How to write a book? For some, it’s as simple as sitting down and doing it. There are people gifted with the ability to easily put into writing the vast worlds they have created in their imaginations. For others, it isn’t such a straightforward process and they require a writing template.
Now, before you get discouraged, know that this is completely normal. Some of us require a bit more structure before we actually sit down to write. This structure not only frames our thoughts better, it actually also helps us expand on the idea we have even further.
How to write a novel? Below are some useful tips you might want to keep in mind.
How to Begin a Story – Easy Writing Tips
Set Aside a Schedule for Writing
You know that thing most people do, where they wait for the right timing before doing something? In some cases, it can be ridiculously effective, but for writers? Not so much. Sometimes, you have to carve out a time for when you’ll sit down and just focus on writing a novel. This means you must drown out any other distractions such as other chores, people, and even environmental noise. Noise cancelling headphones might be more useful than you think for this purpose!
Basically, don’t ask “what should I write about” or say that you’ll write “someday” because chances are, you’ll end up forgetting the idea altogether in favor of other priorities. If there’s a story inside of you that’s fighting to get out, it’s time you prioritized it as well. There are a lot of people who are passionate about writing a novel, but only few make it because they simply don’t make time for it.
Pro-tip: How to start writing a book? Make a habit out of writing daily. It doesn’t have to be long or fully fleshed-out. Just take a prompt and run with it. Write whatever comes to mind and quiet your inner editor for once!
Join a Community of Like-Minded People
You might think that doing so will only distract you, but this isn’t always the case. Writing needs focus and you usually do it by your lonesome, but joining a community or a small group of people trying to achieve the same thing as you comes with a lot of benefits.
For starters, brainstorming becomes more fun. How to write a children’s book? Try surrounding yourself with people who are writing something similar. These are people you can also turn to for some advice, especially if you are a beginner at trying to write a book.
Where can you find these people? Social media is great for this purpose and there are many niche communities on platforms such as Twitter where many writers gather. Another good place to check out is NaNoWriMo. Your local library is also a great starting point, particularly if they often host events for writers and fans of literature.
What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? Otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month, this is an annual event wherein participants commit themselves to finishing a 50,000-word novel starting from November 1st and ending on November 30th. The community for this event is quite large and has many past participants, making it a great avenue for meeting other aspiring and experienced writers.
How to Write Better? Make Reading a Habit
Some writers believe that reading can actually affect the flow of their imagination and, in turn, influence their writing as well. However, this need not be the case. The thing with reading is that it can help you figure out your own voice, enabling you to further refine your writing style.
Another thing to remember is that being influenced by something doesn’t make you a copycat—not unless you copy details off of someone’s writing. Being influenced by a writer you admire also doesn’t mean you’re no longer original. Keep in mind that no matter what we do, we are always influenced by something. This is how culture works.
So go ahead and read while you’re working on your book. It’ll help widen your vocabulary, develop your style and voice better, and teach you a thing or two about moving stories along. Sometimes, it’s things about the author that makes a story truly unique.
Mistakes are Inevitable, But Don’t be Afraid of Making Them
Are you a perfectionist? If this is the case, then you are also more than likely to procrastinate. Many people have a fear of failing, which is also one of the reasons why they never get started on anything. However, don’t let your perfectionism get in the way of your writing. Drafts exist for a reason and you can make as many as you need.
Scared of criticism? Don’t be. This is why it is also important to have a small group of fellow writers whom you trust. When you do show them your work, however, receive any criticisms gracefully. Be receptive towards their comments as well and take everything into consideration.
Keep in mind that there might be certain mistakes or issues with your work that you weren’t aware of. Things such as cultural appropriation, racist undertones, and other similar issues can be easily overlooked by someone who isn’t familiar with them. Try picking up books on writing that tackle these subjects to make you more sensitive toward them.
So now that you have the basics covered, what comes next? Well, it’s time to figure out what kind of writer you are. You don’t even need a Buzzfeed Quiz for this one!
How to Write a Book for Beginners – Planner or Pantser?
It is important that you figure out what kind of writer you are before you start plotting out a strategy. Experts suggest that there are usually two kinds: the planner and the pantser.
The planners are those who meticulously outline their novels ahead of actually writing. This typically applies to people who participate during NaNoWriMo events. These are the same folks who will figure out how many pages a chapter should be so they can prepare for it, too. For your information, there are usually 10 pages to the average chapter.
