Table of Contents
“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
— Isaac Asimov
Writing a book is once in a lifetime experience. The ones who have written might claim it to be easy, those who are in mid of completing their book might call it tedious, and those who haven’t yet started might call it a journey yet to be explored. Here’s a definitive guide for new authors on how to write a book.
A Definitive Step-wise Guide To Writing a Book
1. Why you thought of writing a book?
Contrary to the common belief that an idea crosses your mind and that becomes the seed for a best-selling book, writing a book comes into the picture very late after going through a whole process of writing, erasing, scrapping, and then rewriting. Most of the new writers who become authors would agree that the idea of publishing a book comes when you understand that even after resting for some time, your story still has freshness.
This is the answer and the first step to writing a book. Try to find the why and keep questioning it as a critic, reader, and writer to finally come to terms with your purpose of writing a book.
2. Find your reader
There are two ways to see it. Some say as you find your niche you must also find your reader. While others also claim that identify the topics that interest the readers and then identify the one with the most number of readers. This number includes statistics based on age, demography, culture preferences, language preferences, trending topics, etc. What helps here the most is your purpose in writing a book. Is it to inform the about history, present, or future or for educating the masses? Is it for the love of fiction or the need for non-fiction storytelling? A little survey can take you a long way!
3. Study your niche well
The next step involves finding a niche and knowing it in-depth. Book writing is a vast and extensive process. With a single copy ranging from 70,000 – 100000 words, it’s very important to thoroughly understand the niche in which you want to write and how it can be shaped into a good engaging book. Amazon and other e-commerce platforms are a good source to begin understanding the niche. This can also be done based on the reader’s choices and preferences.
There is also a chance to combine multiple ideas and bring them together in one book by highlighting the correlation between them. So, studying the niche well helps to stay focused and not divert from the main topic. It is very obvious to get sidetracked with so much information available and so many ideas pouring in. Keep analyzing the ideation and the content creation process while writing to stay close to the niche.
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4. Mind mapping
Mind map your thoughts, the ideas which have been left loose till now. Understand that mind mapping can be done for multiple ideas and then one of them can be picked up as the storyline for the book. While one gets finalized the others serve as story banks that can be revisited later for ideation and conceptualization. For this, you can also use speech-to-text software that also enhances your creative skills in connecting the dots and expanding ideas.
5. About the book
After devoting enough time to researching what your niche is and the target audience, when you jot down the story outline, there are a few things you need to establish at this point. These can be, identifying the bigger picture of the book, the geographical setup the book would cover, the relatability, the characters, the essence of narration the book would adapt to, and answers to all those questions as a writer that must have crossed your mind till now. This becomes your abstract, your blueprint along with the mind map to follow for the rest of the process till publishing.
6. Begin with the first draft
Here, do not mistake the first draft with the opening line of the book. The first draft is more like a white canvas with many colorful dots of paint on it, while the pattern is yet to be revealed. The first draft is called the first draft because it comes into life when you are in mid of your research work related to the subject and you write whatever your mind could process during the research phase. If at all we can create a graph out of it then you would see that the beginning can be too hyped with a stagnant following later and vice versa. The first draft is more like a customized encyclopedia about a topic or event.
The first draft and the research on the topic work parallelly for a very long time. But, the research must reach a stopping point beyond which your focus should shift to writing more and researching less. Rather than continuing with the research with the hope of getting more information, it’s advisable to leave a “find more” tag wherever you feel need more concrete information to enhance your narrative. Focus on grammar but do not focus too much on the choice of words while drafting the first.
7. Mark a deadline for the draft
Even if it is the first draft, you need to set a deadline so that you can decide when to rework the first draft and proceed to the next step. Also, marking deadlines is a more professional approach to your work. Some might call it an obstacle in creative thinking but most experienced writers believe that it helps you to reduce unwanted research and uninvited thoughts.
