If you want to know how to write a book, it starts with having a writing process
All good writing starts with an idea and a plan.
When you sit down to write anything, the first thing you need to have is a good idea.
It doesn’t matter if it is a blog post, an article, a short story, a fiction book or a nonfiction book, you need to draft a plan from your before you start writing.
Writing an outline is the first part of writing a book. It doesn’t need to be overly long, but you should note how your plot will begin, develop, and end.
Don’t worry about all the small details. Keep it to a few paragraphs, or perhaps one page at most.
For some writers, noting rough chapter titles helps them clarify how the novel or non-fiction story will develop in a logical progression.
Your plan is sometimes the hardest part. But once you’ve written the framework for your book idea, you’ll find it helps enormously when it comes time to write your first draft.
If you have more than one book idea, write an outline for each one.
It takes a long time to write a book. If you can be clear about which idea is going to be the best, you can then devote your writing time to that one project.
Writing books, or even short stories takes time.
But once you’ve started on chapter one, allocated yourself a daily word count and made it a writing habit, you know that you will finish writing your story.
But before you start … STOP right here!
You have a great plan, but it is missing one extremely vital step
Too many authors now rush into writing and publishing a book.
How often have I heard this?
“I wrote a book, but no one is buying it. I did a free ebook giveaway and all the social media stuff on Facebook and Instagram and everything. What’s wrong with people?”
People? Who are these people that have something wrong with them?
There is nothing wrong with people, but there is definitely something wrong.
The problem is in thinking that everyone will want to buy your book. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
Very few people will be interested in your book. But if you can imagine who these few people are, you then might have some chance of success.
When you finish writing your book outline, ask yourself this simple question.
Who will read want to my story?
Your answer will involve demographics and your book genre.
In other words, will teenagers want to read your book about a World War Two fighter pilot? Will women between 45 and 60 want to read your book about a teenage vampire?
Who will be interested in reading about overcoming depression or surviving divorce? Millennial males?
You want to write a romance story, but what type of romance reader will it be for?
Hot erotic, cosy romantic mystery or historical period romance. Will men between 18 and 45 rush to read it?
If you write fiction and you can’t identify the very specific genre of your book or the gender and age of potential readers, you will waste a lot of time and money promoting your book to – everyone.
Take a hint from Kindle book scammers
Yes, that’s right. Look at what the crooks on Kindle Unlimited are doing, and why they are raking in so much money.
Do you think they target biographies and memoirs, travel, religion & spirituality, poetry, and war novels?
No, they target erotic romance, hot erotica, science fiction and teen paranormal fantasy. Why? Because these are popular genres with lots of potential readers and book buyers.
Not that you want to become a scammer. But it is a very good lesson in knowing and then focussing on your target market and readers.
You must know who you are writing for
You don’t have the advantage of being a bestselling author like Stephen King, Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling with her Harry Potter brand.
But readers do buy good books, and a lot of self-published authors have had a bestselling book. Think here of E. L. James.
The difference between success and failure in writing a book can be as simple as knowing who you’ll write it for and imagining your potential readers as you do.
It will focus your writing, your characters, and the type of vocabulary you use.
Writing a book and then trying to decide if it is general fiction, contemporary fiction, science fiction or romance is a sure sign that a writer has no idea about who will be interested in reading the book.
Then, when you finish writing your book and it goes on sale, and no one buys it, you will ask, “what’s wrong with people?”
Knowing your genre and readers will help your writing process
Understanding that you are writing in a specific genre and for a defined demographic helps you in so many ways.
If you plan well, it will be so much easier to write your book.
But when it comes to publishing, it will be much clearer to you which two genre categories and seven keywords you will choose to best suit your book.
By doing this, you will help your book’s discoverability and saleability chances.
When you plan your book launch, you will have a much better idea of how to answer the how, where, when and why questions.
For example, if your book is about house training a puppy, make contact with some pet blogs and see if you can guest post, or even advertise your book. Do the same if your book is a memoir on surviving loss or a self-help about migraines.
When your book is on sale, your planning will help you target your book promotion more precisely.
If you run a Facebook Ads campaign, you can focus down on the specific gender, age, interests and location.
You will be wasting a lot of money on a campaign broadly targeting the US and UK, age 18-65, interests-books.
If your book is a Tudor romance, you might try UK, South England, female, age 40-55, interests-period romance books.
Similarly for social media in general. What use would there be in promoting a book about preparing for retirement on Instagram?
If it is a political thriller set in current times in Washington, Facebook would be a waste of time, but Twitter could certainly be a winning strategy.
Knowing who your potential readers are, is a huge advantage.
Now start writing your book
Now that you have your story outline finished, and you know your precise genre, write your story.
But from word one, visualise your reader in your mind. Imagine that they are sitting in front of you and you are telling them your story.
If you are writing a teen paranormal romance, make a picture in your mind’s eye of three or four teenage girls listening intently as you tell them your tale.
If you are writing a cosy mystery, imagine your reader, with legs curled up on a sofa, and a box of chocolates.
When you can vividly imagine your readers, it is amazing how rarely you will strike a bout of writer’s block.
You will know exactly who you are writing for and it will help you turn into a true storyteller.
All writers create a mental image of their imaginary characters, so why not imaginary readers?
Sure, it’s a mental thing. But if you can grab the attention of your imaginary readers, you are on your way to hopefully get the attention of real book buyers when you publish your book.
Stay motivated and get it done
Don’t aim for perfection as you write.
Use your motivation to write and forget about agonising over grammar, sentence structure or even your word count.
Just follow your outline plan and get your story out of your mind and into words on pages.
It doesn’t matter if it takes you weeks or months, simply focus all your energy and attention on getting your words written.
Finishing your first draft is the most important part of writing a book. No book has ever been published without one.
There will be plenty of work to do after you have finished. A second and third draft, editing, line editing, proofreading and beta reading just to start with.
But all of this work is mechanical. It is not creative.
The only creative action in writing a book is in writing your first draft.
So don’t allow your creativity to be handicapped by thinking about all the mechanical aspects such as passives, cleft sentences, commas or run on sentences.
Stay motivated and just write, write, write.
When you finish writing your first draft of your manuscript, you will have written a book – for your readers.
How to write a book and then sell it
1. Start with a great idea.
2. Turn your idea into a detailed outline.
3. Look at your book outline and decide who is going to read it.
4. Decide on your very precise genre.
5. Start writing your book, but always with your target reader in mind.
6. Prepare a launch plan before you publish.
7. Promote your book to its defined target market after you publish.
Further reading: What Is Point Of View In Story Writing?