amazon self publishing

Amazon Self-Publishing: How to Publish on Amazon [Step-by-Step List]

Amazon self-publishing is on the rise. With it being the #1 retailer for books worldwide, that makes sense.

But if you wind up making some errors in publishing on Amazon…let’s just say your results as an author will be less than satisfactory.

After all, the self-publishing industry is pretty sensitive to those making mistakes.

But Amazon self-publishing is the best option to self-publish and we’ve made it even easier for you with this guide for doing it with Kindle Direct Publishing.

You no longer need to go through painstaking efforts to land a book deal which locks you into unrealistic deadlines and cuts you out of most of the earnings.

You can now have complete control of your book – and its revenues – by Amazon self-publishing.

amazon publishing

But many writers get overwhelmed by the abundance of information about self-publishing. It can be intimidating for first-time publishers. We get it – we were just like you!

So to ease some anxiety and uncertainty, we created this step-by-step comprehensive self-publishing guide for you to follow in order to get your book published on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Network.

Here is your full guide for Amazon Self-Publishing:

  1. Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing Account
  2. Crafting Your Book Title & Subtitle
  3. Writing Your Book Description
  4. Choosing the Right Keywords
  5. Selecting the Right Categories
  6. Uploading Your Manuscript
  7. Creating a Book Cover
  8. Pricing Your Book

Let’s get started!

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

Amazon Self-Publishing & Why it’s the Best Option

Traditional publishing is on the way out. This has been the reality for some time now and for good reason.

While traditional publishing had its time and was once the only option for publishing a book, the system in place right now is one made for the next Stephen Kings – not for those who have value to share with the world.

Why Amazon Self-Publishing is the Best Option

Though traditional publishing is still a viable option for some, Amazon self-publishing is the best option and here’s why:

  • Over 70% of books are sold on Amazon
  • 310 million book buyers through Amazon last year
  • Those buyers accounted for over $178 billion in sales
  • It’s easier and faster with Amazon self-publishing

There are major differences between traditional vs self-publishing with the majority of authors opting to take their talents to Amazon instead of through one of the Big 5 publishing houses.

And you should too.

What is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)?

Throughout this guide, you’ll read the term Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP. It might sound self-explanatory but we’ll cover some basics.

This is an Amazon self-publishing platform that allows you to create and manage your Kindle eBook, paperback, and even audiobooks in a single place. It’s widely used to build books from the ground up.

And fortunately, setting up your KDP account is easy, and should be the first step you complete.

Your Guide for Amazon Self-Publishing

Sure, anyone can technically self-publish on Amazon, but that doesn’t mean it will do well and actually sell. You have to know the specifics, from setting up your KDP account to the pricing of your book.

If done correctly, you can expect a successful launch and a substantial amount of passive income. Here are our steps for Amazon self-publishing.

#1 – Create a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account

Before you can start with Amazon publishing, you first have to have an account set up with them.

Here’s how to set up your Kindle Direct Publishing account:

  1. Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and register with either your Amazon account or with your email address.
  2. Next, click “Update” in your account information and fill in your tax information. It’s important to note that you need to complete your tax information BEFORE you can publish your first book. So don’t skip this step!
  3. Once your tax information is complete, click “Finished” and return to the main page.
  4. Your profile is complete!

With your KDP account setup, proceed to setting up the details of your book, as seen in the areas below.

amazon self-publishing

#2 – Choose a Book Title and Subtitle

In your Kindle Direct Publishing profile, you need to fill in the title and subtitle of your book. While a subtitle is optional, having a good subtitle is something you should definitely consider to bring in more views and create stronger intrigue and help people find your book when searching.

Here are a couple tips to crafting a great book title:

  • Use a Book Hook: Your book hook should speak to the reader in a unique voice that grabs their attention and feeds into what they are looking for.
  • List the Benefits: Your potential readers want to know what they will get from reading your book. One technique is to deliver the benefits in the subtitle, providing enough tantalizing information to further attract readers.

Think about what you would be attracted to in a book title. Keep it simple, clear, and unique. Research the title you want to use and make sure it hasn’t been scooped up by a high-performing book already.

You don’t want to make competition for yourself.

New call-to-action

#3 – Write Your Book Description for Amazon

You need a powerful book description in order for potential buyers to read what it’s about. Even though the cover and subtitle should do a great job of this, we all want more information when it comes to putting money toward something.

Here’s what people notice first when seeing a new book:

  1. Title
  2. Cover
  3. Book Description

A book description is essentially a short written narrative that illustrates what your book is about. It should be written like a sales page to capture the interest of your reader.

This is crucial because the description, in many cases, is the final factor that determines whether the reader will read your book or not. That, and great Amazon reviews.

When done correctly, a well-written book description can practically sell a book on its own.

Here are some strategies to help craft your perfect description:

  • Make your first sentence as enticing as possible
  • Write your description like a sales page or advertisement, not a dry summary of your book
  • Have the description feel personal and empathetic
  • Detail the benefits your reader will gain by reading your book

Here’s a great example of a full book description on Amazon:

amazon self publishing book description

You can find more amazing description examples with these books:

Spend some time crafting your eye-catching book description. It will make your book stand out to your readers and motivate them to purchase your book.

For the best results, we recommend using the Free Amazon Book Description generator at kindlepreneur.com

#4 – Choose Your Amazon Keywords

If you want your book to show up in Amazon and Google search engines, you’ll need the right mix of keywords. Since Amazon allows only seven keywords per book, keyword selection requires strategy.

But what are keywords exactly?

Keywords are specific words or phrases used to describe your book. If someone was looking for a book on your topic, they might type one of those keywords into Amazon or Google in order to find it.

For example, if your book is about perseverance, you might find keywords like this useful:

  • how to have perseverance
  • what is perseverance
  • perseverance examples
  • persevering
  • persevering when it’s hard

These are all phrases or words people looking to better themselves with perseverance would type into search engines in order to find what they’re looking for, like in the image below.

amazon publishing keywords

You can research the right keyword phrases by using search tools such as:

  • KDP Rocket: This is a great tool for comparing Google search results to Amazon. It gives you a competitive score from 1-99, keyword results from both Google and Amazon, and how much money other books are making. You can check out this KDP Rocket Review.
  • KW Finder: This tool gives an analytical view of the keyword popularity using a competitive ranking. You can search for five keywords for free per day.
  • Amazon’s Autofill Function: Take advantage of Amazon’s search box to find good keywords. Amazon’s suggestions are based on search history so you want to search for words that are high in demand with little competition.

Make a list of possible keywords for your book, then leverage the tools above to test your keywords. Putting in the time to get keywords right will have your book rank higher and appear more frequently to readers.

#5 – Select Your Amazon Categories

Amazon provides a collection of categories and subcategories to choose from. Like keyword selecting, your goal is to look for trending areas that don’t have tons of competition.

If you visit your book page, these categories will appear partway down the page, displaying the rank like in the image example below.

amazon self publishing categories

These categories are what you will rank as a bestseller in, which is why you want to make sure you pick fitting categories that are specific, but also not super competitive. You want to stand out.

You can also check the rankings of the top three books on the first page of each category.

Amazon sales ranking measures how well a product is selling compared to its competitors. All books that are ranked 2,000 or less are considered to be highly purchased products in that particular category.

Here are a few tips when publishing on Amazon in order to rank in more categories:

  • Research your competitors keywords
  • Choose trending categories with lower competition
  • Acquire additional categories by contacting Amazon and asking for keyword placement

Unless you have an established audience with significant downloads and reviews, try to aim for categories with books that rank between 10,000-30,000.

Do you want to know how to rank for ten categories? Check out our blog post that details how to get approved for more categories on Amazon.

#6 – Upload Your Manuscript to Amazon

To upload your manuscript, it first must be saved in a supported kindle format.

Here’s how to upload your book to Amazon:

  1. In your Kindle Direct Publishing account, go to “Your Bookshelf”.
  2. Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions” next to the title of your book.
  3. Locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
  4. Click on “Upload eBook manuscript”.
  5. Upload your manuscript file on your computer.
  6. Upload complete!

Once Amazon finishes uploading your file, a confirmation message will be sent and you can preview the uploaded file to check for any errors.

You can upload the manuscript as many times as you want and the new version will override the existing.

It’s important to check how your book looks using the “Look Inside” feature once the book is live on Amazon. This feature is often the first thing your prospective readers will click on when checking out your book.

If the formatting is off here, it can deter readers from picking up your book. Take this extra step to make sure your formatting looks good here too or consider hiring a professional ebook formatter to ensure it looks good.

#7 – Create Your Book Cover

When it comes to publishing a successful book on Amazon, having a perfect book cover design is one of the most important aspects to get right. Contrary to what we were told growing up, people do, in fact, judge a book by its cover. It’s actually one of the biggest deterrents.

Your cover is exactly how your book will be judged at first glance.

So you must make sure that it is created professionally and that it will stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category.

You can find cover creators on freelancing sites such as:

Prices will depend on the level of service, but these sites will give you plenty of amazing graphic designers to choose from! It’s a great investment that will make your book stand out perfectly.

If you’re a Self-Publishing School student, we will actually provide a list of qualified, trusted book cover designers you can work with in order to get a worthy cover.

amazon publishing tips

Make sure to do your research regarding what type of book cover does best in your genre. Fantasy books, for example, will be a lot different than a memoir or even a historical fiction.

#8 – Price Your Book

A question often asked is: “How much should I be pricing my book at after the initial launch is over?”

