Holding your published book in your hands is the most fulfilling and amazing experience.
However, the way from writing, and editing, to finally publishing your book is not an easy process.
But having these tips from a published author (me) at hand helps you to not only start writing a book but to finish and publish it.
Whether you succeed in writing and with publishing your book or not, has a lot to do with mindset.
So, before you start outlining and writing your first draft, here are my tips for aspiring writers:
Have a reason why
Writing a book is tough. That’s why you need a good enough reason for writing your book. Without a strong enough reason, you will probably fail to follow through. Writing a book is a lengthy process with not a lot of reward during the writing process. That’s why so many have unfinished manuscripts gathering dust in their drawers.
Before you start writing a book, I highly recommend you answer the following questions:
Why do you want to write a book?
Is it because you dream of being an author?
Is it your childhood dream?
Do you have this amazing idea for a book that’s lingering in the back of your head for a long time?
Do you want to become an expert in your field?
Do you want to publish a book to help you gain more credibility in your chosen field?
No matter what your reason is: your WHY must be strong enough to keep you going and moving forward, especially when it gets overwhelming, frustrating, and tough. It certainly will at some point.
> These are the reasons why I wrote my book Soul-Led. I had more than one strong reason to write and successfully publish this book.
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Have an accountability partner
When I was writing my book, I had an accountability partner.
When I was in the publishing stages, I had an accountability partner.
When I wrote my book Soul-Led, I had the luck of having my friend Elena as my accountability partner.
She was writing and publishing a book at the same time, although in a very different genre.
It’s so much easier to keep writing and moving ahead if you have someone who is, or was in the same boat and knows what you’re going through.
I’m well aware that not everyone who wants to write their first book knows an author. Not everyone has an accountability partner.
If you don’t know anyone, you can join NaNoWriMo (National Writing Month).
Every year in November, thousands of writers join the challenge to write 50,000 words in November. It’s free to join, and you can take part in groups, find writers in your area who can hold you accountable, and track your writing progress. A great way if you feel lonely in your writing attempt.
There is also Camp NaNoWriMo happening in April and July, where you can set your own word count target or assign it to any writing project you want to work on.
Be kind to yourself
The process of outlining, plotting, writing, editing, and publishing is hard. Especially when you’re in the midst of writing your first book.
This is something new and overwhelming, even if you already write articles and blog posts, as I do regularly.
So treat yourself nicely, and be kind. Writing a book brings out all your doubts and insecurities. Your ego will go crazy from time to time. It will trip you into thinking you are not good enough, you can’t do this, and who would even want to read your book.
Don’t believe your ego and your inner critic.
You do something completely new, which pushes you out of your comfort zone. This is a threat to your ego. It wants to keep you safe from disappointment, being criticized, or what others might think of you.
Keep writing when it gets tough
When it feels tough, especially at the beginning and in the middle of the book writing process, writers tend to turn to the shiny new idea for a different book they have in mind. This sounds so much more fun than the book you currently work on.
Don’t fall into the trap of stopping to write the current book, and move on to the shiny new book idea. If you do, you will probably end up having a couple of unfinished manuscripts. Because with every new book you start writing, there comes a point when it gets tough. Push through!
Your mind wants to convince you that the new idea is far better. What you should know is that this new book idea will become at some stage as hard as the one you’re currently writing.
That’s totally normal. Don’t fall for this trap.
Keep writing and keep going when it gets tough. You can do it.
Stop your inner critic
Don’t listen to your inner critic. If you do, you will stop writing at one point or the other. When you write your draft, don’t focus at the same time on punctuation or grammar.
You do it when you finished your first draft. Then you can focus on grammar and punctuation. Don’t try to do it all at once. This is what your mind would like to do, but it stops you from moving on and finishing the first draft.
Now that we covered the mindset part of writing a book, let’s focus on the actual writing process.
Create an outline
Before you start with the actual writing process, you should create an outline for your book. This can be as detailed as you want it to be. Before I start writing a book, I create a very detailed outline.
