Foreshadowing: What is Foreshadowing & How to Use it (Sneakily)

Without foreshadowing in your book…you run the risk of an unsatisfying story.

Let’s be honest, how many of us pick up a book, read half of it, get busy and never get back to it?

Life or other books get in the way and, well, as good as that book was, we were never really hooked. There was nothing compelling us to read to the end.

No harm, no foul, right?…Wrong.

When you’re the author of that half-read book, then it’s devastating.

Still, there are certain tools you can use when writing a book to hold the reader’s attention to the end and one of the most powerful among them is foreshadowing.

Because even the best writing prompts and story ideas need finessing in order to become mind-blowing reads.

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Here’s how to use foreshadowing in your novel:

  1. Understand what foreshadowing is
  2. Learn what foreshadowing means
  3. Utilize foreshadowing examples
  4. Use prophecy
  5. Use Chekov’s Gun
  6. Use Omens
  7. Use “I got this weird feeling”
  8. Outline your book
  9. Use flashbacks or flashforwards

What is foreshadowing?

Foreshadowing is a literary device used in fiction that drops hints and clues as to what will happen later in the story in order to give readers the sensations of shock but satisfaction when they finish the book.

Foreshadowing can be used in a number of ways but the point of it is to ensure that your book and the outcome of it makes sense but is still shocking to the readers.

If you’ve ever read a book and thought, “I should have seen that coming!”, then you understand the impact foreshadowing can have.

This is one of the most important things that makes for a good book.

What does foreshadowing mean?

Foreshadowing is a literary device in which the writer gives advanced warning that something specific is going to happen later in the story. Through foreshadowing, you are preparing the reader for an event that will eventually take place in your story.

In other words, the writer is managing reader expectations by giving them a heads up.

And the better you set those expectations, the faster the reader will turn those pages to see how it will happen.

But what does a writer foreshadow? Anything really. A character’s action, reaction, victory, defeat or even death. The st

Here are some elements an author can foreshadow:

  • The story’s major (or minor) plot points
  • A shocking twist … it doesn’t really matter.
  • Character development throughout the novel

All that matters is that you’ve prepared the reader for what’s to come so that they don’t get to that golden moment in your story and go, “Huh? Where the hell did that come from?”

That can be a major flaw of your published book—that you can’t undo.

Foreshadowing Examples

One of the best ways to learn any skill, including foreshadowing, is to look at examples and understand why they were done.

Here are some of our top foreshadowing examples (you probably recognize) that you can learn from in order to put these writing tips to use.

Foreshadowing Example #1 – Nightlock in Hunger Games

By now, we all pretty much know the story of Katniss Everdeen, the selfless sister who bravely sacrificed herself as a Hunger Game competition in order to save her younger sister.

This series has a number of fantastic foreshadowing examples, but one that sticks out to us the most is the prevalence of nightlock, a poisonous berry that causes death upon consumption.

foreshadowing example

These are the instances in which the use of nightlock is used as foreshadowing:

  • In the beginning of the book, we learn that Katniss is well-versed in which wilderness elements are poisonous and which aren’t
  • The second time we see nightlock is when Katniss is at the Capital, training for the games and we learn more of it
  • Later, while in the competition, Katniss has a run-in with Peeta and recalls her father telling her of nightlock’s dangers
  • Lastly, during the Hunger Games, Katniss wanders near a dead competitor, who had died by eating nightlock

All of these instances are meant to show us just how important nightlock is to the story. And later, when Katniss and Peeta nearly eat the berries on purpose, we know just how fatal the result of this would be.

Foreshadowing Example #2 – Obi-Wan’s Death in Starwars

This one might speak to all of you Star Wars fans out there.

Obi Wan’s death (spoiler alert) was foreshadowed very early on—to the point of how he would die…and by whom.

There’s actually a moment when Obi-Wan Kenobi is talking to Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II when he says, “Why do I get the feeling, you will be the death of me?”

This was a complete foreshadowing of what happened later in the book. However, readers can mistake this for a side comment and not take it too seriously.

Foreshadowing Example #3 – Lennie Killing in Of Mice and Men

If you’re familiar with Of Mice and Men (meaning, if your teachers made you read it in school), you know that Lennie, a mentally delayed man, kills his puppy by being too rough with it—unintentionally, of course.

This foreshadows Lennie accidentally killing Candy, a woman who mirrors the puppy in various ways.

Because we learn early on that Lennie is strong enough to kill, this makes moments of him interacting with others more foreboding.

Foreshadowing Example #4 – The Prologue in Game of Thrones

If you’ve read George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, you know just how vital the prologue of the series is—they even recreated this perfectly in the HBO show.

The White Walkers in Game of Thrones are among the biggest threats in the world Martin has created. They become the center of conflict and dread.

Martin foreshadows this from the very, very beginning by narrating some men venturing beyond the wall, all thinking the White Walkers are just a myth—a legend meant to scare children at bedtime.

The end of the prologue in Game of Thrones

During this prologue (spoiler alert), all the men, aside from one man of the Night’s Watch, are killed.

This single man runs away (from The Wall) and is intercepted in Winterfell as a deserter, where he tells this story to those who don’t believe him. This is the key foreshadowing moment of the potential horror the white walkers induce in this series.

The Power of Foreshadowing and the Writer’s 6th Sense

Let’s talk about one of the greatest plot twists in modern cinematic history: The 6th Sense.

Before I go on, spoiler alert!.. you have been warned!

If we weren’t prepared for the surprising fact that Bruce Willis’ character was actually dead, we’d meet that final, climactic reveal with confusion and anger. Instead, M. Night Shyamalan painstakingly prepares us with visual effects like one’s misty breath when a ghost appears, he has Haley Joel Osment tells out outright that some ghosts, “Don’t even know that they’re dead,” and when the reveal finally happens, it’s met with a montage of all the moments that M. Night Shyamalan foreshadowed that shocking plot twist.

And most of us still left the theatre going: “I didn’t see that coming.”

What none of us did do was leave the theater disappointed or confused, saying, “Well that came out of nowhere.”  

Make no mistake, when used correctly, foreshadowing can be more of your most powerful tools in keeping your reader hooked.

How to Use Foreshadowing in Your Novel

There are five common foreshadowing techniques that will never get old.

Use them wisely and readers will be hooked for life (and give you those 5-star Amazon reviews).

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#1 – Prophecy

With ultimate power comes ultimate…knowledge? Wait…that’s not right.

But what is right is that as the author, you possess god-like powers over your characters. You make them do, say or think anything. You know what is going to happen to them down to the last word they utter. You’ve seen it all.

You can see the future!

Trouble is, it’s all in your head.

That’s when you can use a prophetic character or event in your book to foreshadow what’s coming. It could come in the form of an actual prophet screaming from the hilltops that the ‘end is nigh’… and then the end actually becomes nigh.

Or some wise old man who says something like, “When I was a young lad, those dark clouds meant a storm was coming.”

One example of this foreshadowing in books is Professor Trelawney in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.

Professor Trelawney is seen as a “fraud” by many (if not all) of her students, particularly when she has her “episodes.” However, Rowling wrote this in such a way that you as a reader also don’t believe what she’s saying is true…when in fact, it is.

Whatever you choose to do, use your secondary characters in your book to prophesize (foreshadow) events yet to come.

# 2 – Chekov’s Gun

There is an old rule in writing, known as Checkov’s Gun: If you see a gun in Act One, it better go off in Act Three.

I find that the opposite is equally true. If a gun goes off in Act Three, you better have shown it earlier.

By focusing on some detail, especially one that isn’t immediately obvious as important, you are essentially giving your reader a heads up that this will come back in some significant way later on in the story.

A famous (non-gun) example of this is the Nightlock poisonous berries in the Hunger Games, as we mentioned in the examples above. At the climax of the book (spoiler alert), Katniss threatens to commit suicide by eating the berries.

This is foreshadowed three times:

  • First, at the beginning of the book when we see her out in the wilderness, foraging for food. We learn that she knows what’s poisonous and what’s not.
  • The second time occurs at the Capital when she is training for the Games. In that scene, we actually read about Nightlock.
  • The third time is when, during the Games, Katniss finds a dead tribute who accidently poisoned herself by eating the berries.

We saw the gun, ahhh, I mean berries, several times before that big climactic moment.

And because of that, we knew they’d be important (and we also didn’t think, “Well, isn’t that convenient” when they did show up.

In other words, the author foreshadowed that big final moment.

#3 – Omens

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.”

OK, so if your main character is a shepherd and it’s about to go down, then delight your readers with a dawn that lights the sky blood red.

What are omens?

Omens, or common cultural symbols, can be extremely effective tools when foreshadowing a coming plot point.

Here are some examples of common omens in fiction:

  • A black cat for bad luck
  • A four-leaf clover for good luck
  • Walking under a ladder
  • Finding a penny heads up
  • A crow symbolizing death

NOTE for foreshadowing with omens: You don’t have to stick to omens from our world. Make them up! For example, if you’re writing a novel that’s set in some magical kingdom or a distant planet, ask yourself, “What are the ‘omens’ they have?”

It could be anything… touching a Minotaur’s horn, seeing a mermaid, the three moons simultaneously appearing in the morning sky, etc.,…

Just make sure that whatever you decide, you adequately explain it to the reader, too.

#4 – “I Got This Weird Feeling”

Three characters walk into an abandoned cabin. One of them says, “I got a bad feeling about this…” and BOOM!

You’re away to the foreshadowing races!

Here’s the literary schtick: In real life, when your mom calls you because she had a bad dream about you getting hit by a bus, it’s just her being overprotective. (Jeez mom, chill. I’ll look both ways when I cross the road. I promise.)

But in fiction, if a character’s mother calls them with that same bad dream, it better be foreshadowing events to come (or don’t include that little tidbit at all).

#5 – Outline your book for better foreshadowing

It’s very, very hard to drop foreshadowing hints if you have no idea where your book is going.

For that reason, outlining your book will help you create much stronger (and sneakier) foreshadowing elements.

Think of it this way: the more you know about your own story, the better foreshadowing bits and pieces you can leave behind in order to hide them better from your readers.

#6 – Flashbacks/Flash Forwards

Setting a scene outside of the narrative timeline can also be an effective foreshadowing tool.

For example, you could have a flash forward scene with a sinking ship, then return to the story’s present time, three hours earlier, and the reader can watch with delight as the hero boards that very same ship.

Oh boy—someone gonna drown!

Or, a character could walk into a room and smell a strange, meaty odor that leads to a flashback of a time when he was fighting a gang of cannibals who were barbequing his buddy.

Oh wait—someone is getting grilled!

These elements are very helpful in creating foreshadowing but remember that flashbacks and flash-forwards should also show up elsewhere in your novel instead of just for a single foreshadowing event.

So there you have it, foreshadowing and all its mighty powers. Use this tool wisely, young Padowan, and I promise, you’ll have your reader frantically turning the pages until the glorious end.

finish writing a book

How to Finish Writing a Book: 8 Actionable Steps to Finish Your First Draft

Do you struggle with actually finishing a full draft of your manuscript? Do you actually know how to finish writing a book?

Trust me, it can be a lot harder than you think and I’ll explain why below…

If you’re someone who hops projects when you get bored or stuck, we have the solution to your common procrastination problem—and it might be different than you think.

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“PUBLISHED: The Proven Path From Blank Page to Published Author”

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Here are our top tips to help you finish writing a book:

  1. Outline your book
  2. Schedule writing time
  3. Budget & save for publication
  4. Be realistic with your goals
  5. Get accountability partners
  6. Make finishing your book a part of your life
  7. Power through to finish your book
  8. Avoid burnout

Why Many Aspiring Authors Don’t Finish Writing a Book

I think we’ve all been there before…

We have fantastic story ideas or even writing prompts, are so motivated to sit down and write a book, but we end up hitting the midway point and…stopping.

So many writers out there fall short when actually finishing their books.

Sure, you might be able to write a poem and finish that, or even complete writing a short story or two…but manuscripts are different.

But why?

They’re longer and take a lot more time and discipline to finish.

Most writers are going through the process of writing and publishing a book blind. And without the right process (or help) in place, it’s easy to fall off the rails and end up with only half a manuscript shoved in a desk drawer somewhere collecting dust.

Most writers fail to finish writing a book because they don’t have a process to keep them accountable in order to finish.

But that’s where we come in.

How to Finish Writing a Book

Obviously you’re ready to commit—to take the leap and actually finish your book.

Maybe you’ve struggled for a few months or maybe you’ve been trying to finish your book for years. Either way, we’ve got the best tips to actually complete your manuscript.

#1 – Outline

The best way to finish a project (and finish it quickly!) is to have a plan. A book’s plan is your outline.

Now, not everyone is on board with book outlines. There are “plotters,” there are “pantsers,” and there are the in-betweeners (which we affectionately call “plotsers”).

However, even writers who finish books regularly and claim they are vehemently against outlines are usually outlining.

What’s the difference between pantsers and plotters?

“Pantsers” tend to call their first draft something like a discovery draft, or draft zero, or, as Nora Roberts calls it, the piece of shit draft.

Even though they say they don’t outline, this first draft is a type of outline.

Even though Stephen King says, “Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers,” we know what he really means is, “My first draft is actually a type of outline, and that’s the method I’ve found that works for me, personally.”

“Prose is architecture. It’s not interior design.” – Ernest Hemingway

Some people love every single detail planned before they begin writing, while others think outlines make their stories too formulaic. The good news is, there’s a type of outline for everyone! If there isn’t one already penned in existence, you can make. one. up. ????

