structure of a story

Story Structure: 3 Main Templates for Structuring an Unforgettable Story

Your story structure does matter.

Not only was Rome not built in a day, but it also wasn’t built without a plan. London was built without a plan.

Hit some Google maps and look at an aerial view of both cities. You will see the difference.

And your readers will definitely see the difference if your book doesn’t have a cohesive structure…and they will not be back for more.

story structure

The three main types of story structure we’ll cover are:

  1. 3 Act Structure
  2. Hero’s Journey
  3. The 5 Milestones

NOTE: If you want a coach to help you plan out your story structure, check out our VIP Fiction Self-Publishing Program for that, and so much more.
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What is story structure?

There are a few main types of story structure but overall, the structure of your story is how the events are laid out with an emphasis on using each part to further the story in an intriguing and cohesive structure.

Structure, suffice it to say, is important. The structure makes all the difference in creating a narrative that is poignant and satisfying.

More importantly, structure helps you, as the writer, keep track of all the events so that characters and story elements don’t fall through the cracks.

Keeping track of story elements makes writing a lot easier. Like following a recipe, it keeps you from leaving out important bits or putting in too much of others. Even simple stories contain numerous smaller nuances that, when forgotten, lead to disaster.

Watch any B movie from the 80s and you can see places where the editor, the script, and the director all lost the plot…don’t allow that when writing a novel yourself.

Furthermore, readers expect certain structures within story. They have an emotional attachment to certain pacing. They start to feel anxious if an element they are expecting hasn’t yet occurred, or never occurs.

Depending on the book genre, manipulating these expectations is a part of the style.

Why focus on the structure of a story?

Much like the streets of Rome, you want your story to get somewhere.

You might enjoy meandering through London’s sprawling game trails turned roadways, but you want to get somewhere eventually.

That is why a story structure serves as a map to guide you, the characters, and the reader to an eventual, and hopefully rewarding, destination.

Some of the most famous stories out there have a very specific, replicable story structure that has served them well.

That’s why we always recommend outlining your book using these methods for planning your novel.

Story Structure: 3 Templates for Getting it Right

Now that we’ve stressed the need for a story structure its time to learn about your options. Story structures don’t have to be confining, rigid, things.

They work best when used as signposts and tentpoles, holding up the scaffolding and guiding you on your way.

Note that a story structure is somewhat different than a story shape. The shape is more about the feel and thrust of a story over its arrangement.

Story Structure #1 – The 3 Act Play

The most basic of story structures, very popular in Hollywood style films, is the 3 Act Play.

Many world-famous novels use this structure, including:

  • Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This structure relies on a total of five elements which includes the acts themselves, composed of various scenes, and two key transitions, referred to as “pinches” here.

Here is the three-act structure broken down:

  • Act 1: Setup – We’re introduced to the main players as well as the main conflict. We understand the voice, tone, and direction of the story.
    • Pinch 1 – This is when the initial conflict arises (sometimes known as the inciting incident).
  • Act 2: Confrontation – We’re in the thick of the main conflict here, along with some secondary conflicts. We’re faced with difficult (seemingly impossible) odds to overcome.
    • Pinch 2 – The conflicts addressed in Act 2 come to a head, and decisions need to be made. This is often the moment where all hope is lost for your protagonist.
  • Act 3: Resolution – Everything boils down to this act. All of the conflict, subplots, and challenges arise and the climax kicks off, shortly followed by the resolution of the story.

In the past, plays were structured with five acts, with two of the acts serving as long-form versions of the modern transitional elements of Pinch 1 and 2.

These have faded, partially because audiences have adapted to storytelling tropes and don’t need them spelled out. Also, stage tech, at least in plays, has advanced, requiring less busy work on the fringes to enact scenery changes for the more crucial acts.

Act 1 – The Setup

The first act introduces the characters with some mild character development and sets up the conflict. Take Romeo and Juliet (a fine example because we can discuss both the play’s 5 act structure and the films 3 act version).

The major players are all introduced in the first act and then attend a party. This gives us further information about each character in how they rep and participate in the party. We also see their conflicting social dynamics.

We set up an additional set of character dynamics between Romeo vs Paris as parties interested in Juliet and Mercutio and Tybalt as loyal but antagonistic figures.

Pinch 1 occurs at the end of the first act, introducing the conflict of the young couples’ love for each other. 

Act 2 – The Confrontation

In the play this is developed through the second act as the stakes for the lovers is spelled out. They marry in secret and that forms the end of the major plot point, the star-crossed lovers are not just passingly at odds with their society.

Within the 3 act structure, this is a single plot point. We get that they love each other, and that love means marriage.

Then, the middle act is the apprehension of their actions bringing about unintended, but not unforeseeable consequences.

The second act is often the longest as it is the place where elements move and forces muster. Everyone has to get into further trouble, further develop their roles, and gain power toward a resolution.

Act 2 ends shortly after a complication that brings the elements to a head. No longer able to maintain the secret, Romeo is confronted with a duel and his actions result in the death of his friend which then results in his banishment once he kills Tybalt.

Act 3 – The Resolution

Act 3 then begins with the fallout of these actions.

With Romeo headed to banishment, Juliet seeks a drastic plan to keep him around. She fakes her death to bring out the true feelings of the interested parties.

Since it is a tragedy, Romeo to get the clever reveal of the ruse and kills himself rather than being alone, though your story structure doesn’t have to follow this specific tragic ending.

Juliet then has to kill herself in turn and we end up with a high body count to bring the story to a close.

Story Structure #2 – Hero’s Journey

While the 3 Act structure works well for simple, straightforward stories, it doesn’t have the necessary oomph to underpin more nuanced tales.

When the good guys and bad guys are less black and white, you need to reach for the ancient wheel that is the Hero’s Journey.

The journey typically consists of 12 steps. It is the backbone of traditional storytelling, except it works and is a joy to take part in.

Older versions of the structure had more steps, the Tarot stemmed from an early understanding of this story structure starting with the fool (our hero) and ending with the world (resolution or complete understanding).

novel structure

Here are the 12 steps of the hero’s journey:

  1. The Ordinary World
  2. Call to Adventure
  3. Refusing the Call
  4. Meeting a Mentor
  5. Crossing the Threshold
  6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
  7. Approach the Innermost Circle
  8. The Ordeal
  9. Seizing the Talisman
  10. The Road Ahead
  11. Resurrection
  12. Return with the Elixir

These steps explain, in detail, the trajectory of the story while leaving room to put in differing characters and pursuits of different ideals. While many contemporary stories still follow this structure, it is easiest to see it in the light of an epic.

We’ll use Lord of the Rings as an example of this story structure. While the entire story follows the structure multiple times, we’ll stick to Frodo’s arc.

Step 1 – The Ordinary World

The Lord of the Rings story begins, rather appropriately, in the most banal land in Middle Earth. The Shire is a pure ordinary world where nothing too much happens, and everyone lives without any idea that better or worse things exist outside its borders. (Well, they have some idea, but go the cognitive dissonance route to ignore it.)

Step 2 – The Call to Adventure

The Call to Adventure comes when Gandalf shows up in search of the One Ring.

He tells Frodo a quest needs to be taken up but doesn’t give the full details. This bleeds into Refusing the Call as Frodo accepts part of the responsibility, without understanding the rest.

Step 3 – Refusing the Call

Refusing the Call is about seeing what has to be done and deciding there has to be someone else.

A good hero, like a proper Platonic philosopher-king, needs to reject the call first to be more worthy of it. Frodo will finish Refusing the Call later in Rivendell as he tries to bargain that others are more capable.

Step 4 – Meeting a Mentor

Though Gandalf served as a Mentor in The Hobbit, Aragorn (as Strider) is the Mentor here.

Meeting him gets the four hobbits along the correct path and out of the shying away into the real journey. The Mentor often brings insight, training, or purpose to a hero.

Step 5 – Crossing the Threshold

Crossing the Threshold reflects the hero facing a challenge and realizing they can make a difference.

For Frodo, this occurs twice, the first time as he faces the barrow wraiths and rescues his friends, the second is surviving the orc attack in Moria. Both thresholds show the power of gifts he received from Biblo but also hint at how friendship will play a role in his other tests.

Step 6 – Tests, Allies, and Enemies

Tests, Allies, and Enemies is a larger middle section of the Hero’s Journey which winds through other elements.

The gathering of the fellowship is a gaining of allies, their journey is a test, the fellowship mirrors the numbers of the enemy Ring Wraiths.

This step might not necessarily be a solid, definable moment, but rather something that has been happening throughout the story until this point.

Step 7 – Approach the Innermost Circle

Approach the Innermost Circle is a great danger, if not the greatest danger, a hero faces.

Within Frodo’s journey, this is when he attempts to leave the rest of the group behind, going alone on the river because he fears what will happen if he keeps with the group.

This moment in your story should be high tension, with consequences that impact the overall plot.

Step 8 – The Ordeal

The Ordeal is what takes place inside the Innermost Circle.

In the wastes of Mordor, Frodo must hold out against the weight of the One Ring. It is a prolonged Ordeal but well within the idea of the step.

This is another step that can fall within a previous step.

Step 9 – Seizing the Talisman

Seizing the Talisman is about gaining an object of power that will turn the tide for the hero.

Tolkien has many of these for other characters, usually in the form of legendary or magical weapons they acquire. For Frodo, the specifics of the talisman are in his pity on Gollum.

Step 10 – The Road Ahead

The Road Ahead takes the hero from the talisman to a final conflict.

In this case, Frodo is betrayed by Gollum and nearly killed by Shelob, saved only by the friendship with Samwise.

The consequences of Seizing the Talisman are usually a downward turn, comparable with Pinch 2 from the 3 Act structure.

Step 11 – Resurrection

Resurrection often involves a person, or entity returning after being thought dead.

Gandalf becomes the white, Luke comes back with a mechanical hand, Frodo fails to discard the ring and has to be attacked by Gollum.

Frodo’s resurrection is being saved at the last moment by his previous good decisions, often a resurrection succeeds because of past decisions by a hero and rarely the actions they take in that moment.

Step 12 – Return with the Elixir

Finally, the hero must Return with the Elixir, taking everything they have learned and accomplished back to the Ordinary World they once inhabited.

Frodo and Sam arrive to take on Saruman, showing their knowledge and skill acquired through the Journey to return the land to peace.

This is often the last chapter, showing your character/s returning to their life or beginning to create their new life.

Story Structure #3 – The 5 Milestones

If the previous two structures seemed restrictive or overly elaborate (the Hero’s Journey is 12 freaken steps, after all) then the 5 Milestones structure is for you.

This structure keeps it simple by focusing on five plot points, usually one or two scenes each, that create the scaffold of the story. These Milestones have to go in order, but the space between them can be adjusted quite a lot.

Here are the 5 Milestones for this story structure:

  1. Setup
  2. Inciting Incident
  3. 1st Slap
  4. 2nd Slap
  5. Climax

We’ll use the Hunger Games to rundown this structure.

story structure milestones

Milestone 1 – The Setup

The first Milestone works just like the 3 Act and the Ordinary World. It shouldn’t be surprising as beginnings all need to do the same thing.

Collins sets her premise up by explaining the reason there are districts, why the Games exist, and introducing Katniss as the protagonist.

We know, rather quickly, that the world is dystopian and unfair, and we know the main character has the skills to make an impact.

Milestone 2 – The Inciting Incident

This leads to the Inciting Incident, the kickoff to the main plot and conflict in your novel.

In this case, Katniss’ own sister is chosen to take part in the Games. A task she is not ready for and will likely not survive. Not only that, it will spell disaster for the rest of the District if or when she fails.

story structure inciting incident

That specific moment is the inciting incident because it leads to Katniss’s next decision, which kicks off the entire point of the book: Katniss volunteers to be the tribute.

This sets the rest of the plot in motion while also anchoring the reader to the motives of the hero.

Milestone 3 – The 1st Slap

The 1st Slap, much like Pinch 1, sets the stakes and introduces the larger plot.

The Inciting Incident is often character motivating and motivated. The 1st Slap is usually external, a factor within the world that must be overcome.

The opening of the Games sets the stakes and shows the danger Katniss will face.  This parallels Crossing the Threshold in the Hero’s Journey story structure, where first blood is drawn and the hero, as well as the reader, see the reality of the dangers.

Rather than simply being told “there be dragons”, they see one firsthand.

The 1st Slap also makes good on the promise of adventure by putting the hero into the middle of a peril that they must escape. There is no turning back, only moving forward.

Milestone 4 – The 2nd Slap

This takes us into the 2nd Slap. Here, we see things get worse like a Pinch 2, but we see the hope on the horizon.

We know the Talisman, as seen in the Hero’s Journey story structure, is out there to be seized.

In The Hunger Games, this is seen by Katniss working out a plan to fake a relationship with Peta to get support from the outside; a means of survival.

She needs to keep him alive for his sake, and for hers. He is dying from an infection and she is told there will be an item she needs at the feast.

The feast is a huge risk, but it offers hope. She must take the chance. Things go badly, of course, and the hope teeters her on ruin.

story structure example

Milestone 5 – The Climax

All of this creates the landscape for the final Milestone: The Climax.

With the Games coming down to just Peta or Katniss, we go back to the events of the Inciting Incident and loop that motivation into how the hero wins.

Frodo helped Gollum, who saves him in return (not out of good intent, but it gets us there). Katniss has a need to protect others, all her actions follow that desire.

She sees a way to save Peta by threatening herself. This kind of character-driven resolution makes for a rewarding story and makes it easy to weave the details of your final victory throughout.

Your readers stay looped into the triumph because they root for the character because they like them, not because the plot says that they win.

The secret to making a story kickass is to make it come from within. A good reader can smell a set up a mile away. A good reader also loves to see a Milestone achieved.

There you have it, three ways to get a story from ‘In the Beginning’ to ‘The End’ that will keep you focused and organized. The reader will know what you’re doing, following along through the peaks and valleys, the twists and turns, confident that your roadmap will lead somewhere promising.

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Parts of a Story: The 11 Essential Story Elements You Need to Get Right

Knowing the parts of a story are essential for getting your book right.

Without constructing your book with these in mind, you could be taking the book idea you really love and need to get out into the world and just throwing it away.

And if you really want readers to not only experience your story but to enjoy it, keeping these parts of a story top of mind is crucial.

parts of a story

Here are the 10 essential parts of a story:

  1. Characters
  2. Setting
  3. Plot
  4. Conflict
  5. Resolution
  6. Themes
  7. Morals
  8. Symbolism
  9. Point of view
  10. Perspective
  11. Pulling it all together

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What are the parts of a story?

There are infinite ways to write a book and tell a story.

You can use endlessly different story structures and styles, but each story or novel is going to boil down to three fundamental elements: character, setting, and plot.

These are your story’s main course, but what’s a meal without side dishes?

We’re also going to cover conflict, resolution, themes, morals, symbolism, point of view, and perspective: what they are, how to use them, and how all of these literary elements work together to make a complete and filling dinner–I mean story…I’m hungry.

Parts of a Story Plot: Characters, Setting, Plot, & Other Story Elements

Once you’ve got a solid story idea, the real work begins.

Here are the 10 essential parts of a story every writer needs to get it right. Without these, your story (whether you’re writing a short story or a full novel) will fall flat.

#1 – Characters

Your audience should feel different levels of closeness to your different characters, depending on if they’re main, secondary, or background character.

But one key thing to keep in mind about including characters is, if your character is important enough to have a name, they’re important enough to have a goal.

What do your characters want? Their desire can be simple or complex, tangible or concept–maybe they want a job, a house, approval, a child, contentment. If your character doesn’t want something, they won’t be compelled to act.

Download this character sheet to dive deep into understanding your character’s motives better:


Download your FREE character development worksheet!

If your character isn’t acting, they’re passive or they’re just a plot device. You want to avoid both, and this is usually accomplished through strong character development.

#2 – Setting

The setting is when and where your story takes place.

Aside from the physical location and position in time, your setting can include:

  • weather
  • political climate
  • social norms
  • cultural influences

Take the time to consider these aspects to build a complex world for your characters to interact with.

Particularly in fantasy and sci-fi worlds, a lot of planning goes into establishing a convincing and engaging story setting that can either add to your plot or take away from it.

#3 – Plot

Your plot is the actual story–what happens, when, how, why, and what’s the result? 

There are a lot of different ways to structure your plot, but in general, a plot arc has five main points:

  1. Set-up/exposition – The beginning part of your story where you establish the world, the characters, the tone, and your writing style
  2. Rising action – The rising action is usually prompted by your inciting incident. Here, you escalate tension and problems, explore your characters. This is the biggest chunk of your book.
  3. Climax – This is the sort of “moment of truth.” The culmination of everything–the highest point of tension. The point the plot has been leading up to.
  4. Falling action – What goes up, must come down. This is where you resolve any subplots and side stories.
  5. Resolution – Wrap up.

Here’s a quick visual representation with explanations below:

Guy Rolls Down Hill In Tire Towards Car

DON'T try this at home… That was close! 😨😬

Posted by UNILAD on Monday, August 13, 2018

Here’s what happened in the plot of this video:

  1. Set-up: Supporting cast prepping to roll our main character down a hill in a tire. We can tell from the vibe and energy that this is just some classic lad antics.
  2. Rising action: The tension builds as our MC gains momentum, and we can’t tell what’s going to happen.
  3. Climax: Our MC is speeding down the hill at this point, when he nearly collides with a moving vehicle! Then he disappears into the water! Is he okay? Tension is at its highest.
  4. Falling action: Our hero is safe! The vehicle and driver are fine.
  5. Resolution: His stoned pals cheer him on. All is well.

Along with our three fundamental story elements, we can dive a little deeper and discuss conflict and resolution.

#4 – Conflict

Your conflict should rise throughout (peaking at the climax).

During the editing process, a good practice is to look at each scene and ask if there is conflict within it.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself (or your beta readers):

  • Does the scene add to the overall plot?
  • Does the scene advance internal or inter-character relationships?
  • Does the scene add to a subplot?
  • Does the scene answer or bring about any plot-crucial questions?

The conflict could lend to the overall plot, a subplot, conflict between characters, or even a smaller conflict that is resolved within that scene. For a story to be interesting, there needs to be conflict.

Scenes that don’t add to that are fluff.

#5 – Resolution

I want to talk a little more about resolution, since it’s so important. How you end your story is what will sit with readers the longest.

What’s the culmination of all we went through during the story?

What did the characters learn that led them to the decisions they ultimately made? By the end of your story, all of your conflicts should have a resolution.

In some cases, conflicts are intentionally left a bit open-ended without a solid resolution, but this should be done intentionally and there should be some sort of resolution, even if it’s an unsatisfying ending with a little remaining mystery.

Further boiling a story down will reveal elements like themes, morals, and symbolism

#6 – Themes

A theme is your story’s main takeaway. Your story can have one theme, or several.