This is up to the author, but generally, the best range to have your book priced is between $2.99 to $9.99.

The royalty payments vary depending on the country, but you can learn more on KDP Select pricing page.

One popular strategy for beginners is to price your book at $2.99 and gradually increase it by $1 per week. At some point, your sales will begin to dip. And while that’s normally a negative statistic, for this case, it confidently tells you the perfect price of your book that guarantees a profit.

Here are the 4 main pricing strategies to consider in order to be competitive and sell books:

  • Know the price of your competitors. Compare the list price of your book to the books around you and determine if you would be able to sell your book for a higher price.
  • Know the size of your followers. Famous authors can charge a lot for their books because they have a big following. If you’re not in this category, your book should be priced lower to encourage new readers to buy your work.
  • Determine price based on the size of your book. Size does matter when it comes to books. Don’t charge $20 for a 75-page book. Customers will immediately be turned off with the lack of content at that price point.
  • Measure price based on reviews. Reviews carry a big weight on influence, and is social proof that your book has been read and well received. Therefore, a book with higher reviews (1000+ reviews) can be priced higher compared to a book with fewer reviews (30+ reviews).

You can get legitimate and honest reviews from:

  • Your personal launch team
  • Amazon’s top reviewers
  • Fans of your social media page
  • Personal email list
  • Adding a note to leave a review in your book

Experiment with these strategies to pinpoint the price for your book, it will drive long-term success.

corporate book club

How To Run A Company Book Club (And Why Every Company Should Have One)

You saw the book on the shelf at the bookstore, or maybe you bought it online late one night, and couldn’t wait for it to arrive.

It finally gets to your house and you read the first and second page. Maybe you even get through the first chapter.

But then you get busy with work. The book becomes a coaster for your third coffee.

The topic you’d been so excited about is soon forgotten as the book collects coffee stains and becomes more clutter on your desk.

What if we told you there was a way to grow your work culture and read a book at the same time?

Sound crazy? Actually, it’s very doable.

how to run a company book club

Books create history, and history creates culture. When it comes to work culture, it’s easy to bypass the importance of books. However, here at Self-Publishing School, we believe in the power of writing books and reading books. 

Sitting down to read a book can seem a little intimidating to some people. But with a little guidance, purposeful reading can bring you and your company great results.

Starting a book club is the first step in this process.

There are four core steps to creating a successful book club:

  1. What Are The Benefits Of A Company Book Club?
  2. How To Choose The Right Book
  3. How To Run The Book Club Itself
  4. Book Club Ground Rules

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

How to Run a Company Book Club Successfully

Not only will reading a book help you learn about new topics, but it will also widen your interaction with coworkers and deepen your relationships.

That’s why we want to share not only why every company should have a book club, but the practicalities that will make a book club possible for you.

#1 – What are the benefits of a book club?

Not only are book clubs a key part of building culture, but depending on the book list you choose from, conversations will result around topics that are meaningful to you and those you work with.

At Self-Publishing School, we usually host a book club once a month or every other month. This results in roughly 6-12 clubs throughout the year and has greatly impacted our company culture.

The purpose of a company book club is to develop and train employees to be better employees, leaders, and people. Let’s break that down.

Better Employees:

When employees are spread out over different tasks and each person has a different job scorecard, it’s easy for a team to feel disjointed.

But the definition of a team is one of unity and collaboration.

When a team comes together to read a book, the result is a central focus on the same topic. No matter what part of the company individual team members work in, their mindset shifts to the same general theme. This ups team morale and ultimately, team productivity.

The benefits of having every member of a team focused on the same topic is transformational, and something we’ve seen at Self-Publishing School.

Better Leaders:

It’s said that influential people read quite a bit, and this statement has been proven true through the success stories of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and thought leaders.

The same can be true for your company.

The more widely read your team, the more likely they are to step up in leadership. Regardless of whether you choose a book on leadership, personalities, or another topic timely to your team’s needs, the result will be the same: the more educated your team is, the more they will step up in different situations of leadership.

Every business desires leaders, and the secret is, every business can grow leaders. Maybe your business is a startup or a younger company. That’s ok. It doesn’t always take leadership seminars to grow leaders.

Simply gathering your team around a book with a needed theme can grow your employees from followers to leaders.

When leaders are in the details of a company, the company flourishes.

Self-Publishing School Virtual Company Book Club

Better People:

In today’s world of social media, self-care, and me-time culture, it’s easy to become self-obsessed without trying.

Reading about other people and other topics, universal themes, and the thoughts of leaders around the globe greatly impacts the actions of individuals.

The world is so much bigger than the company you or I work at, or even the company we may run. There are people outside the walls of our homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces that can bring meaning into our lives.

You don’t need to fly your team overseas to learn from world-renowned leaders.

Simply purchase several copies of a book they’ve written. Some white pages with black ink can go a long way in influencing company culture.

When we read we open our minds. When our mind is open we become more aware of others. And when we are aware of those around us we become better people.

Alright…

We’ve talked about three results of a book club, but how do you actually choose a book? If you’re going to devote company time and the time of your team into the reading and discussion of a book, it’s important to choose the right one.

New call-to-action

#2 – How To Choose The Right Book

Here at Self-Publishing School, we usually spend about an hour a week on our book clubs (not counting reading time). At the end of the year, combining reading, meeting time, and time spent scheduling it all out, that’s a good chunk of time.

Some might say, “That time could be spent investing in the company.”

True. But from experience we would argue investing time in a book club is investing time in your company.

Good companies are run by good employees, good leaders, and good people. All these factors result from well-run book clubs.

So back to our original question – how do you pick a book?

Not every team will benefit the same from every book. Choosing a book to fit your company’s current needs is key to making the most out of your book club training time.

Here are a few important questions to ask yourself when choosing a book for book club:

  • What’s the key message I want my team to understand?
  • What area do we most need help with as an organization?
  • What’s a must-read for your team and team goals?
  • What’s an area your team has been struggling in?
  • What particular interests does your team have?
  • How can you encourage your team/how might you be encouraged through a particular book?
  • Do you know of any authors who can do a Q&A at the end of book club like we do for

Once you pinpoint an area of improvement/focus for the team, search for some book club picks or reading lists online.

A simple way to do this to pick the top three most relevant books from a book club recommendation list or reading list. Determine the most relevant book for your team, then use it as the material for your current book club.

We’ve read topics from leadership books to sales and marketing books.

Currently, we’re working through The Five Love Languages. This has not only helped our company grow in teaching us how we can best work together, but also brought the focus back to the spouses of our team members.

company book club book

This has grown team relationships as well as their relationships with their spouses, which all contributes to a better team member.

As a company, we love growing our team, but when we can also help our teammates’ personal lives, it’s a win-win.

You know why to have a book club and how to choose a book…

#3 – How To Run The Company Book Club Itself

While we may not read as much as previous generations, reading is still very important, not to mention it comes with the benefits mentioned earlier.

When running a book club, using shorter books help.

What you don’t want are stressed out team members trying to complete a marathon read before the deadline.

What you do want it as low pressure a schedule as possible.

When it comes to the meeting itself, it’s helpful to lay ground rules and then break the meeting down into three parts.

#4 – Book Club Ground Rules

Be sure to create a reading schedule and meeting dates. You can do this in batches where you create all the due dates at one time. You can schedule book club meetings over the course of a calendar month, and meet weekly for 45-60 minutes.

Here at Self-Publishing School, we use Asana to structure not only our company book club meetings, but all our meetings.

You’ll see tips for the following book club meeting structure:

company book club schedule

Ask team members to prepare ahead of time by thoroughly reading the chapters and taking notes for reference during the meeting.

To cut down on spoilers, ask book club members not to read ahead of the assigned readings.

As far as running the meetings smoothly, assign a meeting leader for each meeting. Be clear that the purpose of the leader is to facilitate discussion by asking questions, keeping everyone on time, and guiding the conversation. Allow the meeting leader to rotate each week.

If you’re wondering how to effectively choose the next team leader, simply ask the current team leader at the end of the meeting to pick the leader for the next week.

This can be done in “popcorn” fashion.

If necessary, divide book club participants into groups. Try to mix groups with people from different departments and people who don’t often communicate with each other.

This will not only bring the company together but also potentially forge new working relationships and potentially even friendships.

Now that the ground rules are laid, let’s talk about the three aspects of an effective book club meeting.

Book Club Meeting Agenda Part 1: Stories From Out in the Wild – 10 minutes

We like to call this part “stories from out in the wild.”

This is a time designated for team members to share how their real-life reminded them of what they’re learning from the book. Be sure the meeting is open flow and open dialogue. You want this to feel different from other team meetings, more relaxed, and very open for discussion.

The examples/stories should consist of how you’ve seen what you’re learning play out in your work and life over the last week. They are intended to be conversation starters.

During the week feel free to jot down any funny or impactful stories or application of the book playing out in your life.

Book Club Meeting Agenda Part 2: Lessons Learned/Topics For Discussion – 30 minutes

This part can be defined as simply asking what stood out to the team as individuals.

Here are some questions to prompt the book club discussion:

  • What paragraphs did they connect with?
  • What resonated?
  • What point/points stuck out to them?
  • What were the biggest takeaways?
  • What did you learn?
  • What would you like to talk about with the team?

Again, keep this open for discussion and input from all team members. Remember that this doesn’t have to be done in order or turn-by-turn, either.

If someone has something to add, just speak up!

Book Club Meeting Agenda Part 3: Takeaway/Application – 15 minutes

Ask the team based on the week’s reading, what their next steps are.

