It took me over six months to finally start writing my book. I talked about it. I planned things around it, and I found many excuses why I couldn’t start on a specific day. Once I started, I became so excited I wanted to make up for lost time. As a result, I ended up rushing through the first chapters and had to re-write almost everything. In the end, I didn’t win but lost time. Looking back now, I realize that I just didn’t know better.
That said, I wish I would have known these 10 tips I discovered throughout my author journey.
When you want to start writing your first book, take these 10 steps to be successful:
#1 What’s your story?
Do you know what your book should be? Is it fiction, non-fiction? Who is your audience? What’s the story you want to tell? These questions are a good test to know if you are truly ready to write a book. The clearer you can answer these questions, the better your content will become. Take the time to answer them. These answers are the first step of your marketing strategy. Think it through before you put words to paper. Your marketing strategy will keep you on track in terms of the content. These two things have to be aligned.
#2 Find your editor. Find your partner in crime.
If you are a first-time author, you need somebody who knows better than you. And someone who keeps you accountable, motivated, and who will give you unbiased feedback. Finding the right editor is like interviewing an employee for a job or getting to know a person before dating. the two of you need to get along. You need to make a good team. Ask around your network, google editors in your town, or just ask me.
#3 Draft the outline.
Your outline is your story of your book in bullet points and headlines. Don’t overthink this part. It will probably change along the way, but it’s a good tool to get you started and also to give your editor an idea of what you are planning to do.
#4 Stop talking and start doing.
It doesn’t matter if you have 10 minutes to work on your book or 10 hours. Sit down, write on a piece of paper, type it in your phone, or whatever your preferred tool is, and start writing.
Just do it. Step-by-step. Minute-by-minute. Word-by-word.
#5 Sleep on it.
Let it sit; don’t share with anybody immediately. Let it go and give it time. Do something else. Wait a day or two, and review what you’ve written. You will feel either more confident or decide to change things up.
#6 Read it out loud.
This is a tough test, and it feels awkward when you do it for the first time (and it will always probably feel awkward). If you read it out loud, you will see immediately what you like and what you don’t. It’s magical.
#7 Don’t be afraid to share and get feedback.
Let your friends and anyone who would be your potential audience read your first chapter and ask them what they think. This can only help you make it better. It takes courage (I know), but it will make you even more confident or help you change things for the better. In addition, it’s helpful to have at least one other person besides your editor give you continuous feedback throughout the writing process. Professional authors/writers have what they call “street teams” to provide feedback.
#8 Write, write write.
You’ll have good days and bad days. At times, you’ll feel like you are in a flow. Other times, you’ll have to drag yourself to your computer or notebook to even write five sentences. But that’s okay. Keep doing it. Stay accountable. It’s like a marathon. You will get there. Just keep writing.
#9 Step by step.
The publisher question, the details regarding marketing execution, e-book files, the cover, the title, the price and the launch party. All of that is exciting and means work, too. These thoughts might be in your head already. That’s okay. Let them wander, but don’t allow them too much time. You need to have your written content first. This is what it is all about. Everything else can wait and will come automatically. Focus on the content first. And the better the content itself, the less you will need to worry about the other stuff.
Writing a book is a journey. You will discover that you can find inspiration for you book almost everywhere, although there might be places that work even better for you to be creative. Choose these places, get inspired, and continuously fuel your inspiration. That’s the most important. Sometimes that means talking about your book project with strangers. Other times it means to take a break and do something else, and, more often than not, it means to just knock it off and make it your priority.
I can’t wait to read your book!