Some examples of themes include:

  • Coming of age–what struggles come with it, what’s good about it
  • Forgiveness–trying to achieve it, avoiding it, accepting it
  • Death–overcoming it, processing it, fearing it
  • Love–overcoming it, processing it, fearing it (lol)
  • Empowerment
  • Displacement 
  • Motherhood
  • Injustice 
  • Good versus bad

The list is literally endless.

The theme of your story helps to focus the narrative and answers the question: What’s the point?

What have your characters learned? How are they changed, and what will they affect now that they are different?

#7 – Morals

The moral of your story is related to theme–what message do you want your story to convey?

If the theme is what the character learned, you can think of the moral as what the reader learned. 

Let’s take a coming of age narrative–what are possible morals in that type of story?

  • Don’t grow up too fast
  • Follow your dreams
  • Listen to the wisdom of others
  • Accept yourself as you are
  • Appreciate where you are and what’s happening now

Consider what morals you want to convey, but avoid directly stating them when writing your book. This is part of the experience of reading your story…and that’s for the readers.

#8 – Symbolism

Symbolism is a literary device used to convey subtle meanings.

A symbol can be anything from an object, a character archetype, an animal, an occurrence in nature. A window, an estranged father, a lion, a storm, a desk, a fire.

Symbols have meaning connected to them.

Here are some examples of symbolism in stories:

  • A window might signify freedom, longing, hope.
  • A lion might be bravery.
  • A storm might be impending doom or threat.
  • A desk could indicate creativity, work, neglect.

It all depends on the context of the story and the connotations you assign to your symbols.

Themes, morals, and symbolism are fun writing tools and parts of a story to work with, but be cautious of relying on them. They’re icing and sprinkles–not the cupcake.

#9 – Point of view

The point of view of your story is simply who is telling the story. The most common in fiction are first-person, third-person limited, and third-person omniscient.

First-person POV:

First-person is the main character telling the story. It uses the pronouns I, me, myself. 

A strength of using first-person is that your reader will connect with your character very easily–the reader essentially becomes the character. If done well, this is a very intimate reading experience.

A weakness of first-person is that your storytelling is limited to that perspective. It’s difficult to tell an entire story with a single, first-person narrator. It can be done, but it takes more effort than it might with a different point of view.

Here’s a first-person point of view example from my collection of short stories, Little Birds.

parts of a story point of view

Third-person limited POV :

Third-person is an outside narrator telling the story. It uses the pronouns he, she, they.

Even though it’s an outsider narrator, third limited keeps us in the point of view of our character(s)–the reader only knows what the character knows.

A strength of third-person point of view is the versatility. It’s much easier to have multiple point of view characters with third-person, as opposed to first. You can also flow between third limited and third omniscient in a novel.

The weakness is you don’t get the closeness to the character you have in first-person, though this can still be created through strong character development and using the rule of show, don’t tell.

This is an example of a third-person point of view in Jenna Moreci’s The Savior’s Champion.

parts of a story POV

Third-person omniscient POV:

Third omniscient is when an outside, all-knowing narrator tells the story. Third omniscient can jump into any character’s thoughts and knows things about the story the characters might not know.

The omniscient narrator knows everything happening in the universe.

The obvious strength of third omniscient is ease of storytelling–you’re not limited to any one character’s knowledge.

The weakness is you’re even further from your character and it’s that much harder to forge a connection between your characters and your readers.

Author Erin Morgenstern does a great job with this point of view in her novel The Night Circus, seen below.

parts of a story point of view

# 10 – Perspective

Even though “point of view” and “perspective” are often used in the writing community interchangeably, perspective is actually different. 

Perspective refers to the character’s interpretation of the world and their attitude toward it.

A character’s perspective can be determined by their personal story–their upbringing, their opinions, their socioeconomic status, their education level, etc.

Considering your character’s worldview when deciding their morals and actions will make your characters and story feel more authentic. 

While you outline your book and story’s plot, characters, and setting, don’t forget to consider everything else we’ve covered. These elements work together to tell a complete and engaging story.

#11 – Put it all together

Your story is more than all of these separate parts. You need to have a way to put them together that makes sense.

You need a system…

Which is exactly what Self-Publishing School provides.

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romance novels

10 Best Romance Novels That Have Gone Underappreciated

There are many romance novels out there. Some better than others, granted, but what makes some the best of the best?

What gives them that je ne sais quoi factor we’re all craving, some of us even trying to emulate when writing a novel ourselves?

I could go about this list in many different ways, but I’ve decided not to make this one a common, boring, cliché list. No.

This is not that kind of list; this will give you the best romance novels in different categories and the reasons why you’ll fall in love with them!

Here are the 11 best romance novels:

  1. Slammed by Colleen Hoover
  2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  3. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
  4. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
  5. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
  6. Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens
  7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  8. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  9. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  10. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
  11. Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Side note: you’ll need a big box of tissues for most of these, so be sure to grab one before you dive in!

Best Romance Books Per Category

The answer is for pulling novels from specific categories is simple: there are far too many amazing books out there to choose from and if you’re mapping out a list of the best, you’re going to miss a few important ones.

Categorizing them makes sense because you’ll be able to decide for yourself which type of book you’d enjoy more.

Consequently, you’ll find the best one in each category here. Once you finish it, you’ll be able to say if you enjoy that theme or not. And if not, you’re ready to jump into one of the other picks.

11 Best Romance Novels

If you’re looking for a quick read for a weekend or want to learn in order to write your own book, this list can give you some inspiration.

#1 – Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Category: Poetry, specifically slam poetry

Romance Novel Summary: Layken, an 18-year-older student meets her new neighbour, Will. Will is 21. They have an instant connection based on their similar likes, which gives Layken hope for happier days.

Once their connection is deep within you and you love them, there’s a revelation that shocks them and us, and they can’t be together. The problem is, they really want to.

Why You’ll Love It: If you’re not reading it because you love slam poetry, don’t worry. You’ll love slam poetry once you’re finshed! You may even want to try your hand at writing poetry afterward.

I had heard a few poems before but with this book, I became totally obsessed with slam poetry. It takes the novel to a higher level and forces us readers to connect with it a lot more. It becomes personal.

It’s also easy to identify ourselves with this story because it discusses topics that we’ve all had to face, including death and grief. Colleen is a brilliant writer and she just knows how to pull your strings.

Quote: “Question everything. Your love, your religion, your passion. If you don’t have questions, you’ll never find answers.”

#2 – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Category: Young Adult Romance

Romance Novel Summary: You’ll meet Cath Avery, who has a total opposite twin sister, Wren. When they both start college, Wren tells Cath she doesn’t want to be her roommate and they should live their college experience separately.

Then, one day, between her awkwardness and fan-fiction stories, she meets Levi. And then everything changes. Slowly. But it changes.

Why You’ll Love It:This is not only a young adult romance, not only about love. It’s also about making decisions at a young age and growth. The story is beautifully structured, and you won’t be able to put it down before you finish it.

Besides having a really solid love story, you’ll also have a good laugh when diving into Rowell’s world.

Quote: “In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”

#3 – The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Category: Greatest Love Story

Romance Novel Summary:This is the story of Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson. It is set in North Carolina after the Second World War. Noah thinks of Allie, a girl he had met 14 years prior. And one day, she shows up in his town.

Nicholas Sparks is the master of twists and turns in love stories and this one does not disappoint. This is a book of surprises that will test Noah and Allie’s love until the end.

Why You’ll Love It:I mean, do I really need an explanation here? Everyone knows Nicholas Sparks and that his books are amazing and will leave you in tears!

If you’ve watched the movie, read the book. If you haven’t watched the movie, read the book! It’ll break your heart in the most beautiful possible way.

Quote: “Every great love starts with a great story…”

#4 – The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Category: Modern Romance

Romance Novel Summary:Lucy Hutton is a nice, sweet girl; Joshua Templeman is her opposite: cold and grumpy. They meet when the publishing houses they work at merge. It’s hate at first sight.

But everything changes with a kiss…

Why You’ll Love It:Two opposites attract… isn’t it just brilliant when you have a love/hate relationship in one of your books?

Because this is a modern romance, the storyline is also modern, which is the reason why many, many people love this novel. It’s easy to relate with it and Lucy is like the next-door neighbor, you just adore her.

And with this title, how you could NOT want to read it?

Quote: “It’s a corporate truth universally acknowledged that workers would rather eat rat skeletons than participate in group activities.”

#5 – The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Category: Loss and Grief

Romance Novel Summary:Lucy is a senior in college at Columbia University when she meets Gabe, also a college senior. They meet on an ill-fated day that will shape their lives and the lives of those around them forever.

They meet throughout the years but there’s always something in between them, there’s always something preventing them from being together.

And in the end, Lucy has a very important decision to make. What will she decide to do?

Why You’ll Love It:If you’ve read and love PS: I Love You by Cecelia Ahern, this book should be next on your list.

I think it’s beautiful the way Santopolo deals with loss and grief, which are two themes so close and tangled with the subject of love.

Even though they can be difficult to approach, the message is important and not every romance needs a stereotypical happily ever after.

Quote: “Maybe it’s the act of opening yourself up, letting someone else in—or maybe it’s the act of caring so deeply about another person that it expands your heart.”

#6 – Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens

Category: Fantasy Romance

Romance Novel Summary:This is the first book in a series called “Immortals of London”. Ellie Wakefield has been saved from death by William Austen, a 300-year-old vampire.

Ellie has to learn about this new world and together they face unexpected challenges.

Why You’ll Love It:

Who doesn’t love a good-ol’ vampire story? Add to that a little old banter, and there you have it, the perfect novel!

Fantasy and romance are just like peanut butter and jelly; there’s no reason why they should go together, but they do, formidably.

This book is full of mystery and Stevens has written it in a way that you just crave for more. It’s fresh, well-detailed but very easy to read.

Quote: “I understand that this is rather a lot to take in,’ he said. ‘But I would appreciate it if you would stop referring to me as either psychotic or perverted.’ ‘Well I’d appreciate not being kidnapped and shut in this filthy hole.’ ‘Touché’.”

#7 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Category: Feminism and Classic Literature

Romance Novel Summary:The story revolves around the Bennets, a noble family that doesn’t have a lot of money because of Mr. Bennet, the father.

It all starts when two single noblemen arrive to town and, as it is custom, meet the single women, because ain’t it universally acknowledged “that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”?

When Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet, it’s not all rainbows and flowers, but would it be a real love story if it was otherwise?

Why You’ll Love It:Classics are important for a reason, and that reason is mostly because they’ll teach you something about the past, which most often than not, still has some truth in the present day.

You’ll love Pride and Prejudice because Jane Austen wrote it for everyone to dream about it. It’s an important story that needs to be read.

Elizabeth Bennet was born way ahead of her time and she’s here to teach you a lesson in sarcasm and feminism – you just cannot not read it!

Quote: “He is a gentleman, and I am a gentleman’s daughter. So far we are equal.”

#8 – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Category: Illness and Loss

Romance Novel Summary:Louisa Clark loses her job and desperately needs to find another one. When the opportunity of taking care of Will Traynor, a young man that is wheelchair bound, knocks on her door, she doesn’t jump of happiness.

It’s a slow start and their relationship doesn’t seem to evolve, but as any other love story, there are twists and surprises along the way for both Louisa and Will.

Why You’ll Love It:This is a story of poor meets rich, good meets bad, but not at all as you’d expect it to be.

It’s not even about these pairs at all. But you’ll connect, at first, with the main character, Louisa, because of this. She’s simple and relatable.

You’ll read it in an afternoon and you’ll still be crying months later.

Quote: “I will never, ever regret the things I’ve done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.”

#9 – Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Category: History, specifically the Civil War

Romance Novel Summary:Scarlett O’Hara has a hard task at hand: she’s fighting for her family’s plantation and for the love of her life – if that wasn’t enough, this is amid the Civil War.

In the end, will she get it all or lose everything?

Why You’ll Love It:It’s History holding hands with a love story, what more could you need?

It has the charm of the south in a very troubling period of history; it’s family and love struggles. It’s one of the most popular books ever written, and you just need to find out why!

Quote: “It was better to know the worst than to wonder.”

#10 – It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Category: Abusive Relationships

Romance Novel Summary:Lily is a determined, successful woman. She had a difficult life growing up, but she never stopped fighting for what she truly loved. She meets Ryle who has a no-dating rule, but they quickly become close.

She thinks he had a difficult past too, but she can’t figure out what happened exactly. When things start changing, she’s put in a place she never wanted to be back again.

“Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.”

Why You’ll Love It:If you’re looking for strong-minded, determined women, this book is for you. Lily is written in a way that you’ll be rooting for her from page 1.

It’s a book that will touch some of you deeply and will haunt you for many years after the last page was turned. A beautiful love story that has more to it.

Quote: “Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.”

#11 – Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Category: LGBTQ+

Romance Novel Summary:Simon is 16 and very much homosexual, however, no one knows. When his secret is about to be revealed, a series of events lead him to being blackmailed.

He’ll try to navigate high school without anyone finding out his secret while not messing up his friendships nor his own life.

Why You’ll Love It:This is a fun yet serious book. The characters are well-created, and the dialogues are hilarious.

The topic is an extremely important one nowadays and the lack of novels about the LGBTQ+ community make this one a success.

The hardships of being teenager and on top of that, one with a secret, are well played in this novel and you’ll easily fall in love with Simon (and Blue).

Quote: “Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

Romance novels are unique in many ways…

If you’re looking for a happily ever after, maybe you won’t find it in all these books.

However, aren’t stories closer to our reality a whole lot better? They allow us to think of our successes and failures and give us hope for a better future.

If you’re looking for page-turners, refer to this list. I promise you these are novels you won’t be able to put down once you’ve read the first page!

Do you want your next novel to make a list like this?

If you love romance novels enough to give writing your own a try, we’ve got what you need next.

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prologues

Prologue: What is it & Do You Really Need a Prologue?

Should you write a prologue, or should you throw the reader right into the story?

This choice will either serve your readers or take away from their experience if you don’t know the intricacies of prologues—like if you even need one (and we’ll cover this below).

This is one of the most important for aspiring fiction authors writing a novel!

Let’s talk about what a prologue is, when to use them, and how to use them well.

prologue

Here’s everything you need to know about prologues:

  1. What is a prologue?
  2. How to make a prologue stand out
  3. How to know if it’s a prologue
  4. How to know if your book needs a prologue
  5. How to write a good prologue

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What is a prologue?

A prologue is like a short story—a small glimpse, set in your story’s world, written in the same style as the rest of your book but with clear separation from the start of your story.

Maybe it’s an entire literary device, like a flashforward of your protagonist that gives the reader a taste of the world, some crucial information for the plot, and will make sense later.

Maybe it’s an event from thousands of years ago that sets the wheels in motion for your story’s inciting incident. Maybe it’s a background prologue your reader needs to settle into a fantasy or sci-fi universe (but not an info dump).

Maybe it’s a snippet of your story from a different perspective—for example, this could be used if your story needs information from when your perspective character was a child who couldn’t understand what was happening, or if they simply weren’t present for the event.

If you’re struggling to connect the reader to your story with enough necessary information to understand what’s happening, maybe you need a prologue. 

A prologue should read exactly as if you were writing a short story without a true ending—your prologue should leave the reader questioning and curious.

Note: Any questions you create in the prologue must be resolved by the end of your story.

How to Make a Prologue Stand Out

The prologue should stand out from the rest of the book in a significant way.

If it fits seamlessly into your story and the reader can’t tell it’s a prologue without a label, that isn’t a prologue.

While it should be written in the same style as the rest of the book, here are examples of how it can stand out:

  • Time difference. Your prologue could be set in the past to reveal an important event. It could jump into the future and the rest of the story becomes a sort of flashback up to that point. Oftentimes, you won’t even see the future-set prologue in the book, because the story will end before it reaches that point, but the book should show a logical progression to your future-set prologue.
  • Different perspective. Maybe your story is in first-person and your prologue is an event from a third-person omniscient perspective. Maybe we get a view of the main character from the perspective of a friend or parent. Maybe we see a character’s perspective who never actually shows up in the story.

Your reader should see a distinct difference between the prologue and the rest of your novel, else why is it a prologue instead of the first chapter? 

You also don’t hop back into this perspective at any other point in the book—if you can, then why did you need the prologue in the first place?

If you go back to that perspective, you likely could include the information in the story itself instead of separating it into a prologue.

How to Know if it’s a Prologue

There are many ways to start a book besides jumping into the story. Let’s look at a few options to establish the differences between them.

Preface or foreword

A preface is basically the author explaining something to the reader about how the book came to be, who was involved in creating it, and other information about the book’s creation. A preface is not a part of the story, and it can be skipped without damaging the reader’s understanding.

A foreword is similar, but written by someone who is not the author—a foreword is typically a reflection of how the book relates to society and readers.

Introduction

A book introduction is typically used only in nonfiction.

It gives the reader supplemental information, and it usually isn’t crucial for the reader’s understanding of the rest of the book.

Prologue

A prologue is typically used only in fiction. It gives the reader information about the story, in the same form of the story.

So the prose of a prologue will have the same writing style and vibe of the rest of the book, even if it’s in a different timeline or perspective. If a reader skips reading the prologue, it will affect their understanding of the book.

How to determine if your book needs a prologue

Not every book needs a prologue and if yours truly doesn’t, the actual prologue can then take away from the book, giving away too much or being irrelevant in general.

what is a prologue

So let’s figure out if your book actually needs a prologue or not.

Why should you write a prologue?

  1. If something happened far out of the context of your story that is CRUCIAL to understanding it. If you have the information you must convey to the reader that can’t be worked into the main novel, you may need a prologue.
  2. If the story doesn’t make sense without the prologue. If you can remove the prologue (or a reader can skip it), and their understanding is not damaged, a prologue is not necessary.
  3. If you can’t weave the prologue’s information into the story without muddling your plot. If working the prologue content into your story is unnatural or confusing, you may need a prologue.

Why shouldn’t you write a prologue?

  1. If your story makes sense without it.
  2. If the content could be included in the main story.
  3. If it’s a copout to writing an interesting opener.
  4. If you’re just writing it because you think you’re supposed to have one.
  5. If it’s just an exposition dump.
  6. If it’s just for world-building.
  7. If it’s just to set mood or atmosphere.
  8. If it’s to supplement a boring first chapter opening.

Note: prologues can certainly be used for mood, atmosphere, world-building, and clever exposition, but these shouldn’t be the sole purpose.

So clearly, there are more reasons not to write a prologue than there are reasons to write one. Be very critical of your prologue to be sure you should include it.

But if you decide your story does need a prologue, here are five tips to write a great one.

How to Write a Good Prologue for Your Book

Not every prologue is created equal.

Just as a great prologue can make a book, a bad one can ruin it completely. Here are some tips to keep it fresh, exciting, and influential to your book’s story.