There are so many different kinds of outlines:

  • Extremely detailed outlines with a sentence for every action in each scene
  • Basic bullet points of the ideas you want to cover, or “first draft” outlines where you plan your book by writing a version of it
  • “Draft zero,” a pansted first draft, is one you can finish in roughly the same amount of time it takes you to plan and outline your book

You don’t have to follow certain outline rules or guidelines–your outline is a tool for you and the way you work. So find a system that works best and utilize it!

Pro Outlining Tip: If you’re more of a “pantser,” use what I call a “liquid outline.” Let it be flexible as your project progresses. For example, start with a bullet point outline of what you expect to happen, then as you write each chapter, go back and revise your outline when things change. This will keep you on track and organized, but it will also allow you the freedom and on-the-spot creativity of “pantsing” your book.

#2 – Schedule your writing time

A great way to stay productive is to set a writing schedule in order to develop a writing habit.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to finish writing your book:

  • Which days and times will you write?
  • How long will you write in each session?
  • Will you hit a time limit each day, or do you want to reach a certain word count?

Further than scheduling your writing, you can schedule the entire publication process to keep your book on track through production and into marketing!

Having a timeline for drafting, editing, beta rounds, cover, and interior design, book release, marketing, etc., will help you work more efficiently and coordinate the steps that require other people.

For example, many cover designers require you to book months, or even years, in advance! Scheduling and planning will help you stay ahead of possible roadblocks.

#3 – Budget and save

Self-publishing might be more expensive than you think it will be! If you haven’t done it yet, take some time to research possible costs of publishing a book.

For example, do you want a cover designer? A professional editor? Special marketing? Determine out how much it will cost and how long you have to save, then set up a savings plan to be sure you can cover these costs.

Here’s a breakdown of potential costs you have to consider when writing your book:

finish writing a book

If you have no idea how to set up a savings plan, Jenna Moreci has a great video on budgeting and savings basics!

If you don’t take the time to budget for book production and save ahead of time, you may happen upon a charge you weren’t expecting and aren’t prepared to pay. Then your options are to halt production to save for it, go without, or take a loan.

Saving ahead of time is much better than all three of those options, so do your research!

If you want more information on the publishing expenses you can expect, check out the video below—and the biggest cost might be the most surprising.

#4 – Be realistic

In scheduling, budgeting, and saving, be realistic about your goals and timelines.

If you convince yourself you have four hours of writing time each day to finish a draft in a month, but you have a full-time job and three kids? That’s probably not a realistic goal.

Maybe you can only write for twenty minutes a day. Maybe you can only write on weekends. Maybe writing a few paragraphs during lunch breaks is your only option for now.

Be honest, be logical, and set goals you have a chance of achieving. While you can always find ways to write faster in order to make the most of that writing time, you still have to set reasonable goals.

Nothing is more demoralizing than never reaching your goals.

#5 – Consider finding a team to hold yourself accountable

I have a critique group with two other writers who are also writing fantasy novels. Every Sunday, we exchange the chapter we wrote that week, as well as the other two writer’s chapters from the previous week with our critique comments.

When utilizing a critique partner or group, I recommend the following:

  1. Find people with similar WIPs
  2. Set up a schedule for swapping chapters, stories, poems, scripts, etc.
  3. Keep open lines of communication!

Having other people expect your routine updates, as well as having other people to discuss issues and setbacks, will help to keep you on track with a writing schedule.

At Self-Publishing School, there’s actually a Mastermind Community each student gets to be a part of where accountability partners run rampant. All these writers are looking for others to help them finish writing their books.

how to finish writing a book

#6 – Make your WIP a part of your life

Let your book take up a lot of real estate in your mind, your home, and your daily life.

As you grow your writing platform and market your book, talk about your work in progress. Tell your friends and family about it.

The more people who know you’re writing a book, the more they’ll ask you about it.

This hold you accountable to actually finish writing your book.

You can even make a Youtube channel, like mine, in order to have more people familiar with you writing a book. (This is also a great strategy to market yourself as a writer)

If you make a physical outline or a moodboard, hang it by your desk where you can see it. Set your main character’s profile sketch as your phone background.

Make it where you can’t skip a writing day without thinking about it.

This will keep your mind working toward solutions for your project every day.

#7 – Power through!

Don’t let yourself get hung up on edits before your draft is finished. Don’t overthink it–just focus on getting through your first draft.

Of course it won’t be perfect!

But, like Nora Roberts said, “you can fix anything but a blank page.”

You can’t edit nothing! Don’t slow down, keep your momentum, and pound out that first draft!

The hardest part of writing a book is finishing the first draft. After that, it’s all downhill so just get it done!

#8 – Avoid burnout

Writing burnout is when you feel like your work is trash. You think you have nothing important to say. Maybe you think no one cares about what you’re writing or maybe you’ve fallen into a pit of writer’s block.

Don’t fall into this hole!

Your first instinct when confronted with writing rut is usually to stop writing. Never stop writing. Maybe this WIP is sucking your joy, but realize that it isn’t you, and it isn’t your writing–it’s the project.

Try swapping to something a little easier, like a short story or a poem, but set a time to return to your book.

Don’t let so much time slip away that you get too far away to return.

Remind yourself of the reason to write a book in the first place.

Ask yourself these questions if you’re feeling writer burnout:

  • Where does your inspiration come from?
  • Who are you writing for?
  • Why is it important to you?

Write down your motivation and hang it somewhere you can see it

Don’t let yourself get burned out before you can finish your project. Take a breather, but make a promise to yourself that you’ll get back to work and set a specific time to do so.

Moral of the story: plan ahead and DON’T STOP UNTIL YOU’RE FINISHED!

Are you ready to start—and finally finish—your book?

Turn in to our free training to help you go from blank page to published author in as little as 90 days.

Yes, how long it takes to write a book can be as little as three months with our methods!

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amazon book reviews

How to Get Book Reviews on Amazon: Our Method for Free Book Reviews

Book reviews are what make or break you as an author and since Amazon is the leader in book retailers, getting reviews on Amazon is even more important.

As scary as it can be to leave your own fate in the hands of others, it’s true – especially if you publish through Amazon.

As a self-published author, having a portfolio of authentic positive Amazon reviews, right from the beginning, can skyrocket your book launch and make your book stand out in your market.

And yet–it is one of the hardest things to get.

[PRINTABLE] Book Launch Checklist

Publish Your Book The RIGHT Way & Ensure It’s Success!

Download your FREE book launch checklist to get your launch right the first time. Hit the button to claim yours.

Here’s how to get amazon book reviews:

  1. How long does it take for reviews to appear on Amazon?
  2. Learn Amazon book review guidelines
  3. Build a launch team for book reviews
  4. Contact Amazon top reviewers
  5. Apply to book review sites
  6. Include a reminder in your book
  7. Relaunch your book
  8. Deal with negative reviews
  9. Go through the Amazon book review checklist

There’s nothing more painful after going through the blood, sweat, and tears of writing, publishing, and launching your book, to get very few to no sales because of your lack of reviews.

But where do we start to get Amazon reviews?

Who do we ask?

How do we get reviews that our audience will respect?

How many people should we have on our launch team to guarantee a certain number of reviews for setting up promotional sites?

How many reviews is enough?

We will look at the ways to get legitimate Amazon reviews for your book so that you can reap the benefits of turning your book into a thriving long-term business.

How long does it take for reviews to get posted on Amazon?

You can expect reviews to be posted within 72 hours after being submitted. Because there is a system in place to avoid faulty reviews, it may take Amazon more than this allotted time for the review to get posted.

While it can be worrying, especially for authors launching a book, your review will get there eventually—and we cover tips for ensuring they get approved in this post, too!

How to Get Amazon Reviews and the Review Process

When you publish a book, there are essentially 6 things that score at making your book a bestseller.

They are:

  1. A great book cover design.
  2. An irresistible book title.
  3. An amazing book description.
  4. Stealthy keywords.
  5. Targeted book categories.

And… Book Reviews.

When Amazon ranks your book, the ranking is based on the volume of downloads your book gets and, the amount of reviews stacked on the book’s review page.

Amazon’s system is designed to take notice of books that are getting steady traction when reviews get posted.

This is why it is critical that when you launch your book you set everything up to get as many reviews as possible to get momentum going, increase organic traffic, and drive your rankings in the search engines. This means a higher percentage of people writing reviews for your book, not just at launch, but for months (and years) down the road.

The bottom line is, reviews carry big weight in the form of social proof that can drive your book to a bestseller and continue to bring in healthy passive income every month.

Why do book reviews matter?

Because of Amazon’s algorithm, maintaining a steady income of new book reviews is vital for your book to rise in the rankings. Meaning that if you want your book to continue to sell, you need to obtain real and fresh book reviews.

This is a breakdown of why book reviews matter:

  1. The more reviews you get, the more visibility your book gets. This means more sales and potential organic reviews.
  2. You create a stronger relationship with your readers
  3. A boatload of reviews adds credibility to your book and brand.

Book reviews for your book on Amazon are one of the defining factors that determine if a potential reader will click the BUY NOW button or not. In fact, if your book has less than 10 reviews, there is a strong chance that your book will get passed over.

People want validation before purchasing, and the best way to make that decision is on the front of the product page: reviews.

Amazon Reviewer Guidelines

You can find everything you need to know about posting reviews on Amazon right here under the Community Guidelines.

Amazon has tightened the ropes on reviews and as an author, you have to be aware of the tactics that are prohibited.

Here is what not to do when it comes to getting book reviews on Amazon:

  1. Pay someone to leave a review. This not only goes against Amazon’s terms, but it could get your book removed from the shelf and your account banned.
  2. Offer a free ‘gift’ in exchange for a review. No gifts allowed. This is still considered payment for a review.
  3. Join Facebook groups offering book review swaps. These sites are bad news. Amazon prohibits review swapping and is considered gaming the system. The Amazon algorithm can easily trace reviews back to these sources.
  4. Offer an Amazon gift card after a review has been published. It works like this: “You download the book and leave a review, and I will send you a gift card.” Again, this is against policy and is considered paying for a review.
  5. Leave a review for an author, then contact that person requesting they leave a review in return. This would be a form blackmail or trapping the other author into guilt. But this doesn’t work and if you receive any such email, inform the other author that you don’t work that way. I did this once and they just removed their review.

Most of these fall under the label of “incentivized reviews“, as there is a form of compensation in exchange for a review by Amazon sellers. Amazon has made it their mission to crack down on these on their platform.

What’s the Difference Between Verified and Unverified Book Reviews?

According to Amazon, an “Amazon Verified Purchase” review means they’ve verified that the person writing the review purchased the product at Amazon and didn’t receive the product at a deep discount

Product reviews that are not marked “Amazon Verified Purchase” are valuable as well, but we either can’t confirm that the product was purchased at Amazon or the customer did not pay a price available to most Amazon shoppers.

Verified reviews are favorable and are social proof that the reader did in fact buy the book and has potentially read through it before posting a review. A verified review shows up as a yellow banner that says “Verified Purchase,” as seen in the example below:

amazon book reviews

For unverified reviews, in most cases, the reviewer received an advance copy of the book and was possibly on a launch team to support the book’s release.

While this is still a legit practice for garnering reviews for your book, if the majority of reviews are non-verified, this could affect your potential customer’s decision to buy or not.

How long does it take for reviews to go live on Amazon?

Typically, it takes up to 72 hours for a book review to be posted on Amazon.

Some may take much shorter and other times it can take longer. If there’s a book review that should be live but has not been posted, you can contact Amazon for information on it.

How to Get More Amazon Book Reviews

There are many ways to get reviews but searching for reviewers to review your book is a time-consuming process. You could waste precious time chasing bad leads and end up with nothing for your effort.

So where do you get reviews without spending hordes of time?

No matter how you do it, remember that it isn’t just about quantity but quality as well. While we can’t control what reviewers will say about our work, we can stay focused on writing great content that adds value in order to increase our chances of getting positive reviews.

To get Amazon reviews for your next book launch, or to add reviews to an existing book, consider taking action on these following strategies:

#1 – Build a launch team

There are many ways to hunt down reviewers for your book. As we have seen, you can contact the top reviewers, target free book review sites, or reach out to book bloggers.

These methods, while they may get you a handful of reviews, is time intensive and a lot of work.

I have found, after running over two dozen book launches, that the most effective way to get reviews fast on launch is through setting up a launch team.

Your launch team is a group of people who have agreed to read your book in advance and follow up with a review immediately after the book is live.

When it comes to building a launch team, it is about building relationships over the long term. This is why, in order to run an effective launch team, you should focus on the relationship with your early-bird reviewers.

Here is a step-by-step process for organizing your team:

How to Set Up a Launch Team

1. Start building your relationships early. Launch teams don’t just happen. They take work, months of outreaching, and asking the right people if they want to help launch your book when the time is right. You can generate interest by posting snippets of the book on Social media, sharing chapters of your work with your list, and promoting your cover to people.

Share your content and advertise your brand. Communicate with people in person and through online channels about your writing. Keep in mind the purpose for this is to make genuine relationships with people and not to just add them to your launch. And most importantly, to make friends with people who read in your niche, so that your book gets recommended alongside the other books they’re reading.

2. Create your list of potential reviewers. As you build these relationships with your fanbase, start making a list of people who express interest in joining your launch. If you have multiple books and have been through the publishing process already, take note of the readers who have left reviews already.

Contact them closer to the launch of your next book to get them on board. Set up an excel spreadsheet and keep track of the names of people who sign up.

Action Step:

Contact people directly and invite them to the launch team. Keep track of early-bird reviewers in excel.

3. Set up an email template through your email server. Add everyone to the list. If you aren’t using an email server yet you can check out Mailchimp, Convert Kit or Mailerlite. Make it as easy as possible so you aren’t wasting time searching for contact information.

Send out a welcome email with a link to your book in PDF or/and Mobi form. You can create a folder in Dropbox and just include the link to a shared folder. Make it easy for them to access the material.

