I Want to Write a Book…Where Do I Start?

So you wanna write a book, do ya? Here are three steps to get your writing career off to the right start.

Build Platform

Before writers even start thinking of the book side of things, it’s recommended that we think first about the marketing side. Sounds a little backward, doesn’t it? The purpose of building a platform is so you have an established audience to sell the book to once it is published.

If you’re planning to publish traditionally, platform will increase your chances of landing an agent and publishing deal. Think about it: the larger or more engaged your established audience, the more money the publishing house will make off your book sales.

If you’re a self-published author, you’ll need platform more than traditionally published authors because marketing is all up to you. The more engaged you are in your platform pre-publication, the more likely you are to sell lots of books through that platform post-publication.

So what is platform? Platform is the exposure you receive through social media outlets (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin, Reddit, etc.) and websites. A website is vital for book sales. It’s the one-stop-shop for your readers. Think of the website as the base of operations that all your social media apps branch off of. Your apps promote the content on your site, and your site offers a home for all your published books.

Platform requires time to build, which is why it’s the recommended first step. You’ll need to establish connections with other writers, develop a consistent scheduling plan if you decide to blog, post frequently to social media (8-12 times a day is recommended), and engage as much as possible with comments. All of this cultivates a following that you will then be able to sell your book to once it’s published. And you can do all of it while writing your novel.

Create an Outline

You think you know your plot and characters well enough to type out the whole story right now, don’t you? Well guess what, when your characters decide to take a random romantic turn at chapter 12 and you end up writing a new Hallmark movie instead of a new murder mystery, it’ll be common sense that somewhere the plot went off the rails. How? Because you didn’t have an outline to adhere to.

Many times while I’m beta reading, a book will start off with one plot and then shift to a brand new one midway through the book. Or there will be considerable inconsistencies within the plot itself that causes confusion and lack of closure by the final chapter. Some are so scattered that only a full rewrite will suffice. This could all be avoided with the guidance of an outline.

Think of the outline as a map with directions on how to get your story idea from your head to paper. An outline guides the story by targeting vital events, focusing character traits to keep them consistent, or briefly describing the story’s development from beginning to end.

Early outline for my book Cursed by Cobrador.

I’ve written a separate post on How to Outline. But just know that this step is essential to the writing process. Without an outline, you’re likely to get sidetracked from the plot in a way that’s going to cost you time and money to fix later in the editing process.

Write the Book

This is the easy part. Our favorite part, in fact! Write the book, but keep your outline handy as you do. You don’t have to write everything exactly as the outline says; the story should flow naturally and the characters will inevitably develop on their own. But having the outline close by will help you remain plot-driven while writing.

I always advise that youwrite everything you want to include in the book. When it comes to the editing phase, it’s always easier to delete a chapter/scene/character than it is to add one. So write everything. You can delete whatever is unwanted, distracting, or irrelevant in the end.

Hopefully these tips have given you the confidence needed to get down to business!

And after you’ve typed “The End” on the final page, fear not for I have another post to guide you to publication.

If you have any questions for me or tips for others, I’d love to read them in the comments below! Thank you for reading!

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