#1 – Keep it brief

Your prologue shouldn’t be longer than your average chapter length.

It should be one event (maybe two), it shouldn’t bother with developing characters, and it should only include the crucial information.

#2 – Keep it interesting

If your prologue is boring, readers will skip it. We all know that the first pages of your first chapter are extremely important.

This is where the reader will either be hooked to finish the book, or where they lose interest.

If you include a prologue, it should be just as gripping as your first chapter.

However, this doesn’t mean you can slack in the first chapter. The two should work together to be as intriguing as possible to yank the reader in and not let them go.

An author who exemplifies this greatly is Jenna Moreci in her novel The Savior’s Champion. The prologue is vital to the story, is written in another perspective, and is just as (I would argue it’s even more) gripping as the first chapter.

prologue example

#3 – Focus on crisp, original prose

Even if your prologue is historical or in a book genre that’s less “exciting”, or if it’s a document of some sort, keep your prose on par with the rest of your book.

Put special effort into the quality of writing—this is your reader’s first taste of what’s to come!

#4 – End with a burning question

After your prologue, your reader should be so intrigued that they immediately jump into the first chapter.

You want them to say “What the **** is going on?!” so loud it freaks their cat out.

This is what pushes readers to buy more books, increasing your overall book sales and hooking fans.

George R.R. Martin did a great job with this in his infamous series Game of Thrones. The series opens with a prologue of men venturing beyond the wall to investigate certain occurrences.

prologue examples

At the end, you’re left wondering what the heck just happened.

#5 – Make it an event, not an exposition dump

This is where most writers go wrong…

They use their prologue as a tool to spoon-feed readers information about a world the reader hasn’t developed an interest for yet.

This will often make them skim the prologue, skip the prologue, or skip the book entirely.

Prologues are a great story-telling tool when used properly. Make sure you need a prologue before you include one, keep it brief, keep it interesting, and keep it Absolutely Necessary.

#6 – Give your prologue a purpose by finishing the whole book

A great prologue means nothing if it only ever sees a folder in your computer that you only open every seven months.

If you really want to finish writing your book and even self-publishing your book someday, a kick in the butt to get it done will help.

We’ve got just that for you.

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Are you writing a book and on the fence about writing a prologue? Tell us what it’s about and we’ll help you decide!

how to name a character

Character Names: 19 Methods & Tips for Naming Characters Step-by-Step

Your character names have the ability to transform the perception readers have of your book and story.

If you think about it…character names are actually a specific literary device you can use most sneakily.

And if you want readers to love, adore, and care for your main character, giving them the best and most memorable name can make all the difference.

character names

Use these methods for naming characters in your book:

  1. Using baby name websites
  2. The Root-Meaning method
  3. Mash-up character naming method
  4. The Add-on method
  5. Develop-First naming method
  6. Making character names up from scratch
  7. Naming-by-era method
  8. Using similar-to-real-life names
  9. 11 tips for getting character names right

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Naming Characters Intentionally: Why Character Names Matter

Character names have the power to transform your reader’s perception of your character entirely.

Let’s use the example of names from How to Train Your Dragon, the animated film.

Character name example: Hiccup

Why this character name matters: This name is extremely fitting to the type of character Hiccup is. The reason for a silly, “weak” name like this is because that is what the creators want you to think of when you hear the name. They want you to have low expectations so that when this character rises above, the emotional impact is far greater than if he had a typical “hero” name.

You can use this same ideology for villains. One in particular with a famous name is from Harry Potter.

Character name example: Lord Voldemort

Why this character name matters: From the beginning, Rowling crafted this name to be foreboding. In fact, this character himself chose the name because of that. As the author, you can craft your villain’s name based on your intentions. If you want readers to underestimate them, choose a silly name like Bob. But if you want readers to fear the wrath of your villain, choose a more fitting name like Lord Voldemort.

Character Name Generators

If you’re looking for the easy way out and would rather someone else do the work in naming your characters, there are tools online for that.

Here are some of the top character name generators:

  1. Character Name Generator – This one allows you to fill in several different defining factors in order to produce a character name that fits your character best.
  2. Fantasy Name Generator – Are you writing a fantasy novel and need some character name ideas? This generator offers several different options for theme-based character names for your fantasy book.
  3. Name Generator for Fun – With this one, you can choose from several categories, like villain names, rap names, superhero names, and more.
  4. Name Generator – This character name generator also gives you options to narrow in on details about your character for a more fitting name. However, this one has more real-life names than uniquely created, so it may serve better if you’re writing in the contemporary book genre.
  5. Writer’s Character Name Generator – While very random, this one may just allow you to stumble upon your next main character’s name.

How to Come Up With Character Names

Naming your characters is one of the best and scariest parts of writing a novel.

Using one of these methods will help ease the process while providing higher quality final results.

#1 – Baby Name Websites

One of the most popular methods of coming up with new character names is to pretend they’re your baby…literally!

Baby naming websites have been serving up characer names for writers for years.

Oftentimes, these websites even offer name meanings, trending names, and even names that were popular doing different years.

Here are some great baby name websites to discover your characters’ names:

#2 – Root-Meaning Method

Welcome to the most common, tried-and-true method to name characters in books.

People use this method in real-life to name their children, too!

The root-meaning method simply refers to using a core meaning or belief or even origin of a name for symbolism in your book.

Here are some examples of this:

  • Tobias Kaya in The Savior’s Champion: His name means “goodness” and is very much meant to align with who his character is and his role in the series.
  • Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings: Little do most people know, the name Frodo originated from the old English word “fród,” which translates to “wise by experience.”
  • Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games: This book’s author really took the name meaning seriously when crafting her main character. Katniss is a plant in the genus Sagittaria, which roughly translates from Latin as “archer.”

You can easily find the meanings of names by venturing to baby naming websites. You can also type in a name you like to Google and it will usually pop up.

#3 – The Mash-Up

One of my personal favorite ways of creating new names is to simply mash real-life names together until I find something that’s real-sounding but also unique to my world and characters.

This method of coming up with character names is better learned through seeing than a simple explanation:

Josh and Riley = Joley, Jile, Rosh, Rishe

Casey and Michael = Cachel, Cachael, Casel, Misey, Miche, Michey, Masey

Emily and Rochelle = Emelle, Echelle, Romil, Romily, Rochil, Rocily

Obviously, some combinations will be better than others, but this is a quick way to generate new but realistic character names.

Here’s the step-by-step breakdown for how to create simple character names with this method:

  1. Choose or find 2 real-life names
  2. Match them side by side
  3. Take the first half of the first name and mix and mach it with the last half of the second name
  4. Repeat step 3 but vice versa
  5. You should have a list of several different sounding names
  6. Choose a few to keep that you like
  7. Repeat this process with several pairs until you have a roster of character names to choose from

#4 – The Add-On

This method is super similar to the previous method but with more freedom.

This is another personal favorite and how I manage to come up with cool and interesting names that are also unique to my story.

Instead of taking two names and matching the beginning of one with the end of the other, simply choose real names and swap out the endings or add on to them completely.

Here’s what this looks like…

Rebecca = Rebera, Rebilla, Rebyr, Rebine, Reborra

Taylor = Tayr, Tayora, Tayrin, Taysila, Tayserra

Cory = Corrin, Corel, Coreesa, Coryn, Corros, Cortsa, Corta

John = Johva, Johrrin, Johk, Johrey

The steps for this one are pretty obvious. Choose a random real-life name and simply swap out the endings for a combination you create on your own.

I always try to do varying combinations, remembering that double consonants work well, as does changing the length of the vowel sounds by adding or changing those letters.

I do this often and keep a spreadsheet with names I like, as in the image below.

character name list

#5 – Develop-First Naming

Sometimes choosing a character’s name too early will make you subconsciously develop that character into someone who fits that name.

This can be bad if you need that specific character to act and behave in a certain way.

With this character naming method, you will develop your character in full first and then choose their name. The reason for this is to ensure you’ll write that character with intention.

For example: in the Harry Potter series, the mood tends to be more serious. Rowling created Ron Weasley as comedic relief. While Ron is much more than that, the intention is still for him to be a goofy, funny character.

The name “Ron Weasley” supports this development.

Had she named him a more serious name like Reginald, Theodore, or Christopher, crafting those scenes may have been very different.

The same can be said for another character called Draco Malfoy. This name is far more dark than it is funny, which is fitting for his character.

The steps for this character naming method are simple:

  1. Download and fill out this character development worksheet.
  2. Understand your character’s role in the story. Do you want them to be serious, funny, silly, foreboding?
  3. List names that make you feel the way of your intentions.
  4. Ask friend and family to tell you what each name makes them think of personality-wise.
  5. Narrow down your choices to 3 and ask another group.
  6. Decide on the best-fitting name.

#6 – Make Them Up

If you want to have 100% unique character names (like Lhonniadreah, a character in the book I’m writing, Lhonni for short), you’ve got to get creative.

But you’re a writer, so you know how to get creative.

This particular method doesn’t have many rules.

Essentially, you can simply think up a random name. Perhaps you have a base or a beginning that you like.

For example, my full original name for the character mentioned above was Lhonni. But I felt her character needed a longer name to fit with the traditional style of the names in her culture.

Secondly, I decided to pull from the common letter match-ups this culture sees often. In this case, the combinations of the “dr” sound with long vowels is popular.

I went on to create several combinations of potential full names:

  • Lhonnidray
  • Lhonniyadra
  • Lhonniodrin
  • Lhonnidra

Ultimately, the name I chose best fit her as a character, and I decided afterward that her mother’s name would be “Dreah,” so that her name is a namesake that’s in common format for the culture I created.

Here’s how you can replicate this process:

  1. Write down a sound or start or end of a name you like (this can be a “-ly” ending, an “ash-” beginning, or even an “-eer-” middle of a name.
  2. Decide if you want the name to hold any significant meaning the way mine does. This does not have to be the same meaning. You can even find base words in English or Latin to use.
  3. Take into account any world-specific cultural influences on the name. Your world building expands to even your character’s name. Don’t forget this! (If your book takes place in this world, think about family spellings and such as a substitute)
  4. Create a list with several different versions and variations. Remember your character’s name can take on very different meanings and intentions based on the sound (and look!) of it.
  5. Choose the name that feels right and embodies your intentions for the character. And let it stew for a few days! Now, even if your character is brave and strong, like in the Hiccup example, using a less-than-obvious name can provide a unique perception that fosters a better reaction later.

#7 – Name-by-era

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is unintentionally destroying your reader’s suspension of disbelief by naming a character something wildly out of the ordinary for a time period.

naming characters

If you’re writing historical fiction or just a story from 10-15 years ago, you want to make sure your names are realistic for the time period.

This trick is also helpful if you want to give your out-of-the-real-world novel a specific time era vibe.

Here are some resources for baby names by era:

#8 – Using similar but different real names

The most famous author who uses this method is George R.R. Martin in his infamous series Game of Thrones.

What Martin did in order to give this epic fantasy series realistic but medieval sounding names is simply alter just a few letters in a name.

Here are some examples of names from Game of Thrones with more common real names:

  • Gregor — Gregory
  • Joffrey — Jeffery
  • Brienne — Brianne
  • Theon — Theo / Theodore
  • Petyr — Peter
  • Jorah — Jonah
  • Gilly — Lilly
  • Podrick — Rodrick

Martin has a way of completely transforming these very similar-to-real-life names into something with both a. fantastical and medieval twist in order to further transport us to his world.

Of course Game of Thrones also features completely unique names like Daenerys and Tyrion along with real-life names like Robert and Jon. Martin uses this combination to his advantage—and you can too!

Top Tips for Naming Characters in Your Book

No matter which method you choose for naming your characters, you’ll need a few tips to make it more effective.

Here are the best tips for naming book characters with intention.

#1 – Remember, length matters

This is particularly true if you have several characters who will interact with one another regularly.

If you have all very long names, your reader will be exhausted.

You don’t want that…

What you do want is a reader who doesn’t have to focus on the pronunciation or longevity of several character names.

Using a combination of long, short, and medium length names will allow your readers to read easier so they can focus more on visualizing what’s happening.

Here’s an example of this with names from my work in progress:

  • Essadra
  • Vhie
  • Dailan

  • Lhonniadreah
  • Riddick
  • Ket

This combination allows several of these characters to be in the same scene without exhausting or confusing the reader.

#2 – Keep nicknames in mind

You can use your character’s name as a plot device if you really wanted to.

Maybe the reveal of your main character’s full name is important to the story and your character has only been called by a nickname their whole life.

Nicknames can also serve as a way to show and not tell within your writing as well. Those close to your character are more likely to use a nickname and therefore, you don’t have to dumb as much exposition in order for them to learn.

Just make sure the nickname is also fitting and not too similar to other characters’ names.

#3 – Make sure the name fits the character

We’ve already mentioned this tip a number of times but it’s worth mentioning again.

If your character’s name is very, very ill-fitting, it will stand out in a bad way to readers.

This is why getting feedback and understanding your character fully is so vital for the naming process.

#4 – Make sure the name fits the setting

Where your story takes place can change the names you use for your characters.

What’s the location?

Does your story take place in a cold, harsh climate or in a dry, warmer environment?

The location matters because the names used can help enhance or take away from the mood you’re trying to create within that environment.

For example, harsher climates tend to pair well with curt, quipped names to mirror this. But if you want your character in this specific place to stand out, you can give them a name that’s ill-fitting in order to focus on this contrast.

A great example of this is Ygritte from Game of Thrones. Yet again, George R.R. Martin has named someone who lives in a tough, gritty environment with a suitable name that gives off this vibe.

character name example

What are the cultural influences?

As mentioned in a few of these tips, culture plays a large role in your characters’ names.

Does your culture, whether you make it up or it’s real, influence your character’s name in any way?

For example, in a certain culture in my work in progress, names can often be namesakes. However, instead of simply naming a baby the full name of whomever they’d like to honor, they add the name to the start of another.

Lhonnidra is a common name in a certain place of my book. However, her mother Dreah died. Her father then named her after her mother, but in this world, that would translate to Lhonniadreah instead of just “Dreah.”

Ask yourself if there are any cultural influences and if there isn’t (and you’re completely making up this world), feel free to add some!

What is the intended time period?

Even if your book takes places in a completely different world, you can still allow readers to get a sense of the intended time period you’re going for with the names you use.

For this method, use old victorian names or names from medieval times as a base when also using another method for coming up with a unique name.

Victorian name example: Emaline

Created for a unique world while maintaining the same vibe: Emarise

You can tweak the names until you find something that feels right.

#5 – Consider how each name sounds

There are several literary elements that touch on the way similar or contrastingly different sounds can play into the attractiveness of writing.

Although most people don’t read novels out loud, unless they’re reading to their kids, we all still have a voice in our head that is “out loud.”

And that voice is drawn to names that sound appealing.

This can often be a subjective element when coming up with character names, but you can probably recognize names that sound good versus names that sound bad.

But you can also use this to your advantage for further character development as well.

“Ugly” sounding names are a great fit for characters you’d like your audience to interpret as just that. It’s all about what intention you have for that character.

An example of this is the name James Bond. I think we can all agree this is a great sounding, tough name that fits the character well.

#6 – Get feedback on the names

Other people are a better judge of the first impression of a character name simply because it’s fresh for them.

Enlist 7-10 people you can get feedback from when it comes to these names.

Send the name along with 2 sentences describing the character (physically and personality) and ask them if they sound like they fit.

Oftentimes, we might really like names that are hard to read or pronounce for new readers. In that case, you’ll want to problem solve for a solution.

#7 – Don’t be afraid to go crazy with it

This is your book! This is your world and if you have names that are a little out there, that’s okay!

The only reason you’d want to reel in the craziness is if the names are too complex for readers to easily comprehend and remember.

Nobody wants a character whose name people forget when talking about the book. After all, characters are one of the first things raving fans gush about with a new book they love.

That being said, don’t be afraid of creating your own names in your own world. Real-life parents make up names for their children every day. You can do the same for your characters.

#8 – Create cultural similarities in your world

This is mainly for authors writing in a unique world they make up on their own.

Different cultures and languages have very different names and common ways to spell and pronounce those names.

Here’s a quick example of several names from opposite sites of the world in my story:

Doyen Falls

  • Essadra
  • Vhie
  • Dailan
  • Lhonniadreah
  • Riddick
  • Ket

Sahïl

  • Nimah
  • Yarai
  • Déron
  • Creïdon
  • Ghe
  • Anahi

If your characters are from very different areas, the names should reflect that, just like in life.

#9 – Avoid using already-popular book character names

Using the name “Harry” or “Katniss” isn’t the best idea. At least…not if you want your characters to be remembered as your characters.

With infamous names, it’ll be very hard to set your character (and therefore, your book) apart.

If you want to use a name and aren’t sure if it’s in another super popular book, just do a Google search for “Name in book” and if it doesn’t populate a very specific result, you’re in the clear.

#10 – Avoid similar names if your character is based on someone you know

All writers draw inspiration from the real world. They’re lying if they say otherwise.

BUT, if you do base a character on someone you know in real life (which we recommend you change enough that they wouldn’t know anyway), don’t use a name that’s similar for the character.

This can make people feel very uncomfortable, not to mention it’ll be that much more obvious to outsiders who know you.

#11 – Bring your characters to life

Don’t just name your characters and leave them to exist only in your imagination and future conversations of friends or family asking you if you’ve finished your book yet.

Give them a world by finishing and even publishing your book.

We’ve got some tips to help you with that in this free video training.

Save your spot by signing up below!

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What are character names in books you LOVE and what are some you can’t stand?

How to Write About Pets: 6 Steps for Writing a Book About Pets the Right Way

Writing about pets is a great way to share your passion and get paid for it!

But that’s only doable if you know how to write about pets in a way that others will actually want to read…

Because let’s be real, we’d all love to gush about how amazing our pets are ALL day long, but that’s not what’s going to sell.

I have some tips for writing a book about pets (or just writing in general) to help you out.

how to write about pets

Here are the steps for writing about pets:

  1. Journaling or free-writing about pets
  2. Researching writing about pets
  3. Develop your pet’s character
  4. Decide on the theme
  5. Read books about pets to learn
  6. Build your pet’s author platform

NOTE: If you’re ready to start your book about pets, we can help you with that. In our VIP Self-Publishing Program, we’ve helped hundreds (even thousands) publish their books, even some about pets. Learn more about it here

How to Write a Book About Pets

If you’re ever having a bad day at work, you may indulge in scrolling through some kind of social media app to get your mind off your problems.

As you scroll, something catches your eye, so you stop. It’s a video of cat with no front legs, learning how to jump, run, and play while still managing to be cute and adorable.

You can’t help yourself; you smile.

Not only is the kitty’s antics a little funny, but the story is also inspiring. Despite its disability, the cat forges on as if it had four legs instead of only two. Well, if that sweet little kitty can overcome its obstacle, you can get through your bad day at work.

This is the power of pet stories.