Action Step:

Import your list of emails onto an email server list.

4. Send out the Welcome email. Ideally you want to send out your book at least two weeks before launch. This gives people enough time to read it through. In the welcome email I include details for the launch date and any other expectations. At this stage the book isn’t live yet so you will send another email on that day with the link.

For the book delivery, you can upload a PDF version as well as a Mobi version of the book. To create a MOBI, PDF or EPUB file you can check out the Calibre ebook management software.

Here’s the difference between EPUB vs MOBI vs PDF so you can choose which to use.

After you have all the files ready, you can create a shared folder in Dropbox and share the link with your team.

If any top reviewers agreed to leave a review, you absolutely want to message them to follow up.

Action Step:

Create a welcome email template. Send out your welcome message to the team. Include a link to your book content.

5. Send out your ‘Take Action’ email on launch day. Your book is live and it is time for people to step up. Contact the team on launch day as soon as the book is live. After publishing a book it should take 12-24 hours for Amazon to get it posted. In the email, include a link to your book. More specifically, a link to the review page so that team members can go straight to the page with one click.

6. Day 3: Reminder email. I wait 3 days and send out a reminder email. In this email I thank everyone who has left a review and thank people in advance who are still working on the book and haven’t posted yet.

7. Final Call: This is the last email I will send out. Similar to the previous email, reminding people the book is live and is ready for a review whenever you are. You can remind your team that book is at a special discounted price if you are launching it at 0.99 or it’s free.

8. Contact Your List: If you have a list, this is gold for getting paid downloads and possible reviews. You should contact your list on the first day the book is live and let people know that the book has just launched. Then, several days later, email them again asking if they had a chance to get into the material. You could add something of value here just to show subscribers how much you value their support. This is the email where I include a ‘leave a review’ invite.

These are the steps I use to communicate with my launch team. Generally speaking, if you want 100 reviews for your book, you should aim for at least 200 people.

That is a lot of emails but, what I have experienced is that, on average, you are batting a 50% success rate. What happens to those other 50% who don’t review?

Here’s why some people won’t review your book:

  1. They didn’t like the book.
  2. They forgot to review altogether.
  3. They didn’t read the book.
  4. They couldn’t be bothered to review.

If you can get 20+ reviews on launch after one week you are looking very good. This is enough to get momentum moving and the Amazon algorithm will see that your book is doing well.

#2 – Contact Amazon Top Reviewers

There is a list of top 1000 reviewers on Amazon. These people review everything via the Amazon vine program, although certain reviewers target books specifically. If you can get an Amazon Top Reviewer to look at your book, this is well worth it.

Check out the Amazon Top Customer Reviewers list. This is a time-consuming process but, if you can get 2-3 reviewers to agree to a book review, you’re all set.

get amazon book reviews

Here’s how to get more reviews on Amazon with top reviewers:

  1. Go into the reviewer’s profile and check the books they have reviewed. To be specific, you want to check for books in your genre. If you wrote a book on weight loss and the reviewer has written most of their reviews for romance novels, it’s a good indication of what they favor. Target the reviewers interested in your topic.
  2. Check for contact information. Due to the large volume of spam and requests for reviews, most top reviewers have removed their personal email. If they have a website set up, you can send a direct email to request a review.
  3. Wait for a reply. Most reviewers, from my own experience, did not reply. I would recommend targeting 20 reviewers and wait one week. You can then resend the request again.

This is a time-consuming process but, if you get a top reviewer to agree to a review, keep that person’s contact information in an excel file. Then, when you launch your next book, you can reach out to them again and again.

#3 – Book Review Sites

There are a number of sites out there that will find reviewers for your book. This is not the same as buying reviews for your book which, I’ll restate again, goes against Amazon’s review policy and should be avoided.

In fact, Amazon has taken action against over 1000 sites on Fiverr that were selling incentivized reviews and fake review services. Yes, avoid.

Review services, however, can speed up the process and find reviewers for your book. One of my favorites is BookRazor. It is a paid site but they promote a system of honest reviewers for your book by providing a contact list of potential readers.

There are many other sites you can check out as well, and many of them are free while some are paid:

#4 – Include a reminder in your book

Here is a tactic that works well. Did you know that you can include insert a request in your book for readers to leave a review? It’s a great way to invite people to review your book.

I have a page at the back of my books that looks like this:

What Did You Think of [Your Book Title Here]?

First of all, thank you for purchasing this book [Your Book Title Here]. I know you could have picked any number of books to read, but you picked this book and for that I am extremely grateful.

I hope that it added at value and quality to your everyday life. If so, it would be really nice if you could share this book with your friends and family by posting to Facebook and Twitter.

If you enjoyed this book and found some benefit in reading this, I’d like to hear from you and hope that you could take some time to post a review on Amazon. Your feedback and support will help this author to greatly improve his writing craft for future projects and make this book even better.

You can follow this link to [Book link here] now.

I want you, the reader, to know that your review is very important and so, if you’d like to leave a review, all you have to do is click here and away you go. I wish you all the best in your future success!

When you do this, you want to have a link directing customers right back to the review page on Amazon. Make it so easy for them that it requires as little effort as possible.

Many authors will include a cute ‘cat photo’ or even pictures of their kids begging asking for a review. This strategy can work well if you sell a large volume of books during the initial launch phase.

But remember it takes readers time to go through your book and so, if you don’t see the reviews appear in the first week, you might get them trickling in weeks or even months later.

#5 – Relaunch Your Book

You can relaunch your book if book sales drop and the reviews stop coming in. When you relaunch your book, you can put together a new launch team, and even add a new chapter to the book to generate a renewed interest in your book.

I have tried this strategy several times in the past year and, by relaunching the book, adding new value to the content, I put together another small launch team of 30-40 people. This brought in another 20+ reviews for a book that was suffering from lack of sales and poor rankings.

It happens, so we have to stay on top of keeping the book active.

How to Deal with Negative Reviews

Getting positive reviews on your book is a great feeling. In a perfect world, we all want to have just the good stuff when it comes to our review platform. But alas, there will always be that dissatisfied reader that was expecting something much different than what your book was offering.

Readers will leave a negative review for various reasons, and in most cases, there is nothing we can do.

But first of all, receiving a negative review isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it can lend to a book’s credibility. Look at it from a reader’s perspective. If a book has 100 positive 5-star reviews, although the reviews may be legitimate, we know that not every book is perfect.

Having a load of good reviews and nothing that is under three stars could create doubt for the browser, just as having a book with only a handful of reviews turns browsers the other way.

While negative reviews aren’t all bad, there are steps we can take to reduce the amount.

So how can we prevent our book from getting a lot of negative reviews and turning away potential book sales?

Here are four areas to pay attention to:

  1. Book quality: the single biggest reason a book will get panned by negative reviews is poor quality. This is credited to sloppy editing. A book that is not up to the quality expected by readers will get hit with a high amount of bad reviews. Then, it could get pulled off the shelf by Amazon until the author upgrades to better quality. Make sure your book is up the high standards people expect. Always respect your readers. The book business is like any other business, make good products, and your customers will love you.
  2. Inaccurate description of the book: make sure that your book description, title and cover all point towards the theme of the book. If your book is titled, “How to become rich in 21 days” and, after reading through the book the reader isn’t rich, well, they bought the book because of the promise you made. So, if reading a book delivers a negative outcome for your audience, someone is going to shout about it in a review.
  3. Your book is a sales pitch for your other products. If there is one thing that readers don’t like, it is being hit up with offers and the push to check out other services or products in the book. This could come across as spammy and devalues the content that the readers paid for. While your goal may be to use the book to attract customers for your online business, you want to avoid any sales pitches in the book.

How to Write and Submit a Review

Writing a review for a book you like is a great way to drive potential readers to the title. If you read a great book recently and you want to tell people about it, you can take a few minutes to write up a positive review.

Writing a review is easy. Just go to the book’s front page and, under the heading Customer Reviews, you will see a button for write a customer review. Click on that and you will be taken to a page set up for ‘Your Reviews’ where you can write reviews for your purchases.

What you do is:

  1. Select the rating of the book from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the best score.
  2. Write your book description in the box provided. Keep in mind that if you leave this page before submitting your review, you’ll have to start over again. I would recommend writing the review first in Word or Evernote and then copy and paste.
  3. Create a headline for the review.
  4. Hit submit. Your review will go live within a couple of hours, although it could take up to 24 hours.

One point to note here is that, with Amazon’s policy for posting reviews, you have to have an account that has made a purchase of at least $50 using a valid credit or debit card.

Checklist for Getting Amazon Book Reviews

If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to get more book reviews and in turn, sell more books.

  1. Set up a launch team for your book. Send your team a PDF/MOBI/EPUB file and follow up with email right up until launch. Follow up with several reminders after the launch.
  2. Include a ‘Review Request’ page at the back of your book. Insert the link taking customers directly to the review page. Make it so easy they don’t have to search around for the book on Amazon.
  3. Contact Amazon Top Reviewers. Send a personalized email to each, targeting the people who review books similar to your genre. Wait at least two weeks before following up.
  4. Contact people in your business. This doesn’t include friends and family. Contact professionals in your field who would be willing to read the book with the possibility of leaving an honest review.
  5. Hire a site that specializes in finding honest reviewers for your book. I recommend BookRazor.
  6. Relaunch your book. Add more content, a new book cover, or make it appealing for people to join your relaunch of an existing book. You can relaunch a book as many times as you want.

There are a lot of strategies out there to get reviews for your books, most are legit, and some are not. As an author, make sure you are aware of what Amazon considers to be authentic reviews when it comes to gathering reviews for your next book, and steer clear of anything it considers to be “incentivized reviews”.

If a site promises to get you positive reviews in return for cash, stay away. It isn’t worth it, trust me. Keep hunting and adding reviews to your book.

Book reviews are the secret sauce to adding value and credibility to your work, boosting sales and making your book stick on the bestseller lists. Don’t skimp out on them.

Want a checklist to steer you in the right direction?

[PRINTABLE] Book Launch Checklist

Publish Your Book The RIGHT Way & Ensure It’s Success!

Download your FREE book launch checklist to get your launch right the first time. Hit the button to claim yours.

write a book to grow a business

How to Write a Book to Grow Your Business

So you have a business that you are rather proud of. That’s fantastic!

And what would make things even better would be writing a book and publishing a book about your business.

Which, to be frank, is a monumental avenue to grow your business, find new leads, and increase income (I mean, Self-Publishing School even uses this method to grow to 8 figures).

After all, you have already created a vital business, and helping others would validate your trade and diversify it as well.

Not to mention the fact that being an author increases your own authority by a significant amount…

Which is what Brianna Ruelas did when she decided to write a book.

Initially, she had no idea what to do. She knew she wanted to write a book and she knew she would use it as a launching pad for a business but beyond that, she wasn’t sure which steps to take.

Until she joined Self-Publishing School and was guided in the right direction.

Now, she has a flourishing $4,000/month business—all from working with Self-Publishing School to launch her book, and that’s not including book royalties!

But how do you do this effectively? We’ve got some tips to make it happen.

In addition to becoming an author, you would be marketing your business through a different venue.  We’re talking win-win here!

Grow authority. Grow influence.

Add SIX-FIGURES to Your Business THIS YEAR with a Book!

Business owners, healthcare providers, coaches, realtors, CXOs, and other professionals
are using this same strategy to grow their businesses – and now you can have it, too!

Learn the strategy, including the exact step-by-step methods we used, to grow Self-Publishing School
from $0 – $20 Million…in only 6 years…using a BOOK!

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Here’s what we’ll teach you about how to write a book about your business:

  1. Brainstorm Your Book Content
  2. Considerations for Writing a Book About Your Business
  3. Choosing a Title for Your Book
  4. Write Your book
  5. Get Feedback From Friends
  6. Finish Fast and Imperfectly
  7. Create folders for images
  8. Choose a publishing platform

Why Write a Book About Your Business?

This is an obvious question. You already run your business every day, what good could come from writing a book about it?

Here are some benefits of writing a book about your business:

  • You gain authority
  • You reach new potential customers
  • You gain opportunities for speaking engagements
  • You can capture more leads by using your book
  • You gain credibility to both potential customers and others in your field

This very blog is built on the back of a website that was started with a book.

Chandler Bolt published his first bestselling book at the age of 19 and since, has built an 8-figure business from the process—while using his latest book Published. to make it more successful.

[Pssst! Want to see some of our students’ books? Check out the SPS Library here!]

Brainstorm Your Business Book’s Content

You have already experienced the step-by-step process of establishing your own livelihood whether it is full time or a sideline. Now all you have to do is explain what you did to grow your business.

One strategy is to pretend you are advising a close friend what steps to take.

Here are some ways to come up with your book idea:

  1. Brainstorm a random list of everything you remember doing when you started your business.
  2. Don’t stop now; keep brainstorming! List everything you want to include in the book–and even things that won’t go in the book. If it crosses your mind, write it down. We’ll put all of that into a book outline later.
  3. Take a break. Walk away from the computer!  Eat, drink, walk, or talk.
  4. Break’s over. You’ve got a book to write!
  5. List the process of how you created and grew your business in chronological order. This list is your reference point for an informal outline and table of contents.
  6. Prioritize. What are the top topics that you want to emphasize in your book? What do you wish you would have known when first starting your business? Most importantly, what will your readers gain from learning about your business? Let them learn from your mistakes and share in your successes.
  7. Make each topic a separate chapter even if it is really short.
  8. People like concise information, so keep your paragraphs short. Incorporate bullet points that shoot straight to the core matter for easier skimming.
  9. Look through old computer files and photographs to remind you of things that you may have forgotten connected directly or indirectly with your business.
  10. Check your lists more than twice. Did you remember to include everything that matters?

