How to Write a Book!
How to write a book.... and actually finish it??!!
Those of you who have been following my journey for a while will be well acquainted with my publishing house (Badger Publishing) and the story of how it all came about after a massively stressful fight with my ex-book publishers. If you are new to this you can read my previous blog here.
All that aside, I have been lucky enough to start helping other authors make their dreams a reality this past year through Badger Publishing. This has been both exciting and very rewarding especially considering that in doing so I can help them avoid getting into the same situation that I ended up in. While Badger Publishing began mostly been a way of publishing my own books is huge progress to finally be able to share my expertise, born from a lot of blood, sweat and tears (oh, and copious amounts of caffeine) with others who want to create, educate and entertain.
We get a stream of enquiries through our website each week and I have been pretty surprised with what people have been asking. I expected a slew of how much does printing cost and what paper weight best suits my needs. What I did not expect was our most commonly asked question... “how do I write a book?” and while I am happy to talk budgets and paper GSM over email I feel like this massive question requires, well, a massive answer.
So, how does one write a book?
I feel like the question is closely linked to the question most book writing creatives struggle with the most which is “how do I actually finish writing a book?”. While this question may not be so daunting for the logical, numbers people who work in spreadsheets and studiously laid out business plans, the rest of the ‘right side’ brainer, creative HSPs can understand the monumental task that is actually following through with a creative project. So how do you do it?
Step 1 is easy:
1. Have an idea and write it down.
Shower thoughts, car thoughts, toilet thoughts... all these are acceptable in this phase of writing. The key? Getting them down. Do not let that great idea escape you in the busyness of everyday life.
2. Make a plan.
It might feel like I am stating the obvious but every book needs a beginning, middle and end, there is a lot of risk to starting a book without the ending in mind. If you’ve ever put a book down on page 300 out of 400 you know how important it is to make sure the end of your book is as, if not more compelling than where you began.
Ok but this doesn’t relate to non-fiction Julie, you say, well I say it absolutely does apply.
While you may not have to worry about character development, backstory holes or contradicting storylines you have to make sure your non-fiction book follows the natural progression of the reader’s understanding of a subject. examples of this are going from past to present, young to old or easy to difficult. Keeping the end in mind makes sure your book is easy to get invested in and leaves the reader feeling they have completed or accomplished something.
Ah, a step very much close to my heart. Each of my books has required an enormous amount of time dedicated to research with most being in the works for at least two years before I even get to writing. A good place to start research is a bookstore. Have a look at books on similar topics or with similar layouts this will give you a good idea of what you want. If your books are information heavy - you have your work cut out for you.
4. Set a schedule.
You may have seen my recent Instagram stories showing my morning routine, including a 5am wakeup to get 10 minutes of writing in before my household descends into absolute chaos. This is one of my biggest recommendations when it comes to getting a book finished. Set time aside and keep it consistent. Changes in space and time when it comes to sinking into writing can be very distracting and though some days it's hard to get your writing brain going, having a set place and time gives you the best chance in hitting that sweet spot of concentration.
5. Make an end date and stick to it.
One of the best ways to hold yourself accountable to your schedule is to set a release date for your book. A word of warning though, if you set a date, I strongly advise against changing it for anyone. Regardless of whether you are pre-selling your book or not having a solid date in place and keeping it there is a sure way to motivate yourself to finish the writing.
6. Get Feedback.
Scary I know! But don’t skip this important step. While it can be tempting to give it to a friend and call it a day, I would really recommend getting feedback from someone who knows a bit about writing and will give you honest feedback. I also recommend getting in touch with a good copy editor and/or proof reader unfortunately there are many on the internet calling themselves copy editors or proof readers that will take your money and leave your book full of mistakes. This is something that we do through my publishing house - both in terms of writing coaching and also both copy editing and proof reading (yes there is a difference). Where possible avoid asking a friend to do this as we commonly see this being more problematic than helpful (best intentions aside!).
7. Embrace the Chaos!
Guess what! Your book is finished! Now I need to let you in on a secret... there will always be mistakes. It is part of life and it is part of writing, do not get hung up on perfection. You can still write a good book and do a good job without agonising over the fact that you are human and someone WILL email you in a few months letting you know you missed a typo. Embrace it - plus there is always the revised edition.
8. Now for the final part – publishing!
My top recommendation as someone who owns their own publishing house? Shop around. First of all, make sure you understand the difference between tradition publishers and self-publishing (there may be another blog post on this soon but read this brief intro here on Badger Publishing). Second, get an idea of the costs of publishing a book, the cost of having a book printed varies wildly for each different type of book so make sure you ask around. Thirdly, publish that book!!!
Congratulations you are now a published author! It can be a long and grueling process do not be discouraged; I have never said it is easy. But I know that what I do is helping someone out there and that is an amazing feeling.
So, sit down, write down that idea and write that book. You never know where it will take you.
x Dr Julie