This doesn’t need to be too stringent, as you don’t want this to become another task to check off the to-do list! Include only one or two things you plan to personally put into action from your learning in the book/the meeting itself.

Bonus Step:

As a bonus, we’ve brought in different authors to do a short, thirty-minute Q&A. This helps our team connect on multiple levels because they’re already excited about the topic.

Experiencing a live Q&A with the author brings that excitement full circle.

You can check out another one of these we did here:

book club q&a

Book Club Meeting Agenda Final Checks

Here is a reminder of the few points to keep in mind when launching your first book club:

  • Choose the right book for the book club based on your team’s needs
  • Schedule all meetings in advance (this can be done in “batches”)
  • Pick first meeting leader in advance
  • Open discussion with real-life examples from team members

Remember that book you bought online late one night (or thought about buying) but never actually read?  

You just purchased several copies of that book.

Together you and your work team read through the first and second page. During your first meeting, you even have a discussion about the entire first chapter.

Work gets busy but the book your team is reading becomes a central, unifying theme for the company’s busy season.

The topic you’d been so excited about begins to influence your work culture. You even met someone who works in a completely different department and you have plans for next Friday. This coworker will likely become a friend.  

Your company’s work culture is growing, and so are you.  

Sound crazy? Actually, it’s very doable.


How to Make an Audiobook Step-by-Step [With Video]

Not having an audiobook version of your book might, quite likely, be the death of your success. Which means you must know how to make an audiobook to fix that.

We’re in the age of podcasts, radio apps, and audiobooks, and now couldn’t be a better time to convert your eBook into an audiobook. But many writers get scared off by the thought of creating an audiobook.

“Isn’t it expensive?”

“Won’t it take a ton of time?”

“How do I even do it?!?”

how to make an audiobook

Thankfully, self-publishing an audiobook now is as easy as self-publishing your book. It has become cost-effective and approachable for self-published authors, and there is a range of options depending on the budget you want to spend on it.

Here are the steps for how to make an audiobook:

  1. Prep your book for audiobook recording
  2. Decide who will record it
  3. Hire an audiobook narrator
  4. Record the audiobook yourself
  5. Work with an audiobook producer
  6. Create the audiobook at home
  7. Upload your audiobook to ACX

Here are the exact steps you need to follow, and our suggestions for turning your book into the next big audiobook.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

How to Make an Audiobook Step-by-Step

Audiobooks are on the rise, and if you’re an author who’s not pursuing this book format, you’re missing out on an entire audience who could be enjoying your story.

Here are our top steps for creating an audiobook.

#1 – Prep Your eBook Content for Audiobook Recording

If you’re starting from the beginning, you may have no idea how to convert your manuscript from writing to audio. Your first step will be to prep your eBook content for audiobook recording.

This creates a script you can read as you record the audio version of your book. You don’t want to get tripped up while you (or someone else) is reading through the manuscript, so you need to remove everything that won’t make sense in the audio version.

These are the pieces you should go through and look for to cut out:

  • Delete hyperlinks
  • Delete captions
  • Delete visuals
  • Remove any calls to actions or click here prompts

Once you’ve created your new script, read through it one last time to make sure it all makes sense in audio form.

#2 – Decide who will record your audiobook

The next step in the creation of your audiobook is actually recording the book. But before you can do that, you have to decide who will record the book.

Here are your choices when deciding who will record your audiobook:

  1. Hire someone to record it for you
  2. Record the book yourself in a studio
  3. Work with an audiobook producer
  4. Do it yourself at home
  5. Hire an ACX narrator

You now get to pick which option to take.

If you’re writing nonfiction, particularly a story about your life, you may want to record the book yourself. However, if you aren’t confident in producing the best quality audiobook, you can still hire a narrator.

For those of you writing a fiction novel, you’ll likely want to hire an audiobook narrator, as these stories often need a narrator with an acting skillset.

New call-to-action

#3 – Hiring an audiobook narrator

Most authors find that hiring a professional to record their audiobook is the most expeditious and least painful route. You may be concerned about the cost of hiring a pro for voice work, but you may be surprised to learn that the cost of this service can be quite reasonable.

In fact, converting your self-published book into an audiobook using a pro can cost less than half the price of doing the work yourself.

Many freelancers will quote a price of under $500 for a full eBook to audio conversion; so don’t let the perceived high cost deter you.

If you’ve never worked with a freelancer before, you might not be familiar with the steps necessary to find the right talent. First, you’ll need a proposal.

The purpose of your proposal is to help delineate the work that’s needed. You’ll want to make sure to include the scope of the work and terms of your offer in your proposal. Your second step is to create sample audio content to share with potential freelance narrators. This is your “retail audio sample.”

The purpose of your retail audio sample is two-fold:

  1. It can be shared with potential narrators during the freelance-hiring phase, and
  2. It can later be shared with your future audience on Amazon to pique their interest in your book.

Have some fun creating your retail audio clip—it can be anything you want it to be! You may opt to read a full chapter, or simply condense a summary of plot highlights.

The ultimate goal of your retail audio sample is to intrigue both potential narrators and your potential audience. If you can capture their collective attention and pique their interest in your book, they’ll want to hear more.

If you’ve never worked with a freelancer, check out Voices or Upwork for a list of narrator pros.

You can also do a simple Google search to find those who have a career in narrating audiobooks.

#4 – Record the audiobook yourself

Your second option for creating an audiobook is self-recording in a studio. Realize that self-recording may be more costly in terms of effort, time, and money, especially from the paid time to use a pro recording studio.

We recommend that you block out a significant amount of time to complete your self-recorded audiobook.

Here’s a good timeline for self-recorded audiobook production:

  • Book your recording studio three weeks ahead of time.
  • Record your book in-studio. Plan for up to sixteen hours of recording studio time.
  • Plan for at least two weeks of post-recording editing.

Of course, these times are just guides; the time-frame may change once you start your project. Obviously, a longer book will take longer to record and edit.

Plan accordingly, and give yourself plenty of time to polish, edit, and finalize a professional product.

#5 – Work with an audiobook producer

The third path to creating an audiobook is to hire a professional producer. If you have never recorded an audiobook before, working with a producer would help you through the technical difficulties.

For example, when Joanna Penn did the recording for her own book Business for Authors, she hired a professional producer, Andy Marlow.

A producer for your audiobook can ensure the quality of the audio tracks as well as mastering the file for the final production load.

You can find audiobook producers [audiobook engineers] on freelancing sites such as Fiverr or, again, Upwork.

Simply log in to Fiverr or Upwork and type “audiobooks” in the search bar, as seen in the example below.

hire audiobook narrator

If you go on Fiverr, select the “mixing and mastering” option on the left side. This will give you plenty of choices for finding audio engineers, editors and producers.

#6 – Create an audiobook at home

Many authors feel very close their work and would rather the content be told in their own voice. This is particularly true if the book is focused on personal stories or a family memoir.

There are many books that do sound better when told from the voice of the author.

Do you have the confidence and the voice to create your own audiobook at home? If yes, then here is what you need to know to get started in doing that.

Equipment for Making an Audiobook:

If you are a podcaster or music recording talent, you may already have access to the necessary equipment for recording your audiobook.

Here’s what you need to make an audiobook:

  1. A good USB mic. The Blue Snowball condenser mic or the Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone are recommended.
  2. A pop filter. The Earamble Studio Microphone Pop Filter is recommended.
  3. Audacity. Audacity is a free, open source cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. You can download Audacity here.

You could go fancier and get higher-end equipment, but these tools should be more than enough to get the job done.

Location and Space for Making an Audiobook:

You want to find an isolated, padded room or recording box. “Room Tone, or “Noise Floor” can bring in all sorts of sounds from around the environment.

Recording in your room is an option but make sure your space is set up for recording and that it is “silent.” If this is difficult, hiring a producer, in this case, would be a recommended option.

Audiobook Recording Tips:

Next, you need to make sure you avoid any random noises that might pop up, and any variances in the recording quality.

Here are some tips to help make sure you do that:

making an audiobook
  1. Turn off all fans and machines.
  2. Read in a small, carpeted area
  3. Stay a consistent distance away from the microphone.
  4. Be prepared to make mistakes and record sentences over when necessary.
  5. Read the chapter through from start to end.
  6. Keep your voice at a similar level and tone across recording sessions.
  7. Modulate your breathing and don’t hold your breath.
  8. Read from a Kindle or device. No page turning sounds.
  9. Schedule sessions several days apart. Avoid sounding exhausted.

With the Audacity software and your mic, you should be able to get a decent quality recording of your book. But keep in mind that, recording you own audiobook is an exhausting process and it isn’t for everyone.

You have to set yourself up with the proper environment, and set aside the time for recording. If you have never used Audacity or any type of recording equipment before, there is a learning curve that adds weeks to the audiobook production.

For these reasons you may decide to hire someone for the first audiobook, learn what you can, and then try it for your next book.

#7 – Upload your audiobook to audiobook creation exchange

Now that you’ve recorded your book, either by yourself or with the help of a freelancer, you’ll need to upload your book to Audiobook Creation Exchange, also known as ACX.

 When you publish on the ACX, your audiobook will be made available on Amazon, Audible, and the Apple audiobook store.

It’s the only place you need to go to make sure your audiobook gets heard by as many people as possible. You retain all of the audio rights, while ACX handles all of the distribution for you, similar to how the Kindle Direct Publishing platform works.

