You may have considered writing a book. You may have put it off for different reasons or lack the motivation to get started. You might be confused and don’t know where to begin, or you may want a few tips on the steps involved. In this article series, we will provide you strategic insight to help you accomplish what you’ve wanted to do for years: write and publish your own book.
And here’s a little inspiration: if you start today, you can achieve a book that is ready for publishing in 120 days or less! That’s right, if you follow the steps set out here, you will have the first draft of your book, edited by a professional, and ready for publishing in the first few weeks of 2023. That is, for a book of 30,000 words, you can have a first draft in 90 days and devote the rest of the time for edits.
But first things first. Here is what you need to consider:
- Find your book idea
- Organize, structure, and plan your book
- Take time to outline your book
- Create an effective writing plan
- Set a goal
- Hire an editor or publishing coach
- Consider your publishing options
In this post, we’ll cover milestones 1 & 2. We’ll cover the remaining milestones in future posts.
Milestone #1: Find your book idea
A book idea is the basic concept of what will be in your book. This can be as simple as “I want to write a book about X” or it could be more specific such as “I want to write a non-fiction self-help book on Y, with Z chapters and Q appendixes.”
The most important part of this process is that you should first decide what kind of book you want to write, before deciding on its contents. There are many different types of books out there, but they all have one thing in common: they contain information that people need or want. In other words, if someone doesn’t need or want your information then it won’t sell!
Once you have that, you can begin thinking about the next stage.
Fiction vs. non-fiction
Remember, if you are writing a fiction book, you will need to think deeply about the main character, his or her challenge, and a lesson to convey. Typically, in a non-fiction book, you need to be clear about a problem, the person to whom you are writing (target audience), and a gripping solution. It’s got to have a point, in other words! Readers do not want to read a book that is going nowhere!
Take a few minutes to consider what your main idea might be. Write it down!
Milestone #2: Organize, structure and plan your book
I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t have a plan before you start writing, then you are going to write yourself into a corner and it will be very difficult to get out of it. You’ll become frustrated and tempted to give up.
Number one: planning.
When I say planning, I mean defining your target audience, knowing what is the transformation that you are aiming for in your book (what do people need), and being very clear on what the theme is for your book. And very importantly, how does it relate to readers?
This may seem like an obvious step, but many people will not have thought about any of these things when they ask for editing help on their manuscripts. And at that stage, they need to go back to the drawing board. Don’t be one of them!
To help bring some organization to your work, take some time to answer the following question:
I (OR THIS BOOK) will help (TARGET AUDIENCE) to (TRANSFORMATION) by (PROCESS).
Here’s an example:
My book helps middle-aged men mature and face the future by solid biblical counsel and examples of others who have thrived in their golden years.
You must know the transformation your readers need from reading this work of yours before anything else! What is their problem? What difficulty do they live with? What are their challenges? What is the solution you are offering? How does the process go? Remember, they are the hero—not you. You are the guide, and, as such, how are you going to help them? They’ve got pain points. You are going to address them! Your experience and research have given you a wealth of knowledge to contribute. And you are ready to apply it. It would help, too, if you’ve gone through that transformation yourself—the same you are expecting of your audience. Think what has altered your career, thinking, habits, or perspective, and begin writing about that!
As you think through these points, your book will naturally begin to form or coalesce around the main idea and the solutions that come to mind.
For instance: You may want to start by your experience of transformation (unless this is a memoir, you are not the hero), the struggles you faced, what you found to be helpful to overcome those struggles. Identify the problem and the solution and then transition to your target audience and their struggles. Take time to build that bridge you and them through empathy. Offer them a promise that by the end of reading your book, they will be well on their way to wholeness, breakthrough, or other transformation that you specify.
You can see how the main idea helps to organize the content. You are ready for the next step.