Writing a book doesn’t have to be unnecessarily difficult, even if it’s your first time.
Maybe you’ve heard otherwise and you are intimidated at the prospect of writing a book.
Maybe you don’t think it’s such a big deal and you can wing it, do anything you like and call it a book as long as it’s got your name on the cover and Amazon will accept it. Except this is exactly how you’ll end up publishing a book that nobody wants.
Which is why I’ve written this post. By the time you get to the end of this page, you’ll see in seven steps how writing a book can be easier for you to do.
1) Decide on the general idea
So, what’s your book about?
Every book, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction has a general idea.
And this is where you should start when writing a book.
The idea behind my first novel was domestic violence; it’s very general and as I wrote the book, I narrowed it down to specifics.
You will narrow down your idea later but you need to have something to start with when writing a book.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.
Your general idea for a nonfiction book could be a cookbook, an autobiography, a self-help book on anorexia or managing money or overcoming grief or giving birth.
For fiction, it could be domestic violence, friendship, the impact of social media on relationships, time travel.
Or anything you want; just make it general.
2) Research idea and audience
When you’ve got the general idea, the next thing you need to do is research.
And when you’re writing a book, the research should actually be two-pronged; you need to research both the idea you’ve chosen for your book AND the audience for the book at the same time.
The reason is you don’t want to end up with a book whose idea nobody can identify with, or that you’re unable to sell because you don’t know who the audience is.
Say the general idea you’re writing a book on is money. Money is such a broad topic that it’s impossible for a single book to cover it.
So in narrowing down the idea of money, you need to research different angles.
People have different kinds of problems with money; some with earning, some with saving and some with investing. Some people want to know how to stay out of debt.
Some of these people are students, single parents, wealthy CEOs, or working regular 9-5 jobs in a two-parent household. Their priorities are not the same, so it’s very unlikely that if you’re writing a book, it’ll target all of them.
So, you need to research your audience as well, so that you don’t waste your time.
You might find out during research, that your idea is untenable, so you need to tweak it.
So you might find something you didn’t know about before, that makes you see your idea in a different light. And that’s OK.
Even if you end up going in a different direction from what you initially assumed you’d explore with the general idea, it’s best you find out as soon as possible – instead of ending up publishing a book you can’t sell.
3) Create an outline
Some people say they’re pantsers so they just write as the spirit leads.
Please, try and create an outline when you’re writing a book – whether it’s for fiction or nonfiction – because it’ll save you time.
No matter how brilliant you are, you cannot remember everything you researched or the order in which you thought they should be, if you don’t have an outline
4) Start writing
One of the crucial things about writing a book is that you actually start writing.
That means write.
Not use researching, outlining or something else as an excuse to procrastinate.
Don’t worry about it not looking perfect; it’s not supposed to.
In fact, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be horrified or brought to tears by your first draft.
But that’s because as Terry Pratchett says, your first draft is just you telling yourself the story.
That means do not edit as you write; if you edit as you write (because you want it to be perfect), there’s a good chance that you’ll never actually finish writing.
Your first draft is not, should not, cannot and will not be the final draft. In comparison to the final version, your first draft is supposed to be crap.
So, go easy on yourself. But not so easy that you actually forget that you’re supposed to be writing a book!
5) Finish writing
Give yourself a timeframe when you’re writing a book, to actually finish writing.
Please, be realistic and take your physical health, mental health, responsibilities and other aspects of your life into consideration when setting deadlines.
If you’ve got a full-time job and three kids under the age of four, I’m not sure how realistic it is for you to say you’re going to write a manuscript containing 50,000 words in two days – even if your other half is hands on with the children.
Write as often and as copiously as you can to meet your deadline. Some people can write daily; if that’s you, do that. Some other people can write only once a week but they can write 2,500 words on the day. If that’s you, do it.
But you need to make a solid commitment and follow through with consistency, else you’ll lose momentum and never finish.
6) Sell your book
Selling a book is a lot harder than it looks. And some people don’t realise it till they’ve actually published a book.
By which time they’ve made a lot of errors, some more serious than others, and all of which could have been avoided.
You can’t sell your book to everyone because not everyone is your audience; everyone is NOT an audience.
And of those individuals and institutions who are your audience, you cannot approach them in the same way.
Book buyers on Amazon, Kobo and Okadabooks who don’t know you, cannot be marketed and sold to the way you would to people on your mailing list.
The way you’d approach a librarian or your local physical bookstore is not the way you’d approach a publisher. Yet, selling your book, even as an idea, is what you want to achieve.
Not all publishers or literary agents are created equal, so the way you’d approach one might turn the other off.
How you sell your book on Goodreads isn’t how you’d do it on social media or Bookbub.
When you’re still writing a book is when to start thinking of how/where/when to sell your book.
Else you’re going to find yourself perpetually trying to play catch-up when the book comes out.
7) Publish your book
When you’re done with the task of writing a book, there’s a lot more to publishing it than going on Amazon KDP and hitting Publish.
There are many kinds of publishers you can reach at the click of a button, all claiming to know how to publish a book.
Some have no clue and should be avoided, unless you want to throw your money away.
And while it is true that not everyone will be able to get a traditional publishing deal, so you might think self-publishing a book is the way to go for you, there are questions that must be satisfactorily answered before you are anywhere near where you can publish.
- Was it thoroughly edited by a professional?
- Is your book properly formatted?
- Is your book cover fit for purpose? Was it designed by a professional, or did you knock out something on Canva that you think, looks amazing?
- Does your book cover make it blend into the genre you’ve written in, yet stand out enough to be noticed?
- What about the book description; does it call out to your ideal reader?
- Have you done all you should to ensure the right audience for the book is anticipating its release?
- Do you have a strong and discernible author brand?
You don’t want to wait till you’re done writing a book before you figure out the answers to these questions and more.
So, pop your details in below (if you haven’t already) to register on a free training where you’ll learn the five things you should know before you write and publish a book.
Now that you’ve come to the end of the post, did we deliver what we promised? Did you find out anything new or surprising about what you should do when writing a book? Let us know in the comments section below.