On the other hand, you have your pantser. These are writers who don’t do much planning or do very little of it. If you know of someone who can churn out a good amount of words in just one sitting, they are a good example of what a pantser is like.
If the first two don’t quite fit you, then you might be a combination of both. A plantser is someone who is a little bit of both. Most writers are actually plantsers and put together the content of a book using both styles.
Plotter – Pros and Cons
- These people get over writer’s block easily because they already know what’s going to happen before they even write it. They first learn how to plan a novel before writing one.
- They tend to finish their novels faster and with less hitches.
- Plotters become confined to what they already plan. This means if they have to change something, they would need to re-do their whole outline.
Pantser – Pros and Cons
- There’s more flexibility when it comes to changing up plots and storyline. They can add or remove characters as they please, too.
- The lack of planning also makes it easier for them to get stuck or experience writer’s block. As any writer would know, digging one’s way out of a block can be very difficult. In fact, it is one of the most common causes why some people just abandon their projects completely.
How to Write a Novel
So now that you’ve figured out that type of writer that you are, it’s time to start planning your book. Don’t get intimidated by the idea, though. Think of it as creating a rough outline for your novel, which you can reference as you go long. It should also help you keep track of plots and prevent any character mistakes in the chronology of events.
To help you get started, here’s a step by step guide.
One Sentence Summary
How to write a book summary? Try this technique. For this, don’t think too much into the backstory of your characters. Instead, describe them using one sentence each. For example, “disgraced detective” or “starlet with a secret.” So when you go write down your one sentence summary for the book, it could read like this: “A disgraced detective uncovers the dark past of a starlet with a secret.”
How to write a book pitch? This sentence will act as the hook to sell your novel to publishers. You can always create different versions of it as you continue writing.
The Three-Act Structure
How to write a book fast? Use the three-act structure:
- First Act: Use this to lead your reader into the story. This is where you can introduce your main characters, set up the main storyline, and give insight into the period your book is set in.
- Second Act: This is where you can develop the story’s themes further and reveal more information about your main characters. Make sure you have enough tension going, lest things end up becoming drab for your reader.
- Third Act: This is where you begin to set-up the grand finale for your story. Make sure that you have tied-up any loose ends, though ending on a cliff-hanger works just as well.
Remember, this is just a rough guide on how to begin a story. You can always put your own spin on how you want to write the three acts of your story.
Develop Your Characters
Next, expand your character’s stories further. Each one should have, at least, a one page summary. This should include:
- Their name.
- What role they play in the plot.
- Their end goal.
- The motivation that they have for wanting it.
- What is stopping them from getting it?
- An epiphany or how the journey ends up changing them.
Expand Your Story
How to write a book description? Go back to the five sentences you wrote earlier. For this step, you have to expand on each one even further. You should, at least, have a one full page of description for your book.
Fleshing Out Characters
Last, but not least, give more life to your characters. Try to write a one-page synopsis for each one of them. Do so from the viewpoint of your character; basically put yourself in their shoes. Doing so would give you a better idea of why they do things and where their story might end up, eventually.
Effective Tips for Book Research
Before getting a book published, bring more authenticity to your story first. This is despite the fact that characters experience things you might have never experienced yourself. Research is key. Now, you can’t just directly copy things off of the internet! How you conduct research for your book also matters. How to make your own book research? Try these tips:
- Write using what you know. Your personal experience is most valuable when it comes to your novel.
- If possible, visit the locations you mention in your book. By being there, you’ll be able to include details that will transport your reader there.
- Take classes on the subjects your characters might be interested in or are supposed to be knowledgeable in.
- Never underestimate the value of a good library. If you live near one, use the available reference books on the subjects you’re tackling in your novel.
- How to write a book? Do read more literature that is in the same genre as the one you’re writing. This should show you what has been done before and what new perspective you can bring.
- Take advantage of YouTube. From learning about the human anatomy to how cars work, you’ll be able to gain plenty of useful information there. The best bit? It’s all for free and you need not even leave the comfort of your own home.
- How to write a book based on reality? Speak with experts in the field you want to learn more about. If you cannot experience it for yourself, the next best thing is learning from someone who has.
- Always take notes and make sure they are organized. Simply relying on your memory can create discrepancies and when it comes to realism, you would want to be as accurate as possible.