While there are a lot of steps, uploading is a user-friendly and self-explanatory process.

Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to upload your audiobook on ACX:

  1. Go to the ACX website.
  2. Log in to your account at amazon.com.
  3. Click “Add Your Title.” [Note: You must have a Kindle ebook published]
  4. Search and find your book then click on “This is My Book” prompt.
  5. Click on the “I have this book in audio and I want to sell it” prompt.
  6. Choose your territory and distribution.
  7. (Note: We recommend the “World” rights options with 40% royalties for the best results.)
  8. Choose the language(s) you’d like to sell the book in.
  9. Agree to the “Audiobook License and Distribution Agreement” terms
  10. Complete the “About My Book” section.
  11. (Note: You can duplicate the content from your Amazon page or create original content.)
  12. Complete the proper copyright information.
  13. Complete the info about the narrator, audiobook publisher, and any reviews.
  14. Click the “add audio file” prompt.
  15. Go to browse for the first section of your audiobook to ensure it was added.
  16. Continue this process until your entire book is uploaded.
  17. Don’t forget to change the chapters and section titles as you go.
  18. Finally, upload your book cover.

Make sure all info from your printed book matches that of your audiobook. Your author name should be the same and the book cover should be the same as appears on your eBook.

ACX will not allow you to continue if there are discrepancies in identifying information.

What are audiobook royalties on ACX?

When you publish your audiobook on the ACX, you’ll earn between 20%-40% of their title royalties. If you work with a producer, then you’ll have a royalty share with them, and the rate that you receive is dependent on how your producer is compensated.

If you work by yourself, you keep the whole 40%, if you split it with a producer, you could each earn 20%.

It all depends on how you decide to share it, and you can read more details on the ACX site or check out this directly from their site:

audiobook royalties

Also, a quick heads up: Your audiobook will not post immediately. ACX will hold your submission to confirm that all is in order before it posts you audiobook.

Don’t be alarmed if you see an ACX note telling you “This title is: Pending audio review.”

That’s a normal part of the process and not something wrong on your end. When ACX approves your book, you’ll then have the green light to sell the audio copies online.

For a detailed, step-by-step explanation of the entire process—from production to distribution—check out ACX Author’s page.

Even if you’ve never done it before, technology makes the process of creating your audiobook easier than you can imagine.

A well-produced audiobook can help you expand your fan base and earn you new readers.

Don’t be deterred by the idea that creating an audiobook is outside of your wheelhouse—we promise it’s not!

With pro help (or even a little elbow grease on your part), you can have a completed audiobook within weeks, and be on your way to boosting those book sale numbers!

How to Make an Audiobook: Resources for Help

How To Record Your Own Audiobooks For ACX by Joanna Penn How To Record And Create Your Own Audio Book For ACX Audible

 by Kevin Kruse

The Audiobook Book: An Audiobook Production Guide for Indie Authors & Narrators by Renea Mason How to Create an Audiobook for Audible: Advice for Authors, Recording and Formatting Info, and More for ACX, Audible, and iTunes

 by Buck Flogging

Narration: A Beginner’s Guide to Recording Audiobooks in Audacity: Work From Home Recording Audiobooks for ACX, Audible & iTunes

by Krystal Wascher

book about your life

How to Write a Book About Your Life: 10 Easy Steps to Tell Your Story

Do you have an amazing life story you want to know how to write your life story, whether it’s just for you or so others can learn from you?

Writing your life story is a bit of a different process from writing a novel or even writing about someone else.

This is your story; rather than developing characters for a made-up story, it’s your personal life you are sharing with readers.

It’s a very vulnerable—and worthwhile—form of writing.

how to write a book about your life

If you have an incredible true story to tell about your life but aren’t sure where to start on how to write your life story, we can help.

Here are the steps for writing a book about your life:

  1. Start by journaling or free-writing
  2. Outline and organize your notes
  3. Pick a nonfiction genre to write in
  4. Research for accuracy
  5. Identify characters and perspective
  6. Add speculation
  7. Determine the setting
  8. Remember the dialogue
  9. Prepare for negative pushback
  10. Commit to finishing

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

Why Write a Story About Your Life

Many people think they need to do something massive or be famous in order to write about their lives…

That’s not true at all.

In fact, more people can relate to regular, non-famous people and their struggles than they can those who have been in the limelight.

The reason writing about your life is important is because you have a story. You have something worth sharing that can actually change the lives of others through your trials and tribulations.

Even if you’re not ready to write a memoir, you still have something valuable to share—knowledge gained through the years or maybe you just experienced a short, influential event in your life that you believe can help other.

No matter what that story is, you can and you should tell it.

How to Write a Book About Your Life in 10 Simple Steps

So you’ve discovered you have something to share with the world…but what you don’t know is how the heck to make it happen.

Here are our top tips for writing your life story.

#1 – Journaling and Free-writing

Take a few minutes to free write or journal each day, focusing on one memory. A good writing prompt for this free-write session is to write about a significant 24 hours in your life. This is just to help you get started. The memories written down from this significant moment in your life will be use later to build upon to create your nonfiction narrative.

Even if you don’t ultimately use this particular memory in your overall narrative, getting into the habit of writing down memories will benefit you as a writer and help keep those memories fresh.

Still feeling stuck? Explore using a nonfiction writing prompt to help you get started.

#2 – Outline and organize

After you’ve written down a variety of memories—whether they’re a part of an overall narrative or a collection of essays—they now need to be organized into a coherent story in order to actually write it.

Since you’re writing your life story, technically the plotline is already there; it just has to be written down and organized in a manner that will speak to your audience.

However, if you are the more organized type and not a “pantster” like other writers, outlining what memories you want to include in your life story may help get the writing juices flowing.

Not only can an outline help you get clear on the message and order you’ll write your book, it can also help you form writing goals that will set up a writing habit. These are two keys to actually finishing your book.

Other writers struggle with writing unless they have an outline or book template, even if it’s a book outline of their own life. It all depends on you, the writer.

New call-to-action

#3 – Pick your genre

“Creative nonfiction has become the most popular genre in the literary and publishing communities.” – Lee Gutkind, What is Creative Nonfiction?

There are several book genres that fall under the nonfiction genre: memoirs, essay collections, autobiographies, motivational books, and more.

Since you are writing a book about your life, it might feel like you have to put it in the “memoir” genre, but that’s not always the case.

In fact, it might hurt your book sales to mislabel your book as a memoir when it’s actually more of a self-help in a specific category.

An example of this is While We Slept by our own coach here at Self-Publishing School, Marcy Pusey.

While this author does label this book as a memoir, it also fits in several other categories. These Amazon categories will help you 1) reach a wider audience and 2) help you tell the story in a way that will speak to those readers.

If you’re struggling to decide whether your book about your life is a memoir or autobiography, this can help:

The main difference between memoirs and autobiographies are their focus. Memoirs focus primarily on one specific time, or “memory” of one’s life, like a battle with a disease, traveling to a foreign country, or adopting a special pet.

Autobiographies, or “biographies of oneself,” focus primarily on your entire life from start to finish—from when you were born until you die, or at least until the current moment in your life with details about achievements or notable moments.

Autobiographies also tend to be a bit more factual than creative, though there have been some very well written autobiographies published.

What if neither of these makes sense for my book about my life?

Maybe you don’t have a specific period in you want to focus on, but don’t necessarily want to tell your entire life story from start to finish. This is where a collection of personal and/or lyrical essays may be more of your style.

Think Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Why Not Me? Kaling is still telling her life story, or at least memorable moments in her life story, without necessarily being one complete narrative. Collections of personal essays are like the nonfiction version of a collection of short stories.

If you are still uncertain about which nonfiction subgenre to write your life story in, this is a major topic covered in the Self-Publishing School VIP course. They take you through choosing your categories that will help your book sell the most.

#4 – Research

Regardless of how you begin writing your life story—with free-writing or outlining—research can help you build on memories to create a fuller story and establish you as a credible writer.

Memories are fickle, and we don’t always remember things correctly, especially if you are writing about something that happened many years ago.

Researching for a book can seem like a daunting task. In fact, out of all the research you’ll end up doing, only a very small percentage will end up in your story. In order to find that small percentage, however, you need to do your research.

Here are some tips for book research when writing a book about your life:

  • List memories or facts you’re not 100% certain about
  • Ask family members or others close to you for details
  • Get quotes from those people if necessary
  • When writing and you come across something you need to research, simply make a note to research and keep writing so you can write faster

#5 – Identify characters and perspective

The people you have met in your life influenced you in some way, and as such, they will influence how you write your life story as well.

Here are some tips to organize these characters for your story:

  • Make a list of people, also known as “characters” in this case, who you want to include in your story
  • Write down their description: physical appearance, age, background,
  • Write down their relationship to you (and if you’re close or distant to them)
  • Check out this character bio template from Selfpublishing.com to help flesh these details out

This will assist you in describing them in your narrative through the rule of “show don’t tell“, that way readers can visualize them and understand how they affected your life personally.

The only thing you may have to alter is a character’s real name, or names.

Changing names can protect a person’s true identity in their story. Unless you have permission to use someone’s true name, change it and include a disclaimer at the beginning of your story. Make a note in your character list of names you change, that way you can keep track of who’s who.

Also, just because this is your life story—so technically, it’s told from your point-of-view—doesn’t mean you can’t explore the perspectives of the other characters in your story.

Keeping other character’s point-of-view in mind will give your story more dimension, and will help you to avoid a one-sided, train-of-thought narrative.