Along with making us laugh, pets and animals have a way of tugging at our heartstrings. Even though they’re animals, their tails—I mean, tales—humanize us every day.

Pets and animals—big or small, hairy, feathered, covered with scales, paws, wings, or hooves—have a way of impacting our lives, whether it’s with humor or heroism.

Either way, there’s a big market for pet stories and they give you a strong reason to write a book about them.

Besides, anybody who has ever had pets always has a few stories to tell.

So, do you think your pet/s have a unique story to share? I’ve got some tips to help you share it.

#1 – Journaling or freewriting about your pets

Set aside a few minutes each day—let’s say, 20 minutes or more—to write about your pets. Developing this writing habit is crucial to actually finish your project.

Try to focus on one memorable event and write it down. This doesn’t need to be perfect; you can always revise later.

If you are still feeling a bit stuck, try these ideas for writing about pets:

  • Write about the time you met your pet for the first time. Were they given to you as a present? Did you adopt them from the shelter? Or did you find each other through some sort of happenstance?
  • Write down something funny your pet did. Did they fail at training? Did they have an odd habit? Why was this memory significant to you? Was anyone else there with you and were they also amused or no?
  • Write about a time you lost your pet. How did this affect you? How was their loss significant? What brought you two back together again? If your pet passed away, how did you handle your grief after?

If you are still feeling stuck, try using these pet writing prompts to help you get some ideas to write down.

#2 – Research and notes

Just like any other form of writing, you will need to backup your brainstorming with sound book research.

This research will provide background information to your pet’s story to give it a fuller narrative and may help you to develop a theme (we’ll talk about themes next).

Here are some research topics for pets and animals:

  • Species/breeds: Research your pet’s species and breed. Does your pet fit these characteristics? Make notes of your pet’s behaviors and habits and see if they are common. How do they communicate (think sounds and body language)? Do other pet owners experience the same behaviors with their pets? This kind of research is especially important for exotic pets, like tarantulas, snakes, and turtles. It is unlikely that many readers of your story will have any kind of experience exotic species and/or breeds, so be sure to share more information with them
  • Service animals: If your pet was a service animal of some kind—therapy, police, military, leading the blind, search-and-rescue—research about those services provided and the organizations out there that provide them. These animals have benefited people tremendously and have very moving stories. If you have done any kind of professional and/or volunteer work with service animals, readers will find your insights and experiences invaluable.
  • Adopted/rescue pets: Perhaps you adopted your pet from an animal shelter. Research the specific shelter you adopted your pet from, as well as how shelters functions in general. How high is the need to adopt animals? If your pet’s species or breed is one that has a high rate of ending up in shelters, it’s imperative to conduct research on this issue and provide readers information on it and how to prevent it. For example, pit bull terriers and huskies are two dog breeds that are known to often be sent to shelter; pit bull terriers are sent in because people use them for dog fighting and believed to be an aggressive breed, while huskies have extremely high energy and are very clever, both of which make them difficult to handle. This will encourage readers to think carefully about pets they adopt into their family and prepare for the responsibility they require. Perhaps you volunteered with a pet or animal sanctuary. Research the history and the purpose and mission of the organization.
  • Pet care advice: Taking care of pets requires a great deal of responsibility. Each pet has its own set of care instructions, and some even require special care. What is the best way to care for this particular pet? What kind of expenses has your pet incurred? For example, let’s say you bottle-fed a kitten because it was an orphan. In your story, detail where you bought supplies for bottle-feeding, how often you fed them and how much for each feeding, how long you had to bottle-feed them, and at what age is best to finally transition from milk to solid food. Readers may find this information handy in the future.

It may be wise to research and share some advice on how to encourage kids to be responsible for their pets.

Sometimes kids are eager for a new pet, but once they realize how much work it is to take care of them, they quickly lose interest and neglect the pet they so badly wanted before.

This is an issue that many parents face and often end up taking care of the pet themselves. It’s important to hold children accountable to their choices, but there are ways to do that without making them begin to dislike their pet.

#3 – Developing your pet’s character

If your pet is still in your life, observe them and take notes. What are their habits? How do they interact with people and other animals? Do they do anything unique or peculiar? This research will enable you to develop your pet’s character and endear them to your reader.

Don’t assume that just because you love your pet, your readers automatically will as well. This may be hard to believe, but it’s true. What makes your pet any different from others? You have to develop their character just as deeply and richly as you would a human character.

Your pet’s story won’t stand out to readers unless their character stands out to them as well.

Here’s some character development tips and advice to help you out:

  • Detail their background
  • Note their strengths and weaknesses
  • Observe unique habits or traits
  • Create a character arc for them

The following excerpt from Marley by John Grogan is a great example of developing a pet’s character by using the rule of “show, don’t tell”:

“Just as we were reaching the car, we heard a commotion coming from the woods. Something was crashing through the brush—and breathing heavily. It sounded like what you might hear in a slasher film. And it was coming our way. We froze, staring into the darkness. The sound grew louder and closer. Then in a flash the thing burst into the clearing and came charging in our direction, a yellow blur. A very big yellow blur. As it galloped past, not stopping, not even seeming to notice us, we could see it was a large Labrador retriever. But it was nothing like the sweet Lily we had just cuddled inside. This one was soaking wet and covered up to its belly in mud and burrs. Its tongue hung out wildly to one side, and froth flew off its jowls as it barreled past. In the split-second glimpse I got, I detected an odd, slightly crazed, yet somehow joyous gaze in its eyes. It was as though this animal had just seen a ghost—and couldn’t possibly be more tickled about it.


“Then, with the roar of a stampeding herd of buffalo, it was gone, around the back of the house and out of sight. Jenny let out a little gasp.

“‘I think,’ I said, a slight queasiness rising in my gut, ‘we just met Dad.’”

Even though we only see the daddy dog for a just brief moment—literally—we’ve learned something about John’s new puppy, Marley; he is going to be a big, wild, hard-to-handle, and happy dog.

This scene is foreshadowing the kind of main character Marley will be later in the story.

#4 – Think of a theme

Now that you have some done some substantial brainstorming and research, think of a theme your pet’s story could fall into. Themes in pet stories help connect ideas and issues with stories. Often our experiences with our pets coincide with life-changing events. If this is true for you, consider how your pet’s presence helped you through that time in your life.

Examples of themes include coming-of-age, new relationships/romances, new parents, twenty-something years, thirty-something years, historical events, etc. You could even write a pet-themed cookbook with recipes for fun pet treats!

#5 – Read books about pets

To better understand the niche market of pet and animal stories, read books about pets.

write about pets

Here are some examples of books about pets you can learn from:

  • Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Lauren Hillenbrand
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
  • Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence—and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene M. Pepperberg

For more examples, you can check out thislist of animal memoirs on Goodreads.

As you read, ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of impact did this animal have on the writer?
  • What’s the theme of the story?
  • What kind of research about this animal did the writer have to do?
  • What does the writer do with this story that you like?
  • What would you do differently in your pet’s story?

#6 – Build the pet’s online platform

Yes, you did read that right. While many pets have an online platform, it’s necessary for yours to have one if you’re writing about them.

writing about pets

As you complete your pet’s story, begin building an online platform…for your pet. Having an established online platform will help market your story once you publish it, so come up with a plan on how to promote your story, and your pet.

Here are some creative ways to create “buzz” about your upcoming book about your pet:

  • Create an Instagram account for them
  • Blog on your author website about them
  • Have a bunch of videos of your pet? Make an online video series

Their online platform can be about anything—funny things they do, the two of you traveling together, throwing birthday parties for them, and so on. You can even write posts and captions from their point-of-view.

In fact, this will even help you with building their character to make them more relatable to your audience.

If you’re still feeling at a loss on how to do this, read some pet blogs and search social media for examples. They may give you an idea of what you need to do to get followers for your pet.

Ready to write about your pet?

Your pet’s story deserves to be heard. Start writing today. Give your pet a kiss on the head and put your fingers to the keyboard while you sign up for this training that’ll help you make headway on your book today.

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Are you writing a book about your pet? Tell us what it’s about in the comments below!

what is a good book cover

What Makes a Good Book Cover: How to Increase Book Sales With Your Book Cover

Do you know what makes a good book cover?

You should…if you ever want to maintain consistent sales of your book.

Ok, so here’s the deal. What I am just about to tell you might sound controversial. It might even sound downright ridiculous.

You could even get offended.

But bear with me for a while. Just hear me out…because what I really want for you is to sell more books, and your book cover is one of the most important factors playing into that reality, even though we’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover.

The reality of publishing is…

Everyone does anyways.

Here’s what makes for a good book cover:

  1. Focusing on the big picture
  2. Strong composition
  3. An intriguing focal point
  4. Clear title and subtitles
  5. Simplistic book cover design

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more about it here

What does a good book cover matter?

The book cover exists to serve one – and only ONE – purpose. And that purpose is to sell your book. Everything else is details. 

Shocked? Offended? About to pick that nearby glass of water and smash it on my head? Just hold it for a few minutes. 

I understand how we creatives hate the four-letter words starting with an S. Sell? Sale? Sold!?

But it’s true. If you haven’t read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad yet, I urge you to get a copy and read.

Robert Kiyosaki was once being interviewed by this bright young journalist. She had a real flair for writing. She asked Robert if he had any advice for her. And guess what Robert told her. “Go take a sales course”, he said.

The young lady was shocked. She sat there silently for a few minutes, staring at Robert Kiyosaki in disbelief. And then she spoke. She told him she had spent all her life writing and studying. She held master’s degrees in literature and journalism.

And she had worked so hard all her life, so that she won’t have to “stoop so low” as learning to sell!

Robert explained how she was a far superior writer than Robert could ever hope to be, but Robert was still a best-selling author, while she wasn’t. She could write the best book ever written by a human being, but it wouldn’t matter if nobody read it. 

And that is why you need to “SELL”.

Makes sense? I hope it does because as I mentioned above, your book’s cover is one of the most important pieces of becoming a successful author.

What makes for a good book cover?

I have been on that side of the fence where creatives hate the concept of selling or marketing. And I have been on that side for the longest time. But the sooner you get yourself comfortable with these words and concepts, the better. 

And the best way to start is by understanding that investing in a good book cover design, and knowing what makes a good one.

And why should you even listen to me? Well, I have a bachelor’s degree in marketing. And trust me, I learned nothing at school.

After my bachelors, I spent nearly ten years convincing myself and the world that I am an artist.

And you know the funniest part? All of my creative buddies and peers were in the same situation.

And that is when I decided I needed to learn what I had shunned for the longest time. I needed to learn to sell. We founded Dastaan Online. And the first business that needed our help was our own. We started publishing a literary magazine called Dastaan World.

Writers, artists, photographers, even those who write poetry along with readers flocked to us. I decided to design covers for every story we published. And our contributors loved them!

My covers might well be beautiful, and thought-provoking and sublime and what not. But that is all secondary. They keep coming to me, because my covers help them sell their books. 

Every other quality of a good book cover can be indented as a subcategory or explanation of this one point.

The book cover is there to promote your book, and ultimately sell it.

Now, the next big question is, what makes for a good book cover that achieves this goal?

#1 – Focus On the Big Picture

The book cover needs to draw the viewer into the story. Even if you are writing non-fiction. You are a writer, so you know there is always a story. 

The cover needs to show what the book is about, without giving all of it away, much like the book title but with visuals.

This example from Self-Publishing School’s coach Marcy Pusey shows just how this technique works in her book, Weirdo and Willy.

good book cover design

The idea is to get your reader to open the book. Once they open the book, your magic as a writer will not let them put it down before reading it to the end.

But to catch in your spiderweb of literary magic, you need to use a bait. And that is what your cover needs to do for you. It needs to play on the human emotions of intrigue and curiosity. 

So think about the big picture of what your book cover should represent.

Ask yourself these questions when figuring out your book cover:

  • Does your idea represent your story or message?
  • Does it illicit intrigue?
  • Does it stand out from other books in your category?

#2 – Create a Strong Composition

This is where is start to get into the wizardry that is graphic design and illustration.

Composition is one of the most fundamental skills required of anyone working with visuals. And as with all fundamentals, the composition takes a lifetime to master, at least!

This is why it’s advised to hire a book cover designer instead of creating the cover yourself in programs like Canva or Photoshop.

But if you have some experience and want to go for it, here are some guidelines on composition:

  • Use the rule of thirds
  • Symmetry is your friend
  • Use texture and patterns to add non-distracting details
  • Use high and low angles
  • Combine several composition tips into one for full-effect (but not ALL of them)

But you can start off with a few interesting guidelines or you can simply hire a book editor who’s experienced in the field of composition.

#3 – Develop a Clear Focal Point

Every composition, every piece of deliberately designed visual communication, needs a focal point. The easiest way to find your focal point is to ask yourself (or, preferably, a friend) where your eye goes first on this piece.

Whether it’s the title, your author byline, a figure in the artwork, some specific abstract shape, your focal point is what grabs your attention and catches your eye the first.

And it’s not accidental.

In this example by Self-Publishing School’s Omer Redden, you can see that the focal point of his book Life Doc is very clearly and intentionally the eye-catching title.

how to make a good book cover

There’s a whole science behind this elusive art called composition. It is this magic skill that dictates where a viewer is going to look, and in what order. 

You can have multiple focal points, but they should not compete with each other. They grab your viewer’s attention in the order you have designed them. Primary, secondary, tertiary and so on.

This dance of attention depends on what story you want to plant in their head. This story will make them open your book and eventually decide to buy it. 

#4 – Title, Subtitle and Their Relatives

Please don’t make the mistake of thinking your cover is completely at your designer’s mercy. No. You are the writer. And you play the key role in determining how well your cover is gonna perform.

How? The book title!

When trying to come up with a book title idea, ask yourself this: Will it pull your reader from across the store? Or the webpage? It should be compelling. It should be visible and readable.

AND it should be strengthened further by any additional visual elements on your cover. 

Self-Publishing School coach Scott Allan’s book Undefeated is a great example of this. Here you can see his title plays an integral role in the cover design as a whole, with a very telling message with the torn reveal of “un” in “undefeated”

good book cover title

Your title, and any subtitles and taglines are going to play a pivotal role in selling your book. So get your inner Don Draper out when crafting your cover copy!

#5 – Simplistic Book Cover Design

And finally, I like to keep my covers simple. And I personally tend to like covers that are simple and minimalistic.

good book cover

Although, my covers may sometimes look complex because of all the digitally painted and photo-manipulated detail, the ideas and composition must remain simple. It all goes in favor of the focal point and our intention to just say enough that will compel our viewer to buy the book. 

Overly complex covers usually give a very blatant impression of desperation, where the designer didn’t exactly know what to put in.

And hence, they put everything they could think of in there. Not cool. Don’t do this. Keep it simple!

So when you decide to finally lock down your book cover, remember to keep it simple stupid. Keep the big picture of your story in mind.


Make your viewers focus on the key selling points of your book.

If you feel stumped about your book cover design, you can always reach out to a professional for help. If you’re a student of Self-Publishing School, you’ll even be provided a list of cover designers whose work already checks the boxes of this list.

You can see a little preview of this below:

hire book cover designer

Just keep these guidelines in mind, whether you are designing the cover yourself, or paying someone to do it for you.

Ready to get serious about selling your book?

If you’re ready to actually have success with your book (instead of hitting “publish” and hearing crickets from no book sales), we have the tried-and-true methods to help you get there.

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Are you ready to create a strong, sellable book cover? Will you hire a professional or do it yourself?

book genres

Book Genres: List of Book Genres with Examples, Word Counts, & More

As a writer (or author) knowing the different book genres is vital to your overall knowledge as a professional, and for your book’s success.

Not only is labeling your genre correctly important but…

Not doing so can result in low book sales, negative book reviews on Amazon, and unsatisfied readers overall.

book genres

When you’re writing a book, the genre you write in is super important because it will dictate the different literary elements within your book.

Here’s a list of the different book genres:

NOTE: We cover what you need to know about selling in your specific genre in all of our Self-Publishing Programs. Learn more about it here

Knowing Your Book Genres is Important

As an author, it’s important to know the differences in genres so you’re well informed about what you’re writing.

Obviously, your audience may change from genre to genre.

Not only that, but the “rules” for writing also vary depending on which genre you write in, which means you’ll have to understand them in order to get it right.

How many book genres are there?

There are more book genres than you might think. In this blog post, we’ll cover 22 of them, however, there are upwards for 40 genres and even more if you count sub-genres for books.

For example, you can have a book that’s a dystopian fantasy novel.

Dystopian and fantasy can be genres on their own but if you have a dystopian story that involves magic, your book will then have two genres.

This is also important to keep in mind when you have subplots within a novel that might fall into a separate genre.

You’ll see this most often with romantic sub plots in broader genres like fantasy or sci-fi.

What are the main book genres?

There are such a large number of book genres that we can’t cover them all in this post, though we will cover 22 of them for you.

That being said, being familiar with the most common can help you identify which your book will fall under.

These are the main book genres:

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Mystery
  • Thriller
  • Romance
  • Westerns
  • Dystopian
  • Contemporary

Let’s go into more detail with these and nonfiction book genres as well.

List of Book Genres All Authors Should Know

If you’re looking to sharpen your knowledge as an author or are just trying to find which genre your book fits in specifically (perhaps to decide which Amazon categories to go after), we’ve got you covered.

Here are 22 book genres, both fiction and nonfiction, to help you understand which is which and how you should label your novel.

#1 – Fantasy

Fantasy encompasses a huge part of the book world. It’s one of the most popular book genres out there—a personal favorite of mine to read and write.

Fantasy is a genre that’s identified by the use of magic within it.

book genres

Overall, fantasy is the genre of possibility. You can write in a little magic, like Jenna Moreci’s The Savior’s Champion or you can write a book where magic is the forefront of the plot, like with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.

To take this a step further, let’s look at the different categories within this genre that has more specific characteristics.

Young Adult Fantasy Genre:

Young adult is typically meant for readers between the ages of 13-17. However, adults enjoy this category of writing just as much as teens.

One thing to keep in mind when writing young adult fantasy is that the themes and messages within the literature will often revolve around teen-aged problems, like coming of age and exploration of identity.

Average word count for this book genre: 60,000 – 90,000 words

Adult Fantasy Genre:

When you think of adult fantasy, think Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings versus Harry Potter or Children of Blood and Bone.

The main plots or themes in adult fantasy will likely revolve around more grown issues like the difference between right and wrong, death, adult relationships, and more.

Average word count for this book genre: 70,000 – 110,000

Epic Fantasy Genre:

An epic fantasy novel is characterizes by the overall lengthy and grandiose nature of its plot, characters, setting, or theme.

Books that tend to call into this book genre are Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, like we mentioned above. Most often, epic fantasies will also fall under fantasy adventures.

