Did you always want to write your own book but had doubts about whether you had it in you to become a proper writer? Maybe you love writing but have no clue on how to get started on a book. In this article, we will tell you what you need to do and what the success factors for becoming a popular author really are.
Our step by step instruction will lead you from the first step of finding an idea through to the writing process and to the important step of becoming published. You will learn what you need to consider when planning and writing a book – and what you should avoid if you do not want to ruin your chances of finishing a promising manuscript.
For many, it is nothing but a dream: to hold your own book in your hands. But does it have to remain a dream? Maybe you already had one or the other idea for a book in your head. The problem is that you are not sure whether you have enough talent to be a writer, and you also do not know where to begin. You most likely have the motivation, all you lack is the right strategy.
You need to learn how to get started and how to turn your dream into a goal. Have people ever told you that writing is something you either have a talent for or not? That you cannot learn how to write? Forget what the naysayers told you. Writing is something you can learn just like any other trade.
Tredition offers authors a detailed instruction for writing with useful tips and success factors. It will help you to make your dream of writing a book come true. You will also learn how simple and easy it is to publish your book.
1 Before writing the book: Read, be inspired, and collect ideas
Many famous authors were eager readers and spent many days in libraries or reading at home. They got lost in the worlds their favourite authors created and read their favourites again and again. A large number of popular novels was inspired by the works of others. And that is not a modern occurrence. Even the so-called classics like Shakespeare got some of their ideas from older sources. A modern example is the epic story of the “Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, who has no issues with admitting that other writers like J.R.R. Tolkien inspired him to become a writer himself.
What does this mean for you? It should inspire you to read – and then read some more. But do not read mindlessly. Every now and again ask yourself why you love certain authors and what they do to make their stories stand out from the rest. How do they write action scenes, how do they write dialogue? How do they build their world and how do they bring their characters alive on the page?
Once you have decided that you would like to become a writer yourself, one of your first actions should be to get a supply of notebooks and pens. You will need them. Always keep one notebook with you when you go out because many good ideas can come to you while you are out and about. No matter how good your idea is, they can be like dreams. You will think “It is so unusual, I will never forget it! I don’t have to write it down!”, but then you wake up in the mornings, and you can’t remember a thing. Don’t risk it. Write down ideas as soon as you have them.
Another notebook should be your constant companion when you read. Use it to write down quotes and things that inspire you from the books you read. Also write down what kind of stories you are drawn to and which genres you usually read. What fascinates you and why? Is this something you could write about, too?
It is a bit different when it comes to non-fiction, of course. In the case of non-fiction, you should ask yourself why a certain author makes a topic more interesting than someone else who writes about exactly the same thing. I am sure you have made the experience that one history book can put you to sleep while the other one about the same era is just as exciting as a novel! Try to see the difference in writing styles and make sure that you do not eventually make the same mistakes as the writer who puts readers to sleep (unless you want to write a book that helps people to get rid of their insomnia).
Go to your local library and browse through their shelves, or visit book stores. Inspiration is everywhere. There is such a huge selection of books that can help you to get your creative juices flowing and find the idea for your own book.
2 Create a writing routine
What do Haruki Murakami and Stephen King have in common apart from being successful writers who sold millions of copies of their books? They have a writing routine. Murakami gets up very early every single day and writes. No excuses. Stephen King does not stop until he has written a certain amount of pages every single day. No excuses.
You can look at a variety of popular authors and will find that almost all of them have a writing routine. The routines can look very different from each other. Some write first thing in the morning, some write late a night, others write at noon. But it shows one thing: Writers write. Just like bakers bake and teachers teach. A teacher can feel down and frustrated but still does her job. A baker might be in a bad mood but still bakes. If you want to be a writer, you need to show dedication to your craft.
Create a realistic writing routine, i.e. one that you will be able to stick to. Try to plan at least one hour of writing into each day. If you have time to watch soap operas and play silly games on your smartphone, then you have time for writing. If you already start making up excuses in your head, then writing might not be what you truly want to do.