8. Give your first draft a break
When you are working on a book, it is bound to happen that the ones that are marked important might be missing from your first draft. Further, you might have changed the course of your book midway through the first draft itself. This is the time to let your first draft rest and you take a break to unwind. While your mind is subconsciously thinking about the book you need to connect yourself with the real world. This step is very important for a writer to practice throughout the writing journey. If you feel the need to rework the first draft by now, then go back and check the mind map you had prepared a few steps back. Recollect your thoughts, and ideas, and sit on the first draft with more clarity than what you had when you began drafting it.
9. The technical second draft
“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
You call it writing the second draft or editing the first draft, it’s almost the same. If you have a different thought on this then let me explain the above statement. While you are writing your first draft is a free flow writing with not much attention given to the sequencing, compartmentalizing, and structuring of the content.
The second draft is more technical because the tools which you have been using till now for writing would be put into use here line by line, para by para. At the end of the second draft, you might surprise yourself by bringing new elements, changing the beginning of the book, and getting leads to write more on certain topics. Beyond these things what is really looked after here is the inner meaning of the book should remain intact, no matter how many synonyms or grammatical corrections are involved here.
If the first draft looked extensive then the second draft would seem exhaustive. Because you sit with a preconceived thought about the corrections and alterations.
In the end, you might find that the second draft has only 50% of the first draft, it might go to 20% too. Like this, there would be many cycles of drafting, editing, and rewriting as a writer.
10. Editing and proofreading
You might write several drafts and do the edits even, but a professional editor and proofreader are a must. You might feel that the editor won’t understand your narration the same way you see it. Yes, it’s partially true but what the editor knows is, to make the entire written content crisp, more impactful, catchy, and not seem redundant. And all this an editor can do because the editor sees the content from a third-person perspective. As they know that the ultimate purpose f writing would only be fruitful when the book will make a grand sell.
Similarly having an eagle-eyed proofreader would save a lot of your and the editor’s time in correcting spell errors, basic grammar errors, and others.
11. The title
Are you wondering why I have mentioned the title now, at this point? The reason is just like your first draft, the very first title also may come under the scrutiny of likeability and adaptability. By the phase of final editing, you as a writer are more confident about the title and thus you must lock it before sending it for publishing.
12. Book Publishing
This step sounds more like a finale! But it isn’t. In reality, there is another cycle of events that follow once the publication house and the deal is sealed. We would discuss those things separately later.
But here it is important to know that when you are approaching a publishing house or are looking into self-publishing, setting a budget is the first thing here. The budget would include the charges of editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and any other assisting work along with the writer’s cut and the publishing house’s share. This should be decided on a per book basis, or a set number of books depending on the deciding parties.
For this post, the publishing house asks for a manuscript and a writer should be ready with that beforehand.
As the book goes under printing, it defines the entire process from where you started to now seeing your book getting a shape. While these steps sound big, the bigger step that follows is marketing the book.
The journey from writer to author has just begun!
- Write in an active voice
- Use tools like Grammarly for effective writing
- Empathize with your reader
- Research well
- Always question the purpose of writing
- Accept writer’s block whole-heartedly
- Let your story sit for some time
- The first draft is not the final
- Go by the flow and not by technical aspect while writing first
- Be open to feedback
- Take inspiration, give motivation, and keep the originality to yourself
“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”
— Annie Proulx
To conclude, I would say go for it and start drafting your ideas for your book. It’s a time taking process, and you would keep discovering the art of writing a book as you proceed further. The strategies, studies, and thoughts would only get a life when put on paper.
Ans: It depends upon your convenience. Hand-written drafts are more personalized, at the same time writing on a word file is faster comparatively.
Ans: Grammarly, Scrivener, 99designs, and Ingramspark are a few tools that are quite helpful in writing a book.
Ans: Apart from everything related to effective writing, a very important aspect that makes a writer an author is book publishing. While talking with agencies, publishing houses and agents know your rights well as an author, beforehand.
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