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You have a brilliant story that you want to share with the world, but you just don’t know where to start. You want to make your voice heard, but find that writing a book is daunting! We have curated a list of practical and important steps to guide you on how to write a book.
As publishing experts who have helped over 1,500 authors self-publish their books, we understand the struggles of writing a book. That’s why we’ve put together 11 steps to guide you on your book writing journey. Let’s take a look at these steps in detail.
Phase 1: Preparation, research, and planning
Writing a book is a creative endeavor, but it also requires dedicated time and resources. You should thoroughly understand the scope of your book and your end goal as an author. This will help you avoid disappointment and meet your target more effectively.
Ask yourself the following questions to create a solid foundation:
You must know the market trends in your genre in order to create an accurate and reliable book. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction you’re writing, setting realistic expectations for yourself is key to writing a book successfully.
If you want your book to be flawless and foolproof, conducting organized research is crucial. So before you learn how to write a book, you should learn how to carry out thorough research.
If your book is based on a highly technical subject such as atomic research, it is important to have in-depth knowledge about the subject. On the other hand, if you’re undertaking research for fiction writing, gathering data will only be necessary in specific cases.
So, make sure you prepare your material before organizing it into a structured narrative or a story.
A premise is your book’s central idea or plot, described in one or two sentences. A good premise should be highly comprehensive, and should only get more complex as you delve deeper into it.
As tempting as it is to dive into elaborating the story you have in your head, constructing a premise will always be helpful in the long run. This can help you in two ways:
Bestselling books of today, no matter how complex they may seem, usually have a very simple premise that can be summed up into a couple of sentences. If you are a budding author with a unique idea, simplify it into a premise that can be easily summarized into a sentence or two. This will help you focus on the core message of your story and overcome writer’s block.
Writing a book is not an easy process. There are times when you’re confused and the idea of your book is going haywire. When this happens, you can simply revisit the premise of your book and focus on its core idea. Smart, right?
Let’s look at how to write premises for both fiction and non-fiction books.
This will help you construct a story around the basic characteristics of your protagonist. From there, you can build an outline with ease!
Confident young heiress
Wise old man
Cheeky little girl
No story is complete without the protagonist’s desire or end goal. The stronger and more intense the motive, the more impactful your story.
The confident young heiress wants to take back her lost wealth.
The wise man wants to take over the city of Atlantis with his magical powers.
The cheeky little girl wants to eat a whole jar of cookies.
Everyday routine and monotony are boring to the reader; there need to be some opposing elements and some interesting antagonists to create conflict.
The young heiress faces severe difficulties in taking back her lost wealth from her evil stepbrother.
The wise man wants to take over the city of Atlantis with his magical powers, but a powerful set of wizards block his path.
The cheeky little girl eats a whole jar of cookies but gets punished by fairies for being too greedy.
Let’s take a look at the premises of famous books and movies:
Around the World in 80 Days: After making a bet with his friends, a wealthy gentleman and his accomplice set off on a journey around the world, racing against the clock to complete it within 80 days.
The Matrix: A computer programmer realizes that his entire life has been a simulation created by intelligent machines, then joins forces with a group of rebels to revolt against the army of machine overlords and free mankind.
1. State a common problem.
Describe a common problem most people can relate to.
Trouble managing my finances
Difficulty making friends
Struggles with depression
2. Introduce a person of authority.
This person can either be you or a subject matter expert in the field that you plan to feature in your book.
A guide to managing finances explained by an experienced financial advisor.
Steps to make friends explained by a famous behavioral consultant.
Methods to combat depression explained by a renowned psychiatrist.
3. Offer an interesting solution.
Plenty of expertise and research goes into finding an effective solution that intrigues the reader. Describe this solution in as few words as possible to make them want to buy your book.
An expert financial advisor recommends investing in mutual funds in order to save money and manage expenses.
A famous behavioral consultant recommends asking for help from someone in order to be friends with them.
A renowned psychiatrist recommends a unique breathing exercise in order to combat depression.
Let’s take a look at a couple of premises for non-fiction:
How to Win Friends and Influence People: In his book, Dale Carnegie provides valuable insights on how to win people over and persuade them to see your perspective. He emphasizes the importance of diplomacy in conversation.
Rich Dad Poor Dad: Authors Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter highlight the importance of wise investments, the need for financial intelligence, and the building of one’s own wealth.
An outline is a skeleton or a template of your book. It not only keeps you motivated but also helps you stay on track when you struggle with writing.
Many of you have a burning idea that you want to jot down immediately and turn into your next bestseller, but that’s not how writing a book works. It’s common to lose motivation or get a writer’s block that makes it impossible to get any writing done!