Once you’ve got the gist of what content your book will be, you’ll be ready for the next step in your business-to-book writing process.

What to Consider When Writing a Book About Your Business

There are a few things you’ll want to think about when writing your book about your business.

Here are some thins to consider before writing your book.

#1 – Do I want photographs in my book?

Depending on your business, you may find it worthwhile to add pictures in your book for explanation purposes or something just as relevant.

For example, in my book Rockin’ Crystals: How Healing Crystals Can Rock Your Life, I used images in a number of areas as you can see below.

write a book about a business

Advantages of using images in your book:

  • Color pictures add, um, color, and people like color.
  • Photos attract interest and authority.
  • Pictures explain in ways that words lack (unless you use 1,000 words per picture, according to the cliche).
  • Cell phones and their apps make it easy to take and edit pictures.

Disadvantages of using pictures in your book:

  • They add to your book’s production costs.
  • The electronic version may take a bit longer to download (but I have never had a problem with that).
  • If you have an audio version of your book, the pictures would not be included in the content.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to include pictures. If it adds to the overall experience, we recommend it.

However, if pictures will only be a distraction and not useful, skip them.

#2 – How long do I want this book to be, anyway?

Does it matter, or do I just write until I am done?

This is a question many authors have regularly. How many words are in a novel?

For writing a book about your business, we recommend you write between 20,000 – 50,000 words.

This is because any shorter, and it won’t give your readers all the information they want and more than 50,000 words and you run the risk of boring your readers or giving them too much information.

This is also known as overwriting, which can be trimmed during editing but you want to make sure your book is a clean, concise, and helpful as possible.

#3 – Do I want multiple formats of a book?

Publishing your book in different formats can help you reach a wider audience. But that also means you have to decide if you want to pursue multiple formats.

Here are the different book formats you can publish:

  • Publish an ebook
  • Paperback book
  • Hardcover
  • Audiobooks

Each of these book variations comes with its own pros and cons. For example, if you choose to distribute an audiobook, you’ll have to learn how to make an audiobook in the first place.

Publishing ebooks also comes with its own set of “rules” to follow.

Ultimately, it’s recommended to publish a version of each in order to maximize your audience, but do what works best for you.

Choosing a Title for Your Book

People like knowing other people’s business. Call them curious, call them snoopy, just call to them to buy your book to learn about your business. Teach them your secrets.

Here are some overall tips for titling a book from the Self-Publishing School Youtube Channel.

If you want some additional tips for choosing a book title, here’s what worked for me:

  • A book about a business is a niche market, so make sure that your title makes the topic clear. For example, The Craft Fair Vendor Guidebook lets the reader know that the book is a guide about being a craft fair vendor. The subtitle, Ideas to Inspire, adds another element to the reader’s expectations. The cover’s photograph shows a booth with handcrafted jewelry, another clue.
writing a book about your business
  • In your book’s description, clearly explain what type(s) of business you will be covering. People like to know what to expect and may feel tricked if the book’s description isn’t comprehensive enough. A suggestion is to write your book’s description before writing the book. It’s like a “thesis paragraph” to keep yourself focused. You can keep revising the overview to fit the book as it develops. Also, that gives you more time to decide if the description is its absolute best before uploading it onto your publishing site.
  • Spell out examples of how your business practices can be applied to other ventures. The more crossover applications, the more types of people will be interested in your book.
  • Although you want all of the book to be appealing, you want the first pages to be extra engaging because those are the pages that potential readers will see if they use the “Look inside” feature on Amazon.
  • If you searched for a book about someone else’s business, what details did you want to learn? Cover these topics in your book and then some—bonus points if you use a unique take on them.

Writing a Book About Your Business

Now that you’ve got to the meat of what you’re writing about, you have a clear outline for your book, and you even have a title on hand, it’s time to write your book.

These are my best tips for writing a book about your business in order to get it right.

Grow authority. Grow influence.

Add SIX-FIGURES to Your Business THIS YEAR with a Book!

Business owners, healthcare providers, coaches, realtors, CXOs, and other professionals
are using this same strategy to grow their businesses – and now you can have it, too!

Learn the strategy, including the exact step-by-step methods we used, to grow Self-Publishing School
from $0 – $20 Million…in only 6 years…using a BOOK!

Please select...

#1 – Look over your brainstorming notes

It always pays to have your notes handy in case there are items you forgot about that are beneficial to include.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind when going back over your notes:

  • Are there any important pieces of information that didn’t make it into the outline?
  • What bits and pieces of your notes can make your book more unique than others on the market?
  • Is there anything you feel you need in your book that you didn’t include in the outline before?
  • You might also want to try using this software to help outline your book project.

Once you’ve got those notes, move on to the next step.

#2 – Get feedback from friends

Tell a friend who doesn’t know much about business about your book.

Notice the questions your friend asks because readers will most likely have the same questions. These are very important to take note of because they’re what you’ll directly answer and address in your book.

Take those questions and create sections in your chapters to answer them specifically.

#3 – Develop a writing time and habit

The best way you’ll get your book done is to form a writing routine that will enable you to finish your book faster.

You can set a scheduled time each day to write and notify those around you that it is your time to work on your book.

writing a business book

These are our top tips for developing a writing habit:

  • Create a writing schedule like the one featured above
  • Eliminate distractions that will keep you from writing
  • Find a writing space that’s 100% dedicated to writing your book
  • Stick with it for the first few weeks before it forms into a habit
  • Find others who can keep you accountable

Forming this habit can be the hardest part of writing a book about your business—especially because your business takes up a lot of time.

Using these tips will help.

#4 – Finish fast and with fault

Worry about grammar later…but please do worry about it later—editing your book is important!

I recommend just plowing through in order to finish your first draft faster. After all, “done is better than perfect.”

Plus, you can’t edit a blank page and one of the biggest indicators of success for aspiring authors is finishing your first draft.

#5 – Create folders for images

This is a very important part of keeping all of your book’s contents organized so you don’t make the mistakes of losing something that’s vital.

If you are going to have pictures, create folders to keep them organized.

You can use Google Drive to store all of your photos so it’s easier to collaborate with your book formatter or editor.

Another option is to use Dropbox for storing photos for your book.

You can read about more pieces of writing software you can use for writing your book as well.

The big takeaway with storing your images in folders, however, is that you know exactly where everything is and can keep track of it through the proofing, editing, and publishing process.

#6 – Choose a publishing platform

If you are going to publish your book through more than one platform, definitely have folders to keep everything straight, like in the image below.

write about your business

Here are a few publishing platforms you can use:

There are other self-publishing companies out there but these are the top recommended.

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your publishing platform is that KDP and Barnes and Noble offer free ISBNs (only for distribution on their channels), while Ingramspark does not.

However, Self-Publishing School students are recommended to buy unique ISBNs anyways, so you can distribute on multiple platforms in the future.

#7 – Read each chapter aloud

You can do this to yourself or even to others to see how it flows and to see what questions or suggestions your listeners may have.

The reason for this is because you can often catch a lot of issues like your style, flow, or even sentence structure when reading aloud that you won’t catch if you read it in your head.

This is a great way to proof and self-edit your book.

#8 – Just keep writing

Until you have covered everything important, just keep writing. It’s the best way to write faster and finish your first draft.

Don’t think about anything else and just write.

When you start worrying about your book or how it’ll be received, cast the thoughts aside and get back to it. You’ll never publish a book if you can’t finish it.

#9 – Proofread and revise

The next step for writing a book about your business is to proofread it and revise…until you can’t stand to look at your book any longer.

Make notes in areas you want to change or you want your editor to pay special attention to.

A great way to do this is to type “TK” into the text of your document so you can later do a search and find all “TK”s in your manuscript. This will only bring up those areas for you to rewrite or proof because “TK” doesn’t appear next to each other in the English language.

#10 – Get feedback on the whole book

Ask people to give you feedback on the full book. They need to have excellent grammar skills and be detail-oriented.

This is also known as the beta reading process or less commonly, the alpha reading process.

The idea here is to have others give you direct and raw feedback about your book and what you can do to make it better.

Here are some questions to ask people giving you feedback on your book:

  • Was everything clear and easy to understand?
  • What was your biggest takeaway from it?
  • Did you find any parts boring or slow?
  • What other feedback do you have that I didn’t ask you about?

Doing this will help ensure your published product is the best it can be for new readers.

#11 – Let it sit

When you feel like you are done, don’t look at your manuscript for days, maybe even a week or two. Then go back with fresh eyes.

You will find more errors to fix!

The reason for this is to separate yourself from your work a bit. The longer you’re away from your own work, the easier it is to determine its flaws, which will help you write a better book overall.

#12 – Publish Your Book About Your Business

When you believe that your book is at its best, it is time to publish it.

Search for the advantages and disadvantages of the publishing options and make your decision. Obviously, I’m a big proponent of self-publishing a book, but you can check out this blog post about the differences between self-publishing vs traditional publishing.

From there, you can prepare a launch party and gather your launch team. Upload your book and congratulate yourself!

Exciting days are ahead!

My Experience Writing a Book About My Business

Since it is often helpful to know how someone else did something, I will share my story. I had always wanted to write a book but thought it would be a novel since I read lots of fiction. It remained just a dream.

Meanwhile, I started wire-wrapping healing crystals to make jewelry. I opened an Etsy store and started selling jewelry and related items at craft fairs and holistic health expos.

After I thought of a way to make portable folding jewelry cases from children’s art kits, I wanted to share my idea with other jewelry vendors. I posted pictures in my Rockin’ Crystals Etsy store and briefly considered making a brochure to sell.

write a book about your business

Then I thought, “A brochure? The heck with a brochure–I need to write a book!”

I searched online for craft fair books to see what was available. I already knew how difficult it was to find pictures of displays that worked well for a temporary situation like a craft fair, so my book was going to help fill that void.

With a background in education and library, I had a lot to learn about starting and operating a home-based business. I wrote my book to help the other newbie business entrepreneurs. Far from being a business expert, I focused on my own experience because I did qualify as an “expert” regarding my personal business.

I had taken pictures at every craft fair and learned how to use photo editing apps like Photofy and WordSwag. The photos were what made my book flow. They reminded me of what was involved in the craft fair business.

After I decided to write a book, I attended events with a different perspective.

I needed examples beyond jewelry, and other vendors were happy to let me photograph their displays. I wanted the principles in the book to apply to a variety of products.

I started with publishing on Amazon and released Kindle and paperback versions. Fortunately, it is free to upload and free to revise. As a former English teacher, I revise and revise and revise. Each time I think that I am DONE, that the book is the best of my abilities. Then I think of something that would improve the book in my mind, even if nobody else would notice the difference. And there I go again!

My book has 97 color photographs, and I was beyond frustrated working with Kindle Create. The final file usually wouldn’t upload. I asked for advice in the KDP Community Forum.

Another author explained a way to upload the Kindle book that worked fairly painlessly:

  • Save the Word file as Web Page, Filtered.
  • Find the HTML document (wherever you’d saved it)
  • Right click on it and send to a Compressed (zipped) folder.
  • Find a folder with the same name that contains your photos.
  • Drag in into the Compressed (zipped) folder.
  • Use the Compressed folder for uploading the digital book on KDP.

I expanded the paperback versions with Barnes & Noble Press and IngramSpark. This was after numerous revisions with Amazon KDP. The digital version of The Craft Fair Vendor Guidebook has had fairly steady downloads with Kindle Unlimited. The paperback sales have been significantly better through Amazon compared to anywhere else.

My book about my business has outsold my other books. This may be because many people would like to have their own business and want to learn what to do. They would like to read about your business, so let’s get that book written. Future business owners are counting on you!

story ideas

300+ Short Story Ideas & How to Start Your Story Off Right

These short story ideas can mean the difference between sitting at home suffering from writer’s block and knocking out another story…that could potentially be published.

We know it can be hard to summon inspiration. It’s elusive and downright impossible to drum up if it doesn’t want to be.

We’ve all been there before…

That’s why we put together these completely original, brand new writing prompts for you to use to start your next story short.

Save This Resource NOW for Quick Reference Later…

200+ Fiction Writing Prompts In the Most Profitable Genres

Come up with your NEXT great book idea with over 200 unique writing prompts spanning 8 different genres. Use for a story, scene, character inspo, and more!

Here are our short story ideas and how to utilize them effectively:

  1. 300+ Short Story Ideas
  2. How to start a story
  3. Story structure
  4. How to think of your own story ideas

How to Start a Story

Starting your short story is the most important part.

Without being able to hook your readers with a strong introduction, they won’t get to enjoy the entirety of the journey through your story.

Whether you’re writing a short story or looking for your next big book idea, we’ve got tips to help you start it off right.

These are our tips for starting your short story:

  1. Shock your readers by writing something they wouldn’t expect or something that doesn’t quite make sense. This is often done by creating confusion, starting by instilling sympathy for your character, or writing something downright shocking to read.
  2. Create sympathy for your character by throwing them in the middle of a struggle. Humans are empathetic beings and making something awful happen right off the bat to an unsuspecting character will help draw intrigue.
  3. Avoid info-dumping by beginning your story with action instead of information. If all you do is give your character’s entire background (which is indicative that’ you’re now following the rules of showing versus telling), your readers won’t be sucked in.

If you want to skip down to your story ideas, click right here, otherwise, let’s dive into story structure and how to use these ideas effectively.

Story Structure

No matter how many short stories idea you have, without the right story structure, they’ll be nothing more than just…ideas.

Let’s go over proper story structure so you can do these story ideas justice.

There are 5 key milestones in every novel, and for short stories, there are typically 4 (due to word count and lack of longevity in general).

