One of the questions I get asked the most is How Do You Write A Book?
There’s one simple answer to this question and that is: Write! Write and write some more. If you’re not writing you’ll never be an author, it’s that simple. Granted there is a lot more to getting your book published and it takes great tenacity, determination and consistency to get your book completed but if fingers and keyboard never meet, it will never happen.
Mostly the reply I get from this is “but where do I start?” Again, and I don’t mean this to sound sarcastic in any way but the truth is, start where all great things start; at the beginning.
OK, maybe I am being a little sarcastic in my answers so let me break it down a little here for you.
One: What is the story you want to tell?
The first thing you need to do is determine what story is it you want to tell. Is it a biography? Is it fiction? Is it factual? Without knowing what it is you want to write, the words you are looking for will never materialize. So rule one is, determine what it is you are writing about.
Two: Structure your story.
The second thing you need to do is to break the story down. Every story has to have a beginning, middle and end. For instance, a biography would have to say what was life like before, what happened and what is life like now. To engage a reader, you have to take them on a journey.
Three: keep to the subject.
When writing my first book, The Twelve Step Warrior, I decided that the story I wanted to tell would be about my descent into alcoholism. To do this I structured it in such a way that the reader would first get an idea of what my life was like before I fell into the alcoholic state. I painted a picture of how life was for me as a young child. Secondly, I talked about pivotal points in my life that led up to my drinking career. I knew that to engage the reader I had to be brutally honest. If I wanted to get my message across I had to include everything that was related to my alcoholism.
Four: Make time for your writing.
If you’re going to write a book, you have to have time to actually sit down and write and the best way to do this I have found is to do one of two things. Set yourself an allotted amount of time to write on a daily basis and stick to it (consistency).
The other way is to give yourself a word count. Let’s say 2000 words per day and when they’re done you stop, returning the next day. This isn’t a bad idea because if you think about it, the average book is around 60,000 words. So in thirty days you could have that amount of words written but, do bear in mind the editing process. A 60,000 word book will probably be edited from a word count of around 80,000 words.
Five: Enjoy writing your story.
There is nothing worse than sitting down and writing something and not enjoying it. This is a sure fire way to fail. What’s the point in writing about something if you’re not enjoying it! I remember saying this to someone who told me they wanted to write a book but couldn’t stand sitting at their computer to get the words written down. They described it as boring. I asked them “why are you writing it then?” ” I want to make some money” came the reply.
Listen I told him, if you’re only in this writing game for the money you better get out now. The truth is, writing books just for the money will never get you that best seller that has the potential to make money. The most high grossing of best sellers are written from the heart. The money, in most cases only comes as the after effect of the aching fingers, the early mornings, the late nights, the tears and the love that is poured onto every page. If your aim is to write a book to make money, the chances are it will probably end up costing you money.
Seven: Get a good editor.
Getting a good editor that understands the story you are trying to tell is without doubt one of the most essential steps you need to take to make a good book great. Often when we write a book, it becomes very personal to us and we are reluctant to let anyone else tell us how it should read or what it should say. A good editor is someone who can help you see your story from the readers’ perspective and help you express what it is you are trying to say in many different ways that will engage the reader and help them understand your message. A great editor will do this not by changing your story, but by presenting you with different points of view and different ways to express the story you are trying to tell. A good editor is worth their weight in gold.
Eight: Be tenacious.
No matter who’s writing or what that person is writing, there will always be a time when you want to give up. Don’t! there are millions of books on book shelves around the world simply because the author had the tenacity to just keep writing. But there are even more books in the world that are unfinished because the author lost the will to write. Be determined, enjoy what you are writing, remember it’s a process. Just keep writing and sure enough you will, without doubt complete the book you set out to write.
Nine: Get published.
This is the stage where many people balk. The publishing process is normally a long drawn out affair that can sometimes take up to a year or so to come to fruition, but don’t let this deter you. Keep knocking on doors, sending emails and approaching publishers. If what you have written is a story worth telling, someone somewhere will pick it up – just don’t give up. The best way to do this is to again, set aside an allotted amount of time for sending your book out, writing emails and preparing your manuscript. Most publishers will need three sample chapters; one from the beginning, one from the middle and one from the end. Make sure you read everything about the publisher before you approach them to determine whether these are the right people to approach in the first place. It’s no use sending your biography to a publisher who only publishes books about science, unless of course you are a scientist.
Self-publishing is becoming more and more popular with sites like Amazon popping up daily. The digital market place such as Kindle are making books more and more accessible to the self-publisher and readers around the world. Self-publishing is relatively easy to do these days and after some good research and hard work, most people can do this themselves. Many authors are finding that the self-publishing route is the way to go. In the end, it’s all down to personal preference and remember, if your book does well as a self-published piece of work, there’s nothing stopping one of the big publishing houses stepping in and giving you that dream book deal all authors crave.
Although there are no hard and fast rules in writing a book, there is without doubt one rule that must be followed. If becoming an author is what you crave, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE and WRITE some more.
One of the questions I get asked the most is How Do You Write A Book?