So, develop a logical outline for your book before you start writing. This will keep you on track and make sure that you don’t run out of fuel halfway through. While developing an outline, ask yourself some questions:
What is my protagonist’s motive?
How are they going to achieve this motive?
Why does the antagonist have a vendetta against the protagonist?
Why am I writing this book?
What problems do I address in the book?
What unique solution do I provide and how can I best lay it out?
The complexity of your outline may vary, but it’s a good idea to have a mind map of the specificities of your book ready. Organize your ideas into main points and add any details you’d like to include in them.
Statistically, only 1/100 writers meet their deadlines. However, creating a writing schedule with a firm deadline will not only save you from burnout but will also ensure your productivity and efficiency. Of all our tips for writing a book, this might seem the most mundane but is also the most important!
When it comes to writing a book, it’s a good idea to take things one step at a time. Planning out your word count for the day in advance is very helpful in this regard. Whether it’s 1,000 words a day or 5,000, set an achievable target for you and make sure you reach this goal.
You can also set a little reward system for yourself! Each time you meet your writing goals, treat yourself to something. Hack your brain and train it to make a habit of writing. Like any other skill, writing comes only with practice. So, you must train yourself into writing habitually.
From good old sticky notes to the most expensive software, there are a variety of tools that you can use to perfect your writing. Let’s take a look at a few of these.
1. Scrivener: Although on the pricier side, Scrivener is a tool every budding writer should use. It helps you format, organize, and restructure your manuscript with a handy word counter to help you track your progress.
2. Follscap Global Story Grid: Hard time staying consistent with the plot of your novel? This writing resource provided by story grid is not just free of cost but also very practical. It will help you create an outline or an overview of your book. Simply print it out and keep it next to you to fall back on while writing your manuscript.
3. NaturalReader: It’s tough to maintain momentum while writing, especially in the middle of a novel. You tend to over-edit and nitpick every little detail. A good way to avoid this is to use free-of-cost text-to-speech software such as NaturalReader. You can simply copy and paste a scene that you want to edit and have this software read it back to you.
4. ProWritingAid: This is a comprehensive tool that highlights not only grammatical and spelling errors but also stylistic inconsistencies. The free version focuses on basic grammar, while the paid version, at $7 a month, offers more advanced suggestions.
5. MS Word: From amateur writers to bestselling novelists, most of you have used Word to write and edit your manuscript. MS Word not only provides a variety of formatting and editing tools but also supports real-time collaboration, allowing multiple users to work on the same document at once.
Phase 2: Writing your book
Most of us decide whether to read a book simply based on its first few lines. It’s crucial to have a compelling opening line or hook to draw in the reader.
A good opening line should not only be punchy and intriguing but should also create vivid imagery in your mind.
This can be done by beginning with a dramatic event to pique the reader’s interest, creating a flashback, or beginning with an uncanny line that makes the reader feel uncomfortable. The first few lines of a book will set the tone for the whole book. Let’s look at a few examples of powerful opening lines:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
– Pride and Prejudice
“I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek.”
– Kite Runner
“About 13.5 billion years ago, matter, energy, time and space came into being in what is known as the Big Bang. The story of these fundamental features of our universe is called physics.”
Many writers begin writing a book with enthusiasm and a steady stream of ideas. However, this initial burst of creativity is often short-lived.
Incorporating details that lead up to a logical conclusion can be challenging. When experiencing writer’s block, many writers include unnecessary details to fill space, rather than build a logical conclusion.
Creating a series of cause-and-effect relationships in a systematic manner is crucial in constructing a logical and impactful conclusion.
A good build-up in the middle of the book leads to a resounding end. In order to make your end sing, don’t skimp on time and come up with a logical, climactic, and satisfying end.
When faced with the challenge of choosing from multiple endings, go for the one that is the most impactful. This varies for different genres since a cookbook or a short story collection can’t possibly build up to a satisfying end. A novel or a self-help book, however, must build up a rhythm toward a logically or emotionally impactful ending.
Phase 3: Editing and publishing your book
Many of you have a tendency to self-edit and proofread while writing your book. While this method may work for some, it’s a good idea to ask a friend or hire a professional to edit your manuscript after it is completed.
While friends may offer useful suggestions, a ruthless, professional critique is what your manuscript needs. A professional book editor is trained to spot cliche lines, minor inconsistencies, and stylistic errors.
Although reputed publishing houses turn out bestsellers throughout the year, there is a surge in the popularity of self-published books.
Traditional publishing includes getting in touch with a publishing house, ideally with the help of a literary agent, to publish your book. Since this is quite difficult to achieve, most people hire self-publishing services to help them publish their book. This method lets you have complete creative control over your work and keep about 70% of your earnings.
Now that you know how to write a book and get it published, we expect to edit and proofread your manuscript soon. All the best for your writing adventures!
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