Story Structure Milestone 1 – The Setup

Every story needs a setup in which to move from. This is the very beginning of your story.

You may decide to use one of these short story ideas and in that case, you’ll have to construct a catchy and enticing first paragraph/s in order to pull readers in.

The difference between writing a novel and writing a short story is the fact that your short story introduction has to be short, snappy, and filled with intrigue.

Here are a few ways to write a good story beginning:

  • Start in medias res, which means “in the middle.” This is in reference to the action and how you start a story. Starting in the middle gives the story a more natural beginning and helps you avoid info-dumping.
  • Introduce a major story element within the first page. This gives your readers a clear idea about what your story will involve. By “main element,” I mean magic or flying spacecraft or a love interest. You want your readers to know the type of story they’re getting in the opening so they can become more interested in its ending.
  • Make us care about the main character in some way through strong character development. The more your reader can bond with the focus of your story, the more likely it is they’ll stick around to find out what happens to them.

Story Structure Milestone 2 – The Inciting Incident

There’s always one thing that happens in any story or book or even movie that kicks off the chain of events.

Your story needs to have an inciting incident as part of its story structure too.

For example, the inciting incident in Game of Thrones that kicks off the entire Stark VS Lannister war that’s ultimately the reason behind all the heartache, death, and drama is when Jaime Lannister pushes Bran Stark out of the window. This puts a target on Bran’s back since he didn’t actually die and then he was nearly killed by a “hitman” with a Lannister blade.

That is the inciting incident for both the first book and the whole of the war for the iron throne.

Figure out what your (probably smaller) inciting incident is, whether that’s a stranger wandering in to your character’s classroom or some unknown object smacking your character in the back of the head while they jogged past their favorite, and oddly empty, coffee shop one morning.

Story Structure Milestone 3 – The Slap

When writing a novel, there are two of these “slaps,” the second worse than the first. No matter if you’re writing a short story or a full novel, your story will still get a slap.

These slaps are critical and harrowing events that halt the progression of your story and make it harder for your character to succeed in whatever it is they’re trying to do.

During this slap, your character’s world and hope and whatever they’re working toward comes to a standstill as they face this obstacle in their journey.

For a short story, this can range from your character losing all the money they had to get home to the death of their loved one. Choose something that’s shocking but will still leave your readers with some hope.

Story Structure Milestone 4 – The Climax

You know what the story climax is. It’s the point in your story where all the events come to a head with the biggest event in your story.

The climax is when your character either succeeds or loses what they’re after.

Oftentimes, authors choose this time to provide readers with an unexpected twist. No matter how you decide to write your story’s climax, make sure it’s the highlight of your story.

The falling action, otherwise known as the resolution, comes directly after and is how you end your story. (We suggest making sure it’s satisfying instead of just dropping off the end of the climax)

How to Think of Your Own Story Ideas

Coming up with story ideas can take some time and practice—especially when your imagination has been at a standstill for a long time.

short story ideas

In order to come up with your own story ideas, use the “what if” method. Think of a situation and then ask yourself, “what if…” and fill in the end.

For example, your situation may be a character who wants to ditch school.

To create your own story idea, ask yourself, “What if…that character ditches school and then runs into their teacher.”

And then, “what if…that teacher is also playing hooky.”

This allows you to craft story ideas centering around one main idea with multiple possibilities.

Ultimately, coming up with your own story ideas from nothing can be much more difficult than expanding on story ideas someone else has come up with—like us.

Here are over 300 story ideas for you to use and write about.

300+ Short Story Ideas to Use Today

  1. Write a story about a new strain of flower and how its scent is intoxicating to humans, but also deadly.
  2. Write a story about the first stranger you see today.
  3. Write about a lizard that’s living in your character’s walls.
  4. Write a story about a city that has hidden from civilized society for thousands of years until an unsuspecting traveler walks right into the heart of it.
  5. Write a story from the perspective of a mouse.
  6. Write about the worst lie you’ve ever told.
  7. Write a story that starts in a room of windows.
  8. Write about a little girl who purposely leaves a backpack of bombs in a local coffee shop.
  9. Write a story involving two people from opposite sides of a massive town with a long history of rivalry.
  10. Write about another planet that has life just like Earth’s—everything is exactly the same only there were 1/3 of the Earth’s population.
  11. Write about a chair sitting on the old, broken down front porch.
  12. Write a story about a girl walking down the center of the street.
  13. Write about apples falling from the sky.
  14. Write about the incessant shrill of a morning bird outside the barely cracked window.
  15. Write a story involving three women and a stolen cane.
  16. Write a story that starts with, “She was aware of just how much she was making things harder for herself.”
  17. Write a story about a cold house in the depths of an overpopulated town.
  18. Write about two birds and their role in a heist.
  19. Write about what it’s like to be fully submerged in jelly.
  20. Write a story that starts with the smell of salt in an open field.
  21. Write a story involving a teacher and a 217-year-old child.
  22. Write about succulents drying up on a windowsill.
  23. Write a story that starts with, “And now I actually have to figure out what I did wrong.”
  24. Write a story about a character who forgets one person in his life every day, though not always the same person.
  25. Write about a character who wants nothing more than to learn how to build a house.
  26. Write a story involving fish crackers and a rogue lemon.
  27. Write a short story about an orphan who can hear whispers.
  28. Write a story that starts with, “She was filled with the sense that her work here wasn’t done just yet.”
  29. Write about black curtains in a room of white.
  30. Write about a new packet of dried fruit sent through the mail.
  31. Write a story about a guitar with a unique signature on the inside.
  32. Write about bananas and what they mean for a future society.
  33. Write about a dog that loses a paw.
  34. Write about a nice meal that was had over poison wine.
  35. Write a story about one man and the lost scarf.
  36. Write a story that starts with, “After what seemed like the longest night of his life, he had only one more thing to do.”
  37. Write about the sun filtering through countless leaves before finding your cheek in the morning.
  38. Write a story involving a really strong cup of coffee and the worst churro ever.
  39. Write a story that takes place on the middle floor in the middle suite in a 56 story hotel.
  40. Write about the rattling your character regularly hears coming from the basement.
  41. Write a story involving a song your character knows but doesn’t remember.
  42. Write a story that starts with, “How he waited this long without killing someone was beyond him. But he made it through…mostly.”
  43. Write a story that takes place on a crowded beach in the middle of summer.
  44. Write a story about a rooftop bar and an unlikely accident.
  45. Write a story involving three roles of tape and a garden hose.
  46. Write about flying on an airplane for the first time.
  47. Write a story from the perspective of a plant.
  48. Write the story of an old baseball cap now bleaching on a headstone.
  49. Write a story that begins with an old man tapping his toes.
  50. Write about one character who has too much love for pepper.
  51. Write a story about a cactus left on the front porch of your character’s new house.
  52. Write about cascading doubt infiltrating a woman’s unusually high self-esteem.
  53. Write a story involving a camera and a pack of ice.
  54. Write about what it’s like to be the only person who knows the true purpose of life.
  55. Write a story that starts with, “You never know just how bad things can get until you’re waist-deep in the sandpit you used to play in as a child.”
  56. Write about that one time your character forgot to wear shoes to school.
  57. Write a story about a bookcase floating down a river.
  58. Write about what happens when an ex-convict opens an ice cream shop.
  59. Write about two flowers smushed on a doorstep.
  60. Write a story the begins with your character watching rain flood their dirty streets.
  61. Write a story about a single sticky note worn with folds and faded with time.
  62. Write about a girl gifted with an award for something she must’ve done, but doesn’t remember.
  63. Write a story using the words “trial” and “reckoning”.
  64. Write a story that starts with, “I knew that mongrel was a problem the second I set eyes on him.”
  65. Write a story that involves a unique hat, two bottles, and a disgruntled bee.
  66. Write about the first person who comes to mind.
  67. Write a narrative of your day as if you were in the 1800s.
  68. Write a story about how much a soldier misses the taste of honey buttered biscuits.
  69. Write about a character who just found out they have a rare disease that makes their skin change colors to match their surroundings.
  70. Write about a faraway world where humans are not the most intelligent life form.
  71. Write a story about six kids on their quest to uncover a hidden lair deep in the forest.
  72. Write a story involving a wrench, a flower pot, and two teenagers.
  73. Write about what happens when the government puts secret viruses in essential oils in order to dull the minds of its users.
  74. Write a story that starts with, “What happened to me was…meant to happen. At least that’s what I tell myself.”
  75. Write about an old woman’s journey to relocate someone she had a passionate fling with in her younger years.
  76. Write about how love can become muddled in difficult families.
  77. Write a story involving a rare book and two people fighting over it.
  78. Write a story in a world where books are outlawed.
  79. Write about a time you thought you would explode with some sort of emotion.
  80. Write a story about a character who finds a perfect sketch of themselves for sale in a coffee shop…2,000 miles from where they live.
  81. Write about a lime tree and its worst predator.
  82. Write a story about a dog who won’t stop digging at one specific spot.
  83. Write about what would happen in a world where children are regarded as the most precious beings to the point of being worshiped.
  84. Write about a girl in an ancient society who hears voices in her head that aren’t her own.
  85. Write a story about an antique cash register and a type of money that nobody can place.
  86. Write about a life-changing book and its journey through multiple readers and its home on the library shelf.
  87. Write a story that beings with, “His hand fell from the gash in his eyebrow, red trickling down his hand to do his tattered jeans.”
  88. Write about a wheelbarrow, a young boy, and a snake hiding in the backyard.
  89. Write a story that involves a glass koala.
  90. Write about what it means to be fully awake.
  91. Write a story about a girl who spends half her night awake…as someone else.
  92. Write a story about a man who can see a person’s worst day ever whenever he touches them.
  93. Write a story that begins with the patter of baby footsteps on the hardwood floor.
  94. Write a story involving a broken car trunk, a DVD, and batteries.
  95. Write a story that starts with, “They never tell you what it’s like when your world gets turned upside down.”
  96. Write about how the sticky note pile on your desk keeps dwindling day after day, without you using it.
  97. Write a story about a lie told over breakfast.
  98. Write about your life as if you were telling it from a bystander’s perspective.
  99. Write a story about how you take a bit of an eggroll only to discover a scroll inside.
  100. Write a story that begins with a warm breeze blowing off a house that’s on fire in the middle of winter.
  101. Write about a card game that goes wrong.
  102. Write a story from the perspective of an owl flying around a campground at night.
  103. Write about a lost bracelet.
  104. Write a story about how to find your way back home.
  105. Write a story that starts with, “His pack was heavy, no doubt about that with what he hid inside.”
  106. Write a story like you were the only person left in an amusement park at night.
  107. Write about a time when your friends made you feel betrayed for the first time.
  108. Write about a journey to discover what happens when you reach the bottom of a waterfall.
  109. Write about the lives of two hamsters as they squeeze out of their cage.
  110. Write a story from the perspective of yourself as a 3-year-old.
  111. Write about a story that begins with a bird flying through a window.
  112. Write a story about a character who can’t stop lying to those closest to them.
  113. Write about a brand new couch found sitting in the middle of a back country road.
  114. Write a story about what was found beneath a palm tree during a beach party.
  115. Write about a bathtub and a drawing pad.
  116. Write a story about how a character finds a message in the bottom of their coffee cup.
  117. Write a story about what would happen if food manufacturing companies shut down.
  118. Write a story that starts with, “That oil spill was the least of his problems.”
  119. Write about a character who discovers why nobody can find a cure for cancer.
  120. Write a story detailing the process of creating a bouquet from homegrown florals.
  121. Write about a high school graduation that gets a major surprise.
  122. Write a story involving a rare coin and two thieves fighting over it.
  123. Write about climbing a tree for the first time.
  124. Write a story involving a water spigot and a nest of baby bunnies.
  125. Write about a secret room beneath an open field.
  126. Write a story about a character who discovers their parents’ hidden library.
  127. Write a story involving a notepad, a flashlight, and a goat.
  128. Write a story about holding your breath.
  129. Write about what happens at night inside the small town’s antique shop.
  130. Write a story about a character who lives in a future society that’s struggling to produce enough food.
  131. Write about a secret government’s method of population control.
  132. Write a story about a writer who gets their ideas from the remnants of dreams.
  133. Write a story that starts with, “In any other time, what she did would be considered heroic.”
  134. Write about how dropping their ice cream as a little boy changed your main character completely.
  135. Write a story in which two people argue about who has the worse sleeping problems.
  136. Write about a psychic who wants nothing more than to be believed in a world that shuns psychics.
  137. Write a story that begins with the sound of raindrops on a tin can.
  138. Write about flooding in a society that hasn’t seen good rain in years.
  139. Write about what it would be like to lose every possession you own.
  140. Write a story about the struggles of being born with purple hair in a world where color is frowned upon.
  141. Write about the smell of banana bread and coffee as your character skips downstairs for breakfast.
  142. Write about what it’s like to live in a small shed that’s half buried from before the sickness took nearly half the population.
  143. Write a story that begins with, “She scuttled backward, shoving herself against the wall, sweat bleeding through her torn shirt. It’s worth it.
  144. Write about a time your character slipped and broke an arm outside a donut shop.
  145. Write about a reserved, creepy EMT who draws your character’s blood for seemingly no reason.
  146. Write about someone who’s afraid to feel the wind.
  147. Write a story that starts with car tires crunching over an abandoned road.
  148. Write a story about a haunted barn.
  149. Write a story involving an air freshener, a trailer, and a basketball.
  150. Write a story about what happens in a small town surrounded by militant forces.
  151. Write about a character who’s never read a book, lost in a library.
  152. Write a story that involves seashells and a stolen ring.
  153. Write a story that starts with, “Her hair was parted on the right side.”
  154. Write about a journal that made everything written in it come to life.
  155. Write about an old woman who spends her whole days gardening.
  156. Write about a time when you forgot something very important.
  157. Write about a whale and a little girl’s toy boat.
  158. Write a story using the words “exposure” and “calamity.”
  159. Write a one-sentence story using the word “charcuterie.”
  160. Write a story about an underdeveloped society learning that their government is listening in on them daily.
  161. Write about a string and a broken cello.
  162. Write a story involving a bar stool and a farm.
  163. Write about what it would be like to step foot on another planet for the first time.
  164. Write about a parade from the perspective of a child.
  165. Write a short story centering around a little boy’s trip to the emergency room in the back of an ambulance.
  166. Write a story about how wine is made.
  167. Write a story about the intricacies of writing a poem.
  168. Write about a character who was born in an open field, and spent the next seventeen years—his whole life—never crossing the forest line beyond the field.
  169. Write a story about the places a woman keeps finding sand after her recent (and very brief) trip to the ocean.
  170. Write a story that centers around a song and its dire meaning to a certain civilization.
  171. Write a story about a young girl’s quest to write a book.
  172. Write about a time when your character accidentally slipped up in a big lie.
  173. Write a story that starts with, “It wouldn’t be long now. She knew she deserved what was about to happen.”
  174. Write about a story revolving around a single family in a small town that nobody ever knows anything about.
  175. Write a story that mentions the words “hacksaw” and “blueberry candle.”
  176. Write about what would happen if one day, all your books started disappearing.
  177. Write a story about a new facial spa treatment of the future.
  178. Write a story based in a far away society where fire is worshipped.
  179. Write about a world where animals are sacred and killing anything, be it plant or animal, is punishable to the extreme.
  180. Write about what it looks like when one guy follows his dream of becoming an ice cream truck owner.
  181. Write a story about a dandelion flying through the air.
  182. Write about the next greatest discovery in human history.
  183. Write a story about the last time you embarrassed yourself.
  184. Write a story that starts with your character on a pier, barely noticing the person who’s been following them for miles.
  185. Write about how the last book you read made you feel.
  186. Write about a young boy’s fascination with trees.
  187. Write about a girl moving to a new city for the first time.
  188. Write a love story about two trees in your neighbor’s backyard.
  189. Write a story that begins with, “The street was long and dark.”
  190. Write a story that includes a rummage sale, an old book, and hot sauce.
  191. Write a book about finding your inner peace while backpacking in a forest.
  192. Write about a fantasy world where magic—and your ability to control it—is a currency.
  193. Write about the best sandwich shop and its secret.
  194. Write a story about sand whipping at your shins.
  195. Write a story centering around a playground with a hidden entrance.
  196. Write a story that begins on a warm spring night with a girl frantically brushing spider webs out of her hair.
  197. Write about flowers that only bloom at midnight on the tenth day of the month.
  198. Write a story about a dog and its friend, a mouse.
  199. Write a story that uses the words “happening,” “case studies,” and “sunglasses.”
  200. Write about how it feels to stub your toe, but from the perspective of the couch it was stubbed on.
  201. Write about a wedding in a field of daisies.
  202. Write about a dropped popsicle on the hottest day of summer.
  203. Write a story about what it’s like to interview people for a living.
  204. Write a story involving an empty picture frame, a lone guitar pick, and applesauce.
  205. Write a story about a character who can’t help but sneeze whenever they so much as see a cookie.
  206. Write a short story from the perspective of a therapist after a long day of sessions.
  207. Write a story that starts with, “That front porch needed fixing, alright.”
  208. Write about a special lamp purchased at a garage sale.
  209. Write a story featuring a goofy cat, its toy mouse, and a real mouse.
  210. Write a story about the adverse effects of a full moon on a certain, interesting, family.
  211. Write a story involving two antique lamps being stolen from an old widow’s home.
  212. Write a story that begins with a tree flickering in the inconsistent breeze.
  213. Write about a dog who lost its eyesight.
  214. Write about what it’s like to go through the hardship of losing your most prized possession.
  215. Write a story from the perspective of a bird flying over a beach.
  216. Write a story that starts with, “When it was all over, she would be done…at least that’s what she kept telling herself.”
  217. Write about a cactus found growing in the middle of a forest.
  218. Write about a great tyrant battling their inner demons.
  219. Write a story that involves a dragon, mist, and a canopy.
  220. Write about why one woman is walking downtown in a snowman costume.
  221. Write a story that uses the words “influence,” “haberdashery,” and “walnut.”
  222. Write a story about the last dream you had.
  223. Write about what it’s like to paddle out far from the shore on a surfboard.
  224. Write a story in which two people who have never met go to the exact same places in the exact same order.
  225. Write a story about a world where lying causes uncontrollable hives to sprout on your body.
  226. Write a story from the perspective of a ghost at a funeral.
  227. Write about what it’s like to ride the subway for the first time.
  228. Write about a foreign visitor and a runaway hat.
  229. Write a story that starts with, “How would things be any different if she stopped herself?”
  230. Write about the beach and a seemingly neverending hole in the sand.
  231. Write a story that begins with a character who’s running their hands along a wall looking for the light switch.
  232. Write a story from the perspective of a child running through an ancient castle.
  233. Write about a future society where privacy is no more a standard human right.
  234. Write a story where children are being born as prodigies—all of them.
  235. Write about a time where your character lost their cool at the most inopportune time.
  236. Write a story detailing why one man can make the perfect loaf of bread.
  237. Write a story that begins with, “She wasn’t a hard woman to work with. She was just…a unique person to work with.”
  238. Write about what would happen if the internet went down for one week.
  239. Write a story that involves a baseball bat, honey, and a board game.
  240. Write about a man who owns a very small, very intricate brewery.
  241. Write a story about a future civilization that’s on the hunt to discover why the human population dropped by 1/3 over a thousand years prior.
  242. Write a story about how one detective solved a mystery by using Instagram.
  243. Write about the next greatest invention of our generation.
  244. Write a story featuring a sprinkler, a trampoline, and a toothpick.
  245. Write about a trailer that’s been sitting in the same spot in the woods for years and has finally been opened.
  246. Write a story about a time capsule being uncovered in a small town and the very interesting and alarming object inside.
  247. Write a story about what would happen if one day, you realize that everyone in your life is in on something major except for you.
  248. Write a romance story that opens with a woman rapidly throwing apples at the bread aisle in a grocery store.
  249. Write a short story about what happens when humans have their identification information embedded on a chip in their arm.
  250. Write a story about a stranger on the bus who has a very intricate burn scar on their forearm.
  251. Write a story that starts with, “It started with a headache.”
  252. Write about what would happen if humans were suddenly able to manipulate time, but only if they store enough of it by not sleeping.
  253. Write a short story detailing how one mom broke out of jail.
  254. Write a mystery short story about what happened with a lamp and a missing tooth.
  255. Write a story about a born-and-raised spy who snuck out and went downtown for the first time in her life.
  256. Write a story that shows us why government and rules are so necessary in society.
  257. Write a story about an overgrown apple tree.
  258. Write about how long it takes to make a real change in your life.
  259. Write about one child’s dream of becoming a bestselling author.
  260. Write a short story that starts with an argument between a man and his pet fish.
  261. Write a story about a box of photos and the secrets they contain.
  262. Write a story that starts with, “I remember running. Just running.”
  263. Write about a single patch of vibrant, thriving green grass in the middle of a desert.
  264. Write a one-page story about why a woman is repeatedly washing an old teacup.
  265. Write a romance about two old friends after they’ve been married, divorced, and moved back home.
  266. Write a story that opens with the sound of clanking boots on metal grates.
  267. Write a story about why one man always smells cinnamon wherever he goes.
  268. Write about what happens when one caregiver gets sick and the children have to take care of her.
  269. Write a story that starts with, “The man couldn’t give clear instructions if his life depended on it. “
  270. Write about a suspicious email sent to your character detailing specifics about their life no stranger would know.
  271. Write about a black and white painting of a single flower.
  272. Write a story about creating a sculpture with a special, specific meaning.
  273. Write about a pool and the missing bottom tile.
  274. Write a story involving a toothbrush, a map, and a used sock.
  275. Write a short story about twins caught trying to pull off a con.
  276. Write about the long summer’s impact on an already overheated world.
  277. Write about what it’s like to jump out of a plane and have your parachute malfunction.
  278. Write a story that ends with a canoe tipped over in the river.
  279. Write a short story that starts with, “The buzz of midday summer heat sang across the backyard.”
  280. Write about a blogger who inadvertently uncovers something major in their research.
  281. Write about a two-tailed lion at the circus.
  282. Write a story about a woman you see walking down the street with swollen, bruised knuckles.
  283. Write a story that includes a new song.
  284. Write a story that starts with two girls skipping down a street.
  285. Write about a dying tree, a hammock, and a blow-up pool.
  286. Write a story that starts with, “For the sake of her own self-worth, she had to swipe that man’s keys.”
  287. Write a short story that ends with a Viking discovering a hidden civilization.
  288. Write a story about a brand new religion in a small community.
  289. Write a story about a new virtual reality game that makes users never want to leave.
  290. Write a story about a type of plant that gives a person special abilities when they eat it.
  291. Write a story about loneliness and what it truly means.
  292. Write about the tale of a dragonfly in a storm.
  293. Write a story that starts with, “He crinkled the paper and shoved it aside.”
  294. Write about a magical woman who’s only goal is to make the lives of those in her town the best they can be.
  295. Write a story involving a pot of boiling water, a tree branch, and an old chair.
  296. Write about a diseased community seeking aid from the healthy, who are adamant on pushing them away.
  297. Write about the war your character was in and why they decided to switch sides.
  298. Write a story about how the new plan on your desk won’t stop growing.
  299. Write a story about a dad who just wants to get his daughter’s attention.
  300. Write a story that starts with, “What was left of that place had nothing to do with her.”
  301. Write a short story that ends with a single note left on the counter.
  302. Write about hamburgers, a short man, and two cars.
  303. Write a story about what happens when one mystical being reads every book that’s ever been published.
  304. Write a story about a young woman at the bar.
  305. Write a story about your greatest dream.