- Make sure you edit the information you’re adding to the book. Don’t spoon-feed your readers unnecessary details. Who would want to read an entire paragraph about human anatomy, when they’re supposed to be reading a thriller? When adding your research, make sure it flows well with the rest of your content.
How to Write a Fiction Book – Tips for Book Editing
Editing is essential to any good novel, but it isn’t the easiest thing to do. This is especially true if you’re doing it yourself. As writers, it’s hard to part with certain characters or storylines. However, sometimes, it is also necessary to keep things interesting. Here are some of the things you need to remember:
- Make a habit out of reading your manuscript. After the first time, set it aside for a few days then read it again. Stephen King suggests waiting, at least, six weeks before picking it up again. There’s no need to rush!
- Read the text out loud. Doing so can make a lot of difference and enable you to spot issues with tone or wordiness. How to write dialogue in a book? Reading aloud can help you with that.
- Search for any complicated words. Unless absolutely necessary, it is best to keep your vocabulary simple. Apps such as Grammarly can also help you with this.
- Check your punctuation.
- Make sure your format is easy to read.
- Do not overedit. It’s easy to get carried away and see mistakes in every sentence. To avoid this, set aside a certain amount of time for editing. Once it’s up, put down your manuscript whether you’ve finished editing or not.
Getting a professional editor is the most ideal option, but a lot of beginners do not have the funds for it. Self-editing can be just as good; the only thing you must remember is to remain objective about your work.
How to Self Publish – What You Need to Know
After you’ve done all the hard work that comes with putting a book together, the next step is to think about publishing it. You have the option of trying your luck with big publishers, but for many people these days—it’s all about self-publishing. This is because there are now many platforms available for self-publishing. Some even teach you important lessons such as how to write a book blurb or how to write a book proposal.
If you’re thinking of going the DIY route, here’s a quick guide:
Designing a Book Cover
Aside from knowing how to write a book title that’s intriguing, self-published authors rely on book covers for sales. It has to be eye-catching, without being overhelming. You might want to do some research about what sells and what doesn’t before designing your cover. Some free apps you can use to do so, include:
- Blurb BookWright
Here’s a more comprehensive guide from Reedsy if you want to hire a professional for the job. Do consider the fact that you also need a proper book layout, and a person with enough experience can vastly improve your ideas. A free writing template can only do so much, after all.
Getting a Book Published – eBook and Print
Gone are the days when you had to pay for thousands of copies if you wanted to get your book printed. Thanks to modern publishing, you don’t need to spend too much in order to get your book in print.
Look into Amazon’s Kindle Publishing. This is one of the simplest solutions that you have. All you need to do is upload the book and list it on the platform. You can do this for free! From there, interested readers would be able to purchase either a digital or printed copy of it.
Create a Launch Plan
To give yourself the best chance at succeeding, you’ll need a good launch plan. This includes strategies on how you’ll market the book so it reaches a larger audience. Social media is the most useful tool for this, but you can get as creative as you want. You can also opt to send your book to individual reviewers to generate buzz for it. Some authors even turn to viral videos to promote their novels!
Pro-tip: Learn how to write a synopsis for a book in a way that entices readers to look into your work. With that, you have half the battle won.
How to Write a Book – The Cost of Self-Publishing
If you are new to this, it is likely that you want to avoid making a hefty investment. It is quite impossible to accomplish this at zero cost, but you can expect to spend around $100 to upwards of $2500. This all depends on a number of factors, including: hiring professionals, research, marketing, and so on. It isn’t always about the author, after all.
Self-Publishing Pros and Cons
Pros: You retain full control of your work and you get to make all the important judgment calls. All the profits go straight to you as well. No middleman needed.
Cons: Self-publishing for beginners can be very challenging. You’ll have to learn the ropes and navigate the business mostly by yourself. This means making a few mistakes here and there.
Traditional Publishing – What You Need to Know
If you’re not keen on self-publishing, particularly due to the possible costs and limited market reach, then traditional publishing might be the right option for you. In this case, however, some of the control transfers to the publishing company you sign with. In essence, they are buying the right to publish your work and will pay you royalties from its sales.
To publish a book traditionally, you will first need to find an agent. Now, different agents will have specific areas of expertise. As such, you must first determine the category of your work. To put it simply:
- If you’re a non-fiction writer, you must learn how to write a book proposal along with three sample chapters. A synopsis for each chapter is also a must.