Average word count for this book genre: 100,000 – 200,000 +

#2 – Adventure

Writing a novel in the adventure category will require a trip, journey, or quest of some kind as the overall plot.

Your average adventure novel often focuses on both the character’s physical journey as well as the journey they go through as a person throughout the novel.

Average word count for this book genre: 90,000 – 130,000

Epic Adventure Genre:

As stated above for an epic fantasy, any genre that’s “epic” is characterized by the magnitude of the plot, character, or themes themselves.

An example of an epic adventure novel is Moby Dick, which stands at about 190,000 words and 720 pages long.

Average word count for this book genre: 120,000 – 200,000

#3 – Romance

Romance authors have one specific goal when it comes to their books: to make you fall in love with the characters just as much as the characters fall in love with each other.

In this book genre, the romance is the center point of the plot. The entire novel moves around the relationship, though other plot points may be present.

A classic example of a romance novel is The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.

When used as a sub plot:

Romance can also be used a subplot in many novels, and is, in fact, used quite often as a complementary element in books.

When romance is used as a sub plot, the main plot does not have to do with the relationship but rather, is something completely different. The romance simply adds to the plot in order to increase conflict or intrigue.

Average word count for this book genre: 70,000 – 100,000

#4 – Contemporary

This book genre is among the most popular, though most writers aren’t sure of what this category even is.

The contemporary book genre is simply books written in the current time period with most of the parts of the novel revolving around common issues in a character’s life.

But really, this genre is actually more of the absence of a genre. You may have heard this genre lumped in with others, like Contemporary Fantasy or Contemporary Romance.

The term is used to tell readers that this book takes place in current times, though it might cover other genres as well.

Average word count for this book genre: 60,000 – 90,000

#5 – Dystopian

This is a newer book genre that’s really been picking up popularity within the last 5 to 10 years.

Though many stories of this nature have been published prior, the term “dystopian” was recently coined to describe a book genre in which the current government or society has been destroyed and the book centers around the aftermath.

book genres dystopian

The dystopian genre can also be used as a secondary genre label in order to clarify the contents of the book, much like with contemporary.

For example, you can have a Dystopian Fantasy novel as well as a Dytopian Science Fiction novel.

Here are some examples of dystopian novels:

  • The Hunger Games
  • Young World
  • Handmaid’s Tale

Average word count for this book genre: 60,000 – 110,000

#6 – Mystery

We’ve all heard of the mystery book genres. It’s an extremely popular genre, and for a good reason.

This book genre is defined by the plot focusing on solving a mystery, most often with the mystery impacting the main character to the point where they’re the ones involved in solving it.

Many other genres can have mysteries within them (in fact, most do), but what makes a book specific to this genre is the fact that the mystery is the main plot and point of the book.

Average word count for this book genre: 60,000 – 90,000

#7 – Horror

Horror novels are characterized by the fact that the main plot revolves around something scary and terrifying.

Oftentimes, you can find that Horror and Thriller describe the same book, though we’ll touch more on why thrillers are not always horror novels in the next section.

Average word count for this book genre: 60,000 – 90,000

#8 – Thriller

If you’re writing a thriller novel, the book will focus around a high suspense and action-packed plot.

This book genre most often deals with danger and dread instead, with high emotional impact involving fear.

Here are some examples of popular thriller novels:

  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  • The Woman in Cabin 10
  • The Shining
  • It

Average word count for this book genre: 60,000 – 110,000

book genres thriller

#9 – Paranormal

Paranormal books are characterized by including paranormal activity, like ghosts, clairvoyance, mediums, demons, vampires, and more.

The difference between fantasy and paranormal is the elements within. Paranormal doesn’t typically have magic like witches or fantasy-specific beings like unicorns, mermaids, and more.

But the paranormal book genre includes a current or real-life setting and is not often set in another world, like fantasy sometimes can be.

However, keep in mind that you can have a paranormal fantasy novel if your book covers both types of abnormal occurrences.

Average word count for this book genre: 60,000 – 90,000

#10 – Historical Fiction

This book genre is exactly as it sounds: a fictional story that takes place in the past.

Usually, historical fiction centers around known events or problems that take place in a time significantly prior to the present.

Average word count for this book genre: 60,000 – 90,000

#11 – Science Fiction

Sci-fi is among the most popular book genre there is. With movie adaptations like Star Wars and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this genre has exploded and is abundant in the book world.

Science fiction novels are those that take place in a futuristic society with advanced technology and occasionally otherworldly beings.

This is another genre that can add to another, like with Sci-Fi Fantasy, which would include a futuristic world with advanced technology and some sort of fantastical being or magic.

The word count for this novel genre can be extensive depending on the storyline.

Average word count for this book genre: 60,000 – 90,000

#12 – Memoir

On to the nonfiction writing portion of these book genres and first up is memoirs.

When writing a memoir, you’re essentially telling the reader about the most defining moments in your life that have led you to where you are and who you are today.

Memoirs differ from autobiographies in the sense that an autobiography is more of a timeline of your life, events, and accomplishments whereas a memoir is more of a collection of the most significant moments, pulled together by a theme or message you wish to share with readers.

Average word count for this book genre: 45,000 – 80,000

#13 – Cookbook

You already know what a cookbook is.

Cookbooks are those featuring recipes and directions for making the dishes correctly. Not only that, but many cookbooks features stories about why the dish was created and the inspiration behind it.

Average word count for this book genre: Cookbooks vary greatly and are more dependent on number of recipes instead of total words.

#14 – Art

This book genre encompasses several different types of books. However, all of them require the same thing: a focus on something art-related.

There are many ways a book can qualify to be in the art genre.

Here are a few ways your book would be a part of the art genre:

  • it covers art-facts
  • it teaches specific art methods
  • it discusses are in detail (art history)
  • art is a primary focus of the book

Average word count for this book genre: 10,000 – 60,000

#15 – Self-help / Personal Development

If you’re writing a book aimed to aid someone in their personal life, as well as lift them up to make positive change, it’s likely you’re writing in the self-help or personal development book genre.

Essentially, if your book helps others have a better life by empowering them, it will fall under this genre.

Keep in mind, this book genre is one that encompasses many other genres as well. You can have a health self-help book in additional to a relationship self-help.

Average word count for this book genre: 30,000 – 70,000

#16 – Motivational

This book genre is on the rise significantly as of late. If you write in this genre, your book will center around empowering people to do whatever it is they’re struggling with.

Essentially, motivational books focus on problems that can prevent people from accomplishing their goals and dreams, and how to solve them.

Most often, motivational books can be lumped in with other book genres like health, fitness, business, and self-help.

Average word count for this book genre: 30,000 – 70,000

#17 – Health

The health book genre is vast and covers a wide variety of different topics.

Your book will fall under this wide genre if it features anything health-related. This can be topics ranging from fitness, holistic healing, to more complex medical topics and in-depth coverage of different health conditions.

Average word count for this book genre: 30,000 – 70,000

#18 – History

Any book covering historical facts of any kind would fall under this category. And since this is nonfiction, they all have to be accurate.

Many history books are much different than what you might have read in school. In fact, there are several books simply covering different events in history written in a more entertaining fashion versus a factional play-by-play textbook.

Those books still fall under this book category.

Average word count for this book genre: 30,000 – 70,000

#19 – Travel

Whether you’re writing travel guides or an in-depth review of different travel destinations, this book genre will cover all of them.

Your book would also fall under this genre if you’re writing about travel-hacks or ways to travel for cheap or even free.

Average word count for this book genre: 20,000 – 50,000

#20 – Guide / How-to

There are so many guide books and how-tos out there that it’s fairly easy to know if your book fits this genre.

The way to know if your book falls in this genre is to think about the core purpose. Is your book written in order to show someone how to do something specific?

The biggest giveaway is in the book title. If your title features “how to…” then it’s in this genre!

Average word count for this book genre: 3,000 – 50,000

#21 – Families and Relationships

You can write a book about how to build a stronger familial foundation or a book about improving your relationship. Either way, those books would fall under this category.

Oftentimes, books in this genre will fall under a smaller, more specified genre as well, like family bonding or romantic relationships or even fostering friendships.

The relationships genre is not to be confused with the fiction romance genre.

Average word count for this book genre: 30,000 – 50,000

#22 – Humor

If you’ve ever read a joke book or a book revolving around a humorous endeavor of some sort, it falls under this book category.

Books in this genre are also often gag gifts or are meant to be facetious.

Average word count for this book genre: 10,000 – 50,000

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Which genre is your book in? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Best Book Writing Software: 14 Writing Tools For Authors [2019 Update]

Want to find the best writing software for you in just MINUTES? Take this quiz and we’ll tell you exactly which one will help your writing process the most.

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Writing a book requires something major.

It requires the right attitude, a powerful book idea, some solid writing prompts, and the best writing software out there.

And we know which writing software is best for you – and more importantly, why it matters.

With the best writing tools, you can write faster and more effectively. You’ll be more focused, with fewer distractions, and you can actually learn a thing or two from some of them – like Grammarly.

And just as importantly, you’ll have an easier time keeping your outline, notes, and even those writing exercises organized.

But even if you have all the best writing prompts and an imagination that won’t quit, you can’t do either without the right book writing software.

You’ll have to make some choices.

Nowadays, authors have so many options when looking for the best book writing software.

best writing software

These are 13 of the best book writing software programs – both free and those that’ll justifiably cost you – so you can up your author game:

  1. Microsoft Word – Word Processor, $79.99
  2. Scrivener – Word Processor, $45
  3. Pages – Word Processor, $28
  4. Freedom – Productivity Software, $2.42/month
  5. Google Docs – Online Word Processor, Free
  6. Evernote – Note-Taking Software, Free
  7. FocusWriter – Word Processor, Free
  8. FastPencil – Word Processor, Free
  9. yWriter – Word Processor, Free
  10. Hemingway App – Style & Grammar Checker, Free
  11. Dropbox – Document sharing platform, Free
  12. Open Office – Word Processor, Free
  13. Grammarly – Editing Software, Free

Let’s get started by comparing the 3 book writing software “giants,” and then I’ll share some less well-known tools that might help improve your writing process even more.

Which book writing software features are right for you?

I’m not trying to sell you on any particular book writing software in this article. Instead, my goal is to give you an idea of what’s out there so you can weigh the options for yourself.

Who knows—you may even discover a brand-new writing and publishing tool you absolutely love.

In the end, the truth is that there are many great writing tools out there. It isn’t really a question of which tool is BEST. What it comes down to is: which tool works best with YOUR book writing process?

There are 11 things to consider when deciding which program to use for your book:

  1. How easy is it to format text the way you want?
  2. Does it have templates available?
  3. How many?
  4. How much does it cost?
  5. Is the program simple & easy to use?
  6. Does it offer any extra features or other bells & whistles?
  7. How about a distraction-free writing experience?
  8. Is the program user-friendly?
  9. Can you access your files no matter where you are?
  10. How easy is it to collaborate with editors & team members?
  11. Is there distribution capabilities when it’s time to publish?

The Top 3 Book Writing Software Programs

Writers everywhere flock to these specific tools and claim them to be the best book writing software for them. We’ll break down each so you can decide for yourself if their features are the best fit.

#1 – Microsoft Word

Before any other writing tools came along, Microsoft Word was the only option available. Everyone used it.

Today, even though there are many other word processors out there, Word is still the most widely used book writing software in the U.S. Millions of people continue to use it for their writing needs.

And it’s easy to see why. Word has a lot going for it!

It’s been around a long time. It’s trusted, reliable, and gets the job done well.

It also provides a relatively distraction-free writing experience; much better than working on Google Docs in your browser, for example, where you’re only an errant mouse-click away from the entire internet.

If you just need to wake up in the morning and meet your word-count goals by keeping your head down and getting those words pounded out onto the page, then Word is an obvious choice of book writing software. No fuss, no muss. It’s about as simple as it gets.

Word also offers some simple organization.

While writing your chapters, changing the chapter’s heading (seen in the example below) allows easy navigation as your book progresses further and further.

book writing software microsoft word

Using headers, you can organize your book into chapters—and then you can navigate through them quickly using the Navigation pane:

writing software microsoft word-example

In order to view your navigation pane in outline-format click:

View > Navigation Pane (it’s a box to check) > select the bullet/outline tab within the navigation pane (seen above).

You can also create your own free book writing template using Word. And if you start writing your book in Word and don’t begin with the correct formatting, it’s pretty easy to clean up your formatting to make it “book ready” with a few simple steps.

If you’re a Word user and you’ve got your own system in place for writing books, then perhaps you need to look no further.

But as a writing tool, Word does have some downsides.

For starters, it doesn’t always play well with Macs. If you use a Mac, then Word might cause you a lot of frustration with crashes and formatting.

Thankfully, Apple offers a comparable program called Pages, that we reviewed below for you.

Word is also pretty vanilla. That’s part of its appeal, sure, but it also means Word lacks some of the more advanced features you get with other programs like Scrivener and Google Docs.

For example, Scrivener offers more advanced outlining functionality. And Google Docs makes it easier to share and collaborate on your files.

All in all, Word is a solid contender for best book writing software. But there are many other choices out there.

Book Writing Software Cost: $79.99 if purchased separately.

#2 – Scrivener

You just learned that Microsoft Word is the most widely used word processor in the world. But does that mean it’s the best book writing software?

Think about it this way. The fact that Word is so prevalent means that it has to cater to all sorts of users—students, businesspeople, writers, teachers, marketers, lawyers, the list goes on and on and on.

But Scrivener was created for one type of person only:

Writers.

best book writing software scrivener

And if you’re a writer, chances are you’ve heard of Scrivener. A lot of writers absolutely love this program, with its advanced features and distraction-free writing experience.

In short, Scrivener gives you an insane amount of flexibility for writing, formatting, and organizing your book for self-publishing.

Blogger and author, Jeff Goins, swears by Scrivener after giving up word. He says,

“I wasted years of my life doing all my writing on Microsoft Word. But that’s all over now. I have finally seen the light.”

Entrepreneur Michael Hyatt also praises Scrivener: “I now begin every piece of content—no matter what it is—with this tool. It has simplified my life and enabled me to focus on the most important aspect of my job—creating new content. I am more productive than ever.”

Here are some of the top takeaways of this book writing software:

  • Helps with plotting for fiction authors
  • Easily export your data to other digital platforms such as Kobo, ibooks, etc. (this is one of the best features)
  • Provides outlining functionality that keeps your content organized
  • Powerful composition mode with distraction-free writing environment
  • Easily drag and drop to move sections around
  • Provides a collection of robust templates
  • Supports MultiMarkdown for bullets and numbers

Because Scrivener was designed for writers, it’s super easy to lay out scenes, move content around, and outline your story, article, or manuscript.

Instead of keeping all your content in one big file, Scrivener allows you to create multiple sub-files to make it easier to organize and outline your project:

best writing software scrivener outline


Scrivener is a fabulous tool for plotting out storylines. Using the corkboard view, for instance, you can recreate the popular “notecard method” for outlining your project:

writing software scrivener outline

But as awesome as Scrivener is, it’s not perfect.

And the biggest downside to using Scrivener is the steep learning curve involved. You aren’t going to master this program overnight.

But if you’re serious about your writing career, then investing the time to learn this specific writing tool will be worth it. You’ll save time and energy in the long run.

And if you want to learn how to use Scrivener as quickly & easily as possible, we can help! Here’s a full Scrivener tutorial so you can easily maneuver this program.


If you want to dig even deeper, you can also download the Scrivener Manual, or watch the Scrivener YouTube tutorials they’ve put together at Literature & Latte.

Long story short: Scrivener is an investment, but one that’s worth it. It will take some time to master. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back—it’s the single most powerful book writing software out there.

If you like what you see from Scrivener, you can buy it here:

Buy Scrivener 3 for macOS (Regular License)
Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular License)

Book Writing Software Cost: $45

#3 – Google Docs

We’ve looked at the appealing simplicity of Word and the in-depth power of Scrivener, but there’s another book writing software that more and more people are starting to use for various reasons:

Google Docs.

Essentially, Google Docs is a stripped-down version of Word that you can only use online. It’s a simple, yet effective writing tool.

The beauty of this program (and Google Drive in general) comes in the ability to share content, files, and documents among your team. You can easily communicate via comments, for example:

This program keeps a complete history of all changes made to a document, so if you accidentally delete something you wanted to keep, simply click the link at the top of the screen that says, “All changes saved in drive.”

That will bring up the version history, where you can review all the changes that have been made to your book file and revert to a previous version if you so choose.

Google Docs doesn’t require any installation and can be accessed anywhere via your browser, or an app on your phone.

(Anyone who has ever lost a draft of a book understands how valuable this feature is!)

And here’s one of the best features: everything is saved on the server frequently and automatically, so you never have to fret about losing a version or draft of your work

Plus you can access your work when you move from one location or another—no carrying a laptop or thumb drive around with you. When you share a book draft with others, like test readers or your editor, they can comment directly on the draft using the built-in comment functionality.

Out of the “big 3” book writing software tools, Google Docs is probably the least sophisticated when it comes to formatting and outlining tools. But it makes up for that with easy collaboration, sharing, and online access.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free

Book Writing Software You Might Not Know About

Let’s get to know some of the best book writing tools you can use to up your author game and make some progress.

Just because you may not be familiar with a specific writing software doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial or even better than what you’re using now.

#1 – Pages

Think of Pages as the Mac alternative to Microsoft Word.

It has a variety of beautiful templates to choose from, has a simple design, and syncs with all devices from within iCloud so you can access it in a number of different places.

writing software Pages example

Personally, I love the ease of Pages. It works great for creating ebooks or manuscripts with a variety of writing tools you can get creative with.

Book Writing Software Cost: $28

#2 – Freedom

Freedom isn’t technically a writing tool, but it sure can help improve your writing. It’s a productivity app designed to help eliminate distractions by blocking certain websites – something more than beneficial for those of us who get sidetracked easily.

For example: let’s say you have a tendency to get distracted by social media sites. All you have to do us start a Freedom session that blocks all your social media sites—and then you won’t be able to visit them even if you wanted to.

Here’s what it looks like when you schedule a session:

best writing software freedom


Notice that you have a lot of options. You can schedule one-time sessions (starting now or later), or you can set up recurring sessions (for example, to block distracting sites every day when it’s time to write).

When you try to visit a site that’s being blocked, you’ll get this message:

writing software Freedom example

This is a really liberating tool. Once you know you don’t have the option of visiting those distracting sites, you’ll find it easier to keep focused on your writing and you’ll be able to get a lot more done.

Book Writing Software Cost: $2.42/month and up, or $129 for lifetime access.

#3 – Ulysses

If you’re a Mac owner, this might be the best book writing software for you. While you do have to pay $39.99 per year to use it, the cost to use Ulysses is completely justified.

One of the best features has to be the distraction-free capabilities. As a writer who gets distracted easily, this is definitely a feature I look for in a good book writing software.

