First Steps From Idea To Writing Your Own Book

Whatever your job, project, or dream is, if it involves writing a book then this may seem like an overwhelming task.

first steps for writing a book

How do I even begin? What should I work on first? How do I structure it? How do I get people interested in my work or my story? Can I reasonably expect my book to get published and become the New York Times best-seller that I dream to be?

Questions like these invariably spring up in the mind of most people trying to figure out how to go about writing a book and not knowing where to start can keep you from moving on and starting your writing project.



Most people who visit this site want to start off by learning about:

How do you begin? First steps towards your book

How to prepare a book outline

10 ways to get ideas for your book

Tips for writing fiction

How to write a novel in 60 days

How to get published

Book reviews: Getting them done right

However, in order to get you off to a good start, let’s start by taking a good look at what you want to accomplish.

Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Writing Your Book

Why are you writing a book?

Let’s begin with the most important question to ask yourself before writing a book: WHY?

Is it because you have a story to tell? Do you want to leave something behind for future generations? Do you have an important message that you would like to share? Do you want others to benefit from your expertise in a particular subject? Do you want to stir some emotions?

After you think about why you want to write a book, ask yourself if a book (i.e. a monograph, as it is called in library and information science), is the right format for what you intend to do. Or would an article in a magazine be best? Or your own website or blog?

Often, it makes sense to do a combination: you can have your book published and then create an accompanying blog so that people can discuss the ideas in your book. Sometimes ideas for writing new books can come from these discussions as you get an idea of what other things are on people’s minds and what other problems people have that you might be able to solve.

What type of book do you want to write?

What type of book do you want to writeWhen learning about how to write a book you may also want to ask yourself what it is you want your readers to walk away with after reading your book.

Do you want your readers to have the Ultimate How-To Manual for Creating an Award-Winning Rose Garden? Can you make up spellbinding vampire and ogre tales that you know people will not get enough of? Have you always been fascinated by quantum science or Machu Picchu and want to research further into the subject and share what you find? Or do you want people to have a sneak-peek into your fascinating life through your memoir? Were you once Lady Gaga’s chauffeur and want to dish out some juicy gossip?

There are many types of books that you, as an author, can choose for your particular project:

Popular Genres in Fiction: As the name implies, Fiction books contain stories and information that are either wholly or partially untrue.

• Depending on the length, literary works of fiction can be:

Novels (usually between 70,000 to 150,000 words, except for Young Adult novels, which are usually 40,000-80,000 words, not counting the extra-long Harry Potter books),

Novellas (between 17,500 to 40,000 words),

Novelettes (between 7,500 to 17,500),

Short Stories (generally up to 10,000 words), or

Comic Books (books where the story is illustrated).

• Depending on the topic you wish to write about, your book can fall into one of these:

Action and Adventure Chick Lit Children’s Books
Crime Erotica Fantasy
Historical Fiction Horror Humor
Military and Espionage
Mystery Offbeat
Religious and Inspirational
Romance Science Fiction
Short Story Collections Thrillers and Suspense Young Adult


Popular Genres in Non-Fiction: If you are presenting your narrative and information as facts then it is said to be a work of non-fiction. If you are considering writing non-fiction, then most likely it will fall into one of these categories:

Art Biography and Memoirs Business and Finance
Celebrity and Pop Culture Entertainment Cookbooks
Cultural and Social Issues Politics Food
Gardening Home Decorating and Design
How To
Health and Fitness Parenting
Pets Psychology Relationships and Dating
Religion and Spirituality Science and Technology Self-Help
Sports Travel  

Who is going to read and write the book?

cartoon of a child reading in a treeAnother important thing you need to consider when learning how to write a book is who you are writing for. Is it for the wanna-be Sherlock Holmes-type? Children between the ages of 5 and 8? Women coming out of a bitter divorce? Men trying to get washboard abs? Hopeless romantics? History buffs? Beings seeking spiritual enlightenment?

Try to match your narration and dialogue style, as well as the overall tone of the book, to your audience so that they feel more engaged throughout the book.

Also, most people don’t know this, but many books out there are not written by the person whose name is on the cover. Sometimes a person may have a great story to tell but not the right set of writing skills to produce a good book. If that person does not want to wait until they acquire those skills or have no interest in doing so, they may hire an outsider to do the work for them.

Ghostwriters, as they are usually called, often take over book-writing projects for politicians and celebrities who may not have the time or skills to write a best-selling book. However, any person can hire a ghostwriter to help them write their book for them and this way maybe also get it to the market faster. If you choose this route, though, be careful not to lose your “voice” when another person tells your tale. You want to make sure it still sounds like you.

How will you get your information?

Where are you planning on getting your information from? Even if you are thinking about writing a fiction novel you probably won’t pull everything from your head. Descriptions, characters and settings that are well-researched can add credibility to your story.How will you research your book

If, on the other hand, you want to write a nonfiction book then the right due diligence will become the base of your writing project. Thankfully, the Internet has put a wealth of information at our fingertips (just be careful when you pick your sources!). And if that is not enough, you can head to the local library, buy related books online, speak to professors at your local schools, interview the experts, watch documentaries.

They don’t call this the Information Age for nothing!

When do you want it to be available?

You should have at least an idea of when you want to complete your book and have it published. Having a deadline, even if it is just set by yourself and for yourself, is crucial in keeping you on track. So sit down and seriously think about how many hours you can put in each day for writing. Then figure out how many pages you want to write each day and commit to that.

There will be times when you will work slower and other times when words just seems to flow effortlessly. That’s ok. The important thing is to build the habit of writing everyday (or at least on most days of the week), so you don’t lose the momentum.

Where will the book be published?

Next you should think about where you would like to have your book published. Would you like it to be a physical books people can buy at a bookstore or online, or would you like to write an eBook that people can read on their laptop, computers or mobile devices?

Either option has its own set of pros and cons.

Having a physical book published and sold in bookstores can be a dream-come-true for many writers and can represent the ultimate goal. However, it can also be harder to sell a book this way and reach a broader audience, depending on the topic, niche and the amount of time and money you are willing to spend in marketing. You also have the hassle of having to find the right literary agent for your book, who will then have to find a publisher interested in publishing your book, and everyone in the middle of commercial publishing gets a piece of the pie, leaving you with just morsels after you finally sell some copies. However, as every one knows, if you hit it big, you can hit it REAL big.

Finally, self-publishing becomes easier and much more cost-effective when you publish an online book. This saves you from lots of the headaches mentioned above from publishing offline. In addition, we all know the number of people who prefer ebooks is growing at a faster and faster rate and better and newer devices for reading them springing up at every corner. This is why a book in electronic format is rapidly becoming what more and more people are starting to prefer.

Talk about a dream-come-true…

So what now?

Well, now that you are in a good starting point and have the basics down for how to write a book, continue to read our other posts to start drilling down on each of the book-writing steps

Also, if you believe your writing skills need improvement, there are tons of courses you can take (a lot of them online). And don’t forget to read, read read. If you do not have time to read, you do not have time to become a writer.

Useful resources:

A List of Book Genres

Best Selling Authors of the Decade

List of Best-Selling Books – Wikipedia

Filed in: First Steps

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