Writing a Book? Follow These Steps Before You Publish

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As a former book editor, it’s probably no surprise that I attract many writers as clients for my life coaching practice.

I love reading their novels, poems, short stories, and other books, and I’m grateful my book editing past helps me guide them in the right direction when they get stuck.

These creative writers can take a blank piece of paper and transform it into a whole new world with amazing characters, storylines, and ideas.

One of my favorite classes in the Life Editor Clubhouse is “Write Like an Editor” where you learn my secret formula for coming up with endless ideas.

Have you ever thought about writing a book? This quarantine is a great excuse to focus on your personal interests, but maybe you need some advice on where to start.

I’ve guided dozens of writers (total newbies and old pros) as they create their books, and many clients consider making writing their full-time career.

But before you think about publishing your masterpiece, there are a few important steps to take.

Design Your Characters 

Your book won’t be a compelling read unless your audience cares about the characters.

Get inside their heads and write in-depth descriptions of their personalities, likes and dislikes, and how they view the world. This is also a good first step for business owners, and we write detailed Ideal Client Profiles in my Startup In 60 program.

Here’s an example: let’s say you have a character named Jenny Barnes. You could write the following descriptive notes about her: 

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5 foot 4
  • Build: slim 
  • Hair color: chocolate brown 
  • Eyes: icy blue
  • Location: Los Angeles 
  • Fashion sense: trendy 
  • Job: personal shopper for young professionals
  • Likes: wine, art, fashion
  • Dislikes: narcissistic men, clubbing, being alone
  • Secret motivation: wants to build a multi-million dollar empire 

A simple list like this for your character builds the foundation of a real person. When writing for Jenny, you can use her likes and dislikes in her inner monologue, and you can use her features to build a solid picture for her in your reader’s mind. 

Map Out Your Plot Points

Maybe some people can look at a blank page, start writing the story, and reach the end with hardly any pauses.

For the rest of us, a well-thought-out plan for your book’s plot makes the actual writing part much easier.

My recommendation is to use the “Beat Sheet Guide” in the book Save the Cat! Writes a Novel for a foolproof storytelling arc that will have your readers engaged for hours.

Mapping out your plot points ahead of time will help you decide which ones you want to make the main story of your book. 

Don’t Write in Order 

The biggest mistake new writers make is thinking they HAVE to write a novel starting at Chapter 1. That’s a lot of pressure!

This is a common misconception, and many professional writers actually write the scenes as they think of them and then bring it all together later.

What’s the most interesting part of your book? Go ahead and write the love scene, death scene, or big reveal first.

Try splitting your book into small sections within a chapter (see Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, as mentioned previously). Sometimes you may have inspiration for Chapter 10 before Chapter 1, and this is why it’s critical to have a plan for your plot points beforehand. 

Design an Eye-Catching Cover 

Whether you like it or not, we all judge a book by its cover.

The cover design of your book has a direct impact on sales.

This is why publishing design services exist to bring life to the pages and grab your reader’s attention right from the start.

Don’t rush through this step! Really take the time choosing a design that encapsulates what’s inside.

Try PicMonkey if you want to take the DIY route, or consider hiring a professional cover artist if you lack the design skills.

Send to Multiple Publishers (or Self Publish!)

If you’re set on having your book published by a professional, well-known publishing house, be sure to send your manuscript to multiple companies.

Yes, you’ll probably be rejected by some of them, but you may end up having a choice of a few publishers to sell your book, and this is a good position to be in.

But as many of my clients have discovered, it’s faster, cheaper, and more fulfilling to self-publish your book, such as through Amazon. This gives you complete control of the content, marketing, and price.

Self-publishing IS real publishing, regardless of what those snooty book critics might say. Indie publishers get to keep more of their profits and don’t have to alter their work to make it more palatable to general audiences.

Writing and publishing your first book will be one of the toughest things you’ve ever done, but once you take that leap and publish it, you’ll feel an immense sense of pride and accomplishment.

NEXT STEP: Join the Life Editor Clubhouse for more writing strategies and marketing tips no matter what kind of business you have.

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