Writing (and publishing) your first book may not be easy, but it certainly isn’t impossible. In fact, all of the proper resources to learn, write, and get published are readily available for anyone who has the willingness to forge ahead and make it happen.
5 Steps to Writing (and Publishing) Your First Book
All you’ll need to know is where to start, when to ask for help, and how to finish. Every year more than 600,000 books are published — many of them self-published. Make this year, your year. Here’s how:
Start With an Idea or Theme
This seems like a no brainer, but many early writers tend to just jump in and write without the slightest idea of what they are trying to say. While you don’t want to run the risk of procrastination by overthinking, it’s important to know what’s at the core of what you’re trying to give to the world with your book. Create a theme. What are you trying to say? Are you trying to teach us something? Reveal a hidden truth? Even if you are writing a biography or memoir, you still need a theme. This will save countless hours of writing, and really help you avoid getting discouraged along the way.
No matter what type of book you are writing, take extra time playing with different themes that you can build your book around. Make a list while thinking about how you can build characters, or stories, around the ideas you write down. These characters and stories will serve as the players and situations that will ultimately make up your book. Once you’re comfortable with your ideas, you can move on to the next step.
Create a Writing Roadmap
I cannot stress this enough. You need to have a plan! Believe me, I’ve tried freestyling it. When it comes to completing projects, and doing so at a high quality clip, 100% freestyle doesn’t work. What does a plan look like? Well, you’ll have to decide what works best for you, but here are the elements of your roadmap:
- Create a workspace. This is where you’ll write everyday. If you want to mix things up, that’s fine, but I don’t recommend it. The goal is to create an environment (or environments) that are distraction free and conducive to you staying focused. You want to establish a groove, and by creating a familiar environment to work, you’ll begin to train your mind to turn on the creative juices once you sit down at your desk, throw your thinking cap on, and turn on the classical music.
- Create a writing schedule. Decided on a time that’s best for you to sit down and write (your book) for several hours a day, then stick to it. If you don’t work on your book everyday, that’s fine, on the days you do, stick to your schedule. It works.
- Create deadlines. Give yourself something to work towards.Goals are essential to progress, so deadlines are a must. Making your deadlines will not only keep you motivated, but it will also give you a better understanding of your ability. With better understanding comes more control, and with more control comes confidence. Confidence is the key to success.
Get Early Feedback
Don’t be afraid to talk about your project. Create a small group of people that you can trust as constructive critics. Friends are fine, but be sure you choose people that you can rely on to be honest and objective. Ask questions to get answers. I admit, I tend to keep my ideas to myself until I’ve gotten past the conception phase. But, once I’ve nailed down my concept or idea, I’m not shy about wanting to know what people think about it. Is it interesting or intriguing? Does it make sense? Will people even care about what I have to say?
The key thing to remember about this is not to get discouraged if you hear things that you don’t like. Welcome all criticism as constructive. You don’t have to change your ideas for other people, but recurring themes in criticisms may be a sign that you should make adjustments. Your personal group of critics should understand what your goals are, this way you can use the early feedback to keep you on the right track.
Stay the Course
The sad truth is, each year many people begin writing their first book, and for whatever reason stop before getting to the end. Some get frustrated with the writing process, others quit after their first case of writers block or first taste of criticism. There’s even a small group of people who actually finish their book, only to hesitate when its time to publish for the world to see. Don’t let this be you!
Stay the course. If you truly want to finish, then there is nothing stopping you! Over 80% of the population wants to write a book, but less than 1% actually does. Some things that can be done to keep yourself motivated and are:
- Follow your roadmap but remain open to inspiration, after all, it’s YOUR book!
- Stick to just writing one chapter/section per day OR per writing session. This will keep you from burning out. Use the extra time to relax your mind.
- Believe in yourself but remain open to criticism. If your main goal is to reach people with your words, then don’t be afraid to hear how others interpret what you are trying to say. If it seems like everyone is missing the point, then maybe you need to be more clear.
As the finish line approaches, stay smart. Don’t veer off course or stray away from your roadmap. Don’t worry about proofreading or major rewrites until you finish your first draft (unless completely necessary). Once you complete your first draft, give yourself a few days before going back for a re-read. It’s very important to take a break from your work and clear your head before coming back. You’ll want to begin your second draft energized and ready to go. It won’t be easy, but with focus and determination you can do it.
Repeat the same process of writing and working with your group of critics until you are satisfied with the final product. Then, it’s time to get published.
The Extra Mile (Get Published)
I’ll create a separate post soon about the joys of self-publishing, so be sure to check back periodically. For now, check out Amazon’s CreateSpace for a look at one of the easiest ways to get your book into online stores and in front of millions.
If you want more information to boost your confidence, here are two more great articles on writing your first book: