How to become an author—simply put, the answer is by writing a book. Now with 15 easy-to-follow steps to writing a book, that process is made clear and simple. With that in mind, ask yourself this one life-changing question: Should I write a book?
Before you let fear and a laundry list of other excuses and rationales answer that for you, take a few minutes to read this post. Let the writer in you rise up and respond instead.
Learn these simple basic steps for writing a book, then watch yours come to life! Dig in here to see how simple it is to just do it!
Start thinking about writing a book and all kinds of negative thoughts come to mind. It’s almost as if your mind purposely tries to keep you from writing. Every excuse in the book (pardon the pun) rises up to whisper or scream at you, “You can’t write a book!”
Common Excuses & Fears Between You & Writing Your Book (There Are Many More!)
- I don’t know how to write a book.
- How would I even start the project?
- I don’t have time to write a book.
- That would take forever to finish.
- I wouldn’t know what to do with it if I ever did finish it.
- What if no one reads it?
- I don’t have enough money.
So, what does your personal excuse list look like? Take the time to get quiet and write down your thoughts about writing your book. It is quite helpful to know what your battle is!
Before you go very far, look at your list of excuses carefully. Write out a positive response to each one. Let that positive take over your thoughts and conversations. Stop giving voice or thought to the excuses.
If your list includes I don’t know how to write a book, for example, change that response to something like I am learning how to write my book well by following these steps carefully. You may have doubts right now, but this little “trick” works well!
Ignore those voices, those excuses, when they come around. They are based on emotion for the most part and are not true at all. That saying, just do it, really is good advice! You learn as you go, so get going.
15 Steps To Writing A Book
A writer of books has to know how to just do it. It’s always easier when there are specific steps to follow. When you know the steps to writing a book, you are able to track your progress.
It becomes obvious when you are moving through the steps or when the work has become “stuck.” Following the steps keep you focused and moving toward your goal.
In the future, I’ll share more specific information about each of these steps, but for now, it is enough to identify them. That way, you gain some insight into the writing process of your book. Think of these as baby steps for how to become an author!
Step 1: Determine the core message of your book.
What do you want to say in your book? Why are you writing it? What do you see as the purpose of your book? These are all questions that, when fully answered, make the writing process so much simpler and easier to do.
Do you want your book to inspire people? to inform people? to encourage, entertain, teach something? Just begin to think about these questions. Write down your thoughts, ideas, and any relevant information that comes to you.
By taking the time to perform this step, you are determining the focus that your writing will take when the time comes. See, you’re already working on your book without writing a single chapter!
Step 2: Write the core message of your book in a single sentence.
Once you have completed the first step, you are ready to move forward into Step #2. What’s so important about this single sentence? The short answer is everything!
These initial steps for writing a book are all about sharpening your focus—nailing down exactly what your content is about and who your intended reader is. Without this focus, your book is in danger of wandering aimlessly along for 1000s of words without ever making a meaningful powerful point.
How do I boil a whole book down to a single sentence? Think of it in terms of what you want the reader to get as the main takeaway. What is the point of your book? The answer lies somewhere in the work you did in Step 1.
Do more brainstorming, more research, more thoughtful mulling of your book. As you work through this step, the inspiration will come. That one-sentence core message will appear!
Step 3: Determine your targeted audience.
Who do you think would be most helped by or interested in your book’s content? Who is your core message aimed toward? Most any book is more effective when it is geared toward a more targeted group.
Determining your targeted audience is not just an essential part of content creation. This knowledge also plays a key function in your marketing strategy once your book is published. You will be head and shoulders above an author who has not done due diligence in this step!
Consider various demographics such as age groups, marital status, occupation, parent or non-parent, etc. Your book’s message will be directed to specific groups of people. Identify them!
Step 4: Create a list of key points.
Key points are those essential facts, elements, truths, etc., that are required in order for the core message to be fully presented. Think of them as the legs that hold up the table.
It is quite common for those key points to actually become the chapters or the table of contents of your book. Details are not important in this step, so don’t let them distract you from this process.
If you were writing about baking a cake the key points might look like this:
- Mixing Things Up
- Baking & Cooling
Those are key points. No details whatsoever. In our book about baking, these would show up in the table of contents as chapters. (We can give them clever names later!)
Step 5: Create a writing outline based on the key points.
Don’t let this freak you out! People can go bonkers when you use the word outline in a sentence! This is actually getting easier with each step you take. Why? Because you are working with focus, from broad to narrow.
In our baking book example, key point #1 could now become something like this:
a. Ingredient lists
1) Dry ingredients required
2) Wet ingredients required
1) Dry measuring
2) Wet measuring
This example now has enough detail or sub-points added to enable you to write a chapter for this book. And the reader will have the information he needs concerning ingredients and their handling in the cake-baking process.
By doing this with each key point, you are creating the “bones” of your book as well as an effective writing guide to keep your thoughts on track with your core message.
Step 6: Write one chapter at a time.
Once your Step #5 outline is completed, you are now ready to begin writing your book! Begin with chapter one which is key point #1 on your outline. Turn off your internal editor! At this point, we don’t care so much about grammar and punctuation. We care about making points well and maintaining an easy flow of thought.
Step 7: Get feedback after 2-3 chapters are written.
Repeat Step #6 for chapters two and three. Once that is completed, ask someone that you trust highly to read what you’ve done so far. Share with them your one-sentence core message and those first three chapters.
Ask them questions about what they’ve just read. Let them tell you their thoughts and feelings experienced as they read. Gain as much input as you can. This is invaluable!
The information this person or persons share back to you lets you know whether or not you are achieving your writing goal for this book. Check to see if they feel like you are on track with your core message or if you are drifting in places.
In the same way that a pilot does subtle course corrections during a flight, you also make adjustments in the direction your writing is taking. It is a wise and skillful author who will do this!
Step 8: Write with the core message in mind.
Even though you are writing from your outline which is based on your core message, it is an excellent idea to keep that core message plainly in your mind.
To help you do that, write it down on a card and keep it in front of you as you write each time. Each chapter must build some aspect of that core message.
Step 9: Focus on the content as you write.
Simply stated, tell your internal editor to shut up! Almost every time you sit down to write something you consider important, your mind dredges up this ghastly internal editor persona. Glaring over your shoulder and whispering all kinds of negativity in your ears, this ugly mental detractor can become one of your strongest and earliest-to-arrive troublemakers!
Focus on getting your content—your story—out for now. Yes, there is a time for editing and revision, but not right now. Creating and editing are two very different processes. Don’t fall for that temptation to carry out both at the same time.
Step 10: Edit and proof when the first draft is finished.
It is tempting, for a variety of reasons, to never finish the first draft of a book. Part of it usually has to do with the issue addressed in Step #9. That push to write the perfect sentence/paragraph/chapter/book can keep you stuck indefinitely…or eternally!
FINISH the first draft, even if you know it may have issues great and small. “Issues” are meant to be dealt with during the editing & proofing step.
Step 11: Get feedback after writing and editing are complete.
This is the same process as you performed in Step 7 after the first three chapters were written. Here again, you want to gain as much information from your feedback person(s) as you possibly can.
Listen to what is said to you. Look at the information with an open mind. Take to heart what is offered that resonates with you. Ponder a bit longer those things that you don’t quite see.
Use this final feedback to fix those places in the book that seem to be fuzzy or off-track from your core message.
Step 12: Develop a strong title & subtitle
Titles and subtitles sell books. They tell people what your book is about. A strong title will entice the viewer to take a deeper look. It is the first opportunity to hook your reader!
Subtitles reinforce the title, adding another little dimension of what the book is about. I cannot overemphasize the fact that the right choices in this step are very important.
Step 13: Develop cover design concepts.
No matter what publishing option you are planning to use, it is very helpful for an author to have some idea of what that cover might look like. Very often that concept will begin to form in your mind during the process of writing the book.
You don’t have to be an artist of any kind to accomplish this step! I have worked with many people getting their book published. I can discuss this process in more detail later, but for now, just know that even if you have a crude sketch or drawing of what you envision, that works!
Step 14: Make your publishing decisions.
This step is so scary and unknown to a lot of people that it becomes their main excuse for never starting their book in the first place. True, there are many things to learn about this step, but it is not as unwieldy as you think.
With the proper research and even guidance through this phase, your book will easily get into the right plan for you. Do not let this step hold you back or intimidate you from writing a book!
Step 15: Formulate a marketing plan to get your book into the hands of your targeted audience.
Once your book is in the publishing process, now is the time to formulate and implement your marketing plan. How are you going to get your book into people’s hands?
Some of this is quite dependent on the type of publishing you decide to do. I’ll say more about this later, but the bottom line is this. In today’s author/publishing environment, the marketing falls to you.
That is not bad news! That gives you control over the destiny of your book and its message! And there are excellent options available that don’t have to cost you the usual arm and leg that go into most conventional advertising!
Check in with my friend David, blogging coach extraordinaire. He’ll set you up with a beautiful, first-rate website and the coaching you’ll need to learn how to use it for marketing your book(s) to your best advantage.
There you have it!
These 15 steps are both simple and easily accomplished. If you are willing to give your book the time, discipline, and attention that it deserves, you will become a successful published author!
“Should I write a book?” Yes indeed, you should! Start right now with these steps to writing a book!
Please check out my complete writing services here to learn how to get my assistance in bringing your book to life. I love to help others bring their dreams into print!
Thank you & God Bless!