By Jack Coolley — Filed under Getting started
Everybody has a book somewhere inside them. Some books are more eager than others to “get out” and be seen by the world. Is there a book in you that is clamoring to get out?
Some people act like there’s a big secret to how to write a book. But writing a book really isn’t the hard part. Revising it and crafting it into something that someone wants to publish used to be the biggest challenge. However, even that is much easier than it was ten years ago.
We’re going to show you exactly how to get that book written!
The Big Picture – Overview to How to Write a Book
Here at HowToWriteABookGuide.com, we will walk you through the whole process of writing a book, from start to finish. But first it will help if you understand the big picture. The major milestones of the process look like this:
- Clarify the Subject and Purpose of Your Book
You need to make sure you know exactly what you want to write about before you start. This will save you a lot of time along the way.
- Write an Outline for Your Book
Depending on your personality, the outline might be detailed explanations of every section or a brief list of one-liners.
- Do the Research
If your book needs facts, anecdotes or other specific details to support the story or presentation of information, then you’ll do some data gathering.
- Write the Chapters
Once you know what you’re writing about and you have the facts gathered, then you can put together the chapters of your book.
- Review and Revise the Chapters
Once you have a finished draft, then you will need to read it through again and make changes and corrections.
- Have a Friend Read Your Book
Before your book goes before the eyes of the public or even to a potential publisher, it’s always a good idea to get some outside perspective on it and consider revising based on their feedback.
What You Can Expect From Our How To Write a Book Guide
We want you to succeed. Today, with self-publishing options and the Internet offering more possibilities than ever before for writers to get their book out to the public, what you really need is simple, direct coaching.
Of course, we’re not offering the kind of coaching that calls you every week to see how your book is doing (at least, not yet), but we are confident that if you would take the simple steps we outline here, then your book will get written!
You won’t find advice on how to format your manuscript or how to write a book proposal to give a publisher. We won’t tell you how to plot the best science fiction story or what kind of illustrations you should have on your book cover.
There’s just one thing we want you to get from this site. How to write a book. Period. No frills added, nothing important left out. If you follow our advice diligently step by step, your book WILL be done, start to finish. Ready for the next step, whatever you decide that to be.
By Jack Coolley — Filed under Writing tips
While I agree with Marcia that it’s generally a good idea to join a writer’s group, there is one thing that will completely WIPE OUT every possible good you might get out of a group. There is one thing that has always been a sure-fail when I encountered it in any writer group. This could be a writer’s guild meeting at a local library or a college writing class or even a group of writer friends.
It doesn’t matter.
If you run into this, TURN AND RUN THE OTHER WAY!
What Is This Terrible Nemesis of Writing Groups Everywhere?
In a word: negativity.
If you join a group or meet with a group the first time, and you hear people being harsh or negative about someone’s writing, just walk away.
If there is fighting and conflict and bitterness between people in the group, just quietly slip out the back door and don’t come back.
I’m not a softie like Marcia, but I’ll tell you what: I won’t share my work with people who aren’t going to show me respect and kindness.
Sure, tell me that my writing sucks, but tell it right. Help me see how it can be improved. Respect the effort I put into it. Honor me as a human being by encouraging me to do better, not mocking my efforts or implying that I ought to quit trying.
The Last Thing You Need
For most people, the decision to write a book is a challenge. A commitment. A calling, even. Trust me, the last thing you need when you’re tackling the challenge of writing a book is, well, ANYTHING that isn’t actively helping you. And it’s especially important to control the things coming into your head about your writing itself.
If you join a group, watch yourself closely the first few cycles of meeting (whether your writers group meets weekly or monthly or whatever). How do you find yourself reacting to the people? Are you looking forward to the meetings? Are you dreading them? Do you find it motivates you to write, or not? Is there anyone in the group that you feel really understands your writing? Have you received any feedback that you felt was really helpful in improving your work?
Sometimes it’s hard to start something and then walk away. After all, when you’re working on a book, you’re usually using every ounce of willpower you have to STAY committed to your writing. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stay committed to your writing workshop or group. If it’s not helping, if it’s becoming another obstacle in the book writing process, JUST STOP.
Shrug It Off And Find A Writers Group That Works
If there’s even one person in the group who is consistently negative, it can sour the whole thing. Or maybe it’s not that they’re totally negative, but it’s more like everyone there is a high-brow literary writer who looks down on your choice to write crime thrillers.
So don’t be afraid to look for something else if you find a group that just doesn’t seem to offer the support you were hoping for. Remember the reason you’re there. It’s supposed to HELP YOU.
The Good News
Okay, that being said, the good news is that probably 90% of the writing groups out there are great places to learn, grow and improve in a nurturing and/or challenging atmosphere. So, like Marcia said — go for it!
By — Filed under Getting started, Improving your book, Revising your writing, Writing tips
No matter where you’re at in the writing process, the question may come up: Should I join a writer’s group?
Whether you’re thinking about a class at a local community college, a writer’s workshop or critique group that meets in your area, or a more casual gathering with a few other friends who write, I always say GO FOR IT!
Reason #1: Being Around Other Writers Keeps You Motivated
I was thinking about the most common things that got in the way when I was struggling to write my first book. I didn’t just have one problem, it seemed like I had them ALL.
There were days I wasn’t motivated, and most of the time I wanted to write I didn’t seem to have the time. Sometimes it was the thought that I wasn’t any good that kept me from putting fingers to keyboard, and other times it was the daunting idea of writing anything better than the masterpiece I’d just finished. There were the negative comments from family. And the mockery of many acquaintances and co-workers. I could mention a half dozen hobbies I was passionate about that clamored for my free time.
But let’s just say that you overcome ALL that and also whatever your particular issues are. You’re on a roll. You’ve got it going on. You’re in the zone. The words are pouring out, and have been for weeks (or months or years). You are WRITING.