Take A Few For The Road…

Ever find yourself “stuck” but away from your writing device (computer, notebook, typewriter)? Save this list to your phone or PC! Want to go one step further? Save it to your cloud (Google Drive, etc.) and have story ideas whenever and wherever you are. 😉

Save This Resource NOW for Quick Reference Later…

200+ Fiction Writing Prompts In the Most Profitable Genres

Come up with your NEXT great book idea with over 200 unique writing prompts spanning 8 different genres. Use for a story, scene, character inspo, and more!

author interview

Author Interviews: How to Land Appearances on Podcasts for Book Promotion

Author interviews via podcast appearances are one of the best ways to build authority and reach targeted audiences of ideal readers, as well as promote your book.

Best of all, once you’ve appeared on a podcast, you’ll be able to use your interview as proof of your expertise and experience when you pitch to other podcasts.

This is especially beneficial if you self-published a book since you don’t have the support of a big publishing house—you’re doing all the book marketing on your own!

And this is a powerful way to spread the word about all the good your book can do.

How Speaking Gigs & Podcasts Generated

$750,000 In Sales in Less Than 10 Months

Learn the exact step-by-step methods I’ve used to speak at over 40 stages and generate more than $1.5 Million in revenue over the past two years. I’m giving away my secrets!

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Here’s how to land author interviews:

  1. Do your research
  2. Rate and review the podcast
  3. Feature the podcast hosts
  4. Tailor your pitch
  5. Offer ideas related to your book
  6. Leverage common connections you have
  7. Send samples of previous author interviews
  8. Create a one-sheet
  9. Deliver value first

Why do you need author interviews?

Author interviews are beneficial for authors to spread the word about themselves as an author as well as their new and previous books.

Think about author interviews the same as celebrity interviews when they have movies or TV shows premiering.

Here’s how author interviews can benefit you:

  • You will reach a new audience
  • Your audience will be more receptive
  • You market yourself as an author
  • You market your newest book launch
  • You can market any previous books you have
  • You will gain a larger social platform
  • You will sell more books

Overall, author interviews can only help you in your quest to become a full-time author by offering you book marketing opportunities.

With over 8700 views on Youtube and many listens on the podcast, this interview certainly helped maintain her passive income through books.

How to Get Author Interviews on Podcasts

Below, you’ll discover 9 simple strategies to stand out in the eyes of podcasters and land author interviews on their shows.

#1 – Do your research

First of all, listen to the show before reaching out to podcast hosts. Podcasters are often approached by an author who sends generic emails proclaiming “I love your show,” and then ask to become a guest to promote their book.

Other times, they’re approached with specific pitch letters, but the fit isn’t right.

The reason for the mismatch usually is that the author who is pitching hasn’t listened to the show.

If it feels like a chore to listen to the podcast, that’s a sign that you might be better off reaching out to a different podcast host.

After all, you want to find podcasts that are in your niche, which usually happens to be those you listen to anyways.

Here are a few things to ask yourself when you want to reach out to a podcast for an interview:

  • Do you listen to them on your own?
  • Do you resonate with their core message/theme?
  • Are you involved in their community on a regular basis?
  • Would you be proud to be a featured guest on their podcast?
  • Are you a fan of past featured guests?

Answering these positively will help you determine which podcasts to reach out to. Without doing the proper research, you could wind up upsetting the hosts and burning those bridges.

#2 – Rate and review the show

Once you’ve listened to a show, subscribe to it on iTunes. Then, rate and review, too.

Ratings, reviews, and subscriptions help the podcast’s ranking. Most importantly, reviews are a powerful form of social proof that will encourage new people to listen.

Mention the review when you submit your pitch.

