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Do you have a book that you have dreamt of writing but never followed through?
Writing a book can be a wonderful means of creativity and self-expression and a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise.
Take these three steps to begin your journey to start writing your book today.
Come Up With Your Book Idea
The first step to finding an idea for your book is to snoop around, be nosy and do your research.
This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people, when beginning to write, jump straight into writing their book without any prior preparation.
By doing some research, you will narrow down your focus and get a good idea of what you want to write about.
For example, if you are writing a book set in Naples, you should visit that area if you can and speak with the locals.
Start With What You Are Passionate About
You could start with something you're passionate about or that you have particular knowledge about.
Dig deeper. Pick something that interests you but maybe less obvious.
For example, if you have a background in child development, you could write about how to raise happy kids. If you're an entrepreneur, you could write about your business failures and successes with advice for our younger generation.
Other questions to uncover more ideas are what can you teach others? What specific skills do you have? What hobbies or interests do you have that you could turn into a book?
Draw From Your Personal Experience
You could think about your own experience. Everyone has doubts and insecurities, but not everyone will share those feelings with others.
Suppose a topic you're considering writing about is something that you struggled with personally. In that case, it will be easier for you to write about it because you will be able to provide insight that is both personal and practical.
For example, if you had to deal with the loss of a family member at a young age, what did that experience teach you? What lessons can you pass on to others? Your past struggles and how you overcame them are a great source of inspiration to others.
Pay Attention To What's Timely And Relevant
You can use free tools like Google Trends and Ubersuggest to see what people search for online to get ideas. Take a look at the popular blogs, books, and articles in their field.
- What do you like about them?
- What makes them unique?
- How can you add your own voice or angle?
For example, if you are interested in writing about parenting, you can check out the bestselling books in your genre. Then see how your voice or angle is different. The publishing market is crowded, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for your book if you can find a unique angle.
The idea is to create content that stands out, but also fits into what people are interested in reading about. You want to do your research to determine if there is enough interest in the subject.
Find Your People
Talk To Family and Friends
Talk to friends and family about your book idea, and listen to their feedback. Be receptive to their ideas and suggestions, even if they aren't exactly what you have in mind. You may discover a new angle or perspective that presents a new and better idea for your book.
Once you're convinced that you have a strong idea for your book, it's time to get to work.
Seek Out Your Tribe
Find people who share your passion and knowledge. You can learn a lot from other people who are more experienced in the subject. You could join Facebook groups or online forums.
For example, if you have a passion for cooking, find a group of fellow cooking enthusiasts to exchange recipes and ideas.
Look for opportunities to meet people who share the same interests as you do. For example, if you are passionate about travelling, find a meet-up group or other event to discuss your shared interest with others.
Consult A Professional Author
If you have a specific book idea, you could reach out to a professional author who has written a similar book. If the author is on Linkedin, you could send them a message and politely ask for their advice.
Don't feel intimidated if the person is more successful than you are at publishing their books – this is why they're willing to speak with you! They may be able to offer you valuable advice about writing a book.
By speaking with another author, you can gain insight into the process of writing a quality piece of work that is interesting and practical for readers.
You could ask them how they go about researching their books, or what they find most challenging about writing a new book.
Finding a mentor is one of the best things you can do as you begin to research your idea for a book. It takes time and effort, but it will be well worth it when someone with writing and publishing experience is helping you along the way.
Many authors are more than happy to help aspiring writers who share their passion and interest.
Checkpoint Before You Start Writing
If you have completed steps 1 and 2, great job! This means you should have a decent idea of the topic or story you want to write about.
Here are six questions that you need to figure out before starting Step 3, where you begin to write your book.
1. Is this book going to be fiction or non-fiction?
Do you enjoy reading fiction or non-fiction? This may seem obvious, but it is important to determine which type of book you want to write.
Which genre is most appealing to you? Writing in either genre is entirely doable, and your personal preferences will play a major role in determining your writing style and the tone of your book.
Ask yourself if you can write a book that tells a story or is on a topic that you have a unique angle or perspective on. Take the time to figure out what type of story you like writing best.
Pros of Writing Fiction Book
- You can dream up your own characters.
- You can use your imagination to create new worlds for your characters to live in. If you're a creative person who loves telling stories, then writing fiction may be suitable for you.
- The market for romance novels and young adult (YA) novels is huge – there are always people looking for stories of this type.
Cons of Fiction Book
- Writing a fiction novel is challenging. You need creative skills and writing skills to make your book successful.
- You need to come up with a great plot and interesting characters. It takes time to create a novel that is engaging for your readers. Even though you may have a great story already, it can be difficult to fill hundreds of pages without boring your readers.
- If you choose to go the traditional publishing route, you will need to find an agent or publisher who believes in your book before getting it published.
Pros of Writing Non-Fiction Book
- Your book can be based on your own life experience.
- You have the authority to speak on specific subjects, because it is based on your first-hand experience or research.
- You can also to draw upon other people's expertise, as long as you credit them properly in the book.
- People are always looking for books on specific topics, which makes it easier to sell your book. For example, if you are interested in history, there is an entire market for people who like reading about the past.
Cons of Non-Fiction Book
- There is a fine line between writing fact and fiction, especially in the non-fiction world. You might get sued for defamation of character if you write about someone without proper research or proof.
