Updated: Apr 23, 2022
One of my most popular blog posts was about how to write a book in 30 days.
This blog post is a continuation of that blog post. I have finished with the final editing of my premiere novel, "Since When Did Single Mean Sad" (SWDSMS), and now that I have reached this point, I realized that there are many things that I wish I had known while I was writing the book. All I ask? If this blog post is helpful to you, please share it with your social media friends and followers and Join my email list. Now, let's get on with it.
Step 1: Brainstorm
Most likely, if you have decided to write a book, you have an idea of what the book will be about. When I was crafting my novel "Since When did Single Mean Sad," God birthed the idea in me, and I already had the basic layout of what the book would contain. I encourage you to pray to God and ask him to give you an idea for the novel that he wants you to write. Also, here are some questions that you can ask yourself to narrow down the idea.
1. Do you want the book to be fiction or nonfiction? Fiction books are books crafted around a made-up scene, for example, Chronicles of Narnia or The Hunger Games. Nonfiction books are books that are focused on reality. Examples of these books would be the 4-hour workweek and Cookbooks.
2. What is your target audience?: A question to ask here would be: Do you want to write for children or adults?
3. How many words do you want your novel to be? The average fiction novel ranges from 50,000 to 75,000 words, whereas a nonfiction book can be as little as 10,000 words.
Step 2: Make a table of contents/ Chapter sketch
I specialize in talking about nonfiction books. However, these tips all can apply to writing fiction. When I was writing "Since When did Single Mean Sad," I laid out each of the 30 days and wrote down a summary of what I would discuss in that chapter.
Example of a chapter sketch:
Chapter 1 will be about how to love your neighbor as yourself
Main topic: how to love people who hurt you
Stories to discuss: how Jenny hurt me in 3rd grade
In your chapter sketch, you will lay out everything you want to put into your book chapters. At this point, it will benefit you to get as specific as possible. This chapter summary document will become your roadmap.
Step 3: Do some additional research:
At this point, you have a basic outline of what your book will contain and what you want to write in each chapter. Now, you can go two different ways with this. Way number one: This is where you pitch your ideas to people in your target audience (family and friends could be great for this). See what people have to say about your book idea. I recommend that if you do this, you have tough skin. Avoid asking people who are hypocritical about your book because their feedback may harm you. The people in your target audience will be able to tell you if the book caters to them or if there are things they would add. For example, for my novel "Since When Did Single Mean Sad," I would talk to people in my life who are single and around the ages of 18-25.
Way number two: Skip way #1 and go to step 4.
Step 4: Find your Competition/ Target Audience
Whether or not you decide to pitch your book ideas to others, you should do step 4 because it could save you hours and, more importantly, money. The book world is based on categories. Therefore, if you want to sell any books, you need to know exactly which category your book fits in and if there is an audience for it. You could write a KILLER novel about how to dust the ceiling, but if there is no audience for ceiling dusting, your book will collect dust (see what I did there?). So, here is how you go about seeing If there is an audience for your book.
1. Go to Amazon/ Google and type in books about (your topic). For my book, I would type in
Books about enjoying singleness.
2. Write down how many Google/ Amazon search results there are. If there are less than 500 results, you have a fantastic idea that few people have explored yet. Therefore your book is more likely to rank. Or, you have hit a black hole. A black hole is a space where you may publish your book, and it will never see the light of day. One way to know if you have hit a black hole is to visit the first few links about the topic and see how active the community is on those websites.
3. Find your competition. Your competition will be books about the same or similar topics. Finding your competition will not only help you with the writing of your book, but it can also give you cover design ideas. Once you have found your competition, take time to list down at least three competitors. Most likely, if you can name at least 3-to five solid competitors for your book, then the topic has a solid audience. When doing this research, it is essential to note that your competitors do not have to have the same topic as you do, but you want them to relate to your topic. For example, when I was doing research for my novel, I would look for competition in the topics about relationships or Christian journaling, not necessarily books about how to enjoy being single. Sometimes, going broader can be helpful in the book writing process.
