue that they know how to write a book anywhere as long as they have the necessary tools (laptop, tablet, pen and paper, etc.). However, where you choose to write can play a significant role in your motivation and focus. The kitchen table is likely not the ideal spot if you have a busy home! A coffee shop will work for some, but maybe not those who are easily distracted. Think about the best location and time of day that you can work best, and ensure your space provides the inspiration (or quiet) needed to produce your finest work. In order to produce 50,000 words for a standard length book, it’s essential to minimize distractions as much as possible to stay focused on the task at hand—writing your book.
Brainstorm Your Story
The next step is taking the time to seriously think about your book idea: You need to know what type of book you want to write and the audience who will read it. This may require some research (see step below). It will also require some introspective work. Ask yourself some key questions:
- Think to yourself… Why am I writing this book?
- Who will want to read this book?
- What makes my book different?
- Does the book have a goal? If so, what is it?
- What is my highest hope for the book? Do I care about making money from this book?
Will you write a book using writing software to help you, or will you just start with a blank page in Microsoft Word or Google Docs? If you can answer these questions or already have these items fleshed out, you can move to the next step: research.
Researching Your Genre
Whether your book is fiction or nonfiction, you need to determine what genre your book fits. If it’s fiction, is it a romance novel or a murder mystery? If it is nonfiction, is it a self-help guide, a biography, or a business manual? One best practice for any author is to read as many books as possible that already exist within your genre. If you’re writing the type of book you like to read, you already have an advantage. Reading books in your chosen genre is truly one of the best ways to learn how to write one yourself. Note how many pages and chapters these books typically have. What do they all have in common, and why do readers find them appealing? Perhaps you want to offer a similar product to increase your odds of success, or something different to shake up the industry. Regardless, you always want to consider what sets you apart.
To Outline or Not to Outline?
Some writers swear by the outline and some (mostly fiction writers) just jump in and “let the book write itself.” If you are a first-time author, the former is likely your best choice to keep you focused and on task throughout the writing process. The outline serves as a blueprint for your book, and will help keep you on track when you start to feel lost in the writing (which happens!). Most fiction books have a general flow: introduction, climax, resolution. For nonfiction, the outline can vary by genre, but it is important to note that these books are fact-based and have a digestible flow. When you’re making your nonfiction book outline, think about what the purpose of your book is and what message you want to offer; remember to answer those questions listed above. You can use your outline to create the table of contents, and write from chapter to chapter to keep things organizaed. You can also develop the outline to follow a timeline chronology for historical books. A how-to book may use a step-by-step approach, whereas a self help book may be broken down by broad sections. The outline may change throughout the writing process, but it will provide an end goal in which to aim.
Create A Routine
To keep committed to the writing process, establish a schedule and determine goals to reach in each writing session. Be realistic; at the outset, you may think you can write every day, for eight hours per day, but most people will be unable to follow such a strict schedule (especially if you have a daytime job and/or family to care for). Remember what time of day is best for you to write, and commit to writing for a specific number of hours per day or per week. Having attainable goals such as 500 words per day or 2,000 words per week can also help keep you on track and feeling accomplished. If you miss some days or don’t attain your word count goals, don’t beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself and consistent; keep going! Remind yourself why you wanted to write a book in the first place. Before you know it, you will have your first draft!
Revise and Edit
No matter how fabulous a writer you may be, you will always need to revise and edit. You can start by asking family and friends to read your work, and get feedback from them. But be warned: family and friends may either pander to you and tell you your writing is perfect, or they may wrongfully tell you that your writing isn’t great. You can also search for online groups of writers who can help with providing feedback. Be sure to obtain feedback from as many sources as possible so you can see consistencies in the comments. The next step is to hire a professional editor to review your manuscript and give you unbiased feedback. After any further revisions and final proofreading, your next step is to publish your book.
Publishing in 2022
You have several choices when it comes to publishing your book, including self-publishing, small press publishing, or submitting it to one of the “Big 5” publishers:
- Penguin Random House
- Hachette Book Group
- Simon & Schuster
While some independent presses accept “un-agented submissions,” you’ll find that your best bet to scoring a traditional publishing deal will be to first secure an agent. Not only do they have the right connections at publishing companies, but they will also know how to best acquire editors.
If you read this blog hoping to get some direction on getting started on how to write a book, we hope this was helpful. If you have a book inside that is aching to come out, follow the guidelines described here and reach out to us if you need any help throughout the writing process. We hope to see you on a future best-seller list!