- For fiction writers, you must complete your manuscript before sending in anything. Do make sure it has been proofread and isn’t just a draft.
For both categories, publishers are looking at the marketability and sellability of your work.
Traditional Publishing Pros and Cons
Pros: You wouldn’t have to shoulder any of the costs related to getting your book published. Working with a publisher also means you get a wider reach and your potential for success is basically doubled.
Cons: You’re basically selling the right to your work, which doesn’t sit well with some writers. You might also end up working with a demanding company, which can limit your creativity.
Writing a Query Letter
Next, you have query letters. This is the letter you will be sending to potential agents. Your letter must highlight the things that make your work stand out. Include the following:
- A synopsis of your book.
- Chapter summary.
- The audience your book is meant for.
- A description of yourself or an “about the author.”
Before you send letters to potential agents, however, research is important. Like publishers, agents will also have their own area of expertise or a particular genre of work they prefer. Just like learning about your target audience, do try and get to know your potential agents better. This is how you’ll find the best fit for your work.
Why You Need a Book Agent and How to Find One
Here’s a fact: a lot of publishers do not accept unagented submissions. This makes finding the right literary agent all the more important. If you’re unsure about what they do, these are basically the people who are responsible for managing sales, contracts, publication, and production of your work. They are the middleman between authors and publishing companies.
The best place to look up literary agents is PublishersMarketplace. There are many established agents who have their own pages on the website, which makes research a lot easier for you. Note that working with an agent doesn’t come for free. On average, they take a 15% commission on any money that you earn. This includes book sales, any other work you publish, speaking engagements, and so on.
Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing
In traditional publishing, your publisher will basically take-over for you once the book is finished. They will handle the marketing, distribution, and warehousing for your work—at no cost to you. This is also its biggest draw. Publishers are basically making an investment in you, which they hope to see returned once your book starts selling. The risk is all on them.
For self-publishing, you bear most of the costs and the risks. That said, you do retain control over your book and keep all rights to it. This is something you lose once you sign with a publisher. With self-publishing, you receive 100% of the profits, while traditional publishing means you only get paid in royalties.
Stephen King’s Simple Strategies to Selling Books
Stephen King has sold over 350 million books throughout his career. It may have taken him years, but such a feat is not impossible—even for the new writer. Fortunately for us, the horror master is not averse to sharing his writing techniques. Here’s how to write a novel according to Stephen King.
- Always tell the truth. Write about what you like, then embellish it with your real-life experiences. This makes it more unique and relatable to readers.
- Avoid big words, when you can easily say the same using simpler ones. You’re not writing an academic paper, after all.
- Make use of single-sentence paragraphs. How to plan a novel about a fictional subject? Remember that the goal isn’t to maintain grammatical correctness. What you should be working towards is grabbing your reader’s attention and luring them further into the story. Suspense is key.
- Write for your ideal reader. Just like writing a love letter, the content of a book should be aimed toward the people who would enjoy it the most. You need not impress everyone.
- Make sure you do it because you like it and not because you want to make millions. According to King, he has never written a single word with the thought of getting paid for it. Are you asking yourself, “What should I write about?” Start with the things that bring you joy. The reward is in the act itself.
How to Write a Book for Beginners by JK Rowling
Before Harry Potter went on to become a worldwide bestseller, JK Rowling actually experienced plenty of hardships. There’s the fact that she was in poverty at the time of writing the first book in the series and how she faced a number of rejections before finally finding her luck.
Over the years, she has shared many great lessons for aspiring writers. From how to write dialogue in a book to pitching your work, here’s what she has to say.
- Rowling says you have to be disciplined. You must have structure and actually do the work. So, buckle up!
- Like Stephen King, she also advises to write about what you know. Be it your interests, beliefs, relationships, feelings, and so on. Use these as your raw materials when you begin writing.
- Getting a book published? Perseverance is a virtue every writer must develop. Not only so you can produce the work, but you’ll also need it to survive the criticism and rejection you might face.
- Love what you write! It is important to be truly passionate about the work you’re doing. Otherwise, any disingenuous feelings will manifest itself in the words you write. According to Rowling, “What you write becomes who you are.”
How to write a book? Sometimes, it’s about sacrifice. What this means is foregoing other things in order for you to be able to focus on getting the work done. While the idea might seem daunting, the process itself is rewarding. Why wait any further? If you have a story or two that’s simply waiting to be told, start writing today. Who knows where that might lead you?