How To Write A Book:
Tips and Writing Strategies

Learning how to write a book is surprisingly easyÑand just about everyone has a book in them! The two most crucial factors in your success are time and money. Do you have the time to write your book? If not, do you have the funds to hire someone to write part or all of it for you? Aside from selecting your topic, these are two of the most important decisions you'll need to make.

Choose Your Topic

Choose potential writing topics by creating a top ten list of the subjects you know best. Next, narrow your focus by selecting the simplest topic to write about. The choice you make will be a key factor in whether or not you'll successfully complete your project. Choose a topic that will flow easily out of you to ensure that you'll complete your book with the least amount of struggle.

If you have a business, consider writing a book that draws from your knowledge and experiences in your field. This is a great way to build your credibility and also increase your client base.

If you're writing a cookbook, for example, you can position yourself as an authority in a particular area quite easily. It's best to occupy a nicheÑfor instance, easy home cooking or Middle Eastern delicaciesÑunless you have a clever hook on a broad topic.

If you're writing a children's book, consider writing in such a way that could enable a series of books to emerge. After your first book is successful you can build a brand around your characters, the setting in which the story takes place, or model the series after a particular set of behaviors, morals or deeds that could carry over from book to book.

Propose to Yourself

Once you've chosen a topic, write a book proposal to yourself. Give the book a title and subtitle. Write three or four brief paragraphs that describe your book. Write one paragraph about who will buy your book. Then sleep on it.

The next day, reread your proposal and revise it, and then list the chapters of your book in the table of contents ("TOC"). This is just a starting point, so don't worry about making it perfect. Now that youÕve outlined your preliminary TOC, write a brief paragraph that describes what a reader should expect to find in each chapter. Follow the KISS model (Keep It Short and Simple).

Research Your Competitors

The next step in how to write a book is to check out your competition. Research the top 10 to 20 best-selling books on your topic or in your genre. Purchase the books, or check out them at your local library. (These books will come in handy later when you contact the authors for blurbs or testimonials as part of your marketing efforts.)

Read online reviews of the books and authors. Note any shortcomings from those reviews in a document titled "Competition." Modify your personal book proposal and your TOC to show how you differ from your competitors.

Organize Your Book and Track Your Time

There are many ways to organize your book. The most efficient way is to create a folder in your word processing program and give it an abbreviated name of your book's title. If you have 15 chapters, create 15 documents inside the folder with each titled by chapter. This is where you also will keep your book proposal (under "Proposal"), rough table of contents (under "TOC"), and the competition document (under "Competition").

Next, choose the chapter that inspires you the most and begin writing. Keep track of your time on this maiden writing voyage. Once you've written a few pages, count the words (your word processor may have this feature under the "Tools" category). Note the time it took for you to write those words. This will help you set up weekly writing goals. If you have 10 hours a week available and you write 500 words per hour, that's 5,000 words per week. Not bad!

Just Write

Don't worry about making your first draft perfect. This is one of the golden rules on how to write a book. Write freely and resist the urge to edit as you go. Once youÕve completed your writing session, take a few minutes to read over your writing and make corrections. Then stop.

Before you begin your next writing session, read what you previously wrote (unless you plan to write a different chapter). These book-writing tips will save you a lot of time and headaches!

Be The Expert

If most areas of your topic have already been covered by other writers, think of ways that you can be different. The reviews of your competition will help, but research also works.

Create a list of questions. Contact experts. Conduct interviews (this looks great on your "Credits" or "Acknowledgments" page too). Research online or at the library. Make your writing remarkable, valuable, and authentic. Be the expert.

Editorial and Market Evaluations

After you've written your first two or three chapters, itÕs a good idea to have an editorial evaluation performed by an editor who is familiar with your topic or genre. The editor will provide feedback on your writing style, organization, completeness, and other areas that will help your book. Unfortunately, many authors skip this important step on how to write a book and end up rewriting their entire manuscript.

A book market evaluation conducted by a qualified marketing specialist can help you evaluate the market potential of your concept. This evaluation will give you a sense of the markets where your book will most likely sell and in what quantities. The evaluator also will provide general comments about your book's readability from a consumer's perspective. This invaluable feedback may cause you to adjust your writing to capture a larger market share. That's a good thing!

Next Step

If you need more help, our self-publishing professionals can offer excellent resources for brainstorming book ideas and conducting research, or simply offer you more tips on how to write a book. One of our qualified book editors can evaluate your manuscript at a reasonable cost, or you can choose to have one of our experienced marketing professionals evaluate your book's market potential.

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