So You Want to Write a Book?

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I’m not an expert, but I do love writing.

Occasionally I’ll get asked for advice from a first-time aspiring author. You’ll probably get better advice from a full-time author--for me it has been a hobby and an outlet for the stuff bouncing around in my head. But after seven published books (including my latest that released two weeks ago), I do have some thoughts. Here is how I responded to a recent inquiry:

Writing

  • There are two stages to getting a book published. One is writing. And the other is having a platform so people will want to read it.

  • Writing — this takes discipline and a ton of work. Some authors commit to consistently writing a couple hours a day. That never worked for me. I had to set aside large chunks. So most my writing has been done by setting aside four or five-day chunks where I turn everything off, go away to some place quiet, and just write for eight to ten hours a day. In my heavy writing season, I do this about four times a year. And I have been able to write out a book a year that way. In between writing blocks, I gather articles, resources, write down thoughts as they come to mind, try to organize outlines, etc — so when I write I can be really productive.

  • Platform — in my experience, publishers don’t do a ton of marketing any more. They count on authors and their personal platform to get the word out about a book. So authors that blog regularly, or podcast regularly, or have large followings on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook — those are the authors that publishers are most interested in publishing. It establishes you as an “expert” in the topic of your book. If you don’t currently having people following your writing, you’ll want to start there.

Publishing

  • Self-Publishing — it’s pretty easy to self-publish these days. Do some research on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing — which allows an author to self-publish with very little money. I did one of my books (Vision: Lost and Found) through this platform. The huge advantage is the book can be published quickly, it costs very little up front, and you get to keep more of the profits than with a traditional publisher. The limitation is that it won’t be in bookstores, and no one is going to promote the book for you.

  • Traditional Publishing — it’s hard any more to find a publisher who is accepting “unsolicited manuscripts.” You might find a smaller publisher, or a publisher that partners with authors (meaning you pay them, instead of them paying you), or a publisher that is just starting. Otherwise, you need to find a literary agent who will represent you and help get the word out about your book.  Depending on the genre of your book, you can Google to find some — such as “Christian literary agent” or “non-fiction literary agent” etc.

Getting Started

  • Outline — I typically start with an outline. I know the overall topic, so I begin to develop an outline of how I want to start and end. Then begin to fill it in. Sometimes I write complete chapters (or thoughts) even when I don’t know where they are going to go, but eventually find a place. The very last thing I write is the introduction, and just before that is the conclusion.

  • Ghostwriter — If you have things to say, but you aren’t a writer, you could invest in a ghostwriter. There are some very good writers who will let you give them a brain dump. They basically interview you and then write the content. This can be pretty expensive, but it is a great way for non-writers to write a book.

Oh, and one more thing -- only write if you love writing. You will not get rich as an author. Yes, there are notable exceptions (J.K Rowling comes to mind), but let’s be honest, you aren’t her. It is a crowded industry (Amazon has more than 600,000 titles right now), and it takes a lot to get noticed.

But if you love writing and have an idea--then start writing! Let me know when you are finished--I’ll buy your first copy.

Order “Marked by Love” on Amazon today.

Tim StevensComment