How to write a book in 5 simple steps
What does it take to write and publish a book? After successfully publishing 4 books Danielle shares her tips.
There was a time when writing a book sounded daunting to me. I really wanted to write but the idea of writing a book can be overwhelming when you think about the sheer volume of work it entails.
What does it take to write and publish a book?
The experience will be different for every author, but here are some of my tips after successfully publishing 4 books. These lessons can apply to aspiring writers or authors that have already written a book outline or even a complete manuscript.
STEP 1 – DEVELOP CONCEPT
If you’re wondering how to publish a book, you probably already have a concept in mind. A word of caution here, before you dive into the writing process, make sure your concept is strong enough to be turned into a book. It’s important that your idea is a good fit for a book, and that it’s actually something readers will want to buy!
A concept is usually something that you’re passionate about, or for non-fiction books, an area of your expertise. A concept can be a book, but it could also mean starting a series of content, like a regular blog, podcast or You Tube video series. Producing regular content in this way helps you to test your content (and demonstrate proof of concept in your pitch), build an audience, as well as strengthening your own regular creative practice.
No matter what, find a concept that you’re passionate about. If you’re passionate about it, it will be a lot easier to write when the time comes.
Takeaway: The first step is not usually writing the manuscript, but coming up with a strong concept.
STEP 2 – CREATE PROPOSAL
If your concept is good, then you’ve probably found the right book idea. Now it’s time to start writing a proposal. This is your sales pitch to an agent and publisher.
Often new authors jump straight into writing the manuscript, but agents and editors usually prefer to receive a proposal rather than the full manuscript, so that they can use their expertise to shape the book with you.
A good proposal will help you shape your thinking so that you can go deeper into your understanding of the book, the chapter structure, the reader, and current market trends.
Open your proposal with a hook. Grab the editor or agent’s attention in the first paragraph and keep them reading.
For non-fiction books, your proposal should answer these questions:
· What is the working title?
· Who is the reader?
· What problem does this book solve?
· What titles already exist in this genre?
· How did those titles perform?
· What is your angle?
· What makes this book different?
· What are the chapter outlines
· Your style? (include a sample chapter)
· Why are you the best person to write this book?
· How do you intend to market the book?
· What is your social media reach?
Takeaway: Start thinking like an agent and publisher will make the publishing process easier and more effective.
STEP 3 – PITCH IDEA
Once you have written a proposal, it’s time to pitch it. Usually your pitch will be to prospective agents, but sometimes you might be invited to pitch directly to the publishers. Pitching your idea is an important part of writing and publishing a book.
If you haven’t done this already, now is a good time to research agents and publishers. Make a list of the agents and publishers that work in the genre you are writing. Follow them on social media, get to know what they are talking about. Attend events and develop relationships.
Find out who in your network is already connected with the people you want to speak to and ask for introductions.
Look at previous authors that agents have represented, get in touch and ask about their experience. Usually an author with a positive experience will be happy to talk about it!
Reach out to agents directly and find out if they are taking on new authors.
Once you have found your agent, they will work with you to edit your proposal (if needed) and then pitch your idea to the publishers. Your agent will negotiate an advance, and make sure your publishing contract is water-tight.
Takeaway:A proposal is the foundation for a best-selling book, take your time to make it stand out from the crowd.
STEP 4 – WRITE MANUSCRIPT
The deal is done and now you have a commitment from the publishers it’s time to write the actual manuscript!
This will involve a lot of writing, and is where your proposal really comes into play, because you can write to the structure you created in the proposal and for the reader you had in mind.
Most agents and publishers prefer a typed manuscript (some stipulate it in the contract). This can be a simple Word document, or you can try out different writing tools such as Scrivener.
Find a regular rhythm that works for you to write, let people around you know that you are immersed in writing a book, and then sink in and enjoy the creative process.
During this time and once you have submitted your manuscript for editing, remember to keep generating content and expanding your reach.
Takeaway: Don't just focus on the writing process, also think about how to market and promote your book.
STEP 5 – LAUNCH BOOK
This is where all your hard work pays off and you get to share your book with the world – congratulations!
Not all publishers offer an official book launch, but you can create your own event to launch and promote your new book.
Other ideas to market your book include:
· PR on radio and TV
· Features in magazines and newspapers
· Place a booktrailer on YouTube
· Put a free chapter download on your website
· Identify bloggers who will review your book
· Book tour at booksellers
· Speak at festivals and literary events
· Host online events and talks
· Send out influencer copies
· Get 50+ Amazon reviews
· Keep sharing social media content
Takeaway: Most publishers will have a short window to PR your book, you will have a key role to keep up with the ongoing marketing.
There’s a lot of work involved in writing a book. The key to getting published is to keep going, no matter what stage you’re at in the process.
For the inside scoop on how I published 4 books in 4 years check out this interview with Danielle and Literary Agent Jacq Burns.
For writing support and events join the London Writers Club.
Click here for Pause publications written by Danielle North.