For example, you could write, “Listening to John Doe’s description of his struggle to grow his business in spite of his terminal disease was truly inspiring. Now, when things get tough, that message keeps me going. That’s why it was such a pleasure to write a 5-star review of your show on iTunes.”

author interviews podcasts

Your message will bring awareness to what you’ve done to support the show, greatly increasing your chances of landing a guest spot.

#3 – Feature the podcast hosts

If you currently have a podcast or YouTube channel, invite the host to be featured as a guest.

By being on your show, the podcasters will learn about your background, and most importantly, about your book. In many cases, they’ll be compelled to invite you as a guest.

Even if the podcast hosts don’t ask you to be on their show, they’re still much more likely to say yes when you ask them.

Also, I send a copy of my book to my podcast guests, who in many cases write a review of the book on Amazon and then offer to have me on their show.

If you don’t have a podcast, then feature them on your social media or website.

You could also write a blog post about the main lessons learned from the show, and tag the host on social media when the article is published. Be cautious when applying this strategy, however.

A subpar article, a half-hearted effort to capture what’s valuable about the show, or overblown praise will probably backfire.

#4 – Tailor your pitch to the host’s story and the mission of the show

When I first pitched my ideas to Dave Lukas, host of the Misfit Entrepreneur Podcast, I mentioned how much I loved that he’d created the show as a legacy for his daughter.

When he learned that I related to and understood his mission, it was easy for him to agree to have me on his show.

You can do the same. Find out why they do what they do, and if it resonates with you, then center your pitch around that.

Here are a few tips for tailoring your pitch to land your author interview:

  • Mention something you learned from their show
  • Make a connection from yourself to the show’s mission and theme
  • Connect your book’s message with their show’s

Doing this will help you reach podcast hosts much more effectively and show them you’re a great fit for their show.

How Speaking Gigs & Podcasts Generated

$750,000 In Sales in Less Than 10 Months

Learn the exact step-by-step methods I’ve used to speak at over 40 stages and generate more than $1.5 Million in revenue over the past two years. I’m giving away my secrets!

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#5 – Offer three unique ideas related to your book

Before I submit a pitch, I research the episodes in the past two to three months to see if anyone has explored the topics I have in mind.

If my topics are fresh, I submit them. If not, I reposition my expertise with a different angle.

My book is about influencer marketing. If I notice that only three weeks prior, another guest talked about influencer marketing as part of a business’s marketing mix, I pitch a different aspect of the topic, such as “how to build a list of subscribers with influencer marketing,” or “how to initiate connections with social media influencers to launch your book.”

Resist the temptation to speak about a topic that deviates from your book. If you do that, your interview will probably not bring in new book sales.

I encourage you to take a moment right now and write down three to five topic ideas based on the core message in your book, which you can modify depending on the targeted show.

#6 – Leverage common connections you have with the host

Who do you think has a better chance to get a last-minute appointment with a busy hair stylist: a complete stranger or the friend of a current customer?

The same idea applies to landing guest appearances on a podcast. Common connections matter.

Often, when I appear on a podcast, the host will offer to introduce me to other podcast hosts who might want to have me as a guest.

This is one of the easiest ways to secure future guest appearances.

You might not even need a formal introduction. When you pitch, just mention that you know one or more of their previous guests.

The idea is to find common ground.

#7 – Send samples of previous interviews

In every podcast pitch I submit, I include links to three of my most relevant and significant podcast appearances.

Those podcast interviews are relevant because they’re ideal for the audience of the new podcast I’m targeting, and they’re significant because they have reached large audiences.

If you haven’t had podcast appearances yet, I encourage you to create audio or video clips with valuable content relevant to your audience that you publish on your site, and use those links as samples for the host.

Even though samples of actual podcast interviews are much more powerful, the mere fact that you have a sample of your work will help you stand out among the competition.

#8 – Create a one-sheet

To save yourself time and effort, and to show your professionalism, I suggest you create a “one-sheet.”

A one-sheet is a document that’s a summary of who you are and what you offer as a guest.

You could send the link to your one-sheet with your pitch, or use the information within the one-sheet to complete your guest request form or email pitch.

Regardless of the situation, having this document readily available will save you time and effort.

The main elements of a one-sheet are:    

  1. Bio
  2. Headshot
  3. Potential interview topics
  4. Talking points
  5. Relevant links
  6. Affiliate links
  7. Contact information

Here’s an example of my own, personal one-sheet and what all the below information looks like compiled into, well, one sheet.

author interview one sheet example

Now let’s delve into what each of these sections needs.


Create different versions of your bio (50-, 100-, 150-, and 200-word bios) so you’re ready when the podcast host asks you for a specific length. If you’re submitting the entire one-sheet, include the 100-word version of your bio in it.

The bio should mention your book (even if you haven’t published it yet), and other credentials as proof of your expertise, along with at least one personal tidbit about yourself.


It’s standard for all podcast guests to submit their profile picture before they’re interviewed. Invest in a professional photographer.

No selfies, please!

Potential interview topics

List no more than seven topics related to your book you could explore as a guest.

You can check back to step number 5 if you need to generate some.

Talking points

Some hosts will ask you to provide talking points for the topic you’ll explore. Others favor a free-form style, and will lead the interview as an informal conversation.

In either case, you should be prepared to provide talking points within 48 hours of being approved as a guest, though you can double check with the podcast host for specifics about this.

Relevant links

Include links to your main website, your book, your free offer for the listeners, and your primary social media pages.

Depending on the host, you might also be asked to provide an affiliate link to a free download or low-ticket offer. In most cases, providing affiliate links isn’t required, but having the ability to create such a link on demand will help you stand out.

If you’re submitting the one-sheet, then just write “Affiliate link for free download available.”

Contact information

Include your email address and phone number.

Having your one-sheet ready will allow you to simply copy and paste the information when you complete guest request forms or pitch via email.

#9 – Always aim to deliver value first

Above all, remember that your primary goal is to deliver value to your audience, and book sales will be a natural result of that value. If instead you approach the podcasters with the only intention to sell more books, they might simply ignore you.

When you submit your pitch, always start what ifs a personalized explanation of why you are a fan of the show and how you can inspire and educate its audience.

Then, mention your book as an additional asset listeners may benefit from.

Value First!

Good luck landing your author interview!

After you land your first podcast appearance, it’ll be much easier for you to land the next. When you least expect it, the word about your book will have spread and you will make a much greater impact with your message.

What matters most is that you take action and start reaching out to podcast hosts. You—and your book—deserve to be known!

book cover designs

Book Cover Design: Your Ultimate Guide for Memorable Book Covers

Are you a Richard?

Richard put hours upon hours into writing a book he was proud of. He had it edited, spent the time to have others beta read it, and was SO happy with the results.

But…of all the many hours he spent on his book, on the proofing and even self-publishing it on Amazon, the cover design was not even a whole one of them.

And that’s where he failed.

And that’s what his low book sales were reflective of.

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Book Cover Design Checklist

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You see, Richard knew the contents of the book were important. What he failed to realize, however, is that people do, in fact, judge a book by its cover.

In reality, according to The Book Smuggler, 79% of people say book cover designs play a decisive role in their decision to purchase a book.

So, are you a Richard…or will you learn what it takes to design a book cover that will sell your book?

Here are our tips for how to design a book cover:

  1. Cost of book cover design
  2. How long it takes to design a book cover
  3. 7 steps to design your own book cover
  4. 7 steps to hire a professional book cover designer
  5. Starting your book today

How much does it cost to design a book cover?

On average, you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 – $500 for a book cover design that’s professionally crafted.

There are always (worthwhile) expenses you incur when self-publishing your book. The total cost of your book cover design will vary based on a few key factors.

These rates of a book cover design depend on the following criteria:

  • cover designer’s experience
  • how intricate your book cover is
  • the time it takes to design
  • how many options you want to choose from
  • the cover designer’s expertise with cover design
  • the cover designer’s demand for work

What you want to remember is that your book’s cover is its very first impression to the world. Investing in this is above almost anything else (aside from book editing).

How long does it take to design a book cover?

How long it takes to design a book cover can vary from artist to artist, but on average, you can expect to have a fully completed book cover made by a designer in 3 weeks, including touch-ups and drafts.

Overall, we recommend our students allot roughly three weeks from initial touchpoint to self-publishing your book in order to ensure your cover is fully complete before launching your book.

However, please keep in mind that if you hire someone to design your book cover, they may not have availability right away. Meaning, reach out a few months before you want to launch your book in order to hire someone.

Design your own book cover

We will always recommend that you work with a professional cover designer, whether with us or someone else. However, if you’re not quite ready to put your book in the hands of a professional designer, we have methods to help you start generating ideas for your own book cover.

#1 – Develop book cover ideas

Most of us have thought about what we want our book covers to look like. Sometimes we even save images to our phone of covers we really like or want to emulate.

Your first step for designing your own book cover is compiling all these ideas into a single place.

You can find book cover ideas in all of these places:

  • Pinterest – sign on to Pinterest and look up “book covers” to get a ton of brilliant covers all in one place. This is also a great place to create a board specifically to save book covers for future reference.
  • Goodreads – There are so many books on Goodreads for you to look at as covers inspiration. You can even simply add these to your “to be read” list in order to save them for reference as well.
  • Google book cover ideas – Others have already done the work for you! Just go to Google and type in “book cover inspiration” and click on the “images” tab to be greeted with tons of great options you can save. Or you can check out helpful blog posts like this one on the 100 most creative book cover ideas.
  • Peruse Amazon in your book’s genre – This is by far the best method for coming up with book cover ideas. Simply go to your book’s genre by navigating to books > your genre > subgenre and look at the typical covers of bestselling books, like in the image below.
book cover design

#2 – Use free stock images for your book cover

Once you have an idea for your book, you may need to outsource the images by using free stock photo sites.

We highly recommend stock photos (if you can’t have professional ones taken) because they are readily available for use, unlike some you might find on Google and want to use.

Here are a few places you can get free photos for your book cover:

If you do want to up your game with stock photos, you can purchase licenses for the images (meaning oftentimes, you’re the only person who can use that image).

Here’s where you can find paid stock images:

#3 – Choose book cover fonts

Fonts matter! Depending on your genre, the style of your book, and even the vibe or voice you want to convey, your book cover fonts can make a major difference in how potential readers view your book.

For example, I used three different fonts to make up the covers in the images below. Depending on which font used, the title suddenly has a new meaning—and a new audience.

You have to make sure you’re using a font for your cover that coincides with its message, tone, and the audience you’re trying to reach.

#4 – Find the right book cover dimensions

You can’t design a book cover all willy nilly. The right book cover dimensions are crucial.

What are the proper book cover dimensions?

This is often your call and depends on your book formatting, but the most common paperback book dimensions are 6″ by 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm).

This doesn’t mean you have to use this size, but this is the most common size for a paperback book, and is Amazon’s default book dimension option if you publish through them.

Here are more book cover dimensions for the multiple platforms you may publish on:

Publishing PlatformFile FormatBook Cover Size (suggested)Cover Size Requirements
Amazon KDP
JPEG or TIFF- 2560 x 1600 pixels - Ratio of 1.6:1Between 1000 x 625 pixels AND 10000 x 10000 pixels. One side must be at least 1000 pixels long/wide.
Barnes & NobleJPG or PNG- Height and width of 1400 pixels minimum750 pixels minimum for height and width
Apple iBooksJPG or PNG- 1400 x 1873 px
- 1600 x 2400 px
1400 pixels wide as a minimum
Draft 2 DigitalJPEG- 1600 x 2400 pixelsTall rectangle of 1600 wide and 2400 pixels long
Kobo BooksJPG or PNG- 1600 x 2400 pixels1400 pixels wide as a minimum

#5 – Use free or paid cover design software

Now it’s time to put everything you’ve created and gathered together and design your actual book cover.

There are many different options to choose from, some of which don’t cost you additional money, while others do.

You don’t have to be an expert designer to create a great cover, but you do have to use certain methods to make it look like your book cover was designed by an expert (and we’ll cover professional book designs in a bit).

Using different design software, much like writing software, allows you to upload your work in a way that provides you with a clean finished results.

Here are our top free book cover designs software to use:

These are design software that are more advanced, and therefore not free:

#6 – Create 3 different cover options

Instead of creating one solid cover, make three very different cover options. You never know what your audience will find most appealing.

When you only make one cover, you’re limiting yourself to only one option, which might not be what’s best to maintain high book sales.

For that reason, we always recommend to our students to have at least three different book cover options available. This allows you to complete the next step and have your audience help you narrow down the options.

#7 – Test your book cover options with an audience

You can’t possibly know what will resonate well with your audience. Sure, if you’ve done your book research on your specific genre, you’ll have a good idea, but that’s not always a sure thing.

We’re often too close to our books to accurately determine what’s best for it.

This is why we have someone else edit it. Fresh eyes can make a major difference in deciding what’s best.

We recommend joining a group (for our students, it’s our Mastermind Facebook group) or sending your cover options out to a group of people in order to get feedback.

Here’s an example of one of our students posting their cover for feedback in our group:

book cover design

Hire a professional book cover designer

Eventually, you just have to leave the professional work to, well, the professionals. To learn how we can help you with book cover design and a number of other book production services, book a call with our team.

There are tons of advantages to using Self-Publishing School designers or another professional book cover designer instead of doing it yourself:

  1. They can create custom designs, instead of using stock photos
  2. They have inside knowledge about the book cover world
  3. They will almost always make something of higher quality
  4. You can trust that your cover will be good for its genre

There are many ways you can go about hiring a cover designer, one of which we discuss in the video below, but following our steps for working with a professional will help you come away with the best book cover you can.

#1 – Put together book cover inspiration

Much like we discussed in the section on creating your own book cover, there are so many ways to find cover designs you like.