- You also can't dramatise events or create dialogue, which fiction writers get to do.
- It is quite common for books to become out of date. If you are writing about current affairs or trends in the industry, this will cause problems for anyone who reads your book and expects it to be relevant and up-to-date.
Author Corner: James Patterson
James Patterson is the perfect example of an author who has written both fiction and non-fiction books. Alex Cross, the Women's Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, and Ali Cross are only a few of his legendary characters and series.
Patterson by James Patterson (The President Is Missing). Bill Clinton (The President Is Missing) and Dolly Parton (Run, Rose, Run) are just a few celebrities who have written books in collaboration with him. Watch him on Masterclass sharing about how to write a bestselling novel.
2. Who is the target audience for your book?
Knowing your target audience is extremely important to write a quality book that engages readers.
Your book will be delivered differently for each reader, depending on their age, interests, and level of expertise with whatever you're addressing.
For example, if you are writing for a young adult audience, you will need to incorporate the appropriate vernacular they understand and appreciate. Consider how your tone of voice will be similar or different from adults.
3. What would be the length of the book?
It's important to consider the length of your book (i.e. the word count) before you start writing.
The length can make a big difference in your publishing process.
In book publishing, word count is the standard measure of length in book publishing, and editing costs are frequently divided by word. The more words you have, the more editing and proofreading costs you'll pay.
If you want to make physical copies of your book, the longer book will also cost more to print. This article discusses the average length of books of different genres.
4. Is your book going to be a solo book or part of a book series?
A book series is when the same author writes multiple books about the same topic, character, or story. Common genres for a book series are fantasy, mystery/thriller, and science fiction.
The benefit of creating a book series is that you can build up your readership audience.
If you put out several books in the same series, you'll keep your readers coming back for more! The downside to writing a book series is that you have to make sure the books are similar in content, style, and writing.
5. Does your book require illustrations?
If you are writing a fiction book with characters or settings, illustrations will give them life.
Even if your book is a non-fiction book, illustrations help to keep the reader's attention and make your book more appealing.
In most cases, unless you are a professional illustrator, you will need to hire one. Whether you are writing a fiction or non-fiction book, your illustrations must be relevant and of high quality.
6. Are you publishing your book via the traditional publishing or self-publishing route?
The traditional publishing route is when you have a literary agent who will shop your book to different publishers.
This process can be lengthy because the publisher must decide if your book is a good fit for its publishing houses.
The publisher will also need to determine if the book fits current market demands. It's possible that your manuscript will sit on the publisher's desk, unread or given to an intern who won't do much more than go through it quickly.
The self-publishing route is when you get your book published and distributed on your own.
ReadWriteDaily recommends this route as you have more control over the book's storyline and content, and it is much easier and less costly than the traditional route.
You can do this by using a self-publishing platform like KDP or Barnes & Noble.
Create Your Book Outline
Don't Start Writing Until You Have An Outline
Once you have done your research and decided on a topic, it's time to start with an outline for your book. This is a great time to brainstorm the chapters or sections in your book.
For instance, if you are writing a fiction book, you can write out the different scenes that will take place for each chapter.
If you are writing non-fiction, jot down what subtopics or points you want to cover in each section. An outline will help keep you focused on your main idea(s) and help with the editing process later.
Insert All Your Ideas into The Sections Of Your Book
Next, make brief notes next to each section header on how you want to expand on each one. A good tool that helps with this process is Trello, an online app that allows you to create boards directly linked to Google docs.
You could have a board for every chapter in your book and use it as a reference when writing the actual draft.
This will allow you to have a clearer idea of the structure and flow of your book, and make it easier for you to fill in the gaps.
Write The First Draft
Once that is set up, you can start writing the first draft. This will likely be the longest part, so make sure you have plenty of time to dedicate to it. Don't worry about making it perfect; get all your ideas and inspiration out onto paper.
One writing habit that I recommend is to have a daily word count goal of at least 500 words every day.
This will ensure you don't lose momentum and stay motivated. I really love this desk timer where I can see the timer counting down for my 30 or 60-minute writing sprints.
Once you're done with this step, you'll want to go through and adjust or add parts that you feel need more detail or explanation.
One other writing tip to keep you motivated is to join a writing group that meets regularly. You could also turn to your writer's group for inspiration or feedback on your drafts.
After going through and editing the entire book as much as possible, it's time to send it to a professional editor for feedback.
This is extremely important because they will give insight into things that may have been missed the first time around. They will also help show sections in your book that need more attention or clarification.
Author Corner: Andy Weir
Perhaps you've heard of The Martian, which was first published as a free serial on Andy Weir's website and then went viral on Amazon Kindle. He had made the Kindle version available at 99 cents (the lowest price it could be sold) and topped Amazon's bestselling list of science fiction.
Andy Weir's success story is an excellent example that it doesn't matter how long your book is; focus on telling a compelling story with dynamic characters.
Your book is a journey. It's a path of self-exploration and reflection, with all the highs and lows that come with it. And when you find yourself lost in your writing process or unsure about where to go next, remember to go back to your intentions of writing a book.
- Why did you want to write a book?
- How would you feel if this book got published?
Then, revisit your book outline and start writing on the chapter that you feel most strongly about – wherever that may lead you. You will be astonished at how quickly fresh ideas spring forth as soon as they see daylight on paper!
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