#6 – Add speculation

Use “speculation” to fill in gaps in your life story. Not sure if one of your character’s motivations? Is your memory of the event a bit foggy? Using what you already know, combined with the research you’ve conducted, speculate to the best of your ability.

Here is an example of writing speculation:

“I am not sure why my parents chose to end their marriage after 15 years together. They were always private people, and after their brief announcement to me about their separation, neither of them spoke a word to me about it ever again.

Perhaps they were trying to spare me the heartache of the ordeal. I often wonder if my father’s time in the service made him distant from mother; that was the case with me. Maybe my mother, like me, became lonely as a result of that.”

Words and phrases like “perhaps,” “maybe,” and “I wonder if” show your reader that you, the narrator, are speculating.

Try to find creative ways to speculate, as well. You are, in a sense, still telling a true story; you’re using what you know to create a hypothesis about something that is still a mystery to you.

If you were to claim this hypothesis were true without facts to back it up, you could get end up in trouble.

#7 – Determine the setting

Readers want to know where your life story took place, or the setting. Like fiction, you need to consider how the setting of this story affected you as a person.

Here are some questions to help you discover the setting of your book:

  • Where was this place?
  • What did it look like?
  • Did you enjoy living/visiting there?
  • Do you remember any smells from the area?
  • What was the culture like there?
  • Were you a spectator of that culture or immersed in it?
  • How did the setting contribute to your experience?
  • What mood did that setting elicit?

Details like these affected your life tremendously—maybe more than you realize—and therefore must be included in your narrative, just as they would be if this was a fictional story.

Not only that, but this helps paint a much clearer picture for your readers and creates a more entertaining experience.

#8 – Remember the dialogue

Even if you’re writing a nonfiction book, the dialogue is still crucial.

When you forget to write dialogue…the book can end up reading like a very boring textbook.

Dialogue is what gives the writing—and the story itself—life.

But that leaves the challenge of writing accurate dialogue. Unless you used a tape recorder or video to record a conversation, chances are you’re not going to recall previous conversations word-for-word.

Just write down what you remember to the best of your ability, and paraphrase if you must. If you are still on good terms with the person you’re speaking within your memory, try contacting them to be sure that their memory of the conversation is similar to yours. You can even ask them to approve any written dialogue that’s in quotes if it’s not 100% accurate to what was really said.

Write dialogue the same way it would be used in a fiction book and remember to use correct dialogue formatting and tags.

#9 – Prepare for negative pushback

Not all of us have sweet stories with cute pets. Sometimes our memories and experiences are on the dark side—for example, The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison.

This memoir focuses on the time in the author’s life where she has a sexual (and incestuous) relationship with her father. She received a huge amount of negative reactions to her story.

If you are going to write and publish a personal and scandalous true story about your life, steel yourself for these kinds of negative reactions, particularly from those in your life unhappy with you telling the story to begin with.

Something this is just a part of becoming an author.

Nonfiction writing that isn’t dark in nature is still liable of receiving negative feedback from those who appear in the story, even if their names are changed.

Some people may react simply because they were written in the story at all.

#10 – Commit to finishing your book!

Your story can only get out into the world if you commit to not only finishing your first draft, but publishing your book.

Don’t just commit to your book, commit to yourself and to doing something you can be proud of.

Commit to something that will be here long after you’re gone, and write your book.


5 EASY WAYS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF AUTHOR ADVANTAGE LIVE

Author Advantage Live

Chandler Bolt and the rest of the Self Publishing School team are excited to meet you at Author Advantage Live this fall. Here is how to get the most out of the event before it even begins!

#1 – LET TIME WORK FOR YOU.

[Here’s how] Most people get caught up the One Day Attitude. “One day soon I’ll finish my book” or “One day soon I’ll launch my business to $10,000 a month.” Having a time constraint for a goal is one of the best ways to ensure it gets done. Parkinson’s Law states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Time is on your side right now.

Action Step: Commit to one goal from now until we meet you at Author Advantage Live.

Use the form below to send in your goal so we can best hold you accountable & celebrate your success at the event.

Self Publishing School Student

“I plan to get through my 2nd draft and have it professionally edited.”

Brittany Thomas

VIP & Launch Your Book Accelerator Student

Self Publishing School Student

“Publish my second book & finish my course content. “

Mike Acker
VIP & Course Building for Authors Student

You are more likely to accomplish a goal if you write it down. You are also more likely to complete your goal if you have someone holding you accountable. Let’s do both!

#2 – GET THE DISTRACTIONS OUT OF THE WAY.

[Here’s how] You have the opportunity to make a lot of progress during the event.

Most will get more out of 30 minutes at the live event than they would for weeks on their own.

In some ways, the amount of focus you will have at Author Advantage Live is equivalent to 30 minutes a day for 6 months.

Action Step: Tell people ahead of time that you will be “off the grid.”

Let your friends and family know that during the dates of September 20-22nd (or September 18-22nd if you’re coming to the Launch Your Book or Launch Your Course Accelerator) that you’ll be focused on your book(s) and your business.

For those that matter most, set a check in time at night so they know when to expect you and you won’t have to task switch throughout the day from your phone to the conference.

Use every moment you can to implement and connect with other authors and experts that will help you move forward. The more you can stay immersed during the weekend, the better you’ll set yourself up for success after the event for years to come.


#3 – UTILIZE THE BRILLIANT EXPERTS ONSITE.

[Here’s how] Often we get in our own pattern of how to do things, that we forget there are people who have already solved and conquered the problems we are facing. One of the questions we ask frequently at Self Publishing School is, “who do we already know that has solved this problem?” in order to avoid wasting time and money.

The more you are aware of your challenges the faster you can get real action steps from real experts in person.

Action Step: Create a list of the biggest challenge(s) you are facing as an author or a business builder.

At the event there will be numerous opportunities to get direct feedback from others who have already solved the challenges you are facing.

(Especially if your challenge is something massive, like I don’t like doing sales and marketing for my book.) Start your list now … so when you have the opportunity you will get the feedback you need.


#4 – BUILD UP YOUR NETWORK.

Yes, ESPECIALLY if you don’t love networking 😉

[Here’s how] A woman I spoke with last week was very excited about the event, but was freezing up by the idea of making connections with other people at Author Advantage Live. We always say, “Extroverts love live events, but introverts need them.” Building up a community of other authors and impactors is crucial to continue to challenge you to elevate to the next level.

Action Step: Show up physically & mentally. Instead of dreading the thought of networking, simply focus on being present.

Bonus: Get a head start. Mark yourself as “Going” on the Author Advantage Facebook Event & post that you are looking forward to meeting everyone (even if you’re terrified).

Author Advantage Live is structured in a way where you don’t have to be a good networker and you don’t have to be an extrovert to get a lot out of it. Simply showing up and being present, you will leave with real connection and real people to support you on your journey.

You deserve support. Be ready to show up and you will experience it.



#5 – CREATE LIFELONG ACCOUNTABILITY.

[Here’s how] Having your Accountability Buddy to hold you accountability is one thing, but it’s also powerful to bring someone from your inner circle.

Action Step: Bring a friend to Author Advantage Live.

When we go after our dreams, sometimes the people around us don’t understand. Or even if they understand, sometimes we find ourselves having to explain things over and over again.

Having your life accountability partner at Author Advantage Live will build instant accountability and make this life journey as an author, impactor or business builder so much more enjoyable.

Good family options: Spouse/Significant Other, Child or Parent Great friend options: Best Friend or someone you see daily
Great business options: Business Partner or Personal Assistant

Haven’t got your ticket to Author Advantage Live yet?

Join us! September 20-22nd & other important details here.

Buy now before the price goes up and get ready to have your life drastically change as an author, impactor & business builder.

Can’t wait to meet you in Austin, Texas!

what are character archetypes

14 Character Archetypes to Help You Build a Strong Character Cast

Using character archetypes in your book is a great way to ensure you have a diverse cast with specific roles.

Because without good characters…your readers won’t find a good reason to keep reading…

The character development of your story can make the biggest difference in hooking real fans for life…and losing readers for good.

We’ll help you discover some character archetypes you can use to ensure your readers are ensnared in the grasp of your story from start to finish.

character archetypes

Here’s a list of 14 character archetypes:

  1. The Leader
  2. The Outsider
  3. The Caregiver
  4. The Rebel
  5. The Mentor
  6. The Professor
  7. The Warrior
  8. The Hunk
  9. The Wise
  10. The Orphan
  11. The Hero
  12. The Jester
  13. The Seducer
  14. The Bully

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

What is a character archetype?

A character archetype is a typical character that represents specific actions, nuances, and characteristics, and can also be known as “character tropes.” These characters have well-known qualities that shape their narrative and the story.

There are many characters that have similar and recurring qualities that are easy to recognize in stories.

Take mentors or professors for example. This can include any “wise one” that is a resource for support and knowledge for the main character.

We’ll cover more of this in that section below, but Albus Dumbledore is a great example of this character archetype.

Character Archetypes List of the Top 14 You Need to Know

Not every story needs a character archetype, and having a few doesn’t mean your characters aren’t well-rounded or unique. At the same time, your characters can also have multiple qualities of these archetypes, which adds to their complexity.

Character archetypes are used in order to ensure your character cast is diverse, while also fulfilling plot and story structure needs.

There are certain elements every good story needs in order to satisfy readers and character archetypes are a big part of what does that.

That’s why we’re covering 14 character archetypes to think about when writing a novel.