Create an outline for Non-Fiction
When writing a book in the nonfiction category, you have to take your reader on a journey. The journey here is, for example, to help them solve a problem.
The book is not about you unless it’s a biography.
It’s not about you, it’s about the reader.
You can and should add your own experiences and stories, but they are here to make a point. These stories and experiences are there to make your reader understand how or why they should follow your guidance and expertise.
In my book Soul-Led, I added personal experiences to make a point, but then I focused on my reader’s struggles and concluded the chapters with specific exercises that help them to work through an issue and how to heal it.
To create an outline for nonfiction, the first question to ask yourself is what issue your reader faces. The next question—the most important one—is to ask how you can help them to solve it, and how they will be different when they finished reading your book.
This helps you to figure out how to take your reader from point A (problem) to point B (problem solved).
This should already give you some clue about what you need to include in your book.
The next part is to figure out which stories and concepts you want to add. You can then bring them into logical order and create chapter headers.
The next step is to create bullet points or notes about what you want to write about in each chapter. You can make this as specific as you want.
Create an outline for Fiction Books/Novels
Did you know there is a certain structure, aka plot points, for fiction books?
Fiction books follow a certain structure. All the successful and bestselling authors write their books following a certain structure.
Writing a fiction book can be learned.
I guess you didn’t know that.
If you like watching movies, you may have realized that they follow a certain structure as well.
If certain scenes are missing or are out of order, the movie is boring.
The same applies to novels.
If you want to write a novel, you should definitely read one of the following books and make yourself familiar with the structure of a novel.
The absolute best books to study are the following:
- Save the Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody
- Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to United Story Structure (Helping Writers Become Authors) by K.M. Weiland
- Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland
Create A Writing Schedule
I was able to write and edit my book Soul-Led in 4 months.
By editing, I mean editing it myself and making the manuscript ready to send to a professional editor. As English is not my first language (I’m from Austria), I definitely needed the help of an editor. But even if English is your first language, you will need an editor if you want your book to be professional.
To be able to write my book and edit it within 4 months, I set up a writing schedule. A realistic writing schedule, I must say.
Aspiring authors tend to overestimate the time frame they are able to write and finish their first draft. Not being able to finish the draft during this time frame creates frustration, doubt, and overwhelm.
Before you set up a writing schedule, figure out how often you can write. Is it 5 times a week, 1 day a week? It doesn’t matter how much time you think you have. Be realistic. If you have a job or too many projects to finish, you can’t write 7 days a week for 4 hours each. That’s not realistic, and it sets you up for failure.
It’s better to appoint yourself less time for writing, stick to the writing schedule, and be pleasantly surprised if you wrote more.
Track your progress
Tracking your progress helps you to move ahead when you’re feeling stuck.
Sit down and note how you felt during the writing process. Write down at which time of the day you write best. Some writers tend to be most creative in the mornings, while others love to write in the evenings.
I tracked my progress and wrote down everything I learned and experienced during the writing process. It was gold because it helps me while writing the next books.
> What I learned about writing my first book
When Writer’s Block Hits You
One reason for writer’s block is that you’re stuck and don’t know what to write.
This is where a good outline helps you to move forward and beat writer’s block.
Another reason is that you’re not feeling it. This happens because your ego and mind bombard you with doubt and overwhelm. If this happens, a good way to start writing is to say to yourself: “I sit down for five minutes and write. Only five minutes.”
Oftentimes, when you sit down and start writing for only five minutes, the five minutes turn into a longer writing session. If not, at least you wrote five minutes.
Non-Negotiable: Find an editor
It doesn’t matter how good your writing and grammar skills are; if you want to have a professional book, you need an editor. Make sure you find an editor early on, because some of them are booked out for months, or even years in advance.
Non-Negotiable: Find a Cover Designer
The same applies for your book cover. Find a cover designer in advance. They will tell you what they need from you to create a stunning book cover.
These are my tips for writing your first book. If you have any questions, or topics you would like to learn more about, leave me a comment.
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