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How to Get Started Writing Your First Book


Once you’ve adopted the right mindset to become a published author, the next step is to write your first book, or have it ghostwritten for you. Regardless of which you choose, you will need to spend some time planning your book and it will require some effort to end up with a compelling work which appeals to your audience in the end.

As the need to start writing suddenly confronts you head on, you may begin to feel that you underestimated the skills needed and you may experience flickers of doubt. Worry not, it only seems so scary because this is the first attempt you’ve made and you haven’t even started yet!

Everything worth doing is a little intimidating when we have never done it before. Today we’re going to focus on some clear steps you can take to ensure that the book writing process is manageable and effective.

Phase 1: Start Somewhere

It’s important that you actually get started on writing your book, rather than just think about it. We also don’t want to spend too much time pondering how to get started, because you might talk yourself out of it altogether before a word is written.

So where might you start with your first book? The first thing you should figure out is a clear and meaningful topic for your story. Remember, even non-fiction tells its own type of story. No writing should be an exception to that rule.

Are you writing a fiction or non-fiction? For most business professionals, the genre of choice will be non-fiction. Here are a few questions to answer in your book writing plan:

  • What broad topic is your book going to cover?
  • What niche within that topic will you focus on?
  • What experience do you have within this niche and how have you used it to become successful?

After you’ve answered those, you should begin to have a sense of what your book will cover.

Phase 2: Research and Reading

Next, start searching online for other successful authors from your niche. Pick at least five of the most prolific who have written books about the same topic that you plan on writing about, or something as closely related as possible.

Buy a copy of each, get comfortable and devour each one. Pay close attention to the way they present their story, how their work experience relates to it and what sort of techniques they use to make it an enjoyable read for a wide audience of readers who may only be interested in the broad subject matter.

Take plenty of notes as you read through these books. Highlight parts you think are worth revisiting. Use your notes as inspiration when you go to write your own book.

Next, time to research the market and learn as much as you can about your target audience.

Find out as much as you can, including things like:

  • Which gender makes up most of your target audience?
  • How old are they?
  • What industries do they work in?
  • Are they college graduates?
  • What do they need help with?

Make a list of readers who have posted online reviews of the books you have just read. You can  use this later to send out advance review copies to reviewers to help you build extra buzz about your book when you get ready to launch it.

Phase 3: Outline Your Story

Outlines are an author’s best friend. They make writing your book easier for you, or whoever you hire as a ghostwriter. Stories with an outline are much more likely to result in finished manuscripts that make sense to readers.

No one likes a story that jumps around all over the place and has no flow to it. An outline will help you address both of these issues.

Having a clear outline for each chapter will be of huge importance when you set out to begin the actual writing. Instead of having a vague idea of how you will weave together all of the information you want included in your book, you know exactly what needs to be covered in each chapter and can plan accordingly.

An outline helps make it possible to write your book in whatever order suits you best as well. If you are too put off by the thought of writing chapter one, skip ahead to a chapter you feel more at ease with to start.

Also keep in mind that outlines are not set in stone, so to speak. Add in creative ideas you have and make room for information that you might have failed to include in the first draft of your outline.

Outlines are essential if you plan on hiring a ghostwriter to write your book for you. Whether you create the outline yourself or work together with a professional writer, an outline is imperative to the success of your non-fiction book.

Phase 4: Write Regularly and on a Deadline

Once it’s time to actually start writing, be sure to do so on a regular schedule. Set a goal, whether it’s daily, weekly or even monthly. Maybe you have enough time to devote an hour a day to writing your book, maybe less. Whatever time you can spend, stick to your goal.

Also, choose a deadline based on the time you have available. If you can spend an  hour writing each day, time yourself for the first several days and figure out approximately how many pages you write in an hour.

Once you have a few chapters written, figure out the average length to project the approximate page count for your completed manuscript. After you’ve written the first few chapters, use this information to choose a realistic deadline and don’t stop writing until you’ve added a period to the sentence of the last page.

Give each phase of this plan the attention it deserves and you should be on track when it comes to writing your first book. Just remember that the hardest part is getting started; from that point on it only gets easier. The road to getting that first book written is rich with new knowledge and more fun than you might think. Take that first step today and stop putting it off another month or year.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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