We mentioned perusing Pinterest, searching for book cover inspiration on Google, and even heading to your book’s genre on Amazon to find what covers are performing best.

The main difference when working with a professional designer is that you should compile these ideas somewhere you can share with them.

Ultimately, they will create a cover they know to be great for your book, but they also want to know your vision for the project as well.

You might also consider putting yourself on the book cover, with a professional image—no selfies!

Here’s a student from our exclusive Mastermind Community getting some thoughts on adding yourself to a book cover:

#2 – Research popular book covers in your genre

We touched on this in the above section as well, but when looking for book cover ideas, spend some time researching what’s popular in your genre.

Your cover designer will likely have experience creating in your genre (if you choose one wisely, at least) and can help with this but giving them a starting point will help you get to the cover you’ve always wanted, faster.

#3 – Hire a book cover designer you like

Finding a cover designer can be tricky. Here at Self-Publishing School, we have two options that can help you: 1) we can design the cover for you, or 2) we can provide you with a preferred list of talented book cover designers (as seen in the image below). In both cases, our students are able to cut down on expenses and time spent searching.

hire book cover designer

That being said, there are many methods for finding cover designers.

Here are the many places you can find book cover designers for hire:

Once you find a book cover designer you want to work with, the rest of this process continues.

#4 – Communicate your ideas about the book cover

Be as clear with your design as you can about what you want and expect for your book cover.

Remember, they’re not miracle workers, but if their experience is in line with what you’re looking for, be very upfront about what you want.

Share your book cover inspiration ideas with them in order to give them an idea of what to create for you.

Another thing they’ll ask is what your book is about. Give them the core elements, the style of it, and the tone you want it to have along with who your core audience is.

#5 – Ask for 1-3 options

At a minimum, you should have 2 different cover options completed, though we highly recommend 3 in order to get a wider range of what you truly want.

This allows you to find the cover that BEST suits what you’re looking for.

Like in the example from our very own team member, Michael Lachance’s book, Land Your Dream Job, these cover design options should vary greatly from one another, and not just be different in their text or colors. Make this very clear to your designer—most offer 3-4 cover options within their packages already.

cover design

#6 – Test your book cover options with an audience

The above image is an example of getting feedback on your cover design. It’s always a good idea to run the final cover options through a feedback group in order to see what OTHER people resonate with.

Sometimes your target market will like a book cover that isn’t your favorite.

While it’s completely up to you which cover to go with, remember to keep your audience in mind. After all, your book is for them, not for you.

#7 – Finalize your cover options

The final step for your book cover design is to finalize it! Work with your designer to choose your favorite design, finalize the color and font options, and that’s it!

We recommend hosting a book cover reveal as a way to stir up more anticipation for your novel before your book launch as well!

Start Your Book Cover Design Today

If you’re ready to take the next step with your book and have your cover professionally designed, book a call with our team. Whether you need a children’s book cover, a fiction book cover, or a nonfiction book cover, we’re ready to help you on your journey to becoming a best-selling author!

Set Your Book Up to SELL

Book Cover Design Checklist

Download your FREE book cover design checklist to boost the quality of your book to its very best. Hit the button to claim yours.

how to write poetry

How to Write a Poem: 8 Fundamentals for Writing Poetry That’s Meaningful

Learning how to write a poem is debatably one of the hardest forms of creative writing to master—there are so many “rules”, but at the same time, no rules at all. It is the ultimate form of individual expression, yet there are creative writing prompts that fit into genres.

Confusing, right?

Despite the challenge, writing poetry is a very fulfilling creative venue, and we have exactly what you’re looking for to learn how to nail this art form.

Because poetry is so specific to the artist, knowing how to write a poem in your own way can be tricky.

Self-Publish Your Collection of Poems

FREE Creative Writer Class: How to Write & Publish Your Poetry or Fiction Book

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Here’s how to write a poem using our fundamentals of poetry:

  1. Understand the benefits of writing poetry
  2. Decide which type of poetry to write
  3. Have proper poem structure
  4. Include sharp imagery
  5. Focus on sound in poetry
  6. Define the poem’s meaning
  7. Have a goal
  8. Avoid clichés in your poems
  9. Opt for minimalistic poems
  10. Refine your poem to perfection

If you’re ready to learn what it takes to write (and then potentially publish a book of) good poetry, we’ve got the help you need.

Benefits of Learning How to Write a Poem

Even if you aren’t looking to become a full-time poet, or even attempt to publish a single poem, writing poetry can be beneficial in several ways.

  1. It strengthens your skills in writing solid imagery. Poetry is a very image-based form of writing, so practicing poetry will improve your imagery in other forms as well.
  2. Poetry is concise and impactfulit uses strong language, and no more words than are necessary. If you have an understanding of how to write a poem, your prose when writing a novel will become crisper and stronger.
  3. Poetry helps you to connect with emotions in a tangible way. Other forms of writing have the plot to hide behind—with poetry, all you’ve got are emotions. (Unless it’s a narrative poem, of course.)
  4. You can become a professional poet and earn a living writing. Even if you just want to enjoy poetry for the above reasons, you can also make a full-time income this way. A great way to get started is to apply for a poetry scholarship in addition to the rest of the tips here.
how to write a poem

Types of Poetry

Not all types of poetry are the same, and that means learning how to write a poem involves being familiar with the different types.

Here are the different types of poetry:

  1. Narrative this kind of poem relies on a story. It tells an event and there are often a few extra elements, such as characters, a plot, and a strong narration.
  2. Lyrical a lyric poem is similar to a song, and it tends to describe a specific feeling, scene, or state of mind.

You may be familiar with these different types of poetry. For example, a lyrical poem is actually a song. Listening to your favorite radio station is just like hearing a collection of your favorite poems being read to you with some background music.

A narrative poem is, as mentioned above, more like a story told in poetic prose.

Here’s a small example of a part of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem, The Raven:

writing poetry

8 Fundamentals for How to Write a Poem

Poetry can often be subjective. Not every poem will speak to every person.

That being said, there are different attributes that you should learn if you want to know how to write poetry well regardless.

#1 – Structure of writing a poem

The structure of a poem can refer to many different things, but we’re going to discuss some different forms of poetry, how to use punctuation, and last words.

Form of a Poem

The form of your poem is the physical structure. It can have requirements for rhyme, line length, number of lines/stanzas, etc.

Here are different types of poetry forms:

  • Sonnet A short, rhyming poem of 14 lines
  • Haiku A poem of 3 lines where the first is 5 syllables, the middle is 7 syllables, and the last is 5.
  • Acrostic A poem where the first letter of each line spells a word that fits with the theme of the poem or exposes a deeper meaning.
  • Limerick – This is a 5-live witty poem with the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme as do the other two with each other.
  • Epic – This type of poetry is a lengthy narrative poem celebrating adventures or accomplishments of heroes.
  • Couplet – This can be a part of a poem or stand alone as a poem of two lines that rhyme.
  • Free verse – This type of poem doesn’t follow any rules and is free written poetry by the author.

The majority of poets, specifically less experienced ones, write what’s called free verse, which is a poem without a form, or with a form the poet has made up for that specific piece.

A poet may decide to have a certain rhyme scheme or might make their poems syllabic.

With a free verse poem, you can set up any theme or pattern you wish, or have none at all.

The great thing about poetry is that you can even start with a specific poem form, and then choose to alter it in order to make it unique and your own.

Poetry Punctuation

Writing a poem is difficult because you never know what the appropriate punctuation is, because it can be different from punctuation when writing a book.

There are essentially three ways to punctuate your poetry:

  1. Grammatically this means you use punctuation properly for every grammar rule; if you removed the lines and stanzas, it would work as a grammatically correct paragraph, and this even includes writing dialogue in your poem.
  2. Stylistically this means you use punctuation to serve the way you would like the poem to be read. A comma indicates a short pause, a period indicates a longer pause, a dash indicates a pause with a connection of thoughts. Using no punctuation at all would lend to a rushed feeling, which you may want. Your punctuation choices will depend on your goals when writing a poem.
  3. A combination. Maybe you want to mostly follow punctuation rules, but you have a certain line you want read a certain way. It’s totally fine to deviate from standard rules if it serves a purpose—you just need to do whatever you’re doing intentionally. Know the rules before you can break them.

“In poetry, punctuation serves as the conductor. It sets the beat of a line or a stanza, telling you where to pause for breath. Conversely, enjambment—running lines of poetry together by not ending them with punctuation—can be extremely powerful, when used correctly. It keeps the line flowing without a pause or a full stop.” Krystal Blaze Dean

Last words of a poem

The last word of a line, the last word of your poem, and the last line of your poem are very important—these are the bits that echo in your reader’s head and have the most emphasis.

Ending with punctuation (dash, period, comma) versus ending without punctuation will give you a dramatically different read, so consider the effect you’d like to have.

Tip for last words: read the poem out loud a few times to see where you’d like the inflection and emphasis to fall.

#2 – Imagery

Imagery is a literary device that’s a tangible description that appeals to one of the five senses.

The more imagery in a poem, the more the reader can connect with it.

Tip for imagery: focus on details. Instead of going for the obvious description, really put yourself in that moment or feeling—what details are the most impactful and real?

Here are some examples of imagery:

  • Pungent fumes lifted from the floor beneath her.
  • Burning light painted the insides of his eyelids red.
  • Hair from her ponytail bit at her face, swept into a frenzy by the furious winds.
  • Crackling popped in rhythm to the dancing flames.

#3 – Sound

While imagery is for the mind, sound is for the ear. How do your words and lines sound when read out loud?

The most basic sound style is a rhyme, however, you should never force a rhyme!

If you try for exact rhymes on every line, it becomes “sing songy,” and this is a big, red mark of an amateur. Sticking to a strict rhyme scheme can severely limit your word choice and creativity.

Instead of going for exact end rhymes, here are some options to achieve that appealing auditory effect of rhyming when writing poems:

  1. Assonance – the repetition of a vowel sound in non-rhyming, stressed syllables. Assonance gives you the fun sound effect of a rhyme without sounding campy. An example of assonance is: “Hear the mellow wedding bells” by Edgar Allen Poe.
  2. Alliteration the repetition of a consonant at the beginning of words. Specifically hard consonant sounds like T, ST, and CH have a hard, staccato effect that a lot of poets like to use.
  3. Internal rhymeswords inside of lines rhyme, rather than the end words. Like assonance, you get the effect of a rhyme without sound like a Dr. Seuss ripoff.

Tip for sound in poetry: Focus on beautiful, crisp imagery to carry your poem, rather than strictly relying on the sound and structure of it.

#4 – Meaning

Structure, imagery, and sound work together to make up the technical excellence of a poem. But if your words are empty of a deeper meaning, what’s the point in writing a poem at all?

“Poetry is a form of storytelling. The key to writing is making the audience feel. Give them something to remember and hold onto.” Brookes Washington

write a poem

Many new writers latch onto clichés and tired topics (peep that alliteration) for their poems, because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do.

But emulating something someone else has done, or some idea of what you should think a poem should be about, isn’t going to give you a genuine, emotional piece that other people can connect to.

So write the poem that only you can write.

Tips for how to write a poem with meaning:

  1. Brainstorm poetry topics by looking at your own experiences. What do you know? When is a time you felt very deeply about something? Can you put that feeling into words? Can you make that feeling an image other people can see through your words? That is the poem you write.
  2. You don’t need some grand, dramatic emotion to write about—think about the ordinary things that make us all human.

“Nothing ever ends poetically. It ends and we turn it into poetry. All that blood was never once beautiful. It was just red.” – Kait Rokowski

#5 – Have a goal

Have a goal with writing a poem—what do you want your audience to feel?

Are you just writing for fun or for yourself? Poetry is often a very personal form of writing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about your audience at the same time.

If you want to publish your poetry eventually, there are a few things to think about in terms of your goals.

What emotion or moral do you want to convey? What are you trying to express?

These are important questions to answer in order to write an impactful and memorable poem.

#6 – Avoid cliche phrases when writing poetry

There are many clichés you want to avoid when writing poetry.

Nothing really marks an amateur poet like clichés (and forced rhymes, like we mentioned before).

Despite the temptation, avoid cliché phrases. Go line by line and make your language as crisp and original as you can.

If there are pieces in your poem that seem like you’ve read or heard them before, try to reword it in order to make it more original.

#7 – Opt for minimalism

Err on the side of minimalism. Once you have a draft, cut it back to the bare, raw necessaries.

Every word should be heavy with emotion and meaning, and every word should be absolutely essential.

If your poem seems long-winded to you, imagine what that would be like for your reader. Be ready to edit your poem to get it down to its best form.

“Poetry is just word math. Every piece has mean something, and there can’t be any extraneous bits otherwise it gets confusing. It just becomes a puzzle made out of all the words that make you feel something.” – Abigail Giroir

#8 – Refine your poem

The real magic of poetry happens in the revising and refining.

Revise the ever-living heck out of it. To paraphrase an old professor of mine: Don’t be afraid to sit with it. For weeks, months, yearsas long as the poem needs.

It’s great to have writing goals and timelines, but don’t rush a poem before you know it’s ready.

Avoid abstractions. An abstraction is a word that can only refer to a concept or feeling—it’s not a concrete, tangible thing. Some examples of this are liberty, love, bondage, aggression.

Abstractions make every person picture something different, so they are weak words, and they will weaken your poem.

Instead of using an abstraction, think of what imagery you can use to convey that emotion or concept. Liberty can become chains breaking or birds flying. Love can be bringing your spouse coffee in bed, petting a dog, cleaning a gravestone.

Think of the best images to convey your idea of that abstraction, so every reader can be on the same page with you.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself into a form that will stifle your creativity, utilize imagery and sound, have a meaning and a purpose for every poem, and revise until your fingers bleed.

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