Have you ever wanted to write a book but have no clue how to get started? Congrats future author — you can absolutely make it happen!
Publishing a book on Amazon helped me earn almost a $1,000 in my first month as a full -time blogger. Publishing is a great side hustle and incredibly rewarding to share your work with readers around the world.
Ten or twenty years ago it was nearly impossible as you had to land a book deal, work with an artist, editor and maybe even a book agent.
But thanks to Amazon it has never been easier to write a book and get it published.
Here’s how I became a published author at 29-years-old and how you can become a first-time author with 10 simple steps.
I started writing my book, Advice for My Younger Self, in 2015. At the time I had no clue what I was doing I was just writing about personal finance and topics that interested me.
It wasn’t until April of this year until it became a published, hard copy and Kindle book. One of the biggest reasons it took so long is because of lack of planning.
I had no structure to writing, no deadlines, and zero sense of urgency. Then in 2017, I decided I had to publish it before my 30th birthday.
I did meet my deadline but still disappointed it took so long to get it published.
Let me help you speed up the process so you can write your book and have it published much sooner!
Write a Book – Step 1: Pick Your Topic
Before we get into the ins and outs of how to write a book you need to decide your topic and format.
Will this book be a guide, story, how-to manual, or a fiction book?
Once you figure out what type of book you want to write about I recommend asking yourself this question: “What do I want readers to get out of this book?”
Do you want readers to help with something in their life? Do you just want to entertain them (in the case of fiction)? Or do you want to share your story with in hopes that it will inspire change in the reader’s life?
There is no right answer, but it’s important to know what your reader’s outcome should be once they finish your book.
Step 2: Table of Contents
Once you’ve found your topic it’s time to create your table of contents. I know that sounds counter-intuitive but trust me, it works.
By starting with your table of contents you will be able to reverse engineer the content and make sure each section will relate to your books objective.
I DID NOT do this and I ended up writing a ton of content that didn’t end up in the book.
Mistake #1: I began writing without a specific purpose. I wasn’t sure if that would be for a blog, chapters of a book or a short e-book. I just wrote when I was frustrated with the financial world. It wasn’t the best idea but it did help me get into the habit of writing every day.
Don’t be surprised if the table of contents is the hardest part of writing a book.
Once you can create the table of contents you will be able to go to specific areas and focus on the writing.
Step 3: Get Organized
In the last two steps, you’ve determined the vision of your book and created your table of contents. Now it’s time to start typing and create your book!
Personally, I recommend using Google Drive to store your drafts and writing samples. Here’s why:
It automatically saves.
Every author’s nightmare is to have their work suddenly deleted. Google Drive saves every few seconds so you won’t have to worry about losing your work.
It’s easy to access
Google Drive makes it easy to share with others. It’s also very easy to access on different computers instead of something like a Microsoft Word doc. By having it on Google Drive you can access at work, your laptop, desktop, etc.
By the time I published my first book I think I had 15 different rough drafts, photos, and tons of other files. Google Drive makes it easy to keep track of all your book resources. Create a new folder for your book to save all photos, edits, Amazon listing descriptions, and ideas in one place.
Step 4: Set Deadlines
At this stage you might be thinking, are four steps necessary before I’ve written nothing other than the table of contents?
I started writing my book in June of 2015 but didn’t publish it until April of 2017.
Is my book a 500-page epic novel? No! It ended up being 116 pages from cover to cover.
This is why I recommend creating deadlines before you begin writing. Otherwise, it’s easy to keep “pushing it out” and procrastinating.
Instead set these types of deadlines:
- First Chapter Completion Date
- First Section Completion Date
- Half Complete
- Rough Draft Number One
- Friends-Family Edit (Rough Draft Number Two)
- Professional Editing (Rough Draft Number Three)
- Final Draft
- Expected Submission Date
Humans need deadlines to be successful.
By having these deadlines you will be in such a great position to actually finish AND publish your book. So many people have drafts of unpublished books because they started and never finished.
Don’t be one of those stories!
When you set deadlines it’s important to be realistic with your time, but make them motivating. Ensure your deadlines are realistic guidelines and are attainable, motivating and exciting so you’re more likely to achieve them.
Once you create your deadlines print or write them out in large font and place them somewhere you can see them EVERY SINGLE DAY. Print out several copies of your deadlines to have them in several areas of your home for consistent accountability.
Step 5: Start Writing!
Now that you’re organized and have a vision it’s time to start writing!
Everyone has different schedules so I don’t think there is a one size fits all approach. My biggest piece of advice to write every day, even if it’s for 30 minutes.
I recommend writing in the early morning when your brain is fresh and creative. You might find that after meditation or exercise are some of the best time to write a ton of great content.
If you really want it you’ll find a way to write something every single day.
Step 6: Editing
Once you are done writing it’s time to edit your rough draft and don’t worry if it really owns up being “rough.”My first draft barely resembled my final, published draft.
As you begin editing you will have a sense of accomplishment for actually creating an entire book. Even if your rough draft sucks you’ll gain momentum for setting a deadline and completing it. Keep the momentum going!
I will say editing was one of the hardest parts when I published my first book. You spend so much time writing it’s hard to get out of your own head (the author) and become a reader.
One resource that helped me was “Apple Voice.” This allows you to highlight the text of your work and have a voice read from your computer. Sometimes it’s much easier to edit when you hear someone speaking your words instead of reading in your head.
Once your “Siri editing” is complete find a friend, significant other or family member you trust to take the first look. They don’t have to have an education degree, but let them know it is a rough draft so don’t be too harsh!
Since you’ve created your content in Google Drive it’s very easy to share with others. Once they return the copy make sure to ask for constructive feedback and begin creating rough draft number two.
After you have completed rough draft number two, ask the same person or another to take a look at the revised version. Rinse and repeat.
Step 7: Professional Editing
The best money I spent on my book was on professional editing. There are tons of editing services you can choose to do but as always you get what you pay for. I ended up using Amazon Createspace to publish my book and use their editing team.
Once I submitted my book I waited around a week to hear back on the revisions and was very happy with how it turned out.
Step 8: Design a Cover
First off, congrats! You’ve submitted your book to professional editing, you are so close to being able to show it off to the world.
While you’re waiting (patiently) for editing to come back it’s time to create your cover art. I used Fiverr to design my cover and absolutely love it. You can use any service you want just make sure the designer has experience with book and e-book covers.
Ask for changes if you need and make sure your cover represents your book perfectly. Despite the saying, people still judge a book by its cover.
Here were some of my previous drafts.
Step 9: Final Draft
At this point, you are SO CLOSE to becoming a published author. The day I got my first round of edits back I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning.
Much to my surprise, the editor gave me tons of praise with constructive criticism sprinkled in. It was at this point I realized how important professional editing was to the book.
Don’t skimp on editing, make sure to get it professionally edited so you can publish your best work.
Step 10: Become a Published Author
You did it!
Make sure you save a copy of your book and cover art in your Google Drive folder. Pat yourself on the back, drink some champagne and enjoy what you accomplished.
A very small percentage of the world can say they have published a book! Now start sharing on social media, spreading word of mouth with friends and create awareness!
Have you ever wanted to publish a book? If so, what’s stopped you from doing it…time, money, or something else?
Let me know in the comments!
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