#1 – Character Archetype: The Leader

The leader is a well-known and widely used character archetype for a number of reasons.

Firstly, this archetype is always active, meaning they don’t allow things to happen to them but rather, they move the plot forward through decisions and their own actions.

You’ll often find that main characters often possess the qualities of a leader, which makes for an alluring book.

Qualities of a The Leader character archetype:

  • Active and not a passive character
  • Makes decisions for other characters
  • Leads the “charge” in almost all scenarios
  • Is the go-to character for advice
  • Can grow into the leadership role if they’re not there right away
  • They are typically a key-player in the plot and overall story

New call-to-action

Character Archetype Examples: The Leader

For more clarity, here are some recognizable examples of this character archetype where you can easily identify these traits.

Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – Throughout the series, Rowling paint Harry as a leader in several ways. We first see him as less than a leader, living under the stairs but as the story progresses, his leadership shines in several ways. Firstly, he decides to forgo friendship with Draco Malfoy because, well, he doesn’t believe him to be a good person. This sets the stage for even more leadership characteristics as he stands up to Snape, and ultimately takes on Voldemort in the end. His leadership continues to grow as he leads his friends and classmates through difficult times in the series.

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – The first act of leadership we see from Katniss is the very beginning of the story. She is hunting for her family…so they can eat. It’s a very basic form of leadership that’s necessary due to her mom’s state after her father passes away. We continue to see her leadership flourish as she volunteers as tribute, sets a precedent of distaste for the games, and ultimately saves both her own and Peeta’s life by the end of the first book.

Tobias Kaya in The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci – Tobias begins the book as a provider for his family. This leadership role is necessary due to his sister’s disability. As the book progresses and Tobias enters the deadly tournament, allies seem to be his only means of survival. He bands together (somewhat reluctantly) with a few key competitors and soon finds himself as the voice of their group, making decisions out of instinct without even realizing the position he’s in.

character archetypes leader

#2 – Character Archetype: The Outsider/Wildcard

This character archetype serves a very distinct purpose. Oftentimes, this is a character that adds a layer of mystery and intrigue to the story.

For example, this character won’t be “close” to your main character or even other secondary characters. They often come into the story to aid or solve a specific issue, but can also be seen as untrustworthy.

Character Archetype Examples:

Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games trilogy – Johannah Mason meets Katniss and Peeta during the opening of the 75th Hunger Games. Wild, unpredictable, and untrustworthy is our first reactions to her, solidifying her character archetype as the outsider or wildcard. Because her character is so unpredictable, we’re both worried and interested in what she’ll do next, which increases the tension when she appears on the page.

Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series – Luna Lovegood is a very important character in the Harry Potter series but is often seen as an outsider not only from her own perspective but from others. We don’t really know what she’ll do next and this adds to the intrigue of any scene she’s in.

#3 – Character Archetype: The Caregiver

This character archetype speaks for itself. The caregiver is essentially the character who serves to take care of others.

They often have qualities that are “parently” and can be the voice of reason when the plot thickens. This character is one others often turn to for help, reassurance, and even encouragement.

Characters may also wonder how they’d get through what they have without this one character ensuring their safety and wellbeing.

Character Archetype Examples:

Louisa Clark in Me Before YouThe main purpose of this character’s role is to be a caretaker. Her job in the story is to care for a disabled man. The characteristics she possesses in the story are directly in line with this character archetype of being a voice of reason, encouragement, and caring for others in the story.

Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series – While Hermione’s character serves several purposes throughout the story, a major contributing factor to her narrative is the care she takes of both Ron and Harry. How many times throughout the series do the two of them even say, “What would I do without you?” This is a common reaction to the caretaker character archetype.

#4 – Character Archetype: The Rebel

Many main characters can fall under The Rebel character archetype because this trait often leads to interesting and intriguing conflict readers latch onto.

Keep in mind, however, that this is also a great archetype to use for villains or antagonists.

The qualities that make up The Rebel archetype are exactly what you’d expect; the characters often go against the grain, resist rules, regulations, and orders, as well as follow their own paths.

Character Archetype Examples:

Fred and George from the Harry Potter series – While Fred and George, twin brother of Ron Weasley in the series, are also known as The Jester character archetypes (which we’ll cover below), they’re primarily rebels as well. The most infamous instance that showcases this is in book 5 when Delores Umbridge takes over. They drive her out with their own invented pranks, “sticking it to the man” in the way they know how best.

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games trilogy – Katniss may not have thought herself a rebel at first, but her actions quickly showcase her natural rebel side. From threatening to eat Nightlock berries at the end of the first book to actually leading the rebellion as a whole, she’s The Rebel through and through.

#5 – Character Archetype: The Mentor

One of the most iconic (and sometimes clichéd) characters in stories is The Mentor.

I’m sure many examples are already popping up in your mind for this one. A classic example of this is Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series.

The Mentor character archetype is someone who serves as a source of information, motivation, support, and encouragement usually for the protagonist or that group in a novel.

This character is also commonly used as an exposition element in the sense that they can provide information to the protagonist that the audience also needs to know, but in a natural way that doesn’t feel like “info-dumping.”

Character Archetype Examples:

Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series – As mentioned above Albus Dumbledore is a prime example of a mentor in this series. He guides, teaches, supports, and encourages not only Harry, but several students he grew close to throughout the series.

Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games trilogy – This may be unclear at first, but Haymitch is literally and figuratively The Mentor in this trilogy. His character literally mentors Katniss and Peeta in the games as his duty but later mentors them in ways unrelated to the games by offering advice and taking on their personal conflicts.

character archetypes mentor

#6 – Character Archetype: The Professor

The Professor and The Mentor are very similar character archetypes. However, with The Professor the emphasis is on their role as an educator and teacher instead of just a mentor.

Therefore, Dumbledore can be seen as The Professor, though another character occupies that role in this series.

This character archetype is usually a teacher or educator the main character grows close to. The key defining factor is that The Professor both teaches in a formal way, but also takes an interest in aiding your character’s personal life and journey. They offer guidance and help when the characters need it most and can be a go-to for information for your characters.

Character Archetype Examples:

John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society – In this iconic story, Professor Keating guides his students on a journey through poetry…and adolescence. Not only does he teach his students poetry in a way they can understand and appreciate, he’s also instrumental in developing Todd Anderson, the main character and student.

Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series – This archetype is evident in Professor McGonagall as well. Her role is to be an educator and to hold students to the highest standard, pushing them and even creating conflict within the story.

Mr. Bruner in The Edge of 17Mr. Bruner is Nadine’s teacher and also someone she goes to for guidance in her personal life. He not only serves as her educator in school, but he’s a confidant for Nadine’s personal problems and helps her get through them.

#7 – Character Archetype: The Warrior

When you think of this character archetype, it’s very evident which characters fall under this category.

Think of the best warriors in any movie where they appear. Those characters are often tough, confident, and skilled in combat. Many army officers, commanders, and persons in charge of armies will occupy this archetype.

But a character doesn’t need to be in a role of combat or military in order to be The Warrior. They can possess qualities of a warrior without the title.

The Warrior can also be both a good or bad character.

Character Archetype Examples:

Gray Worm in the Game of Thrones series – Chosen to lead the Unsullied under command of Daenarys Stormborn in this series because he “has no fear,” his character is the epitome of The Warrior. He is fierce, skilled, battle-ready, and willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish what he wants and needs to.

Cinna in The Hunger Games series – This might be a very underrated quality of Cinna’s in this series with The Warrior traits not evident upon first glance. But we later learn how instrumental this character’s role is to rebelling against the Capitol, marking him just as deserving of the title “warrior” as anyone on the battlegrounds.

#8 – Character Archetype: The Hunk

Also known as “The Adonis,” this character is the stereotypical “hot guy” in stories.

While he may also serve other roles, this character is a distraction (often to the main character) and is usually the love interest in stories.

This character can go one of two ways. You can have the stereotypical hunk who is unintelligent and only gets by on their looks, or he can be the hot guy who is misunderstood and has more going for him than people believe.

Either way, the main factor is that he’s very handsome to the point of distraction.

Character Archetype Examples:

The Adonis in The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci – In the Sovereign’s Tournament, a competition to the death to win the hand of The Savior, there are several competitors, one of which is nicknamed The Adonis. This character is very much the stereotypical hunk with no brains, and it serves a very distinct purpose in this novel. He’s a fan-favorite of the spectators and stirs up jealousy amongst the competitors.

Christian Gray in 50 Shades of GrayOn the other hand, this character is more in line with the second version of The Hunk, a hot guy with more to him than meets the eye. Christian Gray is written as being so attractive, it turns heads when he walks by. But he’s also a billionaire businessman with a lot more than meets the eyes. He’s very smart while being a hunk, and then some.

Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter series – This character serves as a mix of both types of The Hunk. He is a competitor in the Triwizard Tournament, and the ladies love him. He’s handsome, charismatic, and also a highly intelligent and skilled wizard. All of these add to the conflict of Harry competing because others root for Cedric and not him, creating issues at school and in his personal life. Not to mention the fact that Harry’s crush ends up dating Cedric.

#9 – Character Archetype: The Wise

This character archetype is someone who often serves as a destination for characters in adventure or epic novels.

You may recall stories of characters needing to travel to meet this “Wiseman” who could tell them what to do or where to go next.

With a character like this, their role in their personal life is also in line with being The Wise in the sense that they also serve as aid, advice, and intellect outside of your main character’s needs.

