Must-Do’s When Writing a Book

Writing my very first non-fiction book was one of the most exciting endeavors I have accomplished in my 39 years.  Ten years later, I am proud to say that I have published six non-fiction works with future ones in development. Each phase of the book writing process can seem daunting and tedious; however, once you develop a seamless system that works well, you will be on your way to smooth sailing. 

It’s important to stay true to who you are as a person and author and realize that you can create something entirely original for your audience.  After writing six manuscripts, I can now better recognize my own unique “voice.”  Once you recognize yours, you will find the entire research, development and writing process to be more fun and enjoyable.  Remember that you, the writer, are the best advocate for your book. 

Get Rid of Procrastination

Get Rid of Procrastination:  Clearly set attainable goals.  For example, you can notate on your calendar that you will write 500 words per day or write one chapter per week.  Create a healthy writing space with minimal interruption and while there, study your creative patterns.  Are you more creative in the morning or at night?  Do you write better with some calming music or in complete silence?  Discover what little idiosyncrasies work for you and implement them in your writing repertoire.

An Outline is Your Friend

This is a very important step.  While you don’t need a completed table of contents; having an organized outline is crucial as it will help keep your thoughts / sections of the book more organized.  It’s also beneficial for timeline purposes as well.  For example, you can designate to work on two or more sections of your outline each day.  An outline or table of contents will help you to remain authoritative and in command as well.

Understand the Book Proposal Process

The book proposal process is as equally important to the entire project.  It gives you a front row seat as to why your book stands out among the rest of the competition.  A properly constructed proposal can give you many more choices among publishers.  Research and understand all the components of each publisher’s book proposal process.  There are many sections that are universal across the board, such as 1) table of contents or outline, 2) target audience, 3) about the author, 4) a list of competing titles, 5) content overview, etc.  However, one publisher may require something in its proposal that another doesn’t require, so it’s up to you to understand the process for each publisher you submit to.  Perhaps, the most important step in writing a book proposal is to explain why your book is relevant in today’s competing marketplace.  Even if there are many titles similar to what you are developing, be creative in explaining why yours stands out.

Just Write

While it’s nice to have an outline or developed table of contents, please don’t feel restricted to write in the exact order of your outline or table of contents.  Write what comes up at that very moment as you can always go back later on and developmentally edit the content.  Some of my best writing occurs when I get that sudden “urge” to write.  Whether it is at 8:00 a.m. or midnight, if your creative juices are flowing, it’s best to open up your laptop and type away.  Don’t worry about flow or substantive editing as that can come later.   After you are finished, save your work and come back to it the next day.  You may be surprised at what else you think of to add or change.  Furthermore, make sure to save your written material in a variety of ways.

Be Critical

Place yourself in the shoes of your audience.  Ask yourself what you look for in successful non-fiction writers. Re-read your manuscript several times.  Have other trusted individuals read your book and take notice to their constructive feedback.  Read a lot of non-fiction books.  In doing so, you will discover and take note of the many reasons you prefer one book over the other.  Humans love to hear and share memorable stories, so be creative in how you relay your narrative.  Implement strategies in your writing that will appeal to the emotions of your readers.  They will continue to turn page after page if they discover that your unique author “voice” and style of writing appeals to their everyday life.

Love Your Editor

Always remember that your editor is there to help your book reach success.  Thus, don’t get all twisted and bent out of shape if he or she offers suggestions.  You may not agree with advised changes that need to be made, but at least listen to what your editor suggests because, like you, he or she is also an advocate for your book.  I see too many authors arguing with their editors over petty things – this tense energy will ultimately translate to the page, causing some readers to turn away.  Your editor is there to make your book shine.