This one is also great for exporting. Meaning, you can do all your writing in-app and then export it in relatively any format you’d need in order to send it to your editor, critique partner, or even beta readers.

And if you’re someone who has a hard time keeping all of your notes and ideas organized for your book, this app also has a feature that helps you keep all of it straight!

Say goodbye to forgetting what you wanted to add in that obscure scene you wrote two months ago!

book writing software ulysses example

Overall, this is one of the best book writing software programs out there for Mac users. But if you’re not sure if it’s worth the price, you can actually try it for free for 14 days. What a deal!

Book Writing Software Cost: $39.99/year

Free Book Writing Software

There’s not much we love more than getting stuff for free – especially when it comes to our aspirations. You don’t have to doll out a ton of cash just to use highly beneficial book writing software.

In fact, there are many best free book writing software programs.

#1 – FastPencil

FastPencil is a nice little platform with lots of tools. You can also use it for distributing your ebook. It is free to start writing with, but they offer paid services as well.

Everything happens online in your browser, which means you can access your files from any computer (as long as you’re connected to the Internet).

Here’s what the word processor looks like:

writing software fast pencil pricing

Book Writing Software Cost: Free (paid upgrades are optional)

#2 – FocusWriter

FocusWriter is a word processor for writers that’s intended to eliminate distractions to help you get your book written quicker. It’s a basic, lightweight writing tool that was designed to be completely free of progress inhibiting distractions.

In its fullscreen mode, there are no toolbars or additional windows, just a background and your text so that you can concentrate solely on writing your draft.

FocusWriter also allows you to choose what your screen looks like, as seen in the example below.

writing software focus writer

You can customize the image in the background to suit your project to help inspire your writing.

It’s simple and effective. If you need a lot of features, it probably won’t work for you. But if simplicity is your thing, then you may have found your perfect free writing tool.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free

#3 – yWriter

yWriter is a really popular word processor (intended mainly for novelists) with some impressive features (especially for a program that’s completely free).

It helps keep your project organized by giving you space to include notes on all sorts of things, like character notes, scene notes, scene goals, etc.

You can specify whose point of view each scene will be written in, and you can see the word count of your entire novel broken out by chapter—all at a quick glance:

best writing software ywriter

One thing that yWriter does differently than a lot of other writing programs is focus on scenes rather than on chapters. A lot of writers prefer this since scenes are usually fun chunks of story to work on.

And using yWriter, you can rearrange all those scenes to compose a compelling novel.

I’d call it a Scrivener alternative that’s free to use. But one downside is that it only works for Windows (at least, for now).

Book Writing Software Cost: Free

#4 – Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking app. It’s a great way to keep track of your thoughts—like brainstorming ideas, outlining chapters, and jotting down inspiration when it strikes.

The mobile app is particularly useful for capturing new ideas when they strike, since most people have their phone with them 24/7. This is what it looks like on a mobile device:

writing software Evernote example

While Evernote has been around for a little while, they seem to always be expanding on their features, making it one of the best writing softwares out there.

Here’s are some of the extended features Evernote offers:

book writing software evernote features

While you can use Evernote to write content—I’ve used it for writing blogs and other small sections of books—you wouldn’t want to use it as your main word processor. Its functionality is a bit too limited.

But as a way of keeping track of ideas, it’s a great find.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free, but there is a cool upgrade for $5 a month that gets you Evernote Premium

#5 – Hemingway Editor

The Hemingway Editor is a unique kind of writing tool. It’s a style checker that’s designed to help tighten up your prose and make your writing clear and bold.

Simply paste your writing into the editor and scroll through. You’ll notice that the program highlights certain words & passages—like long, hard-to-read sentences, passive verbs, and phrases with simpler alternatives.

It’s basically your own personal editor rolled into a writing software.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

writing software Hemingway app

(Yikes. Too bad Dickens didn’t have this app.)

What I love about this tool is how easy it is to use. Everything is color-coded and super easy to understand, so you can see at a glance where your writing could use a little elbow grease.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free, or you can purchase the desktop version for $19.99.

#6 – Dropbox

Reading this, you may be wondering: Dropbox? How is that a writing tool?

Trust me—it is!

While it’s true that Dropbox isn’t a word processor like Scrivener or yWriter, it is a very helpful writing tool. Especially for writers who write on more than one computer, who need to collaborate with other writers or editors, or who want an easy way to back up their work.

Here’s how it works:

When you set up Dropbox and install it on your computer, it will create a new “Dropbox” folder on your machine.

Any files that you save in this folder will be automatically backed up to Dropbox’s servers in the cloud, which will be automatically downloaded to any other computers that are synced to that same Dropbox account.

A lot of writers choose to save their book on Dropbox, so that it will be automatically backed up. And as you can see, it looks the same as any other folder on your computer:

book writing software dropbox

Using this strategy, you can make it easier to share and collaborate on your files—even if you aren’t using Google Docs.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free for a basic plan, or $9.99/month for extra storage.

#7 – Open Office

You may know of this software, you may not. Essentially, it’s a free version of a word processor much like Word or Pages. If you don’t have Word on your computer and can’t afford to buy it, this is a great alternative that’ll get the job done.

Here’s what this book writing software looks like:

book writing software open office

The capabilities are pretty limited with Open Office but if you really only need the basics and don’t want to spend any money, this is the perfect writing software for you.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free

#8 – PauseFor

If you’re someone who needs incentive to stay off your phone (and actually write), this is a perfect writing software.

Technically, it’s not for writing. PauseFor is a productivity app designed to motivate you to stay off your phone. That means you can get more writing done by spending less time scrolling through Twitter or whatever your social medial of choice is.

How?

PauseFor is designed for YOU to set a time, and then not pick up your phone until that time is done.

But what’s the incentive?

The longer you stay off your phone and the more sessions you complete successfully, the more you’ll have to DONATE. That’s right. You can be a philanthropist AND a writer at the same time.

writing software PauseFor example

Simply set your time, don’t touch your phone, and collect your Kin. When you a certain amount, you get to choose where the donations go.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free + the added benefit of feeling great about donating

#9 – Grammarly

If you haven’t heard of this editing software, you’ve been living under a rock. It has taken over as one of the most versatile simple editing softwares and for a good reason.

We have a Grammarly review that covers all the features and functions but essentially, this is a browser extension you can download and it automatically corrects your grammar and spelling in whichever online medium you’re writing on.

This writing software is perfect if you need to brush up on your grammar or are looking for an easy way to sound professional in written emails as well.

Book Writing Software Cost: Free with upgrade options

How Much Does Book Writing Software Programs Cost?

I would recommend not worrying too much about the cost of these programs. After all, dropping $100 or less on a program is not that big a deal if it is going to help improve your writing for years to come.

That said, I know you work hard for your money—and you want to get the best deal you can!

Here is a breakdown of the most recent prices for all of the tools in this article along with their comparative features:

Writing SoftwareCost
Microsoft Word$79.99
Scrivener$45
Pages$28
Freedom$2.42/month
Google DocsFree
EvernoteFree
FocusWriterFree
FastPencilFree
Hemingway AppFree
DropboxFree
Open OfficeFree
yWriterFree

What’s Your Favorite Book Writing Software?

Take some time to check out each of these tools if you aren’t already using them. Stay focused on crafting your next book and stick with the book writing software that gives you the best results in terms of saving you money, time, and frustration.

Keep writing. Keep it simple. Best of all, enjoy the creative process!

Now that you have these awesome tools at your disposal, what is your favorite writing tool? What best suits your needs as an author? Can you speed up the writing process with any particular tool?

What to do Next

Writing a book takes a lot more than discovering some helpful book writing software. Here’s what you can do right now to head in the right direction with your book.

#1 Join your free training!

The process of learning never stops when it comes to writing and publishing a book. And just because you have a fancy piece of software doesn’t mean writing a book will come naturally.

In fact, it hardly ever does.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

Click Here to Save Your Spot

#2 Try a few different options

Don’t just pick one of these writing software options and be done with it. Sometimes you really need to try them out before you can determine which will fit your needs with your current project.

Make some notes as you work through a few and be sure to put together a pros and cons list to ensure you’re choosing the best option to propel you forward on your writing journey.

#3 Nail down your book information

I know it might seem fun to get started once you have a super helpful writing platform to use, but you need to nail down your book idea first.

Have you created your mindmap? How does your outline look?

Without these two necessities, you won’t get very far – even with some beneficial writing software.

BONUS: Check out this Self-Publishing School review from SelfPublishing.com!

Do you use one of these writing software programs? Let us know how they are below!

literary devices elements

Literary Devices: 12 Literary Elements to Drastically Improve Your Writing

All writing is made up of literary devices whether you realize it or not.

But what if you could intentionally uplevel your writing, make it better, more impactful, and crafting it in a way to hook readers from the introduction?

What would it mean for you if you were able to guide your readers in a specific direction and interpret your words the way you want them to?

Using literary devices is exactly how you can do that…and we’ll teach you how with our list of literary devices.

literary devices

Although the term “literary devices” can be a wee bit intimidating, they’re actually pretty simple.

In fact, you’re likely using a ton when writing your book that you don’t even know you’re utilizing—and we’ll touch on which those are in a little bit.

These are the top 12 literary devices to use in order to improve your writing:

  1. Allusion
  2. Diction
  3. Alliteration
  4. Allegory
  5. Colloquialism
  6. Euphemism
  7. Flashbacks
  8. Foreshadowing
  9. Imagery
  10. Juxtaposition
  11. Metaphor/simile
  12. Personification

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more about it here

What are literary devices?

Literary devices are various elements and techniques used in writing that construct the whole of your literature to create an intended perception of the writing for the reader.

You probably remember learning about literary devices like personification, foreshadowing, and metaphors in school.

While these are very common types of literary elements, there are many more you can use to make your writing stand out in comparison to others.

Using these devices will help your writing become stronger and better.

Literary Terms Every Writer Should Know

You don’t have to know every single literary term in order to be considered a writer. In fact, most people are writers before they discover the detailed nuances of writing and even publishing a book.

But there are some that every writer should be aware of.

Here are the literary terms every writer should know:

  • Imagery – The use of visually descriptive or figurative language in writing. One way to describe this is showing versus telling, and we’ll cover more on this later in this blog post.
  • Personification – When you give human characteristics to non-human objects or elements. This will also be covered in more detail below.
  • Point of view – How your story is told and through whose perspective is what your point of view is. This could be first person, second person, third person, or more that we’ll cover down below.
  • Protagonist – This is the “good guy” in your story or the person your readers will root for. Oftentimes, this is the main character or even you, if you’re writing a nonfiction book.
  • Antagonist – Also known as the “bad guy,” or the person trying to prevent your protagonist from succeeding. This person or group or organization will likely be the reason for your protagonist’s hardships in your book.
  • Foreshadowing – We’ll cover this in detail below but essentially, foreshadowing is the placement of clues about what will happen in the future of your story.
  • Conflict – This is a basic term to describe the difficulties your protagonist or you face in your book. Any issues between characters or elements are known as conflict.
  • Rising Action – Rising action is the events that directly lead up to the climax of your novel.
  • Falling Action – When writing a novel, this is often the last chapter or two after the climax to “tie up” loose ends in your story.
  • Climax – The biggest, most pivotal point in your novel. This is when your protagonist faced their challenges head-on and either “wins” or “loses.” Think of any time Harry Potter directed faces off with Voldemort at the end of the books. This is the climax.
  • Voice – A writer’s voice is the unique narrative of the writing. This is the way in which the author chooses to display sentences and even down to the phrasing they use.
  • Style – Much like the author’s voice, the style is the unique way the author writes but also encompasses the entirety of the novel and story as well. Their style can mean how they write, but also how they tell a story and the way in which they allow events to unfold.

Here’s a quick example of what different writing voices and style look like between two famous authors, Stephen King’s The Outsider and George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

literary devices style

List of Literary Devices to Use in Your Writing

When it comes to writing, you always want to be learning more.

Why? Because the more you know, the better your writing will be.

There’s no need to use every single literary device in your book, but by knowing what’s available for you to use and how to use it strategically, your writing will become stronger and therefore, more captivating to readers.

Here is a list of 36 literary devices to use in your writing.

#1 – Allusion

No, this is not illusion, though the two can be confused with one another.

An allusion is a literary device that references a person, place, thing, or event in the real world. You can use this to paint a clear picture or to even connect with your readers.

Allusions are often used as literary elements that help connect the reader to the works. By referencing something the reader may be familiar with in the real world, this invests them more than if you didn’t have any connections.

Allusion Literary Device Example:

Allusion Example 1: “Careful, now. You don’t want to go opening Pandora’s Box.”

In this example, the allusion is Pandora’s Box. Because this is a reference to a real-life element, it’s considered an allusion.

Allusion Example 2: He was a real goodguy ball-buster, the Deadpool of his time.

In this example, the narrator is using Deadpool as the allusion by referencing the person they’re describing as being like the super-hero (if you can call him that) Deadpool.

#2 – Diction

Diction is a literary device that’s the choice of words or style used by the writer in order to convey their message.

Basically, that’s a fancy way of saying that diction is the way in which the author wants to write to a specific audience.

Here are the different types of diction and what they mean:

  • Formal diction – This is when the word choice is more formal or high class. Oftentimes, writers use formal diction as a literary device when more educated individuals are speaking or the content is for those with higher education.
  • Informal diction – When your characters (or you writing a nonfiction) are speaking directly to everyday people, this type of diction would be use as it’s more conversational.
  • Slang diction – Slang is commonly used for a younger audience and includes newly coined words or phrases. An example of this would be use of the word, “fleek” or other new slang phrases.
  • Colloquial diction – This is when words that are used in everyday life are written. These may be different depending on the culture or religions present in the writing.

Diction Literary Device Example:

Diction Example 1: “I bid you adieu.”

The diction present here is formal diction, as most people don’t use “bid” and “adieu” regularly in everyday speach.

Diction Example 2: I remember her hair in particular, because it was on fleek!

Here, “fleek” is a slang term used to describe a woman’s hair, which means it’s slang diction.

#3 – Alliteration

Alliteration is a literary device that uses the same letters or sounds at the beginning of words in a sentence or title.

There are many nursery rhymes that use alliteration but this is also useful for creating something memorable within your writing.

literary devices alliteration

You can also use alliteration when choosing the title of your book, as it makes it easier to remember, as you can see in the example of alliterative titles above.

Alliteration Literary Device Example:

Alliteration Example 1: “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.”

In this example, alliteration is present in both the “sh” sound and the “s” sound.

Alliteration Example 2: He was a real goodguy ball-buster, the Deadpool of his time.

In this example, the narrator is using Deadpool as the allusion by referencing the person they’re describing as being like the super-hero (if you can call him that) Deadpool.

#4 – Allegory

An allegory is a figure of speech where abstract ideas are described using characters, events, or other elements.

That’s more of a fancy way of saying that instead of being literal with an idea, you use characters, events, or other elements in order to describe it in a way the reader can better understand.

Think of it like a story within a story. You use characters, events, or other means to represent the literal meaning.

This one is a little better understood with examples than a definition.

Allegory Literary Device Example:

Allegory Example: One of the most famous works using allegory is George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The perceived story is about a group of farm animals who rise up and defeat humans but the underlying story is about the Russian Revoluation.

Using an allegory is often telling a darker story in a way that’s easier to understand and for readers to receive.

#5 – Colloquialism

One way to increase the world building in your book is to use colloquialisms.

Colloquialisms are expressions, words, and phrases that are used in informal, everyday speech, including slang.

You can use these a couple of different ways. Firstly, you can use these as slang in the real world and secondly, you can even create your book’s own colloquialisms for their world and culture, and even when writing dialogue.

Colloquialism Literary Device Example:

Colloquialism Examples:

Bamboozle – to deceieve

Gonna – going to

Be blue – to be sad

Bugger off – go away

Over yonder – over there

Da bomb – the best

You can create your own coloquialisms within your own world to increase the realism.

#6 – Euphemism

We tend to think of euphemisms as sexual euphemisms, which is how they’re often used. However, euphemisms are actually any terms that refer to something impolite or unpleasant.

We create phrases or other words in order to avoid using the actual term because they’re impolite, rude, or indecent. Those alternatives are considered euphemisms.

This is often why we think of sexual euphemisms when we hear of this literary device. Most individuals would rather make a much lighter comment when referring to something as “indecent” as sex, but the same case is made for when someone dies.

Euphemism Literary Device Example:

Euphemism Examples:

Before I go – before I die

Do the dirty – have sex

Rear-end – butt

perspiration – sweating

Thin on top – bald

Tipsy – drunk

Having a loose screw – being dumb

#7 – Flashbacks

Flashbacks in literature are when the narrator goes back in time for a specific scene or chapter in order to give more context for the story.

Oftentimes, we see flashbacks in books where the past greatly impacts the present or as a way to start a story off on an interesting note. This is seen in Harry Potter whenever Harry gets to see a memory of the past from Dumbledore or even Snape.

Foreshadowing Literary Device Example:

You can even use flashbacks as a plot device, like in the example below.

literary devices flashback

For example, in Vicious by V.E. Schwab, she uses flashbacks as a recurring element in her book. Every other chapter goes back in time and then back to the present for the next chapter as a way to structure the story itself.

So in this instance, Schwab is using this literary device to shape the entire narrative of her story instead of simply using it as a single piece, which is a unique take on flashbacks.

#8 – Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is when the author places elements within the writing that gives clues about what will happen in the future of the story.

These can often be small bits and pieces that some readers might not pick up on the first read through. They might even look back and realize that certain elements were foreshadowing once they hit the climax or a big plot twist was revealed.

Foreshadowing can be both literal and thematic.

You can write a scene where there’s a conversation that the reader can’t fully understand the meaning of until more is revealed.

You can also write a scene that has symbolic elements that foreshadow events, like placing a black crow in a scene that foreshadows a death, as crows are symbolic of this.

If you really want to up your creative writing, you can even create themes to foreshadow within your own world.

As an example of this literary device, you can create a culture in which rabbits are a “known” sign of change and conspicuously place a rabbit in a later scene.

Foreshadowing Literary Device Example:

Foreshadowing Example 1:

In Back to the Future, one of the clocks in the opening credits has actor Harold Lloyd from the silem film Safety First hanging from the minute hand. This foreshadows Doc Brown hanging from the Hill Valley clock tower later in the movie as he tried to send Marty McFly back to the 1980s.

Foreshadowing Example 2:

In The Avengers Tony Stark makes a comment about one of the ship’s engineers playing a game called Galaga as they all get together for the first time. The objective of the game in real life is to defend Earth from alien invaders, which is what happens later in the movie.

#9 – Imagery

This is one that we briefly touched on above and also one you likely learned in school, though it may have been a while since then so we’ll give you a refresher.

Imagery is when you use visually descriptive or figurative language in your writing. Think of it more like showing versus telling in writing where you use more sensory language versus blunt, plain words.