Character Archetype Examples:

Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings Series – While this character also serves as The Mentor, it’s important to note that he’s a very wise, all-knowing character as well. Throughout the series, he proves himself a source of information for several characters.

Yoda in the Star Wars franchise – We can’t talk about The Wise without mentioning Yoda, one of the “wise man most in books.” He knows the most, aids anyone he comes by in their efforts, and is a classic example of The Wise character archetype.

character archetype wise

#10 – Character Archetype: The Orphan

While many authors aren’t bad people, we do tend to put our main characters through the wringer and orphaning them is one of the top ways to create sympathy for the character…and we all know that doing that makes readers love them more.

There are so many examples of characters whose parents passed away shortly after they were born or even later, into their teen years.

The most distinguishing factor for this character archetype is that the loss of their parents, whether it when they’re a baby or adult, has to add to the conflict of the story, including internal problems. If the story can exist as-is without their deaths, it’s not useful for the parents to be dead.

Character Archetype Examples:

Tony Stark from The Marvel comics – Although Stark loses his parents at the age of 21, this plays a big role in who he is in the franchise. After they pass, he has to take over his father’s company, where he grows into the person we really know him as: Ironman. Their death also plays a pivotal plot point in storylines later as well.

Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series – Harry’s parents died when he was a baby but they left before something so important, the series could not have been written as-is without it: Harry’s scar and connection to Lord Voldemort. Their deaths catapulted the entire conflict of the story, and it also causes him internal conflict in that he struggles with his identity due to their absence.

Snow White – We all know this story. Because her mom dies, her father has to remarry, which puts her in the path of Maleficent, the villain of this story.

#11 -Character Archetype: The Hero

The Hero is one of the most common character archetypes there is in stories, and this is because good stories often have a “triumphant” character who prevails over evil and save others.

Many heroes also embody other character archetypes as well.

The best defining factor for The Hero is that they save others through their actions against the antagonist.

Character Archetype Examples:

Here’s a long list of The Hero character archetypes:

list of character archetypes
  • Harry Potter
  • Katniss Everdeen
  • Marvel Superheroes
  • Matilda Wormwood in Matilda
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • Beowulf
  • Atticus Finch
  • Neville Longbottom
  • Hermione Granger
  • Ron Weasley
  • The entire Order of the Phoenix
  • Peeta Mellark
  • Tobias Kaya

#12 – Character Archetype: The Jester

If your favorite character in stories is ever the goofball who’s really funny, they’re likely The Jester character archetype.

This type of character has a few jobs, the main one being comedic relief. They can serve as a strong literary device to cut the tension in order to give characters a relief, or to distract from something worse coming up.

A couple of key identifiers of The Jester in stories is that they cut tension either with what they say or do, are the butt of every joke, or make others the butt of every joke. The Jester’s job is to elicit laughs and keep the scene and mood light.

Character Archetype Examples:

Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter series – We’ve already talked about these rebels but they’re also very much Jesters for this series. They make jokes and even pull pranks, both of which lighten the mood of a story that’s very dark.

Fat Amy in Pitch PerfectThe story of Pitch Perfect is made hilarious by Fat Amy, one of the main characters. She adds jokes, comedy by the way her character acts, and generally brings the story to a new level of funny.

Dory in Finding NemoWe’ve all laughed at Dory in this story. Because of her short memory, there are plenty of moments for jokes and laughter, not to mention her character’s general demeanor.

#13 – Character Archetype: The Seductress/Seducer

With this character archetype, there’s a very specific goal of the seducing behavior.

Most often, this character is someone who’s attractive and can seduce someone in order to get something they want, or even to subdue them in order to do this.

The main point of The Seducer archetype is to trick someone into being vulnerable in order to gain the upper hand in any type of situation, whether that’s life or death or simply getting out of a speeding ticket.

Character Archetype Examples:

Dominika Egorova in Red Sparrow – This character archetype for this movie is quite unique. While her character, with the alias of Katerina, may not have been this type to start, she is taught this very specific skill in order to achieve her goals as a spy.

Black Widow in the Marvel comics – Similar to the previous example, this character was trained in many art forms, seducing being one of them. Her character often has to seduce men, playing to their deepest desires, in order to extract information for the intelligence agency she works with.

#14 – Character Archetype: The Bully

We all know a bully in real life and stories have no exception to their presence. Of the character archetypes, this one is easy to stop.

It’s is often used to make your main character’s life a lot harder. They can be a bully physically or even emotionally. As long as they belittle your character to the point of increasing conflict in the story, they’re The Bully.

Character Archetype Examples:

Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series – From the get-go, Draco Malfoy has bullied Harry Potter and his friends. He puts them down, tries to disrupt them with their plans, and even tries to have Harry killed (and kill him himself) later in the series.

Regina George in Mean Girls This character is the epitome of a bully. She puts others down and makes them feel like less than, so much so that the climax of the movie comes to a head with her “burn book,” which consists of a diary of bullying comments about others.

Patty in Diary of a Whimpy Kid –There are several bullies in this story, the main character’s own brother being one, but Patty indeed holds this title as well. She consistently bullies Greg throughout the story.


literary devices elements

Literary Devices: 15 Literary Elements With Examples & Tips to Use Them

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.

Here are 15 literary devices to use in 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
  13. Onomatopoeia
  14. Symbolism
  15. Tone

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking 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 15 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.

New call-to-action

#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.

#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

Personification Literary Device Example:

Personification Example 1:

The wind whistled past my ears like a familiar tune I’d long forgotten.

Personification Example 2:

The moon yanked a blanket of silver light over the forest.

Personification 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.

#13 – Onomatopoeia

While its name may be confusing, this literary device is actually easy to understand once you get past its difficult spelling.

An onomatopoeia is a word or phrase that shows you the sound something makes. Since we can’t hear books, this literary device is best used to paint a clear picture and include the sense of hearing in your writing.

When using this literary element in writing, the correct formatting is almost always to have the word italicized to show emphasis of the sound.

Onomatopoeia Literary Device Example:

  • Buzz
  • Zap
  • Splat
  • Boom
  • Splash
  • Zing
  • Crank
  • Whoosh
  • Bang
  • Creak

#14 – Symbolism

Every story uses symbolism in some way. This literary device is the use of a situation or element to represent a larger message, idea, or concept.

Many times, authors use symbolism as a way to convey a broader message that speaks to more readers. You can also use symbolism to foreshadow what will happen later in the story.

Symbolism Literary Device Example:

  • Crows are used to symbolize a bad omen, like death
  • The color purple symbolizes royalty
  • The color red can symbolize death, struggle, power, passion
  • Spiders can symbolize spying, sneaky, or untrustworthiness

#15 – Tone

The tone of a book is something that conveys the narrator’s opinion, attitude, or feelings about what is written.

This literary device has the power to shape the entire narrative.

For example, if you want to catch a reader off-guard when something traumatic or intense happens, keeping the tone light and humorous before the event can increase the sensation of shock and tension.

Tone can guide your readers right into the emotion you want them to feel in a particular scene.

how to write a novel

How to Write a Novel: 5 Key Steps Every Good Book Needs [Template]

If you misunderstand how to write a novel with the proper story structure, your book will never sell.

Harsh, but true. And that’s why we’re here to tell you the exact methods that skyrocketed the popularity of books like The Hunger Games and the Divergent series.

How to Write a Novel

Here are the steps for how to write a novel:

  1. The Setup for writing a novel
  2. The Inciting Incident
  3. The First Slap of a novel
  4. The Second Slap
  5. The Climax of a novel

But before we dive right into those, we have to understand your unique writing method in order for you to understand how to write a novel in a way that’s best for you.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs data-lazy-src=

What is a Novel?

A novel is a work of fiction told through narrative prose focusing on characters and a plot with at least some degree of realism.

Essentially, a novel is a long story in which a message, theme, and plot are revealed slowly over the course of scenes and chapters that make up a bigger storyline.

How Many Words in a Novel?

The exact number of words that make up a novel varies greatly depending on the genre and personal taste, however, a book is considered a novel if it has more than 50,000 words.

But that doesn’t mean your book will be that long. You have to learn how many words are in your novel.

Below is a table detailing how many words make up a novel in each respective genre, as some are typically longer than others.

Type of WritingWord CountPages in a Typical BookExample
Short story100 - 15,0001 - 24 pages"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry
Novella30,000 - 60,000100 - 200 pages"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
Novel60,000 - 100,000200 - 350 pages"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone": by JK Rowling
Epic Novel120,00 - 220,000+400 - 750+ pages"Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin

Keep in mind that these are a baseline. You want to make sure your novel is in the ballpark word count for your genre and target audience but just remember that you can easily go over or under depending on how well the story is crafted…

…and if it covers our 5 key milestones – it will be crafted well.

How do you plan a novel? Your Novel Structure Breakdown (& Template)

Planning a novel involves coming up with your plot, character development, knowing your audience, and outlining your book.

  1. Coming up with your plot involves knowing which genre you want to write or even utilizing a list of writing prompts to get your thoughts moving.
  2. Character development is one of the most vital parts of your novel. Take the time to know your characters and protagonist well before you start writing in order to better plot your novel to fit how they act.
  3. Your audience will dictate the type of content in your plot. You can always plot first and then decide if you’ll be writing young adult, new adult, adult, or even middle grade. Just make sure you categorize your novel correctly in order to reach the right audience.
  4. Once you know the above, you’re ready to outline your novel. First, however, you have to figure out if you’re a pantser, plotter, or somewhere in between before you can outline your book.

If you want to have a solid fill-in-the-blank template, we have three story structures for planning your novel.