Well, that means you have writing that is ready to be read by others. So even if all is flowing smoothly, hearing feedback from other writers will give you direction for improvement and keep you excited about what you’re doing.
Reason #2: You’ll Discover Your Writing Strengths
After hearing from a variety of people about your writing, you will begin to see patterns of responses. You will find out what your writing strengths are.
Maybe you’re great at description, setting the scene of the story. Maybe your writing is technically accurate and logically clear, great for the textbook or business writing you want to do. Maybe you have a flair for humor. Or dialogue. Or action scenes. Maybe you connect to your readers’ emotions and get them interested in what happens to your characters.
Knowing what you do well will help you to capitalize on those strengths. It will also be encouraging!
Reason #3: You’ll Find Out Where Your Writing Needs Improvement
As valuable as it is to know what you do well, it’s even better to know where to focus your time revising your work or improving your skills. Some writers find that they NEVER get the hang of doing great first drafts. They ALWAYS have to go back and take several passes through their work to build up the areas that they simply don’t do naturally.
Other times, you can (over time, through practice) gain the skills you need to improve your first drafts considerably. Either way, a writer’s critique group or class will help you pinpoint the problems in your manuscripts.
Reason #4: You’ll See Things From a Reader’s Perspective
Feedback from several people regarding how they experienced your writing is priceless. It’s your chance to get in your readers’ heads and understand how you’re coming across.
Not only that, but when you read what others in your group have written, you will experience things from a reader’s perspective. You may find things that the other writers are doing that annoy you and then realize that you’re doing those same things. Doh!
Reason #5: Everyone Needs Practice Meeting a Deadline!
It may not be my favorite thing, but I’ve found that I am much better at hitting my deadlines than I used to be. And I know that being part of a writing class, and later a writer’s group, was a big part in helping me establish the working habits I needed to be consistent in this area. When I know that someone is waiting to read my work at the end of the week (or month), even if it’s not an editor or publisher, I get moving!
Reason #6: Support Groups Aren’t Always Anonymous, Or Writers Need Support, Too!
Some people I know think writing is something of a pathological disorder that needs a cure — but even if you are comfortable and secure being a writer, there’s something empowering, encouraging and downright FUN about hanging out with other writers. Like any subculture, we have our own jokes, our own struggles, our own unique joys. And who better to understand your writing experiences than other writers?
The next time you share your writing passion with someone who stares at your blankly (or worse, smiles politely with several clueless nods thrown in for good measure), just remember: there IS a place where others would understand.
“Hello, my name is Marci, and I’m a writer!”
By Marcia Tandecki — Filed under Improving your book, Step by step book writing
Sure, now that Jack’s had his kicks talking about my emotional attachment to my writing babies, let’s talk about another emotional issue: letting go of your baby.
This is another area where people differ. I love to share my writing and get feedback. Sometimes I don’t even review and revise before passing it along to a trusted friend for their thoughts. But some people are the ultimate control freaks (I’m not mentioning any names, but let’s just say his initials are Jack Coolley). They don’t want anybody to see their little mad scientist creations until they’ve worked out all the bugs and scrubbed the evidence of failed experiments. What they don’t realize is that no matter how “perfect” they make their writing, they’re going to have to change it again anyway!
Okay, okay, but seriously. Everybody has their comfort zones. Yours may be fine — or you may find that you need to stretch outside your comfort zone in order to gain valuable feedback.
Different Kinds of Feedback
There are different kinds of feedback you can get. After you’re done writing your book, sharing it with a couple of close friends or relatives can give you a little idea of how well it reads, but not much. Finding some acquaintances or better yet perfect strangers may get you more objective feedback.
It’s great if you can find people who are already interested in your topic, who want to read the kind of book you’ve written. The next best thing is to find other writers. Even though other writers have a slightly skewed perspective because they are “in the business”, they also have a better sense of how to tell you what you need to work on because they’re familiar with the process.
Some people will naturally be nit-picky when they tell you what they thought of the book (“You used the phrase ‘never mind that’ way too many times in Chaper Three”). Others tend to make sweeping comments (“It was boring”) and be vague (“I thought it was nice”). You will need to learn to draw information out of your readers to get something truly useful to you.
Things You Can Ask Your Test Readers
It helps to have some questions to ask people after they’ve read your book, or a portion of it. Here are some ideas:
- Was it easy for you to read?
- Did you get confused at any point?
- Tell me what you think the book was about.
- What was your favorite part?
- Did you find any parts slow, boring or otherwise not enjoyable?
- Did you notice any mistakes in my English?
- What do you think the book is missing?
There are many other things you can ask more specific to your particular book. If you are writing a fiction book, asking people how they feel about the characters or the plot of the story should bring helpful comments. If you are writing a how to book, ask whether they clearly understood the topic from what you wrote. You get the idea!
Finding Someone To Read Your Book
Besides friends, relatives, professional colleagues, and other random acquaintances, you can be much more specific in your search for someone to read your book. Check online or in your local listings to find local writing groups and writing workshops. Find other writers in your area and try to locate a few who are writing in your genre. Getting involved in a writer’s group is a great way to improve your writing and polish your book.
Also, taking a writing class from your local junior college is a great way to meet aspiring writers and get feedback both from other students, teachers and college writing groups.
Finding other writers not only gives you feedback on what you’ve written but also offers a great support network to encourage your continued writing progress and development.
- Make a list of 5-10 people who might be willing to read your book when it is finished.
- Once you have several chapters written, or once the book is complete, make copies and give it to all the people on your list. Take each person out to coffee (or meet with them in some way) and find out what they thought about your book.
- Find a writer’s group or association where you can network with other writers locally or online. Join a group and get feedback on your writing from other writers.