You would also use stronger verbs in order to present stronger imagery in your writing.

Get Your FREE Strong Verbs List Here

Over 200 strong verbs and the weak ones they replace!



Imagery Literary Device Example:

Here’s an example of imagery from Hannah Lee Kidder’s anthology, Little Birds:

literary devices imagery

Notice how Kidder uses visuals to bring life to her words. You’re very easily able to picture where this scene takes place and exactly what those rocks look like.

#10 – Personification

Personification is a literary device where you give human-like qualities to non-human elements.

This is one of the most well-known literary devices and it’s useful for a number of reasons:

  1. It creates a stronger visual
  2. It pulls readers further into your world
  3. It helps the readers relate to and understand what’s going on
  4. It can allow readers to have a new perspective
  5. You can give readers a new view on a typical visual/occurrence

Imagery Literary Device Example:

Imagery Example 1:

The wind whistled past my ears like a familiar tune I’d long forgotten.

Imagery Example 2:

The moon yanked a blanket of silver light over the forest.

Imagery Example 3:

Squatting in the corner was a felt chair covered in the dust and damp of abandonment.

#11 – Juxtaposition

literary devices list

Juxtaposition means placing contrasting elements next to one another in order to emphasize one or both, including words, scenes, or themes.

This literary device can sound overly fancy but it’s quite simple.

Many times, authors will use juxtaposition in order to create a stronger emotional reaction from readers.

Think of when a happy moment in a movie or book is followed by a sad, heart-wrenching scene. That scene is made even worse by the fact that we just had our emotions on a high.

Juxtaposition can also be used on a smaller scale, with contrasting words or phrases next to each other in order to emphasize both, like in the first example below.

However, when it comes to giving your book that “rollercoaster” ride of emotion effect, juxtaposition used on a larger scale can make a huge difference.

Juxtaposition Literary Device Example:

Juxtaposition Example 1:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.” – A Tales of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

Juxtaposition Example 2:

I hate loving you.

Juxtaposition Example 3:

You will soon be asked to do great violence in the cause of good. – The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

#12 – Metaphor/Simile

This is the most popular literary device that has to be used with caution because if used too much, metaphors and similes can reek of cliches and amateur writing.

Metaphors and similes are comparisons used to create better clarification and understanding for readers.

While these are similar, they’re quite different.

Metaphor

A metaphor is a comparison between two things that are NOT alike and replaces the word with another word.

Simile

Similes are comparisons between two things that are NOT like and replaces the word with another word but uses “like” or “as” within it.

Metaphors VS Similes Examples:

Metaphor Example 1:

She was drowning in a sea of her own despair.

Simile Example 1:

It was like she was drowning in a sea of her own despair.

Metaphor Example 2:

His heart was lead, weighed down by the memory of what he’d done.

Simile Example 2:

His heart was as heavy as lead, weighed down by the memory of what he’d done.

Literary devices are used to make your writing stronger. However, you don’t have to use every single device out there. These are the best to strengthen your writing.

Ready to start your book?

Writing a good book is much harder than it may seem…

And it’s not just about the book, either—not if you want it to sell and do well, that is.

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Which are your favorite literary devices to use? Do you have examples of some you love?

how to write a book

How to Write a Book Step by Step: Essentials for a Good Book [Video]

Writing a book is hard without the right help. Without someone who’s done it before, you can end up making crucial mistakes.

Anyone who says learning how to write a book is easy has never actually tried. If they did, they’d know writing a book takes a lot more than a helpful piece of grammar software.

It takes help from someone who’s done it before.

how to write a book steps

If you’ve ever tried to write a book, you know how it goes…

You stare at a blank page for 5 minutes, but it feels like hours. To combat the boredom, you stand, stretch, and brew yet another pot of coffee.

And…a week later someone asks how your book is coming, and you think, “Book? What book? I haven’t even come up with a book idea yet!”

But now you’re ready to start writing a book—and we’re going to help make sure you do.

Here’s how to write a book step by step:

  1. Prevent procrastination when writing a book
  2. Adopt the Mentality of a Writer
  3. Preparing to Write a Book
  4. Schedule writing time
  5. Get book writing tools
  6. Writing Your Book
  7. Avoid Book Writing Mistakes
  8. Launching After Writing Your Book

Ready to get started as a serious writer right now? Check out your free training below before reading the rest of this post!

How to Write a Book Despite Procrastination

There are plenty of reasons why writing a book, whether you’re writing a fiction novel or nonfiction, puts most writers directly into procrastination mode.

These are some common reasons you procrastinate when writing a book:

  • You’re not sure how to get started
  • It’s terrifying to spill your guts to the world in a book
  • You’re insecure about your writing and have writer’s block before you’ve even started
  • You’re afraid of getting negative book reviews when you do eventually publish
  • You’re worried that even if you do write your book, nobody will buy it and you’ll end up with low book sales for life
  • You’re not sure how to take your idea and turn it into an actual book

Take a deep breath (but no more coffee, you’ve had enough). Remember that all authors have been exactly where you are right now. Every successful writer—from William Shakespeare to Walt Whitman to Stephen King—began by staring at a blank page.

You’re in illustrious company!

Ready to learn how to write your first book and go from blank page to published author in just 90 days? Then let’s get started!

 

Do you have what it takes to become a published author?

 

 

How to Write a Book Step 1: Think Like a Writer

Before you sit down and type a single word, it will pay off if you take some time to address a few attitude questions and adopt the right mindset.

This is one of the most frequently overlooked steps in becoming a published author, which is a big reason why so many people fail to finish their book.

Take it from me—it’s worth your time to complete these steps. They will make the rest of your book-writing experience much, much easier and more satisfying.

#1 – Find Your “Why” for Writing a Book

Before you open your laptop and start daydreaming about which photographer should take your best-selling author headshot, or about getting interviewed on Oprah, you need to answer one question:

What’s your reason for writing a book?

It’s not enough to have an inspiring book idea. Before you put pen to paper, you need to know your purpose.

I won’t lie. Writing a book is rewarding, but it requires hard work. It requires emotional labor, long nights (or early mornings), extended weekends, and facing a constant self-critical process that is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

Solidifying the purpose fueling your book will carry you through this difficult process.

Ok, you’re thinking—“Don’t worry, I know why I want to write a book. I want to write to feel important!” That’s an interesting thought, and feeling important may be a byproduct of becoming a self-published author.

However, feeling important isn’t the same as your purpose—your WHY. Feelings are fleeting, whereas a purpose is a deeper, intrinsic motivator which will keep you burning the midnight oil to power through Chapter 23 when the rush of feelings have long dissipated.

These are some popular reasons for authors to write a book:

  • Authority: To build credibility.
  • Money: For financial gain, business success, or to make a living writing.
  • Grow a network: To meet and connect with others in the industry.
  • Passion project: To share an empowering story for the greater good.
  • To have an escape: A mental escape can help you deal with real-world problems.
  • To give others an escape: If you write fiction, you might want to give others struggling a safe place to go.
  • To change lives: Books change lives and your message could empower others to make a change in their life.

There are no wrong or right purposes for writing a book.

Your WHY will be unique to you.

Once you’ve honed in on your WHY, let that purpose help focus your writing. By keeping your purpose at the forefront of your creative process, you’ll make the writing process quicker and smoother than you thought possible.

#2 – Get Rid of Your Excuses for Not Writing the Book

You’ve figured out your WHY and articulated your unique purpose for writing a book. And right on cue, something is going to try to derail your progress already: your writing excuses.

When there’s nothing standing in your way, it’s sadly typical to start letting excuses for not writing your book become the obstacle to your success.

But you can overcome it.

It’s worthwhile to spend a little time addressing some common excuses many of us make to prevent us from writing.

Once you’ve cleared out the cobwebs and smashed those mental roadblocks, you’ll be better prepared for the writing process ahead. Getting your mind ready is one of the first steps to producing valuable work, whether than a publishing an ebook, the next great American novel, or a passion project.

Excuse #1 – You don’t know what to write.

You may not realize it, but you have a story worth telling.

In fact, you may be pleasantly surprised to find as you write that you have more than one story and you’re having a tough time narrowing down the content.

The easiest way to start writing your first book is to choose a topic you’re comfortable with. You can literally write a book about anything, so go with what you know.

Here’s how you can figure out what to write about:

  • Look at a list of writing prompts or story ideas and choose an idea
  • Write a list of all the things you’re most passionate about
  • Write down a list of everything you’re very knowledgeable about
  • Write a list of areas you want to be seen as credible in
  • Compile all of these lists and rank your ideas in order of what you’re most passionate about
  • Imagine which idea you’d be most proud to have your name on
  • Choose the idea you know the most about and are the most passionate about

Once you have an idea narrowed down, you can go ahead and start your mindmap and outline.

Excuse #2 –  You don’t have enough time.

Today, we’re all busy. I get it.

Plus, how long does writing a book take in the first place?

But I have some good news: Writing a book takes less time than you think.

Find an hour a day you devote to something mindless—social media, video games, internet, or TV—and start writing instead.

And if you don’t have an hour, try 30 minutes. Even 5 minutes 3 times a day can be a source of massive writing productivity. Think about it.

The average person can type 60 words a minute. 60 words x 5 minutes = 300 words. Do that 3 times a day and you’ll produce close to 1,000 words a day.

You’ll amaze yourself at how an hour per day adds up to something productive!

Excuse #3 – Good writers spend all their free time reading. 

Think you need to read all day long to be a writer? Think again.

In fact, many prolific writers cut down on their reading—at least temporarily—in order to give themselves enough time to write.

Besides, you don’t need to be a literary connoisseur to write a great book. Your writing style and voice is your own.

And the best way to discover your own natural writing voice is by sitting down and writing (not reading what others have written).

Here are some tips to use reading to help you write a book while reading less:

  • Only read a chapter or two at night
  • Read in a genre different than your own (this helps avoid being influenced too heavily by another book)
  • Be intentional about what you read
  • Have designated reading time that doesn’t interfere with writing time
  • Stop reading for a while if you have very little spare time

Excuse #4 – You’re “not an expert.”

A lot of people get tripped up on this. They think, “Oh, I’m not really an expert on ___. I can’t write about that.”

The truth is that the whole concept of “expert” is very subjective. An amateur astronomer wouldn’t seem like an expert to Stephen Hawking…but to 99% of the rest of the world, they would be an expert.

You don’t need to know everything about your topic. As long as there’s a knowledge gap between you and the reader—and as long as you’re helping to fill that gap by teaching them the things they don’t know—then you’re expert enough to write a book.

So stop worrying about “not being an expert!” If you’re passionate and knowledgeable about a topic, then you are 100% qualified to write a book about it.

Excuse #5 – Your first draft must be flawless.

A draft is a work-in-progress, and the goal is simply to get it on paper. A draft will have mistakes and that’s okay—that’s what the self-editing process is for.

Even experienced professional writers who finished a book that ended up covered in the red pen of an editor or numerous red changes in a document, just like the one pictured below.

how to write a book

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “Done is better than perfect.”

If it works for a multi-billion-dollar company, it should work for your first self-published book.

Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve already said, writing is hard work. But shedding these excuses should help get you into a positive frame of mind for the writing process.

#3 – Realize You Don’t Need to Be Perfect

The thought of writing a book causes many people to think, “I’m not a good enough writer. I need to do _____ before I start writing.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that:

  1. You don’t need a creative writing class.
  2. You don’t need a writing mentor or coach (though it does help).
  3. You don’t need to read thousands of good books.

You only need one thing: a system for finishing your book.

There’s no such thing as a perfect book or a perfect writer. When you get down to it, the most important distinction is between authors who finish their books and authors who don’t.

Don’t worry about being perfect. Just focus on your book, and your writing will get better and better over time.

As with anything we learn, writing is a skill. It requires practice to hone over time. So let go of the idea that you’re not good enough and work to improve by reading expert writing tips and practicing daily.

This will help you make the mindset switch from “I can’t” to “Let’s get this done!”

how to write a book quote

How to Write a Book Step 2: Pepare to Write a Book

Now it’s time to start your prep work. Before you start putting any words onto the page, you need to focus on a few important preparations.

Take the time to complete these steps and you’ll be setting yourself—and your new book—up for success.

#1 – Schedule Your Book Writing Time

Here are 3 things you can do to create your own customized book writing plan.

Without a plan, it’s too easy to let your book writing goals get pushed to the background, eventually fading into the soft mist of “someday.”

Step 1 – Develop a writing habit and plan it out

Don’t let your book end up in the graveyard of dreams. In order to realize your end goal, you need actionable steps to follow.

Assess what’s going on in your life in the next 30 days, then block out when you can write, and when you can’t. It’s common for new writers to set unrealistic time goals, which in turn generates stress when it’s impossible to meet those arbitrary deadlines.

Avoid this and stay realistic, since developing a writing habit is most important at this stage in learning how to write a book.

Thirty minutes (or even 5 minutes) spent writing is better than nothing, so resolve to make it happen and find the time.

how to write a book scheduling example

Look at Laura Bennett, a Self-Publishing School student. She was working full-time, running a business, and working on her Master’s degree—busier than most people—yet she found the time to write her book Live Your Dream: How to Cut the Crap and Prioritize Your Purpose in 2 months!

If Laura could make it happen, then writing your book is certainly an attainable dream.

Step 2 – Choose the time of day you plan to write

You might decide to get up early and write before the obligations of your day crowd out your writing time. But if you’d win the gold medal in the Olympic sport of snooze-button slapping, then choose a different time or make sure you get to bed earlier so you’re fresh in the morning.

If your evenings are free, but your brain is mush and you’re only good for sinking deep into the couch cushions, then choose a different time or rearrange your schedule so you aren’t so burnt out in the evenings.

Alternatively, you can grab some time on your lunch break, or sneak small blocks of time into your workday, such as when you’re transitioning between activities, or waiting for a meeting to start.

Whatever time of day is convenient for you, stick with it so that it becomes a predictable part of your day. This will establish a writing habit.

how to write a book method

Step 3 – Set a deadline for writing your book

Setting an end date forces you to stay on schedule and keeps the forward momentum going. So consider giving yourself a deadline for your book.

You may be wondering: How do you choose a deadline when you have no idea how long the book-writing process will take?

One month is a good benchmark to start with. Self-Publishing School recommends writing until you hit a daily word count of 500-1,000 words, but this ultimately depends on how many words are in your book. If you can commit to an hour a day, you should be able to reach that goal. After 30 days of daily writing sessions, you will have completed a 30,000-word draft.

Consistency is key. Small, consistent actions toward writing your book is how it comes to life.

If that schedule doesn’t work, then commit to a time period and a daily word count that does. It’s okay if that’s 15 minutes per day.

The ultimate goal is your rear end in the writing seat for that allocated period of time each day.

Share the end date of your first completed draft with others so you have extrinsic motivation to keep moving toward that finish line.

It’s a good idea to choose an editor for your book (before you finish your first draft) and schedule when you’ll have the completed first draft of the manuscript in that person’s hands.

That way, if you’re tempted to flake out and put off a writing session, that looming deadline can help keep you going.

#2 – Create Your Writing Space

The physical space where you write your book is important. If you try to write in an environment that’s too loud, too busy, or too cluttered, and you’ll find yourself getting frequently distracted.

True, some authors can write in a disheveled environment…

how to write a book desk example

…but I suspect that most of these authors would become even more focused and productive if they cleaned up their writing space to make it easier to focus on their writing.

how to write a book clean desk

However, that’s just my opinion. The truth is that the “best” writing environment is going to be personal to you. We all work well in different settings, so with that in mind, consider these general guidelines to boost your productivity:

How to Start Writing TipExecution
Minimize Distractions
- isolate yourself from family/friends/even the family dog
- remind everyone it's YOUR time
- Turn your phone off
- Close ALL web browsers
- Close your email
Get Comfortable- invest in a GOOD chair
- or resort to using a stand-up desk for more energy
- fill the area with motivational quotes
- make sure you're physically comfortable for the next 30 minutes or an hour
Choose Beneficial Background Noise- turn off all sounds if it distracts you
- turn on lyric-less music to help you concentrate
- choose energizing music to help you focus

(To get the sound of a cafe from the comfort of home, check out Coffitivity.)

You might need to experiment to find the writing environment that allows you to focus and write freely.

Bottom line: Find the writing environment that makes you comfortable and go with it. Once you find the best creative process for you, you’ll even look forward to writing!

#3 – Equip Yourself with the Right Writing Tools

Would you try to construct a piece of furniture without a hammer, nails, or wood?

Of course not! You need the right tools for the job.

Well, the same principle applies when writing a book. And when it comes to writing, your most important tool is your choice of writing software.

Unfortunately, most people don’t really put much thought into which program they use to write their book. They just use whatever word processor they’re most familiar with.

But doing this can cause you to really miss out—especially if there’s another program out there that would work much better for you.

There are countless options out there, but most people end up using one of the “big 3” word processors:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Scrivener
  • Google Docs

We’ll cover all of them for you below.

Microsoft Word

If you just want a time-tested program that works, Word might be the program for you. It’s the most widely used word processor in the world, which means it’s highly reliable and consistent. It also provides a lot of formatting options and even has a navigation pane you can use to easily find the chapter you’re looking for.

how to write a book editing exampe

One of the biggest downsides to Word is that it’s fairly expensive as far as word processors go.

Scrivener

If you like advanced features, definitely check out Scrivener. It was created specifically for authors, and it contains all sorts of tools that are really helpful for both fiction and nonfiction authors.

For example, you can use the corkboard view to organize how you’ll write your book using virtual notecards:

how to write a book scrivener outlining

The biggest downside to Scrivener? Because of all the advanced features, it has a steeper learning curve than other word processors.

If you do decide to go with Scrivener, here’s a Scrivener tutorial for you to learn how to use it best:

Google Docs

You can think of Google Docs as sort of a “Word Lite” program that you can access online, for free. While it doesn’t boast as many features as Word or Scrivener, it’s the hands-down most convenient program out there for sharing and collaboration.

Because everything is stored online, you can access your work from anywhere. And it’s easy to share your work with others and collaborate by leaving comments in the margins:

how to write a book google docs example

The big downside to Google Docs? It lacks the more sophisticated features of Word and Scrivener.

Of course, these are only 3 options—there are many more great writing tools out there.

How to Write a Book Step 3: Actually Write Your Book

OK, we’ve got the preliminary stuff out of the way—time to sit down and actually write this thing!

This is an exciting part of the process…unfortunately, it’s also the part where many people get overwhelmed and give up.

But there’s good news: actually writing a book can be a lot easier than you think—if you have the right system. A system that guides you from your idea through your outline and all the way up to your final, polished, publication-ready draft.

Here are the most important things you need to do when writing your book.

#1 – Come Up With Your Book Idea

Before you can start typing, you need to have a topic. That might seem obvious, but it can still be a stumbling block if you don’t know what to write about.