Writing is like all other jobs: Good results need hard work and dedication. You need to turn up. Your book will not write itself on its own. It might sound tough – but that is just the way it is. If you want to have a chance at becoming as successful as Stephen King, you need to work like Stephen King.
3 Find your genre and your topic – discover trends, don’t chase them
Be creative when it comes to finding your topic. Ask yourself: What would you and/or your friends like to read? Try to look at topics from the perspective of a reader. You don’t have to write vampire love story number 10,000 or the next Harry Potter. Trust in readers and give them something new to think about and enjoy. You will hardly manage to write Harry Potter than the original author, and you won’t be able to write Murakami like Murakami does. Be yourself. Be inspired, but do not copy others.
A general rule is that you should take enough time to research your topic – no matter whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Have a look at what the competition in your chosen genre is doing and whether you can learn something from them. Ask yourself which books fall into the genre you want to write in. Then check what you like about other authors and what you could do better than them. Also ask yourself of which kind of book there already are too many. Readers might slowly start to get sick of certain stories.
Topics for stories can be found in a variety of places: look at the news, read magazines, and listen to conversations to find out about current trends and trends that are upcoming. There are also many blogs and conventions that are all about the trends of the future. Keep yourself informed and look for topics that could be the next trend in literature. Readers enjoy new, creative ideas and love learning something. When you research, you simply have to turn on your brain cells and become like a seismograph for new trends.
Research can be a lot of fun. You could visit technology conventions, or exhibitions in science museums. Information and inspiration can be found everywhere, you only need to keep your eyes open.
4 Learn creative writing
Yes, writing can be learned. Not everybody has a natural talent for writing, but that does not mean that you have no chance to become a successful writer. Even talented writers will benefit from learning more about creative writing.
You can choose to learn from some of the best books about creative writing, or you can enrol in a course about creative writing (either online or at a local school/university). These books and courses will teach you how to turn an idea into a book, how to structure a book, how to write different kinds of books, and much more. You can even take courses or read books about certain genres and what makes them different from others.
You will also learn about how to deal with writing blocks and other common problems writers often face. It can be very useful to know about these things before you actually have to deal with them – and often the knowledge alone can help you to avoid certain writing problems.
You might have a great idea in your head, but it is all for nothing if you do not have the right tools to tell it in a way that engages your audience – and fortunately, this is something everyone can learn.
5 Create a concept and structure for your book
Plots, story lines, thematic structures. It might sound a little complicated and like a lot of work. Fact is that many authors fail when it comes to turning their ideas into a book. The problem is not a lack of motivation but a lack of structure.
You need to have a well thought through and detailed structure for your book BEFORE you start writing. Imagine it like the skeleton of your book. You will use it to flesh out your story and it will always help you to know where which part of the story needs to go. A structure will help you to keep your plot logical, plan connections, and to not lose sight of where you are going.
In the case of a novel, your structure is an overview of what is happening with your characters, i.e. where are they, what are they doing, etc. In a non-fiction book, your structure will help you to have a logical order, so you don’t have a chapter about history from the 14th century followed by a chapter about the 21st century, and then the 2nd century.
6 Your writing to-do list
Now you have an idea, a routine, and an outline/structure for your book. The next step is to divide the writing process into smaller goals. Smaller goals will help you to keep motivated and to not feel overwhelmed.
Your goals need to be realistic, i.e. achievable within a certain time frame. You could, for example, turn each chapter of your book into a writing goal. Set yourself a deadline for each chapter, i.e. one week. You can also divide the chapter into smaller daily steps. It is up to you and the book you have in mind. Just make sure that you have deadlines that are neither too stressful nor too lax.
Put it all down in writing – and don’t forget to reward yourself a little once you have managed to tick off some of the goals.
7 Keep your audience in mind while writing
What are your own expectations when you are looking for a good book? Most likely you want it to be entertaining, teach you something, or surprise you with an unusual plot. Keep in mind that you do not only write for yourself but also for an audience of (hopefully) many readers. A good idea is to imagine what your ideal reader would be like. Feel free to give him or her a name and certain characteristics. Think about what that reader would expect, what she/he likes, and what would keep that person glued to the page.
