Get Your Book Out of You

When I taught the “Writing for Fun and Profit” college class series, I urged students to do a mental inventory of the bookstores they frequent. Then I asked them to offer a guess on what percentage of books in bookstores is fiction and what percentage is nonfiction. The reality is most books in bookstores are nonfiction.

Why is that? That’s what sells and bookstores are in the business of selling books.

That doesn’t mean fiction writers should sigh and give up. Look at how many successful fiction writers there are. My point is whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, you need to get your book out of you if you want people to read it. In other words, you need to write, not just think or dream of writing.

Here are some tips to get (or keep) you writing.

  • Figure out what you feel strongly about, are passionate about, and want to share with the world.
  • Have some idea what you’ll include in your book–plot line, chapter titles, that sort of thing.
  • Outline your book. You may want to use sticky notes that you can post to a wall or white board or poster board and can move around in case you change the order of things as you work on your book. The point is you’ll want to make your book visual so you see it every day.
  • Create a schedule and start with the deadline you want your book finished. (You get to decide whether finished means submitted to an agent or means self-published and the book in your hands.)
  • Work backwards from your deadline. You know nothing gets things done like a deadline. Look at Christmas shopping, Halloween costumes, school graduations, weddings, etc. Dates are set and people do whatever they have to do to achieve the goal by the date.
  • Figure out what you have to do each day to meet your deadline (be sure you include research, allow for interruptions/emergencies/etc., determine how many pages you need to write daily).
  • Start with the easiest part of your book (some mystery writers I know start at the end so they keep their writing focused on moving toward that end).
  • Remember that even though writing is a solitary activity, getting your book out of you and to your readers is not. You need people to read your writing and offer honest feedback (a writers group or others who will be honest in what they tell you about your book). You need a content editor (to help you with clarity) and a copy editor (to help you with basics like grammar, punctuation, capitalization, etc.). If you self-publish, you need a book designer (not  just a graphic designer). If your book is nonfiction, you need reviewer comments for the cover or inside pages.

The last step to getting your book out of you and to your reader is marketing, and you can find all sorts of ideas on that within in this blog and many others. Happy writing!

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