Fill out the form below to gain access!

Get Your Story Structure Templates



What’s the Difference Between Pantser Versus Plotter

A plotter is someone who plans out their novel with an outline before actually writing, whereas a pantser is someone who writes with seemingly no direction – they write by the seat of their pants.

Are you a plotter or a pantserFiction authors tend to fall into one of two buckets when writing their books.

how to write a novel plotter vs pantser

Pantsers

These are writers who basically only have a few vague elements about the story in mind when they start writing, but nothing else.

One of the most famous pantsers is Stephen King. In interviews, Stephen King has said that he often has an idea of the beginning, the premise, and a vague idea how it’s all going to end – and that’s all he needs to start writing his book.

Plotters

These are writers who need to know every piece of their story, down to the minute detail, before they will write a single word. They have full, complete outlines that serve as a guide for their writing.

They will know who each and every one of their characters are, what their motivations are, the chapters needed for the book, chapter sections, and in some cases, even paragraphs. Probably the most famous plotter out there is James Patterson.

Knowing if you’re a plotter or pantser will dictate your entire writing process.

Clearly, it’s possible to be successful whether you’re a plotter or pantser. But here’s the harsh reality: whereas Stephen King and James Patterson sit on opposite extremes of the ‘Outline Spectrum’, most of us fall somewhere in between.

But that still doesn’t answer the question:

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

My best advice is to be something in between. Someone who looks beyond the “outline” of a novel, and identifies something much more important in their story…the 5 key milestones we’re about to reveal to you.

How to Write a Novel with 5 Key Milestones of Every Successful Novel

how to write a novel milestones

Most novels and movies have five key points that make up the core of their story – it’s a formula that’s been around for longer than books have.

This may not even be something authors do intentionally but rather, these are what make a story (even spoken) good and captivating.

What’s more, these milestones are something that readers have subconsciously been trained to look for when digesting a piece of fiction.

In other words, if you don’t have these five key moments, your reader is likely to turned off of your story because it didn’t meet expectations set by the hundreds (if not thousands) of stories they have already digested before yours.

Let’s get started.

#1 – The Setup when writing a novel

This is where you make your story promise and write an introduction that pulls readers in.

Here’s a solid resource for how to start a story if you need a few more tips.

You tell your reader what kind of story it will be – a comedy, drama, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi – and you give a few clues as to what they can expect. Whatever you said in these initial pages must be followed to the end of your story.

A stone-cold drama cannot turn into a slapstick comedy by the end of the story. That doesn’t mean a stone-cold drama can’t have humor in it, it just means that you can suddenly pivot and become an Adam Sandler movie.

Also, during the setup, we learn a little bit about:

  • The characters
  • Their everyday lives
  • Their challenges
  • The world they live in

We get a sense of where the story is heading.

One mistake made by first-time fiction authors is that they do not properly set up the story expectations and the reader goes in expecting one thing, only to get another.

Nothing annoys readers more, and so it is essential that during the setup phase of your novel, you set the expectations that you will meet during the book or you’ll lose those 5-star Amazon reviews that make such a difference.

New call-to-action

The Setup of a novel Example:

In the Hunger Games, we meet Katniss. From her surroundings, it is obvious that she is poor, and as soon as she steps outside of her wooden shack we see hovering drones.

Within the first few pages of this book, we have learned three essential things:

  • This book is a drama
  • Katniss is our heroine and she has a miserable life
  • SURPRISE! There are drones and other technologies that indicate this to be a sci-fi
  • We are about to read a dystopia set sometime in the future

How to Write a Novel Action Step:

Ask yourself these questions:

– What does your story’s setup look like?
– What happens?
– What story promises do you make?

Create a list of everything your reader needs to learn in order to enter your story’s world before crafting your introduction.

#2 – The Inciting Incident

The inciting incident is the moment in your story when your hero’s life changes forever. It is the ‘no-going back’ moment, where nothing that happens afterwards will return your hero’s world back to normal.

Katniss volunteers, Neo takes the blue pill, Dorothy lands in OZ … the aliens are here!

As soon as your inciting incident happens, your story should be full throttle towards the climax.

The most common mistake first-time authors make is that their inciting incident is reversible. That means that something could happen that would return the hero’s life back to normal.

No, no, no!

how to write a novel inciting incident quote

Your inciting incident should as final as the severing of a limb or a death of a loved one. Nothing should be able to reverse the effects of your inciting incident has on your hero.

Inciting Incident in a Novel Example:

Katniss volunteers! In the Hunger Games, the inciting incident is irreversible because – quite literally – soldiers grab Katniss, whisk her away from her world, and into the world of the games.

There is no escape.

And even if she could get away, she would be hunted by the Capital for the rest of her life. With those two simple words, “I volunteer!” her life has changed forever.

Note: There is an exception to this rule when it comes to romances.

With romances, the inciting incident is almost always when the two lovebirds meet. (Not always, but for the vast majority of romances, this is the case.) With romances, try to create an inciting incident that simultaneously shows how perfect these two people are for each other while setting up the numerous reasons why they can’t be together.

How to Write a Novel Action Step:

Answer these questions in full and complete the brainstorming activity.
– What is your inciting incident?
– Is it strong enough?
– Are there ways you could up the stakes or shorten the timeline?
– How can you make it your inciting incident as impactful and irreversible as possible?

Brainstorm several inciting incidents… Don’t settle for one. Take a look at your inciting incidents and ask yourself this: Which one of these is the harshest, deadliest inciting incident of the bunch. Then pick that one.

#3 – The First Slap

Now, we are away to the races for writing a novel!

Over the next few chapters, your character should be making a series of gains and losses, where the aggregate result is that their situation is slightly better than what it was at the moment of the inciting incident.

The reason why we need this upward trajectory is because we are setting up the reader for the first slap.

The first slap is the moment when everything that our hero has gained is lost in fell swoop. Your hero is brought down to zero. In other words, all gains are lost, and your hero’s situation has never been bleaker.

how to write a novel structure

The greater the fall, the more engaged your reader will be.

First Slap Example:

In the Hunger Games, Katniss’s world is brought down to zero when she actually enters the Games.

Between the inciting incident on the first slap, Katniss has made several gains, garnering the attention of the Capital and making some friends along the way. But none of that matters the moment she enters the Games – and what a moment it is.

How to Write a Novel Action Step:

Brainstorm what your first slap can be. Like with the inciting incident, try to come up with 3-5 scenarios and pick the one that is harshest. Take a look at all the events that could potentially happen between the inciting incident and the first slap. This is a loose mind map as you are not committing to anything at this point, but do try to get a sense of whether or not your hero will be making gains and losses (with a net value of gains) and try to assess whether or not the first slap is harsh enough to truly wow your reader.
Remember, you want your readers to hate you for what you’ve done to the characters they love.

#4 -The Second Slap

Your hero has rose to the challenge! They have successfully thwarted the big evil that has been thrusted upon them by the first slap and she is doing well.

…Now it is time to bring her back to 0 again.

The second slap should be as harsh, if not harsher, than the first slap. This is the moment when the reader should be looking at your book and thinking, “Wow, this author is mean. Diabolical villain mean!”

In the second slap we are setting up for the climax, which means that the hero needs to have an out. In other words, there should be some semblance of hope.

Second Slap Example:

In the Hunger Games, the second slap is when the Game Masters announce that two tributes can survive the Games should they both be from the same district.

Katniss goes looking for Peeta, only to find him mortally wounded – he is bleeding to death and won’t survive the next few hours, let alone the rest of the Games. We know enough about Katniss to realize that Peeta dying is the worst thing that could happen to her (besides her own death).

But there is hope!

An announcement is made that there is something at the cornucopia that the Tributes need, and Katniss just knows that there is medicine there for Peeta.

How to Write a Novel Action Step:

Brainstorm several seconds slaps and pick the harshest one. Then ask yourself: where is the hope and how will it lead into the climax?

#5 – The Climax

The rollercoaster that you’ve put your reader on is almost over.

How to Write a Novel

The reader has gone from an engaging setup where they get to learn about your characters and world to the inciting incident where everything is turned on its head.

Then they are subjected to the first and second slaps where you embrace your inner sadomasochist in order to punish your hero and give the readers the thrills they so richly deserve.

Now it is time to wrap it all up with the climax.

There is only one rule to the climax. A rule that must be adhered to, no matter what genre you are writing in:

Make it amazing! The climax should be the moment where your reader puts down the book and goes, “Holy S&*%! That was awesome!”

Novel Climax Example:

The climax in the Hunger Games is the final confrontation between Katniss and the remaining Tributes, as well as the monsters that the Game Masters send after her. It is wrought with danger and excitement.

But what makes the climax truly kickass is the poisonous berries at the end.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, pick up a copy of Hunger Games today and read it! You’ll immediately get why this scene is so amazing.

How to Write a Novel Action Step:

Brainstorm your kickass climactic scene! Show us how amazing, smart, resourceful, powerful your hero is when overcoming their final obstacles, but remember to make sure it’s realistic and makes sense for your character.

There you have it: how to write a book is made much easier with your 5 key milestones. This method is particularly effective for first-time authors who are still finding their writing feet (or should I say typing fingers) and is an awesome resource that experienced writers can rely on time and again when planning their stories.

The 5 Key Milestones combined with a spot-on Premise and A-Story will tell you where your story starts, where it is headed and how it will end.

In other words, if you do the novel writing exercises above, you should have everything you need to get your novel to the finish line.