Then write your book as if you are telling the story to that person. Or as if you are trying to teach that reader something (in case you are writing non-fiction). This will help you to find your own voice and to better connect with your target audience. Don’t forget that it is also good to sometimes shock your reader by not giving them what they expect. George R.R. Martin is a good example for this. Readers of his novels often do not get what they want – but yet they always come back for more.
8 Keep marketing in mind: if nobody knows about your book, nobody will buy it
It is never to early to start thinking about marketing for your book. The biggest part of your work as a writer is obviously writing books – but marketing is also important if you would like to be able to call yourself an author. There is even the term authorpreneurship which defines writers as the heads of a small business, i.e. their own book business.
In the past, marketing has been the job of the publisher. They took on the risk to publish your book, and also wanted to make sure that their investment pays off. It all changed in the era of self-publishing and social media. If you publish your book on your own, you will need to create your own writer’s platform, which can include a website, a blog, and a variety of social media profiles.
It is a good idea to start thinking about what kind of marketing would be most effective for your book. Marketing tools range from giveaways, entering book competition, building a reviewer network to buying ads on social media. There are hundreds of tools out there and you’ll need to check which ones work best for you.
You are the author of your book which means that you are the person who knows the book best. Use your knowledge to create a marketing plan that is effective and will reach as many potential readers as possible. Each book needs its individual marketing strategy, so you can’t just copy someone else’s.
Tredition also offers you some help with marketing. We offer a marketing bundle that will help you to get started and reach many new readers.
9 Make your book shine – editing and proofreading
Have you ever cursed a writer because they had a great plot but constantly misused the words “their” and “they’re”? Or “your” and “you’re”? Have you ever been fascinated by a side plot but then the author never picked it up again and you never found out what happened to some minor characters that had exciting plots? Have you ever been annoyed because a book did not display nicely on your Kindle?
Then you know how important editing and proofreading is. Never publish your first or even second draft as it is. You will never be able to find all of your own mistakes. There is a good reason for the existence of professional editors and proofreaders.
It is not enough to ask a teacher to look over your book – unless they are an expert in the genre you are writing and know about what counts when it comes to editing. Also keep in mind that there are different kinds of editing. Choose wisely what you spend your money on.
Editors will find logical mistakes in your story or non-fiction book, and will also be able to give you advice on what you need to improve to make your book more enjoyable. Editors know what they are looking for – you should take their advice seriously unless it completely feels wrong to you. Then you could always get a second opinion.
Proofreaders will check your book for spelling and grammar mistakes. This is very important. Readers are terribly annoyed by spelling mistakes. Check out reviews on Amazon. You will find that authors with spelling mistakes get a lot of bad reviews. Once a reader knows that you do not take spelling and grammar seriously, they will never buy one of your books again. There is a lot of competition on the market. You cannot afford to NOT pay good proofreaders and editors.
10 Get some reviews before you publish your book
You are almost there. Your book is as good as it can get. But before you publish it, you should get some real readers to read your book. These are usually called your beta-readers. They can be friends and family – but keep in mind that they are often too scared to be honest. They do not want to hurt your feelings. You might only get praise from them – and some might just pretend to have read the book!
A good idea is to get some strangers to become your beta-readers. You can find them on Facebook pages, via Twitter, and blogs. Beta-readers can be found easily. They are eager readers who are happy to give their honest opinion in exchange for getting a book to read for free. If there is a lot of negative feedback, you might want to work on your book again.
And then you are ready for publishing!
We hope that our guide to writing your own book has been helpful to you. If it helped you to get started and work your way through all the steps, we congratulate you! It is not easy to go all the way to the finish line.
It is our aim to help new authors to get their books on the market. It is easy and fast to publish your books with us on multiple channels (from eBook to printed books). If you are still looking for a home for your book, then have a look at the options we offer here (hier bitte entsprechenden Link einfuegen).