Research Publishers

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Take the time to research various publishers.  At first glance, you may find a publisher that seems perfect for your book; however, after exhausting other outlets, you may discover that others may better suit your manuscript.  Talk to other colleagues and acquire their particular publisher recommendations and the specific reasons why they chose to sign with a particular company.  You can devise a pros and cons list for various publishers, which can make the selection process a little easier.  Once you have definitively decided to go with a particular choice, please make sure that you understand every component of your author contract.  I cannot express how vitally important this is.  Don’t ever be afraid to approach your publisher with questions about your contract. 

I accomplished one of my life’s goals by writing my non-fiction books.  If I can do it, you can, too.  If you have a particular idea for an intriguing book concept, then shoot for the stars.  Don’t let anyone interfere or try to stop you.  As always, my best wishes for you as an author.  I look forward to seeing your book(s) on the shelves one day.

How I Write: Tips for New Writers

Every writer has his or her own unique style.  There really isn’t any one magical way to approach the writing process.  It all depends on the individual and what he or she is actually writing – i.e., fiction, memoir, children’s books or nonfiction, etc.  Some people choose to write first thing in the morning; others, late at night.  Some prefer solitude and quiet when writing; others choose to have music or television on in the background.  Always select one or two places that will allow you to create your best work. 

I have often been told that my writing is very heartfelt and sincere.  Reflecting on that, I will say that I do “write from my heart.”  It’s hard to definitively explain what that means.  I guess I would define it as not writing through my ego.  Rather, I listen to my inner intuition and allow it to guide me through the process.  I focus on topics that I am extremely passionate about and those that I feel can make a positive difference in humanity. 

Tips for New Writers

For those new to the writing process, my predominant tip is to “just do it.”  In the beginning, don’t worry about the editing, organization or formatting process as that comes later.  Just let your “writing muse” flow and write down what comes forward.  Once you get started, you may find that all of a sudden, the words start to flood the page.  It’s a beautiful thing when this happens.

Don’t compare yourself to others.  Even if you develop a concept for a book that’s already been published, utilize your creative vision to make yours unique.  Writing a book is a big deal; it’s not as easy as it may sound as there are so many facets to the overall process.  You have to WANT it.  If writing isn’t your jam, you may find it hard to finish the product. 

Here are some writing tips that I utilize.  I hope they can be of benefit to you as well. 

  • Keep a notebook or journal near you so you can mark down those amazing ideas that seemingly come out of nowhere. 
  • Engage in creative inspiration, whatever it may be. 
  • Planning is so imperative to the entire manuscript.  Establishing an outline or rough table of contents helps me with organizing the book. 
  • Make sure you do your research.  Cross-reference source material to make sure you have accurate facts and statistics. 
  • When creating an idea for a book, I ask myself, “How would I describe this proposed book to its core audience in one or two concise sentences?” Then, I build upon the main idea(s). 
  • Keep a dictionary, thesaurus and source referencing material handy.  Many publishers use the Chicago Manual of Style. 
  • Remember that procrastination is not your friend.  Make a writing schedule and stick to it. 
  • You don’t have to write the book sequentially.  I tend to write the body of my book first and save the introduction and epilogue for last, for example. 
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread – at least three times.  Have a trusted colleague, friend or relative read your manuscript as well. 
  • Invest in editing resources, such as Grammarly, MasterWriter or SmartEdit in addition to having a professional editor read / critique your work. 
  • Talk and engage with other writers.  Shared learning leads to brightened horizons. 
  • Don’t put too much emphasis on agents and publishers at the beginning.  Just write.
  • Listen to your editor.  He or she is there to help make your book better.  Be open to his or her critiques and constructive criticism. 
  • Take some intriguing writing courses.  There is always something else to learn. 
  • Be motivated. Be courageous.  Be YOU!

Writing is a life-long process.  You’d be surprised at the inspiration you receive each day the sun rises.  Make sure to take note of those sources of inspiration.  Create a vision board for your proposed projects.  Do not let the word “rejection” stop you from moving forward.  Always remember, “when one door closes, another one opens.”  Some of the most renowned authors have been told “no” several times.