Fortunately, there are countless book ideas that could turn into bestselling books.

I recommend brainstorming a long list of book ideas. This way you’ll have a lot of options—giving you the freedom to choose the best possible book topic.

You can even utilize lists of writing prompts to get your mind moving in the right direction.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to come up with a book idea:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What’s your favorite hobby?
  • What do you get paid for? What’s your expertise?
  • What are people coming to you for advice on?
  • What’s a topic you know a lot about or can’t stop talking about?

These are all great ways to come up with bestselling book ideas. In a nutshell, you’re trying to find topics that you’re knowledgeable or passionate about. Because these are the topics that you’re going to do a great job writing about!

Notice that I highlighted the question, “What do you get paid for? What’s your expertise?”

That’s because this is a particularly useful question for coming up with book ideas. A lot of people seem to forget that there is usually at least one topic on which they are a bona fide expert—and that’s their job!

It might not seem that exciting or special to you, because you’re so used to it, but to someone else who’s trying to learn what you already know…your job-related knowledge can seem very valuable indeed.

#2 – Don’t Censor Yourself

When you’re brainstorming ideas, don’t censor yourself. Just let the ideas flow. Realize that there is no such thing as a crazy idea. Anything can make a great book topic.

So don’t ever let yourself feel silly or start to judge yourself—doing so is a surefire way to stop your creativity in its tracks.

On the other hand, don’t feel bad if your topic sounds too commonplace either. Even if you’re writing about an age-old topic—like a weight loss book or a romance novel—that’s OK!

The truth is that there are no “new” ideas. Everything has been written about before.

But it hasn’t been written from your unique perspective. And that’s what really matters.

Realize that a writer’s job isn’t to come up with never-before-seen ideas. Doing that is pretty much impossible in this day and age.

Instead, a writer’s job is to explore topics from their own point of view. To lend their unique spin on them.

#3 – Take a Reader-Centric Perspective

While thinking of your book topic, here’s a piece of advice that I strongly recommend you follow:

Think from your reader’s perspective (not your own).

Many people are too self-centered when they write. When I say “self-centered,” I mean that they’re thinking only of themselves: their interests, their hobbies, their passions.

Yes, it’s true that those are great topics to explore when coming up with your book topic. But during this process, you’ll need to switch from a self-centered perspective to a reader-centered perspective.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What would my reader be most interested in?
  • What would my reader most like to learn?
  • What are my reader’s biggest problems?
  • What’s the biggest question my readers are asking?

When you start to think this way, it becomes much easier to write your book in a way that provides immense value for the people who matter most—your readers.

how to write a book stephen king

#4 – Figure Out Which Book You Should Write First

By now you should have a long list of book topics. And you might be wondering, which topic should I write about first?

Here are a few tips to help you choose the best starting project:

  • Which one can you finish the fastest? Usually, this is the topic where you have the most experience. This is a good thing to keep in mind because the faster you can finish your book, the faster you can get it out in the world where it can earn you money and help people. (And the faster you can get started on your second book!)
  • Which one are you most likely to finish? Usually, these are the topics you are more passionate about. For your first book, I highly recommend choosing a topic that you’re really passionate about to help make sure that you’ll remain interested throughout the entire process.
  • Which one is going to make you happy? This is a little harder to define, but it might be something that strikes a chord with you. Maybe there’s a certain book topic that stands out for one reason or another. If that’s the case, then go for it! Remember, writing should make you

Now with these tips in mind, choose the topic for your very first book before proceeding to the next step.

#5 – Come Up With a Title

The most important words of your book are the ones that appear on the outside cover:

Your book title.

You don’t have to decide on your final title at this point, but your title is so important that it’s worth thinking about up-front. But knowing how to write a book title can be tricky.

Here are a few tips on creating standout, marketable titles.

For a nonfiction book, your title should…

  • Include the solution to the reader’s problem
  • Use a subtitle for clarity
  • Be unforgettable

And for a fiction book, your title should…

  • Be appropriate to your genre
  • Pique the reader’s interest
  • Take its inspiration from your characters

It always helps to do a little research on Amazon. To do that, just head here and select your book genre on the left-hand side of the page:

how to write a book title

Then you can take a look at some of the best-selling titles in your genre. You can even sub-niche down several times:

“History > Ancient Civilizations > Mesopotamia.”

Now pay attention to the titles and look for common themes or trends to use for your own book.

Remember that you’re just starting, so you can always change the title later. But for the time being it can help to have a “working title” (a temporary title that you may change before publication).

#6 – Fill Out The BookMap

The BookMap is a free downloadable book outlining template you can use to quickly gather all the important information you’ll need for your book — fiction or nonfiction.

how to write a book outline method

Essentially, the way it works is you’ll create a mind map—sort of a brain dump with a line connecting related ideas together—on your book’s topic.

Start your BookMap by writing your intended topic in the center. From there, answer the questions and add as many related ideas as you can think of. (Again, connect related ideas with a line.) The BookMap gives you the benefits of writing in free-form and creating structure from all the connections you make.

Click here to learn more about the BookMap and download a free PDF template.

#7 – Turn Your BookMap Into an Outline

Once you’ve completely filled out your BookMap, the next step is to group all the related ideas into categories. There’s no hard and fast rule for how to do this; just combine your ideas in the way that makes the most sense to you.

One way to do this is to rewrite each idea on a fresh piece of paper, this time grouped together in related topics. Or, you could simply use different-colored highlighters to categorize your ideas with different colors.

Either way, the result is the same: when you’re done grouping your ideas, those categories will form the outline for your book—each category is a new chapter. So now you know exactly which topics to write about, and you know which points to cover in every chapter of your book.

#8 – Capture More Notes with The Sticky Note Method

You can use this method instead of the BookMap, or as a supplement to it.

For about a week, carry around sticky notes and write down anything and everything that crosses your mind regarding your possible book topics.

When the week is up, organize all your sticky notes into sections and themes. Then, organize these themes into the patterns that would make sense in the context of chapters of your book. You can then elaborate in areas where you notice missing pieces to the puzzle, and use all of the material you’ve gathered and organized to create an outline.

This method may be helpful if you’re struggling with the notion of committing to writing a whole book since it lets you break down the process into manageable pieces. The ultimate outcome of using this method is deeper thinking, clarity, and concise organization of thoughts and patterns.

how to write a book sticky note-method

#9 – Now Write Your Book…One Chapter at a Time

You now have a chapter-by-chapter outline for your book. The only thing left to do…is to actually sit down and write it!

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to write your book. But there are some ways that are easier, faster, and more successful than others.

And in my experience, there’s one writing method that works better than any other. Here’s how it works:

  • Complete a mini-BookMap for that chapter, brainstorming everything you know about this topic. (10 minutes.)
  • Organize your ideas and turn that BookMap into an outline. (10 minutes.)
  • Write or speak the chapter by following the outline you just created. (45-60 minutes.)
  • Repeat this process, chapter by chapter, until your book is completed.

Steps 1 & 2 should be familiar by now—they’re the same steps you followed to create your overall book outline. You just repeat those steps on a smaller scale for each chapter.

Then in step 3, you have a choice: you can type out your chapter on a computer, or you can use a recording device & transcription service to dictate your chapter.

If you like the idea of dictating your book, rather than typing it out, here’s how to do it.

how to write a book mark manson

#10 – Speak Your Book

This method works well if you’re a strong speaker and you prefer speaking to writing. The ultimate outcome is that you can create your book draft as quickly as possible, with no actual “writing” on your part. Cool, huh?

Once your chapter outline is complete, the next steps are:

  • Speak your first draft aloud into a recording app or device such as Voice Memos or Audacity.
  • Get that audio file transcribed using a transcription service like Rev.
  • Read through the transcription and revise/polish it up.

As I mentioned, one of the benefits of this method is its speed. Just how fast can you write a first draft using speech dictation?

If you’re writing a nonfiction book specifically, this method will work great for you.

Well, if the average book is 15,000-25,000 words long, and if the average person speaks at about 150 words/minute, then you can easily speak your entire book in approximately 2-3 hours.

Of course, your spoken & transcribed book will need some polishing and revision to get it publication-ready. But it’s still the fastest way of writing a book I’ve ever come across.

#11 – Speed Up Your Writing

Writing faster means getting to publication—and to profits—that much sooner.

Try these pro tips to maximize your daily word count:

  • Flex your writing muscles each day. The more you work, the more efficient you’ll get. Create your writing routine and stick to it.
  • If you get stuck on a particular section and stop making progress, find a different part of the book that appeals to you today and write that section instead.
  • Planning and research can be necessary—or a method of procrastination. Limit your prep work to a reasonable timeframe so it won’t stop you from writing. Use a timer if it helps you stay on track.
  • An accountability partner can keep you on track. Set up weekly meetings to review work and cheer each other on.

How to Write a Book Step 4: Avoid Potholes Along the Way

If you’ve been following along with steps 1-3, then you’re in the process of writing your book. You’re working from a solid outline, which means you know exactly what to write in every single chapter.

So nothing could possibly go wrong…right?

Unfortunately, no. Even when you have a solid plan, a proven system, and a detailed outline, you can still get tripped up by some of these sneaky book writing roadblocks.

Luckily, I’ve got some tips to help you overcome the most common book writing problems.

#1 – Beat Writer’s Block

Writer’s block can rear its ugly head in many ways. For some, being blocked means no words at all, while for others, it means trying to nail down a functional draft in the midst of a tornado of swirling ideas.

Most of the time, writer’s block is a symptom of a paralyzing fear of others’ opinions.

The harsh reality is, if you write, at some point you’ll be on a first-name basis with a bout of the block. The only way to deal with it is to beat it.

Here are 8 methods I’ve found personally useful when fighting writer’s block:

  1. Circle back to your BookMap or outline and see if there’s useful info that sparks fresh inspiration. Sometimes it just takes looking back at the bigger picture to remind you where you’re going with your draft.
  2. Change up the physical way you’re writing; sometimes a simple shift can boost creativity. If you use a laptop, put pen to pad. Try some new music, a new location, or new beverage to sip at your desk.
  3. If you find you start writing slowly and warm up as time goes on, allow adequate time during your writing sessions to get the creative juices flowing.
  4. Review what you wrote yesterday to refresh your memory.
  5. Talk it out. Sometimes a quick conversation with yourself is enough to work through writer’s block. Or call a friend and bounce some ideas off them if you’re truly stuck.
  6. Remember that what you’re writing doesn’t need to be perfect—you’re writing a first draft. If you have a case of perfectionist syndrome, tell yourself it’s okay to write something you’ll think is terrible. Making something good is what second drafts and the editing process is for. Always remember: Done is better than perfect.
  7. Go for a walk. You might be surprised at how a walk outside, or a brief bit of exercise, helps refresh and recharge your creative juices.
  8. Read another author who has a style you like. Read their book for 10 minutes and then start typing, holding their voice in your head.

#2 – Don’t Edit While You Write

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You sit down to write and you bang out a page or two. Then you stop and reread what you just wrote. And instead of continuing, you go back and start editing those first few pages of writing. 

In your mind, you’re just fixing up your work. You want everything to be just right before you continue on ahead.

But in reality, you’ve just stopped all your forward progress. You spend the next hour trying to make those pages PERFECT…and when perfect doesn’t happen, you get frustrated and stop writing.

Usually, when this sort of thing happens, it becomes very difficult to do any more writing. Why? Because writing and editing use different parts of your brains—and when you allow yourself to slip into a more critical/judgmental frame of mind, it becomes almost impossible to start creating again.

That’s why, even though editing is an important skill, you need to resist the urge to edit your work while you’re still writing.

Don’t start editing your book until AFTER you’ve already created the entire first draft.

#3 – Format Your Book Properly

Few things are more irritating than having to go back through your entire book to fix the formatting.

The take-home lesson? Think about how you want to format your book before you write it, and then be consistent. It’ll save you a lot of time in the long run.

And take the time to figure out how to format your book for publication. For example, did you realize that fiction and nonfiction books typically use different indentation styles?

Nonfiction books tend to use block paragraphs, like this:

how to write a look nonfiction format

Whereas fiction books, like The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci below, use indentation instead:

how to write a book fiction format

Here are a few more book formatting tips:

  • Avoid using hard indents. (Don’t hit “tab” at the beginning of a new paragraph; instead, change the paragraph settings to automatically give each paragraph the indentation you want.)
  • Only use one space after a period. (Using 2 spaces was necessary with typewriters, but not with computers.)
  • If you want to create a page break, do not hit “Enter” repeatedly until you reach the next page. Instead, use the “Page break” function. This is the only way to ensure that your page break will work even after people resize your book on their Kindle.

#4 – Keep Going, & Don’t Stop—You’re Almost There!

Now you know not only how to get started writing your book, but how to complete your book project in a mere 90 days!

Remember to keep your WHY at the forefront of your mind, and you’ll be able to crush any and all obstacles that get in your way. If any of the common challenges or obstacles we’ve mentioned rear their ugly head, you’ll know how to deal with them.

With just a little bit of time and a lot of determination, you are on your way to officially calling yourself an author.

How to Write a Book Step 5: Launch Your Book Successfully

By this point, your book is completed—congratulations! You’ve done something that most people will never do.

You’ve written a book.

But you’re not done yet. Not quite. Because you still need to launch your book in a way that sets it up for success; in a way that maximizes your readers, your income, and your influence.

Unfortunately, most people who succeed in writing a book never get this whole “launch” thing figured out. They throw their book up on Amazon without really having a plan, and as a result, they get very few sales, make almost no money, and are frustrated at the lack of response to their work.

It’s true that self-publishing your book on Amazon is a great way to go. But you can’t simply publish your book and expect people to find it. Instead, you need to dedicate some time to mastering the publishing and marketing processes on Amazon to sell more books. This is the only way to make sure that your book makes its way into the hands of the people who will benefit from reading your words.

If you follow this simple launch plan, you can rest assured that your book will come out with a bang and will generate steady sales right out of the gate and for years to come.

#1 – Get a Good Cover

We all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But in reality, people do exactly that—all the time. And that’s why, if you want your book to sell, having a powerful book cover design is important.

Really, really important.

And a good book cover does 2 things:

  • It grabs people’s attention.
  • It instantly tells people what the book is about.

Here are a few examples from some of my own books:

how to write a book cover design

Notice a couple things. First of all, it’s orange—which helps it to stand out and grab attention. Second, it’s super-clear what the book is about. The title is in the upper third of the book in large print, so you can read it even in a thumbnail.

Both covers were designed using the same basic principles. They’re simple, bold covers that stand out. They also have subtitles that clarify exactly what the book is about.

Now this style of cover works great for my niche, but it won’t necessarily work for every type of book.

For example, it would make a terrible cover for a romance novel!

Why? Well, in short, it doesn’t look like a romance novel. Remember that part of a cover’s job is to tell people what the book is about. And in many genres of fiction and nonfiction, readers have come to expect a certain type of book cover.

In order to clearly communicate what your book is about to your ideal readers, you need it to fit in with their expectations—while also standing out enough to grab their attention. This is another reason why it pays to head over to the Amazon bestselling books list and study some of the most successful books in your genre.

What do those covers look like? Do they share a similar layout? Color scheme? Font style?

For example, if you were writing a romance novel, you would want to study these covers:

how to write a book choosing a title

Find out what the most successful books in your genre look like, then imitate that look—but change it up just enough so that it stands out and grabs your readers’ attention.

#2 – Build a Launch Team

Once you’ve chosen whether to go with self-publishing versus traditional publishing, the real key to a successful book launch is building and leveraging a launch team.

So what is a launch team?

In a nutshell, your launch team is a small team of people who are supporting your book. They could be friends, family, associates, online affiliates—anyone.

At first, your launch team might be limited to your immediate friends & family. That’s OK! Launch your book with their help, and work on continually building your launch team every chance you get.

When you build a launch team, you need to make 2 things clear for everyone:

  • What are they agreeing to do for you?
  • What are they getting in return?

Step 1 is pretty simple: you want them to read your book, leave a review, and share it with their own friends and family.

This is how you spread the word about a brand-new book when you don’t have an email list or a social media following.

Step 2 can vary from person to person. What do your friends & family get in return for helping you? In many cases, they get things like:

  • A free copy of your book
  • Their name mentioned in the “Acknowledgements” part of your book
  • The chance to be part of something inspiring
  • The personal satisfaction of helping to create something meaningful

As your launch team grows bigger, you might need to offer more than that. For example, maybe another person in your niche agrees to promote your new book to their email list—but in exchange, they want a percentage of your profit.

(This is called affiliate marketing, and it’s a great way to grow your audience and your revenue while letting somebody else do the marketing for you.)

But don’t worry about that for now. Just reach out to anyone you know who would be willing to support your first book launch and ask for their help.

#3 – Get Ongoing Reviews

If there’s one thing we know about the Amazon algorithm, it’s this:

It loves reviews.

One of the biggest indicators of success with self-publishing is getting Amazon reviews.

If you want your book to show up in search results and as a “Recommended” book when people are looking at similar products, you need to continue generating ongoing reviews to keep the algorithm happy.

When you do, your book will start to show up at the top of Amazon results:

how to write a book with reviews

Reviews are a fantastic form of social proof. They’re a credibility sign that lots of people have read your book and loved it—and that makes other people more likely to want to read it, too.

But you have to be careful about how you go about trying to get Amazon reviews. For example, you can get in big trouble if you try to pay for reviews, swap reviews with other authors, or offer free gifts in exchange for reviews.

You can solicit reviews, but they cannot be “incentivized” reviews.

So how can you generate more reviews without offering people something in return? Well, I’ve discovered a few tips that work incredibly well. Click here to learn my 8-step process for generating more Amazon reviews.

#4 – Get Help From a Mentor Who’s Done It Before

I’d like to leave you with one final message:

The best way to learn how to write a bestselling book is to get help from somebody who’s been there before.

People often ask me how I was able to make so much money and sell so many copies of my very first book. And I always tell them the same thing:

Because I sought out a mentor. Someone to teach me a proven book-writing process that had been tried and tested. A book-writing system that was almost guaranteed to work, as long as I followed it properly.

Well, that’s the real secret to my success as an author. I sought out the help I needed to give my very first book a major head-start.

writing a book purpose

My Final Tip for Learning How to Write a Book

And now I’m sharing the opportunity to learn from someone who’s mastered writing and self-publishing books with you. To learn from a mentor who can help you achieve your dream of writing and publishing your very first book.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

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If you want to finish your book, you need a roadmap. That’s why I’m sharing some of the best strategies and tricks other bestselling authors paid thousands of dollars to get — yours FREE.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The EXACT blueprint to FINALLY cross “write a book” off your bucket list — in just 90 days
  • The Bestselling Book Launch Blueprint behind dozens of bestsellers
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BONUS: Check out this Self-Publishing School review by SelfPublishing.com

Are you ready to write your book? What are some things that you’re still struggling with?