5. Once you have found your topic, take a break.
This break can be anywhere from 2-3 days to a week. It is essential to take a break because you need time to get away from your idea. Have you ever been to a store and wanted to purchase an item, but then once you buy it, you wonder why you spent money on it? Well, writing a book can be a lot like that. The last thing you want to do is start a writing project and not finish it because you realize that you were not interested in the idea.
Things to look out for while on this break
How do you feel about your book topic and starting writing? Do you feel any dread surrounding the idea you chose?
6. Start writing
Congratulations!!! You have found a winning book idea, and now the fun can begin. Most people do not make it to this point, and they keep a notebook of 50+ unfinished book ideas ( that is an exaggeration). I can say this because until I completed SWDSMS, I had five other ideas that I had considered making a book about and then decided not to write them. At this point, mentally prepare yourself for the journey ahead. It will be long, frustrating, worthwhile, and possibly time-consuming.
7. Find a writing space and routine
Find your writing space and routine: This is imperative if you want to succeed in the writing process. A writing space is an area where you feel inspired. It can be an area with comfortable pillows and a candle burning or outside amidst the trees. The most important thing about finding this writing space is to make sure that when you go to this place, you know that it is time to work and write. Therefore, I discourage you from making your bedroom (specifically your bed) your writing workspace. Once you find your writing space, it is time to write and figure out how much you want to write. Step 9 goes more in-depth about how and when to write.
8. Start Crafting your First Draft
Writing the first draft is much easier said than done. But, here are some tips you can use to make the process more pleasant.
- Turn off your inner editor/critic: This is CRITICAL. If you do not turn off your inner critic, you will never make it past the first page, much less to the last page. I stopped my inner critic by scheduling out my writing, and when I was done for the day, I would turn off my computer and not write anything else. Your inner critic will only get in the way of your success. Prominent signs of the inner critic include being super specific about grammar (you don't need to worry about grammar in the early stages), intrusive thoughts, and rewriting sentences. The key to success in writing is knowing that your inner critic will always be there, but you have to become an artist by shooting down its toxic phrases and ignoring them.
- Write every day: Have you ever heard the term: The best way to eat an elephant is bite by bite? I wouldn't say I like this phrase because elephants are adorable, and I would not want to put one in my mouth. But the phrase is highly effective. One of the best ways to finish your first draft is to write in chunks. If you have problems with writer's block, you can check out (This post) to find some helpful tips.
- Stick to your chapter outline: Your outline is like your blueprint for your writing, especially nonfiction writing. So if you do not follow the outline, you will get extremely frustrated. When I was 12 years old, I wrote a self-help book. I wrote this lovely and detailed table of contents. However, I went off the roadmap when I started writing and ignored it completely. Needless to say, that manuscript ended up in the trash. Trust your guide.
- For fiction novels, add as much detail as possible: When it comes to making up worlds, it is much easier to overwrite and take out words than going back and adding layers and layers of details.
- Set up your Microsoft word/ Scrivner for success: When I am writing stories, I have to use Times New Roman 12 because Calibri gives me a mental block. Also, I have to make the spacing between 1.5 and 2 because I will never finish if I write in single spaces. Lastly, when I am writing, I do not like to add page numbers or anything until after I finish writing. As you begin to write, find your style and stick to it. I promise that if you do, the writing process will become a lot less stressful
- MOST IMPORTANTLY- Don't give up!! The hardest part of writing a book is pushing through that first draft. It will probably be ugly, unformed, and embarrassing. However, it is the base that you need to make your sculpture. Think of the first draft as the ingredients you mix to make a wedding cake. Once the cake is made, it can be edited and refined by adding icings and toppings. However, without the cake, the final product cannot be made.
You've done it! At this point, you have crafted a great first draft, and now the real work can begin! You are now an author!!!
Did you like this post? Tell me in the comments. Also, do you want a Part II of the self-publishing process?